Dissimulo Mors

4.25/5 (2)

Blood, both sacred and profane, flowed into the sigils cut into the stone floor. Van Saar Archeotek Stratto Cheynne’s screams echoed in the mirrored chamber. Strapped naked to the rack, his head clamped in place, he could see the tortured ruin of his body reflected in the glassaic tiles that panelled the domed ceiling. Around him, cultists chanted. The chamber pulsed with a sickly glow, casting the twisted shadows of the cultists upon the sweating walls. 

‘I’ll never give it up,’ Cheynne panted, ‘Kill me and be done with this madness.’

‘Oh, I don’t doubt your honour, Archeotek.’ High Nummularius Altenar Guise breathed down at him with a syrupy smile.

‘Fortunately, I am a true disciple of the Father of Disguises, and your body will serve his ends just as well.’ 

+++

The Dissimulo Mors was their most sacred ritual. Thousands of Nummularia before Guise had died performing it, devoured by warp energy. Not Altenar Guise. His disciples had spent countless hours tailing Van Saar agents. Many died, victims of the very Van Saar technology they sought. Their deaths bought the cult disguises and information, but Stratto Cheynne and the completion of this ritual would be his key to control of Necromunda.

‘Nos Dissimulo,’ he purred as he worked the saw through Cheynne’s wrist.

‘Nos Dissimulo,’ the cultists repeated, a name and a modus operandi. 

‘Dissimulo Mors,’ he continued as he scooped the man’s eyeballs from their sockets with a spoon scrimshawed from human fingerbones. 

‘Praise be to the Disguiser,’ he sang as he cut the tongue from Cheynne’s mouth, turning the man’s piercing screams into gurgling grunts of agony. 

+++

The timbre of Guise’s song changed when he cut out his own tongue, but he sang on. Guise gently stripped the flesh from the man’s throat. With long forcipes, he lifted the snowy-white bands of muscle that formed the vocal cords of Cheynne’s voice and cut them free of the bloody mess of his voice box. Stratto Cheynne would be silent for what little remained of his life. The first part of the Dissimulo mors was complete and Guise left Cheynne’s dissolution to his lesser disciples. They would excoriate and exsanguinate him, delivering his still-warm skin and blood for the ritual’s completion. 

+++

Robed in tanned leather made from human skin, the high priests picked up Guise’s chant as they strapped him to a rack mirroring Cheynne’s. Guise would be bathed and infused with his victim’s blood. He did not scream when they severed his hand, nor when they sewed Cheynne’s left hand onto the stump. Nor did the removal of his eyes or the wet pop of Cheynne’s orbs into his raw sockets stop his devotion. But when the forcipes gripped his vocal cords he finally screamed. His squeals were cut short as they snipped the rubbery cords free of his throat. Quickly the sewing began, and even voiceless, Guise worked at the ritual, his mouth moving, his bloodied throat flexing and tensing as Cheynne’s cords were sewn in place. It was many agonizing minutes before his chant could be heard again, and when he did vocalise, it was with Stratto Cheynne’s voice. The ritual was complete.

+++

Stratto Cheynne pressed the recall rune of lift 17-epsilon in the northwest corner of the Hive Primus spaceport. The lift was marked heat waste disposal. Instead, it opened onto a sublevel of the spaceport only accessible to House Van Saar. The lift doors slid open and a towering security cyberarachnid crawled across the ceiling into the lift. 

‘The Pentauthentica begins,’ Stratto Cheynne’s rumbly baritone provided the passphrase. The Arachnid washed the lift’s occupants, Cheynne and two hooded subteks, with glowing red light from its eight eye-lenses. Satisfied, it sheathed its pneumatic fangs and curled in on itself. Cheynne and his subordinates gave it a wide berth as they continued.

+++

Arriving at their destination, Cheynne submitted to a second full-body auspex and retinal scan. He pressed his left hand to the Van Saar sigil set into the thick plascrete doors. In the green light, the hand was corpse-white, the flesh livid around the stitches. A lancet pricked his palm and blood trickled into the device. Deep within the doors, locks disengaged with a thud.

‘Praise the Great Deceiver,’ the rich bass of Cheynne’s voice was tight with excitement.

‘Nos dissimulo,’ his companions responded in unison.

+++

Nummularius Altenar Guise walked into the Van Saar’s Chamber of Light as Archeotek Stratto Cheynne. The chamber pulsated with an eerie hum generated by the towering STC at its centre. Light rippled around the room as if it were submerged in water. Guise walked forward, followed by his acolytes. Within moments, tocsins sounded, alerting the Van Saar to the chamber’s breach. Some advanced security measure that he had not factored into his plan had triggered. Guise crossed the space toward the machine. He reached out with his right hand; his palm itched where it touched the surface of the warm metal. 

+++

A force of Van Saar Augmeks stormed the Chamber wearing rad-shielded body body armour. A symphony of warning alarms echoed in their heads-up displays, and their suits coruscated with light as the lethal exotic energies from the STC surged over them. The Tzeentchian acolytes turned to engage them, pulling weapons from beneath cloaks, unaware of their true enemy- the STC and its rad-phage. Finding their targets unshielded, the augmeks retreated. The leader threw a battle sign and his squad formed up around him, pouring suppressive fire towards the cultists as they backed out of the chamber and engaged the emergency shutters.

+++

Exotic radiation poured off the STC and washed over Guise and his attendants in waves of unnamable colours. Where it touched them, their bodies began to degrade. Their skin blistered and bubbled as radiation shredded cells with ruthless efficiency. Inside The Chamber of Light, The borrowed face of Stratto Cheynne disintegrated. Beneath it, the raw red musculature and empty eye sockets of Nummularius Altenar Guise were visible for scant seconds as an after-image of flaking ashes.

About the Author

E. Nicole Gary is a scientist and Warhammer lover. She received her PhD in microbiology and immunology from Drexel university college of medicine and studies vaccine design and immune responses. When she isn’t writing scientific manuscripts, she’s reading, watching, and writing sci-fi and horror. She loves wine, crochet, chaos, and laboratory mice. You can find her online @NickyinBrooklyn on instagram, twitter, and tiktok, and on the 40k bookclub she shares with her loyalist husband all linked below.

Contact