“People are disappearing. But that’s not the most terrifying thing. Some of those who remain are somehow different . . . I can’t explain how, but they just aren’t the same. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know who I can trust. I want to flee, but there is nowhere to go.”—Tambor Childs, overseer of menial labor, Outpost Zero-Omega, world of Cryillias [Presumed dead].
On the bleak, isolated world of Cryillias, a secret research lab of the Adeptus Mechanicus is studying the xeno enemies of the Imperium under the authority of the Inquisition.
But something has gone wrong. In the lower levels of the largely underground outpost, workers report odd sounds and strange sightings—and a number of menial laborers have disappeared, never to be seen again. Now, no one will go into the lowest levels without an armed guard, and areas of the lower levels have lost power and are cloaked in darkness.
No one sent to restore power has returned, not even detachments of armed Skitarii.
Something horrific is moving in the shadows, and there is no clue as to what’s going on. A distress call has been sent, and the Lady Georgene Serillian of the Ordo Xenos arrives on Cryillias to get to the bottom of this mystery.
++ Ordo Xenos Departmento Analyticus ++
+ Mission Report, Cryillias +
+++ Testimony of Inquisitor Georgene Serillian [09377-Yh4-44/s/96.317], Ordo Xenos, Xeno-Conclave of Vigilia +++
++ Interrogator: Approbator Adonai Drusus, Ordo Xenos, Xeno-Conclave Vigilia ++
+ Truthsayer: Brecius Joduc, Sanctioned Pskyker, Terio Grade, Ordo Xenos, Xeno-Conclave Vigilia +
++ To admit defeat is to blaspheme against the Emperor. ++
“My name is Georgene Serillian, Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos, ID Code 83-984a-8x. This is my report of recent events on Cryillias and the destruction of Outpost Zero-Omega.”
“I arrived in the Cryillias System on 6 853 739.M41. In the hours before my strike cruiser reached orbit over the system’s sole planet, the magos of the research outpost, a tech priest by the name of Abnightus, sent me a report summarizing events since he’d sent out his distress call.”
“The update was disturbing. Not only were the darkened lower levels of the outpost too dangerous to enter, but more than 150 menials [the term for civilian laborers of the Mechanicus] recently had rebelled, attacking others in the outpost and committing acts of sabotage.”
“The Skitarii guard of the outpost had responded quickly to this heresy, and after a short fight, the rebels had fled into the darkness of the lower levels. Attempts by the Skitarii to follow were aborted after encountering weapons fire and improvised traps that caused unacceptable casualties (at least according to Mechanicus tactical algorithms).”
“An attempt to activate fire-suppression systems in these lower levels—which would have flooded the corridors with lethal amounts of carbon dioxide and xeon gas—failed. The rebellious menials apparently had foreseen this tactic and had deactivated the systems.”
“As my arrival was anticipated by Abnightus, he ordered all corridor hatches closed to these lower levels—a contingency that isolated these rebel-held levels from the rest of the outpost. Skitarii patrols and automated pict recorders maintained a constant watch on these hatches, as well as on maintenance tunnels and ventilation shafts that might offer the rebels an escape from their containment.”
“I arrived on the outpost’s landing pad aboard my personal shuttle. I was met by Abnightnus and an entourage of tech priests, along with a sizable detachment of Skitarii that appeared, despite their emotion-suppression protocols, extremely vigilant. I didn’t like the look of that.”
“A short walk to the outpost’s main entrance, and I was led down a wide ramp to Level 2 and the outpost’s command center. I could hear the sound of gunfire in the distance, but Abnightus assured me that outbreaks of fire were not uncommon, as the rebels occasionally attempted to force their way past the Skitarii.”
“I sent a detachment of stormtroopers to support the Skitarii—and to assess for themselves whether the threat was as contained as Abnightus maintained. I never trust someone in authority when things are going to hell. They lie.”
“I went quickly to work. I had my staff review all records and pict recordings, while I conducted a number of interrogations of staff. Although the tech priests had been relatively forthcoming, several important facts came to light that they’d downplayed.”
“One: The scope of the threat was greater than believed. After a physical count of missing staff, it became clear that work reports had been doctored for months. Nearly 200 menials who supposedly were still reporting for duty at the beginning of each work cycle could not be found. Taking into account menials who had been recorded as missing in the previous weeks, along with the 150 menials who had rebelled, nearly 40 percent of the outpost’s staff was missing.”
“Two: The rebels were well armed. The Skitarii originally had relied too heavily on automated security systems to protect their armory. A physical inspection of the armory revealed that dozens of weapons and explosives were missing. Skitarii also reported that, in searching killed rebels, many were armed with poorly crafted autoguns and improvised explosives.”
“It appeared likely that the rebels had secretly constructed their own weapons, most likely using the outpost’s own workshop during off-duty hours.”
“Three: There were signs of xeno taint. After interrogating several captured rebels, I came to the conclusion that this revolt was not politically motivated, and there was no signs of a warp-tainted cult. Yet, the rebels showed signs of physical and mental aberrations (unusual crest lines on their skulls, hyper-violent tendencies, and skin discolorations) that caused me to order an analysis of their blood chemistry, hormonal levels, and DNA integrity.”
“Although not surprised, I was dismayed to learn that the DNA of the rebels had been modified, with evidence of chromosomal sequences similar to that of genestealers.”
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