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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Knowledge Is Power [Dark Heresy] - IC

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    Chapter I
    Vigilance is the Brother of Truth

    Prol VII – the Library Planet. The seventh of ten grey little worlds that made up the Prol System – the Scrivener’s Star – it belonged, with its nine brothers, to the Administratum, the entire system ceded to that sprawling bureaucracy in the early days of the Calixis Sector as a vast depository and data store. Controversy was currently raging among the hereditary Decatalogues of Prol over the overflowing databanks of Prol IX, but the Library Planet remained serenely untouched by such troubles, revolving imperturbably on about the distant light of its faint sun.

    Here, every document that had ever been published in the Calixis Sector was stored – every learned treatise, every work of fiction, every hymn-book and gospel of the Emperor’s Word catalogued and stored in hard copy on 8.38 billion kilometres of shelving. The number was known to within seven decimal places – it had been measured and recorded in Postulo’s Units and Dimensions, located in Section Upsilon, Segment Gamma, Sub-Segment 63AQ, Repository 14, The Gryle Wing, Chamber 27, Row 91, Shelf 2.


    It was over this dull grey orb that the freighter Gilded Ark was descending into orbit, three days out of Warp on the last leg of its journey from Sector capital of Scintilla. The merchant vessel was bringing food supplies to Prol IX, but instructions from the Tricorn Palace had forced a diversion to the Library in order to deliver a small parcel of passengers. The space-lanes above the planet were practically empty – Prol VII was not where people came to read, at least with any appreciable frequency. It was where books went to die.

    Staring out of an armourglass porthole at the planet below, the Acolytes of Inquisitor Al-Subaai beheld their destination, invisible to the ratings who went about the task of preparing their transport to the surface. The crew of the Ark seemed glad to be rid of them: the diversion had been costly in both fuel and time, and without the intimidating presence of an Inquisitor to back them up, the Acolytes had been treated with the barest minimum of respect.

    Their patron was still on Scintilla – in the weeks following the cleansing of Sector 963, disturbing reports had been filtering in of portents and omens in the Drusus Marches, making necessary a convening of the Tyrantine Cabal. In his absence, Inquisitor Al-Subaai had dispatched acolyte cells – how many, the passengers of the Ark did not have the privilege to know – on the trail of the Byzantium, the mysterious vessel thought to have delivered the Xenos-consorting heretic Alexei Lysenko to Hive Sibellus. This specific cell had been brought here by the merest trace of a lead – a report by one of the few Adepts who lived planet-side, of an instance of the same clearance protocol that had been used to encrypt Lysenko’s documents in the Library databanks.

    Their transport was ready – one of the Acolytes, in the uniform of the Imperial Guard, smiled wryly to himself as he saw it was an Arvus Lighter, stubby wings extended and engines powering up as the pilot primed the craft’s robust systems. Over the cargo-bay tannoy, the voice of a bored-sounding petty officer crackled.

    “Cargo bay depressurisation in fifteen minutes. All passengers for Prol VII please to embark; all crew to vacate the bay. Repeat, all crew to vacate the bay.”

    They had taken on two new faces since leaving Scintilla, to replace the two they had lost – the guardsman Phrenz, torn in two in the tunnels beneath Sector 963, and the assassin Olympus, taken off the mission for reasons the Inquisitor had declined to share. There were whispers that his encounters with the enemy beneath Hive Sibellus had affected the man more deeply than he had shown at first – that he had been dragged away raving, about dark corridors and doors. Such information was not shared with acolytes: when men and women of their rank were worn out, they were replaced. That was all they needed to know.

    Their replacements were certainly unusual – a woman with a disquieting gaze, in the vestments of a Sororitas novice, and a slight man with a hideous sanctioning scar that marred a full half of his face, clearly marking him as a psyker. They had rendezvoused with the Ark on its arrival in the system, having been waiting on Prol IX on the Inquisitor’s orders, carrying a simple certificate of authorisation from Inquisitor Al-Subaai, and a note for the other acolytes explaining that their talents might be required in the investigation. Red couldn’t decide whether that boded well or ill...

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    Repeat, all crew to vacate the bay. Passengers please to embark.”
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-06-27 at 06:21 PM.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Acolyte-Armsman Red moved fluidly from his position towards the hatch of the Arvus lighter.
    Such a dependable little ship, it had saved his bacon more than a few times, on the field of battle, and more recently, during his escape from the Scintillian Underhive. He had received needle, thread, and a good deal of time to freshen his uniform, the half-hearted black and grey creased crisply and his flak armour newly cleaned, it shone with its black gaze like almost-new.

    He took a moment to check the intricate webbing on his body which had replaced his old gear lost during the incident in Sector 963, the bow and rifle were both new and mildly unfamiliar. He had spent plenty of time acquainting himself with the lasgun, though. It was the Sollux-IX pattern, and, as such, packed considerably more punch than the old Mars-pattern rifle he had served with in the Guard. As he was wont to do, Red passed his time obsessively maintaining his weapon and sneaking in some time at the ship's shooting range.

    It was his own fault that he never really spent a good deal of time getting to know the new arrivals. He would have to rectify that on the flight down. Shipping out with the Soriatas, at the very least, should prove to be educational.
    The Psyker, on the other hand set Red off his balance. He had fought agents of the Warp with the Guytogan 345th. He had seen first hand what ruin the aptly-named Ruinous Powers could cause. He was also aware that, at any moment, Psykers could lose control. He had heard the oficers in the trenches chatter idly about "Mercy Blades" and "The Psykatana", and hoped that somewhere, Al-Subaai had given them a method to defeat whatever perils of the Warp their new companion could bring down.

    The first of his party to reach the Arvus, Red smiled and nodded at each of his companions as they boarded, waiting just outside the hatch, and ensuring he was the last man of his party inside.

    It was going to be another interesting assignment.
    Last edited by Thanatos 51-50; 2010-06-28 at 05:35 PM.
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    Hieronymus Bosc, former Imperial Navy Provost, took his time stepping away from the viewport. His uniform was not quite so neat as Red's; it didn't fit quite right, and he had never bothered to repair the stitching torn off with the patch displaying the insignia of his ship. It was in space that the tall, red haired man felt most at home, and he was not eager to go back dirtside, especially after Scintilla.

    Memories of the black tunnels beneath the hive danced through his mind as he turned from port and walked silently towards the tiny lighter. Olympus had saved his life twice on Scintilla. Three times, if you counted the time he had kept the Xenos beasts from disemboweling them both with his blade. But Olympus was gone now, as was Phrenz. Hieronymus had, for his own reasons, kept well away from the two sent to replace them. He had seen enough of the Warp's horrors to be wary of a psyker, and there was something about the Sororitas that he didn't much like.

    As he took his seat on the cramped dropship, he tightened his grip on his sword and his pistol to remind himself they were still there. Both had also been nearly lost on Scintilla, and he had never been able to properly thank Olympus for returning them to him. While the Irontalon pistol, with its plaque displaying the same ship's logo that had been torn from his uniform, was unaltered, the sword had been changed from its original design. The blade had been sharpened, and a tiny motor installed in the hilt that would cause it to vibrate rapidly, sawing quickly through armour and flesh.

    Newly engraved on the sword's blade was Hieronymus' personal birth divination: "A Job Worth Doing is Worth Dying For." Time alone would tell if this was such a job.

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    The voice in the Provost's head, on the other hand, was not new. Hieronymus replied to it only with thoughts, as always. He couldn't have his friends learning about Rhakarn, after all. Does it really matter, Daemon? You'll have to be careful with those two around regardless. There's something off about the Sister, and Psykers are a trouble all their own. Besides, if they learn about you it'll be a bullet in the head for me, and I don't want to die just yet.
    Last edited by Destro_Yersul; 2010-06-27 at 07:39 PM.
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    Ignace twitched slightly as he climbed into the cramped interior of the Lighter. He didn't like the prospect of spending any time at all in close company with that thing, and being forced to be so close to is during the trip back down to the surface would be very painful indeed. Why Al-Subaai had seen fit to pair him with such a creature was beyond him, although he was hoping it had to do with the potential dangers of this particular mission, rather than being a comment on the Inquisitor's opinion of him.

    He had rather wished to get to know the other three Acolytes that he was to work with, but they had all avoided him so far. Understandable, really, but regrettable none-the-less. After all, the common perception of Psykers were that they were time-bombs, ready to blow at any moment. And although that perception wasn't entirely accurate, it wasn't far from the truth. While the brand on his face indicated that he was trusted to have enough control to not suddenly rip a hole into the Warp there was always a possibility that he would make a mistake when he was consciously trying to draw on that dangerous power.
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    Katyra looked idly at the straggling group, blank eyes giving away nothing, as she inspects them. Hardly what the Sororitas had rumour of Inquisitorial groups looking like, but then, who was she to question the works of He On Terra? Noone, is who. Noone. And with an absently motion she reaches up to run her fingers through her flowing copper hair and back over the black of the flak armour she'd appropriated before leaving the hospice of the Sisterhood. White fluer-de-lys stamped onto the breast and shoulders, and a broad silver-touched Aquilla across the back of the shoulders.

    Extraordinarily flat eyes, despite the blazingly bright magenta and black lines that she considers them with, there's something lacking as she mechanically locks the belts in place, and setting a black and white flamer across her lap, carefully adjusting the nozzle and feed lines. There was nothing to say, yet. So she would say nothing.

    Not to the Guardsman, who sits trim and polish, not to the Provost, sitting in his disrepair, and certainly not to the psyker, who's soul soars beyond the norm. Jelousy? Prehaps, but at least her head had far less of a chance to explode.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Clambering into the dingy hold of the lighter, the Acolytes strapped themselves in: behind them, the hatch pulled shut with a hiss of hydraulics. Over the comms, the voice of the pilot droned – Red recognised it as the same airman who had dropped them in Sector 963 those two months past.

    “Hello again,” crackled the speakers. “Let’s try not to leave this place in flames, eh, chaps?”

    Outside, a klaxon began to whoop, the noise loud enough to pierce the Arvus’ hull. A bass, metallic rumbling began to reverberate through the landing gear: outside, Heironymous knew that the vast cargo bay airlock was grinding open, venting the hold’s atmosphere into the freezing immensity of the void. The drone of the lighter’s engines rose to an ear-splitting whine - there was a sudden roar that shook the craft as the void jets kicked in, and the sudden acceleration pinned them to their seats. Leaving their home of the last two months behind, their little vessel streaked out of the hold of the leviathan towards the grey little planet below...

    [hr]

    The landing gear struck ground with a merciful thud – engines powering down, the Arvus’ hatch whooshed open, blessed sunlight streaming in along with a sharp gust of frigid air. Unbuckling themselves, the Acolytes stumbled outside, a little unsteady on their feet from their tooth-rattling orbital descent.

    The lighter had set down on an octagonal landing-pad: supported by a flying buttress that adjoined a stocky, gleaming spire that rose far above the surrounded buildings, it offered a view that stretched out to the horizon. An ocean of architecture surrounded them, extending as far as the eye could see – a sea of verdigrised domes and weathered stonework, untouched by the grime of pollution and overpopulation that the Acolytes were accustomed to. This silent world had been alone with the elements since the day of its construction, its skin of masonry and metal pristine except for what the touch of the wind and the rain had wrought. It was beautiful in a way, the rosy fingers of the morning sun creeping over the intricate forest of stone in complicated patterns of light and shadow. Somewhere in the far distance, a lone speeder glided across the clear sky, the only speck of movement in the whole vast scene.

    Two other vessels, however, were docked at adjoining landing pads to the one they were on. Both much larger than their lighter, one was a sleek, silvery thing with the look of hive nobility about it – a sky-yacht, redolent with the scent of wealth. The other was a bulky, rust-red, square-nosed gun-cutter: the unmistakeable symbol of the Machine Cult picked out in bas-relief on its flank, it carried the kind of armament that made it clear that its designers had had a very tenuous grip on the concept of ‘overkill’. Both craft seemed to be unattended: crime on Prol VII was, of course, non-existent.

    Hurrying towards them across the gantry that linked their landing-pad to the central spire, a figure in heavy Administratum robes was approaching, fur-lined hood raised and hands thrust into his deep sleeves to guard against the biting cold. As he drew near, he raised his head to look at them – they found themselves looking at a gaunt, slender face, with a protruding, knife-like nose on which rested a pair of thick-lensed spectacles.

    Coming to a halt, the man extended a bony-fingered hand for the nearest Acolyte to shake.

    “Hello! Hello. Welcome to Prol VII!” He seemed excessively enthusiastic about their arrival. “You’re Al-Subaai’s men, yes?” He noticed Katyra. “And, ah, woman. I was told to expect you. My name is Ichabod Vale – Decatalogue Ichabod Vale - and, ah, you were probably told to expect me. Please, come inside, come inside. You’ll catch your death out here.”

    He gestured to the spire behind him, and made to lead them back across the gantry to the doors that led into it.
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-06-29 at 04:50 PM.
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    Hieronymus nodded, looking up at the sky. It was far too open for the provost, who had grown up in the cramped corridors of an Imperial warship. He hurried after Vale with almost undue haste, eager to get himself inside again. "We were expecting you, yes." He says as they walk, hoping to prompt some further explanation.
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    Default Re: Knowledge Is Power [Dark Heresy] - IC

    “I sent word as soon as I got the communiqué from your Inquisitor,” gabbled Vale, volubly, as he led the way inside. The doors to the spire opened to a long, oak-panelled corridor, leading up to a single set of brass-chased elevator doors at the far end. “Truth be told, I’m glad you’ve come – don’t know what to make of it all myself. Usually visitors report into a Hub, like this one – but not a peep out of this fellow, whoever he is, not even a log of how he got here.”

    The elevator doors slid open with a choral chime: stepping inside, Vale flipped back a control panel, inputting a floor number to the number-pad underneath.

    “I suppose I’d best start at the beginning, although you’ll probably want to be asking Lira the real questions. Two months ago or so, we logged someone accessing the Proscribed Vault – authorisation cleared, perfectly permissible – but no trace of them to be found. No idea how they got onto the planet, where they got inside the Library – not even any traces of them on the surveillance systems. We’ve been having some problems with them, you see, a few glitches – in any case, you can go for months in this place without seeing another living soul. If any of the Servitors have encountered the fellow, they haven’t logged it.”

    The lift doors whooshed shut, and it began to descend.

    “Anyway, a few days afterward, I received Inquisitor Al-Subaai’s request, for records of this Lectoprioritas code that they’d dug up on Scintilla or somesuch, and of course, it was the same one as our mystery guest. I sent word back as soon as I could via the Astropathic Choir on IX, and so here you are. With luck, the fellow might still be around – there’ve been no incidents of him accessing the data-banks, and manual searching can take weeks. Years, sometimes,” he said, gloomily. “Of course, that’s if he exists at all. Still no sightings of him, I’m afraid. A ghost in the machine.”

    Having descended what felt like a great height, the lift doors whooshed open again, revealing an almost identical oak-panelled passageway leading away towards the centre of the spire. The only difference was that here, the walls were lined with books, their shelves set into recessed alcoves: on Prol VII, even the corridors were needed for shelving-space.

    Leading the way out of the lift, Vale struck off again, seeming to know where he was going.

    “Is there anything I can get for you? Recaf, water – the Servitors can make a passable cup of tea, if you lay everything out for them just right.” The Adept made a brief face, as if recalling an unpleasant memory. “You must have had a long journey.”
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-06-29 at 06:59 PM.
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    After thinking for a moment, the aged Psyker spoke up. "I think a cup of recaf would be wonderful. Thank you." Ignace didn't particularly like most varieties of recaf, but he needed something to steady his nerves, and alcohol would be suicidal. Looking around he took in his surroundings, fiddling with his ring as he did so.
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    I've you've got any good amasec, I could use a refill. Hieronymus removes a flask from his pocket and shakes it, producing only the barest sloshing sound. It was nearly empty.
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    Red has stood there quietly, visibly wincing every time the Adept mentioned the Inquisition, but holding his tongue all the same. But the old autoquill jockey just kept prattling on heedless of what he was saying.
    "Dectalogue Vale." Red began, in the calmest voice he can summon, drawing on his training and experience with sergeants that reprimanded with a cold, steely anger. "While I am aware of the sparse human population upon this planet, I might be inclined to remind you that the walls have ears. I may also be inclined to suggest you immediately and forevermore desist in speaking of mine and my comrades' Master whilst we are anywhere that such things may be overheard, this includes - but is in no way limited to, any established and populated area of this planet." the Armsman let his words settle in the air for a bit before casually adding "And, since you offered, I would be quite pleased with a cup of recaf."
    Though his words were as cultured as he could muster, there could be no
    doubting from the tone in his voice that his statement was intended as a reprimand, and could quite easily be upgraded to 'Threat'.

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    "Oh - of course," said Ichabod, quite surprised. "Mum's the word. You're quite safe to talk, though - lowest population density in the Calixis Sector, you know."

    He opened another set of doors, and led the way down another corridor. "Nearest adept is at Hub 1/B, five hundred kilometres away. There are these newcomers in the vaults themselves, but we're the only people in this spire, I promise you that. And all our surveillance is centrally controlled."

    Passing an austere-looking statue on their right, they took a turn to the left, finding themselves in a small, rather aged-looking hospitality chamber. Rummaging in the cupboards, Vale produced much-used-looking canister of recaf powder, and a bottle of amasec. Pouring a glass for himself as well, he made up the drinks with surprising speed, appearing almost eager to please.

    "Please, take a seat," he said, indicating the various items of beaten-up old furniture scattered around the room. "I suppose you'll be wanting to talk to Lira as soon as possible, but if there are any simple questions you want to ask, I can do my best to answer them now."
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    Who is Lira, exactly? I hadn't heard of them until we arrived here. Hieronymus takes a careful sip of the amasec and, finding it to his liking, follows that up with a larger one. He also sees about getting his flask filled back up.
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    Default Re: Knowledge Is Power [Dark Heresy] - IC

    "Oh, Lira runs the place, really. She'll have any specifics you need - data logs, passcodes, anything like that." He looked around at the Acolytes. "Would you like to see her now?"
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    "Is she some sort of high-functioning servitor or something?" Red asks, casually sipping at his recaf.
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    Default Re: Knowledge Is Power [Dark Heresy] - IC

    "You could say that, I suppose," said Vale, looking a mite disappointed at having been rumbled. "She runs the Library cogitator system - or I suppose you could say she is the system. Housed here, in Hub 1/A," he added, with a hint of pride.
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    Red stares at the Adept for a few seconds before shooting their tech-priest, Jericus, a meaningful, and partially confused gaze.
    Naming rifles wasn't unheard of, but the adept here was naming the machine spirit that ran his entire habblock? This was... more than mildly confusing.
    "Well, then, um... Lira? What can you tell us?" he asked the empty air.
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    Jericus seemed to snap out of his reverie. He nodded at Vale and made his way over to one of the servitors.

    After conveying a few brief instructions in binary to the servitor Jericus turned back to Vale. (He asked for a cup of hot chocolate, or the nearest equivalent. Also for any recent unusual occurrences and the like)

    "By all means, take us to this Lira. I never give up an opportunity to see new cogitators and integrated servitor systems."

    Jericus looked very enthusiastic at the idea of being in a library without having to covertly search records.

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    Red stares at the Adept for a few seconds before shooting their tech-priest, Jericus, a meaningful, and partially confused gaze.
    Naming rifles wasn't unheard of, but the adept here was naming the machine spirit that ran his entire habblock? This was... more than mildly confusing.
    "Well, then, um... Lira? What can you tell us?" he asked the empty air.
    Vale chuckled to himself.

    "She's a phenomenal piece of craftsmanship, but not quite omnipresent, I'm afraid. You'll have to come to the Sanctum to talk to her, I'm afraid," he said. "Would you like me to take you there now?"

    EDIT: Ninja'd - response to Jericus below.
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    "Yes, please." Kityra comments in a soft voice, she hadn't had much else to say since they'd come on down from the shuttle, and had stayed quietly following in the back, watching everything. It's not that she was shy, certainly not, but that there was noone to talk to, of course. What's spending some time with less savoury fellows, though they mustn't be if they are in the employ of an Inquisitor, right, compared to killing maddened cultists screaming?

    Entirely offtopic now in her trail of thoughts, she broods over it all, returning to being quiet and hiding in the back.
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    “Excellent!” said Vale, clapping his hands together and practically leaping to his feet. “Excellent. This way!”

    Flourishing a hand over his head, he led the way out of the room: they hurried down another set of wood-panelled corridors, black charybdite statues of Administratum luminaries frowning down at them as they passed. On their way, Jericus recognised arterial pipelines running vertically through the walls – square brass housings that carried a spinal cord of power, ventilation and other systems up through the Hub winding their way between the bookshelves.

    An elevator dropped them six floors down: another corridor, and Vale’s clearance unlocked another lift, heavy security doors admitting them inside. The carriage dropped like a stone, plunging them into the bowels of the spire – when it finally came to a halt, three sets of gates had to be opened in succession. The third pair were a set of heavy blast doors stamped with Administratum heraldry, the crimson ‘A’ alone six feet high.

    On the other side, a cavernous, vaulted chamber yawned before them – vast and dark, screens flickered in its shadowed walls, a hundred data read-outs a second flashing briefly in the gloom. There was a steady, warm, downdraught from the direction of the ceiling, sharp with the scent of hot metal – looking up, the Acolytes realised there was no ceiling in sight. They were standing under a forest of cogitator units, suspended on a vast spider’s web of girders – the strange breeze was the downdraught of a thousand whirring cooling fans.

    From the centre of the hanging server-bank, a great tangle of machinery descended: to Jericus, who was privileged to know such things, it bore a faint resemblance to the internal workings of a sacred Mind Impulse Unit, albeit wired up in reverse – and magnified to gargantuan proportions. Descending in a narrowing cone of brushed steel and coils of tubing, it terminated a few feet above the object that stood on a raised dais in the centre of the chamber – the focus of it all.

    It was a steel throne, bulky and imposing - it held an eight-year-old girl in a plain, grey gown, feet dangling almost comically off the ground. Life-support tubes ran from the throne into her toes and fingertips, while thick bundles of cables emerged from empty eye-sockets and the crown of her skull to rise up into the great machine hanging overhead. She was chalky white and hairless, blue veins visible through the parchment-thin skin of her scalp: as the Acolytes entered the room, she turned towards them, read-outs on the machinery surrounding her flickering and fluctuating at the movement.

    Stamped in gilded letters at the base of her throne were the letters: L.I.R.A.



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    “Beautiful, isn’t she?” beamed Vale. “Archaeotech, the finest specimen in twenty systems. Lira’s been functioning ever since this place was founded, and we haven’t had to change the donor body once.” He paused. “The name is an acronym for something, but we’ve the lost the records as to what. I personally believe the ‘L’ stands for Library.”

    From somewhere up in the darkness, a ragged shape detached itself, floating down in a smooth, silent arc to alight on the grinning Vale’s arm. Of all things, it was an owl – its eyes replaced with brushed chrome augmetics that whirred as they turned to the newcomers, iris lenses rotating and contracting to bring the Acolytes into focus. Tubing ran from the back of the bird’s skull into the rear of its ribcage, thin aluminium plating showing where its internal workings had been... improved.

    The Adept removed a pellet of something from one of his pockets, tossing it to the owl, which caught it with a snap of its beak.

    “These are our surveillance systems here. Mobile, and silent. Can’t be having with servo-skulls, of course – that infernal buzzing they make as they fly. We must have quiet in the library, after all.” The owl hopped up onto his shoulder. “And therefore,” he added, “they are Lira’s eyes and ears.” He scratched the owl under the chin, although its mechanical demeanour showed no response. “This little fellow means she’s listening. Ask away.”
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    Red looked with awe around in order to better take in the vast cavern, and finally let his eyes alight on L.I.R.A.
    "Well, this is not what I was expecting." he muttered to himself, under his breath, and did a slight double-take when the owl alighted on the Adept's arms.
    "That explains why it's so dreadfully quiet around here." he mused aloud, letting his distaste show through.
    "LIRA. How much do you see?"
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    There was a pause, and a brief change in the sound of the humming fans high above. The girl's bloodless lips moved, and she spoke - the voice that came out of her mouth was a cracked whisper, but the voice that rang from the speakers around the room was smooth, loud and clear.

    "I see the Library," said the voice. "I see Section Alpha, Segment Alpha, Sub-Segment 11AA, Repository 00. I see Section Alpha, Segment Alpha, Sub-Segment 11AA, Repository 01. I see Section Alpha, Segment Alpha, Sub-Segment 11AA, Repository 02..."

    The voice was continuing, echoing exactly the same intonations with each slightly permuted sentence. It was clear it wasn't going to stop until someone stopped it.
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    "LIRA, do you respond to any inquiry posed by anyone?" the Guardsmen cut in, interrupting the voice.
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    "Personnel in the Sanctum are presumed to have clearance for all enquiries," replied LIRA. "Readers may access Library data via approved Library terminals on the presentation of a valid reader code."
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    "Do you keep track of who asked the questions, and what questions were asked?" Might as well talk to this... thing, now, rather than later. It's like minicry of the Emperor. So strange, the Mechanicus, straying so close to heresy... Then again, this is the sort of thing that is probably allowed. The machine men have their own way, and there is no reason to upset them... yet. Talking to this odd bird was strange enough.
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    "All access is logged. All actions are recorded. The databanks must be complete."
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    Jericus frowned at the woman, and went over to inspect the psyber-owl. He reckoned, if he played his cards right, in a century or so he could get himself a nice, cushy posting here: ancient technology, no crime, and all the information you could ever want. Jericus shuffled off to the side to try and find one of the mentioned terminals.

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    "What is the current population of this Hab-block, and what percentage of those inhabitants are you able to sense at this time?"
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    “Hab-block.” There was a mechanical whum from the cogitator banks. “A structure for the mass housing of civilians.” Something whirred out up in the darkness overhead. “There are no such structures on Prol VII. Present population in spire classed Hub 1/A: six. All under current observation in Sanctum.”

    The owl on Vale’s shoulder looked between them in turn, as if double-checking.

    “Other readers in Section Alpha adjacent to Hub 1/A: fourteen. Thirteen under current observation.”

    Jericus frowned at the woman, and went over to inspect the psyber-owl. He reckoned, if he played his cards right, in a century or so he could get himself a nice, cushy posting here: ancient technology, no crime, and all the information you could ever want. Jericus shuffled off to the side to try and find one of the mentioned terminals.
    The entire chamber was festooned with terminals and data-screens, the central system controls - the nerve centre of the planet. Scanning them, Jericus settled on the nearest one that looked vaguely user-friendly: brass-cased and set into a stand that put it at an appropriate height for a man to stand in front of it. A green Administratum symbol rotated slowly against the black screen for no particular purpose, a keypad, clearance swipe and direct data-cable interface for the Omnissiah's blessed making up the sum of its inputs.
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