Turnkey

5/5 (1)

As he stoically paced down the oppressive corridors of the Ordo Malleus facility of Golgotha-III, snaking tendrils of psychic energy from the prison inmates sought his mind, finding no purchase. Warden Kyras, known to his Inquisition masters simply as ‘Turnkey,’ was quite unaware of these immaterial attacks on his sanity as he walked to his next appointment. His existence was anathema to the Warp, as one of the rarest mutants in the tapestry of humanity. A Pariah – a psychically blank soul formed of nullifying darkened void. The genetic quirk made him the perfect guardian against the influences of rogue psykers and daemonic entities breaching the bounds of the material realm.

In today’s order of business, the facility was charged with the perilous request of a high-ranking Inquisitor. The request received two days prior would charge the facility’s staff to bind a daemon into a host for interrogation. Considering the possible ramifications of the task, he unconsciously thumbed the silver key in the pocket of his fatigues, a reminder of his past incarceration many years ago, before his nature was discovered by his present Ordo Masters.

Inquisitor Pious Valtore awaited Kyras outside the psi-dampened ritual-chamber; his face was one of determination carved from many battles with the creatures of the Immaterium. He acknowledged Kyras with a respectful nod, though not enough to disguise the deep revulsion that the Pariah’s nature had upon the Inquisitor’s soul. 

‘Turnkey,’ Valtore said crisply, indicating the scene unfolding within the bustling ritual-chamber. Captured days prior within the arcane artefact upon the central dais, the entity was the epitome of malicious cunning; its mere presence alone twisted the air with maddening whispers. It had wreaked havoc across the Daedalus Sub-Sector, weaving a web of rebellious conspiracy that forced a score of once loyal worlds to the arch-traitor’s cause. But to Kyras, immune to such whispered temptations, it would remain silent until inhabiting the prepared host.

Next to the dais was a malachite throne festooned with silver cabling, circuitry, and psionic-crystals. The host, a decorated hero of the Imperium, was but an empty shell after sacred purification rites had lobotomised his mind. The Inquisition facility staff and stormtroopers prepared the ritual-chamber, their movements betraying unease. Kyras observed their actions, his eyes holding the weight of a century of experience in such matters.

The chamber resonated with the thrum of galvanically charged warding sigils as the ritual began. Lord Valtore stood

amidst his acolytes, himself a commanding psychic presence leading their incantation. The host, skin covered by winding intricate scrawled symbols, sat vacant upon the altar-throne. As the daemon was forced from the artefact, the air crackled with a surge of dark energy, the writhing body a mere vessel for the malevolent entity now within. After several moments of eerie silence, the ritual was completed. The host took a sharp inhalation of ice-cold breath. 

‘What delicious irony, to be imprisoned within one who cannot comprehend my magnificence’, the daemon sneered with the twisted harmonics of its own and the host’s voice. It had found a physical voice, one that even Kyras’s nature couldn’t ignore, as he took up his vigil in the observation deck overlooking the ritual-chamber.

Over the coming days Valtore interrogated the daemon, a battleground of psychic warfare. The daemon toyed with them, words laced with truths and lies. It whispered into the minds of those present, promising secrets to fulfil their desires whilst dredging up the worst horrors of their pasts, which still haunted their dreams. 

‘Valtore! Still seeking redemption for the souls lost at Gathalamor?’ the daemonhost spat, taunting its jailer. Kyras noticed a brief flicker of pain in Valtore’s eyes, a glimpse of the Inquisitor’s shrouded past redacted from public record.

By the third day of the interrogation, Valtore, having secured vital pieces of intelligence to counter the Archenemy’s schemes, the daemon seized its chance. Its whispered promises finally broke the mental defences of a lone staff member, throwing the room into disarray. Psychic wards flickered under the strain as the minor technician hacked desperately at the wall-mounted psi-dampener array. Its throne-bound host cackling, the daemon dominated the minds of two stormtroopers, hellguns blasting towards other sigils and glowing wards.

Kyras remained calm as he witnessed the chaos unfurl. Unaffected by the daemonic entity’s influence, he exited the observation deck to descend into the anarchy of psychic tumult below with practised ease. The ritual-chamber was a maelstrom, air crackling with unleashed energies. Valtore, desperately battling the daemon’s ensnared pawns, barely held his own, as hellguns blazed under the daemon’s malevolent will. In that decisive moment, amidst maddening screams and roars of gunfire, Kyras acted.

With resolve born of countless such encounters, he drew the Tronsvasse Hi-Powered Autopistol from its holster. The shot rang out, stark and final, echoing in the chamber. The host’s body slumped, the malevolent spirit erupting in a gout of writhing slick shadow. But Kyras, undeterred, deactivated the null-field limiter, causing an unseen whoosh of psionic backdraft, instantly becalming the once fraught scene. The daemon’s escape was thwarted, its malign influence curtailed, banished forcibly back into the depths of the arcane artefact. The potential torment of the once-heroic host was cut short in an instant of merciful finality. ‘Turnkey,’ Valtore gasped, his voice a mix of relief and exhaustion, ‘you’ve ended it.’ 

Kyras stood surveying the aftermath in the ensuing silence, the tumultuous room now eerily still, shocked expressions plastered across the now-freed stormtroopers. In his pocket, he felt the cold metal of the silver key, a tactile connection to a grim past that had set him upon this duty. The role of the Turnkey was not one of glory but of silent vigilance. Staring at the altar-throne watching the lifeless host, Kyras reflected on the insidious struggle against the encroaching chaos. The daemonic force, now gelded, a dark reminder of the shadow war they waged. He did not pray, for his kind were isolated from such solace, but in his unwavering watch, there was a dedication that spoke louder than any prayer.

About the Author

Writing under the name of James Michelle, this curious creature resides upon a Scottish Island in the Western Isles. When not diving the oceanic depths in search of real-life leviathans, it plunges the depths of it’s own imagination for strange tales and weird fiction. Inspired by the works of many writers including Lovecraft, Blackwood, and Abnett, this dark entity thoroughly delights in bringing 40k lore to life in short stories and fan-made codices. In particular, it’s a big fan of the Emperor’s Holy Inquisition and the minor factions of Xenos that have yet to appear on the tabletop.

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