Donaris was far from alone when she awoke, she half sat, half lay in a room which was filled to the brim with all sorts of people. The only thing that they had in common was that they wore bad clothing. Donaris tried to recall where she was and how she got there. She remembered at once, she had been walking home from her work in the factory, she had taken a shortcut, hoping to evade the masses which returned from their shifts. Unfortunately it was the property of one of the other factories. The security guards had caught her, that had happened before, but this time it was different. Instead of the usual beating she was taken to the watch station. There she had been bound and taken elsewhere, a place which she didn’t know. This place, she had been thrown in this room when it was much emptier and had eventually fallen asleep.
She looked over them, she recognized no one. Then the doors on the far side of the room opened and a man dressed in a green uniform. His head was bare, he had a dark skin, something Donaris had never seen before, maybe he was a mutant? The man spoke: “My name is warrant officer Gubai of the Shield of Tyranny, a proud warship in our most Holy Emperor’s navy, and Battlefleet Pacificus in particular. You are from now on members of its crew. You will do your duty and obey orders.”
A man rose up and shouted: “You can’t do this, we are citizens of this hive, you can’t simply drag us from our homes, I have a family, children I look after.”
The warrant officer gave some sort of signal and a dozen men dressed in shining black armour marched into the room, carrying shotguns. One of the walked up to the man who had protested and struck him with his weapon. It made a sickening noise, like a hammer hitting a rat. The man fell backwards and Donaris saw his face, it was a mask of blood, pieces of bone were visible as was some sort of light brown thing she didn’t recognize. People stepped away from the man, cowed by the display of brutality.
The people were driven outside of the room and into a hallway. It looked clean and well-maintained, like a newly built hab-block but more purposeful. Other groups were driven into the hallway from other holding areas, everything was done with what seemed like planning, although the mass of humanity was a pure chaos. The people were silent, but she heard the cracking of whips in front and behind her. She reached a large room, much of which was occupied by a massive metal structure. Donaris had no idea what it was, she could see some sort of vents attached to it, with burnt ends and there was an opening through which the people entered the thing, marching up some sort of ramp. The structure stood on thin pillars of metal and was painted green, but the paint was charred.
Donaris was arched inside as well, the outside wall was thick and she could see heavy bolts which could hold the ramp closed. Then she understood, she had heard about the Imperial Navy, whose ships crossed the stars destroying His enemies. This must be one of their massive vessels which they used to make war. The mass was driven into a large room. The armoured men had left them there, they were alone now. Donaris looked over the mass, and up and down where more floors could be seen, separated by rosters of steel. There must have been thousands stuffed in there. The doors closed, being locked in place. Donaris heard a terrible noise and could feel movement. Many people started screaming, fearing a hivequake or worse, a full collapse. The structure however remained intact, like Donaris had expected.
The motions became stronger, many were sick and nearly everyone was in terror. Some people started to chant hymns, and soon more and more joined in, seeking refuge in their familiar faith. “O divine Lord and Emperor, bless us with your light, protect us from the terrors of the dark, shield us from danger. We are yours, we serve and obey. Lead us, we are your slaves.”
They kept chanting until the droning noise had drowned out all other sounds. It went on for hours, maybe longer, maybe shorter as Donaris lost all sense of time. She slept again for a short while, leaning to a pillar going through the many layers of the hold. When she awoke the chant still lasted, but it was weaker, many had fallen asleep or lost their voice. Then there was another banging noise.