“The Black Sovereign, in the name of the Numerian Council, takes pleasure in presenting the Commendation Medal to First Lieutenant Ex Eh You Four Un Seven Numerian Army. For conspicuous gallantry at the risk of its life …” the audible gasps from the assembled crowd forced the herald to pause in her reading the citation. While the idea of a robot, a gearsman, having an official rank in the Numerian Army was one thing, claiming it had a ‘life’ was something that even the technocratic leaning city dwellers seemed to balk at.
But Bliks had insisted on that wording. If they were to truly see a time where humans and machines could work side by side, with neither one nor the other having precedence over the other, the language used to separate them must first be blurred then wiped out entirely.
Kul-Inkit’s sharp cough returned silence to the crowd. The former consort to the previous Black Sovereign and now Chief of Staff of the Army of Numeria scanned the gathering from behind a fresh bandage wrapping the right side of her face, a token of a vicious struggle with a Glabrezu demon. The monstrosity had slipped into the Inner Sector under the guise of a Juggernaut robot, only holding its glee for destruction in check long enough to bypass the now thinly spread patrols guarding the Palace of Fallen Stars; the Juggernauts were perhaps the most laconic of the robot series, often frustratingly requiring a Director robot to translate why it couldn’t do as ordered. When it finally broke and attacked a group of citizens fleeing to the safety of the keep, Kul-Inkit intervened and personally slew the beast. The injury would be easily magically healed, her eye restored with a Rejuvenation spell, but only to a point; battle scars were seen as great honours amongst the Kellid tribes and Kul-Inkit’s body was not a stranger to them either.
“… at the risk of its life above and beyond it’s call of duty, while serving as an Armor Officer in Starfall, Sovereign’s Reach, Numeria on five Sarenith, 4716. First Lieutenant Four Un Seven was operating independently in the defense of Starfall with special designation to defend the Silver Gate when a disorganized force of anti-Numerian forces consisting of hundreds of members initiated a close proximity, sustained but chaotic assault, using spells and melee attacks on the Killbox district of Starfall. Seeing the perimeter had been breached and its continued presence at the Silver Gate as unnecessary, First Lieutenant Four Un Seven swiftly engaged the attacking force. A telekinetic attack disabled its force field but with resolve it took command of local disorganized infantry and brought the fight to the enemy. As the enemy drew near Lieutenant Four Un Seven fired its chain gun at point blank range until its ammo supply had been expended.”
Indeed the trail of demonic bodies left behind the Annihilator was extensive, its cold iron rounds having been put to devastating purpose, but even its internal ammunition production capacity had its limits and it only had so much cold iron to work with; mere skymetal would not suffice to pierce the supernaturally tough hide of many of these demons. The idea of a resupply unit, perhaps a modified Reclamation robot, stirred in Bliks’ mind, but that plan might be weeks into the future.
“Lieutenant Four Un Seven proceeded to, at great risk to its life, engage the enemy in hand to hand combat, pinning enemies so that others might deal lethal strikes. Lieutenant Four Un Seven’s courage, steadfast commitment to the defense of Starfall, and ability to fight while seriously impaired prevented the enemy from overrunning the district and seizing citizens still trapped there and ultimately prevented the enemy from gaining a foothold from which to attack the rest of Starfall. Lieutenant Four UN Seven’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, are keeping with the highest traditions of Numeria, and reflect great credit upon itself, its fellow Ex Eh You Four units, and the Numerian Army.”
With a swift tap, Hex brought home the hammer onto the small skymetal pin, driving the newly minted Commendation Medal into the scarred hull of the Annihilator robot that towered over him, despite the hastily erected scaffold he new stood on. While a Heavy Repair Drone had sealed the breaches in its hull and servants had wiped it clean of both spilled blood and Numerian fluid, the scratches and demonic claw marks dug deep into its armoured hide. Even now a faint cloud of nanites swarmed over its skin, returning the armour to its full protection, but at its request, like Kul-Inkit, superficial scars would be left. Its decision to emulate the Kellid barbarian tradition was an unexpected but pleasing one to Bliks.
From her perch above her personal quarters in the palace, she looked down on the ceremony on the parade ground constructed between the palace and the former Technic League compound, now a burgeoning cathedral to her god, Brigh, the Clockwork goddess. At her own request she was absent, another in a series of steps to ingrain the authority and supremacy of Hex. By personally presenting the medals without the presence of the so called ‘Androffan Witch of Numeria’, none of the glory would be shared with her and his prestige would thus rise. Eryno, of course, would be present, as Numeria’s Spymaster and personal bodyguard of the Sovereign, neither of which would question Hex’s authority. The three still shared their cybernetic link and in private there was no sense of any of having authority over the others, but public forms must be obeyed. Needless to say, there were those in the crowd who nervously looked up to where she sat, a mixture of fear for what she could do and what she could protect them from playing through their minds.
Bliks sighed. She had only heard the whispers referring to her in, well, she couldn’t entirely decide if they were flattering or unflattering terms, as the Kellids referred to their own spell casters as ‘witches’, but surely the traditional taboo around all things Androffan put that doubt to rest, a few months back, when the Ve’Diens had paid her a visit. That was going to be another thorn in her side for some time, perhaps a never ending struggle to remove the taboo around the Androffan ruins that littered the semi-barren steppes of Numeria. But, faith willing, she had decades of vigor left in her life; perhaps a generation born under a different view of gearsmen would be enough.
Bliks stood and stepped off the edge of the palace. As was her birthright as a Sylph, the winds that had made her seat on the rough parapet as comfortable as a pillow, supported her light frame as she hovered in space. For those Kellids who hadn’t seen her pull this stunt before, it was just another sign of her unnatural nature, a spell caster flying without casting a spell. Behind her the pair of seemingly dormant Mymidon robot bodyguards rose as their thrusters roared to life. While their triplet of legs made them ungainly on the ground, they did serve to support their almost segmented humanoid torsos while not wasting energy in flight. Going through a quick checkup routine, each tested their large pincers, extended and retracted their tentacle like quantum whips from the lower portion of their ‘face’, and opened their missile launcher ports for inspection by the other unit.
She could have had them carry her, but she needed to stretch her legs, as odd as that felt to say as she didn’t actually walk anywhere anymore, merely floated there, but otherwise her leg muscles would atrophy, and so she set off for Skywatch at the northern tip of the district of Sovergin’s Watch, to perhaps see what calamity had happened far to the north in the Worldwound.