Nhigều Do Sinn stood within the highest spire of his voidship situated in the Sanctuary of Divination. Held within an outstretched hand was a thread tied to a dangling plasteel key. The object was deathly still, but then a change electrified the static air, and bit by bit, the key began to subtly swing, much the same as a pendulum. Stronger was its pull as his focus was enhanced upon the conduit. His brows narrowed, before they strained.
Before the long, thin man was a cogitator, circular in shape, revealing a trio of spherical holograms of a pale green lumination. A system upon the outskirts of the Imperium’s border, the Gholithiun system stood with a white-blue star in its midst, and orbited by three solar bodies. A system visited one hundred years prior by the very same Blackship to collect its tithe of psykers.
One hundred years, four more generations and a fresh batch of boys and girls, men and women to be collected, brought to Terra and trained as sanctioned psykers utilised by the Imperium… or to become decomposition of the earth.
Nhigều Do Sinn felt the palpable yet grim nature of his mission but understood its necessity to protect and secure the inner Imperium worlds, and by doing so, sending forth a new generation of sanctioned psykers to fight and die in the God Emperor’s name.
As the key began to circle the three solar bodies, a bead of sweat rolled down his temple as his eyes clamped shut. Ever focused on the void before him, the key began to slow, wavering, until bit by bit, it swung back and forth and pointed to the third and furthest planet of the Gholithiun system.
The void born opened his eyes to peer down to the key, yet moving to and fro – a nod of acceptance followed as he spoke in a precise, clipped cadence.
‘Commander Manilius, prepare your men for embarkment. I have discovered our destination.’
A rustle of a salute followed. ‘Right away, m’lord.’ Then the commander snapped to and marched through the threshold of the spire chamber.
…and the scent of charred flesh and billowing smoke.
Then, in the distance, a floating wail just above the roar of flames.
Nhigều Do Sinn opened his long eyes and gazed upon a mud brick house with a thatch roof. Two of Manilius’s men dragged a hysterical woman through the front door as a third ushered a child from the rear. The Astra Telepathica Diviner looked on behind steely indifference. Commander Manilius stood beside him.
Nhigều held his arms behind his back comfortably as the woman was made to kneel in front of him as she stifled her sobs. The child was eerily silent with downcast eyes.
‘Have you harboured the mutant?’ Nhigều asked the woman.
The dark-skinned woman turned her bald dome towards her son – a boy of ten standard solar cycles and of the same features before she glanced up towards Nhigều. ‘I harboured my salvation.’
A guardsman moved towards Nhigều and whispered in his ear. After a moment, the Astra Telepathica Diviner nodded and moved towards the child, ‘Look at me, boy.’
The child obeyed and looked up to the void born; his eyes glimmered a bright blue – a sign of the warp touched and a recently casted spell of the Immaterium, ‘What is your name?’
A hoarse, tormented voice answered – one enslaved and tortured, ‘Koimhu.’
‘Koimhu, have you harboured the heretic?’ he asked as he glanced at the mother.
‘No,’ he answered immediately as he rubbed a bloodied wrist – one that told of metal bonds.
‘Is that why you killed your father?’
The mother cut in like a woman possessed, ‘My boy, my salvation! You have failed us! You were meant to be our salvation! Our–’
‘Silence,’ Nhigều’s voice cut in sharply.
The woman squirmed to no avail to escape the guardsmen who held her as she repeated one word – salvation.
Koimhu only looked on, his blue eyes locked onto Nhigều’s that told every telltale sign of abuse and torment. Anger burned like simmering azure flames, and it was the answer Nhigều needed.
Manilius drew a laspistol; it whined to life and discharged in a flash of scarlet. The bolt struck the mother in the heart, charred flesh and internal organs, killing her instantly. She fell forward dead.
Koimhu barely flinched as his mother was killed; instead, a sense of relief washed over him. A deep breath ensued, his nostrils filled with the scent of fire and death, when suddenly a plasteel key hanging upon the Astra Telepathica Diviner’s belt took his attention from all else.
Nhigều felt the key vibrate against his thigh, and he plucked it up by its cord and raised it into the air before him. The key immediately began to swing toward the boy. Koimhu tilted his head as his agony shifted to curiosity.
‘This key is the reason I found you, Koimhu. A divination called cleidomancy, and by His Light and my powers of the warp, it guides my ship to collect the Imperial tithe of unsanctioned psykers. To be killed if believed too dangerous or, in your case, to be collected and brought to Ancient Terra to be trained and to harness your powers in the God Emperor’s name,’ he said in concise, sharp, sure words. A crisp cadence.
Koimhu listened in an interest only a child could muster. Unexpectedly, he reached out for the key, and though Nhigều tilted his head in cautious surprise, he lowered the object into the boy’s hand.
The key was warm to the touch as the vibration began to fade.
‘It is yours now. To remind you of your shackles and the key that unbound you from a life of slavery,’ his thin eyes drifted to the corpse of the mother, ‘of false salvation.’
He looked on to the child, who nodded and clasped his hand tight around the key.
‘Now come, Koimhu, for your life of true servitude has only just begun.’
About the Author
Author and Science Fiction enthusiast Zach Neill is a 29-year-old who lives in rural Pennsylvania. He has overcome tremendous adversity in his life due to a progressive neuromuscular disease. In spite of his disease, Zach has only grown stronger and blossomed into a passionate, compassionate, positively funny guy. Warhammer has been a part of his life ever since his childhood and as he’s grown older, his love of Warhammer has only strengthened. He has written an original Science Fiction novel and is in the process of editing the manuscript–Zach hopes to publish his novel in early 2024.