Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Shadow Approaches

Unknown Hive Medicant attached to the Holy Cloisters
In the Fall of that Imperial Year our Astropathic section’s long range augers perceived the shadow and shimmer of something leaving the Warp at the edge of the our Holy system. A Hulk.

The Ravenous Fortitude, or so we named her, appeared set upon a course that would bring her in-system, between the orbits of the first and secondaries. Although it was charted to pass many millions of miles from our orbus itself, and although we provided many hours of reassuring sermon, her presence made those among the higher echelons within our planet’s Administratum nervous indeed.

Our Early Warning buoys at the outer rim revealed nothing that caused immediate concern, but at seventy nine miles stem to stern, The Fortitude was an imposing proposition. Her sheer size alone, seemed to suggest that some abominable insanity lay at the root of her inauguration. What none could tell, least of all our Psyker Orchards and ranks of Teller Friars, was if she had indeed entered real space in her entirety, or if a portion of her still existed in some other dimension. We were tasked with trying to ascertain this as a matter of priority.

As the hulk slowly and innorexibly fell in-system, a small flotilla of naval vessels was dispatched to provide escort until she either left us entirely or fell prey to whatever strange and unwholesome tides she had already spent untold centuries coasting. Thus far, she had appeared relatively stable. Upon drawing closer to the central star, however, she lost several decks of superstructure due to expansion and contraction, and a cloud of debris, some of it quite large in size, began to accompany her.

Still the Astropathic adepts could sense none of the subtle tugging that so often accompanied such visitors from the Immaterium. And so we waited. And we listened. And we watched.

Loquastus Sil: First Assistant to Cloister Master Benedictus
The Desiccant Hermits sensed it first they did. Usually the Psyker Orchards were silent, but with the passing of She Who Soon Departed, those strange and spontaneously forming genetic Constructs took to screaming day and night. Reminded me, the noise did, of when my old Cloister Master, the Emperor anoint his soul, had performed a live dissection on a gangrenous Gutter Martinn. These noises disturbed me more than a little and I confess that I found myself gripping my Rosarius more tightly whenever I had cause to pass the Orchard.

Of what they spoke terrified me. It was not unusual to hear short passages of speech from the auto-forms, various mumblings about some dim half-memory that they recalled from the network, but never had I heard of such sustained semantic patterning. Never had those words imparted such portentous interpretation.
They spoke of shadows and corruption, of things that reproduced and spread, of things that could threaten the very purpose of our divine presence upon Seccundus herself. I wondered if the Orchards had become corrupted, whether the Emporer’s cleansing flame might be the only solution.

It was about this time I suppose that the first of the mine’s went silent and I confess that my master’s attention was soon fully occupied with this issue. It was not long after the rain of stars, that others said were nothing more than orbital debris, but I suspected to be portents of a most unholy kind.

It was not unusual for a mine to go silent. Not unusual for a storm or other such ne’r-do-well to render communication a thing of tricksy rarity. Not unusual at all for an outlier to slip from the network entirely if the Emperor decreed it. Took two weeks it did, for more learned minds to notice that the planetary beacon had also vanished. Now someone’s head will roll for sure. The crowd calls for arco-flagellation, for examples to be made and we must please the crowd, mustn’t we?

We passed messages up the chain like good and trusty servants. Saw that they were pored over by the Monks and Servitors who advised those strata above us. Hoping to have our fears laid. I confess that, despite the warnings and portents, I was unprepared for what came next.

We saw vid-feeds, most of less than 30 seconds, patched through. Dock gates, mining stations, habitation levels. We saw barricades of metal and plas-steel. A hodge-podge mess of welds and structures for strength. Strength that had ultimately failed and given to disarray. Great tears, great rents in the walls. Of people, nothing to be seen.

What does that? What makes those marks? Only the Emperor himself could tell, although I have heard the rumours from other locales as I am sure most have, of things that make wet messes of human beings, of a cult that uses the image of a Lizard, of things in the Underhive, seen only in hints and glints of shadow.

Those above us decreed the vids Unholy. No more watching, no more viewing. No more interpreting for ourselves.

Now the whispers are of action. The people call for arms.

Now there is more screaming than ever.