<Noospheric communication sub-routines compromised.>
<Reverting to unit sub-tethering.>
<Active cohort units in-field = 65…>
Eros-Tybalt 71-Delta 324 was one of fifty-eight Skitarii constructs currently active in the battered warscape that constructs higher in the Omnissiah’s graces had designated Engagement Sector 40-z-3.
Mem-retrieval routines indicated that at the solar day’s commencement, that figure had been six-thousand and seventy-two, not accounting for attached support units.
Eros-Tybalt 71-Delta 324 was designated as a Ranger class construct, standard armament, with organic material still constituting 64.732 per cent of its overall mass.
Eros-Tybalt 71-Delta 324 was dying.
Optical fluid had leaked from shattered lenses, dripping from its mask to join the liquid pool threatening to swallow the Skitarius’ battered frame.
Several minutes earlier, organic material had composed 76.432 per cent of the construct’s overall mass. The number was still dropping. Estimated duration of operational viability was somewhere around thirteen minutes.
These particular parameters of operational viability did not include the ability to walk.
The unit currently had access to two optical feeds, both on its own. One was compromised. A landscape of blurs, given form and feeling, smears crawling across the landscape. Streaks of silver, lapis lazuli and blackened scarlet, punctuated by luminescent globes of strobing light, searing themselves into the unit’s mind.
The other was the unit’s primary pict-capture relays, mounted on its shoulder. It transmitted everything to the unit’s primary cogitation centre with searing clarity.
The streaks of silver were augmetics, half-wrenched from their bodies and left torn upon the ground, the lapis lazuli the hue of the Eros-standard issue robes, strewn and tattered. The luminescent glowing orbs were the stuttering emanations of abandoned radium-carbines, left lying desolate on the sand. The blackened scarlet was vital and locomotive fluids like the one currently consuming Eros-Tybalt 71-Delta 324.
In total, the constituent parts of some eight Skitarii were strewn across the gully.
Some of them had been from her unit.
The noosphere was down. Unit sub-tethering was a poor substitute, capable of conveying only the most basic information—feedback loops and status confirmations with cross-analyses of fire vectors streaming in from other units. No guiding Omnissiahn grace relayed to her through the instruction of a tech-priest with a thousand eyes and a thousand hands, of which it was only a single sub-unit. The noosphere was a million voices acting in unison. If this unit did not possess the necessary data to comprehend a situation, another would. If this unit’s existence were to be suddenly severed, then those last moments would be recorded and immortalised.
For the first time in years, Eros-Tybalt 71-Delta 324 felt alone.
<Attempting direct unit sub-tether connection.>
A unit’s worth is determined by its contribution to the Omnissiah.
A unit’s contribution to the Omnissiah is determined by its collaboration with its peers and its betters.
Each unit is a cog in the great machine, a single component in a greater glory.
Once you were alone, then in the eyes of the Omnissiah, you ceased to exist.
This gully, everything she saw, everything she was, in the eyes of the Omnissiah, it didn’t exist.
Everything she was.
Everything this unit was.
A discarded unit, broken beyond its functional parameters.
So, what if she just… stopped.
What was the point?
Audio-input: analysing. Non-natural, probability of hostile…
Ridged claws fell atop the lip of the gorge, pulling behind them a spindly bulk that was a nightmare of chitinous spikes and maws. Limb by limb, it started to make its way down the slope, pausing to wrench at discarded limbs, hissing, and moving onwards.
Quietly, slowly, Eros-Tybalt 71-Delta 324 began to lift their rifle.
The thing hadn’t yet noticed. It still didn’t as the Skitarius carefully lined up the shot. There were no other feeds with which to verify the angle or distance. It was only the unit’s feeds, just hers.
34.23 per cent probability of disabling hostile unit. 24.21 per cent probability of impending hostile unit function.
Calculating outcome scenarios.
Null effect, this unit is destroyed—null overall outcome.
Critical to impeding effect, hostile units would later be eliminated via indiscriminate fire—null overall outcome.
Critical to impeding effect, hostile unit would require elimination by ground forces.
Minimum expenditure reduction = 1 round of ammunition.
Potential reduction in loss = 1 Skitarius.
Potential reduction in loss = 1< Skitarius unit.
Potential overall impact = between 0 and 0.0000000023 percentage impact on hostile force capabilities.
So small. So small. So few of them left now, and when they were gone, she would truly be alone. Severed from the Great Work. Severed from her kin. No way to communicate with the Eros Exploratory force.
No way, except for a 0.0000000023 percentage impact on hostile force capabilities.
Something cold was filling her mask, expelled in jagged bursts from what was left of her lungs. She could see the glistening fluid falling from the shaking rifle in droplets where it had lain in the pool alongside her, spattering the few unstained portions of her cloak.
The pict-imager was failing, stuttering, just leaving her with the comforting blurs and gleaming streaks, the pulsing of rad-rifles falling into a reassuring rhythm that reminded her of breathing.
She’d used to do that, hadn’t she?
The world was comforting with clarity stripped away, except for that blurr, the one right there. The one that was moving, growing closer, shuddering with strange protrusions, jerking itself towards her.
The streak of her rifle barrel was still lined up with it.
She took the shot.
About the Author
Elrond Garcia is a University Student with a fascination for the background of 40k, including many of its smaller spaces. He was first drawn into Warhammer lore by my father’s old The Enemy Within rpg campaign books, and later into the fascinating explorations of the mysterious corners of 40k through the FFG Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader lines.