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Resembling a brutish, mechanical humanoid some nine metres tall, Ares Lictor was a Paladin-class Knight, a one-man war machine of deep blue armour plates with a fearsome array of weaponry beyond the power of even the strongest of the Terran Emperor's Astartes to bear.
Two other war machines followed Verticorda, his brothers-in-arms and fellow Knights of Taranis.
'Blood of the Machine,' hissed Yelsic, rider of the Knight at his back.
The golden giant's eyes scrutinised the blue-armoured form of Verticorda's mount, from its conical glacis to the aventailed shoulder plates upon which the wheel and lightning bolt symbol of the Knights of Taranis was emblazoned.
Supersonic shells tore through the gaggle of servitors feeding on the dead techno-mats, obliterating one instantly and blowing the limbs from another. Three others staggered back, chunks of flesh blasted from emaciated frames. They refused to fall, however, their damaged brains unable to comprehend how greivously the guns of Cronus' Knight had wounded them.
Maven moved Equitos Bellum in behind the bloody servitors, the energised blade in his war machine's right fist reaching down and slicing through survivors in one sweep. Old Stator finished off the stragglers with a short, perfectly controlled burst of laser fire, their wasted bodies exploding in puffs of vapourised blood and scrap metal.
The Knights were armoured in thick plates of plasteel and ceramite, protected by layered banks of power fields strong enough to weather the impact of a much larger engine's wrath, and armed with weapons that could kill scores at a time. The plates of their armour were a deep, midnight blue, the right shoulder of each one painted with the design of a wheel encircling a lightning bolt.
Maven rode in Equitos Bellum, an honourable mount with a host of battle honours earned in the earliest days of the Great Crusade. It had fought the enemies of the Imperium beneath a dozen different skies, and even marched alongside the Salamanders of Primarch Vulkan. The design of a firedrake carved into the skull-cockpit of the Knight recalled that campaign, and Maven never tired of telling the stories of that glorious ride into battle.
Maven unleashed a torrent of las-fire from his right arm and the ground erupted in a storm of metal and earth.
A flurry of gunfire rippled towards him, and he flinched as he felt a power field flash out of existence. Like a Titan, a Knight had a finite bank of energy shields to protect it, but where a Titan's reactor could replenish its shield strength in time, the Knight's battery could not.
Maven's weapons blazed in a hurricane of light, enveloping the Protectors in a firestorm that obliterated them in an instant and left virtually no remains.
Maven opened fire at the same as the attacking war machine, his lasers impacting on a number of power fields before tearing one of the weapon arms from its mounting.
Nine metres tall, the two Knights dwarfed the slight form of Adept Zeth, and the deep blue of their armoured plates shimmered with the reflected glow of the magma lake. The proud heraldry of a wheel encircling a lightning bolt was emblazoned on their shoulder guards, and they rode from the gateway to stand behind Adept Zeth with their energy lances and gatling cannons trained on the approaching skitarii.
Maven's heart surged with savage, primal joy to see the enemy machine reel from the impacts of his weapons. Cronus had also struck true and Equitos Bellum's Manifold shone with the knowledge that they had finally found their quarry. His autoloaders thundered as they fed more shells into the cannon mounted on his arm and he felt the heat build as he unleashed the four-metre war blade in his right fist.
Cronus was already moving, Pax Mortis loping across the rough, step-like terrain of the rocky valley, his carapace low to the ground and his weapon arms thrust out before him. Maven hauled his mount left and unleashed another rippling salvo of cannon fire towards the machine.
He opened up with his cannon, hammering the machine's upper shields.
Maven didn't give it a chance and drove the full four metres of his energised war blade through its frontal section.
The Knights formed a wedge, with Verticorda and Caturix as the tip of the spear, and plunged into the mass of enemy warriors, their guns spitting death with every shot.
Roaring streams of turbo lasers and blitzing storms of explosive shells tore through skitarii and weaponised servitors as the Knights carved a path along the Typhon Causeway.
Lord Caturix turned his guns on the swarming skitarii, clearing them from the downed Knight in a series of devastating bursts of gunfire.
He turned his right cannon on them, letting Ares Lictor target them. He felt the thrill of acquisition course down his arm and opened fire, the hurricane of shells obliterating the platform and turning the guns and their operators into an expanding cloud of shredded meat and metal.
Old Stator died next, the preceptor clearing a path for the masters of his order with a gloriously heroic dash towards the black pavilion, his twin blades extended to either side of him as he charged.
With the last of his energy, Verticorda shouted, 'I cast the lightning of Taranis at thee!' and together, he and caturix opened fire. Thunderous impacts strafed the ground and blazed a devastating path through the skitarii towards Melgator.
The forge worlds of the Adeptus Mechanicus produce numerous marks of Knight suit, from the swift and deadly line-breaker known as the Lancer to the ponderous, heavily armoured gun platform that is the Knight Crusader. However, two designs in particular have proven enduringly popular for their balance and utility.
With the might of Mars behind them, the Taranis Nobles have some of the finest examples of the Knight suit at their command, including large numbers of rarer configurations like the heavy Crusader and Castellan patterns, each one tended to by scores of Sacristan-priests of unequalled skill.