NOTE:- This short story is completely unofficial fan fiction and in no way endorsed by Games Workshop Limited.
The tributai gathered in groups of two and three throughout the ancient storage hall. They muttered under their breaths, passing information in quick bursts. Every person there knew not to raise their voice. Doing so would disturb His peace with the scourge of Autonomous Correction.
He sat in state, surrounded by the many apparatus that sustained His lingering existence. Clad in thick red battleplate, it was rumoured among the tributai that He was the most ancient and venerated spirit in the entire forge. Once every hundred days, a contingent of techpriests would attend to Him, led by a magos memori, Magos Arrian. The ancient magos would slowly attempt to rouse Him without running afoul of misplaced words or phrases. The magos hoped to one day unlock His memory archives, so that His wisdom could be recorded and added to the vast databanks of the forge.
To all the tributai it was readily apparent that the magos’ mission was in vain. The venerated elder was too far-gone, His ancient animus damaged somehow in a long-forgotten battle. His mirrored visor was rent in two by the broken remnants of some enormous talon; the magos memori had forbidden its removal, stating that to do so would cause too much damage. Any attempt to repair the elder would, with complete certainty, also be His end.
One of the tributai turned away from the broken elder, speaking to his bunk-partner in a fierce whisper.
“The elder loses data with every passing hour. He will not last long. I know Magos Arrian forbade it, but-“
[DATASMITH EVERYN PASSING ON TOUR. STANDING FOR INSPECTION]
The elder burst up, crying out in His booming voice.
[QUERY: POSITION OF DATASMITH EVERYN. VISUAL SENSORS MALFUNCTIONING. NOOSPHERIC DATA INCONCLUSIVE]
The tributai cried out as the elder surged into motion, lurching back and forth. Many fled but many more ran forwards, surrounding their beloved elder in a throng. The crowd attempted to gently shepherd the Kastelan back to its designated area.
Epilekhtoz Carris attempted to ease the elder, singing forth one of the Omnissiah’s Blessings of Rest.
“Blesséd be the downward cycles/To their rest head His disciples/Power glows in endless beau-“
Carris’ chant was cut off by a cry of horror from the crowding tributai as the elder responded to the chant.
[INSTRUCTION VERIFIED. WRESTING HEAD FOR INSPECTION. LOGIC TOWER GROWTH UNCONFIRMED]
The Kastelan raised its sole remaining fist to its head and began to attempt to remove its broken visor. The tributai became desperate, attempting to hold back His mighty arm. He was old, and blind. He did not understand the damage He might do to Himself.
Despite their numbers and conviction, the efforts of the tributai were in vain. Shaking Himself free, the ancient Kastelan raised His powerfist and with a single motion tore His damaged visor off.
The storage hall fell silent as the ancient Kastelan froze. His core processor was exposed, and they could all see the terrible scar that marred His language decoder. Slowly, with an awful groaning noise, the Kastelan fell, nearly crushing several tributai in the process.
The silence, initially born of fear, became one of concern. No one wished to say anything, in case it roused the elder once again and made Him do Himself more harm.
[ERROR. PHYSICAL-TEMPORAL POSITION LOST. QUERY: LOCATION OF UNIT ALPHA-2 PROTECTOR]
The elder yet lived, it seemed. There was an audible sigh of relief from the gathered tributai.
[REPORT: UNIT ALPHA-2 PROTECTOR SHUTDOWN IMMINENT. SEVERE DAMAGE TO CORE COGITATION UNITS, POWER DISPERSAL ADMINISTRATOR UNIT AND CORE MOTOR UNITS. COGITATIVE POWER RESERVE FALLING]
A soft hissing creak began, as the Kastelan’s many servos and pistons relaxed as power left them. Some tributai hesitantly reached out to touch His thick battleplate, many others were weeping. All who worked in the storage hall loved the elder, for all His faults. His presence was a constant reminder of the divine Omnissiah’s many works, and His struggles with Autonomous Correction ensured they all worked in a quiet and peaceful place.
[MEMORY ARCHIVES RE-ACCESSED. CATASTROPHIC COGITATION DAMAGE. ALL AUXILLIARY SYSTEMS SET TO RECORD MEMORY ARCHIVE DATA]
Here at His end, it seemed, the venerated elder would speak the secrets Magos Arrian had sought for decades. It was the tributai, the ones who had cared for him without ceasing, who would have the privilege of hearing his final words.
[BEGIN LOG: FIRST ENGAGEMENT]
[UNIT ALPHA-2 PROTECTOR DEPLOYED TO SECTOR EAST 4-3-Q-3, PALACE WALLS, TERRA. CONFIRMED KILLS: 431. COMBAT EFFICIENCY 87%. DAMAGE SUFFERED: DESTROYED MANIPAL, 187 PUNCTURES, 2376 GLANCING BLOWS. ENGAGEMENT LENGTH: 43 HOURS]
[BEGIN LOG: SECOND ENGAGEMENT]
The tributai all listened in awe, as the ancient Kastelan recounted a history of heroism and war worthy of the most venerated Warlord Titan. He continued for many hours, tributai making patchwork power supplies whenever He trailed off.
In the end, He fell silent and His rapt audience slowly realized He would not speak again. Some weeping, some rapturous, the tributai slowly cleaned a space for Him. They laid Him in state, and as one went to report to Magos Memori Arrian.
In their absence, the storage hall was once again a quiet and peaceful place.