Tales of the Heresy:
“First Act-Betrayal Discovered"
Word Count: 990 (including title)
Adept Rho-Pi VI studied the blinking readouts before him cautiously, doing his best not to draw too much attention as he sorted through the streams of data flowing across the screen through the serpent-like mechadendrites curling from under his crimson robes. All around him, bonded serfs of the Iron Warriors legion went about their tasks with an ordered efficiency that would have made a member of his order proud, would that members of the Adeptus Mechanicum had such emotional abilities. Many days had been spent amongst the cogitators and logic engines since his seconding to the 25th grand company of the 834th expeditionary fleet, making him a regular sight. Barely a glance was spared for the tech priest as they shuffled by, preoccupied with their duties.
Sent under the auspices of training members of the legion in the practices of the Machine cult to become techmarines, Rho-Pi VI had found most of his time given to the proper education of his wards until only recently. The 25th was a relatively new company in that most of its members hailed from the world of Olympia, the home of their primarch, Perturabo. Based around a core of Terran veterans, the company had been equipped and sent out to take part in the Great Crusade to unite humanity under the leadership of the Emperor of Mankind with the hopes that the veterans’ combat experience would aid the newer, unblooded members. It was but one of the three grand companies to take part in this phase of the crusade and the only to include the Terrans. On the face of it, it seemed a valid, well-planned strategy.
However, anomalies found amongst the most recent casualty lists had brought him here to the databanks deep inside the armored hull of the battlebarge Unrelenting Siege
. Upon further inspection, Rho-Pi had discovered something unsettling, even for one of his augmented stature. It had been many years since he had cut from him emotion in embracing the truth of the Omnissiah. He still had all-too-brief moments of consternation brought on by the occasional emotional reaction but these were far and few between. The information scrolling before him, however, had sparked something deep inside the few remaining fleshy parts of his brain not cold iron or circuitry ... Fear. The readouts all pointed to one thing; something so illogical he found it difficult to believe but the proof stood out in glaring black and white on the screen before him. For lack of a better description, members of the Legion whose roots went back to Terra were steadily being culled from the ranks of the Iron Warriors at an alarming rate.
The deeper he dug, the more dangerous the task became. Layers of security code warred against his invasion of the core’s information banks. Buffered packets of data sped through the wires, each attempting to block his probing. His internal cogitators countered each with blinding speed; dumping terabytes of gathered waste information stored from decades spent coveting and harvesting even the most mundane of facts. Hidden data-retrieval programs seeded amongst the detritus of discarded minutia wormed their way passed the core’s defenders. Warning signals flared across his retinal display as he pierced the last defenses and entered the infopile centered at the heart of the ship’s cogitation core. As the final layers peeled away, the truth revealed itself in all of its terrifying glory. The information sent Rho-Pi VI reeling as the magnitude of it settled into his enhanced brain… This was not mere culling, this was outright betrayal. Sensing little time was left before he was found out, Rho-Pi began the process of copying the information. He knew his assault on the core had not gone unnoticed and time was of the essence.
As if giving point to his suspicions, blaring choruses of corrupted binaric code flared up to meet his attempts to download the damning evidence to his internal memory banks; their screeching squeals more akin to the howls of beasts than the pure tones of Machine cant. A momentary surge of panic pushed through the cold, logical veneer of his calculating mind as he found himself unable to disengage from the streams of data flowing into him through the link made by his mechadendrites. Try as he might, Rho-Pi VI could not break the chain of information binding him to the logic engine. It was as if the black code had latched on to the interloper, holding him captive until members of the Legion’s security could come and take him away.
Seeing no other option, Rho-Pi disengaged his connection to the logic engine in the only way open to him. Taking the cutting torch built into his left hand, he deftly cut the writhing tentacles away, leaving the room to slowly fill with the acrid stench of burnt metal and wiring. A momentary pang of guilt flitted to the fore as he looked down on the blessed bionics he had sacrilegiously destroyed but atonement would have to be made later. Now he found himself faced with a dilemma. He knew what he carried must be brought to light but having no idea how deeply the conspiracy was rooted, he knew that caution would be the most prudent of steps. He did not know with whom he could share it, but surely a chance might be had to pass it on to someone outside the ring of treacherous souls who had enacted such a pogrom.
As he weighed his options, Rho-Pi VI strode from the data chamber. Logic told him that he must first find a place to hide. Capture was not an option. Second, he would have to find allies. Somewhere, someone on the ship would help him. He was sure of it. His mind began rummaging through the list of surviving Terran Iron Warriors as he made his way deep into the bowels of the ship...