Subject: OH-009 – The Traitor’s Cowardice
Threat Level: Minoris
OH-009 appears to be a mental trait, increasing overall brain activity by 4% when observed. Those who suffer this effect have an increased heart rate (in Adeptus Astartes, this rate increase is often in the soldier’s original heart), irreverence to authority, a perceived (but immeasurable) decrease in body temperature, and occasional behavioral defects that could be interpreted as strong fear, doubt and remorse. This feeling has been reported whenever humanity’s forces have been on a “tomb-world” of the Necron xenoform for prolonged amounts of time, or have been exposed to the heretically powerful “C’tan”.
Astartes soldiers have reported this feeling most often in humanity’s forces, with 0.8% of Astartes soldiers experiencing the effects. Astra Militarum units on the same planets or that are exposed to the same Xenos constructs or creatures only have a report percentage of 0.2%, potentially meaning that this neural condition is somehow amplified by the gene-enhancement of the Adeptus Astartes. Studies attempting to trace the origin of this neural trait do not reveal much, as this abnormality appears to have been observed as far back as documentation describes, when cross-referencing described planets with the currently known Necron tomb-worlds. One theory as to the origin of this trait is that it has been within the human genome since humanity’s initial evolution, explaining why it has been undetected for millennia.
Astartes who have reported this effect also have been observed to form close bonds with other marines who have experienced the Cowardice regardless of chapter, but this correlation does not yet have enough evidence for confirmation.
This effect was first documented in the Adeptus Astartes chapter +++++, in the year 324.M++ when they landed on the arid world of +++++ in the +++++ system, forming an outpost there for 10 solar years until the Adeptus Mechanicus relieved them and allowed them to return to standard duty. This world was later observed to be a Necron tomb-world by Tech-Priest +++++ of the Adeptus Mechanicus, who witnessed an obelisk rising from beneath the planet’s tectonic plates in the year 682.M++.
The primary reason for this sensation’s title, and the reason why it is a concern to the Imperium, is the Cowardice’ ability to seemingly degrade the mental conditioning of the soldiers of the Adeptus Astartes and Astra Militarum who are vulnerable to it, leading to a small few defectors. Space Marines who undergo this feeling for prolonged amounts of time begin to show feelings of remorse, irreverence, and even fear for long after exposure. Due to this, some marines that do battle on tomb-worlds later defect and either rebel against their leaders, or attempt to escape by commandeering Imperium spacecraft during a battle. Marines who are captured and interrogated following such an escape reveal that they no longer approve of the Imperium’s rule, due to the supposed cruelty and “evil” acts they are ordered to carry out. The subject is then executed immediately, their heresy never being allowed to reach rebellious ears.
Nearly every chapter of the Adeptus Astartes and division of the Astra Militarum have previously had defectors of this nature following prolonged exposure to a tomb-world or a C’tan, and those rebels have been wiped from all but the most guarded documents in the Imperium. Some survivors of Humanity’s failed battles claim to have seen Space Marines and normal humans fighting alongside their alien combatants, having modified their armour in a blasphemous fashion to appear similar to the Xenos. These witnesses are silently killed before they can tell anyone of these renegades.
Genetic and hypnotic countermeasures are being formulated by the Adeptus Mechanicus in the most secretive of circles, but this effect has yet to be altered or prevented no matter what is tried. Currently the Traitor’s Cowardice is labeled as a Minoris-level threat due to its infrequency, but if a solution is not found, the Imperium could lose Astartes soldiers at scales that could cause a true threat.