The Man of Iron looked at her with its skull-like visage and emerald eyes and she stared back with bionic implants that were so crude in comparison. At that moment she felt her impurity more than she ever had before. More even than the time she’d been the presence of the Fabricator General himself during a great ceremony. Even then she’d been in the presence of another human on the way to becoming pure with the machine but this, this was the purest expression of the Machine God she’d could ever imagine.
“Blessed Man of Iron,” She spoke in dual voices; machine code from her mouth and high Gothic (crude though it sounded) from her shoulder speaker. “I come before you as a servant of the Omnissiah whom we both serve.”
The metal figure was silent.
“In His name I claim you and order you to return with us so we may begin the great work.”
The figure was still silent though it tilted its head back and forth, as though trying to understand her.
“Man of Iron,” A trace of impatience entered her tone. “You will obey me. I am your new superior in the Machine God’s name. Do you understand?”
The smooth metal of the thing’s lower face rippled slightly. The emerald eyes looked to the floor, concentrating for a moment, then it looked back at her. Flowing suddenly like liquid mercury the featureless face exposed a hole that shone ghostly green light outwards. Then it groaned, as though trying to activate long atrophied vocal chords.
“I am your master!” She repeated.
It groaned once more, looked down at its forearms, looked back at her then made another noise. This one was a growl.
“You will cease this behaviour!”
Ignoring her, the metal figure looked at the servitors. It growled again, frustrated now, and continued the sweep of the blazing emerald eyes. Now the eyes fell on the pilot but did not rest there. They looked back and forth, searching for something unknown. Then the gaze locked onto the copilot and the creature jerked into motion, stiffly staggering towards him.
The man yelped in fear as he staggered backwards. The fragment she’d given him fell from his fingers and he continued moving until his back slammed against a huge boulder. His eyes were wide and through the respirator mask his face had the look of a bloated, terrified frog. The Man of Iron scattered gravel and dust as it moved jerkily towards him.
“Servitors,” She yelled. “Restrain that creation.”
The half-human constructs immediately moved towards the groaning and staggering skeletal figure, their gripper claws sliding open on smooth hydraulic rods. The Skitarii shotgun tumbled to the floor, the previous command overridden by the urgency of the new order. The servitors closed in on the Man of Iron as it came to a halt and looked down at the fragment of metal on the floor. Four heavy grippers clamped onto the figures thin arms and legs. The Man of Iron then looked at the each of the hydraulic clamps in turn, examining them with unhurried intent.
“Man of Iron, you will obey me!” She was almost screaming now.
It grunted once then bent down and picked up the metal fragment. There was a whirring and clicking from the servitors as their systems struggled helplessly to compensate and resist the motion. The moment its metal fingers closed around the fragment, the Man of Iron changed. Where before it had moved clumsily and awkwardly it now was smoother and more controlled as it rose to its feet again. The servitors also came back to standing and were unmoving like before. The struggle of the last few seconds was already erased from their memories as they reverted to the previous order.
“That is not yours! Give it back to me. I am the only one who might understand the truth from such a creation.” She moved to reclaim the shard.
The Man of Iron growled at her. It either could not, or would not, speak but seemed to have no difficulty understanding her intent. She stepped back slightly, surprised at the depth of anger in the tone.
With a complete lack of haste it reached over with its right arm, dragging the servitor with it, grabbed the shoulder of the other servitor and yanked it out of the socket. Sparks and fluids sprayed forth from the construct and it turned crude bionic eyes on the injury, assessing the changed situation. The clatter of cogitation units ceased when the Man of Iron looked at the heavy claw on the end of the servitor limb it held, looked up at the servitor’s head, looked back to the limb, looked up again then swung a lethally arcing blow.
The second servitor, still locked in a programming loop did not respond to the destruction of its fellow. It continued to secure the right arm of the Man of Iron and await further instructions. The metal figure dropped the limb and pointed its now free forearm at the servitor’s skull. The half-human displayed no reaction as the circular lip slid back and a small node poked out. A flash of lightning connected the small nubbin with the servitor’s head and there was a dull bang as every circuit in its body blew with the massive energy discharge.
The Man of Iron stepped free.