Massive humanoid robots arrived after them, and the mood of the meeting immediately changed for the delegations from the Imperium of Man. None spoke the words aloud, but the same thought went through each of their minds: men of iron. Aximand seemed as though he was about to do something rash, and so Horus stayed him, putting his huge hand upon his son's armored forearm. This was not the time nor place for a fight, even if they did face down the ruination of mankind.
The briefing commence, and Horus studied O'Neill. He had the bearing of an experienced soldier, and Horus could see in his eyes that he had faced down the very threat he spoke of. Meanwhile, Sindermann idly tapped at the small, primitive cogitator they had been given, as he was the only person with fingers small enough to manipulate the keyboard. Horus would have to send the technology to be assessed and dissected by his tech-adepts the next chance he got.
Abaddon gave something of a growling chuckle as O'Neill finished his briefing. "General, I think you'll find that ballistic weapons are a specialty of ours.
" He snapped his fingers in front of Axmiand, who reluctantly cleared his weapon
and set it down on the table to be inspected by the other parties. "The Tigrus-pattern boltgun, in its humble glory. Multiple fire selectors, infra-red targeting linkup, and fires a point six-aught gyrojet-assisted mass-reactive shell.
" The bolter was a staggering weapon, so large that an unaided human could barely lift it, much less bring it about to fire. "We have twenty thousand ready to issue, and six-hundred in the hands of capable Astartes soldiers.
Horus stepped forward, his First Captain retreating to allow the Warmaster to speak. "We can provide armaments, should you need them. However, I feel that the surest course of action would be to begin orbital bombardment of the areas confirmed to have replicator activity.
"I have heard enough of this.
" Picard spoke, his voice hard with restrained anger, and rose from his seat. "Trillions of lives are at stake on this world alone, and you wish to make this into, what, one of your war games?
" He accused Horus. The entire time the Warmaster had been speaking, Troi had been whispering to Picard and Riker, telling them of the darkness that lurked in the demigod's heart.
He turned then to O'Neill, seeing him as a more reasonable figure, "General, you said that the replicators are capable of manifesting humanoid-level intelligence. Would it be possible to communicate with them, reason with them? Surely they would be able to see the logic in brokering a peace, if we are already willing to sacrifice countless innocents to ensure their destruction. There must be some need of theirs that we could accommodate.