"The eyes and ears of a Cistron are deadlier than any weapon they carry."
–Magos De Jeffari, to his disciples.
On the Lathes, beyond the ancient and dark workshops and manufactorums, there sit hidden laboratories full of aged and decrepit cogitators, whose function is to create the dark functionaries. Here, candidates are brought to go through a series of technotic engram-branding and implant procedures that transform an apostle of the Machine God into a sleeper agent for the Lords Dragon—a Cistron.
The process for doing so is laborious and the chances for success are very low; more often than not, the candidate is found to be mentally incapable handling the transformation of their skills and personality into someone totally unlike themselves. Of those who might be able to handle the conditioning, the psychic readjustment of the candidate’s personality and memory may crush the candidate’s psyche, and they become no more than another flesh source for servitors. Those who do survive, and even thrive, under the process, are then made ready for a new personality and skill set.
Cistrons are then loaded with a new identity, a series of false memories, and the skills and talents necessary to become another anonymous person in some part of the Sector. They quickly become another cog in the world of which they are to be located. The candidates understand that while their original persona is in torpor, they unknowingly work hard to foster a sense of well being and complacency in those whose lives they will touch. They want to be seen as trustworthy and valued wherever they are, thereby making it easier for them to gather the necessary intelligence for their assignment.
Once a Cistron is ready, both physiologically and psychologically, he is then placed into stasis. Then the agent is taken clandestinely to a location somewhere in the Calixis Sector (and rumors abound that Cistrons are also sometimes sent into the lawless Koronus Expanse) and released into the general population. The Cistron is also given the proper documentation, work permits, and a false identity trail, enough to establish the persona in this new setting. Once on site, the Cistron seeks out a position allowing him to accomplish its programmed task. This can take days, weeks or even years. The agent is not consciously aware of his assignment, which may even change over time as circumstances dictate. In that case, another hidden agent, the Minder who watches over flocks of Cistrons in a region, conducts subconscious upgrade-cants to the Cistron. The patience of the Mechanicus can know no bounds if the knowledge they wish to uncover is important enough, and most agents spend years carefully embedding themselves into readiness. Once a Cistron has accomplished his mission, the agent returns to his Minder, guided through more layers of engram-branding.
Occasionally, a Cistron’s programming never takes complete hold or becomes eroded, or his Minder may perish before he can implement the agent’s activation protocols. Often the Cistron is simply forgotten, his existence lost in accidental Lathe data-purges or datastack failures, living an entire life without activation unless unlikely events somehow trigger their primary persona. A Cistron might wander throughout the Sector with the knowledge he has gained, never knowing why the urge to wander has become so powerful.
Anyone, Anywhere, and Waiting to AwakenEdit
Cistrons are the hidden Mechanicum agents who are rumored to be seeded all throughout the Calixis Sector. These agents of the Lords Dragon are in place for a number of reasons. Some are believed to be there to record and bring back information about the other factions of the Imperium who may not want the Mechanicus to further its pursuits. Others are thought to exist to execute intricate plans to remove stubborn obstacles to the Quest for Knowledge and the increased glory of the Lathes, in the name of the Omnissiah. Some Cistrons are in place as insurance against outside attacks, watching and waiting for the correct activation cant-protocol to send them out against those who would threaten the Lathes.
While this shadowy world of intrigue and espionage is dangerous, there are things in the Cistron’s own psyche that are even more frightening. While the technotic conditioning and other engram implants are usually foolproof, occasionally one of these extremely well trained and talented individuals finds their true self fighting against their false past to gain dominance again. A Cistron’s Minder is drilled to recognize the signs of an unplanned awakening and to bring the agent in for retraining, or neutralize the agent outright. Occasionally though, a Minder misses the signs, or the Cistron has lost his Minder, and the agent is now awakening without knowledge of what is true about the Cistron’s past, or what the Cistron should do next.
Once the awakening has begun, the Cistron is now fighting a war on two fronts. The Cistron’s very identity is being torn in different directions, and only time will tell which persona will prove dominant. Another worry to those who may be in the vicinity of a rogue Cistron is that some agents were conditioned against their will. Now this trained and conditioned operative, who may or may not believe in the path that was laid out in the his indoctrination, is looking for closure, or maybe revenge.
Cistron Elite AdvanceEdit
In taking this advance, the character’s background and origin are literally recreated. The past the character knows is revealed to be no more than technophasic engrams that have been branded into the character’s mind. While the character still remembers them, they are no more real than simple fictions. The real history of the character is now breaking through the false memories, and coming to the fore.
Career: Any career can take this Elite Advance, but it may be the most rewarding for Adepts, Arbitrators, and Clerics.
Advance Cost: 300xp
Skills and Talents: The character gains either the Nerves of Steel or Talented (Any Skill) Talent, as well as the Forbidden Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus), and the Secret Tongue (Tech) Skills. Additionally, the character now uses TABLE 2–9 TECH–PRIEST CHARACTERISTIC ADVANCES on page 89 of the DARK HERESY Core Rulebook. The character also has the ability to spend XP on the Cistron Advances shown in Table 2–3: Cistron Advances.
Insanity Points: For each Advance purchase taken from the Cistron Advances chart, the character gains 1d5 Insanity Points, as the psyche of the character battles between the two minds lodged within it.
Hunted: The character must take Hatred (Adeptus Mechanicus) or Hatred (Other Organisation) depending on how the character proceeds with this new knowledge. Is the Mechanicus hunting the character for betraying them, or is some other Imperial organization, such as the Adeptus Ministorum or the Navis Noblite, hunting the Cistron for spying on them?
Easy to Control: The Cistron’s mind has been realigned to make him more susceptible to reprogramming, so he suffers a –10 Penalty on Willpower Tests to resist mind control or interrogation.