The subject lay motionless in his restraints, which were easily capable of holding a fully gene-altered Astartes should the need ever have arisen. Above and to either side of the medical table, robotic arms moved tirelessly along the length of the body and back, their motions reminiscent of the slow dance of underwater plants in a gentle current. The sensors which studded the tips of each arm maintained a ceaseless electronic vigil, watching for any change – no matter how minute – in the subject.
Human eyes also watched, from behind an armourglass viewport, and human minds pondered what the electronic tools observed.
Day Six after initial exposure. Subject’s skin temperature locally varying between 23 and 49 degrees; no sign of damage to dermal or subdermal tissue after thermal events. Causal processes of thermal events unknown. Signs of asymptotic neuron behaviour evident in responses to reflex and motor testing; some test responses indicate high levels of kinaesthesia, whereas others show a state of neural inactivity resembling necrosis. No indication of necrotising agents or processes in skin samples taken from affected areas. Causal processes of neural behaviour unknown. PH balance of subject’s sweat and urine varying between human-normal and -4; no variation in content of nutrient feed lines has been induced. No evidence of acid damage to epidermis or tissues of urinary tract. Causal processes of PH-balance variations unknown.
The body of a convicted underhive ganger had been exposed to the original infecting agent on the orders of the Inquisition, members of the Ordos Hereticus, Malleus and Sepulturum collaborating on the case despite their own widely varying (and sometimes directly conflicting) personal agendas. The staff of the medicae facility itself, offered a choice between co-operation and a bolt round, chose to co-operate; some of them correctly guessed that a bolt round would almost certainly still be their reward once the case was solved. All of them were intrigued by the case itself, offering as it did a chance to study such an unusual disease.
Day Eleven after initial exposure. The variations of epidermal pigmentation observed for the last three days appear to have stabilised, the subject’s skin now assuming a uniform greyish colour. Causal processes of dermal colouration unknown. Subject’s urine has remained steady at a PH of -26 now for two days; superacidic burns have been effected to the catheter apparatus. All perspiration activity has ceased; attempts to induce perspiration by altering test-chamber temperature ineffective. Causal processes of both symptoms unknown. The most interesting development has been the increasing opacity of the subject’s internal organs (and some major circulatory channels), whose progressive deformation now resembles no known configuration in any human or genetically-related abhuman type. Again, causal processes of this are unknown. It must be said that our inability to scan much of the subject’s internal structure via any of the tools available to this facility (including isotopic-scatter tomography and P-ray derivation) has now become a major impediment to further progress. Inquisitor Hartmann has nevertheless insisted, rather forcefully, that we make every effort to continue.
The glittering forest of instruments that surrounded the test subject’s body was so intent on the subject himself that none of them noticed a change in the metal table on which he lay. On the underside of the table itself, the military-grade steel and ceramite alloy had discoloured to a dull grey that matched the subject’s own skin, and patches of the metal appeared to have worn away to show the subject’s flesh behind.
Day Fifteen after initial exposure. An attempt to procure a blood sample resulted in the rapid dissolving of the needle, by what subsequent analysis revealed to be a superacid similar in composition to the last urine sample obtained before urinary activity ceased two days ago. Subject’s epidermis has also become increasingly resilient; two needles broke before we could get the third one through, at which point the subject’s body appears to have defended itself against the needle by producing the acid. A further attempt to penetrate the same area of the subject’s epidermis merely resulted in the needle snapping against the outer dermal layer, which appeared to have hardened drastically and rapidly; scans revealed that the dermal temperature in this area had lowered to match the ambient temperature in a matter of seconds. Two of our orderly servitors that had entered the chamber to retrieve the injector apparatus showed traces of alkali corruption to some of their augmetic components; the servitors were immediately subjected to quarantine incineration.
This prompted a check of all equipment in the chamber, and the subject’s observation table is now showing signs of severe corrosion at every point of contact with the subject’s body. We are fast approaching a point where we are both unable to observe anything beneath the subject’s epidermal layer at all, and equally unable to physically interact with his body.
Dear Throne, what have those madmen brought here?
At precisely eleven minutes past midnight on the twenty-first day after infection, the subject moved for the first time. While only a small twitch of his right leg, nonetheless this tripped the motion sensors and within four minutes the small observation room was packed with facility staff and Inquisitors alike. The subject’s eyes were open, unblinking, and small tremors were coursing through his body at intervals of a few seconds. Fascinated, Inquisitor Barkhorn observed that the table on which he lay now appeared to be only a few millimetres thick yet still supporting the subject’s weight; this was still being debated when the subject’s head turned towards the viewport. While it stared through the tinted armourglass, with no apparent effort the subject raised its left arm and snapped the restraints. This motion caused the table to collapse beneath it, and the subject impacted the plascrete floor with a sound more akin to a large metal weight being dropped than a human body. In fact, there had been much debate as to whether the extreme chemical changes that had been observed meant the subject could even be counted as human any more.
Standing upright, the subject raised its arm and stared intently at it as it changed colour from dull grey to what looked like the silver of pure steel, and then with mesmerising slowness extended out into a smooth blade-like shape. The subject ran his eyes up and down the length of the blade, then turned his gaze once more to the viewport.
His eyes were the dead black of a predator fish. He smiled.
***-mediate assistance! Repeat, this is Inquisitor Rall requesting immediate assistance! Contagion confirmed to be Obliterator virus! Subject has escaped and-***