Subjects 386-A and 386-C did not survive being captured. While a shame, they were disposable. Tyranid Gaunts have been captured and studied in the past in fairly exhaustive numbers.
Three Eighty Six Bea, however, is something altogether different. It is the opinion of this researcher that 386-B represents a new genus of Tyranid and a terribly dangerous one. In general build the Xeno resembles a typical member of the Lictor genus, though the similarity ends there. The Xeno has show a remarkable ability to-
There comes a tapping from the other side of the foot thick plate of sheet diamond. Less a pounding and more of a polite call for attention. Thaddeus glances up from his notes, adjusting his glasses.
"I'm out of water again. If I could get some more when you aren't busy?"
comes the monster's siren-like voice. No doubt a clever ploy or lure to cause its victims to let their guard down.
"You will be fed at the appropriate time, Foul Xeno. As I have told you before," Thaddeus replies before returning to his notes.
"Are you going to... y'know... Are you going to kill me? Cut me open and look at my insides?"
386-B looks little if anything like it did when it first arrived. In a remarkable display of almost protean mutability it had shed hundreds of pounds of armor and bone and muscle, going so far as to reduce its tail and secondary limbs to little more than vestigial nubs.
Truth be told the repulsive Xeno appears almost as though it is trying to look human. Which is no doubt heresy of some kind. Or so the local head of the Guard insists. A human shaped body, armored though it is. Complete with little armored boots, disturbingly human hands, and that disgusting mess of fleshy-pink tendrils that are no doubt meant to be hair. The noseless face and orange eyes round out a truly unspeakable mockery of the human form.
As if that weren't blasphemous enough the creature even speaks in Low Gothic. This is no doubt an adaptation meant to lure prey in, quite fitting for the wily Lictors which 386-B is likely descended from.
the monster speaks up again, trying to mimic the human emotion of apprehension. "I... I would really like to avoid dying if I can."
With a sigh Thaddeus looks up from his notes again. "There will be a number of Magos biologists arriving within several weeks to examine you. In addition to observers from other departments. They will no doubt decide what your fate will be, Foul Xeno."
the Tyranid replies, its eyes falling to the grated floor.
Thaddeus stares at the beast for a few moments longer before snapping his journal shut and leaving the room. He can't watch the monster sit there and sulk like that. Tomorrow he would return with some equipment to measure psionic activity.
No doubt it exudes a mental compulsion to make those around it perceive it as weak and pitiable.
"Do I really need to be kept locked up like this?"
the monster inquires, laying on its back and peering up at Thaddeus as he works. "If you let me out I promise I won't hurt anyone. I'll even stay in the compound."
Thaddeus just snorts. "You killed and ate twelve guardsmen before you were captured. And the only reason you were captured is because everyone believed you to be dead," the adept replies, none too moved by the Tyranid's assurances of self-restraint.
"To be fair they did shoot at me first,"
the Xeno objects, rolling over onto its stomach in the process. "And I needed to learn your language. It would have been hard to talk to you otherwise."
"You will remain where you are, Foul Xeno."
"Well... I'm glad I'll have a little while longer to enjoy life then,"
No psionic activity. Aside from a negative imprint the monster's presence leaves in the Warp. This is, perhaps, more insidious than initially imagined. 386-B doesn't warp the mind through psionic attack, but through simple emotional manipulation. If the Tyranid's ability to mimic the human form evolves to a point of accuracy then this genus could pose a serious threat via infiltration. Especially since it shares the Lictor's ability to devour the memories of its victims.
Unlike many other Tyranids 386-B shows a frightening degree of individuality. Where most such creatures would become feral and mindless without the presence of the Hive Mind to guide it. This creature instead shows a high degree of intelligence and curiosity, operating on its own initiative. This combined with its mutability suggests a long-range scouting role.
the monster laments. "I just wish I could spend it somewhere less cramped. The diamond walls are kind of pretty, though."
The Tyranid was sleeping. Or at least pretending to. He honestly isn't sure whether or not these monsters actually sleep. Though he's quite certain that it isn't right now. Mostly because of the incident yesterday with Pratt.
The technicians had taken to sticking small, unimportant lab animals into the Tyranid's enclosure and placing bets on how long they would survive. Eventually the game took a turn for the worst when Pratt introduced a whole box full of lab rats into the inclosure while the monster was 'sleeping'. He had bet that the whole batch wouldn't survive a minute and had some real money on the line. About thirty seconds in he got antsy, picked up a yard stick, and began prodding at the Xeno through the feeding hatch to wake it up.
Suffice to say the Tyranid didn't seem hungry enough to bother with the rats afterward.
"You just have to keep an eye on it," Ulysses the head Adept had said. "Take some notes. Write down what it says. It might even do something interesting. This isn't very hard! But by the Emperor's gold plated cod-piece I do not
want any more technicians feeding themselves to that thing! Just make sure it stays healthy until the research team arrives."
And so that's what Thaddeus did.
In addition to placing a small sign above the feeding hatch.
'No unauthorized feeding of the Tyranid.'
Thaddeus storms into the lab, ripping off his Adept robe and hurling it into the corner, leaving a rather unpleasant sticky residue on his hands. He drops into his chair and begins prying at his notebook, doing his best to separate the pages that had been glued together when a large bottle of syrup had been 'accidentally' knocked over.
He tried to be a polite enough human being. He tried to be respectful of superiors. He tried to do his job quietly and well. And apparently all those traits make him a prime target for pranks.
"He was very unkind to you,"
the Tyranid speaks up after watching Thaddeus stew in silence for several long, brooding minutes.
"What are you talking about?" the adept fumes back.
it clarifies. "He was unkind to you. He used to spend time thinking about ways to make you feel humiliated. I learned that when I ate him."
"Well I suppose he won't ever get a chance to be unkind again now will he?" Thaddeus fires back, feeling rather disgusted even having this conversation.
"I wonder why humans do that? When I'm with the Hive we all have a unity of purpose. To improve our whole race. But when I'm alone... It seems like... maybe we're unkind, too. Thinking of new ways to make other races die better."
Thaddeus rips one of the pages in his notebook. And the Tyranid makes a convenient focus for his frustration. "You're a monster! A Filthy Xeno! Your kind has killed countless trillions and for what? For a snack. I don't think 'unkind' is a strong enough term."
The Tyranid cowers slightly at the yelling, looking away from the technician. Ugh... Something about the way the monster moves. It's body language. Everything about it just gets his stomach up in knots. And to make matters worse it looks more human now
than it did several days ago.
And to make matters EVEN worse his notebook is ruined. A horrific death by syrup. With a yell of frustration he hurls the book into the Tyranid's feeding tray and gives the simple device a kick, sending the notes flying into the monster's enclosure and his foot flying to his hands.
He had heard a rather nasty crack shortly after the kicking and quite suddenly it doesn't seem to have been a very good idea. Irritated and defeated Thaddeus hobbles off to the medical ward.
The next morning and some medical attention later Thaddeus found his notebook once again sitting in the Tyranid's feeding tray, this time pushed to his side of the barrier. With the Tyranid watching him expectantly. This lead to one very obvious question.
"What did you do to it?"
"I cleaned it for you,"
the creature replies, offering a disturbingly human smile. "And I read it, too. Some of your hypothesis on the Hive Mind are wrong. Especially the one about some massive psionic creature that controls us all. We have no leader, there is only The Hive."
Thaddeus eyes the book cautiously. The Filthy Xeno might have tainted it with spores. Or toxins. Or viruses. Or toxic virus spores. He takes some tongs and uses them to pick up the notebook and place it in an air-tight container.
"I'm going to run some tests on this, Filthy Xeno, to make sure you aren't trying to poison me. Or take over my mind. Or some other suitably nefarious trick," and with that he turns to leave the room. Only to pause shortly before making his exit. "But... if you aren't. Thank you."
About an hour later Thaddeus returns, notebook in hand. Thankfully it contained no toxic virus spores. Not even one. He approaches the Xeno's enclosure, his expression a mix of confusion and pleasant surprise and curiosity.
"How did you manage to clean my notebook? And more importantly why?
"I whipped up a solvent that would remove the syrup without smearing the ink or damaging the paper. It wasn't very hard,"
the monster that's looking more and more like a female human by the day replies. "And I did it because I don't have much to do inside my glass box. I read your notes twelve times. It was a nice change of pace from counting the holes in the floor."
"And I thought it would be kind. There aren't many people here that are kind."
Thaddeus provides the Tyranid with an incredulous look. "Thank you, I suppose. But if you're so keen on kindness why did you kill and eat Pratt?" Reasonable question right there, all things considered.
"I was hungry,"
the Tyranid replies with a rather non-nonchalant shrug. "I was injured badly. I needed to cannibalize most of my bio-mass to heal myself. And..."
it crinkles its lips off to the side a bit at the tray of slop sitting in front of it. "The food you're giving me isn't nearly enough. My metabolism is really high and I'm burning my own meat to stay alive. Pratt saved my life, and I'm thankful for that."
The adept huffs at that. He wasn't terribly fond of Pratt. The man was
a jerk. But he didn't deserve being eaten
. Then again, if the Filthy Xeno is starving to death...
"Well then Fil... eerr... How much more food will you need?"
"To just stay alive at least three times what you're giving me now. But if you're wanting to show your superiors a ferocious Tyranid killing machine I don't think they'll be very impressed with me right now. Five times as much and I'll actually be able to start putting some mass back on."
"Very well, Filthy Xeno. I'll see what I can do," and with that Thaddeus turns to leave the room.
He pauses, glancing back over his shoulder. "I beg your pardon?"
"My name. My name is Amil."
"-And this one causes exponential cell growth around the wound, killing the target with exploding tumors,"
Since increasing ration size Amil has been significantly more energetic than she previously was. Not only that but she appears to be growing at a noticeable rate. After explaining how unnerving her human-like shape was she was kind enough to alter herself, assuming a form more similar to that she was initially found in.
Her initial state is something of a quandary. She landed in a myotic spore accompanied by only two Gaunts of the relatively small Jabberwock Hive Fleet, easily identified by their green and black markings. Amil, however, displays a color morph yet unseen in any Hive Fleet. A light blue hide that proves to be blue and white striped when examined closely, blotched with much darker angular patches. Her carapace is a solid brass while horns are silvery black. Muscular regions are a fleshy pink, reminiscent of Hive Fleet Leviathan.
When questioned about her Hive Fleet of origin she admitted that she was originally born to Hive Fleet Leviathan, though her color morph obviously doesn't match the usual white/purple/red scheme. Perhaps she's somehow a seed of a new Hive Fleet? Amil admits she doesn't know.
Even more curious than her Fleet affiliation is her protean nature. As mentioned earlier in the report Amil displays an incredible ability to modify herself in very short order, growing new bio-morphs in a matter of seconds. Amil has explained that using this ability is metabolically taxing and using it while starving proved far too strenuous. She was happy to show off a number of exotic bio-morphs, including several which she claims are her own design. This researcher is uncertain whether to be fascinated or concerned by this discovery.
Amil mentions, poking at the rather lumpy organic weapon that has replaced her lower right arm.
That strikes Thaddeus as an absurdly horrific way to die. It also raises a rather interesting question. "How exactly are you able to change your form so quickly? It seems as though you're breaking the law of mass conservation in the process."
Amil simply smiles back, a much less human smile since she was kind enough to shed the human shape. "Magic of course."
Thaddeus goes pale shortly before dashing from the room to fetch Cassandra, the compound's Psyker. Why? Mostly to make sure the Tyranid isn't using sorcery. Because the thought of a Hive Fleet in league with daemons is absolutely horrifying.
"Alright Amil. Do that again. With one of your arms if you please," Thaddeus requests.
The Tyranid is kind enough to obey, rapidly morphing a human-like hand into a massive scissor-pair of scythe claws in a fashion that makes the first law of thermodynamics weep in a corner alone and unloved.
Cassandra shakes her head, having been focused rather intently on the Xeno. "It's like looking into a black hole. But no, no sorcery. I'm not even sure if it-"
"She," the adept corrects. "Amil is a she."
The Psyker sighs. "I'm not even sure if she is drawing power from the Warp at all. I've haven't seen a Tyranid using psionics before, thank the Emperor. So I don't know if this is normal for them or not."
"But no sorcery?" Thaddeus prompts.
Cassandra confirms. "Though I am a bit concerned with how friendly you're getting with this Filthy Xeno. You watch yourself, machine priest,"
she jabs a finger toward the Tyranid. "It has killed thirteen people that we know of. Get careless and it'll be fourteen. Or more. It is dangerous."
And with that she leaves the room.
Amil calls after Cassandra, sticking her tongue out in a rather mature fashion.
"Good morning Amil. I have your breakfast for you," Thaddeus announces, pushing the usual patter of unidentifiable slop through feeding tray. Though this morning something is rather amiss. Something that catches the Tyranid's attention. A small, red, roughly conical fruit.
"A strawberry? This is for me?"
Amil asks, her tone somewhere between disbelief and joy. The Tyranid gingerly picks up the berry as if expecting it to disintegrate if she isn't careful.
"We had a shipment of them this morning. Everyone was allowed one. I thought you might like mine," the adept replies as he settles down at his desk. Amil gawks at him as he begins setting out tools and oils for the Repair Litany of Minor Devices. A microwave had broken earlier in the morning.
"I can't take this, Thaddeus,"
Amil states, setting the piece of fruit back down on the tray.
The adept just laughs a rather dry laugh. "I can't very well eat it now that you've touched it, can I? Protocol and all."
the Tyranid replies, picking the berry back up and carefully nibbling the end off the berry. "What are you doing?"
"Preparing to appease the machine spirit of this microwave. Someone put a fork in it again and now its spirit is dreadfully offended. If there's anything microwave spirits detest its offerings of metallic objects," Thaddeus grumbles. "I suspect it was Perseus or one of his toadies. They're always going out of their way to make my life miserable," a bit more grumbling before the adept adds darkly, "At least I have one fewer of them to worry about now..."
"Have you tried speaking with them about it?"
Amil suggests, finally polishing off the berry and starting in on her slop. "Maybe if you told them about how their mistreatment makes you feel they would reconsider?"
Thaddeus just snorts. "Doubtful. They would probably just use it as an excuse to find new and imaginative ways to torment me."
"Maybe I could talk to them?"
the Tyranid replies in a rather sly tone. "I'll bet I could convince them to leave you alone."
At that Thaddeus laughs. "I don't doubt your powers of persuasion far exceed mine. However you need to remain in your enclosure. And I doubt Perseus would be very moved by your request from behind twelve inches of sheet diamond."
And with that he begins the Litany for the microwave spirit. A great deal of application of holy tools and oils is required. Including the replacement of a few components. The spirit had been so offended that it caused several parts to burn out.
"What did you do?" Thaddeus demands as soon as he steps into the lab, his expression earnest though not necessarily upset.
Amil gives the adept a rather hurt look, though it's obviously a facade. It doesn't take an empath to realize how pleased she is with herself. Like a cat that just caught a bird. "What do you mean what did I do?"
she inquires coyly.
"Perseus apologized to me. Openly. And not the sort of half-heated apology either I might expect if a superior had spoken to him. And
he seemed afraid of something," Thaddeus walks up to the Tyranid's enclosure, placing a hand on the carbon wall. "What did you do, Amil?"
The Tyranid offers a smile full of teeth. "I asked him to leave you alone. I was very polite."
"That's impossible," the adept objects. "There's no way you could have dug your way out of that cage. There isn't a scratch on it. The doors to this lab are sealed when I leave. You couldn't have possibly escaped."
"I guess you're right, Thaddeus,"
the Tyranid replies. "I couldn't have gotten out. I guess he must have just had a change of heart then. That's very encouraging."
The adept shakes his head before dropping heavily into his chair.
If Amil could
get out of that cage. And out of the lab... Both undetected. If she could sneak into the barracks and threaten Perseus... If she could do all that then she could have killed someone in their sleep. Or snuck out of the base. Or any number of unsavory things.
"How did you do it, Amil."
"By the Throne, Amil! This isn't a game," Thaddeus yells, pounding one hand on his desk. The sudden outburst from the usually quiet, reserved man is enough to make the Tyranid jump. "How did you get out? How did you do it?"
He's afraid. For himself and his fellow humans? Or for her? He isn't totally sure. And that just makes him all the more frightened.
"How did you do it, Amil?"
In a wink the Tyranid is gone. The pressure sensor on the floor doesn't register that her mass is missing... Maybe she's just invisi-
"The space between spaces,"
comes a voice from nowhere. Or maybe somewhere. A somewhere very much closer to Thaddeus than Amil's enclosure. "The time between moments. I slip through them. The same place I get the extra mass I use to modify myself."
The adept freezes, muscles tense, sweat running down his brow. Was that the Tyranid's breath he just felt? Or just the ventilation fans? "I need to tell my superiors about this..."
"What? No! Don't do that,"
the voice objects. "Here, I'll get back in my cage."
And then she is.
"Amil, I need to tell my superiors that you can escape. It's... It's too much of a risk. We can't allow you to be walking around the base freely. We-"
"I already have been. For several days,"
Amil replies, her tone still polite, though now with a dangerous edge the adept hadn't ever heard before. "I know where everything is. I know the routines. I know where they sleep. I know everything Pratt knew. And the four guardsmen I ate before I was gunned down, too. I could leave right now and sneak onto a ship and nothing could stop me."
"Then why don't you?" the adept inquires, asking the obvious question.
"If I escape now you'll be in trouble. I'm your responsibility, remember? You were kind enough to help me get my strength back. And I enjoyed speaking with you,"
Amil reasons. "But if I wait until I'm someone else's problem then you won't be to blame."
"Yes... Someone else's problem..."
The Magos biologists arrived about a week later, fascinated by the odd Tyranid and its singularly peculiar individuality. While some genestealers displayed similar behavior to a degree there had never been anything quite like this.
A Tyranid that would answer and ask questions? Truly fascinating. Though it was a real shame when the creature up and died shortly before more invasive, thorough testing of its nervous system and organs could be made. No doubt a defense to prevent itself from being probed too closely. That it's body released a potent plasma acid and dissolved itself (along with a sizable portion of the floor) after its death was even more disappointing.
The Magos biologists were all quite upset at this, but at least well documented notes had been made on the creature by the adept charged with keeping an eye on it.
A human woman, unremarkable and uninteresting, stands at the crest of a hill looking down at the waving grain-fields below. There's something about her... Something so dull and uninteresting that a passerby couldn't find it worth their time to take a second look.
Though if they overcame the psionic compulsion and did so they would no doubt notice that she isn't altogether human.
"That was a clever trick," Thaddeus comments as he walks toward her from behind. "With the melting dummy. Emperor above I hope you aren't going to make me regret this..."
Amil simply smiles at him with that disturbing not-quite-human face of her's. "Don't worry yourself. I'm just trying to get home. I'll be riding a freighter that passes near the Nexus anomaly. From there I'll just be a quick space-walk away."
"It's hard to believe everything you told me. About you being human once. Being born nearly thirty eight thousand years ago on some parallel version of Terra. Stumbling into that dreadful anomaly. It all seems too fantastical to be true."
"I know, right? Thanks for everything. For keeping my secret safe. For chatting with me. For the strawberry. I really liked the part where you stopped calling me a Filthy Xeno, too."
"You're still a Filthy Xeno," the adept laughs. "I wish you the best of luck. And if your soul is still human may the Emperor watch over it," and then he goes rather ridged when the Filthy Xeno grasps him in a hug and plants a kiss on his cheek.
Much flustered sputtering follows.
"Take care of yourself, Thaddeus!"
Amil calls out as she jogs off toward the shuttle docks. "Keep up the good work on the toasters!"
One hand slowly rises to Thaddeus' cheek at he watches her depart. "...I wonder how many kinds of heresy that was..."