She performed the ritual correctly, she knew it. The familiar was supposed to appear in the circle right about no-

There was an explosion instead, obviously. The laughing of her peers would begin soon, but Louise wouldn't hear it. Her mind was not present in the empty shell of her body at the moment. In her fervor to succeed she sent not only her intent across the vastness of multiverse, she sent the entirety of her mind as well.

She felt like she was drifting across a turbulent sea, her mind open to hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, trillions, quadrillions of voices, all seemingly screaming in her mind directly.

"Please no..."

"I will make them love me!"

"Embrace your anger and in it find strength!"

"Stand your ground!"

"Blood for the Blood God! Blood for the Blood God! BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!"

"Emperor protect me..."

"We are, we are, we are..."

"For the Imperium!"

"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH"

"Just as planned"

"I can hear your thoughts..."

"Join usssss..."

"Simultaneous devastating defensive deep stri-"

"Die! Die! DIE!"

"Emperor protect us..."

"Emperor save us..."

"For the Emperor!"

"...the Emperor protects!"

"...the Emperor, the Emperor, the Emperor..."

And as sudden as the assault on her mind began it stopped with the appearance of a golden radiance on the horizon. It felt warm. Protective. After hearing so many voices at once and being assaulted from a whirlpool of emotions, from hate, to anger, sadness, loyalty, devotion, and everything in between in the spectrum, the Golden light felt like salvation. In a way, she understood it was exactly that, and infinitely more.

She drifted closer, and felt she could loose herself to this brilliant presence, it made all of her worries drift away. She felt safe like when she was only an ignorant child, unaware of worry. She wanted nothing more but to bask in the brilliance forever.

It is not yet time

She felt a gentle thought brushing against her mind, like when she was sleeping on the lap of her sister and Cattleya gently caressed her skin.

You come from far away, you are of mine yet not of me. You have the power but are free of taint

She didn't understand much of it, she wondered if deities always spoke in riddles. She noticed four massive entities, beings beyond mortal understanding, battering at the golden light, sometimes driving it back a bit, sometimes withdrawing themselves.

As weakened as I am, I will grant you your wish

She felt something warm wash over her, and felt her mind slipping away from the golden presence into the sea of liquid emotions and untold voices again. She felt one last warm thought wash over her,

Go. Build and protect. When you are ready, relieve me of my burden

and the presence was gone. She drifted through the angry ocean unconcerned, shielded from the maelstrom as she was. Only occasionally she heard a faint whisper, and tried to ignore it. But for all appearances she made in her life, she couldn't just ignore the various pleas for help that, she was sure, will go unanswered.

"Save me!"

"Help me!"

"Guide my blade!"

"Take me away, anywhere but here!"

She focused on the last one, which she recognized as belonging to a young boy. She felt his mind surrounded by various others she identified as human. They were steadily winking out of existence as a massive shadow was being cast on the turbulent seas of emotion.

On the mortal planes she saw a world being consumed by war, endless swarms of chittering horrors thrown against walls and fortifications mounted and manned by the valiant defenders of the planet. They were totally inadequate, fortress after fortress, city after city they were overrun by the chitinous beasts guided by unfathomable intelligence in one purpose only: consume. She felt shocked and appalled as she saw the outclassed humans dying in droves to the horrors that didn't care for self-preservation. She wanted to scream to them, "Run you stubborn fools!", but no one heeded her voiceless cries. Somewhere deep inside of her though, she silently felt proud of her fellow humans that stubbornly held the line, just so few more minutes could be given for the civilians to escape. She have read about honor and courage, but never understood the concepts. Not really. Seeing those men exchanging their lives for just a few more precious seconds so others might live, in that moment of perfect clarity she understood. And so she fell in love with the entirety of human race.

She focused on the shadow that surrounded the planet. She knew there would be no escape, even for the ships packed with civilians trying to leave the planet. Giant chitinous beings were drifting in the void above the doomed world, picking out any survivors, capturing their vessels, consuming the biomass that oh so kindly flew right over to them.

She reached out to the voice that brought her attention to this world in the first place. She found a boy, around her age, crawling through ducts to get away, anywhere but where his family was torn to shreds by the chitinous monster. The building he was in was shelled just hours ago, It's foundations weakened it could crumble at any moment. Something gave away, a wall and floor collapsed around the boy and he found himself in a large room, corpses of men strewn around him. In the distance he could see a chittering horror, big one, taking notice of the commotion he caused. He wanted to run, but as he realized there was nowhere he could run to, that he was about to die, he gave up. He just sat there, watching the advancing monster.

Do you want to live?

Am I starting to hear voices too? he wondered. Sure, it would be nice to be alive. Not that It mattered anymore.

Do you wish to be saved?

Sure it would be nice. What is the price? My soul? He mused. He heard stories about madmen hearing voices of temptation. He never thought he would actually go insane enough to hear them though.

Then prove to me you are worth saving

He heard the voice again, then a string of syllables in some ancient and dead tongue. He felt some sort of power washing over him, like a warm liquid seeping through his body. It felt pretty good until it coalesced into a maelstrom of pain in his left arm as if it was not blood that coursed through his veins but molten lead.

He looked up and saw the advancing hormagaunt. He had nothing more but seconds to live, and to his horror realized he didn't really want to die. He crawled awkwardly back, feeling with his hands around, and stumbled upon a corpse. Bile rising in his throat he felt around with his hands to search for a weapon to stave off the inevitable demise and found a sergeant's saber. He gripped it with renewed purpose and raised it trying to deflect the claw descending upon him. Much to his surprise, he did exactly that.

The tyranid would be surprised by this current change of attitude if it could feel the emotion in the first place. The boy was too surprised by his sudden aptitude with a weapon he only saw before to follow up with an counterattack, but he got enough of his senses back to try and deflect the slashing attack that came from his right in an upward swipe. As the blade and claw connected his saber was almost yanked out of his grip, but he managed to held on to it. He decided blocking the attack straight-on would be suicidal. Steadily walking back, with rising confidence he deflected another blow that came from his upper left in a downward swipe, then another one from the right, and as he deflected another two attacks he realized he worked out a pattern the enemy was using for his attacks. The next slash that came from the left and tried to cut his head off was deflected and they boy moved under the giant claw, he disconnected the sword from the claw as he slashed with his weapon at the chitinous neck. The sword bit deeply into the creature, ichor flowing freely from the wound.

It wasn't nearly enough to kill it.

He tried yanking the sword out, but it wouldn't budge. With a quick "Shit!" he released the weapon and stumbled awkwardly backwards, as far away from the beast as he could before it decided to retaliate. He felt at a loss, had no idea what to do. He wondered if he should have just rolled over and die instead of making the creature angry at him. He turned around and ran as fast as he could.

Moments later his instincts told him something was moving very fast behind him, and he heard something that clearly was some sort of blade or claw moving at high speed. He tumbled awkwardly towards another corpse he noticed earlier, barely gripping the handle of the lasgun lying nearby. He came out the roll facing the advancing beast with his lasgun raised and with an angry snarl he pulled the trigger, aiming at the wounded neck. The lasgun emptied it's battery quickly with full-auto fire. The neck of the thing was a burning ruin, and the creature staggered forward awkwardly, it's head lolling at it's side, and then crashed unceremoniously atop of him, thankfully doing no real harm. He crawled awkwardly from under the corpse, his weapon forgotten somewhere under the carcass.

"Dear Emperor, you stink" he noted. He was elated at the experience. Scared like he never was before, but otherwise happy he not only survived, but won the fight. He felt stronger than he ever imagined. He could feel the universe tremble at his approach!

He could feel something tremble, anyway. The whole building was shaking. Not would it only collapse on top of him, it would also collapse on top of dozens other chitinous horrors that entered the cavernous room he was in, which was good, he supposed. Better to die fighting. At least he won't be alone in here...

Everything is ready

He was looking for another weapon when he heard the voice again. Am I really insane? he mused. He supposed it made sense, in a nonsensical way.

This world is lost, last pockets of resistance are being slaughtered as we speak

He heard it again and almost replied when a titanic explosion shook the foundation of the building even more, walls falling apart and floors splitting along the cracks from previous damage. The dozen or two tyranids staggered for a second and continued their charge forward. He collapsed to his knees, he was just too tired. A golden, vaguely female figure appeared floating before him as the pieces of the roof started raining down on them. Another explosion rocked the building from somewhere underground, kicking up clouds of dust. A generator maybe, he thought.

There's nothing left for us here. Let's go.

The figure spoke directly to his mind, and they both were enveloped by green light before the building they resided in finally collapsed.

Far away, on a world much different and much alike as the one they just left, the laughing began.

"As always, the Zero not only fails to summon anything, she grabs some poor commoner and has him pretend to be her familiar! And a filthy one at that!" The words apparently warranted another round of hysterical laughing, pointed fingers and ridicule. Louise recognized the speaker as Kirche von Zerbst, her rival from a lifetime ago. She didn't care. Instead she focused her attention to the haggard looking boy inside the clearing, still exhausted, on his knees and evidently confused.

"...I really have gone insane, haven't I?" He asked, not really expecting any answer. He was just glad he wasn't in that room, in that building, in that city, on that world anymore. He was happy he finally saw fellow humans, well-fed and laughing, even if at the back of his mind something nagged him their cheer was at his expense. He didn't care in the slightest.

"What is your name, boy?" He heard a familiar voice he recognized as belonging to a petite pink-haired girl standing before him. He suspected her to be his savior, so he answered without hesitation.

"Hiraga Saito, ma'am" This quieted the students surrounding them as they watched in anticipation of what was going to happen next.

"Hiraga Saito, this is the price you have to pay. From this day forward, I will be your master, and you will obey my every command. You will have none others before me." that quieted the students completely. Just what in the name of the founder was that crazy girl up to now?, many wondered.

He pondered the words of the little girl for a moment, sighed heavily and replied "I accept".

"Then rise, child of a dead world. Rise as the first of my knights, and help me prevent what happened to your world from ever happening again" she said imperiously, and he obeyed. Just as he was up on his legs again, he swayed and collapsed on top of her, and they both hit the ground in a pile of twisted limbs.

"Perhaps-" he said, his tone deadly tired "perhaps we can work out the kinks of our agreement later?" he asked tiredly.

Old habits and mannerisms kicking in, she grumbled a quiet "stupid familiar", but otherwise complied. Untangling herself, she raised the boy and stumbling a lot they awkwardly moved forward towards her quarters. Many of her peers started the laughter again, quickly forfeiting the task of puzzling out the meaning behind her previous words. Only few students didn't join in the raucous jeering, among these were two friends: one redhead puzzled by the lack of reaction of her long time rival, and one blue haired girl that recognized the eyes the weird boy possessed. Those were the eyes of someone that saw too much death and destruction, lived through too much pain and suffering and brushed with death too many times to by fazed by it anymore. It were just like her own. The girl found herself blushing faintly.

Louise saw professor Colbert was far too enthralled by the weird runes her familiar possessed on his hand to even have the decency to ask if the bearer of them was alright in the first place. Apparently realizing the faux pas he committed, he asked

"Do you perhaps need any help miss Valliere?"

"No. It is a burden I alone must carry", she replied and realized that it was true in more ways than one.

"You summoned an unusual... being as your familiar. And the binding ritual was unusual as well. Are you sure that he is alright?" he pressed on, apparently trying to be helpful in some way.

"He's fine" she assured "He only needs some rest".

"Rest sounds good" the boy added meekly, but was ultimately ignored.

"If you say so, miss Valliere" replied the professor not sounding convinced at all, but he didn't press the issue further. He left her and her familiar to their own devices.

Finally, they arrived inside her room. She deposited the boy on her bed, and he fell asleep instantly. She lied down on the straw covered mat and fell asleep quickly too, thinking about how much work awaited her tomorrow. She promised herself she would return to that dreadful place, to those chaotic seas and bring calm to them. She promised herself that no shadow will ever extinguish the lives of her fellow humans as if they were but candles in a hurricane.

As she slept, in her dark unlit room, if someone could see her he would notice a faint golden glow surrounding her form.