Castiel watched over the tanks resting under the cover of a massive tree, he had intervened in a battle to save this ragtag group that now rested under his gaze.
"Why did you save them?" a voice spoke inside his mind, his own conscience, asking that painful question to which he had no answer.
One of the tanks shifted on its tracks, rousing from a slumber. A Comet medium tank, taking in the surrounding area and realizing it was safe.
The Comet looked up and saw the imposing figure ahead, a mythical being of legends of the world before the great war, a Main Battle Tank.
"Yes....." The Comet replied, its barrel dropped and it made a sound Castiel recognized as a sigh of frustration.
"I am Castiel, I mean you no harm," Castiel said, introducing himself. His model is a Leopard 2A5 painted in olive green paint, or what remains of his paint coating as wear and battle damage riddled all of his chassis. "What is your name?"
The Comet stared at the giant tank and replied with an intimidated tone.
Castiel nodded in acknowledgement.
"You can relax for now."
Morgan shifted on his tracks again and relaxed a bit, the MBT really didn't mean any harm towards him or his companions, all lower tiers than him. A lot of questions formed on his mind but the most prominent one was, "Why... Why did you save us?".
Castiel looked away, a clear expression of sadness visible on his posture.
"I couldn't bear to watch..." Castiel interrupted himself at the last word as a rush of ancient memories and recollections appeared on his mind, images of ancient battles and enemies and most importantly ancient companions. "I couldn't bear to watch as they killed the young". Castiel half lied.
Morgan was shocked that such a mythical creature would show any emotion to someone so below it. MBTs often were depicted in the myths and legend as demigods of war and destruction, angels of death of an era long gone, and here was one in front of him showing emotions after having saved his pitiful group of low tiers of an early death.
"I... Thank you so much" replied Morgan. "How can i repay you?" He asked while extending a mechanical arm to search on his bag before getting cut off by Castiel's own.
"You owe me nothing".
Morgan felt confused.
"Where were you heading, young one?" asked Castiel. "Before you were ambushed..."
Morgan looked to his left at the road on extending all the way to the horizon and replied.
"Province, sir... We were heading to the safe haven everyone talks about over the radio."
Castiel nodded and then offered to take them there the next day.
"I am so grateful, sir! Thank you so much," Morgan cheerfully replied. Castiel turned and looked at the horizon before replying.
"Rest well, we move tomorrow first light."
Castiel had accompanied the rag-tag group of tanks he had encountered a couple of days ago. He had offered himself as escort while they reached their destination of the coastal town of Province, a commercial hub of the southern lands and safe haven for vehicles that wish to escape the onslaught of the Legion on the North. Morgan sat around a campfire with the other low tiers telling campfire horror stories; one of them piqued Castiel's interest as it spoke of an ancient demon going by the name of Nosferatu, manifesting as a shadow that brought damnation to anything that dared cross its path.
Castiel listened in as Morgan told the tale of the demon to scare the low tiers, who initially felt frightened but soon after he laughed it off as a fictional tale, little did he know that Castiel had faced the Demon before.
"Castiel! Why don't you come and join us? Maybe tell a tale," Morgan called and Castiel reluctantly agreed, driving towards the campfire to tell a story, not of horror but a recollection of his past experiences.
"Did you know there used to be more of my kind?" He started the tale of a time before this age, telling the events of a battle that occurred far too long ago. He of course embellished it to make it appear as an epic tale of the prowess of the main battle tanks.
"We were tasked with defending the Monument of Liberty while the civilian population evacuated against the endless horrors of the eastern beasts," he began the tale, but what the others didn't realize is that he was retelling a battle from the time the precursors walked the earth.
"Five of us, against endless of them, five knights of Light - our names were Azrael, Barachiel, Uriel, Larael and me, Castiel." He introduced his companions who were to stand their ground, he avoided mentioning the supporting elements of the precursors naturally to protect them.
"Larael was the first brother to fall, brought down by loss of mobility and ultimately speared through the midsection of the hull by a lance of fire." He recalled Larael suffering a mobility kill and being pierced by another MBT through the side, ripping his core apart. Castiel described with grim details how then Barachiel and Uriel were killed: Barachiel died to multiple wounds that overwhelmed his systems and Uriel died when his remaining ammunition exploded.
"It was on the dawn of the new day that Azrael gave his life to ensure I would survive. Our mission was accomplished, however during that long night of seemingly endless battle, Azrael sustained wounds that would bring down even the most resilient of the Legion's forces. And yet, he kept on," Castiel spoke, the tanks in front of him enraptured by the tale of the ancient demigod of war. "Azrael, unable to retreat, ordered me to do so, to carry on protecting the weak and undefended, to use our shields and blades against the Darkness. In his last act of self-sacrifice and defiance against destiny he called down fiery retribution on the beasts before being consumed by the inferno." Castiel ended the tale referring to the nuclear strike Azrael called on his position to cripple the advancing enemy.
"Their names and deeds will be forever remembered, for they live in glory in my heart."
Province, more commonly known as Marchépave, was a small town in the coastal region of what was in ages past the Roman nation, a commercial hub with access to the sea alongside one of the most populated shipping routes. A neutral territory where powers can meet, trade goods and recruit personnel, protected by the Province's mutual agreement accords between several clans: they enforce their rules to ensure stable and reliable commerce and to maintain political favor with one another.
Marchépave also served as safe haven for low tier youths to spend their early years in the safety of its port and adjacent territory, learning how to defend themselves and how to survive in a world so hostile as this. Castiel understood why Morgan wanted to bring the low tiers to this place; Morgan knew he couldn't take care of the youths so he brought them to the best place they could have gotten to. The agreement was that the youths would serve in the defense force once of a proper age, agreement to these simple terms was easy and so he parted ways with his companions.
"You did what you had to do to ensure their future," Castiel said, reassuring the Comet had done the right thing. Morgan looked at Castiel and let out a sigh of relief.
"I... guess you're right...".
Morgan went to explore around town while Castiel headed to the port area to shop in one of the stores, arriving at a store that sold exotic implements.
"The legendary Castiel comes visit my store once more!" said the clerk, an M26 Pershing medium tank by the name of Mark. "Welcome to Mark's Garage!"
"You flatter me, Mark," replied Castiel. "Did you get the replacement thermal sights I ordered?"
Mark went inside his store and after a moment came back with a package.
"Try to avoid getting your thermals shot again, this was incredibly hard to find." He handed over the package to Castiel and asked, "You still hunting the precursor?"
Castiel nodded in reply, the precursors were a race of beings that created the machine race, they are referred to with a multitude of names, but the most resonant one to Castiel is Humanity. "Yes... I still search."
"Listen, I don't know the motives as to why you're chasing around ghosts and frankly I don't think I really wish to know, BUT! I can tell you this, rumor goes there's a place on the far lands that seems... off
." Mark leaned closer to Castiel, who was intrigued by this. "There's no clan laying claim to that place, no team has been able to even lay a dendrite on it before they're utterly annihilated to the last one. Heck, it completely scared off the Legion after they failed to break through."
"So you're saying there's something or someone there nobody knows about?" asked Castiel. A potential lead
, he thought.
"It spooked the Legion, I'd say it's worth checking out," Mark said. Castiel nodded, then handed Mark a bag with gold coins.
"Resupply my ammo". To which Mark obliged.
Castiel had to check the potential lead out, it would bring him much closer to achieving his goal.
"I will find you...