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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2020 4:39 pm 
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Informant

In a dysfunctional age of darkness and decay, a careless word is enough to land you in hell.

Most Low Gothic dialects across the Imperium of Man sport a double meaning attached to the word for 'whisper', and indeed a great many dialects sport two different words for the act of whispering: One denoting whispering in order to avoid detection, and one denoting whispering to inform on others.

It has been thus for millennia upon millennia, for rulers who live in fear are the most dangerous of all. In the Age of Imperium there is no shortage of insidious horrors to keep the Adeptus Terra and its host of Planetary Governors on edge, dreading what lurks in hiding. A myriad of ambitious plots are everyday pursued by Imperial nobles and bureaucrats, some aiming at coups and assassinations in the bewildering world of human games of power. Shady nests of insurgents and cultist cells feed off widespread discontent to further their plans of sabotage and uprising, ever threatening Imperial rule with the heretical scourges of separatism, revolt, apostasy and abominable blasphemy. To speak nothing of the ever-present threat of invasion from beyond the dark void, some attacks of which do not unite beleaguered worlds against an external foe, but on the contrary lay bare internal divisions as rival sides seek to turn the uncertain new situation to their advantage in a confused frenzy of broken alliances and civil war.

With so many deadly perils hanging over the head of the masters of mankind like the sword of Damocles, how could Imperial Adepta and local rulers do aught else than clamp down with harshness on the populace, for their own good? With the preservation of Imperial law and power under danger, how could the servants of the God-Emperor dare to do anything less than uphold a rigid order of terror which tolerates no one speaking out of line? With the survival of the human species itself at stake, how could virtuous subjects of Him on Terra fail to report suspicious talk and deviant behaviour to the righteous authorities?

After all, those who fail to police their community with vigilance and cunning, will damn it to oblivion. To not report, is to partake in the treachery. There could be no worse crime than allowing the slightest hint of hidden heresy and thought of self to escape detection by the guardians of humanity. Aid our watchmen: Keep watch! Those loyal to their species and lord will know to listen well to all people around them, and discreetly inform on any suspects to the Adeptus Arbites, Inquisitorial agents or local law enforcement and counter-espionage networks.

To the pious and staunch subjects go the spoils, for the Imperium know well to reward its informants. Indeed, for many slaving people trapped in squalor and grinding poverty, the rewards for ratting out on a neighbour or colleague may be the only way to alleviate their misery by some extra company scrips, coupons, ration bars, tech-trinkets or meager luxuries unusual to your rank, and any number of other perks and bonuses which many downtrodden humans would be willing to kill over. Yet pecuniary gain is not the only material incentive at work. When your crowded family live in each others' laps and shares an apartment, shack or holestead with several other families, the best way to earn some breathing space and bunk room is to denounce members of the other families, and watch as security police makes them disappear, never to be heard of again. As the
Lectitio Divinitatus states, the righteous will oft be rewarded in this life as well as in the next.

And so humanity under the heavy rule of the Imperium watch each other and whisper on each other. The Imperial culture of imputation has ensnared society in a web of distrust and deceit, and sown suspicion everywhere. Strong ties to your clan or tribe is no guarantee of safety, for greedy, spiteful or loyalist informers can be found everywhere. Who have not heard the glorious tales of good children who reported their own mischievous parents to the authorities, and died the glorious martyr's death as their vengeful extended family murdered and tore them apart? Who have not listened to the uplifting songs praising such youthful duty? Who have not seen the posters, statues, pict-casts, theatrical performances and holo-dramas hailing such young virtue and loyalty to His Divine Majesty?

Thus the spider's web of informants every day, somewhere across the Emperor's vast domains in the Milky Way Galaxy, repeat that baleful tragedy over and over: That of sons and daughters denouncing their fathers and mothers, or their sisters and brothers or other kinsfolk. That of children betraying their own parents to the authorities for the sake of grumbling words against cruel overseers after a taxing shift, or for the sake of more guilty scheming. That tragedy of people who died in the torturer's chambers, labour camps or on executioner's squares because their own offspring or siblings informed on them. That of Imperial loyalty trumping filial piety. That of families torn apart.

For no tyrant ever had trouble finding willing henchmen to carry out their heinous bidding, and no despot ever found a dearth of humans willing to sell out their friends and loved ones.

Much of our species in the far future ekes out a miserable living to a constant background din of paranoia and squealing, an everyday mistrust of fellow man that is frequently drummed up to a crescendo of arrests, torture and a domino effect of panicked denunciations as yet another wave of terror and purges roll out across hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and uncounted voidholms. The rhythm of such campaigns of repression varies wildly, often being dependant on the commonly depraved character of rulers and their moodswings, or on crisis events and disasters leading to angered calls for culling the disloyal among the populace.

And why should such waves of terror ever be uncalled for? Clearly, each one catches many infidels and traitors in its claws, and each purge manages to force most of these foul heretics and recidivists to confess and name yet more sinners participating in their undermining schemes, for how could their craven souls resist the noble art and purifying tools of torture? The bountiful harvests of uncovered snakes, who name yet more backstabbers, plotters and terrorists in a vain attempt to save their worthless skin, is a healthy sign of Imperial justice at work. The mass graves and pyramids of skulls generated by the Imperial terror waves are monuments to the cleansing redemption of mankind itself. Witness the forces of order lead off the wretched deviants and malcontents to their rightful doom. Listen to the jingling of their chains. Show no compassion or mercy to these wrongdoers and filth. Nay, let them know what you think: Howl at these heretics! Let your hate fill your lungs! Hate!

Thus the Age of Imperium trudges on, as a star-spanning colossus on feet of clay crush both the innocent and guilty with little distinction and no remorse in its heart of stone. For the rotting Imperium of Man will purge any hint of threats from within to its tyrannical rule with fierce bloodthirst and lack of mercy. Its symphony of loud proclamations and staccato of violence is set to a background murmur of distrustful whispers. And so brother reports brother, and sister denounces sister in a neverending cycle of terror.

Such is the depravity that awaits our species. Such are the depths to which humanity will sink.

In the grim darkness of the far future, man must watch his tongue.

And all is well in the astral domains of the ascended Emperor of Holy Terra.

All is as it should be.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:43 am 
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Warmblood

"No, my friend. Do not protest.
You fell at the Emperor's behest.
Comrade in arms, lie now at rest.
There's no more use to plug your chest.
That flak armour came short on its test.
Stemming flow no bandage could wrest.
Your wound is foul an' ill distressed.
You're already dead, it's for the best.
Let my frigid hands be your final guest.
For you are blessed.

I'm a stiff soldier too, locked in chill.
With shaking hands to oath fulfill.
My black teeth rattled in charge uphill.
Frost marrow bit to blunt all thrill.
We both have faced the same cold drill.
Cast freezing into hell's white mill.
With deadened feet to snow dunes till.
O'er cracking ice that fear instill.
Clip off blue toes for winter's bill.
Brought here to kill.

Shush! Be still my friend, you are not hale.
Your time is nigh, you're growing pale.
Afrozen hands your leaking lifeblood hail.
Its steam so warm, its vapours frail.
Rise hot off guts blast out of jail.
Begrudge not comrade, do not quail.
This your last service ease my trail.
Fingers warmed 'midst howling gale.
Pray Lord on Terra weigh your scale.
Your kin may wail."

-
Warmblood, crude trench poem written in 327.M38 by corporal Ladina Terchenkov of the Astra Militarum 8164th Decebalian infantry regiment (XLII Army), two months prior to the Army's last stand and complete destruction at Androniki Ridge during the Lamed offensive of the Hrud invaders on Athanatikoi Secunda

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2020 12:22 am 
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Blast Doors

In a demented age of ignorance and cruelty, the gates of death stand ready to shut close on man.

Wind, rain, snow, sandstorms and beasts have ever afflicted man, and so to escape the forces of nature he built for himself a sanctuary and called it home. The very earliest means of covering the entrance to tents and huts was to hang the hide of an animal over the opening. Later on during the Age of Terra, man invented doors from reed and wood, and as his ingenuity grew, so too did the various forms of gates and doors increase by ever more clever means, including the fabled energy seals, living gates of Vigemusque and voidposterns of the Dark Age of Technology. And no matter the epoch and techno-sorcery at hand, man would not think twice about opening a door to enter or exit a room or a building, and would not count the times he crossed the threshold on his way to and fro other matters. It was just a door. And man ascended in worldly matters.

As punishment for his hubris, Man of Gold was toppled from his paradisal pedestal after Man of Stone and Man of Iron had disappeared amid havoc, and almost all the creations of humanity burned during the subsequent Old Night. Thus most works were lost forever, and but scraps of ancient glory remained to be rediscovered by primitive survivors in the charred ruins. Among the salvaged technical systems (hailing from wildly different levels of tech-advancement) were crude but effective variants of humble doors, easily replicated from among the very simplest of Standard Template Construct (STC) hard-copy blueprints. These included sturdy blast doors and vault portals, as well as simple domestic constructs, bulkhead entrances and more flamboyant silent weighed gates favoured by many Ecclesiarchal cathedral builders.

Many variants of high-speed doors were originally designed for industries in order to speed up production logistics and aid in temperature and pressure control, not to mention their widespread duty for pharmaceutical clean rooms during lost ages of human science and progress. In the rotting Age of Imperium, however, such high-speed doors have become commonplace almost everywhere across the star-spanning domains of the Emperor on Earth, known as autodoors among those who bother with the correct technical term.

Something as simple as an automatic door stand as a mute testament to the debt mankind of the regressed Imperium owes to those who came before. Most STC autodoor blueprints included split-second safety systems in order to avoid harm and injury. Yet all across the galactic dominion of the God-Emperor, the machine spirits of doors kill, maim and crush tens of thousands of people every day across hundreds of thousands of worlds and uncounted voidholms. STC progeny though most of these autodoors may be, the safety measures originally designed for such gateway devices in ancient times are nowadays often broken down or lacking altogether.

There are a multitude of reasons behind this rotting state of affairs. For one, incremental loss of technological knowledge over many thousands of years have been accompanied by a decay of production processes, leading to a great many finer and non-essential electronic and automotive systems not functioning as they should, or at all. Oftentimes, reductionist logistical calculations will result in Manufactoria masters and Administratum bureaucrats ordering the removal of fully functioning but unnecessary safety features in order to save on material consumption or increase the rate of production by simplifying and making designs more rudimentary. At other times, faulty maintenance is to blame for the common phenomenon in the Imperium of Man that is death by doors.

Imperial modes of thinking run at best along lines of callous indifference to human suffering and demise. Yet the hunger for cruelty and hardships inflicted upon others may often extend far enough so as to become outright murderous as a result of deliberate planning.

After all, is it not virtuous to construct an environment that will punish the weak and unworthy, and leave those strong and worthy in the eyes of His Divine Majesty to prosper and populate the star-spanning realms of mankind? Is it not pious to build hazards and dangers into buildings and starships, in order to encourage swift wits, sharp eyes and alert senses akin to those of our eagle-eyed Imperator Himself? Is it not healthy eugenics to cull the slow and the weak among us in order to breed a fitter human species for the greater glory of the Emperor of Holy Terra? Is it not for our own good that so many autodoors shut close with sudden rapidity, with such lethal force and disregard for human health and safety? Is it not praiseworthy to develop wits and fine habits of avoiding such everyday dangers as sliding doors and portcullises? Is it not righteous to let the idiots, fumblefoots and deviants get caught in gateway traps due to their own faults, instead of indecently sparing them the clamping test?

Spare the rod and spoil the child. It is better that a thousand accidents choke humans to death between twain doors or crush them under gates, than a single careless sloth of a wastrel soul walks alive among us, naïvely heedless of the caprice and rhythm of dangerous doors while he puts his trust in installed sensors and failsafes without thinking and caring for himself among the corridors and mazes of hive cities, starships and voidholms. The fact that the hearts of uncounted millions upon millions of Imperial subjects are gnawed by entamaphobia, a fear of doors, is only proof of the sound survival instincts cultivated by living and working in Imperial installations.

Furthermore, it happens to be that the common existence of lethal door devices every day aid righteous servants of the Imperator by providing convenient implements of improvised torture and summary execution, all spectacularly visible as warnings to the masses of bystanders and passers-by. If a lowly debt-slave, scrivener or indentured labourer happens to display thoughts of self, heretical insubordination or sinful aspirations above his station, then a just master is at liberty to display his or her power by deed on the spot, through swiftly arresting and excruciating the malcontent, degenerate or apostate by having their underlings heave the damned felon into the jaws of a nearby blast door or portcullis. Naturally, the same handy availability of rapid sliding doors without safety mechanisms have also stood innumerable gangers, bullies and criminals in good stead, to the detriment of hordes of victims across the centuries. No matter, for they too foster a hardier spirit in the subjects of the exalted Terran Emperor.

A logical consequence of this devious Imperial mindset can be seen in certain installations' entrances to areas off-limit yet not of high importance. At such locations, some doors may be rigged to seemingly allow entry, only to instantly slam shut as a deadly biting trap upon those who fail to enter the correct passcode.

Another product of simple Imperial engineering are slice-gates and cutdoors, which act akin to guillotines by sporting sharpened ends in order to make short work of any foolish deadbeat or sneaking street urchin that disrespect the machine spirit. The resultant local cleaning duty is offset by the higher value of cleansing the populace of unwanted elements by allowing them to sort themselves out by impious incompetence. After all, the bio-recycling corpse grinders ever hunger for the dismembered remains of despicable unworthies, and so lesser men end up feeding their betters in the form of corpse starch, true to the eternal food chain of beasts and men alike.

Indeed, a common Imperial proverb instruct us that a good subject is like a good door: He shall be alert to commands, fast in executing orders, ruthlessly powerful and unyielding in his single-minded work purpose in life. And he shall halt for no one, once assigned his task by his superiors.

As a door is but a component of a facility, so too is a humble human nought but a replacable part in a vast, faceless machine operating on a broken equation of increased input. For all those modes of invention and sharpening of efficiency (once pursued by sinful forefathers out of foolish dreams of becoming like living gods) have long since been forgotten in fevered ages of darkness and blood, as mankind spiral ever downwards into depravity.

And so trillions of men, women and children across the Imperium of Man will include a line in their daily prayers, for the God-Emperor to preserve them from the crush of gates, the clipping doors, the fast exit, the hydraulic death. For habit is a strong force in the heart of man, and he is capable of living under any conditions as though they could be no different. As his distant ancestors once endured predators, travails and savagery, so too will their descendant of the far future endure the deadly environs which man has crafted for himself across the stars, among glittering spires and baleful hive-sinks.

For man's lot is suffering and death, and all that is given man is a chance to serve the lord of his species during his miserably short life. Serve, toil and die.

And everywhere, doors close shut on fragile hope as decay slowly worsens, ever more.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is no way out of the horror and despair.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2020 3:24 am 
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Burning Pict-Screen

In the grim darkness of the far future, some who fall asleep before the screen do not awake.

Abstract thinking, crafting and arts were among the traits which distinguished humanity's primitive forefathers from the rest of the animal kingdom. The Men of Gold are known to have depicted hunting scenes on cave walls and adorned their temples with images that related mythical stories during our distant past on Old Earth. Later on during the Age of Terra, man learnt how to capture still images and moving pictures, projecting them for the eye to view on fabrics and screens via a mastery of light. The fabled Dark Age of Technology is said to have brought with it breakthroughs in hololithics, caelumena and even more spectacular forms of visual media which the benighted descendants of this lost epoch of science and discovery can no longer possibly fathom. For both secret knowledge and working relics of the most advanced visual technologies have long since turned to dust and ash, as the world of mortals shrank in on itself and grew dull and fearful in the wake of terrible cataclysms.

While the most advanced and consequently least endurable pict tech have long since been lost to the sands of time, various other technologies for transmitting and projecting images survive into the Age of Imperium, thanks to scattered findings of Standard Template Construct schematics for the making of everything from vacuum tubes, redpoint and prismatic crystal components, to liquid light cells and hololithic projectors. As with everything in the Imperium of Man, the hardware it possess hail from wildly different stages of historical development of science and technology, yet the most common utilitarian tech (outside the jealously hoarded treasures of the insular Adeptus Mechanicus) tend to hail from the lowlier and more rudimentary forms of technology.

This primitivization of human technology did not end with the Age of Strife as the brief renaissance of the Great Crusade swept the Milky Way Galaxy, but has instead continued with but few interruptions, as humanity's grasp of knowledge slowly erodes away, and as its better industrial machines from ancient times eventually fail, with no one capable of repairing or replicating them left standing among the living for untold light years around.

Of course, those in possession of wealth, power and contacts offworld or among more technologically capable clans and organizations tend to enjoy the dimming light of sophisticated human tech for far longer than the vast majority of Imperial society across a million worlds and uncounted voidholms. A great deal of prestige and veneration is attached to owning intricate things which ordinary Imperial subjects could barely dream of, with machine spirits far in advance of anything which most human beings will ever encounter in their daily lives. Indeed an entire boutique economy of rarefied artisans and master artificers exist to cater to the technological needs of upper classes and Imperial Adepta alike, all parochial tech clans where precious crafting knowledge is inherited from parents to children, characterized by time-consuming handicraft of immense skill and exclusively low production numbers for the finest of clients.

As for the filthy majority of human populations, shoddy mass production is king as regard both market enterprise and state-owned manufacturing: Indeed the very idea of entrepreneurial freedom from both planetary and voidholm rulers, as well as branches of the Adeptus Terra, is a ludicrous notion across most of His Divine Majesty's astral domains, for Imperial overlords maintain all manner of controls and oversight over industries which they do not themselves possess, in a nightmarishly complex web of privileges, traditional pledges, religious edicts, local customs, martial law, Adeptus Mechanicus licensing, strongman rule through force, decrees issued by the High Lords of Terra, rampant corruption, underhand tricks and mercantile charters; all of which amounts to nothing short of a juridical basket case that keeps vast legions of legal experts on the Lex Imperialis occupied in lengthy court cases that can span many centuries and generations. Ancient Terran philosophers from very different cultures all remarked that the more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state. This notion is punishable by horrific means of torture, execution and servitorization in the Imperium of Man, should anyone ever be foolish enough to voice it aloud or write it down, for the very concept is heretical and antithetical to Imperial rule with its endless accretion of fossilized laws and contradictions.

Naturally, most worlds and voidholms across the vast Imperium of Man are plagued by abysmal levels of quality for most of their consumer goods, and the mass manufacture of pict-screens is no exception. The ever-worsening rot of technotheological knowledge and etiolation of the machines of techno-sorcery has resulted in unsafe electronics being a common fact of life. For instance, a substantial number of all fuses and circuit breakers installed in mass-produced ware are of atrocious makes, often being installed as a token gesture of respect toward machine spirits and toward manufacturing traditions built on decaying STC hard copy blueprints. As a result of general ineptitude, indifference and ignorance, cheap pict-screens (some of which even sport a magnifying glass in front of a tiny screen) have a widespread tendency toward spontaneous combustion, being especially prone to sparking flames and short-circuiting when operators switch channels or adjust properties such as vox-volume or brightness.

Such is the state of something as simple as the humble pict-screen in the dark future, which is in truth a primitive and simple technology that mankind in the decrepit Age of Imperium increasingly fails to produce safely and reliably. Indeed sclerotic Imperial industry everywhere primarily values superstitious rituals and going through the motions handed down by forgotten ancestors. The striving to truly understand and master the technicalities of production processes and finished goods alike has waned considerably over the last ten thousand years as human grasp of tech steadily retreats into a darkening night of dysfunctionality and scavenging ruin. Likewise, genuine quality control and concerns over such malcontent concepts as health and safety are far removed from those who manage and operate the numberless manufactoria which churn out mass-produced civilian goods for the plebeian hordes of consumers.

And so every day, thousands of pict-screens across uncounted planets, starships and voidholms suddenly catch fire, as their temperamental machine spirits give hot protest to their human users' lack of reverence and failure to pronounce litanies and mantras without error. The sinful men, women and children thus judged, must flee, raise the alarm or themselves extinguish the flames, or else be devoured by them. Across tens of millions of hive cities and hundreds of millions of void installations, everyone seems to know of some friend, neighbour or family member who was wounded or killed by a fire started by some burning pict-screen. Such fatalities are especially common among slothful indolents who would doze off and catch a nap, and as just punishment for their moral failings the wrathful machine spirit will often choke them with smoke in their sleep, to never again wake up as cleansing tongues of flame consume their sinful flesh.

Thus man is no longer the wise master of his own tools and crafts, and increasingly the fruits of his labours fail despite increased input of work and resources. Where once curious ancestors remodelled the matter of creation like clay, their degenerate descendants stoop amidst squalor, having lost almost everything while not even remembering what it was they lost, teeming like vermin among the battered and broken remnants of a once glorious stellar civlization while they live in terror of the great unknown. And so fearful man may often be heard to recite a line in his daily prayers, asking the God-Emperor on Holy Terra to spare himself and his kith and kin from the sudden flame, the smoke devils, the burning animus, the lit machine.

Such is the misery that await our species.

Such is the degradation of man, in the darkest of futures.

It is the fortyfirst millenium, and there is no escape from the horror and suffering.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2020 2:31 am 
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Raider Seizure

In a distant age of decay, in a depraved time beyond hope, the sins of deceit, theft and greed flourish among a ruinscape of crushed dreams.

Certain ancient civilizations during the Age of Terra regarded traders and merchants as little better than parasites, buying and selling the produce of others for profit, and therefore their caste was lowly even though their coffers might be full. Elsewhere during this archaic epoch, beliefs held that it was harder for a merchant to enter paradise, than it was for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Similar ways of thinking are prevalent across large swathes of the Imperium of Man, for what value does moneygrubbing tradesfolk and entrepreneurs really add? Any success of theirs is solely attained by the grace and benevolence of the ascended Emperor of Mankind, and the marketbrokers of the corpus and collegia ought to repent of their devious ways by vigorous self-flagellation and through the purchasing of indulgences and gifting up of generous donations to the Adeptus Ministorum. This they ought to, or else their souls will face the damning hellfire.

It is, after all, better to look to the saints and martyrs for higher examples on how to live one's life, and rather pray for miracles and deliverance from our lord and master on Holy Terra, than to sully a mind meant for humble worship with the ceaseless pursuit of selfish gain.

This disdain for tradesmen and speculators without noble pedigree, coupled with a spiteful envy inherent in the human soul, remains an important ingredient in the dysfunctional convergence of factors that produce a peculiar Imperial phenomenon most commonly known as raider seizure. This is a dreaded scourge of guilders, manufactoria owners, slumlords, voidtraders, latifundia masters and other businessfolk, which entails illegal seizure of real estate, corporate rights, vessels and facilities, with the aid of public authorities.

Raider seizure tend to be especially prevalent on planets, continents and voidholms which sport a frequent turnover of high-ranking officials due to instability at higher levels, as well as a dishonest business culture and widespread corruption within Imperial Adepta and planetary or voidholm governing organs, including law enforcement agencies and courts. Raider attacks on corporate entities often involve the active participation of policiary forces, Administratum personnel and government agencies, all working under the influence of bribes and the pretense of crimes afoot in the company in question.

Enterprises that run the risk of becoming objects of raider seizure will usually possess large real estate objects, lucrative intellectual property (on those worlds and voidholms where that concept is even acknowledged legally and carries pecuniary weight, that is) and any form of business that brings a stable income. The aim of the corporate raiders is to seize control of the lucrative assets, and extract revenue from the seized property with which to fend off juridical counter-claims by dispossessed former owners and stakeholders, who cannot feed the lawyers' meatgrinder with their stolen facilities and thus have to instead burn through savings at a rapid pace if they want to stay in the court at all. Most cannot afford such a protracted legal battle, especially since court cases can stretch into multi-generational clashes fought over centuries by the descendants of both parties and the replacements of long-dead jurists.

The groundwork for a raid scheme is often laid through shady dealings, the malevolent insertion of fine print in written deals, unreliable business partnerships and infiltration of enterprises. Sometimes there will even be manipulation of legal documents in company archives, at rare occassions employing highly costly assassins and espionage mercenaries who will break and enter guilder headquarters and burgohalls at their utmost peril. Raiders will exploit loopholes and insecurities in paperwork, preparing carefully in diligent silence before the decisive push. They will scour the archives for any dirty hold that can be gained over the victim. To this end they will search for such paperwork as business contracts, licenses, inspection findings, debt securities, unrenewed title files and statutory documents. Likewise, this prospecting will seek out unsent certificates and transfers of corporate rights to third parties such as directors, decurions or chairman of the board. Another fertile area of documents are legal mistakes and inaccuracies in concluding transactions, and woe betide any victim who misspell a single letter in a concluding oath sworn to the Terran Imperator.

Such illicit archive harvesting and company infiltration all leads up to a very hostile takeover, where misbegotten fraudulent preparations are followed up with weapons and violence. Although private henchmen and mercenary muscle is ordinarily employed by the raiders in question, most understand that a succesful guild coup or corporate putsch also requires backing by crooked high-ranking administrators and bribed enforcers of law and order, often hailing from the esteemed Adeptus Arbites itself, acting as if to uphold the Lex Imperia against offending criminals. The martial contingent is crucial, for many raider seizures turn into bloody corridor wars.

Raider captures must be swift and ruthless to succeed, and so often involve gunfights, harrowing on-the-spot torture and the blasting of locked doors and vaults in order to speedily acquire control of assets, key charters and chief personnel. Indeed many an owner or important stakeholder in a sanctified business venture has found themself signing off their life's work and main inheritance at gunpoint, not seldom with their spouse and children under lethal threat from raider henchmen or officious Arbitrators who declare every word they utter in protest to be perjury and blasphemy toward His Divine Majesty. After all, to question your masters and betters is ultimately to question the Emperor Himself, and such heinous words demand the most brutal of punishments. The disaster of the Horus Heresy must not be repeated!

Purge the deviant. Slay the malcontent. Burn the heretic.

And so nefarious plots and clandestine confiscations threaten any actor in the world of industry and commerce with instant ruin and howling despair. Untold numbers of guilders, publicani, managing directors and collegii wake in cold sweat, keeping discreet personal weapons and hired guards close at hand at all times, all the while throwing paranoid glances over their shoulders at any unexpected noise. Their precautions and hired armsmen might fend off a sloppy attempt at corporate conquest, but they know full well that they stand little chance once their hidden enemies palm off handsomely enough to involve planetary or voidholm officials and law enforcement in substantial numbers, or, God-Emperor forbid, the harsh and unforgiving fist of the Adeptus Arbites.

Thus there is no safe haven even for those in possession of wealth and power within the star-spanning domains of the Lord and Saviour of Humanity. No safeguard against a baleful fate, no shield from the sudden ruination.

Such is the state of our species, in the darkest of futures.

For there is no loophole through which to escape the devil's contract which man has signed.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only predation.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2020 9:45 am 
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Proscription List

In a dark age of ravenous madness, doom may come at the stroke of a quill.

An enduring hallmark of His Divine Majesty's astral realm is its tendency toward cannibalizing ancient technology and society alike, feeding hungrily on hidden reserves and sometimes hollowing out its own foundations. The modus operandi of the Imperium of Man is one of answering challenges to its power with an increased input of manpower and resources fed into the meatgrinder, applied inefficiently at the best of times with a callous disregard for any human suffering thus inflicted. Oftentimes, the resultant hardships, mass death and agony will be met by Imperial masters with utter contempt for the unbecoming weakness and wretchedness on display, or even with a cruel glee at the righteous cleansing of the frail and the deviant.

One widespread phenomenon of such an Imperial eagle's eating of its own children, is that of proscription, namely a decree of condemnation to death and outlawry (or in rare cases banishment) of undesired Imperial subjects of means. Proscriptions are death lists placed in public places, which declare all enlisted names of those damned to have been deprived of all privileges, property and rank, and to be abandoned by the God-Emperor's holy light. Proscription decrees likewise invites any enterprising and loyal Imperial subjects to participate in manhunts to root out and kill outlaws in order to receive fine rewards in exchange for presentation of proof of deed fulfilled, such as decapitated heads of the proscribed ones.

Naturally, all estates, vessels and fortunes of proscripts will be seized by those Adepts or local rulers which issued the decree. This confiscation of property is quite often followed by grand public auctions in order to bring in funds quickly, during which vast tracts of real estate, manufactoria ownership certificates, collegia shares and other lucrative possessions can often be purchased at very low rates by ruthless speculators and moneyed vultures of others' demise. Whoever offers proof of slaying the proscribed gain either a small share in this looting of the victim's belongings, or a handsome set bounty.

Oftentimes, the strenuous demands of total war on ten thousand different war fronts will act as a spur for both the Adeptus Terra and rulers of worlds and voidholms alike to seize resources of Imperial subjects and swiftly raise additional funds for a treasury in crisis through extraordinary means of declaring opponents and propertied unfortunates to be outlaws. At other times, internal power struggles among rulers, with their combined need for more revenue and the elimination of both rival factions and emerging centres of power alike may result in decrees of proscription. It is likewise not uncommon for such enlisting of condemned outlaws to be born out of insanity, paranoia or a sadistic wish to display great power among planetary governors, voidholm despots, regional satraps and other high-ranking masters and betters.

As a rule, proscriptions do not touch the very highest of noble houses since they are too powerful and too dangerous to fall for such a common, petty ploy. Instead, proscriptions tend to prey upon thousands upon thousands of middling guilders, nobles, officials and military potentates, many of which may constitute part of some rival upper nobility house's support base, not seldom in a client-patron relationship. Thus proscriptions may indirectly target the supporters of higher nobility rivals to the ruler in a vicious attempt to undermine their influence, without being so tactless and blundering as to directly including any of the highest aristocratic enemy houses' names on the condemnation lists.

The posting of proscription lists in fora and other public places is the signing of a death note, sparking frenzied activity on the streets as professional bounty hunters and enterprising Imperial subjects alike scramble to hunt down those marked for death and destruction. Sometimes, mobs of manhunters need to overcome deadly bodyguards and noble house armsmen in frantic shootouts or even outright outbursts of urban warfare, yet more commonly the guards themselves will turn their weapons upon their master or mistress since they happen to stand in a prime position to reap the proscription rewards ahead of the greedy competition. That competition is indeed fierce and many-headed, because special grants of legal privileges, debt annulment and manumission from slavery and indentured servitude in exchange for handing in the head of a proscript traitor remain potent and tempting rewards for the lowliest of thralls and menials among the filthy, teeming masses of humanity.

On hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and uncounted void habitats, there exist a vast flora of tales of fleeing and hiding proscripts, facing wildly different fates. Some outlaws are ratted out by servants or by their own family and friends, while many hide in ingenious or disgusting places for months or years on end. Others are mercifully spared due to their youth by one benevolent group of manhunters, only to be ceaselessly stalked by a second band, and end up offering themselves to the first group as a way for their death to reward the more worthy beneficiaries. Yet others go underground or flee into the wilderness, slag glacier or Underhive, and these exiles tend to change their appearance with new hairstyles, the growing of beards, tattoos, bionics and a plethora of other means; sometimes ending up as members or even leaders of criminal gangs, and occassionally being found out and exterminated many years after the original proscription list was first posted. The stories are endless, yet most end with a grim fate in store for the running proscripts and hiding outlaws, who eventually succumb to overlord-approved murder, often of a tortuous nature.

As a rule, the announcement of a proscription decree is accompanied by children, grandchildren and other kin and descendants of the outlaws being both marked with infamy and forbidden to seek public office or rank, and likewise it is not possible to inherit any property of proscribed people. Large proscription campaigns may often leave a shunned caste of untouchables behind, whose damning status as the seed of proscripts will continue to brand their descendants for untold generations to come. In some cultures, the spouse of the outlaw may not marry again, and all their children are rendered illegitimate with all the stigma thus attached.

Many variants of proscription decrees go so far as to condemn the entire clan, house and extended family of proscriped ones to the same bloody end as the intended individual targets (usually the masters of households or clan leaders). Thus unnumbered bloodlines have met their collective end at the hands of greedy mob violence, treacherous bodyguards or stalking bounty hunters, all pursuing the high prizes of death lists in a violent field day where one man dead is another man's bread. Most victims of proscriptions are beheaded by their banes, and these bloody trophies and proofs of deed are often proudly displayed in a city's Forum Imperialis or other esteemed public locations.

It goes without saying that the most abominable punishments are reserved for any misguided weaklings and malcontents who would seek to help and hide the condemned proscripts, for the Imperium cannot abide such treachery toward the sacred order of Him on Terra.

Thus the Imperium of Man is characterized by inevitable, mechanistic cruelty, playing out in repeating cycles of purges, plundering and bloodbaths. Here, no amount of wealth, title and influence can truly shield you from the horror and ruin of a sudden downfall, and no amount of claiming your rights nor protesting your innocence can protect you from a righteously delivered death by better Imperial subjects than yourself. To find your name on an Imperial proscription list is to lose everything you own and everyone you hold dear, for even an unlikely survival as a wretched outlaw in the gutter will mean surrendering all that was precious to you, except your own life.

And so the creaking and rusty wheels of Imperial power continue turning with an unstoppable momentum, grinding hopes and families beneath their oppressive weight, and crushing guilty and innocent alike with an indifferent heart of stone. Century after century, they grind on, their long route one of barbaric cruelty and demented sacrifice leading toward nought but a dead end. Millennium after millennium, the wheels of Imperial power keep on turning, lubricated by the blood of its victims, their names forgotten by a faceless tyranny that was never shy of devouring its own people. Such is the Age of Imperium.

Such is the depravity of man.

Such is the future that awaits us all.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is nowhere to hide.

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