Big Game V – Chapter Fifty Three: System Crash

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Ansheth scuttled around ancient pipe-work and humming machinery in the catacombs beneath Iperin. Signals flittered through his artificial olfactory glands, passively informing him of ancient filth and musk as they wafted through the long-dead flesh of his nostrils. Esarhaddon and his followers had unearthed mysteries that had lain dormant for millennia, and Ansheth thought they were mysteries best left buried. The Word Bearers traded in the dark magicks of the soul and the aether, meddling with powers that man could not harvest without becoming their slave. Ansheth would not be so foolish. No longer would his sect be joined to a group of mystics and madmen.

The terminal was hardly notable, but one of several that appeared to be buried into the cavern’s rocky walls. It was this anonymity that Ansheth had trusted to keep his secrets from being revealed. From here, he could sabotage Esarhaddon’s insane plot without ever being noticed. Even as one of his fellow Techpriests passed, he showed no sign of surprise, merely making the sign of the Machine and moving on to his duties. Ansheth returned the Priest’s signal, and, flipping open a port on his mechanical right arm, plugged into the terminal.

Streams of data flashed before his eyes. The vaults below the planet’s surface were filled with souls, the amount of energy stored within growing incrementally as the battle raged above. Perfect, though Ansheth. The resulting explosion would provide more than enough distraction for the Iron Warriors to claim their prize. Then, with the sudden and mysterious death of the Imharen, he would be raised to leadership by the Mechanicus’ new patrons. Then, with the aid of Perturabo’s kin, it would only be a short time before they could finally ascend to their true form…

Ansheth could not hear the explosion that sent him flying across the dank cavern, nor did he see the ground fly from beneath him. Both his optical and aural implants had been destroyed, their power sources overloaded. Flashes of data raced through his mind. The mechanical prosthetics that had replaced his arms no longer functioned, their power diverted to the tendon-servos that supported his leg, which twitched and spasmed on the floor, ruining the dying flesh of his leg. He was entirely immobilized.

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