The Soulsteel Caste in many ways stands opposite the Orichalcum Caste. Where the Archons shine forth in glory to inspire the masses, the Unblinking Eyes are the dark shadow on the factory wall, the iron boot rattling on the catwalk, the ominous click of a weapon Charm being primed beneath an oil-slick black coat. Soulsteel Castes are the secret police, interrogators, gremlin hunters and final guardians of orthodoxy in the Realm of Brass and Shadow. They patrol the Reaches for imminent danger to their home city. They seek out and destroy Voidbringer cults. They listen for heresy. The Sentinels find those things that present a threat to the survival and stability of Autochthonia, and they eliminate them. Sometimes this means re-education. Just as often, it means death.
The twin virtues of the Scourges of Autochthon are ruthlessness and discretion. They work tirelessly, effectively and quietly to perform those tasks the state deems necessary but unpleasant. Everyone knows the Unblinking Eyes handle whatever dirty work needs handling. Everyone has a tale they heard, from a guy who heard it from a friend. No one knows real details, because they don’t want to and because the Sentinels often aren’t proud enough of the things they have to do to repeat the stories.
Still, the Soulsteel Castes are not thugs for hire or cackling psychopaths. They are servants of grim necessity, ultimately working toward the greater good. They police the ranks of the powerful and influential as zealously as the hovels of the Lumpen and the warrens of the tunnel people. If they are not loved, so be it. Aware as they are that they are Autochthonia’s last line of defense against the Void, most Sentinels would deem love an unacceptable distraction in any case.
A Sentinel’s soulsteel-infused body will simply devour most implanted souls. Only a soul with a powerful legacy of heroism regardless of cost or consequence is capable of catalyzing an Alchemical of this caste. The regulator who pursues a conspiracy to the greatest halls of power, the Luminor who destroys his own apartment block to create a fire break, the officer who leads 50 to hold a corridor against 1,000, the celebrant who provokes a war over doctrinal differences with a neighboring nation—such hard-line individuals fuse to create a Scourge of Autochthon. Soulsteel Castes never back down, never forget and never compromise. Many intentionally cultivate Clarity to take the edge off their extreme lives. Others eschew Clarity as a form of dangerous cowardice, needing to stay connected and aware of the pain and terror they dispense in their work. Without a gut-intimate knowledge of what they are and what they do, these Alchemicals fear they would one day become like the very gremlins they hunt.
In assemblies, Soulsteel Castes are troubleshooters and measures of last resort. They take care of jobs that do not suit the temperament or skill of their comrades. In group efforts such as combat and investigation, they are the sledgehammer to the more refined approach of the other castes. The result might not be pretty, but they can be counted on to get the job done.
Most elder Unblinking Eyes spend the majority of their time patrolling the Far Reaches, single-handedly annihilating entire gremlin nests. Those who do not rededicate themselves as walking war machines fill their home cities with remote scanning drones and unceasingly walk the streets, acting as terrifyingly efficacious crime deterrents. Soulsteel cities are quiet orderly places full of clean lines, hard edges and sharp right angles. Omnipresent scan eyes make these police states some of the most peaceful places in Autochthonia, though none could exactly be described as lively.
By reflexively spending five motes, a Sentinel may stir the souls trapped in his frame. Outlines and faint imprints of distended faces and hands appear in every black-metal surface, their moans and whispers escaping in a hushed cacophony. This dread display imposes an external penalty of (Essence ÷ 2) on all attacks targeting the Alchemical. This penalty is a form of natural mental influence costing (Essence) Willpower to resist for a scene, and it explicitly effects automata that are normally incapable of fear. It activates automatically at no cost whenever the Alchemical’s anima reaches the 11+ level of display.
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