“Fall of the Orthodoxy, Chapter 1: The Vow”

Come closer, child”, said the Archmechanic with his soothing voice. The hooded youngling approached the Metal Throne, marveling at the sight: it was a dream finally coming true for him, as few could ever attain such a high honor. As he climbed the polished stairs, he could sense all the eyes, human and robotic alike, focused on him. He was being rewarded, at last.

“Kneel”, the Archmechanic commanded. He did. Through his hood, he could barely see the Metal Throne, the vast structure that supported the life of the Archmechanic, and granted him with special powers. A complex machine, riddled with transparent tubes, through which a greenish fluid coursed like blood. Lights of all colors flashed before his eyes, each indicating a different function of the Throne. He kept his head bowed down, as a mix of fear and wonder rushed inside him. The Archmechanic drew his ancient blade, a relic from times long forgotten, times savage and barbaric, when mankind still relied on the work of the hand. It was a straight blade made of solid iron, and despite the countless centuries it had existed, it was still a sight beautiful to behold. And the blade touched his shoulders, and the Archmechanic began his prayer in the Ancient Speech. All present kept their silence, as the prayer went on for several minutes. At long last, the blade’s weight left his body, and he could sense the change inside him. The Archmechanic gestured, and he rose.

“You shall be known as Mericus of the Ascended. You shall serve the Three Gods and heed the Machine Orthodoxy’s teachings, for the rest of your life. Do you find this acceptable?”

“Of course, Master”, the youngling responded. A roar of applause erupted in the dimly lit chamber, and Mericus felt satisfaction and joy. He was now a Mechanic of the Order of the Machine Orthodoxy, the most revered Order of the Solar Empire. Ever since its establishment, the Order pursued the ideal of the union of flesh and metal. Mankind had long suffered from trivial things in the past, such as murderous diseases, wars and false faith. The Machine Orthodoxy dictated that there were only three Gods, to whom mankind owed absolute loyalty: Spiritus, representing the humans, Makinus, representing the Machines, and Unitus, who represented their union.

The origin of the Order could be traced all the way back to Earth, the capital planet of the Empire, where all life first emerged. Millennia after millennia, mankind went through great lengths as the dominant species of the planet. Alas, in their arrogance and inability to understand what their purpose truly was, they waged war against each other, destroying much of their natural habitat in the process. It was a tragedy, as their purpose could not be realized, unless they were united. And, many centuries after their last war, remembered as the Second World War, a third and final battle raged throughout the capital planet. The strife left all sides in a devastated state, unable to fully recover. The radiation from the usage of nuclear weapons made it impossible to live on the surface; the chemicals they used permanently damaged most of the species, almost leading to its extinction. It was a long time later, when the first Archmechanic rose, having discovered the perfect solution: the union of man and machine.

Centuries passed, during which mankind slowly recovered and made great steps towards the new goal set by the first Archmechanic. Many failures had befallen them, as had many setbacks, combined with the endless greed of the most corrupt people of the time, who had yet to realize that their ceaseless hunger would be their undoing. Thankfully, that rebellion was quelled in a short time, the instigators punished harshly; they were experimented on, undergoing cruel transformations, being injected with various chemicals and other gruesome, unspeakable horrors.

Mericus rose and turned to his brothers and sisters. They were viewing him with respect now. Some seemed afraid even. He did not care. He took off his hood, revealing a disfigured face: the right side still had the blood-red color of life on it, while the left was covered by black steel, lifeless and cold. His red eye gazed over the bevy of flesh and steel, at the other end of the dark hall: the Shrine of the Three Gods stood there, the only spot in the room that was alit. The statues of the Gods were nearly three meters tall each, crafted with gold, each bearing the image of the corresponding deity: on the far left stood Spiritus, a naked man holding a hammer in the left hand and a torch in the right. In the middle, Unitus was piercing their hearts with his unforgiving gaze. His entire left side was human-like, naked just as Spiritus was, his hand grasping a small blue orb. His right side was every inch a machine, with a golden tube extending from the back of his head to his spine. This side’s hand was robotic, with features reminiscing cables and gears being visible, as though the hand had been cut open. Finally, on the far right, Makinus’ statue was the only one facing back at the wall, the face unseen. This was a symbolism, as Makinus’ blessings were bestowed upon the humble hairless primates after a torturous ordeal, which displeased him greatly.

“Mericus, you are now an official Mechanic of the Order. Your first task will be a hard one. Are you up to the challenge?”

Mericus hesitated, if only for a second. As he pulled his hood over his head, he bowed before the Archmechanic and spoke, with a voice of clanging gears.

“I am. Show me the way, Master.”

“I will. Ad Infinitum!”

“Ad Infinitum!” the crowd roared in response.

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