Rackham was only half reading the dataslate. Despite having seen the procedure performed over a dozen times his eyes kept being drawn to the needle in Ul’Vey’s arm and to the pulsing tissue of her face. Well, not her face – it was the face of the creature she had morphed into to complete this mission. A servo-skull slowly pumped polymorphine into her, initiating a transformation that would take over two days to complete. Rackham had over thirty professional actors in his employ, but, despite flexi-cartilage implants, they couldn’t match the performances of Ul’Vey. She was sublime, mirroring the movements of their prey to perfection. Yet even with such peerless ability she could only ever be tasked with retrieval. Actually infiltrating a cult that worshipped the Tyranids and their spawn required more than just looking like them.

As the green liquid slowly transformed Ul’Vey’s body back, Rackham’s tired gaze drifted to one of the crew of The Genuine. He was sure he’d been introduced at some stage, however the Inquisitor did not know his name. He was obviously a medicae of some form. Rackham wondered how many names and indeed faces he had forgotten on this crusade of his. Captain Mktraw was responsible for her crew. Rackham’s people thoroughly vetted every potential recruit of course, but she was tasked with hiring and commanding those who worked her cruiser. Mktraw only ever employed the displaced citizens from Tanith, which was a very limited pool of people to choose from as pretty much the only survivors from that planet are those few who had been off planet when it was destroyed. Rackham knew Mktraw’s thinking on this choice was threefold: somehow the Tanith people were innately stealthy and Mktraw liked a quiet ship, with their limited social connections they were very trustworthy and, to put it bluntly, they had nowhere better to be. Indeed the crew rarely left the ship. Mktraw offered them a home here on The Genuine, a small piece of Tanith that was sliding through the Immaterium. The unnamed crew member surveyed pict screens and dials showing Ul’Vey’s vitals. This simple act was probably a testament to how long Rackham and Mktraw had been working together, that her crew and his retinue worked side-by-side towards realising his vision. Rackham wondered if this was sloppy of him. Should he maintain better control of the people around him? Should he at least know their names? A career of failures had left him with many doubts. Doubts he would only every confess to himself.

He placed the dataslate down and rubbed his eyes. The tiredness of ‘waring’ a cultist for the past three days had drained him completely. He picked up what looked like a pale shard of what looked like marble from the table in front of him. He could feel a tingle in his psychically attuned mind. This was the most precious thing he possessed. This piece of wraithbone, a gift from Ravenor, was what allowed him to perform his difficult investigations. The wraithbone had been implanted in the cultist just over three days ago after a daring, and complicated subterfuge to abduct him. The wraithbone was what allowed him to ‘ware’, a form of psychic puppetry, the subject, but Rackham could only do it for two or three days. The effort was tremendous, both the psychic toll and the concentration needed to stay in character. During this time he existed in the subject’s mind, like a unseen monster lurking below the surface of a turbulent sea. To the cultist’s brethren Rackham was invisible. All they saw, and importantly sensed through their psychic bond, was their brother. However, Rackham was there, infiltrating and influencing. When he was done Ul’Vey would assume whatever form would allow her to retrieve the wraithbone.

Their most recent mission seemed to have been successful. He had introduced intelligence to the Cult of Great Fervour that would expedite the downfall of the planet they were speeding away from. Not just that planet would fall, but many more would fall with it. Maybe it would take several months or possibly a few years, but the events he had initiated here would lead to the cult paving the way for a tendril of Hive Fleet Leviathan splinter fleet to arrive and consume. Rackham had doomed a hundred worlds just to divert the Tyranids’ attention. By luring them there, a place of low strategic importance to the Imperium, he believed he had bought humanity a bit more time. This was the most significant doubt he had. How could he balance the galactic scales in this way? Choosing the fate of one sector over another.

Rackham stood and walked to a recessed keypad on the wall of the infirmary. With an thought the pict display mounted on his chest displayed his Inquisitorial rosette as he punched in a long keycode. A metal drawer slid from the wall and he placed the wraithbone inside. Another impulse and the rosette disappeared, closing it.

He moved towards the door, glancing back at Ul’Vey as subtle features of her real face slowly started to reappear through her xenos mask. He caught the unnamed crew member’s dark eye and nodded to him. Rackham would retire now and sleep while The Genuine transited towards another cult-infiltrated planet. His jaded brain could not even recall this new target’s name, much less whether he was to be its doom or saviour. An extensive network of agents worked under his guidance identified these xenos worshipping threats. They had found more worlds than he could ever hope to infiltrate. All he could do was prioritise and try to use the cults to cause the least amount of harm to the Imperium possible. Maybe next time he would root out the infection rather than support its spread.