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Erudite Subject LYCO-214, better known by the pseudonym Echo, is the last living remnant of the failed Project Lycophron (see Excerpt: High Expectations). Specifically LYCO-214 an Abhuman known as an Erudite, a species developed from the human genome and further enhanced through advanced gene-sculpting and bionic augmentation to serve as living computational engines capable of near-instant situational analysis. Project Lycophron was originally intended to increase the operational efficiency of the Officio Assassinorum's Vanus Temple, but ended in disaster and the subsequent deaths of all Erudite Subjects, save for LYCO-214. Rejected by the Vanus Temple due to psychological defects (see Excerpt: Application Denied), LYCO-214 would fall into the service of one Inquisitor Saul Hessner (Ordo Xenos; Mortem In Gloria). He would serve as a part of Inquisitor Hessner's retinue until fateful events of Operation Cestus (see Report: The Archimedean Engine).
At present, LYCO-214 has been designated Hereticus Extremis. Though recent observances and encounters have shown no noticeable signs of corruption or worsening mental instability, he is to be considered dangerous nonetheless. LYCO-214's "natural" abilities alone make him a credible threat to the Imperium unless reigned in, and possess the potential to become an even greater danger if exploited by one of our myriad enemies. If encountered, LYCO-214 is to be eliminated only in the instance of xenos and/or daemonic influence detected upon his person, or if the situation deems his death absolutely necessary.
The following is a collection of recordings, accounts, dossiers, and other pertinent information regarding the origins and ventures of LYCO-214, arranged in chronological order.
Excerpt: High Expectations
The following text was taken from a encrypted progress report submitted in 940.M41 by one Magos Biologis Maxiv Esperine. Magos Esperine was a Adeptus Mechanicus Genetor and known Vogelist who was subcontracted by the Officio Assassinorum as the chief geneticist in charge of Project Lycophron, under the oversight of the Ordo Sicarus. The report reads:
...once again I convey my most sincere gratitude towards the Assassinorum for clearing up the bureaucratic nonsense that has held us back, for it is with great pleasure that I report that we have made leaps and bounds in the development of our "aspiring agents".
Rest assured that I have taken every precaution in regards of to the moral implications of such a grandiose project. The subjects are born in vitro rather than simply cobbled together from disparate DNA strands, and developed in conditions designed to simulate that of the human womb. No transgenic crossbreeds or soulless replicae here.
Of course, in order to fulfill your specific requirements, certain modifications do have to be introduced during this developmental period. Specifically the implantation of primus-grade memory coils into their nascent brain tissue, as well as the accompanying noospheric readers and cranial heat-vents. Similar implants will be introduced over the following months, with the goal of fully integrating the mechanical systems with the biological as the subjects mature. Admittedly there have been some unfortunate incidents of post-implantation rejection, but insofar this reaction has only claimed about 4% of the first batch of subjects. The rest remain perfectly healthy.
Omnissiah willing, we should be within quota range within the space of a year, Terran standard. Until then, I will be sure to take good care of our little... erudites.
Ave Deus Mechanicus.
Magos Esperine was presumedly killed during the destruction of the Institute, Project Lycophron's covert base of operations. His remains were never recovered.
Recording: Storming the Institute
In 44.953.M41, all communications both outgoing from the Institute went dark. Fearing the worst, an strike force of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers was assembled and deployed en masse to the Institute's location within the Iron Ring asteroid belt. Upon arrival the strike force found the Project facility to be derelict, but not entirely uninhabited. The following dialogue was transcribed from said strike forces' vox-communications during the incident:
Raptor 1: "Command, this is Raptor One. The Institute remains unresponsive to all vox-hails. Orders?"
Command: "Acknowledged Raptor One. All Raptor Squads, prepare for breach."
Raptor 1: "Affirmative. All Caestus Assault Rams, prepare for breach in three... two... one..."
Command: "All Raptor Squads; sound off and proceed to objective markers."
Raptor 1: "Raptor One, all clear."
Raptor 2: "Raptor 2, all clear."
Raptor 3: *static*
Command: "Raptor Three? Raptor Three what is your status?"
Raptor 3: "-multiple contacts! Moral threat, I repeat, moral-"
Raptor 3: *static*
Command: "Raptor Two, converge on Raptor Three's location! Raptor One, proceed to objective at all costs!"
Raptor 1: "Affirmative. En route."
Raptor 2: "Contact! Engaging target!"
Command: "Raptor Two, status report!"
Raptor 2: "Command- *pant* -moral threat confirmed. We have- *pant* -confirmation of daemonic entities within the- *pant* - immediate premises. Raptor Three has taken severe casualties."
Command: "Throne of Terra... Raptor Two, gather up what's left of Raptor Three and exfiltrate immediately. Raptor One, status?"
Raptor 1: "Entering Main Genesis Chamber now... it's a slaughterhouse. Auspex is reading a heat-signature..."
Raptor 1: "Command, one of the Erudite Subjects is still alive! He's unconscious, and his life-signs are faint. Orders?"
Raptor 1: "Command? Command are you receiving?"
Command: "...Stabilize and recover the Subject..."
Raptor 1: "Affirmative."
In the aftermath of the infiltration and in light of the Institute's daemonic infestation, the strike force conducted as mass cyclonic bombardment of the facility and reduced it to rubble. All Institute personnel were reportedly slain by the Neverborn, and of the 300 Erudite Subjects created by Project Lycophron, LYCO-214 was the only known survivor. He was roughly 13 years old (Terran Standard) at the time.
Excerpt: Application Denied
Unsure of what to do with their new charge, LYCO-214 was eventually transferred to the Assassinorum Vanus Complex on Holy Terra. He stayed within the care of the Vanus for one solar week before being transferred back into the care of the Inquisition, alongside a short message delivered via data-slate:
The boy is defective. All our efforts have been for naught.
We wipe our hands clean of this disaster.
Not ones to mince words, the Vanus Temple had effectively exiled LYCO-214 from both their own organization and the Officio Assassinorum entirely. Likely the only reason they did not simply eliminate LYCO-214 was due to the overall cost and effort put into creating him in the first place.
According to the data-slate's attached diagnostic report LYCO-214's grey matter had apparently suffered a protein imbalance while in the developmental phases of his creation. The diagnostic warned that this would quote: "prevent the subject from reaching true computational potential, and result in aberrant behaviors".
Recording: The Interview
LYCO-214 was then transferred to an Inquisitorial blacksite, codenamed "Oubliette", kept in an isolation ward under the classification "Individual, Unidentifiable". He remained there until 959.M41, when Inquisitor Saul Hessner arrived at the blacksite an requested an audience with the former Erudite Subject. The following is a recording of their conversation:
Hessner: So, you are Designate LYCO-214 I take it?
LYCO-214: Why are you here?
Hessner: Well... you certainly don't beat around the bush.
LYCO-214: No one has come through that door in six years, twenty-three days, and eight hours. Inquisitors locked me in this cell and never returned. Now, suddenly, one does return. Have you finally come to kill me?
Hessner: Why would you assume that?
LYCO-214: The other Inquisitors, they said I was defective. It's why they locked me in here in the first place.
Hessner: Ah yes, the Vanus' little dossier. Quite condemning stuff, isn't it? It's almost as if they were ashamed to have you loitering about the household.
Hessner: Since you're being completely frank with me, I'll be completely frank with you: I'm interested in what you remember from your time at the Institute.
Hessner: Because I'm an Inquisitor, and it's my job to be inquisitive. Now out with it.
Hessner: Oh come now, if I wanted to kill you I could have just walked in and shot you, or throttled you, or thrown a few frag grenades into this room and sealed the door.
LYCO-214: Unnecessary. Their are sealed canisters of kryokine gas installed within the ventilation system, all with remote triggers. The neurotoxin would be lethal after four seconds of exposure.
Hessner: How'd you know about the purge system?
LYCO-214: I just... know.
Hessner: That's rather vague.
LYCO-214: I can see the technical readouts, I just can't access them in here. If I could, I would have gotten that stupid door open by now...
Hessner: You don't like being alone, do you?
LYCO-214: At the Institute, the facility staff encouraged interaction between me and the other Erudites. We did everything together. It was nice...
Hessner: Do you remember what happened the day the Insitute fell?
LYCO-214: Alarms. Emergency lockdown was in effect. I had just finished my daily sleep-training in the Genesis Chamber.
Hessner: Anything else?
LYCO-214: There were... creatures bursting through the walls. I... I couldn't understand them.
Hessner: Understand them?
LYCO-214: All the visual analysis data was nonsense. It hurt just trying to compute it. One of them lunged at me and then... nothing. I blacked out.
Hessner: That's it? You didn't notice anything else?
LYCO-214: I'm not lying!
Hessner: Never said that you were, but even the slightest detail might be important.
LYCO-214: Ummm... uh... the lockdown! The lockdown was initiated before the actual attack.
Hessner: Wait, how do you-
LYCO-214: I can see the technical readouts, remember? The alarms' noosphere read "premature activation", like during a routine lockdown drill.
Hessner: Say kid, how'd you like a job?
LYCO-214 was admitted from the Oubliette the following day and departed alongside his visitor, now registered as an Inquisitorial Operative and official member of Inquisitor Hessner's personal retinue.
Excerpt: The New Guy
LYCO-214 served alongside Inquisitor Hessner for several years, in which time he made numerous acquaintances among his retinue. The following is an account originally penned by the then-Interrogator Thade Morrigan, later submitted to this archive by Morrigan in order to aid in the creation of LYCO-214's psychological profile:
Log Entry #27 (circa. 58.959.M41)
...so in short, Ghur was a dead end. Nothing but tech-cults and half-naked feral worlders. Carcius Prime is our next stop, so at the very least we can enjoy the drudgeries of sifting through hellish layers of Mechanicus bureaucracy the comfort of modernity. Echo seems excited though: he told me that the Carcian Cogitator-Spires hold historical accounts supposedly dating back to the Great Crusade. Wish I had his optimism.
Speaking of, the kid's settling in well, even considering all the spec-ops training that Hessner is making him go through. He's in the gymnasium with Vetta right now. Poor bastard is probably sweating blood as we speak.
When he first got here I wasn't exactly sure what to make of him. Then he looked me dead in the eye for a few uncomfortable moments and told me the exact make and model of my laspistol, the exact locations of all my concealed weapons, including the digital ones, and that my resting heart rate is abnormally high for a man my age. Naturally I asked him how in the Holy Throne's name he figured all that out, and he just shrugged. Just. Shrugged. Unbelievable.
Granted, he's a damn good savant and not too terrible in a fight, but staggering indifference just happens to be the first of his "quirks". Like the incessant muttering, for example. And he wonders why we call him Echo.
Also, I've recently discovered that if you give Echo a mug of recaf, you should prepare to suffer the consequences. Last time he got his hands on caffeine he spent the better part of an hour ranting about the various species of bull grox populating the Torus Ringworlds, what their dietary needs are, and the exact, disgusting details of their mating habits. How does he know this? Why does caffeine set him off on raving tangents? Why was he so focused on mating details? All good questions, never to be answered.
Log Entry #32 (circa. 09.960.M41)
Genestealers. Why is it always Genestealers?
After Stypius IV I figured we had finally put an end to the Cult of the Starmaw, but one botched ambush and two interrogations later, me and the rest of the retinue suddenly find ourselves face-to-face with an entire army of murder-crazed Hybrids. If Echo hadn't synced into that vox-relay and called in the calvary, its likely we all would've ended up sliced into grox chow.
As you can imagine, after that nightmare-inducing incident I figured we all deserved a stiff drink. The Inquisitor doesn't really keep any liquor on his vessel, (apparently Hessner isn't a big fan of alcohol. Go figure.) but what sort of sorry excuse for a whiteshield would I be if I couldn't brew my own rotgut? I passed around bit of the ol' Cadian recipe and within moments my colleagues were accusing me of trying to poison them. All accept Vetta of course, that woman downed the brew like it was spring water. Seems not even repurposed antifreeze can faze a Sworn Fist of Caranethir.
The hero of the hour meanwhile was busy performing a spectrochemical analysis of the contents of his cup. Normally I'd be offended... I think... but really that just seems to be the way his brain works. Give him a chronopiece to tell time with and he'll probably end up dismantling the thing for the sake of figuring out how it works.
Don't get me wrong, I like the kid, but I'm starting to get worried. Curiosity is all well and good, but we're the Emperor's Inquisition, not some Mechanicus exploratory brigade. We're not supposed to ask too many questions because in this line of work curiosity can get you killed, or worse. I'd just hate to see him get taken out just because he wanted to know just a little more, y'know?
Log Entry #43 (circa. 73.960.M41)
Growing up in the shadow of the Great Eye, you learn pretty quick that discrimination isn't just a rule, its a way of life. Any infant born on Cadia with so much as an extra toe is smothered in the crib, and sometimes the parents of said infant get offed just to make absolutely sure that the taint doesn't spread. Needless to say, that sort of upbringing tends to make you suspicious of anyone or anything that isn't purely human and purely loyal. So, naturally, it was a bit of a shock when I found out that Echo wasn't human.
Those Tarellians sure did a number on him, blasted him point-blank with some kind of flak musket. By the the time we got him to the evac point, he was bleeding everywhere and it was... black. Black as oil. Black as sin.
I didn't really know what to think. Up until this point I'd just assumed that Echo was just some eccentric datascribe or Mechanicum adept that Hessner had picked up on his travels. Granted, I didn't want to think less of him, but twenty years of Cadian upbringing is hard to shake. After a few days spent pacing around my quarters I decided it would be best to just get it over with and try to get the information I wanted straight from the grox's mouth, so to speak. Then maybe I could sleep a little more soundly at night.
So I sat down next to Echo's cot in the Medicae and demanded to know everything. Maybe he was still high on painkillers, maybe he genuinely wanted to get it all off his chest, but either way he answered my every question without hesitation. He told me about Project Lycophron, the other Erudites, and the fall of the Institute. He told me how he'd been received and refused by the Assassinorum, and then sent off to be locked away for the rest of his days as a curiosity too expensive to simply execute. He told me that all he's ever been is a curiosity, a broken bauble labeled defective from day one, spared only by the whim of the Magos whose genes had given him life.
Then he stopped talking and started crying, or at least that's what I think he was doing. His shoulders were shaking and his breath was coming out in stuttered gasps, but no tears flowed out from under those monochrome eyes of his.
I learned later that Echo doesn't have tear ducts. Liquid apparently fouls up his optics' inner workings.
I left him alone after that.
I need a drink...
Based on the the testimony provided by LYCO-214 in Log Entry #43, analysts have surmised that the deceased Magos Esperine contributed his own genetic material, likely without authorization, to the creation of the Erudites, specifically to LYCO-214's gestation module. Whether Esperine's genome was directly responsible for the resulting mutations found within LYCO-214's grey matter is entirely hypothetical, but it is likely that his Vogelist viewpoint caused him to develop something of a parental complex in regards to his "child". It is still unknown if LYCO-214 returned these affections.
Record: Inquisitor Hessner, Ordo Xenos
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Report: The Archimedean Engine
Excerpt: A Farewell of Sorts
LYCO-214 stands at exactly 6 feet 4 inches and weights approximately 143 pounds (Terran Standard Measurements), his overall build lanky but lean. His complexion is abnormally pale, and black traceries of veins stand out around his eyes and temples. The eyes themselves are in fact high-grade optical sensors, and thus appear to have ebony sclera and irises that seem to shift in coloration depending on the lighting. Another noticeable augment are his bionic hands, which are matte-black from the elbow down and spiderwebbed with silvery circuit-lines.
His facial features are youthful, but angular, with a wide brow, noticeably sharp cheekbones, and an extremely defined jawline, making his face appear almost skeletal at times.
The back of LYCO-214's skull, just above the nape of his neck, is knotted with metallic heat-vents and cranial jacks. The rest of his head is normally shaved. Other distinguishing features include a long, jagged scar across the lower abdomen (source unknown), and a smaller scar on the right shoulder (from excising the imbedded ident-tag).
LYCO-214 primarily dresses in dark, unassuming garb, often utilizing heavy coats and gloves in order to conceal both his equipment and his noticeable bionics.
LYCO-214's overall physiology was altered by the Genetors of Project Lycophron in order to sustain the bionic systems integrated into his body. Significant alterations include:
- Circulated Ferrofluid - LYCO-214's circulatory system produces and circulates a specialized silver-based compound in place of standard hemoglobin, which both serves as a form of liquid coolant that regulates the temperature of his bionic implants, and a more efficient oxygen-carrier. The compound turns jet-black as opposed to crimson when exposed to oxygen due to it's mineral base, but also renders LYCO-214 highly susceptible to electrical discharges.
- Hyper-Autoimmunity - LYCO-214's immune system is drastically enhanced in order to protect his delicate bionic systems from harmful viral, bacterial, or chemical compounds. This gives him a resistance to toxins and diseases comparable to that of an Adept Astartes.
- Tertiary Lung - LYCO-214 possesses a third lung, as his augmented grey matter requires a massive supply of oxygen in order to function properly.
The abilities afforded to LYCO-214 thanks to his mechanical augmentations are second nature to him, mainly due to their implantation into his still-developing body while in vitro. Primary augments include:
- Memory Coils - Three primus-grade memory-coils are implanted along LYCO-214's brainstem, giving him an eidetic capacity for memorization, as well as the ability to store and transmit these memories on a digital format.
- Computation Enhancers - Implanted directly into the frontal and parietal lobes of LYCO-214's brain, these mini-cogitators grant a level of raw data-processing on par with most Mechanicus calculation-engines.
- Multi-Spectral Optical Sensors - LYCO-214's "eyes" are capable of preforming near-instant situational analysis through multiple scanning modes. They are also capable of reading noonspheric projections and other forms of techna-linguis.
- Cogitator Gauntlets - LYCO-214's forearms and hands are in fact highly sophisticated data-collectors, equipped with retractable dataspikes for system infiltration and fingertip-mounted holoprojectors.
In his early years LYCO-214 was described as being fiercely intelligent, but naive, immature, and completely lacking social skills. Though he matured greatly over the course of his service alongside Inquisitor Hessner, certain social nuances continued to escape him even then, partly due to the imbalanced nature of his own brain chemistry (See Excerpt: Application Denied), and partly due to his six-year isolation within the Oubliette (See Recording: The Interview). In particular, he near-constantly exhibited habits such as fidgeting with loose objects and incessant muttering (a trait that would earn him his nickname).
It should also be noted that LYCO-214 possesses an irrational fear of the daemonic, likely a form of post-traumatic stress from his encounter with the Neverborn during the fall of the Institute. Reportedly, the mere sight of daemonic entities actually causes him physical pain, as his advanced analysis software simply cannot compute their extradimensional nature.
LYCO-214 possesses a genius-level intellect due to the specialized nature of his enhancements, capable of absorbing and processing information at an inhuman rate. This analytical ability, combined with his multi-spectral optics, allows him to "predict" the actions of others to some extent, granting him heightened situation awareness and significantly increasing his reaction speed, though he requires sustained eye contact to perform a complete scan.
LYCO-214 is most adept at data-infiltration, able to crack entire infovaults worth of protective ciphering in a matter of minutes, thought this usually entails direct interface with a console through the use of his implanted dataspikes. He is also capable of wireless interface with unprotected networks through the use of his noonspheric readers.
Though trained in marksmanship, swordplay, and unarmed combat by Inquisitor Hessner, LYCO-214 has never exhibited above-average skill in any of the above disciplines. He typically prefers to avoid confrontation altogether, usually through planted misinformation or similar subterfuge.
LYCO-214 has been recorded or witnessed utilizing the following items:
- Flakweave Stormcoat - A nondescript, hooded jacket made from interwoven strands of ablative ceramic fibers. Capable of stopping small-caliber autorounds or non-powered blades, as well as providing some protection against glancing hits from energy weapons.
- Combat Knife(s)? - Made from non-reflective, micro-serrated adimantium and capable of being thrown with considerable accuracy. It is unknown how many blades of this variety LYCO-214 actually possesses.
- Firearm(s)? - Unknown number and interchangeable. LYCO-214 seems to favor easily concealed pistols. Last encountered utilizing a Lyndwyrm A-25A Autopistol.
- Blind Grenades - Sophisticated smoke-grenade variant that releases electromagnetic radiation waves and infra-red bafflers in addition to gaseous concealment. Presumed to be custom-made, but limited in supply.
- "Argus" - A modified infoslave servo-skull, capable of transcribing uploaded data as well as serving as a sort of personal alarm system, having inbuilt auspex and motion-tracker sensors.
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- "I am a artificially-created, tech-enhanced data-savant who also happens to be a slightly brain-damaged abhuman sociopath. I am pursuing a shadowy figure who may not even exist while being pursued by several other shadowy figures who most definitely exist, and who are somewhat peeved over my "impromptu retirement" from their organization. There were others like me, but they were all either brutally murdered or brutally experimented on until they too expired. Any more questions?"
- "Yes, I'm quite aware of the fact that I'm talking to a servo-skull. I get antsy sometimes and Argus is a really good listener."
- "Abhuman. I'm an Abhuman- oh forget it."
- —Echo, after realizing that Adeptus Astartes are ungrateful bastards
- "I think he's cute. After all who am I to look down on an abhuman?"
- "Damn Mechanicus"
- "You have done us a service, mutant, and as a result I will allow you to live. However, should we ever cross paths again, or should you ever return to the Barbaris system, I will see to your death personally. Begone."
- —Chapter Master of the Wings of Salvaxes, Eulitus Ephrain.
- "You need not fear child, that which you do not understand. You do not comprehend your place within the universe and this lack of comprehension frightens such a being that comprehends all. Come with me, and I will show you sights you couldnt possibly imagine in your wildest dreams. Nothing will be beyond your understanding, and nothing with frighten you, not while you stand by my side."
- —Valkyura Warpschild following Echos breakdown at her impossible nature.
- "Magos Esperine was a fool. He wasted the possibilities of the Erudite on mere assassination for the benefit of those without vision. Before the Erudite could have been a valued asset for the Forgeworld. Now i must hunt Echo so i can add his value to my own retinue of retainers...Alpha your orders are to capture the specimen alive, and to return him to me unharmed and without the awareness of any other Magi."
- —Archmagos Fahim dispatching retrieval teams to 'rescue' Echo.
- "Yes, life is shit. Yes, it sometimes feels like all the universe is against you. Yes, sometimes, nothing you can do changes anything. But you have to move on. "You are of purpose." That was what I was told once. And so are you."
- —Inquisitor Jacob Flux
- "You and me, we have a lot in common. We're both products of the meddling of the False Emperor. We both are hunted by said Emperor and his cronies, and now, we have no where else to go. Why don't we come to a, oh, how do you say...an accord?"
- —Lucifero the Unmarked, offering to team up to escape a particularly dangerous team of Imperium Assassins