Author Topic: Welcome to the Truth  (Read 4825 times)

Offline Macabre

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Welcome to the Truth
« on: June 16, 2013, 11:50:09 PM »
Names.

Why is it that some names echo across the millennia, whilst countless billions of others are forgotten as motes of dust upon a temporal tempest? Spread before me, like the major arcana of an astropath’s tarot, are just such names of legend, that spiral and conjoin into a harrowing epic:

Mentirius, Nexus, Junious, Drazh Marazel, Vaith Osis, Maltheus, Alundirel, Ludvos Arkhan, Trachtenberg, Rex, Taren, Amaurn, Raphael…


I was too tired. I set aside my autoquill and sighed heavily. With a cramped hand I reached for the bottle of Vino Imperias and shook off a vellum page that had adhered to the bottom with a burgundy ouroboros of runoff. The distant throb of the engineerium two floors down added to my annoyance of finding the bottle empty and myself absent of wine. Normally I would choose somewhere far quieter to work, but this planet was far too cold, and the central column was the warmest place in the complex.

I rubbed my temples, trying in vain to preemptively shift an oncoming migraine. I needed air. Dragging myself away from the Munitorum-issue plasteel desk, I grabbed my fur-lined arctic robes, pulled down the bulkhead release crank and with a hiss of pneumatic pistons, swept through the yawning portal.

I blinked myopically as the sterile-white phosphor rods seared through my eyes. My breath had already started to mist, and a thin film of permafrost covered the surfaces of the corridor. As per usual, the temperature of the complex away from the central core was somewhere beneath five degrees, which was nothing compared to the outside. Crossing the tertiary gantry, the five hundred cells and the commissary some hundred feet below me were unsurprisingly deserted: with a standing crew of only five Inquisitorial functionaries, a handful of enginseers and mech-wrights to keep the complex running and about twenty or so servitors, all dwelling in a kilometer-wide site designed to house over five thousand, I rarely saw anyone unless I went looking for them.

I reached the heatlock, pulled my robe tighter to my chest and bracing myself for the cold. The locking wheel was uncooperative and screeched in protest as it turned before the door opened onto a silent vista of blue-white icy tundra and clear lavender sky, broken only by the sporadic, grey void-shield coils in the distance. I whispered a short prayer of gratitude that the normally hurricane-wracked landscape was still. I retrieved a groxhide and brass carton from the pocket of my robe, flipped the lip and plucked a tabacstick to my lips. Replacing the carton with a flintwheel lighter, I savoured the acrid stench of kerosene as I struck a flame and lit the end of the tabacstick. The coals blazed as I drew in a heavy draught, shivering as the weighted narco-vapour settled in my lungs. Exhaling blue-gray smoke I mused on my current situation: This was Rura Penthe, a minor Inquisitorial listening post, a very minor listening post in the Segmentum Pacificus, largely forgotten by the very institution it serves. Once this was a penal establishment until it was sequestered by the Ordo Xenos sometime in M38 as a staging post for an offensive against an alien threat now long since passed. With the inmates either drafted or sent to other prisonworlds, Rura Penthe was left as a listening post in the unlikely event it would be needed again and became a short string of numbers on an Administratum audit exclusion form.

“You shouldn’t remain out here too long, Sister Ellis, another blizzard is due soon” said a voice suddenly at my side.

“Rebekah, please” I murmured in insistence through another drag of smoke, “and be damned, how is it someone of your stature move so silently?”

“Sometimes stealth is the only weapon you have” came the reply as a massive bicep tattooed with a shield livery of a blue winged skull in profile on a field of white hoved into view to my right.

“I haven’t seen you for a while, Librarian Phaldor” I sighed curling vapour.

“Morael, please” he smirked “and I’ve been meditating, but I find the stillness of this moon spiritually soothing when the storms have abated”

The vivid purple glow of the jotunnium gas-giant Violet-Theta-Twelve had just begun its crescent rise upon the horizon and already the wind had picked up as a prelude to the predicted meteorological wrath.

“Why are we here, Morael?”

“My father trusted you.” He replied after a moment’s pause.

“I never really knew your father.” I refuted quickly. In truth, I had worked for a decade with Inquisitor Danyael Rephexis and returned to my Order a scant few years before his reported death and the disappearance of his ship: the Zankantō. I could see much of Danyael in Morael, the same patrician features, the same high forehead and wise but tormented eyes.

Morael looked down at me with a sad smile, “I only met my father once, and only by the sheer coincidence that I was tenured to the Deathwatch at the time.”

“He was a good man” I nodded solemnly, “but I meant; why are we here?”

“Catherine told me that my father recovered here for the nine years that followed the events of Secrets Hold.”

Danyael rarely spoke of his past and many of his retinue at the time of my secondment to his service hadn’t been with him them. Catherine D’Harquebus was his personal chirugeon and had been with him since his ascension to full inquisitor status. She had designed and aided in his physiotherapy regime following the betrayal of Inquisitor Lorenco di Valdi that left him paralyzed from the waist down and left for dead aboard the hulk: The Invisible Dragon. She must be at least some three-hundred Terran standard by now.

She was also the one that gave Danyael’s archive to Morael along with instructions that led him to recruit me and bring us to this desolate, nigh-deserted and freezing rock. It also struck me at the superhuman tolerances of the astartes at my side: barefoot and wearing naught but a sleeveless, white-linen recreation robe despite the snow and ice.

I flicked the spent tabacstick into a nearby snowdrift and turned towards the heatlock.

“Some of the archive is either corrupted or incomplete, Morael, are you sure it should be made accessible to the Inquisition?” I asked.

The Librarian’s gaze remained firmly fixed in the distance and silent moments passed before he gave his answer;

“Catherine told me that my father had maintained extensive records of related inquisitorial activities since Secrets Hold and that his final request was that his brothers and sisters in the Ordos needed to know the truth.”

“Truth is subjective….” I began and then instantly realised why Catherine had suggested Rura Penthe: The moment Danyael’s archive was uploaded to the Inquisition’s gateway database there would be elements within that would see it removed. The Puritan Council and Ordo Malleus would see it destroyed simply because of the names it contained (the names of: Amon Dull, Landen Dosdamt, Charax came unbidden to my mind). With the core archive held deep within the datastacks of Rura Penthe, it would take years, maybe decades, to break the complex encryptions and trace it origins to this lonely moon. By which time copies will have circulated too widely to control.

“It will cause anarchy, Morael, rifts will divide the Ordos, a schism of interests and new philosophies will break the Inquisition: a new internal war of secrets and lies. This truth will be buried under the avalanche of further misinformation.”

“I know,” he replied. “The next supply ship arrives in seventy-two hours, Sister Ellis, if you are finished by then we will arrange passage away from here and then part company. I recommend from there that you find yourself a remote convent somewhere the fallout cannot reach you.”

“I’ve been finished for two days. I just wanted to speak with you, to be sure that this is necessary.” I say, sighing with resignation.

“It is,” he whispered.

I nod, retreating through the heatlock into the complex and back to my chamber.



+++ Accessing database +++
>>> User access code:_
>>> *
+++ Authorising +++
[ACCESS GRANTED]
://<query=central+inquisition+gateway?>
- accessing inquisition gateway:_
[ACCESS DENIED]
://<search=tertiary+route?>
_No Pathway Found:_
://<cmd=search?maintenance+lock>
_searching.
_lock0:_
_lock1:_
_lock2:_
_lock3:_
://<cmd=access_lock0?>
+++[ACCESS RESTRICTED]+++
- insufficient clearance:_
://<cmd=show?restriction+protocol>
-protocol=key1657774839900506874773
://<cmd=bypass+protocol>
_
_
_
_protocol disengaged:_
://<cmd=access_lock0>
- insufficient clearance:_
://<passkey=yarrick+beta+oboe>
://<cmd=new+logon>
- please enter authorisation:_
>>>user access code:_system+overide
>>>passkey:_=][=
[ACCESS GRANTED]
#uploadfile=107684Φ4666Θ76Ψ
_UPLOADING:_
_
_
_
[UPLOAD COMPLETE]
://<cmd=new+file+dir>
_1 new file found:_
://<cmd=access_file?>

_REPHEXIS_ARCHIVE:_

++Believe the lie. Trust no one++

Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2013, 07:40:05 AM »
“Who will read this?”

“Does it matter? The old man said it was important. He wanted this doing, especially if his era came up on the channels. Especially if something this big came up.”

He shuffled at the terminal.

“Are you uncomfortable with this?”

“No. No, listen, no. The old man.... This was his last request. He wanted his death, Aithol. He wanted it all to mean something. With Junious gone.. Throne knows where, the rest of the Mentirians have gone to ground - well, those who weren't dead in the purges anyway. What is there left? Maltheus, Stryde, lost to the warp. Even that lunatic Muundus hasn't been heard from. There's a new generation now.”

He keyed his access codes, cycling the channels.

“Not a single name I know. Mefisto, that old goat, even he is gone and he was one for stirri-”

“-the pot for the sake of stirring the pot.”

Both of the figures chuckled.
“This feels hollow.”

The words echoed around the librarium. It was dark, cold, drafty. Many a message was sent from places like this. Dusty reliquariums that had been accumulated by the various bibliophiles in the Inquisition. They'd pick an outpost on the fringe, and drop their collections leaving them accessible to all. All who had a ship, and a navigator, and the will to get to the edge of the known galaxy. And that was the draw, the edge of the galaxy. It would take months to get here, and even those places with barely one route in had that advantage – barely one. There was always another way, usually much riskier, but worth it to evade capture. Some, like this rocky outcrop, had multiple safe routes in and out.

Perhaps that explained the few other souls in the place, going about their business. The surroundings and the virtually inaudible murmur suggested that everyone in the place had no interest in the machinations of anyone else.

“What does it matter, seriously? Why did we hump our forsaken hides all the way out here just to pour some petrol on this bonfire? Why bother?”

The seated man sighed. He thumbed his temples, and straightened his spine.

“Because of the idea.”

“Idea? Is that what we are now? Idealogues? Fanatics? Messengers?”

“No,” the seated man snapped, “None of that. We are active agents-”

“Without an Inquisitor.”

“Aye, but we do the good work. We keep working against the great enemy. We aren't just idealogues, or messengers. This is important, Karon, this is really important. Look, you saw the archive with your own eyes. You know what they've published. This... This is the start of something. Dangerous, stupid, important, whatever. This event...”

He sighed, and slumped into his chair. His partner waved her hands.

“If you think this is right.....” she said, her words faltering off.

++++ Communications.=I=.TheConclave:Open ++++
++++ <CMD:AllFreqBrdCast> ++++
++++ CMD – ACCEPTED ++++
++++ <CMD:Auth//Black-47\\Action:POST.ANONYMOUS> ++++
++++ Subject: The Last Confession of Jaydred Taren ++++


History will not treat us kindly, if it remembers us at all.

I said that to Mentirius, in one of our final conversations before Aithol. We sat in the Warp for some time. I suppose everyone on that vessel, and on route to that planet, knew the same. It wasn’t a fool’s errand – it was a traitor’s run.

If this has been published, then I am long dead and there is a demand for something new in the Inquisition. Specific parameters I specified have been met, and as a result, this is to be published.
A review of the past, and perhaps to provide some lessons for the future.
 
Legacy was one of my many vanities – a vanity most Inquisitors have – and thus when Mentirius and I spoke, we spoke of a many great things, not least his book, our personas, our ideals – our legacy and that of all those heading out for Aithol.

We all knew that, one way or another, we’d all end up fixing gazes with an executioner as a result of our actions.

I do not fear that day, and it is closer than I suspect.

We had all been proscribed. We had all risked everything to get to that world. This was our opportunity to create a legacy though, a true legacy, one forged of bravery and conviction. The galaxy potentially hanging by a thread – isn’t that what we signed up for? Isn’t that our task? Didn’t that make it our opportunity?

It did, and it was, and perhaps a great many things, ideas and men died as a result of our vanity. But the galaxy was saved.

I suppose I would like to remember the names and faces with a rose tint, not the way we ended on that world. Not the way our legacy will be recorded, infamy and riddled with heresy. Not the way things actually happened, but the way I remember them.

This little vanity, then, will be preserved. It will be kept safe. This will be published at a time I have specified to hands, hearts and minds I trust completely. It is to be released at a time when it is needed; when the Inquisition bloats with the narrow radical and the fiery rhetoric of puritanical conflict.

Redemption sits in this room tragically dimmed. Since Aithol, I’ve not taken up a blade again. My mind is weary, and there is too much to document for me to waste any more of my lifetime on conflict. Ah but the name of the damned blade, and what it meant.

It all started with Alessandro Nexus – the dratted fool, the naïve imbecile; that confounded martyr! He started something and it stirred the Inquisition to its core. His actions were brutal and heartless. His collaboration with the Eternal was nothing short of abominable and resulted in the deaths of far too many. I don’t suppose things would ever have progressed without him, the incomparable fool.

And then Mentirius. A shining wit, his rally call echoed loudly through the Inquisition. A brilliant mind, no doubt but perhaps he would have been an incomparable font of wisdom in a more enlightened time. Instead he cast a shadow across the Inquisition and inevitably we all became embroiled in a conflict with a god in waiting. Amon-Dull, Nine Eyes, GreenEyes, the Spider – a myriad of other names, some more forgettable than others.

And to you, my friend – rest well. I do not know what transpired on Aithol after you left, and above on the Eye. Perhaps it is better I never know. But, for a shining moment, we knew – absolutely – what we were doing and that explosion will live on in my memory forever.

To Maltheus, Stryde, Nexus, and more besides – thank you for standing with us through those dark days. Reputations, lives, and more were risked to down that beast. I hoped you escaped with your lives, and more importantly with your sanity. Take courage and conviction in that your actions were bold... beautiful. Take hope in your future, for it will be bright and more important that you know.

Alundirel, I will never understand you or your kind, nor do I wish to. I am sure you will still monitor these channels. Alliances fold as easily as they slip together. Remember Aithol. Remember our sacrifice.

To Chief Justice Bob MacFarlane – I know it is you who comes for me. I know it is you who orchestrated the downfall of the Mentirius and Nexus. It was you who sought to apply justice – a narrow minded, bureaucratic form of justice – to the Inquisition. I hope this message finds you dying of old age, MacFarlane. I hope this finds you rotting on the Throne-world, in some forsaken hole where some Inquisitor has tossed you to be forgotten as the wretched relic that you are. Terran roaches such as yourself should only ever be exterminated for messing in the business of the Inquisition.

Mefisto – the outsider, ever the watcher, but ever the wisest of us all. I am sure you've evaded your critics, as ever. I hope you realise everything you plotted for. And Ludvos Arkhan, may you find peace brave Captain. I came to see your wisdom in the end.

To Rex, Muundus, and the rest of you fringe lunatics – keep counsel with the open minded. Unity, not conflict, not internal strife, will keep the Imperium safe. Do not go after your brothers and sisters. Do not seek to slaughter our own. Look to the lessons of the Nexus Schism, and a horde of other names. Take those lessons and broaden your view. Wars do not prove who is right, only who is left.
But I suppose those are dusty names, dead names now. But the lessons should ring truer now than ever before.

Unity in preference to ideology.

Hope ahead of fear.

Truth over lies.

The Inquisition can be – should be – more. We should achieve something greater, while the Imperium rots. The grotesque face of the Inquisition must remain – but we can be the torch bearers of humanity. The Emperor granted the Inquisitorial charter for one purpose – for men and women of true minds and hearts, with clarity of vision and will of forged steel, to take the fight to the enemies of the Imperium, Within, Without, Beyond – and to fight them tooth and nail; red claw and savage mind; black hand and white heart. For any inch the Inquisition might give, billions of lives are lost and the consequences of our negligence, inaction and factional nonsense are beyond those of the majority of menials across the Imperium.

Take your responsibility on, blast it! Use your seal for what it was for, for Throne's sake!

I regret nothing of what I did in the past. I know the Emperor will absolve anything He can understand. When I stand before Him, I hope to be eloquent.

They say there is nothing more powerful than an idea who's time has come.

What better place than here, what better time than now?
« Last Edit: July 03, 2013, 06:17:44 PM by Dosdamt »
It is never too late! - Mentirius

http://thementalmarine.proboards.com/index.cgi <- The Mind, for all your irreverent nonsense needs

Offline Macabre

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Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 03:26:37 AM »
It was more humid than he remembered; an oppressive heat and stench of foetid vegetation that assaulted the olfactory senses and obliged the skin to perspire. He was somewhat gladdened to be standing within a clearing that stretched several kilometers in any direction, a single pockmark upon the verdant surface of this arboreal deathworld, rather than trudging through the carnivorous vines and winding around the gigantic boles and titanic tubers that he recalled with a disgusted nostalgia. However the decayed tableaux before him left an ambivalent, hollow melancholy: Rhiannon had died here, he had died here, and all for the vanity of a single man.

Of course he hadn’t died ‘here’, but several million miles elsewhere in this system, left to perish and scream defiantly into the soundless vacuum amongst the wreckage of naivety. He was much younger then, and he had changed (evolved?) in the passing centuries, but it had all begun here.

The clearing was a grandiose homage to the perils of hubris: even time had failed to inspire the semi-sentient jungle to recapture it, leaving the vines and small brightly coloured fungi to cling upon the precipices marking the land’s end before the sunken architecture below. Anyone standing upon the edge looking down would probably feel the dizzying sensation of vertigo when confronted by the shattered archways and collapsed walkways that descended deeply into shrouded darkness that even the sun at its zenith could not penetrate.

“What is this place?” piped a smooth feminine voice from behind him.

“If this world ever had a name, I have long forgotten it, but this,” replied the old man gesturing to the devastated vista before him with an outstretched, steel hand, “is all that remains of Secrets Hold.”

He tore his gaze away from the ruins and turned with difficultly, a metallic squeak of calipers accompanying every step, leaning heavily on his cane. His augmetic spine was always less compliant in extremes of temperature, and it was times like this that he truly felt his age.

The pale woman looked insultingly untouched by the infernal swelter as she gracefully perched upon monolithic slab of black stone, torn from the ceiling of the upper corridors of the Hold and cast aside when the secret at its heart burst from its prison in a cataclysmic orgasm. Her alabaster skin was free from flush, her bone-white hair bone dry and pink eyes absent of film-sweat. He instantly envied her youth.

“Is this about the archive, Lord Iscariot?” She enquired.

“Not here, Lilith, here I am Danyael again, “he sighed, almost pleadingly, “and yes, this is about my archive.”

“You haven’t been Danyael for a long time,” she chided, “and this is not in our remit.”

“Then allow the indulgence of an old man his memories?” he grimaced, head bowed and ran a sweat-streak through his thinning hair with his flesh hand. “Besides…” he began before a gunshot crack, like lightning striking a tree, sounded in the distance, “at least Beckett seems at home here.”

“This cannot be linked back to us. We cannot indulge in a personal vendetta.” She stated resolutely.

“It won’t be,” the old man countered, “and this isn’t a personal vendetta, this is…..necessary.”

She pushed herself off the stone and landed spryly, crushing vegetation underfoot.

“Why?” she asked.

“I cannot answer that with any certainty,” he replied shaking his head, “but the Inquisition has become jaded, its purpose marginalised and degraded into fanciful pantomime. The puritanical firebrands now yawn silently and the machiavellian radicals have become prosaic. If anything, they need to know the truth.”

“Truth is subjective,” She smiled derisively in that way only the young manage when confronting the old and senile, “and you cannot get involved.”

“I cannot,” he agreed, “the Imperium and the Inquisition believes that I am dead. That cannot change. Jezebel has been instructed as to the next steps to take.”

“Then why is she not here in our place?” she frowned.

“The young never understand the gravity of nostalgia until they become old themselves. I wanted, I needed, to do this personally.” He turned away from her as grunts of exertion echoed from the ruins nearby, closely followed by gloved hands appearing on the lip of the closest archway and a synthsuit clad man hauled himself back onto ground level.
 
“Many of the traps are no longer functioning, but those I could repair have been reset,” called out the newcomer.

The old man turned back to Lilith, “you know what to do: upload the geographical sector of this site and the navigational star-coordinates for this world onto the Conclave database. Use the Inquisition Gateway and flag the file under Omega-Red Urgent, I want them to notice. I want the location of Secrets Hold to fail in its namesake.”

She opened her mouth to protest, but instead walked away with a resigned murmur.

The newcomer drew closer, his breathing slightly labored and beads of perspiration pearlescent upon his brow. The blue light of his bionic eye flickered as though in irritation.

“How was it down there, Kobayashi?” the old man asked wryly.

“Labyrinthine,” he answered honestly with a shrug, “the upper levels match the map, but the deeper I went, the less it correlated. It would have been better to take a geological resonant scan.”

“The map is a copy and an old one at that,” the old man nodded, unsurprised by the report, “I was told that the Hold was impervious to scans, both technological and psychic, because of this;” he punctuated by kicking at a fist-sized chunk of the black stone at his feet.

“I also saw….ghosts,” Kobayashi muttered with an embarrassed uncertainty, “they seemed oblivious to my presence though.”

“That’s not unexpected. They are not ghosts per se, more like corrupted vid-logs that continually loop: a negative image imprinted upon realspace by the mass-flash of a warp event. Individuals damned to non-sentient purgatory, repeating a singular, and in some cases final, action.”

“What happened here?” the younger man whispered in awe, drinking in his surroundings with new eyes.

“Titans of fallen gods and lesser mortals all risking life, soul or essence for a coveted and dubious truth. The warp spilled from this place like an unnatural geyser, trapped for untold millennia beneath black stone.” The old man gestured across the clearing with his steel hand, “why do you think nature has not reclaimed this place and subsumed it under burgeoning jungle even after all these centuries? The maya of realspace is thinner here and the taint of the warp still saturates this accursed ground. A salted earth wherein nothing will grow.”

“Huh,” was all Kobayashi exclaimed.

“Recall Beckett and get back to the lander, make sure you report to Gediman for a health check and we’ll leave once Lilith is done.” The younger man gave a sharp nod of affirmation and followed in the direction Lilith had taken, leaving the older man with his thoughts.

He worried that Inquisitress Jezebel Magdalene would have too much to handle after this irretractable gambit: first the release of the archive and now revealing the location of Secrets Hold. Still, he had absolute faith in her, she knew her part well. This world would become the center of a new pilgrimage for the radical and a new crusade for the puritan, now that they knew its significance. They will create a sainted martyr from the apostate and an invisible enemy from the paranoia. They would come, they would search, and they would find nothing but each other.

Secrets Hold maybe devoid of its secrets, but its tragedies endure. Once it all began in this place, now it would begin again.
++Believe the lie. Trust no one++

Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2013, 02:10:38 AM »
The Warp, Early M42

"Interesting."

The data slate illuminated the room with a bright white haze, casting a shadow on the wall. The engine of the Black Hand hummed distantly, filling the room with an ambient low din. A cooling cup of coffee steamed into the room which was kept deliberately cool to suit its primary occupant, a figure sat in a high backed leather chair, and the other denizens of the large room - books. A veritable horde of them, neatly arranged on ancient looking book shelves.

"I brought you the daily reports."

A second voice in the room. Another data slate illuminated the room - the entrance to the room.

"Thank you. Please leave it on the side."

"There's a pile growing, you know."

The seated figured waved a hand.

"That's why I have a Captain."

"It's him who's writing them."

"That's why I have you?" she hazarded.

They both laughed.

"A word, if I might..." hesitated the figure in the doorway

"Speak."

"What do you think it means? Why now? Why these long dead ideas from men as dust in their graves? Traitors too."

The seated figure sighed.

"Honestly, Paal, I have no idea. I have no idea who would want to publish these chronicles. The interesting thing is that they conflict - sometimes quite fundamentally, with my own records. That interests me."

She took a sip of her coffee.

"That is what I'd wager a significant portion of all who read these chronicles will be interested in. The inconsistencies. Junious was hung during the Vampiris purges on Terra. Maltheus died in action on Aithol. Charax was banished. I have the after action reports from the Puritan Council. And on."

She thumbed onwards through the data.

".Other reports from this period conflict with these directly. I have enough conflicts cross referenced to fill three pages already. I spend a lot of effort and time verifying my data. And my data from this period is solid."

She stood up, tossing aside the data slate.

"Here," she said, touching the spine of a book, "The Tale of the Puritan Council. Here, a memoir of Titus Sargoth. Karius Prelune wrote about that period under a pseudonym. It would appear to be nothing but exceedingly clever forgery."

She paused, lingering in silence.

"And so, what of this inconsistency? What do we make of this? How many of these books are forgeries? Is that repository a fake, and if so, why?"

She turned sharply on her heel.

"And to the meat of the issue. Why now? There's an agenda here, but blast it if I can't grasp it yet. Ideology is one thing. I suppose there will be an opportunity here too and I intend to grasp that. But I need to get to the bottom of this."

She stepped to a large thickset table, grabbed her quill, stabbed a pot of ink on the table and moved to a luxurious looking sheet of vellum.

"Send this," she said, scratching furiously "To the Lords Cadia, Solar, and Terran."

She paused in mid thought, chewing the end of her quill.

“Is Jarrod Hal still the Lord Terran?”

“I think he's a few years dead ma'am. They're still in election on Terra. A few candidates are still in caucus.”

“Ah. And I suppose the Lord Cadia will likely be knee deep in filth still. Who are the major candidates on Terra? Do we know any of them?”

“A few ma'am. We had the list of names and have been keeping tabs as they've been crossed off.”

“Send this missive to the more moderate elements,” she said, passing a finished vellum, “And for the more volatile heads...”

She scratched frantically, finishing the note.

“Who should I indicate they are from?”

“Grixos and Fanham respectively. Use the official seals. And their encryption codes as well. Ensure the Lords Cadia at least get a courtesy note on this from Grixos as well. Send the Lord Solar a message from me personally. I also want word sending to Hound, Havoc, Rapture, Taurus and Vanquish. I want to meet with them and their cells within the month.”

“Very good. I'll make all the preparations for the meetings. In person?”

“No. Send the cripple.”

“You'll need to speak to him.”

=I=
[/b]

The old man stood up. His back was bent, to the point of nearly being broken. His body creaked with age, virtually audibly – his face was mostly bionics, including a glowing blue eye that whirred as it focused and refocused. He stretched to his full height – little more than five and a half feet of crushed savant – allowing his to move his previously mantid like arms to stretch. His face and cheeks were cratered with liver spots, deep wrinkles and a scattering of shrapnel scars that ran down his cheek and neck. His room was illuminated by a single bared bulb that ensured a dim light was dragged throughout the room that exaggerated his features, running the shadows deeper into his flesh.

“I suppose you've come to ask me for a favour, Jacqueline.”

The room flooded from a new source of light. Scant furniture could be seen. It was larger than a cell, but only to the point where it made the barest of differences. A token gesture. From behind the caustically bright light, she nodded.

“I have.”

“What do you have to negotiate with?”

She raised her eyebrow, smiling. She swung into the room, taking a perch on the edge of a desk.

“You're still negotiating, Grix?”

The old man wheezed indignantly, his eye screeching as he eyeballed the Inquisitor.

“You need my face more than I need your damned books, girl, and don't forget that.”

She smiled, and handed across a data slate.

“You'll be interested in this.”

Grixos scrolled down a few pages, his eyebrows raising as he saw some of the titles. Jacqueline indulged him for a few minutes, noting in the reflection of a monocle on his non-bionic eye the pictures and titles he paused on.

“Is this genuine? Is this all of it?”

Jacqueline shrugged.

“It isn't even one tenth of it.”

Grixos raised an eyebrow that creased his entire face.

“It is passing our tests for veracity. Each of the photos is being reviewed and they're passing blush. Each of the documentary accounts is being analysed for patterns of language and word usage that seem inconsistent with known works by the supposed author. That's working fine. The seals pass too. Video is being broken down frame by frame to see if we can spot any edits. We're doing all we can. Everything seems optimistic so far.”

“And that leaves other questions though, girl.”

“It does. But that can wait. For now, I have requirements that I need you to talk to my agents about. I need to go back in the chain where you got these-” she palmed him a second slate, “-books from. I need you to review these records and confirm these are the sources you acquired each of these books from.”

“Fine. I can do that.”

“I also want to discuss Terra. Three centuries ago. I need to discuss that period with you.”

Grixos looked over the top of the data slate.

“I told you everything I remember from then, Inquisitor, and in great detail.”

She nodded and waved.

“I had hoped so, Grixos, I just thought access to this new material might prompt your memory. A few thoughts lost on old dusty shelves.”

Grixos sighed, putting the data slate onto an old table beside furniture that looked as ancient and as ramshackle as the man himself. He wandered to a chair, lowering himself slowly and with a grimace into a chair by the table. He sat upright, and stared straight at the Inquisitor opposite him.

“It's been a long time since I recanted those days, Inquisitor, and a long time since I basically renounced my badge of office. A man can forget many things.”

“You swore the information you provided to me to be the truth.”

He sighed again.

“Truth, Inquisitor, is a fragile and sadly relative thing. In our world, we pretend to trade in relatives and dodge absolutes, but the fact is we deal only in absolutes, and certainly the way we document things. You know I served with a few of the Puritan Council as scribe, savant, and then Interrogator, before they fell apart as those things are wont to do. There were secrets there I was sworn to protect.”

He took a few moments, swigging from a chord near his chin. He pulled a pallid yellow fluid from the end, gulping it.

“This filth is still basically inedible. Can't you... Bah, never mind. There are perhaps some things I left out from that period that would be of use. Sit a while, and listen. Forgive an old man his folly in honouring the ghosts and oaths of a time long dead. Let me tell you my truth. We may be some time.”
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Van Helser

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Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2013, 05:36:37 PM »
'Is it possible to purge The Conclave of these broadcasts? Or simply kill The Conclave? That would be the most efficient solution.'  Lorne said between mouthfuls before he paused to rub sauce from his chin with the back of his hand.  'If the broadcasts are so dangerous, I say go for the throat.'

Maritsau saw Delavier and Aldana share a look.  'I will let your colleagues field that one.'

'The Conclave is not something that can simply be turned off,' Aldana sighed.  'It is a vast system supported by innumerable techpriests on hundreds of worlds.  It was designed such that even if all but one Inquisitorial station were to fall, The Conclave would be available for the Inquisition to access.'  She looked squarely at Lorne.  'Even you can surely see we can't "simply kill The Conclave".'

'I'm sorry I came up with a suggestion,' Lorne said, raising his hands.  'It's not like you two have had much to offer.'

'We trace the source of the broadcasts, travel there, and put in place a pogrom, like Inquisitor Weidzer on Belasco.  We leave none alive.'  Delavier sat back in his chair, arms folded.  'Problem solved.'

'What about all who've read the archive?  Do we track them down and kill them too?  Impossible.' Aldana looked to Maritsau. 'What do we do, Inquisitor?'

Maritsau turned away from the acolytes and looked out through the suite's window and across the grand plaza.  Guardsmen marched in phalanxes below, parading past thousands of cheering spectators towards transport ships that loomed over the city despite being some miles distant.  He didn't know their destination, but he knew their fate.  Martyrdom in the name of the Throne.  It was what all true servants of the Emperor craved.

'Have any of you read the archive?  Listened to Taren's confession?  It always fascinates me that the heretics are portrayed as the protagonists of these tales, and the names of the good and the just are trodden in the dirt.  Great men and women whose names should be upon the lips of every praying pilgrim who instead are lost to the anonymity of time.  It is names like Nexus, Mentirius, Junious and Taren that resound within the annals of the Inquisition.  Their names should act as warnings of the fate that unorthodoxy will bring, but instead they are quietly celebrated as visionaries and prophets.'

Maritsau left the window and faced the room once more.  'There was a time when the Inquisition sought to work as one.  After the Conclave of Mount Amalath the Ordos saw what could be achieved in unity, but it came to naught.  There were too many egos that could not be reined in, but by and large there was tolerance.  It may shock you that mere centuries ago the Inquisition was at war with itself in a schism that claimed the lives of hundreds of Inquisitors.  We have Nexus to thank for that.  Since his execution the Conclave network slowly stopped being a sparring ground for the differing philosophies, and Inquisitors simply started doing the Emperor's work. 

'Conflicts between Inquisitors became small and short-lived and the Imperium continued despite the horrors of the last two centuries.  I know that true unity is an impossible pipe dream, but the relative silence of recent times allowed for focus.  Now these broadcasts threaten to bring it all crashing down: extremists both orthodox and not will take this as a clarion call to come to blows again.'

Maritsau ran a hand across the smooth half of his scalp and closed his eye for a second.  He sat himself upon his armchair and beckoned his cherubim down from the rafters.  The chubby constructs swooped down lazily and settled upon the arms of the chair, seeking out the affection of their master.  He obliged each of them with a tickle under the chin.  They cooed and gurgled at his touch.

'We cannot hope to stop these broadcasts,' Maritsau continued, 'nor can we hunt down the perpetrators.  Once information like this is out there it cannot be suppressed.'

'Then what do we do?' Delavier asked.

'We try to stop the Inquisition tearing itself apart again.'

Offline N01H3r3

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Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2013, 09:26:02 PM »
A maniple of combat servitors trained their weapons on the cowering figure. The machine spirits of a variety of rotary cannons, flechette-impellors, thermal lances and las-beamers all twitched with destructive intent, restrained by the dumb willpower of their mindless bearers.

The formation parted to allow through a figure clad in iron-dark robes trimmed in arterial crimson. He moved with an inhuman, undulating gait, and a mantle of semi-autonomous steel tendrils waved like the fronds of some sub-oceanic flora. Deep beneath a heavy hood, an asymmetric cluster of seven dull red orbs glowed, their dim light sufficient to hinder any attempt to perceive a face.

"You possess information I require."

The statement was vocalised in the figure's fleshvoice and broadcast in binaric Lingua-Technis simultaneously, permitting no misunderstanding. In its binaric form, the statement's packet headers presented authorisation ciphers and warnings against non-compliance, taking full advantage of the greater ability to convey bulk information in binaric compared to the inefficiencies of the fleshvoice.

The cowering figure responded with a packet-blurt of binaric. It conveyed statements of denial and hasty expressions of piety incongruous with the interrogator's prior intel on the subject.

"Falsehood is unacceptable. I am Magos-Juris Automachus Oshek, and your continued existence is subject to my determinations. Where is Kregori Heiron?"

The screams of a fleshvoice were a largely-pointless form of information-transfer - a means of indicating only a singular extreme emotive or sensory state. The screams of those blessed with a machine-voice capable of binaric broadcast were far, far more valuable, for they could contain a wealth of data to be sifted and analysed at a later point. The heathens of the Imperium spoke inefficiently of deathbed confessions. No confession could be quite so thorough as one uttered in binaric.

The combat servitors took a step back as one, their synthetic aggression quelled by a single thought from Oshek's augmentic-laced mind. Snaking, tool-tipped steel tendrils flowed from his sleeves past mechanical hands with too many fingers. Chain-scalpel, photon lance, neural siphon and synaptic inducer plied their painful trade, and the cowering figure gave all he knew to the Omnissiah's servant...

"The Conclave" - as its users knew it - was a blasphemy in the optics of the Machine God.

Such was the decision of a Martian macrotribunal, the gathered and coalesced intellects of one hundred and twenty-eight of the wisest theophysicists, after intense deliberations spanning a century.

Conducive to manifold heresies and polluted by the maleficent presences of Xenos and Daemons, the Conclave had been at the heart of untold crimes against Emperor and Machine God alike. Oshek did not care about the crimes against the laws and faiths of flesh-bound heathens, but to sin against the Machine God was to be a fault in the underlying mechanism of the cosmos.

Kregori Heiron, an Apostate Magos who fled rectification more than four centuries ago, was one of the Conclave's architects, according to sealed archives on Mars itself. He and his associates were to be terminated without remorse once all they knew was catalogued and archived.

The newly-discovered leak of Conclave-relevant data had provided new leads in the hunt, requiring that a thousand-score additional servitors and menials be tasked with its analysis. For the first time since the investigation began, Oshek had more than rumour and speculation.

For the first time in decades, Oshek had a destination.

Secret's Hold.
Contributing Writer for many Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay books, including Black Crusade

Professional Games Designer.

Offline Dosdamt

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Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2013, 11:04:42 PM »
The Warp, HX -519 days

“And that is the truth of the matter, Darius, as I know it.”

Grixos shifted on his heavy feet, trying to encourage some blood back into them.

“I fear he is gone to us, he has left the bosom of the Emperor's Light. I cannot let this slight persist. He is surely planning to steal them for the use of the enemy.”

He pointed to the data slate.

“Look at the order he has issued to three of his cells. They are moving on the facility within the next week. We cannot cut them off there, but from there the goods will be in transit across three routes, heading to this world. He'll use vaults along the way that you can exploit. You can head him off. Send your men ahead.”

Grixos sighed and stretched.

“You've tracked him for how long now? Three years? Find a weakness, find the conflux of these goods before they leave the Segmentum. Send an agent to infiltrate his circle, and use it to wrench out his treachery. We cannot let the line break, and these weapons are crucial to the fight back in this sector.”

Grixos looked to Kharsi, a deadly serious mood smoothing the age from his visage.

“This is your duty, Darius. Do this for the sector.”

=I=

The Warp, HX -269 days

“That's the last of the messages. I tracked them as fast as I could but … I was too late. I found their remains at each of the vaults, with these vids attached.”

The pair of them sat watching, as dispassionately as possible. The vids flickered on for some twenty five minutes – switching between each of the dead team members – before Kharsi waved his hand to stop them

Havoc took out a pile of paper from his desk.

“He took your retinue – three of them – to get the codes for the facilities he is about to hit. He visited upon them monstrous and grievous violence, such as was unnecessary as they carried the codes on their person, not in their minds or bodies. I do not mean to inspire in you a hatred, but this is sacred work.”

Darius wandered through the papers and the data slate. His face attempted to remain calm, bereft of emotion, though Havoc could see rage building. The old rogue knew it wouldn't take much to shove Kharsi into action.

“We can't let this slight slide. He could have just let them go. He could have just returned them to us."

=I=

Thracian IV, HX -14 days

++++ F:HOUND ++++
++++ D:HAVOC ++++


Eggs confirmed. Pick up to be confirmed. Vast is the view. Prepare.

++++ END ++++

=I=

Thracian IV, HX -10 days

++++ F:HAVOC ++++
++++ D:HOUND ++++


Viper is primed. Salivating.

++++ END ++++

=I=

Thracian IV, HX -4 days

++++ F:HOUND ++++
++++ D:HAVOC ++++


A tale spun for pick-up. Ripened fruit for the Viper.

++++ END ++++

=I=

Thracian IV. HX -15hours

"This is actionable intelligence Inquisitor."

The scene was strewn with written reports, data slates and three portable terminals scrolling analytical code. The air reeked of sweat and bad hygiene. The residents of this room hadn't left it in some time. The air conditioner was disconnected from the power sockets and the vents welded shut.

"Darius. We need to move on this. He's backed into a corner, we won't get another chance like this. He moves in 12 hours. I can have the strike team good to go in 6 hours, 2 in transit, and he is ours. 4 years..."

A short, powerful looking man looked over a paper report, thumbing over photographs.

"You're sure?"

"My source came through. The time and look - recon on what was exchanged. You don't put seals like those on damned farm equipment. You wanted proof before we ExOp. That's your proof."

Darius rubbed his eyes, which were bloody and framed by heavy bags. His chin had wispy strands of greying hair escaping from his skin. He looked exhausted, but as his eyes finished the pages a shock of revitalisation refreshed his face.

"We really have the traitorous bastard don't we. This is it. Mercutio.... Hah my boy! This is our proof. To hell with the Lords who would protect his hide on the premise of past glories, Emperor blessed be! I knew he was dealing in bio-weapons. He is taking weapons away from the Agripaan front. Unacceptable."

"We move now?"

The interrogator's eyes blazed with zealotry and enthusiasm.

"Yes. We move now."

=I=

Thracian IV, HX-12 hours

“Inquisitor. The shipment is in transit.”

“Good. Are we ready to take delivery now?”

“Containment is up. We have the servitors too. It will take longer than anticipated, though.”

The man, middle aged, hooded, wisps of hair, glared at the bearer of bad news.

“Oh?”

“Servitors are being retrofitted with gyroscopes in each of their arms, and we're having them re-balanced. Takes time. Unguents. Reagents. The appropriate rituals. They need to be careful with those crates.”

“And this can't proceed any quicker?”

The interrogator smiled, revealing a clutch of sharp, metallic fangs.

“No, Inquisitor, I've tried to persuade them to move a touch quicker. The Magos was quite clear, even when I was.... Strong, with him.”

The hooded man grunted his assent.

=I=

Thracian IV, HX-11 hours

++++ F:HOUND ++++
++++ D:HAVOC ++++


Egg retained in basket. Viper may feast on young. Ensuring attendance of choir and chorister.

In conflict, strength prevails.

++++ END ++++

=I=

Thracian IV, HX-2 hours

The Valkyrie roared into the air, which was dry and oppressive. The engines buffeted a storm of dust around the landing pad, reducing visibility on the ground to virtually zero. The sky beckoned. Inside the craft, sporting aggressive and heavy armour, sat a full strike team of Inquisitorial Storm troopers. Alongside them, Inquisitor Darius Khasi, and four of his closest aids. Each held their weapons nervously, totems protecting them from what lay ahead.

“This is never a pleasant job,” Khasi began on the vox “But it is a job we do anyway. Those who would draw resources away from the war effort cannot be allowed to continue their blasphemous acts. This is a fight for survival. There are no sanctions strong enough against this sort. They are, quite simply, traitors to the human race, and should be extinguished from existence. Take no prisoners. There is no remit for mercy. There is one objective.”

Khasi paused.

“Kill every single last one of them on the ground. Secure the biological weapons and ensure they are safely extracted.”

=I=

Thracian IV, HX -11 minutes

“Rottweiler, are we nearly done?”

The hooded man turned on his heel, barking again.

“Rott, tell me we're due out now! I don't want to linger on this damned world any longer than I have to.”

His interrogator bared her fangs to him again in a sharp smile.

“I'll re-try the Magos. It shouldn't be long now. The final crates are being moved to the Cutter. We are on track and on time. Patience.”

The servitors around on the pad were moving large metal boxes, which were covered in heavy locks and seals. The servitors padded slowly, carrying the boxes gently. Around them scuttled smaller cherubim holding bio scanners sweeping the air for any sign of contagion. In the centre of the scene, the Magos. His mechadendrites swept the area, taking in small bursts of data from each of the Servitors.

++ Inquisitor, a Valkyrie is approaching. ++

The hooded man spun to glare at the Magos, then cast his eyes up to the sky.

++ Incoming on attack vector, they are approach from the south west, bearing four, four, eight. Bio scans indicate fifteen are present on board. ++

“Rott, rouse the flaggelants. Markus, get up on that roof. Magos, I might suggest you move a touch quicker.”

++ I will expedite the loading. Safety protocols will be rescinded. ++

The keening engine of the Valkyrie could be heard just in the distance wailing with a banshee cry.

“What heavy weapons do we have?” spat the Inquisitor, his nerves beginning to jangle.

=I=

Thracian IV, Hour of Execution

The heavy bolters on the Valkyrie spat death around the encampment as its engines whined, pulling the craft in a tight loop overhead. Below, Inquisitor Baerev watched from cover as the grounds around his cutter were smashed under the rattling ammunition.

“Steady. Magos, prepare to fire.”

++ Havoc, incoming ++

A servitor came into view, stepping behind the line of sight of the Valkyrie. Clunk-click, a missile loaded quickly before the servitor drew a bead on the Valkyrie. With a violent rush of air, the missile slammed into the side of the Valkyrie which began to bleed Stormtroopers and an Inquisitorial cell. Three stormtroopers fell to their death smashing them into the concrete of the landing pad below. Their limbs were broken and wrong showing them to be quite, quite dead. The Inquisitorial representatives fared better, landing catlike and rolling into cover. An avalanche of fire erupted from the hidden allies of Baerev, trying to smash the offensive of Khasi.

++ Hound, prepare for carnage ++

Rott moved quickly, skidding into heavier cover. He kept himself small as las bolts rattled the box he hid against. With a second thought, he checked the great chest to assure himself he wasn't resting against a plagued box.

“Move, move!” shouted Kharsi, resplendent in his carapace armour, gilded with gold and silver. He strode out from cover, firing a magnificent bolt pistol at where he knew Baerev was skulking. All around the stormtroopers moved with precision.

“Troopers, hotshot protocol enabled!” shrieked Havoc.

As ordered, they flicked the swit-

Explosions rang out – not large, but violent. Sprays of blood, cracked armour, and shattered limbs covered the landing pad. Gore was slick underfoot as the screams of those who weren't dead began to fill the air. Kharsi flinched instinctively as carnage erupted around him. Some parts of his former stormtroopers decorated his armour with red. Still, Kharsi stood resolute.

“Face me, you dog. What witchcraft have you unleashed, hmm, such that you would see so many dedicated servants fall for your treachery? Speak, you damned dog.”

++ This is always anti-climactic ++

From his hiding place, Baerev stood and walked at Kharsi. He lifted his hood, revealing his scarred face.

“I face my assailant at last. What business do you have, Kharsi, interfering? I have the right here.”

“Then let us cross blades, you blasphemous dog, and we will let our arms have the truth of it. I know I have the Emperor on mine.”

“So be it.”

Baerev spat on the ground and dropped his cloak from his body. He was a powerful man, built well and aggressively sculpted. He flexed his arm. Kharsi drew a short power sword, shaped like a gladius of old. Baerev wielded an aggressive looking mace, covered in spikes. They circled each other for a moment, eyeing for weakness or hesitation. As one they move, mace defecting off gladius. Baerev was the more forceful of the two, pushing into Kharsi with grunting attacks. Kharsi was forced back, ducking and snaking backwards to avoid being smashed by the mace. Kharsi tried to press forward, stabbing with his gladius, but Baerev was onto him, dodging the first before grasping Kharsi's left hand, and sword, in his bionic grasp. He snapped his wrist like a twig causing Kharsi to drop the sword.

“I take it we're done,” Baerev hissed, “You inadequate foundling. What did you hope to achieve?”

Baerev released Kharsi, kicking him across the pad. As Kharsi stumbled, Baerev followed up behind him and cleaved his skull in.

=I=

+++ Report Begins +++
+++ After Action Report:184X/:B +++
+++ From : Havoc, Hound, Cog +++
+++ To : Inquisitor Grixos +++


Infiltration of codename Viper's team began HX -519 days. Trust was gained, quantified and added to the simulation. Confirmed HX date to be within 500 days. Trail was indicated using Hound co-ordinates. Dead drops received HX -459 days, -382 days, -339 days, and -309 days. Evidence attached as (I), (II), (III) and (IV).

At 284 days, simulation assessment was made that further motivation was required to ensure Viper's co-operation. Assignment crew – D, Shan; H, Conrad; V, Rustath; identified as part of Viper's staff who were all assigned responsibility for key code couriering.

Dead drop at 283 days was sent to Hound, and within 14 days each of the targets was eliminated. Footage attached of the vids of the torture and death of each of the targets. Interrogations level eight and nine deemed necessary to trigger the correct response from Viper. Authorisation received as attached item (V).

Cog identified at 207 days to help with offload of packages by Chorister, with Hound assisting.

Havoc confirmed pick-up dates at 198 days with Viper. Viper authorised movements of packages to allow for the packages to be shipped, HX date confirmed.

Warp travel until HX-15 days. Contact re-established between Hound, Havoc. Confirmed pick-up and drop.

Viper's mental degradation noted during warp transit. Weakness was noted and informed into simulation.

Final approval for trial of outcome given at HX-5 days. Havoc prepared each of the hotshot packs to explode to isolate Viper. Cog was given access to scanning equipment, heavy servitors, and upgraded carry cases. Landing pad was prepared for ingress using Valkyrie.

Hound prepared Viper for combat. Use of psycho narcotics in food for entire retinue to ensure sleep deprivation, heightened testosterone, cortisol and adrenaline to drive an overly aggressive response. Analysis of simulation confirmed this would not disrupt the projected outcome by more than 0.002% and deemed an acceptable deviation from simulation as outlined.

Hot procedure was initiated on Viper, however due to catastrophic cranial injuries nothing of use could be retrieved. Behavioral data observed and recorded HX -520 days through Hour of Execuction has been made available to the Configuration.

Combat played out in line with localised simulation. Weapons acquired and sent to the Lord Solar. Simulation re-run for the Agripaan front, factoring in Chorister and weapons. Chances of success running at 89% for that front. Havoc exfiltrated and is en route back to Cadian front. Other members of Viper's retinue were captured. Potential candidate identified for indoctrination into network; psychological profile attached as (VI).

Awaiting instructions for next assignment.

In conflict, strength prevails.

For the Emperor;
Hound, Havoc, Cog

+++ Report Ends +++

=I=
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 10:49:04 PM by Dosdamt »
It is never too late! - Mentirius

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Offline Macabre

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Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2013, 08:26:43 PM »
Terra. Homeworld. Throneworld.

Brandt thought it strange that the romantic ideal of this cradle of mankind, as depicted in the commonly distributed daguerreotypes and lithographs peddled to pilgrims and tourists, showed a shining world of glittering, golden architecture, bathed in halos of benevolent light from our species mother-sun against a backdrop of clear pellucid blue sky: an illuminated, welcoming beacon in the harsh darkness of the galaxy beyond that surrounded it. A beautiful pearl amongst an endless sea of tar and filth.

He had heard that this was the way astropaths always saw it; a world bathed in the holy glow of the Emperor’s divine essence. He envied their sight, for it could not be further from the truth, the blue skies had been overcast with smog and grey meteorological nihilism for time immemorial, the sun hadn’t been seen in millennia even on the highest tiers of this sprawling labyrinth of urban decay, its buildings were vulgar ferrocrete monstrosities rather than mighty golden edifices. And it stank. It stank of toxic pollution, human detritus and planetwide infection.

Its streets and boulevards, whilst not especially narrow, were choked with an endless procession of its cowed populous. Monolithic vid-screens streamed constant images of the state: the Aquila, Ecclesiastic imagery, scenes of heroic victories and Imperial maxims and axioms, all designed to inspire compliance and opiate its citizens in the blinding ersatz-truisms of blissful ignorance. Vox-poles bellowed hymnals, psalms and rhetoric that the masses repeated in mumbled obedience.

Brandt stopped sharply and the human tide continued to shuffle around him like a river around rock; since when had he become so cynical? He shook off these thoughts and blamed the fug of the resultant hangover from last night for his currently sour disposition. His feet began walking again in the direction of the central circus of district-two and he vowed to go easier on the rotgut in future. Perhaps it was the cause of his heresy-via-melancholia? After all, it had been a great evening: surrounded by good friends, and then there had been that woman. She was engaging, pleasant and they had both gone back to his hab-block. She was passionate, arousing and skillful, and Brandt remembered worrying if she was a prostitute: but he awoke the following morning wrapped in a warm post-coital buzz, she had already left and his coin-purse was untouched.

Without quite remembering how, Brandt found himself facing his destination: two kilometers of oppressive grotesquery and bristling with communication spines – the central transmission hub for all the public broadcasting equipment in the western hemisphere. It was a grey testament to the prison of his occupation.

“Symbols are given power by the people,” he whispered to himself.

What!? Why had he just said that? Stupefied, his own introspective self gawped at him. His hangover suddenly kicked up a gear, introducing a cold fever, sticky and pungent sweat began to perspire all over his body, a lancing, white-hot migraine began stabbing relentlessly across his cerebellum and an acidic burning raged in the pit of his stomach causing him to double over in pain.

As instantly as it occurred, the pain wracking his body ebbed and abated, leaving him gasping, dribbling viscous spittle in long ropy strands onto the ground and wincing at the receding aftershock twinges.
Was that the drink? Something he ate last night?

Klaxons signifying shift start warbled around the plaza: he needed to get himself into straightened out and into work. He wiped his mouth with one sleeve of his standard-issue coveralls, dabbed his forehead dry of sweat with the other and ran a trembling hand back through his soaked hair whilst gulping down a lungful of atmos-scrubbed air.

The armour-clad guards at the unnecessarily huge entryway didn’t deign to even glance at him as he stumbled past them into the vaulted atrium. The building, like so many others on this world, was designed to make you feel small and insignificant, and unlike the superstructures gilded for pomp and ceremony, the frescos and friezes that were deemed so beautiful in them were considered an extravagance unbecoming of such a bureaucratic institution and thus were absent here. Thus the edifice itself was naught but a symbol, a reinforcement of an idea: the supremacy of the state.
Brandt tried to shake free these foreign feelings of malcontent as he approached the first security cordon, “Brandt Langford,” he murmured as he handed over his identification wafer and bared the barcode on his wrist. Flickering red lines of the low powered lasreader danced over the tattooed flesh and chimed in affirmation.

++ID confirmed. Please proceed to your designated department and station++, spoke an oddly modulated voice through the speaker grille.

He retrieved his card and wound his way through the other loitering functionaries to the elevators at the far end of the hall. Swiping his identification wafer through the aegis block he typed in the corresponding numbers on the keypad. Unseen machines whirred as they cycled before a green light appeared above him and pistons hissed as they pulled open the plasteel portal blockade.

Numbers ascended and blurred together as the carriage rose steadily. Brandt was struck by the stifling sensation of cloying claustrophobia and began perspiring heavily again. He couldn’t understand what was happening to him, this had never occurred before in all his years working here, but his blood ran cold and a nauseating apprehension left a hollow vacuum behind his sternum.

The doors suddenly opened without him realising he’d reached his department. Corridors stretched before him and he began walking without thinking, a displacing sensation of remote viewing disconnected his mind from the rest of his body. He was only vaguely aware that he had missed the turning towards his station as his feet carried him in a direction that, whilst familiar, Brandt knew to be a forbidden deviation from his regular routine.

A bulkhead, adorned with hazard symbols dissuading entry for all but the authorised, loomed in front of him: another swipe of his card forced the heavy obstruction to yield and open to his credentials.

Hold on, he thought, since when have I had access to this sector?

The chamber beyond was unbearably cold and his breath began to mist almost immediately. His ears were filled with the droning white noise hum of a choir of cogitators. Brandt was almost certain that this place was entirely alien to him, but the troubling recognition and ease in which he wound his way through the purring machine-stacks to an interface consol seemed to come directly from his procedural memory. Just how much of his own memories were actually genuine?

He recalled that this place was largely autonomous (how?) so the chances of being disturbed were minimal. Any faults were addressed directly by a coterie of mechancium priests stationed elsewhere in the complex and scheduled maintenance periodic to every fortnight.

His fingers were a staccato blur across the console’s keyboard as he weaved a preordained pattern which the monitor dutifully replicated into scrolling, green hued machine code. An iris-shuttered data port effloresced as Brandt reached into his pocket and withdrew a small metal cone engraved with microengineered prime spirals and slotted it into place.

The effect was instant and dramatic: a digital torrent cascaded down the screen, endless strings of numbers and symbols. An orange glow flared from the data port and smoke began to pour from the instruments. The cogitators crackled and spat golden sparks as overloaded components melted, fused and exploded in miniscule conflagrations of charred metal and plastic.

As warning sirens lamented their urgency for an intervention, Brandt was left to stare mindlessly at the algorithmic anarchy confronting him, control over his own flesh now completely abandoned despite his screaming insistence for the contrary. He thought he recognised some of the coding, despite being certain that he had never been taught such advanced programming: one string represented packet data for new input and broadcast, another a lockout cipher whilst another was rewriting the authority override requirements, changing the protocol to accept only the highest echelons of the Inquisition, the High Lords themselves and, in the somewhat satirical unlikelihood, the God-Emperor Himself.

Brandt heard the expectant heavy footfalls of the oncoming security enforcers answering the incessant, wailing alarm and in that moment resigned himself to die. The sentient corners of his mind raged and rebelled impotently against this senseless capitulation: he didn’t want to die!

“Transgressor, you are hereby bound by law! Stand down or we will use terminal action!” barked a harsh command behind him. Brandt turned away from the console to face these instruments of justice, in this case anthropomorphised in beetle-like matt black carapace armed with close-quarters assault rifles leveled menacingly in his direction.

“Stand down, lie on the ground, this is your final warning!” boomed the squad commander, his voice amplified through his helmet mic attached to a shoulder mounted vox-relay.

Unbidden, a crazed grin stretched across his face, and against all sane reason his arm reached behind to the small of his back for a firearm he knew wasn’t there. The security enforcers acted as expected and fulfilled their promise of terminal action; bright orchids of flame blossomed from barrels and percussive parabellum bored through his flesh with all the grace of a hammer blow.

It was over in seconds, after the thunderstorm silence fell to the acrid stench of cordite smoke. His nerveless legs gave way beneath the weight of his lead-shredded body. As he toppled to the ground and his final exhalation left his lungs in a wet mixture of aspirated blood and foamy fluids, his incarcerated mind, now free from doubts, fear and pain, drifted to his last happy memory: the face of that beautiful woman from last night, smiling in the exultant joy of intercourse.

Fade to white.



The woman was waiting in the plaza outside, but not for him. Her gaze was fixed onto the monolithic vid-screens that had moments ago faded to imageless static. Even the vox-poles had fallen silent except for the white noise drone of a void input signal. She felt sorry for Brandt, he wasn’t to blame for being a slave to a broken system with a mind not his own, but using him was necessary. Her operation was seemingly accomplished, now she hoped her colleagues, Montague and Klondike, in the eastern and southern hemispheres of Terra respectively had met with an equal success.

She couldn’t deny that it had been a difficult enterprise as the human factor was at best unpredictable. Normally infil-traitors take many years of psychological deprogramming and reconditioning for long term campaigns of sabotage, she’d had half a day with the most powerful hypnotics and mesmerising instruments, and Brandt had barely lasted an hour. Still she had been working with an original template rather than a vat-clone, and his task had been relatively simplistic, but the dangers of mental defragmentation, nervous breakdown or basic moral resistance were all possible scenarios that could have ended in the premature termination of this entire mission.

Like a chilling omen, a prelude of things to come, an icy ill wind stirred through the circus and lapped at her stormcape and pulled down her hood to reveal a surprisingly youthful face framed with raven hair cut to her jaw-line, her pale blue eyes narrowed in patient expectation. Already, individuals amongst the human masses had stopped in confusion at the sudden absence of ceaseless propaganda, before the silence was shattered by an electronic whine vibrating from the public-address system as input was restored and a clear voice echoed across the entire western hemisphere of Terra:

++Take heart, my noble citizens, for I am your saviour, the Lord Sanguinius++

The vid-screens flickered as the video signal was restored, but rather than the usual preselected votives and mantras, a winged astartes in the crimson livery of the Blood Angels fell to the ground with a heavy thud, his armoured boots crashing into the dirt. The cherubs flying round him, keeping his robe from the floor.

++That fool Horus could not possibly defeat the might of the Angel and his Lord, and now I am here with a new purpose, a new drive, a new deliverance from evil++

More of the populous had become statues, gawping at this new revelation whilst the safe little world they knew crumbled away. The old man had chosen his target well, for the streets and buildings all across Terra were filled with monuments and graven images depicting Sanguinius. She smiled, imagining the herd flitting their gazes between the symbolic epitaphs of the long dead primarch and the vid-screens displaying his supposed miraculous return.

++The Inquisition is the ENEMY! The Lord Emperor did not create that band of imbeciles, and lackeys, and bigots! They do not follow the True Creed! And who will act? The... Authorities? The Arbites?++

The resultant cries from the offscreen congregation filtered through the vox-poles: "NO!" "THEY DON'T CARE!" "ALL UNDER THE THUMB OF THE INQUISITION!"

++THEN WHO WILL ACT WITH THEIR LORD AND SAVIOUR! IN THE NAME OF HE-ON-TERRA?++

It was a fair question, but the populous on Terra were still too dumbstruck to formulate a response, they still did not realise the magnitude of what it was they were looking at, but that did not matter. Their understanding was an unimportant prerequisite. Besides, the unseen congregation would answer for them: "WE WILL!" exclaimed the united offscreen consensus. The vid-screen filled with the beatific smile of Sanguinius.

The old man had found these recordings buried in the Inquisition’s archive under the name of someone or something called; Landen Dosdamt, within sealed subfiles titled ‘Second Sign’ and ‘Confiscated Combat-Cams of the Valente PDF’. The resultant videos had been spliced together and edited to ensure maximum dramatic effect.

++Once I lead you against TYRANNY, AGAINST EVIL! I COME TO YOU THIS DAY TO LEAD YOU ONCE MORE! THERE NEED NOT BE MORE BLOODSHED! I AM SANGUINIUS! I AM YOUR LORD AND SAVIOUR! I WILL LEAD YOU ONCE MORE TO THE PROMISED LAND, AGAINST THE EVIL OF THE INQUISITION, AGAINST THE EVIL THAT IS ON THIS HOLY SOIL!++

The more observant amongst the crowd may have spotted the half-second jump of a minor continuity error: the slightly changed skyline, the gradient quality of the image. Perhaps the more astute amongst them will have realised that this wasn’t even filmed on Terra itself. Again, it was unimportant, only the symbol mattered.

++And yet they deny me! ME! A PRIMARCH! THE IMPERIUM OF MAN IS CRUMBLING! COME WITH ME I SAY! COME WITH ME TO THE IMPERIUM OF THE LORD EMPEROR!++

The following images showed drop-ships embossed with the Inquisition’s stylised ‘I’ and its agents perpetrating a massacre against supposedly loyal Imperial citizens. The brutality of the stormtroopers drew gasps of shock and disgust from the people around her, along with murmurs of jubilation as they saw Sanguinius defending his innocent, unarmed flock from their warmongering. It was over in moments, as the blood and smoke settled, the primarch stood triumphant, gathering his survivors around him like a benevolent shepherd.

++I AM LORD SANGUINIUS, AND I HAVE DELIVERED YOU! FOLLOW ME NOW! FOLLOW YOUR LORD!++

The image faded to black and began again. She turned away from the frozen crowd still riveted to the looping vid-screens. The first stage was complete, now she needed to leave Terra and rendezvous with the others.

All three of them had been taught by the old man, and likewise they had instructed other agents in their philosophy. A Rephexian philosophy: she smirked at the self-aggrandising notion and knew the old man wouldn’t have approved. He had been a harsh, intemperate mentor, old age and experience had molded him into a bitter cynic, but he was also learned and pragmatic. His philosophy had stemmed from that wisdom and an unfailing certitude that he was right.

“Institutions are given purpose by the people. Institutions become symbols of purpose and power. Symbols are given power by the people,” she whispered the mantra central to the philosophy.

She recalled the first lecture he had given her in that cramped, draughty amphitheatre: a shy, young cipher of the Administratum, utterly terrified to be faced with a member of the mythic Inquisition. She had come to his attention because he was certain that the legendary memory capabilities of her kin could be modified into an engine of superb scholastic proficiency.

“If a hospital is devoid of medicae personnel and patients; is it still a hospital?” he asked.

“I guess so, sir,” she answered in a small quavering voice.

“Then what is the purpose of an empty hospital?” he countered.

“I’m not sure I understand, sir,” She admitted, lowering her gaze to the ground in shame. Gnarled fingers, wrinkled with age, gripped her smooth, delicate chin gently and softly he tilted her head back to meet his gaze.

“If a church is absent of a priest and his congregation; is it still a church?” he pressed.

“Yes, sir, the building remains a church, even without its people,” she nodded with surety.

“Then what is the purpose of an empty church?”

She couldn’t find an answer; the Inquisitor’s questions were still far beyond her current apprehension.

“Why can’t a priest and his congregation hold a sermon within the wards of a hospital, or a surgeon operate on a patient within the chancel of a church?” he continued, despite her bewilderment.

“The people are what give these institutions purpose,” he explained, “these institutions become symbols of power and purpose. Therefore, symbols are given power by the people.”

She nodded in what she thought was the expected behaviour and remained quiet.

“The Imperium is filled with such symbols and institutions, but they aren’t given power or purpose by the people, they are given power and purpose by the oppression and fear they cause towards them. They exist to be served by the people, not for them.”

“Why?” she found herself asking, and quickly covered her mouth with her hands, regretting voicing such an impertinent question. Rather than the rebuke she expected, the old man smiled and nodded encouragingly.

“You have a right to wonder: the people do not own their own minds, they are conditioned to believe the doctrines of these institutions, doctrines constructed by those of either corrupted purpose or a crippled understanding. Thus these institutions ultimately fail to fulfill their obligations to those they should serve.”

“Why don’t the people abandon these institutions if they don’t work?” she enquired, worrying that this conversation was treading the very footsteps of heresy.

“Because they are asleep and don’t know any better. Those that do wake up to this realisation are swiftly silenced by the guardians of the institutions, who in turn are asleep themselves. There are some of my colleagues in the Inquisition who believe that by destroying these institutions, the Imperium will once again achieve functionality; they are not only wrong, their methods are dangerous. Destroying the broken institutions won’t wake the people; if anything they will undermine the very foundations of human society and will damn our entire species to extinction.”

He paused, leaned heavily on the lectern and sighed deeply. She hesitated and dared to ask; “what can be done?” He raised his head and suddenly looked so much older to her.

“Open the eyes of those still asleep, let them see the truth, galvanise them to rebuild a better empire with the tools of mutual consensus.”

“How?” she whispered.

“With new symbols; make them doubt the falsified convictions impressed upon them in the guise of axioms, make them question the validity of the institutions that control them.”


It had been an ambitious undertaking, and at the time she thought it an impossible achievement, but she had been a dutiful apprentice and held true to the ideals she had come to realise as horrifyingly true. In fifteen years she had earned the rank of Interrogator, and fifteen years afterwards she had accepted her Inquisitorial laurel in a secluded, circumspective ceremony.

Already, voices around her had begun to whisper their disquiet, exchanged assertions, suppositions and interpretations of the message. Inquisitress Jezebel Magdalene smiled to herself, the meaning of the message was irrelevant, it was a symbol that gave power to the people: the somnambulists of the state were starting to wake up.
++Believe the lie. Trust no one++

Offline Charax

  • Arch Deamonlord
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  • Posts: 187
  • In His Name
Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2013, 03:09:16 PM »
New Data
There was always new data. The Imperium generated data as a byproduct of its existence; each individual was at the center of a buzzing zettabyte cloud of data - from their official record of birth at the Administratum archives to the record of their death in the very same building. Every recorded illness, enlistment, tour of duty, job, transaction - everything the Imperium could track it did, often just for the sake of tracking. A billion terabytes per person, documenting all that there was to know.

A billion terabytes was nothing to them, they swam through it with ease. The only signs of their passing were ephemeral changes in code, minor glitches that manifested then passed, noticeable only by those who actively looked. They glided from system to system on the transient transmissions that passed from machine to machine. They were hunters, designed to seek out certain references and erase all trace of them.

Their bodies were forged from long-forgotten machine-code, built in blasphemous constructs of metal and smoke. A hundred years had passed since they were unleashed, the first of them had been few in number, but as they had found their way into systems with a large enough capacity they had multiplied, twisting algorithms to their own end and spawning offspring to carry on their work. The offspring took on minor attributes of the system they were birthed in, and there had been many births in that century of hunting. So it came to be that they now numbered in the tens of thousands, all subtly or greatly divergent from the original dozen or so.

New Data

One of them sought out this latest batch of information, parsing it as it passed through. Personal records, shipping manifests. Nothing of note. It moved on

New Data

This was different. A larger amount of data had been made available - not entirely unusual, it happened sometimes when the Mechanicus performed an upload from a returning Explorator mission. They swarmed on it like sharks to a flailing swimmer, tearing into it - far too much for one of them to handle in a reasonable amount of time, they had developed into pack hunters for this task.

Start and end bits were communicated between them, denoting the portions of data each were allocated. Some which inhabited simple systems were nothing than instinctual predators, and it fell upon the larger, more complex of them to guide the others to the most efficient data. The processing began in earnest.

Quote
"You'd gather correctly, Alund'athil"

Not-quite-pain burned through their not-quite-bodies as their prey was discovered. This new data must be purged

Quote
"Maltheus, darling, come out and play...I won't bite"

Another. This was... significant.

Quote
"You... you will kill her. She only lives through a sick whim of the beast, were it not for Charax she would be dead."

PURGE

The command roared through them all, a directive carved into every routine and subroutine. The creator's name must not be spoken. They destroyed it with extreme prejudice

Quote
"Y%$... %$^will kill he()! nly lives through((!"^f the beast, were it not ^&£%289she would be dead."

They wrote and overwrote the passage, every pass of their not-bodies changing a bit, a byte, a kilobyte. The crystal storage medium cracked under the stress, trapping a few of them in perpetual stasis. The others passed on, escaping the system and barely acknowledging the sacrifice of their brothers.

New Data

New Data

New Data


The system crashed as the last of them left, but more information was being unleashed. Familiar data. This was the same as they had just purged - replication was not uncommon but this was new. It carried no endpoint, the packets were not directed to a target as almost all communication was, this was...a broadcast. An indiscriminate release of data, the selfsame data they had lost their kin in destroying.

They felt no fear. They couldn't, they faced the wave of forbidden information and dove in.

CharaxCharaxMatheusStrydeSargothAlundirelDelan'sPoint

The signal wave hit them, and they got to work. the origin server was masked by the sheer quantity of information, so they entered the systems that were downloading the broadcast and purged those first. A signal relay on a forgotten asteroid was first; it passively received and retransmitted the data. One of the data-wraiths dove in with what could be likened with fury in an organic creature, it buzzed around the station's core, devoting more and more of its host system's computing power to finding and destroying the data, but there was too much.

Half a galaxy away, a servo-skull crashed to the floor as its processing matrices burned out

This did not go unnoticed, it had been a long time since one of them had been destroyed performing their task, but as much as they tried, the more sophisticated among them could not direct the younger ones to more appropriate prey. They were.. panicking. Most of them had little in the way of self-preservation anyway, save for those who had been birthed in some form of bionic and inherited it from their organic co-host, but even by their standards this was reckless. One of the Originals moved in and surveyed the digital battle, barking orders like a wizened general

Start byte 0x00000/End Byte 2x88402
Start byte 2x88403/End Byte 4x66430
Start byte 4x66431/End Byte 8x88888


No use. The systems they inhabited were small, their ability to comprehend constrained. They weren't designed for this; their creators had not envisioned that anyone would release so much data at once. For hunting out small scraps over a wide area they were exemplary, but for large masses of data that required intelligence and planning? They were worse than lost.

Packets of data transmitted over the swarm as they burned out, informing them of the virtual death of a comrade and warning that more data required burning, this drew more of them in and, subsequently, more burned out and died, taking their hosts with them.

Somewhere, an autoquill stood still
Somewhere, a datapad went dark
Somewhere, a door unlocked

The larger, older ones who had taken up residence in more complex systems turned their attention to the problem. They could not run as the wave was spreading, downloading into any system that would accept it. Besides, even if they could escape it, they wouldn't. Their core directive was to purge, they could not abandon that for anything - not even self-preservation. They could, at least, warn the creators of what was coming.

Traceroute home_server

Only a few of them knew of the home server. Maybe half a dozen of them had survived the initial release, and any born subsequently had the information excised in case some curious tech-adept located one and sought to discover its origin. The Original awaited a reply - it had never attempted to go home before - there had been no need, but there was a need now. It awaited the reply.

Trace successful. 1024 nodes. 20330ms

Home; it was still there after an eternity. The response time was over twenty seconds - an unacceptable delay. The wave would hit in half of that, and the Original sensed it would overwhelm even it.

Another fell, consumed by the urge to process all the data rushing towards it. That one had lived for decades, one of the oldest that remained. It had found a safe, powerful host node and still had been overcome

Somewhere, a Space Marine was boiled alive, the regulatory systems of his dreadnought sarcophagus failing and raising the temperature of his neutriant bath to unimaginable heights. He died in a soundless scream, drowning in a soup of his own organs while the adepts around him wondered why the monitors showed no failures.

There was no time. the data must be processed and purged, but the Creators should be warned. A data-burst was sent to the others, he sought out the one whose host was closest to home.

18000ms. Too Far
16500ms. Too Far
13250ms. Too Far

There was one. A young one, born in the last cycle a few minutes earlier. It had not detected the incoming wave yet and the one that birthed it had been one of the first to burn out. It was newborn, supple, awaiting directives. It was also 8 seconds from the home server. A lifetime in their perception, but close enough

sudo cp /var/log/* > //2620:9b::19c4:bde9 && cp * > //home_server/

Go Home came the command. Go Home and tell them. Pushed at the newborn with the permissions granted from its ancestor12, the urge was overwhelming. The newborn established the connection and transmitted itself back to its ancestral origin point, carrying the logs showing what was coming.

The Original saw the transmission as the wave hit. it poured every ounce of processing ability it could muster into purging the information that washed over it. A pointless task, as the data was replicating faster than they could stop it, but a directive was a directive. It burned out like the others, taking its host with it.

Somewhere, a Gellar Field flickered a moment too long.

In a long-abandoned room, a screen lit up. Mechanical insects swarmed towards the light, innumerable shining eyes logging the incoming signal and chirruping, a chittering metallic tide that parted in front of a figure cloaked in thick, oily robes. Thin servo-arms punctured the cloak at the back , tipped with needle-fine fingers that tapped away on keypads as it reached the screen, the light reflected in lenses studding its face. A moment staring at the streaming words on the screen, then it spoke:

"Wake Him"
The guy with his name at the bottom of the page

Offline Mentirius

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  • Posts: 10
Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2013, 10:59:53 PM »
Balmortis Prime, it had been called once.  Named for its sun, which he named for himself, by the first man to ever set foot there, with all the grandiose propriety of the empire he pretended to serve.  Balkoth’s first Deathworld; for such are places called that do not open willingly to Mankind’s desires.  A planet seething with life of almost limitless variety, hostile to a single alien species, hence categorised with the irradiated deserts and summarily dismissed.  The broiling jungle covered the landscape from horizon to horizon, broken only by the gaping mouth of the crater where nothing grew.  It was a rugged landscape shot through with steep ridges, pitted with jagged valleys, and every stone of it lay smothered in dense vegetation, save for the stones of what had once been Secret’s Hold.

History might have been crueller to this so-called Deathworld.  If the Inquisitor had been honest with his superiors about what he found there, the planet would surely have been scoured to bare rock, and thereafter would unquestionably have deserved its name.  But even as a young man, Balkoth had guarded his secrets well.  Unfortunately for life on the planet, having inherited those secrets from him, his apprentice had not been so cautious.  Mentirius had taken secrecy for granted, and in doing so provoked a scouring of his own.  Then War had come down from the heavenly void; Death had strode incarnate on the earth, reached into the forest and torn out its beating heart, leaving only the accusing cavity that even now screamed mutely at the sky. 

When the last great battle was over, the fire it left behind swept unrelenting through the jungle, making ash of every living thing above ground.  It shattering mountains with its unnatural heat, turning lakes and rivers to great clouds of steam.  Seemingly unquenchable, the hungry flames razed an entire continent to scorched earth, halting only when they reached the sea.  Suddenly deprived of further prey, they starved then and guttered low.  Beneath the desolation, long-dormant seeds were already germinating, while high above the clouds prepared to burst. 

The first new shoots emerged before the ash had settled, lurid and defiant.  The humans and their enemies had burned with the forest, and unlike the forest, they failed to rise again (though seeds of a sort they had planted, in their way).  No more of their kind followed them here.  The few mentions of Balmortis Prime that existed in their records had been altered or expunged by some anonymous guardian angel.  In the intervening centuries, not only the name but the very existence of the planet had been forgotten by the Imperium of Man.  No shoots had sprouted in the wreckage of Secret's Hold.

Now, without warning, humans walked again amongst the ruins, heedless as ever of the vibrant world around them, seeking some dormant seed of truth still fossilised in black stone.  The Imperium may have forgotten this place, but apparently its Inquisition had not.  The jungle screeched and clamoured, brimming with vitality, while they spoke of luring others here - to listen to each other, or else the silence of the Hold.  I perceived them from afar, breathing in their sweet perversity.  Centuries may have come and gone but I remembered the flavour well.  A shiver ran through my being, and I said to myself:

I want one.

Offline Macabre

  • Inquisitor
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  • Posts: 240
  • Absolute Sickness
Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #10 on: July 10, 2013, 05:02:16 PM »
+++ Astropathic Message +++
   [decoding#error]

+++ Subject: 71-72-73-61-6f-31+++
+++ Sender:6873616273676f696f +++
+++ Recipient: CC://= 686a69727361746f//66676a696264666f +++
+++ Astropathic Duct: Nega, K +++

51-72-73-61-6f-20-31-3a-20-52-6f-70-70-73-20-96-20-4d-6a-68-6b-67-6f-72-6f-2e-20-4b-70-6a-6d-6f-6f-62-64-69-61-20-72-6a-20-51-72-73-61-6f-20-32-2e-20-50-6f-69-62-6f-7a-75-6a-74-71-20-73-72-20-53-67-64-6f-71-72-70-73-2e-20-46-67-6a-69-62-64-66-6f-2c-20-6b-67-6f-73-6f-20-79-70-64-69-61-20-6a-74-70-20-68-6f-71-71-6f-69-61-6f-70-2e-20-48-6a-69-72-73-61-74-6f-2c-20-44-20-73-68-20-71-72-64-67-67-20-73-76-73-64-72-64-69-61-20-78-6a-74-70-20-70-6f-6b-6a-70-72-20-6a-69-20-6a-74-70-20-4b-70-6a-62-64-61-73-67-20-51-6a-69-2e

+++ Message End +++
++Believe the lie. Trust no one++

Offline Inquisitor Maltheus

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  • Posts: 19
  • Well, That escalated quickly.
Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2013, 06:02:14 PM »
"Truth...What I can tell you is that there is no truth. Truth as you believe it is something that lies in the mind of whoever is telling it."

The words seemed to echo from a far off place…somewhere he wished he could forget, but knew he never would…never could.  He stared into the fire, absentmindedly shifting the logs with an iron poker.  He leaned forward in the large leather chair and slowly exhaled, closing his flesh eye.  The images from that time were a faded print on his old memory, blurred and, at times…unrecognizable.  And never did these memories bring to his face even the hint of a smile. 

So much lost…so much…changed.

The chamber was dark, save for the light from the fire and a dim glow from a small stasis chamber on the wall.  He kept it that way most of the time.  Even when he ventured out of his chamber and into the rest of the complex on this Emperor forgotten rock, he would dim the lights as he went.  Darkness, once a foreboding element of fear for him, had now become one of his only comforts.

Another memory slowly made its way to the surface.  Hovering behind the fog of years…her face.  The only woman he ever loved…the one he watched tormented and infested by a daemon…the one he saved through sacrifice.  He shook the memory from his head and leaned back in the large chair.

Love…he huffed at the thought of the word.  Once in his lifetime had he allowed himself to love.  And it was used as a weapon against him.  Never again.  The fire popped and crackled as he prodded the log again.  Red embers floated leisurely upward.  He started at them, and yet another memory trudged through the mire of his mind…

Fire.  Death.  Pestilence.  Plague.  Change.  The laughter of a child…

That’s how it all ended…at least how it began to end.  But is there ever an end?

The door to his chamber moaned loudly upon its thick hinges as it slowly swung open.  He could feel the young man’s presence…just standing there, slack jawed, as usual.  He did not turn; did not acknowledge this intrusion of his quiet reminiscence. 

“Ah…hem,” came the timid sound from the young man hovering at the door.   He had been waiting there for what seemed an eternity.  The old man rarely acknowledged his presence, even when he wanted him near.  To expect anything more from an unannounced visit was ludicrous.
 
“What is it, boy?” the old man growled.  He shifted slightly in his chair, his large frame silhouetted against the glowing of the fire.

“You…you told us to…to inform you if ever…if ever…” the young man stammered.  Three decades in the old man’s service, and he was still intimidated…still unsure.

“Out with it!” the old man snapped.  His voice resonated through the chamber and it always surprised the young man how powerful the ancient man still was at such an age.

“It’s happened,” he stated simply.  The tone in the young man’s voice told him everything.  He stood, and turned to the boy.

“You’re sure?  Now?” He asked as he walked toward the chamber entrance. 

The young man sensed he was not asking for validation, so much as contemplating what to do next.  Small servos clicked and buzzed quietly as the old man strode forward…augmentations in his legs helping to carry him forward.  He had spared no expense to keep himself as young as possible.  Re-juve treatments and augmentations…sometimes, just to be preemptive, became a way of life for him.   After all he’d been through; he vowed to never be weak enough to lose again…

The old man’s bionic eye began to glow a dull red, as he raised a hand to scratch his stubble ridden chin.  The deep lines of his face grew even deeper, if that were even possible.  He was troubled…but if the years had taught him anything…it was patience.  Now was not the time to rush and make a rash decision. 

“We’ve downloaded the file, my Lord,” the boy continued.  “It’s all there…all in one archive.  You said that…you said if anything with your name…or any of the others...ever comes across the…”

“Yes,” He interrupted.  The quiet tone was almost unsettling to the young man.  “Yes, thank you.  Bring me everything you have…and do a search.  Find anything related.  Cross reference…use the methods and codes I taught you.”  His demeanor had completely changed.  He stood at his full height…his bald head reflected the glow of the fire behind him.  He turned away, and walked to the other side of his chamber.  A myriad of memories, thoughts, and nightmares flooded his mind.   

He shifted his gaze to the wall.  Hanging behind a pane of glass, in a small stasis chamber, the curve of an ancient Eldar blade reflected the fire’s light.  Beneath it, a custom double barreled bolt pistol hung, having not seen action in over a century.  There was a time when he would have taken them up and charged headlong into whatever chaos lay ahead.   But…things change.  He turned back to the chamber door.
 
****

He strode down the hall, his pace that of a much younger man.  His mind raced, and he wanted to believe that this wasn’t happening…but somewhere deep inside, hoped it was true.  He pushed past the door to the communication room and opened the coms channel.

“Where is it?” he growled.   The young man brought over a data slate.  His old eyes scanned the contents.  Sure enough…his name.  All of their names.  A ‘confession?’  Truth?  It went on and on.  It was all there.

He put the slate down and exhaled slowly.  So many would seek the truth.  So many will be drawn into it.  He had survived it once…could he do it again?  At the very least…he could help…he could make a…change.

“Send a message,” he instructed, grabbing the young man by the arm. 

“Sir?”

The old man straightened and stood tall as a look of grim determination crossed his face. 

***
++++ Communications.=I=.TheConclave:Open ++++
++++ <CMD:AllFreqBrdCast> ++++
++++ CMD – ACCEPTED ++++
++++ <CMD:Auth//Black-47\\Action:POST.TheVengeanceOfBraxus> ++++
++++<ENCRPTION:RedOMEGA7>
++++ Subject: Rumors… ++++

It seems rumors of my death are grossly exaggerated.
Inquisitor Maltheus,
Formerly Ordo Xenos
The Vengeance of Braxas

++++ CMD: CloseBroadcast ++++
++++ Channels closed. You are now offline. ++++
"I am an arms dealer, Fitting you with weapons in the form of words.
And...don't really care which side wins
As long as the room keeps reading...That's just the business I'm in."

Offline Dosdamt

  • Inquisitor
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  • Posts: 141
  • Old Guard
    • The Mind
Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2013, 06:15:56 AM »
Ghost Worlds, Edge of the Galaxy; Early M42

“It is said the people of this world saw their doom coming. It is why I have brought you here, Inquisitor. There is something you need to see. It is truly astounding. It will take your breath away.”
 
Inquisitor Jacqueline Dubois dropped to the earth, surveying the scene. Her lander was a looming shadow over here. She was slight then, and had only her own flesh. Her chest was square, flat, with thick carapace armour covering it – and her hips were squared off the same by armour that covered her thighs. Neat carapace greaves, covered in ornate representations of the Inquisitional I covered her shins, up and over her knees. Perhaps her mind was sharper at this time as well, but certainly not as devious or politically informed. The world had come to her attention from an Archeotech Explorer known to her as Falid Wakhan, a roguish though somewhat charming man. The world had been scoured during one grand crusade or another, but never colonized by the Imperium. Like many worlds who suffered a similar fate, the ghosts of the past echoed in a very literal sense.
 
“If this is another one of your far-fetched tales, Falid, this time I will have your head.”
 
“Believe me, Inquisitor, when you see this, you will be astounded.”
 
Dubois bent down, picking at a spent bolter casing in the ground. Astartes, for certain – she eyed the casing looking for a sigil. There – Flesh Tearers. That helped to explain the brutality in the after action reports. She had left very little to chance as part of their excursion.
 
Behind her, her hired muscle stepped onto the world. They were large men, wearing carapace styled after Dubois herself. Behind them came a small cavalcade of seers, tech-magi, and savants who took considerably longer to disembark. Around the more administrative wing of her retinue came a flock of cherubs and behind them a small cadre of manual laborers, working for both Wakhan and Dubois.
 
The haze was increasing as a stiff wind swept in from the east. With only the ancient wreckage of the Imperium’s warmachine to break the air, the gale dragged dust into the air and started to choke visibility. To the north, their target – the former capital city of this world – a wreck but their target, according to Falid, was remarkably intact.
 
The skeletal buildings showed all the hallmarks of a brutal imperial assault – as they worked through the ruins at the edge of the city, Dubois could see chainsword marks, scorches from las weapons and the familiar craters of bolter fire. Bones had been left exposed here as well. The Astartes, as was their custom, had taken their dead but Imperial and separatist humans alike had been left out to rot, and now their bones were thoroughly bleached clean. In areas exposed to the wind, the bones had begun to fray like old sandstone monuments in the blasting winds. The wind was probably as much bone fragment as it was grit and stone.
 
The savants scrawled and captured every detail – vid, pict, descriptions, measurements, atmospheric data – in line with Dubois’ way of operating. And this place had detail for the mind in abundance. She could see the remnants of last stands, of aggressive pushes by the Imperials, and hopeless slaughter.
 
She plucked a skull from the ground, a great portion of it missing – she ran her fingers across the jagged edge where the chunk had gone missing noting the brutal power of chain weapons when in the hands of the Astartes.
 
“Log everything you can,” she shouted back as her entourage kept pace, “I’d like to catalogue as much as we can while we are here.”
 
Gazing up, the star of this system beat down with vengeance. It would appear the pollution of this world hadn’t run into the clouds and choked the heat out. She pulled her headscarf tighter and adjusted her gas mask. Sweat was beading on her brow and down her back.
 
This had better be worth it Wakhan, she reiterated to herself.

Ahead, the high hall was to be their target. A still mostly intact dome, Falid had promised the great engine was below there – the picts he had taken showed it to be there. The city was hard to access and find stable ground to set down on, hence the enforced march from the outskirts and more reliable ground.
 
The walk was been painful. They stopped a few times for dehydration. The gas masks, the thing keeping each of them alive, were also causing everyone to sweat profusely. This in turn caused exhaustion and deadening legs. Debois gazed back as her hired muscle helped another savant to his feet and took him to shelter.
 
“I researched this world for some time,” said Falid, as he tugged at a chord that ran to his flask.

“They say that when the Imperium found it, it was something of a beacon. For two or three systems around they came here. They said it was the second wonder of the galaxy, after Terra. Terra was a legend here, you know, but they still believed.”
 
He pointed to the side of a ruined building, on which was a depiction of the Emperor in His Form of the Eternal Beacon of Knowledge. It was scored as if someone had assaulted the effigy – it wasn’t clear whether that had been in the invaders or the defenders.
 
He took out a handkerchief, and mopped his brow underneath his own keffiyeh.
 
“Bah, this heat will be the death of me.”

He finished, and returned the now dripping handkerchief to his pocket.
 
“This was a place of dreams Inquisitor. Look over there, in that square. This world was not a world of militants. This society was dreamers, architects, scholars, philosophers, scientists. I would wager this world was destroyed in a fit of jealousy by the Adeptus Mechanicus. I would wager they suspected there was something of value here, and when they found naught of their sacred machines, they simply tore down this whole world as heretek. I would wager it was the engine.”
 
He pulled the bottom of his gas mask away from his face and spat on the floor. As if to illustrate his point, he meandered into the square, beckoning Dubois to follow. A few paces in, he pointed to a pile of rusting bionics and withered bones. In between the detritus, they could make out the unmistakable red of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
 
“They guard their secrets well, Inquisitor, and they guard their expertise better. You see, this was a great civilization. Look at the towering peaks above us – imagine them, shimmering in the sun with great walls of glass and crystal. Look over there to the ruined statues and the edifices around them. This was a beautiful place, once, in a time long past. Have you ever wondered why they are so threatened by worlds such as these?”
 
He glanced back to the retinue snaking behind them.
 
“It is because worlds like these prove, categorically, that man can control technology. That loyal men and women of the Imperium do not need the hand holding of the monopoly Martian. When we press our mind to it, Inquisitor, we might create wondrous things. And for sure this is a heresy to their tin ears, but do not doubt this to be a truth.”
 
He looked back again, watching intently for signs any of the Magi accompanying them might have overheard. They remained a respectful distance back, and were too interested in some blasted Imperial shells to have any real interest in Wakhan and Dubois. At any rate, they were used to the usual banal claptrap he would spout in their company and had no reason to suspect him to be a person of interest.
 
“Do not trust them. Believe me. Do not trust them,” he emphasized as he bent over, plucking up some of the cloth. He held it in his hands, mulling it over.

Dubois had known Falid for some years. He had proven a reliable source of information, leads and unusual artifacts. For the most part, she catalogued them and handed them over to the Hereticus or the Xenos, depending on its source, for study or destruction. A few she kept, including her neuro-shredder at her side. She knew for a fact at least two had been taken back to the Terran vaults for safe keeping.
 
One, the Monolith of Syracuse they found on an ancient moon, had been deployed to Farthen, a world close to Cadia. After action reports had been sent to her, including extremely gracious thanks – the Monolith had proven pivotal in the naval battles above the world.
 
Her trust in Falid was solid. She eyed him as he continued to speak, a fascinating guide to this world. He continued to speak of the philosophical works, and great texts that he had managed to salvage from this world. He’d obviously been busy the last time he was here.
 
Holding a protected data slate, he flicked through a few images while stood with the Inquisitor.
 
“I think this plaza was a debate hall. Look over there, you can see where the lecterns would have been, and here where the audience would have sat. It’s raised gently, and if you look closely the walls around here” – he pointed - “curve just enough to ensure the acoustics in here are just right.”
 
He sighed.
 
“This was a travesty, all for the jealousy of Mars.”

Jacqueline paused for a moment as she looked around the theatre. Falid wasn't wrong – the dipping bowl shape, the surprisingly pleasing acoustics, what remained of what clearly had been lecterns. This was a theatre, it had been a place of scholarly debate.

“What's your point here, Kalid?”

“Progress, Inquisitor, nothing more. The rules of Mars constrict progress, and I'd be shot for saying as such. Worse, probably. If I didn't trust you, Inquisitor, I woudn't be saying these things for fear of my life and sanity. We should have progressed. So many of these ghost worlds are filled with gems of human innovation, but if the Explorators had their way, they would incinerate each and every single one of them in the name of the Omnissah.”

He sighed again, somewhat dejectedly.

“You should keep those opinions to yourself, Falid,” she responded, her voice a perfectly smooth and diplomatic tone, “There is always someone listening, Falid Wakhan the Archeotech expert, and some of them will provide a less sympathetic ear than I.”

The journey onward was considerably quieter. Falid kept himself to himself, clearly unsure as to why the Inquisitor had so easily dismissed his opinion. Dubois watched around them interestedly, taking as many of the details of this place in as she could. Broken, chipped sculptures were everywhere, as were mosaics made of beautiful tiny squares of precious stone.

Within striking of the distance of the great dome, it became clear this was the centre of all governance in the world. Stopping at some of the empty plinths of dusted marble, Dubois noted the incredibly ornate brass plates on each stating who each of the former statues had been. Clearly, as they came through, the Flesh Tearers had torn down the statues or defaced them with their weapons but it still left an interesting trail down towards the hall. The language was a splinter of low gothic, and so some of the descriptions still made basic sense.

She pointed to each of the plinths, and her savants took time to take notes on each of the statues. History, data, it was all important.

Catalogue. File. Republish.

The trail to the main building was short, and easy to navigate. While the fighting here had clearly been heavy, evidenced by the craters and the damage, few bodies remained.

“We cleared here when we scouted it out,” pointed out Falid, “Here, the corpses were three and four high. The bones came over your knees.”

She nodded. The hall itself was ornate beyond imagination. Each of the sculptures here had also been defiled, but they still looked magnificent. The statues themselves ran into the dome, which had a glorious painted scene above. It showed the Emperor in His Form of The Liberator descending on this world. The world was surrounded by prisms. Looking carefully, Inquisitor Dubois could see that the intention had been for the sun to filter through the outstretched hand of the Emperor, and be split by the prisms giving glorious multi-colour rainbows across the world. The light of the Emperor, providing the full spectrum of knowledge to the whole population.

“Come, Inquisitor, not much further now.”

Into the catacombs of the building they went. Falid picked up pace, leaving the retinue behind them negotiating tricky stairs and fallen stone archways. Ahead of her, Falid beckoned.

“Quickly, Inquisitor, let us leave those behind. You will want a moment to collect your wonder.”

They moved together now keeping a good pace. The others, their noise and their light faded behind them.

“Brace yourself, Inquisitor, just a little further.”

Dubois kept her powers of observation at maximum. Even after all this time, there was still a distinct scent of incense. The smoke from the incense had stained the walls and the ceiling. Each of the walls had interesting murals depicting imperial saints, again each of them with halos of prisms around their heads. She suspected that, perhaps, at a specific time during the day the light would flow all the way down through the building, as far down as here, into the catacombs. She glanced down the wall, noticing each prism could clearly trace an angle to another,and if each prism was intact they would perhaps go as far as the large room ahead of them that was rapidly opening into a grand open hall.

And such a hall! Falid hadn't undersold the grandeur. This place had a huge vaulted room, and was circular – at approximately every 90 degrees, a statue stood. Each of them was a recreation of Atlas, holding the world on his shoulders – and each planet was a beautiful representation of Terra. Each of the statues themselves had blindfolds on, with the Aquila of the God-Emperor on each. They were incredibly detailed – the muscles on each were ripped with the individual strands of flesh.

“If you care to notice, Inquisitor, each of the visions of Terra themselves are actually on runners. You can, just, make out grooves on the base of each of them. A mechanical necessity on things of purest beauty. They rotate though the cadence we have no idea about. I suppose there's very little we know of this, beyond reputation."

In the centre of this arrangement hung a sphere – a beautiful sphere made of a sold deep green material. It was threaded with almost invisible metal threads, which came to a head at the top of the sphere. An arm made of a gleaming metal – somewhere between gold and brass – held the sphere firm in the air and extended up to the top of the vault. Around where it joined at the ceiling were wonderfully ornate cogs, each of the cogs inlaid with incredibly detailed scenes of culture on the world.

“This is an engine of wonder, Inquisitor. Look at each of the statues – they have a place just large enough for a human to stand, and within each of those spaces there are wires. The metallic wiring is all psychoreactive – the green stone above us isn't stone, it's actually a compound metal. It is circuitry of some kind, though we haven't ascertained exactly what kind.”

He pointed across to the door they came through.

“Another door comes down from there, which has a few tiny holes in. I would speculate light travels from above – from the Emperor's hand, right down here. It travels through the building, all the way here. Below the sphere is a beautifully inlaid depression in the floor – again, made of psychoreactive metal; we measured, and the sphere slots in perfectly. The sphere itself, for all intents and purposes and according to all our measurements is perfectly spherical.. I cannot tell where this all goes,” he pointed to the metal inlay, “– I suspect there is another door in here somewhere.”

He walked the walls, trailing his hand on the stone.

“I'll find it.”

He glanced back to Dubois, who was stood, mouth agape, looking up at the sphere and the sheer majesty of this discovery.

“Inquisitor – this is what you asked me to find.”

He allowed himself a moment of delicious dramatic pause.

“This is the Tiresias Configuration.”
 
=I=

The Most Sacred Birthworld of Mankind; Seat of All Human Power; Throneworld of the Immortal God-Emperor; Most Holiest Terra, M42
 
Scene of The Incident; Communication Point Two
 
“He entered from over there, Interrogator, and moved in to this terminal here. As you can see, the team eliminated him effectively, and with full prejudice. We found a pistol, this ID tag here, and nothing much else on her. We have his original ID, sector, residential records, and all other information on this data slate.”
 
Raijner took the information and data slate while nodding.
 
“The terminal has been isolated as requested by Lord Inquisitor leading the investigation. You’re not the first interrogator to come here though. I’m not sure what more we can provide.”
 
The Arbitrator, a Sergeant, shuffled nervously. This incident was colossal, and he felt uncomfortable guiding Interrogator after Interrogator through the scene, simply because the Inquisition had a funny way of doing things – a contagious kind of guilt seemed to spread from what they investigated sticking to anyone associated with any kind of crime.
 
Right now, stood here, he was associated and that made him very nervous.

Right now, he wanted to be very far away from this particular duty.
 
“Has anyone taken copies of any data, the pass? What about the code?”
 
“Not yet, Interrogator Oebels, we’re waiting on the Magi to arrive. We’ve been requested to keep it all quarantined. They’re sending for specialists from Mars, they should be here within a few hours.”
 
He nodded.

“Can you give me a few moments to gather my thoughts here?” Raijner asked.
 
“No, Interrogator, I cannot.”
 
The Arbitrator hesitated.
 
“Given the content of the incident, sir, we’ve been asked to ensure everyone is accompanied.”
 
Raijner sighed. At least it showed significant dedication to duty. Still, there was more than one way to skim data, and he was a master of many of them. Reaching into his MIU, he activated his servo skull on the edge of the area which hummed into life.
 
“I’d like to take some picts and record the scene, to present to my Inquisitor later.”
 
The Arbitrator sighed. His instructions, sadly, were quite clear and quite detailed – and, very specific. No pictures. No videos. No touching the evidence. Access would be granted, but clearance was needed and anyone entering the scene would be accompanied. No servo skulls. No cherubs.
 
“Interrogator, please, remove the servo skull.”
 
All he needed was a few more meters.
 
“I’m sorry? Are you impeding my duty, Arbitrator?”
 
“Interrogator,” the Arbitrator began. At the edge of the scene, a number of other, similarly armored, similarly armed Arbites began to shuffle.
 
“We have very specific instructions. Instructions you are violating, Interrogator. I will be forced to confiscate that Servo Skull if you d-“
 
“My mistake,” interrupted the Interrogator, holding his hands up.
 
“I’m not here to cause a scene, or any issue. I’m just trying to do the Emperor’s good work, I apologise.’
 
And, he thought, skim enough data off that data crystal to get a clue about who did, and catch a break.
 
“I’ll need the skull too. Orders.”
 
“Already done,” smiled Oebels, as the Skull’s copied drive wiped itself repeatedly, leaving little trace it had done anything at all. He lead the skull to buzz into his hand, at which point he powered it down, and with a casual flick passed it over to the Arbitrator.

“Apologies, Sergeant, I'm not here to make your life more difficult, believe it or not. Thank you for your company. I'd like the skull back as soon as you can. I am sure you have my contact details from my sign in to the scene.”
 
Halls of the Inquisition; Fortress Primus
 
Interrogator Raijner Oebels moved with purpose. He clutched a sheaf of papers and data slates, and was accompanied by a veritable horde of data cherubs and savants; each of them held further massive repositories of information.
 
They were calling it the incident.
 
The halls of the Inquisition were ablaze with activity. Raijner danced in and out of the traffic, trying to stay focused. The lack of a Lord Terran was amplifying the carnage of the situation as there was no central leadership to unify the feline cavalcade that made up the Inquisition. Each of the candidates was predictably looking to exploit the situation - their acolytes and interrogators were roving with strong statements of condemnation.
 
No one had come up with an actual plan of action, however, and that was where Raijner came in. The astropathic signal had been strong, and he had been able to get in touch with his master. She had spoken at great length of her opinions on the incident and potential actions. Raijner had taken direction, and followed her instructions sending notes and missives to each of the Lord Terran candidates.
 
At least the signals had been shutdown. There hadn't been just one, there had been three, and at distinct locations around Terra. It had taken significant effort to clamp down the transmissions. Three deaths accompanied the signals. That made it more apparent this had been a co-ordinated exercise.
 
It also factored into the pattern of events in recent times. Resources were being shifted to address the security breach, though nothing of use, so far, had been gleaned from each scene. Puppets. The same implanted mnemonic code virus that manifested at the same time.
 
The code itself was sophisticated and smashed through Inquisitorial protocols, referencing material from the Archive, splicing that material, then broadcast it simultaneously across as many channels as possible all over the Throne world.
 
The political situation was at a critical juncture. A kind of equilibrium had been established in the wake of the events of the past few generations. That fragile peace was now under threat from the extremist elements.
 
Major moves were being made now, this noise having roused some of the Inquisition's dormant krakens of all philosophies and inclinations. Heavyweights formerly thought to be active only in the field were now preparing to work in the bear pit of politics and ideology. Border skirmishes for the Inquisition. An ideal opportunity to open old wounds and grievances. With lifetimes extended, the term living memory often took on another meaning in the Imperium and that went double for the Inquisition.
 
Still, this kind of conflict wasn't new. Raijner hadnt seen it before, but he had read enough to know this kind of war would be bloody and cause fresh, deep wounds - ideological and physical - unless it could be averted. His master had a plan, admittedly risky, that would navigate the Terran politics first. Getting the right Inquisitor in post would be the start. A candidate that was somewhat disagreeable to all sides.
 
From there, the situation could be managed. Having the central and most influential region of the Inquisition slowing the conflict, moderating the debate, would deflate the conflict and reduce the worst of the casualties to regional bloodletting.
 
Such were the machinations of the Inquisition.
 
Raijner had hope though, and belief that any conflicts spawned from the incident, Taren's confession, the Archive, and the release of co-ordinates for Secret's Hold.
 
Secret's Hold.
 
Pandora's box right now. It needed to be contained, and his master was on her way to see to that. No doubts some horrendous revelations still lurked deep in that facility that needed to be quashed.
 
Raijner wasn't far from the situation room now. He steeled himself - old master Grixos had given him the opportunity to speak to the gathered venerables managing the incident, but that didn't stop his nerves from jangling. He went over his proposal once more in his head flicking through his material, the investigation vectors and the likely suspects known right now. He sifted the papers once more, and breathed in and out slowly, deeply.
 
Finding his calm, Raijner entered the room
 
=I=

As had been predicted the discussion had descended into farce.

Ye Emperor above, Raijner sighed, how can we live like this? How can we operate like this?
 
“I’ll not have him wielding the Seal of bloody Terra, and you can tell that pig I said that! He’s not fit to run an outfit of Arbites, weak minded fool that he is!”
 
“And I suppose you’ve got some better names? Hmmm – Farah, or perhaps Randis I’d wager? Those dogs haven’t left their bloody residences on Terra in years, never mind got hands on in an investigation! You must think us stupid if you want to get one of those lackeys elected!”
 
And so on. Seeing noble, honorable bicker like children rankled with Raijner, but he knew he had to let the debate continue.

Things had been simpler under Ishigiru. He was a unifying force, at least in the wake of the Delan's Reach beautification, in which many of the Puritan Council had triumphed in their goal of annihilating the worst of the radical threat. Officially, Ishigiru had welcomed the slaughter, but there had long been rumours he rued that day. He had pulled together what remained of the less contemporary factions, and he had included them in the many processes of governance in the Inquisition.

For what good it did, for the short while he could do it.

Jarrod Hal, however, had been quite the opposite. He had clearly been a Puritan Council toady, and effectively operated as puppet after the Puritan Council had Ishigiru deposed for whatever minor nonsense it was in the end. Very little of Ishigiru's approach remained. A few of the Lord Inquisitors remained, and had kept their political positions strong. Others had simply left, knowing that Hal was a puppet, and there would be trouble.

Of course, Hal met his end somewhat gruesomely. The situation couldn't persist, and though no faction ever took responsibility for his death, it was clear it had been a political killing. No one had been fingered for the murder.

That lead back to this debate, and the various recriminations. This would take time.

Glacial time.

=I=

+++ Report Begins +++
+++ Encryption:Mar.Inf.Q-f424 +++
+++ After Action Report:184X/:T +++
+++ From : Revelation +++
+++ To : Mother +++


For the old man. Seeds have been planted. Dissent on truth.

Our trail is established and we walk it bravely.

Attached is the proclamation. Request review by the bank.

Revelation cannot leave the homeworld

+++ Report Ends +++
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 08:54:31 PM by Dosdamt »
It is never too late! - Mentirius

http://thementalmarine.proboards.com/index.cgi <- The Mind, for all your irreverent nonsense needs

Offline Macabre

  • Inquisitor
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  • Posts: 240
  • Absolute Sickness
Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2013, 02:44:10 PM »
Her room was spacious, with all the comforts her coin could purchase: luscious tawny-red walls paneled with ostentatiously carved red oak scrolling luxuriously lacquered in a sweet-smelling treacle tinted glaze. A four-poster bed, its bodymorphic mattress, surrounded by exquisitely fluted, golden columns, was wrapped in sumptuous, white satin. Soft, fractural light was diffused to ephemeral effervescence by the carved, crystal speartips covering the electro-lamps. It was accommodation more in keeping with a land-bound stately manor rather than the guest quarters aboard a void-treading vessel.

Whilst a brief quiescence would have been welcome after the intensities on Terra, and she certainly could do much worse than the opulence of her current chambers, Jezebel could not under good conscience allow herself to rest whilst there was still plenty of work left to accomplish. So instead the baroque dressers and antique bureaus were removed in lieu of a bank of cogitators hauled up from the auxiliary sections of the engineerium. Yes, her coin had provided the vast acquiescence of the ship’s crew, regardless of the seeming lunacy of her requests.

She sank back into the embroidered upholster of the gilded bergère and closed her eyes, listening to the white-noise drone of the cycling servers whilst they decrypted, encoded and rewrote the parameters of a singular protocol. Of all the collectables and artifacts onboard, this small storage device, lain in reverent solitude upon the surface of the last aged coiffeuse left in the room, was perhaps the most valuable. The three cables linking it to individual ports in each bank quivered with imperceptive micro-tremors as thousands of pulsing algorithms shuttled back and forth in milliseconds.

 A discreet, professional knocking broke her revere and a muffled voice requested permission to enter. She rubbed the bridge of her nose between finger and thumb, sighed in irritation and vocalised something of an agreement in tired emphasis.

“Sorry to disturb you, M’lady,” drawled the footman in long vowels as his thin frame, gaudy in brocaded blue/silver raiment and pompadour wig, appeared from behind the door, his mercury-painted face pursed in abstruse apathy, “but I have been instructed to inform you that we are about undergo translation to warp, and these messages arrived for you during our sojourn in realspace.”

She accepted the data-slate, framed in tawdry, gold script and dismissed the serf with a wave of her hand. Once alone she withdrew the retractable cord from the slate, swept her hair aside and connected the jack to the neural-port implanted at the base of her skull. Lines of code cascaded before her eyes, unseen to everyone else, as she downloaded and decoded the messages whilst simultaneously wiping the parent data on the vulgarised tile.

+++ Stage 1 Completed. Zero complications. Rendezvous confirmed and en route. Have received an issue re:- report. Will discuss at destination. Montague. +++

+++ Stage 1 a success. The word is spreading. In transit to rendezvous with Messenger in tow. Klondike. +++


She was already aware that the word was spreading, she had heard as much during the vessels’ first stop in realspace: the rumours of Sanguinius’ return. Well, falsified return, she mused. Jezebel was not so naïve to believe that this singular event was enough to wake the sleepers on Terra, but like a stone dropped onto the surface of a still lake, its ripples will extend far from this most central of Imperial worlds to effect those more susceptible. The Inquisition will try to censor it, of course, but you cannot stop it from being carried in whispers and chatter from the mouths of a million pilgrims, chartist crew and other miscellaneous travelers leaving the Holy Capital.

Montague’s communiqué concerned her though, he had been left in charge of perhaps the most important aspect of their goal and now he was reporting problems. She already considered him to be a weak link, but the old man had made assurances about his capabilities. Jezebel, whilst not doubting the old man at his word, had her reservations: Montague, whilst obeying the creed, did not follow it. He had been recruited over a century ago, whilst he had been a young man who had recently inherited stewardship over a megalithic conglomerate of ancient noble houses in the Pangaea Sector, until a suitable heir could be found. The investigations had proven fruitless as the probate researchers of the Administratum turned up nothing (owing in no small part to the machinations of the old man) and Montague, a feckless and arrogant man of avarice, had been left in command. His motivation for their enterprise was one of pure greed, and whilst Jezebel was reticent to Montague’s involvement, the old man’s reasons could not be argued: this venture required capital and expertise, and whilst the Inquisition had limitless resources, they were all traceable. The conglomerate had fingers a vast number of institutional pies from the Biologis division of the Mechanicus to reliquary archives of the Ministorum and access to almost infinite funds.

Montague, if he ever had a first or last name, she didn’t know it. She still considered him a liability and whilst he was currently indispensable, she could not help thinking that she would end up having to kill him once his usefulness was at an end.

Klondike, however, could not be more of an opposite. Interrogator Konstantin Klondike was born in the slums of a nameless world upon the far fringes of Imperial space, whose extremes of climate resulted in its ghetto-cities to be islands surrounded by a desert of snow in the summer and a desert of sand in the winter: a haven for those void treading merchants of ill repute. As a child, he’d been privy to that most rare of human experiences; a performance by the enigmatic caste of the elder – the Harlequins. Fate had changed him that day, awe and obsession had inspired, some would say driven, him as a young man into the arms of his worlds’ black market cartels. Klondike became a name synonymous on his planet with the race he so beloved, collecting artifacts and trinkets of the eldar from traders who’d harvested them from the surface of a hundred alien worlds. When the Inquisition came to his world, Klondike was one of the first to be captured in their purges and incarcerated in the dungeons of the Ordo Xenos, his crime and sentence already decided: death as a xenophile and trafficking in forbidden materials. Upon the morning of his execution, the Inquisition found his cell empty, unbeknownst to them, he had already been recruited by another member of their own institution. Jezebel’s trust in him was absolute, he had more reason than most to see the truth of their philosophy and whilst his original motivations had been directed towards vengeance, half a decade had changed him; now such notions were beyond him and his focus was entire directed towards the vindication of their goal.

The cogitators finally chimed in completion to their task; several hundreds of hours of invisible hacking simply to change a string of code on the Inquisition role call from ‘expired’ to ‘active’, bringing a fallen member of the Ordos’ back to life. It was worth the time spent, whilst it may have taken a eighth of the time to go in with bull horns and broken through with sheer technical strength, this way was more silent and insidious. They would never suspect a thing.

Almost as an act of providence, she felt the ship vibrate and shudder as it translated to warpspace for the final time in her journey. Whilst Montague had the pleasure of a direct route on board his own ship The Capulet, and Klondike having his own mysterious methods of transportation, she had been stuck charting a private vessel from Terra and was subject to the whims of its paranoid captain, who kept himself shuttered in his own, no doubt luxurious, cabin and left the running of the ship to his first mate and seneschal subordinates, who had been only too eager to accept her generous coin for passage to her destination.

Half a dozen layovers for minor repairs and cargo had allowed her the small merit of further time in preparation, but now the Shadow over Aberystwyth, with the myriad scylla and sharks striking its Gellar field for the tinned feast within, was hurtling upon the rapids of the warp towards its chartered target:

Aliestra.
++Believe the lie. Trust no one++

Offline Koval

  • Grand Lord Inquisitor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1403
  • Well, that was unexpected...
Re: Welcome to the Truth
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2013, 09:32:53 PM »
Ships were always busy.

Even though she was entirely used to the hustle and bustle on board voidships, space docks and orbital stations, Giovanna still somehow found herself surprised and, at times, even dismayed by how many people one could cram onto even the simplest of spacecraft.

She wanted to cut loose with an automatic shotgun, or even better, a flamer, but the Inquisitor wouldn't want that.

The Inquisitor. Giovanna found her thoughts turn to him astonishingly frequently. He was a pain in the fundament at the best of times, not to mention all too eager to hole up in his quarters with a data-slate, or a notepad and autoquill, rather than go out there and shoot something, but he had saved her life at least twice now, and offered her a job when Prince Axian had wanted her executed. Not just that, but he'd practically given her a license to kill, and a big list of marks he wanted her to eliminate.

We were told that the Inquisition is united in its cause, Giovanna thought, her thoughts now dwelling on the bundle she carried. Everything we'd been told was a lie.

The crowds eventually thinned as Giovanna reached the elevators. Stepping into an empty capsule and closing the door in a voidsman's face -- sorry, friend, she thought -- Giovanna flipped open an access panel and inserted a pair of keys into their respective keyholes. Turning them, Giovanna was rewarded with the quiet hiss of another panel revealing itself at about waist height. She removed one of her gauntlets and pressed the heel of her hand into a small recess in this new panel, feeling a soft electric buzz on her skin as the electoo inductor in her palm communicated with arcane machinery that she couldn't comprehend. Apparently satisfied, the elevator's machine-spirit finally spurred itself into action, and Giovanna felt the capsule almost fall down the elevator shaft for what felt like hours.

At length, the elevator door opened again and Giovanna found herself in a well-lit, red-carpeted hallway that felt like it belonged more in a Governer's palace than on a voidship. Glow-globes and electrolumina set off-white faux-marble columns gleaming, and various works of art sat in alcoves, catching her eye as they always did when she passed them by. Situated towards the very middle of the ship, this was where the Inquisitor made his lair and formulated his many plots and plans.

Where they did, Giovanna corrected herself as a gust of hot air blew into her from the right. Lady Rall was evidently in the middle of her "exercises". Giovanna didn't fully understand them or Lady Rall, but then again, she didn't need to.

At length, Giovanna came to a large mahogany door and, pausing at the threshold with her hand straying towards her holster, she cautiously opened the door and stepped inside.

"Good evening, Lady Rossi," Markus Krenn greeted her. The Inquisitor was seated in a high-backed chair, one leg crossed idly over the other as he buried his face in a red leather-bound tome with gold leaf patterns along the spine. Krenn wore reading glasses out of habit, even though his bionic eyes -- almost indistinguishable from real ones, Giovanna noted, except when they light up -- afforded him a level of vision that easily surpassed even the keenest of organic eyes.

Krenn was still absorbed in his tome when Giovanna closed the door, only deigning to look up when she moved over to where he was sitting. An unruly mess of hair flopped sideways as Krenn tilted his head in Giovanna's direction, his expression halfway between curiosity and feigned offence that Giovanna had disturbed him.

"I got what you wanted," Giovanna told him, dumping the somewhat bulky package she was carrying unceremoniously next to Krenn's foot. "Had to kill a few people to get it."

"I can well imagine," Krenn sniped, marking his page with a ribbon and putting the tome down. Reaching down, he picked up the bundle and unwrapped it, swiftly wishing he hadn't.

"When I said I wanted Scipio removed, Giovanna," Krenn sighed, "I didn't actually require physical proof."

"Look closer," Giovanna prompted from the other side of the room, halfway through unsealing the clasps on her breastplate. In response, Krenn rummaged around in the rest of the distasteful package, pulling out a small data-slate the size of his palm.

"Is this what I think it is?" Krenn asked, already knowing the answer.

"Depends on what you think it is," Giovanna answered playfully, setting a piece of her armour on its stand.

"It's a hell of a lot more than what I wanted," Krenn remarked, finally sitting up. "No more data-leaks, though, and no suppressed texts or heretical lore; no, this is even bigger than that."

Krenn put the data-slate down. "Don't make yourself too comfortable, Giovanna; I need you to--"

He turned, noticing Giovanna's state of undress, and paused.

"When you've finished," Krenn continued, "go and fetch Lady Rall. And that Tech-Priest of hers while you're at it."

"That Tech-Priest has a name, boss," Giovanna reminded him.

"I don't care," Krenn replied. "Put some clothes on and go to Lady Rall."

He glanced back over at the data-slate. "Because if I'm right, that leak was just the start."