A few moments after Crisis had lowered his arm the servitor emitted a single chime and the platform begins to descend, a large metal hatchway closing above the strangers with a thunderous boom. The elevator continues downwards for some time, minutes passing as it descends through maintenance levels, deep into the bowels of the district. When the machine finally comes to a stop the six find themselves deposited at the end of a wide grey corridor, which smells slightly of chemical disinfectant and is lit by pale lumen globes in the shape of cherubs holding torches. This illumination only extends a short way in front of the group but, as they disembark and step forward, more globes flicker into life, with others extinguishing behind them as they advance down the passage.
A few minutes later the group find themselves nearing the end of the tunnel and in front of an armored metal door. As they get closer it unseals and unlocks with a hiss of pressurized air, opening with a loud grinding of heavy gears. The room beyond has a jumble of rusty metal crates, most branded with unintelligible symbols, stacked against one wall, while a hospital gurney, complete with restraint straps, has been left toppled over against another wall. The most striking feature, however, is a wide mirror that fills the upper half of the wall across from them. As they step into the room it slowly clears to transparency, revealing a glittering steel chamber beyond. Inside is a tall, thin faced figure wearing white medicae robes with a red leather coat draped rather incongruously over his shoulder. Behind him, covered by a mottled grey sheet, is what looks like a body raised upright for inspection. A pair of white enamel skulls hover above them, encrusted with a variety of brass instruments and long hypo needles.
(Crisis, Cryvus, Gunner, Xerxes:
The man beckons the newcomers over to the glass with a gloved hand and, once they are close enough and, after a rattle of static, a voice emanates from a small grill set in the ceiling as he leans forward to inspect the group.
"Greetings, Acolytes. I am Medicae-Interrogator Sand and you are the new blood, are you not? Worthy additions to our holy war? We shall see, though far be it from me to doubt the judgement of my better, eh?" He straightens his posture before continuing, gaze turning away as he does. "Well, to the matter at hand. I represent Inquisitor Skane who, I understand, you all have had the distinct honor of meeting personally. She has called you here to assist in the investigation of a matter of interest that has recently and unexpectedly come to light."
He pauses for a moment, before a look of realisation crosses his face. "Oh, yes, for your information, you are now in the depths of the Templum Mori, the house of the dead where the Lords Prefecta Mortem hold court and the fallen and the lost of the great city are named and counted. It will not surprise you then to know that we are here to view a corpse, especially if your oculars are functioning acceptably. I doubt it will be your first, but it is, shall we say, quite singular!"
Sand turns suddenly, pulling aside the grey sheet to reveal a dissected and eviscerated body of an adult human.
"Now if you will kindly attend and pay heed, I will take questions afterwards." His voice becomes monotone as he speaks "The body has been positively identified as that of one Saul Arbest, male, 23 years of age, hive worker, unskilled laborer certified. Formerly of the Tantalus Indenture, registered habitation: chamber 6/23 stack 7-17, Coscarla Division, Southern zone, Hive Sibelius." With growing interest, he continues, "Subject found dead on the mid-hive transit rail three days ago as the car returned to the main depot. Preliminary examination suggested death by drug overdose. Post mortem performed by the biologis forsenic, however, revealed certain anomies that necessitated our involvement."
He pauses, one of the white servo skulls displaying a jar containing ten centimeter long whitish cord of waving glassy tendrils, still in motion, still alive.
"The cause of death was in fact total systemic failure brought on by tissue rejection of an implanted synthetic graft organ. Said organ destroyed his central nervous system while attempting to overcome the immune response. In short, this," he gestures to the tissue sample, "crushed the life out of him from the inside out. What's it for? Unknown, but my opinion would be, in a word, 'control' - neural and synaptic overload, perhaps worse."
"There were other grafts and surgery of a less singular kind also;" the servo skulls now fetching more organs in glass jars to display to the acolytes, "one lung replaced by a concealed storage cavity, possibly for use as a courier. Also, one optic nerve removed, skin flayed from his stomach, I've no idea why. His system's amash with alchemic traces, clotting agents, panimmune and the like. The surgery was expert, but by the lesions and tissue stress, I doubt any care was given to whether it was painless or not. In fact, by the damage to the vocal cords, my guess was the he probably screamed as long as he was able to."
Another pause, letting those below contemplate the fate of this man for a moment.
"But this little monster," he says slowly, "is what concerns us. Oh, you don't need to know the gene-lore or the Omnissiah edict, just that this is not only illegal, but forbidden. It is heresy. Merely tampering with this kind of dark tech," his voice now taking on a hint of disgust at last, "is enough to warrant a death sentence from the Holy Ordos, the Arbites or the Mechanicus. And I'm sure that you , as well as I, am wondering how a rare and vile thing ended up wrapped around the spine of some anonymous hab-prole from the dusty end of the stacks. Well, Inquisitor Skane would like you to find out."
"Arbest has no prior criminal record, he was rendered invalid by indenture, laid off if you will, some sixty days ago and was reporting missing thirty-two days ago by his sister, one Lili Arbest, resident of the same hab-stack. More than enough time to get himself into all sorts of trouble, I'm sure you'll agree. These grafts are no more than eight or ten days old at most. We have nothing else on him."
He pauses again but, before any questions can be raised, he turns to face the group, head inclined downwards and stares straight at them.
"This is to be a shadow investigation. No open official involvement and no notification of the local authorities, and no one knows he's here either. Coscarla's down hive, so a covert approach will draw far less attention than a boot through the door," his eyes flicking to the hulking Mikolas for a moment, "and be far less likely to kill any leads on our heretic."
"Find out why and were if you can, better yet, find out how. Best of all, find out who is responsible." He straightens, making an observance with his right hand. "Go with the grace of the God-Emperor, oh and additional samples would be a blessing if you can procure them."
Sand, at last, falls silent, leaving the acolytes with room to get a word in.