1100 words, not counting the title
"In order to understand what I do here, Interrogator," Harzachi said, heedless of the dozen hellguns leveled at him, "you must first imagine the warp as an imperfect plane." His segmented bionic legs clicking as he walked from the shipside laboratory's porthole to his workstation.
"Stand down, Archmagos Geneticus," Vutch growled over the barrel of his gun.
"The gravitational metaphor of weights upon a rubber sheet is apropos, though the weights, of course, represent psychic loci rather than bodies of mass. The sheet itself is holed in many places; we call such locations, where psychic energy flows unchecked, warp storms.
"Why, then, do heretics claim that their dark masters require human sacrifice? My experiments have tested the permeability of this overlying plane relative to our reality. Upon one's death, the soul is discharged into the warp at an analogous point on that plane. Many millions of deaths in a concentrated locale have the accumulative effect of so many grains of sand placed upon that rubber sheet--though individually nothing to fear, enough can bend or break the walls of this dimension."
"Step away from the workstation, Harzachi, or we will shoot. I want your hands where we can see them and no surprises from you."
Harzachi gave a small nod. He stepped back from his workstation and slowly extruded his writhing mechatendril hands from his robes.
"During my early experiments into the nature of the soul," he continued, unperturbed, "I dared to ask what millennia of Ecclesiarchal theologians have not. They seek to affirm the dogma that the soul's eventual destination is to be judged by the Emperor after death. I, however, wondered where the soul begins. That is exists is not the issue at stake: our instruments are capable of measuring the warp-field energy fluctuations intrinsic to and shaped by the contents of the mind. The soul is the warp, if you will forgive the pun, to our corporeal weft.
"But whence, then, springeth the soul? The answer, my research proves, is self-evident. It begins in the warp, and correspondingly returns there after death. There is no measurable intercession from the Emperor; the soul is not eternal, and upon death, merely dissolves into raw warpstuff. Does this proof so offend the Inquisition that I am to be extinguished, Inquisitor?"
Vutch spat. "I don't give a damn what you think you've proved, Harzachi. It's how you acted and plan to act on your findings that has us here now."
"You need not fear my experiments. I mentioned the dangers of widespread deaths to assure you that I have tested the permeability of that plane exactingly, and there is an exceedingly low probability that this resource-gathering expedition of mine will cause a sizable warp-reality breach."
"This isn't only about the danger of your foolhardy scheme causing a warp rift, Throne-damn it! It's not even just the human cost: that you were going to slaughter an entire hive, a hundred and thirty million Imperial citizens, for no reason but expediency. I'm here at the behest of the Culexus Temple, for your invasive breach of their records. Your obsession with untouchables has gone too far."
"Ahhh," Harzachi said, nodding agreeably. "We come to my true field of study: the supposed 'Pariah Gene.' Not, I've hypothesized, a single gene but a series of gene-encoded potentialities unlocked in rare instances by an alignment of a variety of as-of-yet-unknown epigenetic stimuli--but I digress.
"The records of the Culexii revealed a striking fact: even with the near-insurmountable difficulty of detecting a psycho-negative individual--one of your so-called "untouchables"--in a large population, Hive Karisas has produced an unprecedented number of untouchables, blanks, and Pariahs. Seven assassins of that illustrious temple, plus nearly two score lesser untouchables pressed into Inquisitorial retinues, have been drawn from this hive in just the last two thousand years. What prompts this exorbitantly high ratio of psycho-negative individuals? Is the isolated gene pool of this hive conducive to producing blanks, or is there some sort of dietary influence? A peculiar radiation from one, or both, of the system's binary stars? Some rare mineral in the soil or air?
"The study of the psycho-negative has always been limited by one fact: scarcity. A strictly limited pool of bodies to study and of genetic sequences to compare. Not to mention the protectiveness with which the vaunted Culexii guard their secrets, of course. All my life I have been consumed with questions regarding the Pariah. How can such a 'soulless' human live? Why are they instinctively, universally detested? How can we synthesize the gene for insertion into prenatal subjects and/or cloning?
"Can you imagine such a weapon in the hands of the Emperor's servants? An unlimited number of anti-psykers, ready to push, perhaps, into the Eye of Terror itself. One could even create psycho-negative Space Marines. As the psyker mutation becomes steadily more prevalent in Imperial society, and it has been trending such since the Emperor walked Terra, we will need an ever more potent set of controls for such a population.
"I aim to learn what makes Karisas unique. Accordingly, my research holds the key to the Imperium's salvation. Would you dare interrupt such an undertaking?"
"You're insane, Archmagos. You delude yourself with hubris and meddle with powers greater than you. We know what you plan--how, after all, does one find a handful of untouchables in so massive a hive? Would you seriously have Hive Karisas's environmental control centers flood the hive with the psy-awakening drug Spook? Would you seriously turn every non-untouchable in the hive into a psyker just so that your psyk-out nukes would kill them and leave the untouchables alive? Thank the Emperor that we arrived in time to stop your flawed, rambling scheme."
"Such an assumption, Interrogator Vutch," sneered Harzachi with withering contempt. "Would I stand here calmly and permit you to cast all my plans into disarray? You may have taken your infantile maneuverings to be subtle, but be assured, I was forewarned of your approach."
A chill spread through Vutch. "You mean..."
"Precisely, Interrogator. I set my plan into motion thirty-five minutes ago; I imagine that by now, the Spook is circulating widely within the hive. You have no choice but to permit me to activate my pysk-out devices or risk a catastrophic warp breach and the loss of the entire planet. I will snare my prize yet."
"No..." Vutch breathed, looking out the porthole. "It's already too late. That many psykers..."
And reality on the planet far below them, contorted beyond imagining by the awakening screams of a hundred and thirty million newly empowered psykers, shattered.
What sphinx of plascrete and adamantium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination? Imperator! Imperator!
Last edited by Mossy Toes; 03-06-13 at 09:22 PM.