Sergeant Lagras: *switching on the vox recorder*…as usual, so no worries. Ahh, here we go! The individual, for the record, is an Astartus, age indeterminate. Identified as a member of the so-called “Warp Ghosts” based upon his armor markings. He was retrieved from a debris field roughly forty eight hours prior to this recording. Is that about right, Didius?
Apothecary Pertinax: Yes. Spot on.
Lagras: Tell me more about the nature of these remains, Brother.
Pertinax: As I was saying, this is very typical Astartes stuff. But there are some essential differences.
Lagras: No mutations?
Pertinax: Not the sort you’d expect, no. I have no particularly cogent theory as to why. If this individual spent as much time in The Warp as the standard traitor legionary, the man would have -some- sort of significant mutation caused by exposure. Perhaps not obvious. But it would be there. Coloration of blood, change in the hair follicles, mutation of the palette, something. Not always horns and extra limbs, but something.
Lagras: You said “not as you’d expect,” meaning there are mutations?
Pertinax: Yes. But these appear to have been engineered.
Pertinax: Larger catalepsean node. Not sure what the purpose could be. A few theories, none of them anything I’d be willing to stake my reputation on.
Lagras: Fair enough.
Pertinax: Second, we must note that the subject’s body was retrieved from the void. He had been drifting for, roughly estimating, a week.
Lagras: Not a good way to go.
Pertinax: The average human can, if drawing in a breath prior to exposure, survive up to thirty seconds before freezing or asphyxiating; the former is more likely than the latter. The average Astartus will last about an hour, given his enhancements. Primarch Guilliman survived for about twelve hours at Calth.
Lagras: And this fellow?
Pertinax: Death provably occurred after exposure for as many as four hours, if the suit’s indicators and the condition of the body can be trusted. Not nearly the record as far as Primarchs go, but for our kind, that is simply amazing.
Pertinax: Of course, then we have this piece of gene seed tech, which I have never seen before.
Lagras: Brother-Apothecary Pertinax is showing me a gene organ that is unlike any we have on file. Roughly ovoid shape, would you say that is accurate, Didius?
Pertinax: Yes. That is about right. This was attached to the upper cerebral cortex. I suspect it played a role similar to the occulobe, as I was unable to identify this man’s own occulobe. Which leads me to speculate that this must have served as a replacement. It is exceedingly rare, even in examples of known gene-organ faults, to leave even a single implant out of the equation. For example, individuals without a functioning Lyman’s Ear will still have something approaching that implant, withered and inactive though it may be.
Lagras: How common is substitution?
Pertinax: Without meaning to seem overly dramatic, it is extraordinarily rare. Certainly not at the induction stage. Others might have been altered post-induction: certainly this happens with the interred, if nothing else, and the removal of an organ is no unheard of in some successor chapters. The Rainbow Warriors, for example, -do- remove a portion of the omphagea after a Marine’s first decade of service, as this is said to prevent known problems with the implant from causing harm. But even that is rare.
Lagras: So, what do you speculate that this organ was used for, brother?
Pertinax: I have a theory. But… it is entirely speculative.
Lagras: Go ahead.
Pertinax: This organ is vaguely, and I do mean vaguely, similar to the growth found in many Navigators.
Lagras: You are suggesting this man had been modified as a sort of “Navigator?”
Pertinax: Possibly. Yes. No… I don’t… I don’t know. The occular tissue was damaged, apparently by exposure, and that might tell me more if I had something intact. The brain could be altered, but that is beyond our available technology at the moment to determine without obvious hallmarks, if there were any.
Lagras: Fascinating. Thank you, brother!
Pertinax: Of course.