More of the 28 thing. These ideas sprang, half-formed, from a long conversation about violence in tabletop gaming.
When your goal is the acquisition of all information, you begin to notice patterns in the data you harvest. Most augmented minds of the Adeptus Mechanicus are shielded from the hypnotic effects of these patterns, and are content to sift endlessly, searching for one more hit of unique and flavourful intelligence.
Some minds, however, are a touch less robust. These patterns swirl and ebb and flow, currents and eddies in a sea of information, an inviting abyss into which a compulsive mind stares greedily.
It’s not always a bad thing. Many advances in technology, many social movements, many of the great changes in history were made by single minds with a single purpose. Where obsession sometimes results in the destruction of the self, it just as often results in untouchable expertise, a sharp, glimmering point of unstoppable knowledge that states I know, therefore I am.
Some Mechanicus have amassed great knowledge of propulsion—putting that knowledge to work by building ships which rival the Imperium’s finest. More efficient. Faster. The obsession in their minds burns as fearsomely hot as the plasma they wrangle.
Some understand implicitly the best and most potent ways to keep a hive world alive, mixing enzymes and chemical chains together to create nutrient slurry that energises entire populations. This is not out of altruism, or a desire to improve the lot of Man. It is merely an effective way to keep the maddening obsession sated.
For a few—arguably not enough, given their usefulness—these patterns converge into a Langford fractal that describes nothing less than the perfectibility of conflict. No-one knows how many of these Skitarii—for it is always Skitarii—exist. The records are a wall of redactions to even the highest Archmagos. These records only exist to show that something once held a position within a detachment of Skitarii Rangers, and that that something has disappeared.
Roughly equivalent in scope and reputation—if not secrecy—to the Officio Assassinorum, the Assassinorum Mechanicus is a small detachment of Skitarii Rangers for whom the madness of obsession has flowered into a pathological hunger for violence. Only their handlers in the Inquisitorum really know how many belong to this detachment, and the history of their incursions is distributed on a need-to-know basis.
While the Officio Assassinorum relies on individual expertise and specialism to secure and contain objectives, the Assassinorum Mechanicus is a little looser. As the Rangers complete missions, eliminate targets and gain field experience, they share their findings in realtime with the rest of their team. This adaptive neural network model of murder is estimated to be hundreds of times more efficient than the approach of the already sickeningly capable Imperial assassins.
Tending to work in groups of four, the Skitarii Assassins coldly run simulations of every potential action among themselves before committing to a plan. Machine learning for them is more than a set of nested if statements, more than positive reinforcement of theory and abstraction—it is life and death, success and failure, a validation of the abyss they stare into at all times.
Summa Scienti Belli.