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Despite the chill in the air, Pieter felt warm inside. A feeling he had not experienced for the first thirty seven years of his life, it was now his constant companion. Though it ebbed and waned, the feeling was always there, the touch of the Emperor's love and his favour for a simple power plant worker on a faraway world. This was a good place, Pieter knew this. He stood at the window of the tiny hab room and bathed his face in the soft light from the church roof. The Emperor could see him here, could protect him here. He would remember this place. It was not his destiny however. He had already turned the room upside down for some sign, some clue as to why he had felt drawn here but there was nothing. He had rested though, better then he had in days. Perhaps that was all he needed, to sleep soundly in the safety of the Emperor's embrace so as to begin his search with renewed vigour.

A figure emerged from the church and Pieter ducked down sharply. Though he had exited the church, he carried himself with none of the peace such a place would imbue upon the holy. Pieter peered uneasily and watched the man walk away. He jumped as his stomach growled so loudly he feared the man would hear it. For all the Emperor's protection, Pieter knew he must still sustain himself. Slowly standing up again, he took a deep breath, soaking in one last dose of the soft soothing light, turned and walked out into the corridor.

He searched each room between his and the stairwell. In the third room along he found a nutri-bar. A short slab of processed grains infused with minimal requirements of protein and vitamins, cheap to produce and supply to the impoverished. It was brown and unappealing, the first signs of fluffy white mould forming at the tips. Pieter ate it anyway. It was bland and heavy and took so much chewing it made his jaw ache. He savoured every bite, for such was a gift from the Emperor.

With nothing left to find, Pieter walked boldly once more into the corridor and took the staircase down towards the street.
 

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Pieter walked absent mindedly out into the street and looked around through vacant, uncomprehending eyes. There were people around. That was unusual, or at least to see more than one person at any single time. The man ahead was dark and suspicious. Pieter couldn't tell what he was carrying and didn't trust that it would be something good. He watched as the man disappeared into another building and forgot about him.

Down the street two more people ran by towards another of the hab-blocks. It was good when people ran. Running meant you had to get somewhere. Getting somewhere meant that you had a purpose. It was good that those people had a purpose and it was good that they each had a friend. A thin smile briefly tugged at the edge of his lips then faded back into the shadows with everything else.

His own purpose still evaded him though his belief that it was out there never wavered. These people around him were not a part of it, he knew that, or the Emperor would have guided them to him, not away from him as they all were moving. He looked around, waiting for his gut to tell him which way he needed to go but nothing struck him which was unusual. Then it dawned on him that was already where he should be, or at least almost. He wandered wistfully into the nearby chapel.

Inside was a horror story. Bloody desecrated bodies laid strewn among the pews and fallen masonry. Pieter didn't notice. The grand statue of the Emperor himself stood proud and unbroken and Pieter's eyes never wavered from it. He moved down the aisle, not even looking down when he tripped and stumbled on a body or almost slipped in a pool of blood. Quietly he found a seat a few rows from the front, sat down and waited.
 

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“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.
 

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As he steps out into the street, Pieter spares one final longing glance back inside the chapel, marvelling for a few more moments at the magnificence of the great statue and lingering in the warmth it brought to his soul. Then there was the blood, a single tear. At least Pieter thought there was. He took one step to head back inside for a closer look but once he had blinked it was gone. Maybe it was just his imagination, or a trick of the light. Whatever it was, he felt no reason to linger here any longer and turned back to the street.

The lights rose and Pieter dropped to his knees, grinning from ear to ear. It was over. This whole terrible nightmare was over. The light was back and surely whatever evil had emerged here had been banished along with the darkness it lurked in. He basked in the light, looked up joyously into the midday sun. Then it grew brighter, and brighter. It hurt his eyes. He started squinting but it wasn't enough. He closed them tight but the light felt like it was burning through his eyelids. He covered them with his hand but the light still pushed through the gaps between his crooked fingers. He turned away and pushed his face to the ground, wrapped his hands around his head and cried as he waited for the sky to explode.

It never did and as swiftly as it had come the light was gone again and once more Pieter was left alone in the dark. Slowly he emerged from the ball he had made of himself, falling sideways into the foetal position first, then stretching out and sitting up. He wiped the tears from his cheeks with his sleeve, cleaning the dirt from his face only to replace it with that from his clothing.

What did it mean? First the tear, then the light.

It struck him like a thunderbolt. The Emperor was unhappy about the light. He did not want his subjects to be left in the darkness. He wanted the light restored and he wanted Pieter to restore it. But how? Sure Pieter had the skills but it was unclear at what point the systems was damaged the cause the blackout. He still held the Mechanicum coin tight in his hand. This was surely a sign too. The Mechanicum ran the power plants, but this did not give him his next move. There were hundreds of plants in the grid.

Inspiration struck him. Picking up a small stone from the ground next to him he carved a groove into the top of the coin, then tossed it into the air, the way he had seen one of the Overseers do it when deciding whether or not to beat one of the workers. Pieter's technique was not nearly as good and the coin spun awkwardly away into the street. It landed and Pieter hurriedly crawled on all fours over to it. The groove in the coin pointed to Pieter's right.

That was his heading, guiding undoubtedly by the Emperor's own hand. Picking up the coin and tucking it into his pocket, Pieter groaned as he pushed himself to his feet and set off down the street.
 
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