It had been more than fifty years since the Black Ship had come to her home planet. Ilaria was eleven when it came. Like everyone else on the planet, her family stayed home and huddled in their rooms, praying for the Inquisition to pass them swiftly by. Her parents were shocked when the space marine kicked open their door.
His darkened visor swept the room, coming to a focus on the family the corner of the room. His voice boomed out from his helmet. “THE MAN AND THE GIRL. COME WITH ME.”
Her mother screamed in terror as she clung to her daughter. She didn’t see the huge, armored hand that came down and knocked her casually aside. She struck the wall next to her and collapsed unconscious. Her father rushed to his wife’s side, only to be pulled away by the uniformed guards that started flowing into their home.
Ilaria and her father were taken to a transport and flown to the Black Ship, where they clung to each other with a mass of other people taken from their planet, most terrified, although a few were angry and protesting. The dissidents were promptly separated from the meek.
When the Inquisition began processing them, Ilaria and her father were separated. He told her to be brave as they took him away. She was one of the last few remaining in the large holding chamber. When they came for her, they took her on a long winding path through the ship that finally ended in a huge, dark room.
At the back of the room was a pale man in the red robes of an Imperial Inquisitor sitting behind a desk. He waved a hand at the two men, who promptly left and shut the door behind them with a loud, mechanical clack. His eyes were dark, almost black and focused on the small, slender girl in front of him. He turned his head slightly and spoke to the figure behind him, that only now did Ilaria see. “This is the one you mentioned to me?”
At that precise moment, Ilaria had what she called one of her flashbacks. She had learned early on to not mention them to her mother or father. But she always knew which of her two brothers had snatched the candy from the place her mother had hid it. She had seen it happen.
As the two men studied the child in front of them, her icy pale eyes glazed over. Her vision clouded for a moment, then, clear as day, she saw her father walk into the very room she was in. She knew he wasn’t there for real, but this is where they had taken him earlier. These same two men spoke with him, and then she saw her father’s body shake with sobs as he was escorted away by the guards.
Her eyes re-focused on the Inquisitor and she frowned. “What is the Astronomican and why did my father go to it?”
The Inquisitor raised an eyebrow slightly. “Not your concern, child. You, apparently, are being assigned to the Scholastica Psykana.” He turned his head back to the man at his shoulder. “When you are done training her, I will have use for her.”