I do hereby declare my first vow complete!
It was the dark cycle on this side of Seranon, the icebound crownworld of the Naculan dynasty. For four hundred days, it would be cloaked in the darkness of space, with nought but the stars and the defense fleet to illuminate its surface.
Prowling in the inky black night was the Shadow Legion, the Phaeron’s answer to the night and all its dangers and opportunities. Assigned to the authority of the Deathmark Vizier Rezak the Executioner, they were responsible for patrolling the parts of the Crownworld that were undergoing the dark cycle, and were built specially for the task.
Those of the Shadow Legion—primarily Warriors and Immortals, though there were phalanxes of Deathmarks and Lychguard—were equipped with hardware that enabled them to move silently, see and hear perfectly in the night, and were provided with phalanx-level shadowlooms that twisted the darkness around them to obscure them from the vision of any who cared to look.
This hour saw First Phalanx on guard on the outskirts of the Forge Labs, where the Thunderseeker and his compatriots of the Crypteks experimented with new war machines. Silently they marched through the blizzard, caring not one whit for the argument that had exploded inside the labs.
YOU DID WHAT!?!? thundered Sarnakh the Sunderer, Phaeron of the Naculan. His hand gripped dangerously around the hilt of his Warscythe, thumb dangerously close to the rune that would extend it to its full, deadly length.
Therek Thunderseeker, chief scientist and advisor to the Phaeron, however, was undeterred. Mood swings often struck his friend, and this one was no more dangerous than any other he had when confronted with new science.
That did not, however, mean he would be deliberately antagonistic to his friend and master.
“My Phaeron, please understand what I have been able to accomplish! This Magos, he willingly sought us out! When you kidnapped several of the Mechanicum from the Αυγή Λεπίδες, one wished to stay.
“The Αυγή Λεπίδες, sorry to say, forcibly removed him after you teleported them back to their camp, but he returned recently with his own warriors. Marvelous creations, I must say. Bound completely to his will, and not a one of them care where they are.” He snorted in amusement, and had he still been flesh his face would have contorted into a smirk. “They even believe us to be an aspect of their god.”
“Yes, and tell me what happened the last time a technologically-minded species found their gods made metal?” asked the Sunderer idly, though his tone was anything but.
Therek bowed his head slightly in deference. “Of course, my liege. However, please consider.” He gestured to the magos—now armed with a particle lance, transdimensional beamer, and a wicked pair of claws more oft found on Wraiths—and his men. “They are stronger than ever, and can handle our weaponry. This here is but one squad, and there are two more of them on guard duty that you surely saw. He has in orbit an entire warship filled with these men, ready and willing to become subservient to us and the Triarch.”
“Therek, they are human. Augmented, yes, upgraded, yes, but still human and weak. They cannot rise from lethal wounds as you and I would.” The Phaeron’s anger had cooled somewhat, he was not going to behead Therek as had occasionally been done in the past.
“Respectfully, my lord, I think you shall find that to be incorrect. Magos, would you demonstrate?”
A burst of binaric spat from the tech-priest’s robes and with one swift motion he snipped the head off of one of the skitarii, which rolled until it hit the leg of one of the Warriors patrolling the lab. It picked the head back up, setting its carbine aside, and handed it to Therek.
The Thunderseeker held out the head, which was taken from his hands by the decapitated techno-horror before being reattached.
“As you can see, they possess rudimentary reanimation protocols. They won’t survive a direct explosion like some more fortunate warriors have, but they’ll last far longer than mortal troops.”
“I must hand it to you, Therek. You have outdone yourself once more.” The Phaeron drew his blade to his throat in salute.
Therek placed his claws across his. “You flatter me, my friend.” The Thunderseeker did not mention that he had only been overseeing the project and that they would be assigned under another Cryptek with more experience handling converts and mindshackled enemies, and held theoretical ownership of the Triarch Striders.
The Sunderer turned and pointed at the Magos. “You. What is your designation?”
“My designation was Tuscon-Theta-Seven. However, I believe a new designation is in order to reflect my change in status and allegiance.”
“You may be right—“ Tuscon-Theta-Seven replied, but he was cut off by a howling wind, greater than had been heard in more than a standard Seranon orbit. It rattled in the thin wintery air, like the teeth of a chilled mammalian creature.
Therek’s eyes lit up in a poor facsimile of a smile. “I think the wind has given us an answer.”
“Tell me Tuscon. How does Coldhowl sound?”
A blurt of binaric filled the air. “I think that I shall enjoy that designation.”
And outside, the wind blustered and blew, disturbing only the snow, for nothing else was aware enough outside the lab to be bothered.
Coldhowl himself, in all his mechanical glory. Snip snip, pew pew.
His Skitarii, with the two lab assistant warriors.
Shadow Legion, First Phalanx. If requested I will provide a better photo but I felt this fit their character well.