“Throne damn it!” Bastonne Sol swore, yanking his hand away from a faulty wire and sucking his left thumb, part of the one organic limb he had left, and the electrocuted digit throbbed with a sharp jolt of pain. He glanced into the corner of his eye, the ever-present noospheric display overlaying his vision ticking up one number, verbal sin-counter in the upper corner keeping track of his every minor heresy.
He glowered, turning his attention back to his work, rerouting auxiliary power from the main console through the power plant in one of his servitor charges. The main console lights flickered from red to green and he smiled, “By the Emperor’s grace…” he trailed off, flipping several switches. The sin-counter redacted a number, assuaged by the utterance. Down to 139…and the day’s only half over. Sol wondered why he’d bothered to install that thing in the first place…back when he was younger and less cynical, maybe.
The Emperor’s grace indeed. He spat onto the floor grating, gritting his teeth. It had been two hundred and fifty-six rotations since arriving on the accursed hellscape that was Armageddon. The once-proud hive world had seen better days, and Bastonne Sol was not feeling particularly blessed by his assignment here.
“Two hundred and fifty-seven days…” He growled to nobody in particular. He had been assigned to Godhead Aquila without warning, reassigned from a research mission in the Ghoul Stars, far from Armageddon and even farther from the legio’s forgeworld of Voss Prime - neither Sol’s native forgeworld nor one he frequented. His assignment had felt rushed, desperate even, the Mechanicum Synod that had ordered it did so with little fanfare or even the auspicious, holy writ commonplace to the Adeptus Mechanicus.
Now, the Tech-Priest was the adjunct replacement aboard a Titan he didn’t know, on a planet he loathed, serving alongside a Titan Legion he’d only heard of by reputation: Legio Ivigilatum, the Emperor’s Guard. Everyone and their mum believes themselves to be the Emperor’s so and so these days….his shields or his swords or his scythes or his wardens or his bloody watchdogs. He half-heartedly wished the Imperium would wise up and worship the omnissiah with that same singleminded fervor, but logic and experience had taught him that dim-witted commoners believed in one god at a time, there was never enough room for more. The tech-priest grimaced again, then relaxed as he realized he’d said none of that out loud, the sin-counter remained stationary, only picking up on verbal cues.
Sol’s thoughts were disrupted as a heavy thud and the bang of metal echoed through the engine chamber, the Titan swaying precariously. Not the usual rolling motion that came with the titanic god-machine’s footsteps - the tech-priest had long since upgraded his augmetic legs with gyro-stabilization. No, this was unmistakably the impact of a high caliber shell on the superstructure. His noosphere overlay flashed up a warning in red:
Estimated 180mm Tungsten Penetrator Shell, demolisher cannon equivalent. Numerous imperfections, xenos category- Ork. No internal damage. Void shield down, armor intact.
Godhead Aquila rocked, no doubt turning towards the aggressor. Bastonne Sol placed a hand on a nearby support strut, his mechanical hand, ingrained sensorium nodes and data-feeds reporting back to him every imperfection, every weld and rivet of the cold-forged metal read to him in calming, binary psalm-code, the very scripture of the machine, holy and sacred. “By the Emperor’s grace…
He inhaled deeply, auto-senses sampling the tang of chordite, the ozone of frayed wiring, the acrid salt-waft of his own sweat from his few remaining organic parts “…and the Omnissiah’s will.”
The sin counter tallied down again. Outside, the reverberating staccato of small-arms impacting on the hull picked up pace.