Myriad (Short Story)
|Series||Horus Heresy Series|
|Collected in||Heralds of the Siege|
Mars, the Red Planet, home to the Mechanicum, a mysterious cult dedicated to unlocking the secrets of the universe. In this sequel to Cybernetica, a loyalist resistance – made up of rag-tag survivors from Titan crew, enginseers and tech-adepts – conducts guerrilla raids on the Dark Mechanicum forces of Kelbor-Hal. Out in the wastes, they discover a Kastelan robot that carries inside it a rare secret: a technology that has the power to break the stalemate and swing the war in the loyalists’ favour. But what is the cost of deploying such a power? The loyalists now face a hard decision – just because they can, does this mean they should?
Read It Because: It's the sequel to Cybernetica and picks up a vital plot thread from that novella, asking a question that echoes through the Horus Heresy – is it right to use darkness to fight darkness?
Within the Temple-Tarantyne on the southern hemisphere of Mars, corrupted Warlord Titans were built but were stuck on the planet with war equipment due to the blockade by loyalist forces. The Mole transport Archimedex burrowed into the complex with Former Princeps Kallistra Lennox, near the newly finished Warlord Titan Ajax Abominata. She and her team of rebels were those who tore out their bionics to prevent the scrapcode from infecting them at the onset of the Horus Heresy. She was aided by Omnek-70, a skitarri ranger, Galahax Zarco, an enginseer, and Ratchek, her former moderatii among others. As soon as the transport arrived, they were met by opposition, and they fought their way up scaffolding covering the Titan.
The Titan was thoroughly corrupted, covered in eyes, filled with acid, and openings were mouths that bit the infiltrators. They fought up to the command deck, blasting the doors to make their way into the compartment. As they attempted to breach the deck, the Warlord Titan Belladon Ventorum was powered in response, but they were able to make it into the bridge and loaded demolition packs on the manifold interface. The rebels continued to fight the heretics until Lennox primed the explosives, retreating as soon as the task was finished. As they made their way back down, Lennox ordered Ratchek to reverse the drill while the explosives went off, destroying the bridge of the Titan. They were able to leave in the transport just as the Belladon Ventorum began to fire on the complex, and they returned to Invalis Base.
Along the way, they received a call for help from their scavenger party units Forty-Four-Torq and Scallion-Six-One in the Autonox solar collection fields. They were beset by Kalbor-Hal's personal troops, and the threat of information being revealed under torture prompted Lennox to come to their aid. Disembarking, Lennox, Omnek-70, and Zarco moved through the ruined field until they came upon the forces of Magos Reductor Diemon Gordicor's Ordo Reductor, the execution squads of Mars. Lennox's team approached quietly, observing the situation and were soon able to reach the two scavengers who were joined by a third, Len Four-of-Twelve. They explained that they were retrieving Len, a survivor of Icaria-Selenium Basin found at Dynax Maximal, until they ran into the Thallaxii of Ordo Reductor. The order's troops were busy battling each other.
44-Torq revealed that the ordo's troops were searching for an uncorrupted Kastelan-class battle automata, and, when they captured the unit, began to fire on each other. Omnek-70 came to the group to tell them that the ordo's men were now all dead, and the group moved in to investigate. Looking further, they found skitarii from Vertex Australis, and they were able to determine that some were infected with scrapecode while others were not. The Kastelan itself was of the First Maniple, Daedarii Reserve Cohort, and its firearms were empty as was its power. It was not corrupted, but it also lacked standard wetware or operational hardware. Instead, they found a complex orb inserted in its chest. Lennox decided that they should leave, and Zarco convinced her that it was necessary to take the Kastelan back with them.
They returned to base, which was filled with other burrowing transports, including Hellbores and Termites. Lennox soon left the group to find the lexorcist. The base itself was only approached by burrowing transports, and it was deep beneath a highland deadzone. On the surface, crystals radiated an effect that drained power of units and emitted static, which helped cover the underground base. Lennox was able to reach Arquid Cornelicus, who ran security, the logista Algerna Zephyreon, and Ramann Synk, the base's lexorcist and leader. Synk's duty included prosecuting techno-hersy for the Precture Magisterium, the Malagra, and the Lexorcist General before the Horus Heresy, and he was able to resist the scrapcode. His body was wrecked in the resistance and he was confined to a command throne. Speaking to Lennox, he informed her that the Belladon Ventorum and two other Warlords were marching across the Argye Planitia towards the Invalis region with a company of Krios battle tanks and a section of Thallaxii.
The heretic forces stopped at the Phasmi Fossae, outside of the deadzone, but showed that they possibly knew the general location of the rebels. Cornelicus believed that the Titans were able to track Lennox via the Kastelan, and they watched the robot over an internal system as probes were released to scan the unit. However, the probes couldn't find any corruption nor a tracking device, but they did note the strange unit in its chest. Synk questioned what the name of the machine was, and, when he heard, he expressed dread that Kastelan Impedicus and was part of the Tabula Myriad, a heretical exigency engine of Abominable Intelligence. As he explained its background, the Kastelan destroyed the probes before it tapped into the base's systems. Before it could tap into Cornelicus's personal system, Lennox cut his physical connection with a chainblade.
On the screen, the Kastelan approached Lenk 4-of-12 and took over his systems, forcing him to rip into his stomach to pull out a tracking device and using Lenk's systems to ask if that was what the rebels were worried about. Lenk's possession manifested, but the Kastelan dominated him with his own logic systems and cleansed the corruption. This convinced Synk to free the Kastelan, an "enemy of my enemy," and the AI's desire to dominate Mars would pit it against the Dark Mechanicum. Across the communication system of the base, the Kastelan was sending pure, logical code. Lennox and Cornelicus expressed fear that it was heretical, but Synk expressed it was a necessary weapon.
Traveling back to the surface, Lennox was able to witness the newly purified Belladon Ventorum turn its weapons upon the other Titans and heretical forces. Its crew had jumped to their death, and it was the victory over the ordo's forces. Lennox, with her Moderatii, entered into the Titan and slipped onto the empty bridge. They discovered that the Titan received the Kastelan's broadcast message and was repeating it to others. They were able to join with the Titan and proceed to new targets, part of a 4,267 step strategy to retake Mars provided by the AI. Although Lennox felt it was heretical, she felt that it was necessary to rely on the AI, and they made their way to the Legio Vendettica armoury depot in Mare Hadriacum East.