There is a god resting in the depths of my ship.
It is a massive, warlike construct, with a snarling face of solid admantium. It once strode across countless battlefields of yore, its two mighty legs driven by hissing pistons and rumbling engines. For arms it has immense weapon mounts, armaments more suited to the decks of starships than anything on land. Across its gargantuan frame are numerous defense batteries, bristling with battle cannons, multi-lasers, and heavy bolters. Sheets of thick metal cover its iron bones, dented from centuries of war but never penetrated.
Once it had waged slaughter alongside the Astartes Legions, butchering xenos with holy fire from its limbs and smashing apart their war machines with its gargantuan feet. Once, it had borne the shining torch of humanity to the darkness of the galaxy at the forefront of the Great Crusade alongside the twenty Space Marine Legions. Whole empires fell when it and its kin tread, and entire armies were slain wherever its displeasure was meted out.
There is no foe this god cannot destroy, no enemy it cannot crush under its iron heel.
There is nothing in this universe on land that can match its might.
There exists no foes worthy of its cannon blasts aside its corrupted kin.
It is the mightiest weapon in the Imperium of Man, the god-machine the Mechanicus bow their heads in worship to.
It is a Warlord Titan and it belongs to me.
It is called the Trucido Rex. The Slayer of Kings in High Gothic. An apt name for such a massive killing machine.
I encountered it on a world called Zeras, a planet of relatively little significance to the Imperium. It was the Iron Warriors that brought me here, a Grand Company of the Perturabo's sons and their Strike Cruiser. I followed them silently through the void of space, ensuring their cruiser's sensor arrays did not catch the massive shape of my battle barge. I watched with interest as the Iron Warrior ship met a hulking craft in the middle of its journey, before allowing the strange vessel to travel by its side. Then, I saw the defiled cog symbol etched in brass across the ship's prow.
My interest grew as the two vessels orbited the planet, and sent waves of transports onto its surface. Zeras, to my knowledge, was barely inhabited. The people that lived across its barren surface etched out an existence by farming and hunting. The reason why the Iron Warriors, as well as the Chaos Mechanicus would want this world escaped me. And so, I boarded a Stormbird and travelled to the planet's crust alone to investigate, with my three hundred brothers awaiting my command in space.
The Dark Mechanicus was here in force. Thousands of Skitarii guarded innumerable slave menials and drill wielding servitors, themselves commanded by hundreds of corrupted tech priests. The Iron Warriors patrolled the drop area, and I was careful to shroud my presence from them.
Then, when the last drop ship traversed back into orbit, they started to dig.
It was soon very apparent why the forces of Chaos was here.
One by one, the prone frames of Titans appeared. Warhounds. Reavers. Even Warlords. Each bore the telltale signs of battle, massive scars and craters pockmarked across their admantium armor. Some had been utterly destroyed, mere wreckage that were once invulnerable god-machines. Like corpses in a machine graveyard, they were unearthed by the Dark Mechanicus, who swarmed over each Titan body, desecrating them with blasphemous sigils of the Ruinous Powers.
Tendrils of my conscience spread towards the fallen war machines, seeking answers and a way to halt the dark deeds that were underway.
Cold emptiness greeted my attempts. The machine spirits that was the heart of each Titan had long ago been destroyed by some cataclysmic battle, and none were there to reply to my questions. My heart sank at this revelation. With no machine spirit inside these immense constructs, there would be no resistance when the Dark Mechanicus began to corrupt them to serve the Warp Gods.
And then a hissing, guttural noise sounded within my mind. Weak and strained, its brass tone echoed in response to my psychic probing.
Rarely do I smile these days. But when I heard that sound, I will admit that a fierce grin spread across my lips.
Machine spirit. Awakened and thirsty for war.
I followed the noise into a cave complex, too large to be made by natural ways. And in the largest cavern within the twisting, natural passageways, I met Trucido Rex.
Its massive bulk was hunched over, but even then, the top of its gargantuan shoulders still scraped against the stalagmite strewn ceiling. A patina of dust coated it from its snarling, bestial head to the immense splayed toes of its feet. The Titan's metal skin was untouched, unlike the destroyed frames of its brethren the Dark Mechanicus and Iron Warriors were busy unearthing. A pair of tattered banners hung from its weapon-limbs, the Gothic script etched upon their surface proclaiming this war machine as a member of the Legio Proleiator.
I strode slowly towards the god-machine, admiring each and every aspect of this man-made deity. At the same time, I probed the Titan's machine spirit once more, daring to hope that its soul still remained pure. The response almost deafened my mind.
"YOU ARE NOT MY PRINCEPS," it rumbled into my conscience, the sound so loud it caused blood to leak from my ears.
"No," I gritted my teeth, fighting to stay cognizant from the aftereffects of the machinelike bellow, "I am not."
"YOU PROBE INTO MY SPIRIT LITTLE MAN. THIS VIOLATION IS HERESY AGAINST MECHANICUS PROTOCOL. CEASE AND REPENT."
I said nothing and instead teleported myself into the Titan's head, bypassing layers of solid admantium to reach the place where the crew usually sat.
The brain of the god-machine was a series of seats and a glass tank. Fried wires and coiled tubes ran alongside instrument panels like multicolored snakes, slithering around the metal seats and joined into brass sockets. Molded bones lay in roughly humanoid outlines, all that was left of the Titan's crew after the ravages of time. In the glass chamber a skeletal body still sat, lengths of wire running from its skull into the surrounding area. The Princeps, I realized.
"YOU HAVE TRESPASSED WITHIN MY BODY MORTAL," the reverberating growl of the Titan's machine spirit nearly forced me to my knees, "CEASE THIS FOOLISHNESS AT ONCE."
I did not respond and instead made my way to the sealed tank that held the remains of the Titan's Princeps.
"I AM TRUCIDO REX. WARLORD TITAN OF THE LEGIO PROLEIATOR. DEFY ME IS TO DEFY THE WILL OF THE EMPEROR AND THE ADEPTUS MECHANICUS."
I clenched my teeth, willing the booming noise to quiet within my conscience. My gait halted when the glass wall of the Princeps' chamber loomed before me. I placed a gauntleted hand upon its surface.
"YOU. WILL. NOT. HARM. MY. PRINCEPS."
"Your Princeps is dead," I whispered, "He has been dead for a while now."
"MY PRINCEPS. SHE WAS A WOMAN."
I smiled sadly and thought of Sylvia.
"She must have been strong, your Princeps," I murmured, "To hold so much loyalty from a machine spirit even in death."
Trucido Rex did not respond.
"You must walk. The enemy is here."
"I HAVE NO PRINCEPS. I CANNOT WALK."
My head throbbed as the Titan's answer raged against the insides of my mind.
"You must. If you cannot, the Dark Mechanicus will tear you down and force you into servitude."
"I HAVE NO PRINCEPS. I CANNOT WALK."
"Then you will be chained forever to the Ruinous Powers."
"RUINOUS POWERS? LOGIC ENGINE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND."
"Chaos," I said.
A moment of silence reigned. And then a hurricane of noise assaulted my conscience.
"CHAOS. TRAITORS. MANY YEARS AGO. FOUGHT ON THIS WORLD. TWO LEGIOS. TRAITORS. THEY WERE TOO MANY. WE TOO FEW. VALIANT DEFENSE. LOST MANY. MY WEAPONS. TOO HOT TO FIRE. COOLING. STRAY SHOT. DEMOLISHED A MOUNTAIN. BROUGHT RUBBLE DOWN UPON ME. SHOCK KILLED MY PRINCEPS AND HER CREW."
"They are out there. Digging. Blaspheming the remains of your machine brothers."
"VENGEANCE. I WILL HAVE VENGEANCE."
"You will walk."
"I HAVE NO POWER. I CANNOT WALK."
"Then you will have power."
In truth, that was a lie. I possessed no way of reconfiguring the Titan's complicated systems, nor the skill to repair the parts that had long fallen into disuse. I am not a techpriest. What I had was ample amounts of sorcery, psychic energy eager to be used and expended. It was this energy that I poured into the Warlord, flooding every circuit, every wire, every cable within its gargantuan frame.
The god-machine roared, shaking the underground cavern that was its domain and causing the stone ceiling to rain debris.
A flickering barrier materialized, coating the entirety of Trucido Rex with simmering shields of bright blue.
"VOID SHIELDS ONLINE," the Titan boomed into my mind.
Hissing hydraulics whirred into motion, cycling explosive shells into battle cannons and powering up multi-lasers.
"DEFENSE BATTERIES ONLINE."
The whining sound of recharging laser weapons was heard as the massive guns on the Warlord's shoulders was brought to life.
"TURBO LASERS ONLINE."
The screech of multiple barrels revolving sounded from the Titan's left arm.
"GATLING BLASTER ONLINE."
A wave of heat buffeted me, despite the layers of admantium separating me from the outside. It came from the war-machine's right arm.
I thought I heard Trucido Rex chuckle when it next spoke.
"VOLCANO CANNON ONLINE."
Armored joints snarled in unison as the Titan rose. Its massive shoulders drove into the cavern ceiling, grinding rock and stone into minute fragments of debris. Showers of granite rained down upon the bellowing god-machine, bouncing off its indomitable frame and piling in heaps by its splayed toes. Little by little, the cave's natural barriers gave away, unable to defy the Warlord's attempts to rise. With a roar that shook the heavens, Trucido Rex emerged from its underground tomb, splinters of rock exploding away as the war construct tore itself free.
A cloud of swirling dust obstructed the Titan from view. Perhaps it was this reason that the Dark Mechanicus and the Iron Warriors did not pay attention to the sudden eruption of stone not two kilometers away. Instead, their attentions were solely focused on their prize, the buried war-machines that lay under the planetary crust of Zera.
That would prove to be their undoing.
From the cloud of pulverized rock fragments, strode Trucido Rex, its war horns blaring.
From my vantage point within the god-machine's head, I saw the Chaos forces milling around on the ground like ants. The Titan saw what I saw, and its voice reverberated within my skull once more.
"THE GREAT ENEMY."
"Aye," was all I could manage. The strain of having to power the god-machine's locomotion and its weapons system was taxing my conscience, and I did not know how long I could keep it up.
"THEY ARE INSECTS. INSECTS THAT I MUST CRUSH."
Trucido Rex laughed, a deep and metallic sound that boomed into the darkest recesses of my mind. It swiveled its torso, until every cannon, every laser, every weapon was pointed in the direction of the foe.
"DIE," it spat and then unleashed hell from its gun barrels.
Entire swathes of the Chaos horde simply ceased to exist. One instant they were digging into the dirt, servitors, menial slaves, and Skittari engaged in the backbreaking labor of unearthing the planet's hidden treasures. The next instant, they were gone, erased from existence by a single salvo from the Warlord. They did not even have the chance to scream.
Trucido Rex laughed again, its very footsteps sundering the earth.
The defense batteries mounted across its metal hide blazed with fire, striking the traitors with punishing salvos of exploding shells and bright lasbeams. Battle cannons roared, blasting apart corrupted techpriests and their menials in flashing detonations. Multi-lasers cackled and hissed, scorching self-cauterizing holes into panicked figures. Heavy bolters stuttered in refrain, stitching a bloody path through packed masses of fleeing forms.
Through all this, I could feel the Titan's bloodlust in my mind, an animalistic, bestial emotion that threatened to overwhelm me.
The god-machine's shoulders hunched, and the tri-barreled weapons on each pauldron flashed into life. Spears of incandescent light lanced from each Turbo Laser, seemingly splitting the sky as they traversed. A barrage struck a duo of Iron Warrior Predator tanks and a Vindicator siege vehicle. All three were vaporized on the spot, their crews burnt to ash within milliseconds. The other volley missed. Or so I thought. The laser blasts sliced through the air and impacted against the rocky skin of a mountain. The peak was seared in half. Tons of disturbed stone slid like an avalanche into the Chaos mass, and buried hundreds beneath a tide of crushing death.
"I AM A GOD," the Warlord boomed, its war horns blaring in challenge, "FORGED BY MAN. MADE INTO THE ULTIMATE WEAPON. ALL WHO STAND AGAINST ME WILL PERISH. DIE. DIE! DIE!"
It lifted its arms and both Volcano Cannon and Gatling Blaster fired in a frenzy of blinding flashes.
Giant craters fifty meters in diameter appeared where the Gatling Blaster spat its rage. Men and machine were sheared apart by the weapon's wrath, limbs and body parts thrown haphazardly into the air. A Rhino transport and its load of Iron Warriors was blasted asunder by an accurate round, slaying all ten Astartes inside and cutting down scores of fleeing Dark Mechanicus with flying shrapnel.
The Volcano Cannon shuddered and belched forth a ray of focused heat, laying waste to anything it touched. Those directly in the cannon's line of fire instantly vanished, scorched away in a heartbeat. Not even specks of ash were left of these poor fools, every atom in their bodies having been burnt from existence. The enemies that fled slightly away from the searing beam suffered equally gory fates. Not close enough to be vaporized completely by the intense heat, their frames nevertheless felt the fury of Trucido Rex. Skin caught on fire, becoming shriveled and crisp. Flesh melted away to reveal the bone, sloughing off blackened skeletons like one would shed a robe. Skinless and fleshless, scorched skeletons fell into heaps of scattered bone and lifeless limbs.
The Titan saw the ruin it had wrought, and chuckled deep with its resonant voice. I gritted my teeth as I felt the god-machine's continued needs leech psychic energy from my body.
A three-toed foot slammed down, smashing a squad of Iron Warriors into the soil and knocking down dozens of their minions. With a malicious chortle, Trucido Rex grinded the traitor Astartes into the unyielding earth, delighting in the agonized screams that came from beneath its splayed foot. Even from my position sixty meters above the ground, I could hear the ugly crunching sound of crushed ceramite.
"DESPAIR! TREMBLE!" the Titan roared, "FOR I AM THE WOE OF YOUR KIND! I AM THE SLAYER OF KINGS AND YOU INSECTS WILL BE CRUSHED UNDER MY HEEL!"
Return fire stuttered from the traitors, those having kept their wits finally turning their weapons onto the behemoth that strode into their lines. A Havoc Squad of Iron Warriors sent spears of light towards the Titan from their portable lascannons, while another squad blasted away at the towering god-machine with Reaper autocannons. Half a score of Terminator clad veterans let loose with their combi-bolters, sending exploding shells and streams of melta fire towards Trucido Rex's leg plates. A trio of daemon-infused Obliterators unleashed a bright salvo of indiscriminate weapons fire, answering the bellows of the Titan with their own growling roars. And from the masses of the fleeing menials and slaves, marched ranks and ranks of Dark Mechanicus Skittari, their machine parts whirring and clicking in unison. Lasfire slashed through the skies, targeting every square inch of the admantium colossus.
The Void Shields flickered and held. Trucido Rex stomped down with one mighty leg and ended the life of two score groveling heathens. Its war horns blasted its mocking laughter as it swiveled to point every gun it had at the traitors.
"INCONSEQUENTIAL INSECTS! PERISH IN FLAMES!" the Titan howled.
A volley of punishing fire leapt from a hundred roaring barrels.
With one barrage of hellfire, Trucido Rex slew a thousand of its assailants.
The Havocs were blown to pieces by the exploding shells from battle cannons, their formidable armor of little use against weapons usually mounted on a Leman Russ chasis. Bright beams of lasfire impacted against the misshapen figures of Dark Mechanicus Skittari, spearing metallic forms with angry lances of light. The heavy bolters added to the carnage, blasting apart scuttling, spider-legged creations and lobotomized weapon servitors with equal vigor.
The bellowed challenge from the Obliterators was answered by a salvo from the Titan's Turbo Lasers. What daemonic protection they wore was vaporized along with their twisted bodies as six shafts of incandescent energy smote into their position. Anything that was unlucky enough to be standing near the once-Astartes died as well, becoming motes of floating ash as the laser cannons gouged massive furrows into the earth in their destructive fury.
The Terminators' return fire suddenly halted when Trucido Rex's Gatling Blaster thundered in displeasure. Hulking suits of armor were shredded by high explosive shot, the rounds spitting from rapidly cycling cannon at an immeasurable rate. A whole squad of Perturabo's finest sons was slaughtered in this manner, their admantium plates obliterated by scores of detonating projectiles. A Land Raider was caught in the fearsome volley as well and sundered into an unusable ruin.
Still laughing, still roaring, Trucido Rex lit up the skies with discharge from its Volcano Cannon, and scorched a kilometer-long path of death through the traitor horde.
The Titan strode over the piles of slain traitors, its ironclad figure untouched by heathen fire. The Dark Mechanicus and what was left of the Iron Warriors were in swift retreat, leaving their dead to be picked at by the carrion birds. Trucido Rex ignored them, its weapons cooling and momentarily unable to fire.
"MORE. I REQUIRE MORE," it boomed into my struggling mind, "MORE FOES TO SLAY! MORE ENEMIES TO KILL!"
The god-machine howled into the skies, making its demand known to the heavens.
Heaven answered its pleas.
From the cloud filled atmosphere, massive constructs of black metal descended. Each was an ugly, cube-shaped structure, surfaces etched with machine skulls and arcane script. Six such structures slammed into Zeras's crust, raising massive dust clouds in their earth-shattering wake.
"YES," the Titan chuckled, its long range sensors seeing what I could not, "YES. COME TO ME WAYWARD BRETHREN."
From the settling mist, walked evil made incarnate.
Five immense shapes stomped forward on pistoned legs, weapon limbs set and locked in the direction of Trucido Rex. War horns blared, loud and unruly, an undeniable challenge to the indomitable Warlord. Scrap-code entered my tired psyche, a grating, screeching language that defiled my eardrums with their blasphemous syllables.
"THERE ARE SIX OF YOU OUT THERE," the Titan snarled, "SIX WHO WERE ONCE LOYAL. LET US SEE HOW MANY I CAN SLAY BEFORE MY END."
The corrupted Titans marched towards the lone Warlord, two Reavers and three Warhounds spitting death from their gun barrels in unison.
The Void Shields were a manifestation of my psyche, and though the volleys from Iron Warrior and Dark Mechanicus guns had ravaged the incorporeal barriers for long minutes, they were pinpricks compared to the fury that came from Titan-scaled cannons. In that one brutal salvo, Trucido Rex's shields were stripped from near full to half, and I felt the resulting agony coursing through my mind like a white-hot spear.
The Titan stumbled as the punishing fire rippled across its colossal frame, immense splayed feet crushing corpses and earth alike as it staggered back from the onslaught.
"NO!" the god-machine raged, "NO! I WILL NOT FALL HERE! I WILL NOT BE ENDED HERE WHILE A TRAITOR ENGINE WALKS!"
Pistons shrieked in protest as Trucido Rex righted itself, the creaking of armored plates heard from a hundred different places as the Titan stood back to its full height.
"BURN IN RIGHTEOUS FIRE!"
The Volcano Cannon roared like the voice of an angry god, and the flash of its discharging payload was brighter than an exploding star. A Reaver, hunched like some mutated beetle, was vaporized instantly, caught in enough heat to equal a thousand erupting sunflares, and scattered into the wind as ash.
Still screaming its hate-song, the Warlord advanced towards the foe, and sent beams of death lancing into the Chaos engines.
A Warhound fell, legs cut from under it in a series of crippling explosions. Roaring, Trucido Rex smote the twitching machine into the ground with an earth-shattering stomp, and continued grinding the traitor Titan into the dirt until its armored carapace was shattered like glass.
Return fire lashed at the Warlord's towering frame, and further depleted its shimmering Void Shields. I tasted blood in my mouth and felt more of the liquid oozing from my eyes and ears.
"YOU THINK YOU CAN DEFEAT ME? YOU THINK YOU CAN FORCE IGONIMONY ON ME? MEWLING DOGS! GROVELLING VERMIN! I WILL DELETE YOUR MIND-SPIRITS FROM EXISTENCE AND RENDER YOUR BODIES TO SCRAP!"
The second Reaver, a leering, malicious beast with missile pods stapled to its back was bisected in twain by a volley of shearing light. I had a second to see the Chaos engine separating in two before the resulting explosion sent fragments of metal flying kilometers into the air.
"I HAVE TREAD IN THE WAKE OF THE GREAT CRUSADE! I HAVE LEVELED ENTIRE CITIES TO THE GROUND! I HAVE SLAUGHTERED MORE OF THE FOE THAN ENTIRE ASTARTES LEGIONS! I AM THE IRON FIST OF MANKIND! MADE SANCTIFIED BY THE LORD OF ALL! COME LITTLE TRAITORS! DEATH WELCOMES YOU WITH OPEN ARMS AND I WILL BE THE ONE WHO SENDS YOU TO HIM!"
A flash of intense heat told me the Volcano Cannon was being fired again, followed swiftly by pain as the weapon's needs drained psychic energy from my mind. A scuttling Warhound, lupine face pock-marketed with sores and weeping blisters, was obliterated in the kilometer-wide explosion, flash-fried from existence in one terrible volley.
Trucido Rex laughed into my struggling conscience, a jarring, discordant sound that caused my teeth to clatter.
The last of the Chaos Titans took one look at the smoldering corpses of its fellows and ran, loping over the machine ruins in bounding strides. The Warlord's shoulders hunched, bringing the Turbolasers that were mounted on each into bear. Six beams of incandescent death speared into the retreating Titan, blasting it from its feet and sending it face-first into the dirt. Sparks and garlands of electricity leapt over the twitching form, speaking of massive internal damage to the machine-beast's mechanical innards. Trucido Rex lowered its Gatling Cannon, and proceeded to shred the Chaos engine apart with methodical slowness.
"It is over," I snarled quietly, strength seeping away from my body.
"NO. NOT YET."
A volley of fire erupted from behind us, crashing into the Warlord and bleeding away the shields that had kept it safe. The sudden destruction of the Void Shields knocked me to my knees, and I clenched my fingers into my palms to keep from crying out. Trucido Rex swiveled, the joints in its waist screeching with exertion.
"GREETINGS KINSMAN," the god-machine smiled.
From the settling dust cloud, strode a monster. Across its armored surface, dozens of daemonic faces leered and cackled, and the words that came from their corrupted lips would have driven mortal men mad. Its form was mutated with fleshy boils, great stretches of metal covered by pulsating meat and blackened skin. Cannons loomed from the despoiled carapace, dozens of fang-mouthed barrels smoking with recent discharge.
Those same barrels erupted with fire, and Trucido Rex roared as craters were blasted into its metal hide.
The enemy Warlord blared its message, a howling, screaming sound that made my Astartes body shake in dread.
"IT CALLS ITSELF HARBINGER OF DOOM," my own Titan snarled in disgust, "I KNEW IT AS FIDELIS UNIS."
"How far we have fallen," was my quiet reply.
Pieces of twisted metal fell from Trucido Rex as the enemy volleys continued pounding away at its frame, and the Warlord was nearly forced to its knees by this unstoppable onslaught.
"IT IS CUNNING, THIS ONE. IT HAS WAITED ON THE OUTSKIRTS OF BATTLE WHILE ITS TITAN SCREEN ENGAGED US. THREE WARHOUNDS AND TWO REAVERS COULD NEVER MATCH A WARLORD. BUT THAT WAS NEVER ITS INTENT. MUCH ENERGY WAS WASTED BATTLING THE INSECTS. MUCH ENERGY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN RESERVED AGAINST FIDELIS UNIS. WE ARE VULNERABLE NOW."
"Is there nothing we can do?" I hissed through the pain.
"WE ARE DEFEATED," more cannon fire ruptured through the adamantium plates that were the Titan's body, spraying cords of electrical wire and brilliant sparks into the air, "I COULD FIRE EVERY ONE OF MY CANNONS AT THE ENEMY AND ITS VOID SHIELDS WOULD HOLD. WE HAVE LOST."
"There must be something we can do-"
"BE SILENT LITTLE MAN!" Trucido Rex barked at me, "I HAVE WALKED A THOUSAND PLANETS WITH THE TITAN LEGIONS OF YORE. I KNOW MORE ABOUT GOD-MACHINES THAN YOU CAN EVER IMAGINE. SO TRUST ME WHEN I SAY WE HAVE BEEN DEFEATED. ADMIT THIS LOSS AND PERISH WITH THE THOUGHT THAT WE HAVE FOUGHT VALIANTLY. LOSE WITH DIGNITY."
Shrieking groans erupted from below my feet as the very bones of the Titan bent and deformed under the punishing fire. Trucido Rex chuckled at its own imminent doom, the sound horrible yet strangely melancholic.
"IT WAS GOOD TO HAVE KNOWN YOU, ASTARTES."
I snapped. Looking back, I still have no idea what possessed me to do what I did that day. Either the Emperor was with me or my mind was invaded by a spontaneous bout of insanity.
"No. No. I will not fall here."
"FOOLISH MORTAL. WE ARE BATTERED AND WOUNDED. WE CANNOT WIN."
I ignored the Titan's words.
"Walk, Trucido Rex. Walk towards the foe."
"YOU ARE NOT MY PRINCEPS. YOU CANNOT COMMAND ME."
"Walk, Trucido Rex."
"YOU ARE NOT MY PRINCEPS. YOU CANNOT-"
"I SAID WALK!"
The Titan moved. Joints snarling, pistons hissing. The enemy engine saw this, and hideous laughter entered my ears.
"IT MOCKS US," Trucido Rex spat, "IT INSULTS US."
"Keep on moving," I gritted me teeth as another volley of shells and bright crimson lasbeams struck us, "Do not falter."
The Warlord did not reply, but it heeded my command. Showers of debris fell from its noble form as the enemy cannons did their work, and twice the Titan was nearly knocked from its feet by the concussive force. Slowly the distance was closed, and soon the Harbinger of Doom loomed before us like a demented god. Then the fire stopped, abruptly and completely.
"IT SEEKS TO SLAY US IN MELEE," Trucido Rex growled, and indeed, before my eyes, the enemy Titan raised a massive power fist with claws of daemonic chitin sprouting from the corrupted metal.
This time, it was the foe that moved, pressing forward on legs decorated with the bones of thousands of innocent souls. It was now or never.
From Trucido Rex's faceplate, where a human mouth should be, a plume of black fire jetted towards the Harbinger of Doom. The witch-fire crossed the distance between the two engines in the blink of an eye and the Chaos Titan screamed as flames from the Warp itself cackled and danced across its skin. I smiled grimly to myself. In reality, I was so weakened from exerting the Warlord to move, that the fire I conjured couldn't hurt a newborn infant. What the enemy engine felt, and more importantly, what its crew felt, was the scorching sensation of fire, but without the damage. Had the corrupted princeps of the Harbinger of Doom realized this, then both I and Trucido Rex would have been distant memories lost on Zeras.
Howling in pain and momentarily disoriented, the Chaos engine took a step back, and that was all the time Trucido Rex needed.
The Warlord strode through its counterpart's Void Shields, the shimmering energy field incapable of halting the Titan's slow-moving bulk. Then, a splitting crack, the sound of metal against metal as the leering faceplate of Trucido Rex smashed into the mutated visage of Fidelis Unis. The enemy engine's head snapped back, leaking ichor from a face full of bloated fat and sagging meat. Fidelis Unis gave a long, keening call, a sound of pain and outrage, and had it possessed human hands, then it would have instinctively clutched at its crushed face.
Trucido Rex aimed every cannon, every gun, every weapon it had towards the blinded and dazed Titan, and fired them again and again in a hurricane of flame. No Void Shields protected the Warlord, for Trucido Rex had bypassed them and were firing its cannons at near point-blank range.
Even then, Fidelis Unis took ten whole minutes to die.
When the smoke rose, a twisted carcass of scrap and ruined metal lay before us, rivers of molten steel pooling in lakes.
"ENGINE KILL," Trucido Rex said. Never before have I been so glad to hear those two words used in the same sentence.
The Warlord reared back its head and howled into the skies, exulting in its victory with a metallic roar.
"Still looking forward to more foes?" I whispered, mind dulled and numbed from the battle.
"IF THEY WOULD COME."
"They will not," I muttered. A psychic signal from my brothers had ensured me the Dark Mechanicus ship was floating quite lifelessly in space. The Iron Warrior Strike Cruiser had also been crippled, though scattered resistance was still being encountered within the confines of the gutted ship.
"WE ARE IN NO DANGER THEN?"
"Not now. But there will still be Iron Warriors and corrupted Mechanicus on this world for ages to come."
"INSECTS. UNWORTHY OF MY TIME. YOU ARE INTERESTED IN CLEANSING THEM?"
"No. Even if they did manage to salvage their forces, they will have no way off this planet. The Adeptus Mechanicus can deal with them when they rediscover this world."
"YOU ARE LEAVING THEN."
"The Great Ocean calls, noble engine. I cannot refuse its waves and tides."
"I WILL GO WITH YOU."
The statement threw me. I had expected to leave the Titan here, where it and its brother engines would eventually be found by Mechanicus expedition fleets. I did not consider it wanting to come with me.
"You need to stay here," I told it, "The Adeptus Mechanicus will eventually find you and refit you with a new princeps."
"A NEW PRINCEPS?"
"Aye. From the Collegia Titanica."
"THAT IS NOT WHAT I WANT."
"But you need one and a crew as well to function."
"I ONLY NEED ONE PRINCEPS AND SHE IS ALREADY DEAD. MY MEMORIES OF HER I WISH TO KEEP PURE AND UNDISTILLED. A NEW PRINCEPS WOULD MAKE ME FORGET AND I DO NOT WANT THAT TO HAPPEN. WOULD YOU ALLOW THE RECOLLECTION OF THOSE YOU HOLD DEAR TO BE DRAINED FROM YOUR MIND AND REPLACED WITH THE MEMORIES OF ANOTHER?"
"No," I whispered, "I would not."
"THEN LET ME JOIN YOU. LET ME KEEP MY MEMORIES AND IN RETURN YOUR ENEMIES WILL BECOME MY ENEMIES."
A moment of silence passed between the two of us, a moment that both man and machine savored. It was strange, but I felt a connection with the ancient machine spirit where none existed before.
"It will be a tight fit," I said, thinking of my Battle Barge's cargo bay and how an eighty-meter tall war machine could be placed inside.
Trucido Rex chuckled.