“The faithful return to their thane! But what power does an idol have, except that which we ascribe to it?”
The newcomer takes Pieter by surprise and he bolts up out of his seat, rudely awakened from his peaceful contemplation. He takes a short glance at him then looks away, as if hoping there is still a chance that he won't be seen.
"This is a statue of the God-Emperor. It is empowered with the majesty of him-on-Terra. To doubt that is heresy." Pieter says matter-of-factly, like a child being asked to explain something they have only the simplest knowledge of.
"Yes, yes of course..." the man replies, his voice soft and smooth like a pur, comforting if not for the overtly disingenuous tone. "...but tell me, how do we know that it is Him On Terra? What if he is a false idol? Tell me oh faithful one, how do we know we are not deceived?"
Pieter's eyes never raise from the fixed point on the ground ahead of him and a little to his right, away from the piercing eyes of the newcomer. Yet still he begins to seethe with anger, balling his fists until his knuckles turn white and shaking with impotent rage. "Who are you to come into this holy place and question the God-Emperor? We are not deceived. Who are you to-!? Who are you!?" he demands.
"No no no no, dear child. We are watched and judge, of that I am certain." the newcomer says, seemingly ignoring Pieter's outburst. "I simply ask where it is these eyes that watch us, or other, truer eyes." he stares up at the grand statue of the Emperor, fixing it's gaze in challenge.
Pieter shakes his head and digs his fingertips into his head, clawing at hair far too short to grasp.
"No no no no. I know what you speak of. They taught us. I will not speak it's name."
He turns away and falls to his knees, facing the statue. He makes the sign of the Aquila across his chest and presses his forehead into the ground in absolute subservience. He begins praying in a low murmur, hurrying his words desperately so they many are only half formed.
The man snorts derisively. "We are watched by powers and that much is true..." he says, seemingly speaking to the statue as much as Pieter "...but whatever god watches us is certainly not benevolent. A loving god would not allow such a massacre. Whoever's eyes watch us, they care nothing for our lives or our well-being. We are but ants, playthings for them to toy with and burn when we cease to amuse." He looks down at Pieter's praying form, his voice dropping to a warm whisper. "If it is our sovereign Emperor, I would stay silent, lest you draw his wrathful gaze to this planet a second time."
The man turns and begins to leave. A small metallic clang echo's around the room but neither man seems to pay attention to it. Slowly the newcomer exits and for a time the only sounds are Pieter's desperate hurried prayers. Several minutes pass until Pieter begins to feel safe again and slowly gets to his feet and looks up at the grand statue. "Do not forsake me. Guide me in these times of darkness." he says finally and turns away.
As he makes his way down the aisle he spots the source of the earlier clang. An small coin catches the faintest hint of light from the puddle of dark dry blood it had bounced into. Pieter picks it up, wipes it on his overalls and inspects it. Though he doesn't fully know what it is, he knows enough to recognise the markings of the Adeptus Mechanicus.
He hesitates, worrying that the man may still be outside. He waits several more minutes, then tentatively walks back out onto the street.