Nine Hundred and Ninety-Nine Chains

4.83/5 (3)

I shuffle forward two paces. The chains on my wrists and ankles rattle with every movement. The air is heavy with emotion, mostly fear, desperation and anger, but all I feel is awe and determination. The clanking of a thousand chains fills the golden hall as we inch forward to our destiny. 

The hanging lumens provide just enough light to see the portraits of the Master of Mankind, in all His Glory, before He was wounded and confined to the Golden Throne. I hope to steal a glance at Him before my sacrifice. 

I would have come earlier, but my family would not let me go. They thought me crazy to want to offer myself, but is there no purpose nobler than to help the Emperor protect Mankind? 

I stayed with them, hiding my abilities, secretly waiting for my time. Now that I am here, I feel no fear, only pride that I can do what other humans cannot.

Nine hundred and ninety-nine chains rattle.

I step forward, and my gaze falls on a golden-armoured woman standing along the line. Her dark eyes squint slightly at my small smile and awed expression. I silently thank her for her duty even though nausea and disgust at her mere presence cause me to wrinkle my nose.

The clanking of chains is a discordant melody as the psykers shake and struggle against their bindings. Further down the line, a cry captures my attention, and I watch as a frown grows on my face. An old woman in tattered brown clothes curses and cusses as she hits a silent sister, pulling her forward. 

‘Curse you and your Emperor! We are people! We cannot be treated like this!’ 

The soldier hits the woman behind the knees with her weapon, and she falls to the ground weeping. They drag her to the front of the line. 

My gaze returns to the silent sister keeping watch as I wonder if my turn would come faster if I feigned an escape attempt. 

Even though I know she cannot read my mind, her head moves ever so slightly from side to side, and I nod in understanding.

Nine hundred and ninety-eight chains rattle.

I step forward again as the restless line of psykers mutters and curses, dreading their destiny. Perhaps…perhaps they would listen to me, I think. Perhaps, I could help them understand.

I look at the sister once more. Maintaining eye contact, I move ever so slightly closer to her. Her shoulders tense, and her eyes narrow threateningly.

‘Silent Sister, if you allow it, I would like to speak to the people gathered here.’

The sister remains ready, but she nods. I clear my throat and begin.

‘Dearest psykers, I understand you are frightened, but I bid you to please listen to what I say.’ My voice echoes through the domed hall, and the psykers turn to face me. ‘You have been hiding in fear and maybe even shame your whole life, but what is there to fear? What is there to be ashamed of? Today we will not die in vain; our sacrifice is the greatest honour one can ever achieve! We are keeping the Emperor alive so that he might protect mankind! Finally, we shall know peace and mercy. Our sacrifice is nothing compared to the one He made to save us all. Would you prefer to meet your end by the weapon of a filthy xenos? Would you prefer to die in the slums of a hive city to be fed to your children the week after your death? This is a mercy, I tell you. How many humans can say they are helping the Emperor live another day?’ 

I pause, and there is silence for the first time since I stood in line. The psykers turn back and silently stare ahead.

A child is holding an older woman around the waist. She strokes his hair as we all step forward. 

Nine hundred and ninety-seven chains rattle through the great halls of the Imperial Palace. 

Instead of cries, curses and sobs, the silence remains. The sense of despair dissipates, and my heart fills with joy. I smile as I quietly hum Glory to the Emperor, which my mother used to sing to me as a child.

Nine hundred and ninety-six…ninety-five…ninety-four.

The line moves faster as the man behind me squeezes my shoulder and hums with me. I feel no fear, only excited anticipation. The woman before me murmurs the words to the hymn in low gothic, her voice gaining strength with every step.

On Holy Terra, He sits on the Golden Throne,

His guiding Light shines upon our homes,

His Will be done by all and one,

As darkness looms all around, 

Evil skulks into His hallowed ground,

His will protects all and one.

A silent sister approaches me and places a gauntleted hand on my restraints, tugging lightly, her eyes widening in question.

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘I do not wish to wait. I wish to see Him. I wish to serve.’ I cross my thumbs and make the sign of the aquila.

She nods and crosses her hands in front of her chest in response. I walk before her, smiling and chanting. 

Nine hundred and eighty chains rattle as the voices raise in glorious harmony. As I approach the front of the line, I sing loudly,

For their children and homes, the Guardsmen die,

For their faith and love, the Sororitas fall,

For His might and His love,

We sacrifice. 

I stop as I arrive at my destination and turn to face the silent sister. I spread my arms as far as the chains would allow. As the multitude behind me continue to chant.

‘Thank you,’ I say as I turn to face my destiny, a smile on my lips.

‘Ave Imperator!’

About the Author

Geneviève is a mother of three and a French Canadian military wife. She enjoys writing fanfiction and original dark fiction short stories. She also likes to homebrew Warhammer, mostly Sororitas and helps others in their writing journey.