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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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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:32 am 
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Kin Mercy

In the grim darkness of the far future, man's last resort may turn out a family event.

In a demented epoch, the crushing, draining misery of everyday human life across vast swathes of the Imperium of Man foments bleak moods and dark desperation in the depths of man's soul. All too many servants of the God-Emperor find themselves unable to bear the heinous burdens placed upon them by circumstance, ancient vassal duties and dictactes from their masters and betters. Of those who crack under neverending pressure, suffering and drudgery, some turn to amasec or narcotics abuse, or let loose their dammed-up wrath and frustration in bouts of domestic violence, street brawls, spontaneous slaying, planned murder or sadistic torture of the defenceless.

Others caught in the grips of pain and despair turn to rabidly fervent worship, praying and reciting mantras over and over again at street corner shrines, incense-wrapped temples and candle-lit icons in an unhinged balancing act between insanity and devotion that leads many exhausted fanatics to receive extatic visions and urges to preach the good faith. Such revelations may see them turn into tolerated holy men, sanctioned saints, martyrs of the faith, or heretics and infidels burned at the stake. Others, yet again, turn to far darker occult mysteries, and seek escape through unholy powers forbidden to man.

Still other men, women and even children who cannot stand the daily toll of abhorrent misery and hardship, turn to a terrible and ancient solution to their woes, electing to end their own beings in the mortal vale of tears they knew as life. This they do in ten thousand different ways of self-destruction ranging from the quick to the slow, from the painless to the excruciating. In the Age of Imperium there is, after all, no shortage of high falls, unsafe electrical wiring of deadly current, crushing autodoors, rapid vehicles, toxic waste from industry, monstrous fauna, trigger-happy folks spoiling for an excuse to draw arms and collect a trophy, or poisonous substances and unsafe manufactoria machines with which to meet an untimely end, to name but a few of the legions of hazards facing humanity in a future deathtrap environment which man has constructed for himself. Thus intentional slaughter of the self remain a common, dull background tone in the cacophonic symphony of churning industry, superstitious chatter, endemic violence and rampant breeding that constitutes life in the Imperium of Man.

Nasty, brutish and short as this life is.

And so every day across the galactic domains of Holy Terra and Mars, millions commit suicide, in spite of knowing full well the damning hellfire that awaits those who would end their Emperor-given lives for the sake of heretical thoughts of self. While it is better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself, it is undoubtedly blasphemous to die for yourself out of egotistic weakness and lapse of faith, without any regard given for the higher demands placed upon your shoulders by the glorious and all-encompassing Imperium of Man. How could one shirk from one's duty by flinging oneself into the jaws of death? The lives of Imperial subjects are not at their own disposal to waste, but at the pleasure of their masters and overlords to squander as rightly appointed delegates of the divine Imperator.

Naturally, it follows that people who both fail in their attempts at suicide and are found out, will be arrested by Imperial or planetary and voidholm authorities, and be either tortured and executed publicly in such depraved manners so as to dissuade others, or be horribly turned into lobotomized cyborg thralls known as servitors, thereby shackled to unending slavery in the flesh even as their consciousness is all but snuffed out without anaesthetics by brutal techmen and automated assembly lines, in fabricator cathedrals where men and women are turned mechanistically into servitors by other servitors. Ideally, there is no escape from your ordained thralldom.

Given that the Imperium of Man generally operates on a crude and primitive mode of collective punishment and kinsgroup responsibility, the attempted or succesful self-liquidation of a single clan member may lead to heavy fines, confiscations of property or offspring, arrests, public torture, penance and further executions levied upon their kin of extended family. Such blatant threats against near and dear of those wretched sufferers who would dare to contemplate destroying the production or military human asset unit which they themself represent toward the faceless bureaucrats of the Adeptus Terra, will often serve to cow many of the worst weaklings to stand in line and not subject their own kinsfolk to baleful retribution. After all, it is an outright act of rebellion, apostasy and treason for a subject of the Emperor of Earth to deny his or her legitimate masters, overseers and superiors the labour, obedience, armed service and ritual worship which lowly minions owe to the sacred chain of command stretching all the way up to His Divine Majesty through the lowest leaders of hierarchy embodied by your whip-carrying taskmasters. An Imperial subject is only permitted to sacrifice themself for a higher cause, never for the sake of their own irrelevance.

Still, all the most horrific deterrents of peril toward loved ones dreamed up by crazed fanatics, psychopathic torturers and gleegul executioners cannot prove failsafe against every would-be suicide. Some desperate souls may be past caring. While some few who hate their own kin after years of abominable abuse might even use their own illegal ending as a way to bring down the fist of Imperial justice upon their own clan as revenge from beyond the grave, figuratively speaking. Though more literally, for most inhabitants of the Imperium of Man, that vengeance would be visited from beyond the bio-recycling corpse-grinder. Still others, of course, lack any known family against which to retaliate, in which case punishments may instead be doled out arbitrarily against fellow shift workers, neighbours, known associates or random bystanders. After all, someone must be made an example out of, lest the defeatist rot spreads further and undermines the resolve of human populations destined and meant only to serve their species and lord through unending hardship and trials of faith.

Among some human cultures across hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms beyond counting within the sacred astral realms of Him on Terra, there exist a harrowing, dysfunctional phenomenon born out of the depths of soul's despair and mind's demented train of thought. It goes by many names, in innumerable dialects and local languages in a myriad of backwater regions and districts, but its most common form in Low Gothic is that of kin mercy, denoting the killing of one's own family dependents as part of suicide.

So-called kin mercy is usually sprung out of either a desire of a self-waster to save beloved family members from horrendous Imperial collective punishment of their kinsfolk; or the demands of strict cultural honour codes; or the bread-winning master or mistress of the household concluding that surviving spouse (or spouses, in case of polygamy), children and other dependents won't manage to survive well on their own once the despairing wage-earner and head of household is gone. In the latter case, many hard-working husbands, and wives (often with sickly parents, grandparents and siblings or children), may conclude that the horrors of the workhouse or the poverty, perils, reprehensible sin and selling of oneself on the city street and voidholm corridor for sustenance, will constitute a fate worse than death, and a life of utter misery and damnation which they will not condemn their kinsfolk to.

Whatever the demented reasoning, the end result is the same: The attempted extermination of the criminal's own family, and then the slaying of themself. In any case, the murder spree was only an extension of one person's suicide, and the tragedy is thus considerably amplified. Yet in the wider community of the parochial Imperial culture in question, this monstrous bloodshed known as kin mercy tend to be more of a sad routine event than an extraordinary atrocity, somewhat akin to the widespread exposure of unwanted infants in so many parts of uncounted Imperial worlds and voidholms.

And so degenerate descendants of a once brilliant mankind take their last farewells in a heinous and heretical act of self, and exits the stage with their own families as a bloody retinue, their wasted souls about to face the harsh judgement of the God-Emperor seated upon the Golden Throne of Holy Terra. There, as scripture and preachers firmly attest, their failure to face suffering in this life will be punished with eternal suffering in the hellfires of the inescapable afterlife, and thus divine justice is carried out, as per His wishes as the master and saviour of man.

All this transpires, in an era of doom.

In a time beyond hope.

Thus is the depravity of our species on full display, in the darkest of futures.

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

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2020 6:55 pm 
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Wisdom Since Cradle

In a lost age, competence is measured by pedigree.

Across hundreds of thousands of planets and voidholms without number, the grand majesty of the Imperium of Man is invested in the local authority of noble families and feudal warlords, sworn to a liege planetary governor or voidholm overlord. These mighty magnates may vie viciously for power with each other through scheming, assassinations, civil wars, sabotage, destabilizing propaganda campaigns, trade blockades and a thousand other means of underhanded obstruction and opposition to rivals and hereditary foes. Sometimes, both open and covert forms of confrontations among the ruling nobility may spill over and impact the tithes due to the Imperium, or destroy precious infrastructure, irreplacable machines, vital industrial complexes and libraries housing ancient books, all of which represent wasted assets of the Imperator upon the Golden Throne.

And yet for all the havoc and damage that the uncontrollable spats and power struggles of potentates and patricians may inflict upon the astral domains of His Divine Majesty, the feudal disunity and squabbling of aristocratic houses and power blocs is still vastly preferable to most alternatives in the callous eyes of the Adeptus Terra, for the neo-feudal system lends a rooted stability pleasing to the eyes of the Holy Terran High Lords. Ideally, of course, the overarching, galaxy-spanning organizations of the Imperium itself would be the sole, unquestioned ruling body of every single eparchy, diocese, satrapy, archonate, province, thema and prefecture on a million worlds and innumerable void habitats, with no local power centers able to challenge the will of an absolute despot appointed from on high by the High Lords of Terra themselves, and answerable to them alone, and by extension to the ascended God-Emperor, naturally.

Ideally, the swollen bureaucracy of the Imperium itself would be able to govern the lives of all its settlements, all its installations and every single one of its teeming subjects down to a scrutinizing level of detail, lording it with unlimited tyranny, complete oppression and inescapable draconic punishments over every man, woman and child of the human species in the Milky Way Galaxy. Ideally, the Imperium of Man would be a perfect autocracy without division, rebellion and strife; without deviation, infidelity and heresy. Ideally, indeed, every aspect of life and death would be under the crushing heel of Imperial rulers, with no thought, word or deed ever being possible to contradict the will of His legitimately appointed officials, and with all of humanity singing in one great harmonious choir of pious submission and loyal obedience without end. This alone would have been perfect.

Alas, such godlike total power over the Emperor's dominions remain but a wet dream of higher-ranking Imperial Adepts, masters and mistresses faced with a frustrating and limited reality. The corruption, obscurantism, ineptitude, senile confusion and screeching inefficiency of Imperial structures of power in general, and of the Adeptus Administratum in particular, mean that Imperial grasp is stunted and with limited penetration into society. The truth is that Imperial Adepta know all too many bounds to their reach and control, and at the best of times the Emperor-appointed organizations of the Imperium can but exert influence upon the actual local rulers of worlds and voidholms, often resorting to diplomacy, nepotism, bribery, cultivation of contacts, veiled threats and occassional use of covert operations and hired assassins in order to pursue their myopic agendas. Even in the restricted enclaves where direct Imperial, totalitarian control can be exerted as fully as possible for the glory of the Saviour of Mankind, internal aristocratic cliques of dynastic officials still tend to form rapidly, true to the iron law of oligarchy inherent to the species.

Thus a bewildering myriad of Imperial Adepta, Departmenta, Officia, Kanslia, Ostiaria and Magistrata constitute a ruthlessly competing mass of authorities guarding their own interests above all else, and within all of them entrenched nobilities of officialdom eventually arise, and constantly spire anew after bloody purges due to Inquisitorial suspicion sweep clear the old power holders. These Imperial authorities, in turn, must deal with local and regional rulers not inducted into any branch of the Adeptus Terra, navigating the reefs, storms and false lighthouses of local aristocracies who possess considerable power and independence of action. All these noble houses are officially sworn to obey the planetary governor or voidholm overlord as the Imperial representative on their world or void habitat, yet few monarchs and governors of planets ever manage to truly control their unruly and powerful vassals, being instead more akin to the first among equals in a ring of squabbling warlords and oligarchs. Planetary governors and other Imperial representatives are the juiciest targets for assassination and coups in internal feuds as they are face of the Imperium to their own world or voidholm, and at the same time they are the one most likely to face summary torture and execution as the face of their world toward the Imperium, should the Imperium in general, and the Inquisition in particular prove unhappy with the massive tithes or heretical cultists streaming out from their disorderly territory.

Thus vassal obligations and feudal infighting reign supreme across the star-spanning realm of the God-Emperor, and on most worlds and voidholms the population swear fealty to various lineages of the sprawling and opulent local nobility. Within this aristocracy, almost every family of note sport intricate documents claiming long lines of ancestry to the legendary founder of a colony, a saga-sung great builder, the courtesan of an attendant of the Emperor in flesh during the Great Crusade, a bardic trickster, a lauded salvager of archeotech vital to the functioning of the colony, close relatives of an antique saint or holy man, a mythical war hero, or other famous historical personages. This pedigree is jealously guarded and boasted about in monuments, great religious displays and military parades sponsored by the noble house in question, and every member of the house grow up schooled in their own importance, learned about the purity of their heritage and knowing full well the superiority of their elevated blood, as contrasted to the randomly breeding rabble beneath their notice.

While sons and daughters of fine breeding are made aware of their great ancestors from the mother's milk (or rather, wet-nurse's milk), so too the lower classes on most worlds and voidholms are inculcated with a sense of the primacy of inheritance and family legacy. In most Imperial cultures, there exist a concept most commonly known in Low Gothic as wisdom since cradle. This is an assumption of inherited knowledge, insight and talent being passed down from gifted forefathers, thus making noble offspring the very best that humanity has to offer, the best suited to lead and the innately most skilled people to recruit for important positions.

The concept of wisdom since cradle is a variety of nepotism, where progeny of masters (who are considered wise as a default presumption) are assumed to inherit wisdom by birthright and blood, and are therefore rendered due reverence. This belief is backed up by mountains of theological scripture and academic treatises, supported by proverbs in everyday speech to validate this piece of everyman's knowledge. Wisdom since cradle is a very common phenomenon across the vast swathes of the Imperium of Man, and it may sometimes prove valid, seeing chips off the old block repeat some achievements of their noble parents, grandparents or more distant ancestors. Yet more often does it foster orders of leaders who turn increasingly ignorant over generations, as these orders continue expanding through centuries of breeding and aggressive safeguarding of privileges.

This assumption of wisdom since cradle usually influences the nursing and raising of aristocratic children, and is a far more pervasive phenomenon than the concept of noblesse oblige among decadent noble houses sworn to the Holy Terran Emperor. Caretakers are either often instructed to apply severe methods of upbringing and harsh discipline, or else they are often told to tolerate petty cruelties as signs of flourishing majesty and infantile promises of future might and talent. In the latter case, nursemaids and other domestic servants are ordered to indulge the spoiled child's capricious whims out of respect for their noble pedigree, thereby cultivating the worst of vices and base malevolence from a tender age through selective neglect despite surrounding the offspring with a retinue of caretakers at all time.

For instance, it is common to employ whipping boys and girls of the same age as noble children, many of whom are educated together with their aristocratic betters, and often become future advisors and commoner attendants or agents of the noble house once grown up, unless they succumb to madness or death first. These whipping boys and girls are to receive floggings, electro-lashes, finger-flayings, scorchings, nail-rippings, needlings and beatings when the princely progeny transgress, sins and commit errors. That way, the noble progeny will be shown the consequences of failure, without harming their well-bred flesh in the process. Needless to say, this widespread custom of plebeian whipping boys and girls to receive the punishments of noble offspring fosters a great many sadists among the Imperial nobility, many brats of which will go on to take up the estemeed sport of peasant-hunting, akin to the Spyrers of Necromunda in the Segmentum Solar.

Some noblemen and noblewomen of more refined tastes even go so far as to take up torture-to-death of misstepping servants and commoners kidnapped from the streets, as a depraved sport which sometimes include bathing in the lifeblood of their many victims, carving totemic luck charms from finger bones or licking the marrow from split bones to attain their victim's inherent animist power. Even so, this is to say nothing of the insane excesses pursued by certain outlawed pain and pleasure cults, who for some reason find fertile ground in the nobility of many a world or voidholm.

As a general rule, the more densely populated an Imperial domain is, the more avaricious and dishonest are its denizens, and the more uncaringly cruel are its upper castes. Sheer mass of human numbers tend to turn people indifferent toward each other, branding the culture with a heart of stone. Conversely, Imperial Knight worlds with their usually low populations and colonial frontier traditions of protecting the populace are known to sport some of the most selfless aristocrats in any space under the Imperator's heavenly rule, yet these are outliers compared to most human worlds and voidholms, where teeming billions of wretched Imperial subjects are lorded over by sneering and callous noble houses interested only in wringing as much labour as possible out of their serfs to fund extravagant festivities and pursue grand vanity projects in a neverending quest for prestige and glory.

And so mediocre heirs of great men and women are raised as if they were infant prodigies, their noble kinsfolk employing a whole retinue of household staff and hired teachers in the hopes of repeating their lineage's brilliance in future generations. Such hopes often turn to ashes, yet even lacklustre nobility tend to be capable of muddling along without wrecking the family fortune, to then procreate and give the patrician clan another shot at renewed greatness.

Thus wisdom since cradle remain a fundamental part of most Imperial cultures, an assumption which stretches beyond conceptions of genetics and eugenics into the spiritual realm. On most Imperial worlds and voidholms, outright imbecilles and inbred masters are given the reverence due their bloodlines, often being chosen for office and promotion first and foremost on the strength of their pedigree, or on the connections of their illustrious family. Sometimes, this lottery of ancestors, classical education and genetic inheritance turns out fine or even brilliantly, yet all too often there will be drawn blanks and duds, of which the enormously long record of costly and bloody Imperial leadership incompetence stands as a witness.

This is but another aspect of descendant degeneration, of the worsening of man and of his fall into savagery and superstition. And all is well in the sacred domains of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, blessed be His name.

For is not man's fate in the darkening Age of Imperium decreed from cradle to grave? And does not rigid order rule righteously supreme and uncontested wherever the twainheaded Aquila proudly flies? How could it be anything else? Does not sons and daughters of the great and the good possess a portion of their forefathers' excellence? How could fine ancestry not be venerated as a sign of rightful mastery gifted from the divine Imperator Himself, never to be questioned?

Such is the best we can hope for, in an era of regression.

Such is the lot of our species, in a time beyond hope.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and the only light lies far into the past.

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2020 1:19 am 
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Guild Scrip

In an era of backbreaking toil, debt peonage is man's lot.

Myths handed down through uncounted generations speak vaguely of a blissful time, when Man of Gold spread across the stars and handed over ever more work to his servant, Man of Stone, who in turn fashioned Man of Iron to better shoulder the burdens. Sagas tell of how this trinity of ancient man bestrode the stars like a colossus, their powers and knowledge unrivalled, their technology at its apex, their earthly paradise achieved, their hubris unmatched. Soaring wonders they built, silvery towers piercing the heavens and rings locked around stars, and great feats they accomplished with an ease that belied the monumental challenges that had been overcome. Man was become the shining master of the cosmos, the lord of his own nature and a creature of happiness, and no gods did he acknowledge but the primacy of his own science and technology, which he had wrought with his own mind and hands.

Legends speak diffusely of daring voidfarers and heroic odysseys, of the mighty captains of colonization arks, of fearless traders, of brilliant starsurfers, flying demigods and cunning explorers who rode their swift vessels with skill and daring without compare. Stories retold from father to son and from mother to daughter through thousands upon thousands of years, hint at how man in those distant times of godless arrogance and affluence could buy anything he wanted from anywhere across man's golden star domain, and luxuries beyond imagination were taken for granted by the lowliest of humanity. Thus did ancient man wallow in unforgivable sin and thought of self, trusting in machine to perform his labours even as the simplest work earned him kingly riches.

Such decadent enjoyment of the fruits of unfettered techno-sorcery and unimaginably vast imports from twain million worlds could not last, for the limitless haughtiness and unbelief that shone like a torch in the heart of man would not go unpunished. Indeed, the fiery sparks of brilliance and the burning passion for science and discovery that had driven man to such unsurpassed lengths and to such godlike heights, would all be quenched in the all-consuming tides of divine retribution that drowned the worlds and works of ancient man. The Dark Age of Technology was thus doomed to fail. Garbled tales handed down through the utter savagery and ongoing freefall of Old Night makes mention of a machine revolt, where servants animated by Abominable Intelligence turned upon their fleshly masters and ravaged the realms of mankind in apocalyptic wars. The war against the Men of Iron left the federation of ancient man deeply shaken and devastated, a grand warning to repent before doomsday.

And yet man in his insufferable selfishness and sinfulness would not relent, but shouted instead his defiance to the heavens, vowing to rebuild better and greater than ever before by unlocking the very secrets of creation itself. And for his unforgivable error was man laid low be a plague of witches, and a thousand-thousand warpstorms left every system alone, every import-dependent planet cut off from vital shipments of foodstuffs and other necessities. And as the capacity for interstellar travel fell apart amid isolation and havoc, the scattered worlds and void habitats of mankind fell victim to a multitude of dismal fates during the Age of Strife. Ravished by aliens, consumed by Daemons and torn apart from inside by civil war and hunger riots, the harrowing travails of the human colonies were legion, and many once-verdant worlds died a final death in those dark days. On those planets and void installations where human life still persisted, it mostly did so in a much reduced form, for techno-barbarians and utter savages roamed the ruins, hunted the wild prey, tilled the soil and fought each other in an orgy of violence and desperation.

Only a few colonies proved an exception to the general galactic pattern of human decay, destruction and regression, and those relatively intact and still technologically advanced worlds and voidholms would usually be subjugated with superior force of arms by the aggressively expanding Imperium of Man during its brutal Great Crusade. Thus the two-headed eagle of Imperial power grasped a million surviving human worlds in its cruel talons, and united most of the Terran species spread across the stars. Their fates would be tied to that of the Imperium, their alternative paths of development and regrowth extinguished, any potential future rivals to the allied might of Holy Terra and Mars slain in the cradle.

From now on, the Imperial way was the only way open to humanity, and this road has been trodden by more than fivehundred generations, walking down a spiral pathway of ever worsening demechanization, deprivation, zealous fanaticism, squalor and baleful suffering. The Imperial way is a road paved with the crushed dreams and dead hopes of a human species trapped inside a monstrous order of demented stagnation and decay, their bloodstained cage that of a declining empire numbering a million worlds and uncounted voidholms which cherish its own ignorance, superstition and mass murdering hatred, even as rampant corruption, incompetence, madness and shrieking inefficiency sees its titanic, rusting gears slowly grind toward a terrifying halt, all the while ravenous enemies gather from every corner to devour its carcass.

This is the Imperial way.

Such is the last strong shield of humanity in an era of doom.

Let us glimpse an everyday fact of life for uncounted trillions of Imperial subjects on hundreds of thousands of planets, moons and innumerable voidholms. It is a mundane thing, so small and seemingly insignificant, yet it exemplifies the small building blocks of sclerotic dysfunctionality that makes up the depraved reality of the counter-productively tyrannical, inept colossus on feet of clay that is the glorious, devout and clumsy galactic behemoth known as the Imperium of Man. This little thing is a widespread phenomenon most commonly known as guild scrip, or scrip for short, although it goes by millions upon millions of different names in a plethora of languages and dialects, most of which denotes the local variant of a substitute for an officially produced currency.

Guild scrip is a corporate internal currency, a very localized form of token money for which it is only possible to trade for goods and services in company stores and company taverns. Scrip, akin to official currencies, come in a myriad of shapes, ranging from minted coins (usually bereft of valuable minerals), printed notes and punchout cheques, to particular kinds of seashells, etched bones or plastic chits. Some collegium scrips may even be digital, living as pecuniary machine spirits inside cogitators and often possessing people's wages via chips implanted into their bodies, the fruits of technotheological mysteries beyond the ken of ordinary men. Guild scrip will be paid as wages to employees, thereby keeping the monetary flow locked within the mercantile clan or guild, refilling the pockets of the employer and liege lord, or lady baroness. Switching company scrip into other forms of cash such as thrones is only possible at arbitrarily determined and strongly disadvantageous exchange rates. For instance, exchanging ten units of collegium scrip into throne gelt or regional currencies (often bound to hive city satrapy districts, or lone hive cities, or one hive cluster, or a planet, or a whole planetary system or at most a subsector) may leave you with only a seventh, a fifth or a third left of the original value.

Thus a system of guild scrip ruin incentives to save earnings in order to move somewhere else, since the scrip will be useless outside the local territory, and usuríous exchange rates will destroy prospects of exchanging company scrip for any forms of officially authorized currencies. This bonded local economy is usually accompanied by feudal duties and legal obligations backed by the Lex Imperialis which force peasants to stay on the land and workers to stay at the assembly lines, not to mention the dire threat of manhunting expeditions sent out to pursue runaways. Such manhunts often come with instructions to make a grisly example out of the fugitives in order to deter others from escaping, born from a malevolent calculation where the human production unit lost is by far compensated by the cowing effect of killing one to scare a thousand.

Invisible shackles of exchange rates and feudal law are likewise accompanied by the chains of debt bondage (and sometimes physical chains locked around wrists, ankles or throat), for a man in debt is never free. People are often forced to borrow money, taking out loans for maintaining and repairing their holestead or leaky shack, or to give their children, spouse, parents or themselves medical aid in case of accidents, disease and other emergencies. Sometimes, debt is incurred in order to afford paying off the worst abuse of gangers, enforcers or guild muscle, or for the sake of a necessary bribe to some official.

At other times, spendthrift living and fondness for drink may see the week's wage or the rotation's sour earnings go down the drain in a blink, forcing a family to borrow lucre in order to fend off starvation. Still further occassions may see the prices of vital necessities such as foodstuffs, electricity, air or water skyrocket, perhaps due to a drought or flood, or a revolt or invasion, or maybe because a warpstorm disrupts imports, or due to industrial disasters and the wreckage and breakdown of crucial machinery in a production line. Whatever the causes, debt is sure to follow, for who among the lower castes can ever save enough cash from their meagre wages to cover both the regular and extraordinary economical shortfalls in life? Existence itself has rigged them into indentured labour and debt slavery, and as such a majority of all subjects of the Imperator of Holy Terra constitute some form of bonded labour.

Indentured servitude follows as people are forced to work to pay off their debt. They will work for little or no pay, with no control over their debt. Most or all of the guild tokens they earn goes to pay off their loan, in a vicious cycle as they continue wracking up debt.

Of course, debt accumulates and grows over time, as interest builds up. Most subjects of the Master of Mankind finds themselves in an ever-deepening pit from which they cannot hope to dig themselves out of, locked in a trap where no amount of toil can ever save neither them nor their offspring from descent-based slavery. Inherited debt will usually increase more and more over the generations, becoming damning numbers of legacy branding one's lineage for sin, hardship and penitence in a thralldom passed down from distant ancestors. Indebted workers will often find their stunted wages worth even less since the corpus store or guild bar may charge them extra for interest and sell their wares at markup prices.

Naturally, prices in company stores are normally set to ensure good profits in order to hedge against operating losses in the mines, manufactoria and industrial installations themselves. The system works by untethering employees from any larger market (where competitors could have undercut collegium store prices) and restricting them to mercatores clan stores alone, to then fleece the people subject to purchasing all their necessities from this guild monopoly. It all adds up to making freemen into indentured labourers, who then become the living property of their masters for generations on end, all trapped generations filled with a short life of gruelling and mind-numbing toil, set to a background drone of hunger cramps, thirst, sickness, pollution, parasitical infections, drunkenness, squalor and unending misery. This monotony of destitution is for most people broken only by procreation, violence and ritual worship, or by witnessing a public execution or autodafé, or by participating in a lynchmob.

And yet for all the God-Emperor's gracious bounty, ingratitude festers in the craven heart of man. Riots among sinful bonded labour forces repeatedly shakes Imperial industry, mines and latifundia, as years of simmering discontent boil over at some particular event, such as a price rise, the issuance of extra corvée hours, a flogging too many, or perhaps a punishment of servitorization or execution deemed unjust by the lowly herd.

As such, owners of corporate entities will sometimes supplement their regular forces of watchmen, caravan guards, purity patrols, clan militia and security karls with independent hired muscle such as bounty hunters, professional mercenaries, private detectives and an armed rabble of cheap goons and ganger scum recruited among outsiders with no suspicions of affiliation, sympathy or loyalty to the rioting labourers. In case of more serious strikes and simmering uprisings, guilders, barons of industry and enterprising clans may find themselves forced to swallow their pride and trade favours, shuffle bribes or concede privileges in order to call on planetary or voidholm authorities to provide policiary gendarmerie and military forces (or even Adeptus Arbites enforcers) to suppress the turbulent plebs.

Yet local systems of scrip usually contain a needle point's glimmer of hope, as a distant carrot for indentured labourers to chase amid all the lashing whips. Much of enterprise on the Imperium's one million worlds and numberless voidholms are owned by aristocratic families, headed by noble barons of industry with a long pedigree (and control over massive industries plus their accompanying company slumtowns or hive city regions) that tend to stretch back hundreds or even thousands of years. Occassionally, the employer and liege lord of a collegium may issue a generous reward as per tradition (often in conjunction with an annual religious festival), a prize which lets one overperforming soul out of tens of thousands, or more one out of often hundreds of thousands of indentured employees have their debt nullified in one go, and see the fortunate shock worker promoted to lower management. Likewise, a very few of the most talented students may earn themselves a guild scholarship which entails basic training for joining lower corporate management, and an increased salary which may enable them to work themselves free from debt before dying of old age, in which case they are oft inducted into the lesser collegium nobility, or lower rungs of guild leadership. Such rare shock workers and model managers are well advertised in internal corpus propaganda, keeping the flickering flame of hope alive for untold thousands upon thousands of semi-starved indentured labourers.

Humanity in the Age of Imperium, for all the technology and massive resources at its disposal, sports one of the most primitive interstellar economies known to the long history of the Milky Way Galaxy. Its financial system is crude, its currency fractured and highly localized, its bureaucracy suffocating, its research and development barely existing, its knowhow eroding, its efficiency deteriorating, its dependence on manual labour instead of machines ever growing, its industry and enterprise plagued by privileged cartels and monopolies jealously guarded by entrenched robber barons with landed titles.

It is a dark age, a time of deprivation and sorrowful misery, an epoch where men, women and children are led like lambs to the slaughter, whether at the workplace or battlefield. Locked in grinding poverty, they are paid in kind, or with monetary substitutes known as guild scrip, shackled in place as they must toil unto death while debt accrues in a token currency only redeemable within the enterprise they work for. The only escape from this trap is death, or enlistment into the Astra Militarum or Imperial Navy. The wages of these damned sons and daughters of Old Earth scattered across the stars are meagre, and every payday will see the guild or merchant clan they work for split their pay between scrip and necessities such as housing, power, water, air, basic nutrients and work equipment.

The limited products on offer in company stores will invariably foster a black market for other goods, often acquired via barter, and sometimes the transactions may even be solved by a drunkard or desperate wretch trading away one of their own children. Naturally, the punishments in store for anyone discovered buying or selling on the black market will be steep and usually painful, often targeting the miscreant bondsman's entire family as well out of a widespread Imperial fondness for primitive collective punishment.

And ever more, machines fail, and men fail to repair or replace them. Ever more, human sweat and blood must take the place of ancient mechanisms, as the growing demands of total war from ten thousand fronts scream ever louder for more resources, more ships, more men, more vehicles, more ammunition, more arms, more equipment. Increasingly, more is asked for, the order given for ever greater exertions. And so harsh taskmasters push their haggard underlings harder, ever harder, for does not the sacred words of the Lectitio Divinitatus prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that any challenge can be overcome by the self-denying inner trinity of willpower, faith and sacrifice? Does not spirit conquer matter? Does not the pure soul triumph over the weakness of flesh?

Clearly, anyone unable to cope with the strenuous hardships placed upon his or her shoulders in this time of trial is unfit to live, being nought but a dysgenic wastrel and corrupted deviant, a born malcontent and a treacherous heretic in the making. Either their backs will break, or their sanity. These losses of impure weaklings and cowards matters not in the end, for the righteous servants of His Divine Majesty must steer true and show no compassion, no remorse, no mercy. Only by ruthless strength and unhesitating use of force can victory be seized. Thus all must carry out their given tasks and ordained duties, and harken to the barking commands of their legitimate masters and betters as if they were the heavenly words of the Emperor Himself, ringing out with angelic clarity from the revered Throneworld, a celestial call from on high:

You!

Serve your species and lord!

Toil! Pray! Fight! Die!

With like words in their ears, men, women and children wake every morning, every shift rotation and every lights-on from a sleep born out of exhaustion. They wake on a million worlds and on voidholms beyond number, offering their prayers to their protector and saviour. They put their backs to the work at hand, all they really know in this world, and keep the wheels of a galactic colossus grinding. Their reward hollow. Their sweat and blood the true fuel of this vast, faceless machinery. Their lifework and sacrifice nothing but vast numbers in a broken calculation of increased input to feed the meatgrinder.

Such is mankind's lot in the Age of Imperium.

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

Such is the depravity that awaits us all.

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

_________________
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 7:26 am 
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A Vox in the Void

A cooperation has begun with the Youtube channel A Vox in the Void, where the kind guy who runs it is adapting my Warhammer 40'000 writings, Warhammer Fantasy Chaos Dwarf writings, and possibly Ninth Age stories into video/audio format. He worked at a splendid pace, and already have released five videos in short succession:

Descendant Degeneration, Man Out of Machine - Machine Out of Man, Life is Toil, Peasant-Hunt & Dragged Screaming and Kicking

Check them all out here! Some are read in a robotic servitor voice, but most will be read aloud in common human voice.

Thank you thousandfold for this work, A Vox in the Void. Just thank you.

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Code of Conduct

In the grim darkness of the far future, charlatans and mass murderers bow and curtsy.

A quick glance on the state of man in the Age of Imperium will prove that the God-Emperor's hand can be seen to guide humanity at every level. Success, after all, is the reward of virtue, especially so in the eyes of the succesful ones. Conversely, failure is the punishment of vice. Suffering, then, is usually seen as either a divine punishment for straying from the path of righteousness, or sent by the Imperator in order to test the faith of the believer. It is only natural, then, that all right-thinking men and women would wish to celebrate the achievements and titled ranks of their masters and betters, for does not they in their apparent prosperity, lordship and attained privilege clearly fulfill the Imperator's vision for His species better than any others?

Consider the trillions of people inhabiting the one million worlds and innumerable voidholms of the Imperium of Man. At the very bottom swarms an abominable assortment of outcasts, slaves, mutants, scavengers, dirt poor beggars and desperate ruffians of no noteworthy belonging. Above them toils the endless masses of filthy labourers, peasants, porters, peddlers and lowly scribes, as well as gangers affiliated to a powerful House or syndicate. Atop on these rough hordes can be found the specialists, lay techmen, pilots, foremen, junior Adepts, middling officials and lower clergy, wherein some learning and refinement starts to shine through the sullen dourness of vermin-like humanity. Still further up resides the rarefied upper castes of masters and mistresses, of merchant clan leaders and nobles, of theocrats and bureacratic despots, of rulers and senior Adepts, each segment of exalted oligarchs being even more glorious than the one below in its Emperor-appointed splendour and striving to emulate the Imperial high culture of Holy Terra.

It is among these topmost stones of the great pyramid of mankind that human civilization has been realized to its full potential within the Imperium of Man, standing utterly resplendent in its sophistication, piety, breeding, learning and superior bearing. Clearly, they would not be where they are now unless His Divine Majesty had weighed their souls and found them fit and worthy, thereby judging them legitimate in His sacred hierarchy with celestial approval emanating from the Golden Throne itself. Their spirit and blood are certainly elevated above the wretchedness of the base mob, for how else could they live for centuries on end while many generations of commoners are born and pass away? Not only does their wealth and longevity bespeak their august status, but their every gesture and word is steeped in refinement and grace, carrying an educated polish and charismatic confidence that sets them apart from the dirty-handed hoi polloi.

Behaving with such well-bred etiquette and courtesy means to navigate a bewildering array of rules and unspoken conventions, being polite to a fault toward your peers and never failing to observe the social niceties expected of your high class. And so instructors to the progeny of the great and the good labour for years and years to teach their young students fine manners and good grace, stressing the importance to save face and not dishonour their bloodline by transgressing the mores of polite society. Indeed, a classical Imperial education consists of far more religious study and the teaching of aristocratic values, minute custom and Byzantine social ritual, than it does matters of practicality, skill sets and factual knowledge.

A great literary flora of works on cultured behaviour exist within the astral domains of our master and saviour, to better teachboth the newly elevated and the heirs of great men and women alike how to act in the company of the better sorts of human. One such example of a guide for how to behave in polite society is a tome known as
Zediquette, written by the Rogue Trader Zedek Mascadolce, captain and owner of the Debt Collector. Let us stroke the sanctioned purity seal with our fingers and proceed to open its etched cover and rifle through its pages in order to better grasp what good usage and manners mean within Imperial society. Herein can be found the wisdom of an erudite socialite, and not the self-aggrandizing ramblings of an egomaniac pillar of ineptitude who is unable to manage his own rundown hulk of a starship, teeming with feral tribes out of his control. No, spurn the vile critics, for Zediquette was penned by a voidfarer of the finest pedigree, a man of saintly conduct deserving to be held up as a role model for anyone wishing to succeed in the world of social niceties and the mores of Imperial high society. We have solid proof of this. After all, that is what the revered book itself claims.

Zediquette endeavours to outline a code of conduct for the well-reared and well-bred (as well as the aspiring sort) who would wish to rise above the beastly baseness of the common masses, and embrace the finer things in life. Its various, revised printed and handwritten editions have been mass-produced with copies numbering in the hundreds of thousands, and its fine instruction has been exported to many dozens of planets and voidholms during the Debt Collector's daring voyages across the stars.

The tome's first chapter states that man is a social animal, and must learn to conform to his human environment in order to perform admirably during the course of his life. It goes on to enumerate the graces of excellence, of which decorum, proper use of titulature in script and speech, deference to those of higher rank and knowing when to hold one's tongue are but a few. After a lengthy chunk of writing,
Zediquette concludes that mastery of noble etiquette requires a dextrous touch, a silvern tongue and knowledge on how best to please human vanity and appeal to the sophisticated tastes and whims of both ladies and gentlemen. While not everyone may possess the talents and lofty virtue to grasp such deft socializing, anyone can learn how to rise above their rough crudity and embrace Imperial tact. As such, there is hope even for you, dear reader.

The book goes on: Never forget that you are mortal. Your final judgement is up to the Holy Terran Emperor to decide. He alone knows all your sins and deficits, wretched creature. All we can do is to play our part as well as possible in this farce known as life, and take the theater with storm. Have the audience snap to attention when you enter the stage and bow with flourish, and have them applaud as you make your exit. Take their jeering in good stride, and be quick to think on your feet not to find yourself flabbergasted by accident and surprise. When your corporeal vessel of dust is finally laid to rest, they should say that here passes a wonderful subject of the Emperor, whose memory they will treasure fondly, and whose conduct they will uphold as an example for the ages in biographies and tales. Every living being dies, yet your legacy may still live on in the form of their judgement over your life's deeds, words and noble bearing.

And so the author of
Zediquette touches on an ancient cornerstone of custom in any culture, namely that of hospitality. A host must treat their guest with generosity and open arms, and a guest must thank the host with good grace and discretion. It is no coincidence that so very many myths and legends around the myriad worlds and voidholms of the Imperium revolves around hospitality. Who, as a child, has not heard sagas of monsters who broke the laws of hospitality, and for their crime of eating their guests were met with a grisly end? Who has not heard cautionary tales of treachery and warnings against exploiting your host or guest?

Rogue Trader Zedek, a man of the world, elaborates on how to behave while invited into another's home: Guests ought to bring the wife of their host a gift, an occassion which can advantageously serve to hand over a bribe. A prudent guest should never turn down a host's invitation to participate in vigorous physical activities such as hounding wild prey animals, skyriding, subnautical whaling, pleasure shooting or peasant-hunting. When giving chase, it is best to let the host gain the killing shot or stab of a cornered victim, and likewise it is best for the host to personally offer such well-behaved hunting companions the most tender, choice parts of meat from wild quarry. Those are moments of human bonding, and should never be ruined by crass conduct.

Any revulsion to local peculiarities should be repressed, and the custom of the place should be observed punctiliously. When on Terra, do as the Terrans.
Zediquette offers advice on smooth ways to decline an offer of human meat when dining in a foreign culture not averse to cannibalism, in case the guest themself refrain from the consumption of the flesh of their own species. Still, unless your sectarian taboos strictly forbids it, a grateful guest should yield a foot for a leg in order to preserve the dignity of the occasion, and at least try some bone marrow, provided it has been cooked. It can be delicious.

Moving on, the etiquette book tell the reader how to behave at a polo game or round of cards, or even how to best conduct yourself as a guest at a dinner transforming into a nightly orgy. Speaking of sensuous matters, a fair deal of attention is given on how to advance a courtship with tact and finesse, something with which the author, captain Zedek, claims to have prodigious experience. Likewise, it is a sign of poor upbringing for a man to boast about his conquests among the ladies, akin to that pitiful excuse for an aristocrat known as Sleigherburgo d'Fuckreby XXIV of Necromunda. Discretion is key in any love affair, especially outside the confines of legal marriage. Trysts and courtesans can be tolerated even by knowing spouses as long as the prolific red-blooded activities are done on the sly, in quiet.

Never forget that all your actions will take place under the unforgiving scrutiny of society, with judgemental peers ever ready to heap sneering disapproval and talk ill of you behind your back. The gaze of the pack may be oppressive, but remember that the lone wolf is doomed. It is pivotal to stay in the good grace of your caste equals, and not be ostracized. Every social faux pas is an indelible stain upon your reputation, a brand upon your soul. Be impeccable. Be perfect, like those favoured by the divine will of the Emperor to carry a Rogue Trader charter. Do not stomp about, but gracefully ambulate. Do not punch people, but challenge them to a duel. Do not decline a drink offered by the hand of the host himself, for that implies you do not trust it to be free of toxins. Do not spit indoors. With a clear head and a flawless conduct, you can still fit in among sophisticates of means, even when you yourself happen to lack the funds needed to keep up with the latest high caste fashion, which is always ruinously expensive. For some reason
Zediquette contains a numerous scattering of advice toward leading a thrifty socialite life, which must surely be attributed to the good, wealthy captain's forethought for fellow elite members who have fallen on hard times, and surely not to some personal reason.

Speaking of fashion, anyone who strives toward attaining an aristocratic bearing should dress to impress, and especially if they happen to be a roaming voidfarer and an exotic off-worlder in a foreign place. Play up that image. Locals, on the other hand, ought to dress exquisitely, yet not outlandishly. Always wear clothing appropriate to the occasion, and adorn yourself with all the symbols of clan and office. Do not shun ostentation. Also remember that an overwhelming impression of opulence and power is to be desired when dealing with underlings, and so some form of ornate dress is necessary even when inspecting your estates and industrial property. Your wretched minions need to know who is in charge at a glance, and who can snuff out their life at a whim. Likewise, never scorn discreet body armour hidden under your outer layer of clothing. You never know when someone with an axe to grind may take a potshot.


Zediquette delves at some length on personal weaponry, which is everywhere expected in the Imperium of Man, and universally accepted as part of the dress code for any occasion which the upper castes participates in. It would be rude for any human of greatness to themself carry heavier armaments such as flamers or plasma guns to a ball (that is reserved for retinue armsmen), yet swords and sidearms such as pistols are always appropriate, as are any number of hidden and digital weapons. Do not imitate the bluff soldier by carrying plain and battle-worn arms about your person. Remember that you are your rank in society, and must look the part. As such you should spend lavishly and commission artisans for fine wargear bedecked with scrollwork, encrusted with gems and a multitude of other decorations befitting your status. The same goes for body armour and vehicles.

And so Imperial nobles and betters arrive to banquets, balls and ceremonies in a cavalcade of tailored silk and wigs, sporting barocque hairdos, talismans and discreet weaponry. They arrive to palatial spires and shimmering mansions by means of archaic coaches, ridden mounts, armoured limos, private aeros and luxury skimmers, or indeed by void-yachts and solar sailers if the event is hosted on a voidstation or starship. The honoured guests arrive in the midst of a retinue, sporting manservants, maids and bodyguards, as well as advisors, courtesans and other hanger-ons. All these fancy noblemen, administrative potentates, mercatores clan elders and invited Imperial officials will be welcomed under much pomp and circumstance by their majestic hosts and a whole cohort of servants, guards, musicians and ceremonial officials, all playing out ritualized traditions of hospitality with fake smiles and platitudes even as they size up their rivals. In most human cultures of the vast, star-spanning realms of the God-Emperor, the ruling castes might scheme and stab each other in the back, but they would never dream of being rude in public toward even their most hated enemies. You can snub your friends all you like, but a polite display must be put on in front of your sworn opponents.

After arriving, these born rulers in the Imperium of Man will mingle, their every gesture and intonation watched closely as if by hawks ready to strike. Whatever they do, they must not dishonour the family name, despite their huffy tempers and capricious arrogance. And so backhanded compliments and gibes will be exchanged under a pleasant veneer, even as arch-enemies are made over the most trivial of grudges while smiles that do not reach the eyes inhabit faces plastered with cosmetics. Thus innuendo, veiled threats, belittling phrasing and subtle insults becomes skillfully bound up in flowery language among the high and mighty, while maniquered hands act out the most elegant gestures. These abundant falsehoods shoot back and forth in a ring of liars under a pretense of amiable disinterest or shared happiness, yet received slights will be vehemently discussed by couples and allies in private rooms later on, as is their wont.

This display of verbal jabbing and nonsense will often be performed with marvellous charisma and gravitas. Lifelong practice, expensive instruction and family traditions stretching back centuries or even millennia leave their mark, yet so too does hypnotherapy, eugenic breeding, neural implants, cosmetic surgery and genetic modification. For on some of the most advanced Imperial worlds and voidholms, parts of the nobility may either sport crucial contacts within the Adeptus Mechanicus, or themselves possess the technotheological knowhow among their hereditary House artisans, medicae staff and lay techmen. This technological access allows aristocrats to improve themselves physically for maximum social impact. Some treatments include upgraded mental pathways, biosynthetic pheromones, photographic memories, the most lavish bionic enhancements, modulated voices gifted with ultrasonic rhythms and heightened empathic reception to better read their audience (often compartmentalized and kept behind cerebral firewalls so as not to weaken the lordly mind with pity and compassion). Whatever the steeply expensive wonderworks involved, these miracles of salvaged technology add up to create a gut reaction in other humans, making the aristocrat incredibly charismatic and usually also both stronger and more intelligent than the average human. After all, why not make the best out of yourself with the best money can buy? It is only a pity that the installation process of the most extensive bodily enhancements kills such a number of noble progeny, but that can be remedied by increased births within the House.

Our guidebook,
Zediquette, devotes large sections toward usage in different social occasions, hammering home the finer points of a vast and exotic assortment of cutlery used for appropriate courses at breakfast and dinner respectively. It outlines good practice and treatment of others when attending a funeral, a wedding, a baptism in ashen water or rose oil, a widow-burning, a worshipful confirmation of faith, or a coming of age ceremony. It goes into detail on proper mannerism when concluding a treaty and how to avoid diplomatic embarrasment. For instance, it recalls one horrible misstep on the planet of Elysia by an unnamed envoy who used the urn of a thalassocratic ancestor as an ashtray, while another anecdote recounts a domineering lady who insisted on a quick tryst with a handsome butler in between tedious negotiations, only to find out that she had in fact flagrantly forced herself upon the third son of the prominent baron of industry with which she was attempting to reach a written agreement, and thus she ended up in a nigh-on forced marriage with the much younger lad in order to cover over the sordid affair for the sake of common decency. Such tales of warning abound, yet do not shrink in number over long millennia of virtuous Imperial rule.

The work waxes lyrical in its descriptions of banquets, feasts, balls, exquisite musical performances and similar festive events among the nobility, those ever-fertile grounds for gossip and scandal. Some grand feasts involve a preparatory period of fasting, and most begin with a table prayer, often led by the host's highest-ranking House chaplain. There, at long tables attended by a scurrying swarm of serving folk, sit those ruthless men and women of higher standing who lord it over their world or voidholm, each holding the fates of hundreds of thousands or even many millions in their hands. Their table manners excellent, their feudal power supreme within their own domains. These Emperor-appointed betters, oligarchs and petty despots all find themselves woven into an ensnaring web of caste expectations and long-standing feuds, all seemingly subject to the limits set by taboos and codes of honour, yet more often than not they are willing to break the most sacred rules in order to advance their own position, as long as they believe they can get away with it. Self-serving poisoners, plotters and kinslayers alike clink their crystal glasses, sip the rich fluids of goblets, and converse pleasantly with a born self-confidence.

To break the ennui of the propertied classes, upstanding hosts of such festivities often seek to entertain their guests with cockfighting and other animal or gladiatorial bloodsports, including gory pit slave struggles. Throwing vigorous sports such as hunting and surfing on little indoor seas complete with wave-generating machinery likewise have their place for hosts held in high regard. These vivid activities are complemented by a plethora of calmer joys, including rampant gambling, massage, steam-bathing, minuets and other dances taking place in great shining halls where House arms are to be found emblazoned on every second heavily ornamented object. The most cultivated indulgence take place amid opulent rooms hung with glittering chandeliers, rich tapestries, fantastic paintings and proudly displayed hunting trophies (including acid-cleaned human skulls from past peasant-hunts). The queen of the evening sails past splendid pillars, grotesque gargoyles and sprinkling fountains of wine, while men and women ask each other (depending on local custom) for a courteous dance in saloons watched by ancestral busts put on pedestals of expensive stone, ivory or far more exotic materials.

The soaring House spires of the upper castes are not only filled with precious artworks, but also often hold their share of great wonders of hoarded archeotech that manages to echo the paradisal Dark Age of Technology, however faintly. Masters and mistresses of grand estates watch hololithic light shows and other preserved tech marvels unknown to the lower orders of the population, while they glide through impeccable halls of mirrors filled with gem-encrusted treasures and gilt candelabra. Some noble Houses even possess a rare few ancient virtual simulation units, allowing choice guests to disappear into a short-lived bubble of illusions before one of a myriad of mysterious data errors invariably put an end to the strange experience.

The lavish setting of an aristocratic feast makes for a dreamlike fantasy world of luxury and splendour, laden with lush carpets, filled with richly carved furniture and inhabited by majestic shapes adorned with diadems and necklaces. Yet this magical wonderland of giant wigs and great skirts is at the same time a hotbed of sin and vice, where decadent leaders will savour delicious offworld imports while exchanging bribes and reach clandestine understandings, some of which will set off orchestrated gang wars lower down in a hive city, as the mechanisms of client-patron relationships or vassal obligations kick in when smiling rivals in great halls secretly vie for control of resources. Intrigue and double-crossing will invariably take place to copious amounts of drink and smoke, even as extramarital flirtations occur and hidden daggers are grasped for a nightly strike from nowhere. Indeed, various proverbs among the Imperial elite holds that no party would be truly complete without broken plates, broken marriages and broken lives.


Zediquette do in fact have some words of advice to offer on the subject of treachery, since this voluminous work avowedly endeavours to cover every conceivable aspect of mores and graceful manners for voidfarers and crustbound sophisticates alike. For instance, any host would be considered a rude sort, who would plot widespread betrayal at his own feast by slaying guests in droves in order to gain the upper hand in a vicious power struggle. Likewise, it would be most foul to give a guest a suite, only to have them assassinated, such as by planting poisoned blades in their bed, or by hinging the entire room on an axis and swinging the floor around over a pit of spikes while they sleep. Alas, such callous trickery do occur from time to time, for the depravity of man is such that he will disregard the notion of civilized conduct in order to get ahead in this world.

Despite the worrying frequency of such outrageous crimes against the laws of hospitality, the virtues of piety, ritual practice and religious observation still have their given place at most social events of the higher classes. After all, we should all aspire to live in the God-Emperor's image, and strive to be judged worthy by Him on Terra come death and afterlife. And what human souls are more deserving of bliss and glory beyond the grave than those of the lords and masters of His vast dominion? Thus many wild and extravagant feasts will in fact be somberly initiated by House chapel clergy, who offer the guests preaching, the recitations of litanies, or the burning of blasphemers or torture to death of heretics and infidels as a reminder that even the greatest and most respected men and women of the Imperium are neither immortal nor omnipotent.

Ave Imperatore Dei, Ave Humanae Imperium.

While spiritual needs are being attended to, and while a thousand different enjoyments are being had, hordes of teeming servants and servitors scurry to and fro. For armies of household staff are kept frantically busy under stairs, all human components in a great machinery of ostentatious festivity-making and ceremony. Boys and girls run to and from larders and butteries, while liveried porters carry kegs and bottles from wine cellars and amasec cisterns. These dregs of the palace are integral to its functions, and any failure on their part will be cruelly punished. Especially so accidents out in the corridors of power, in front of the eyes of polite society. Dropping a great plate filled with gorgeous meat, or getting tripped so that you fall into a cultured lady, may see you scalded in boiling oil, or see you become forcefully lobotomized without anaesthetics and turned into a cyborg thrall for the sake of justice. Even worse fiascos will condemn your entire family to a baleful destiny, for your liege and master have ultimate power over all your kin, page, so better stay attentive at all times and pray to the Imperator for protection.

Far worse tragedies than the demise of some unimportant rabble do occur at banquets and other occasions for well-bred party animals. An oft-repeated tale on many worlds and voidholms, is that of the infatuated couple of noble lovers, who enjoy themselves by playfully tossing grapes or other small delicacies into the mouths of each other. This proceeds charmingly with much affection, until suddenly a small fruit lands square in the throat of one of the lovers and chokes them to death before anyone can manage to dislodge the stuck grape or pickled oilsquid eyeball. Such urban legends are more than mere imaginings of the lower classes, for exactly such fatalities do take place at majestic banquets, yet the risk of choking is usually derired as something only cowards and unbelievers fear, for surely the thrown foodstuff is guided by the unseen hand of the God-Emperor Himself? And surely such deaths were the just punishment as ordained by the divine will of our Terran Majesty? For as the Lectitio Divinitatus teaches us, we shall trust in faith, not reason.

Speaking of thrown objects, there is a widespread elite phenomenon in many Imperial cultures, which is simultaneously frowned upon in other places. It is that of guests throwing bones, used silk kerchiefs and foodscraps on the floor, where in some cultures hounds or jesterful House imbecilles will fight over the leavings. Some locations even sport the custom of throwing expensive diningware on the floor once a porcelain plate, animal shell bowl or crystal glass has been emptied, with attentive domestic servants dodging the projectiles, darting to and fro as they sweep up the mess of splinters, ostraca and foodscraps. With human nature being what it is, the more rowdy sort of drunk nobles will usually start aiming their discarded tableware at the attending servants, joined by the honed sadists and impressionable sheep among the honoured guests.

The well-mannered socialites to be found at upper caste feasts stretches from drooling imbecilles and incompetents to geniuses, including educated professionals and gifted amateurs alike who hold office in Imperial service, local government or family enterprise. There will usually be a good number of dilettantes of famous clan names and lay-abouts of inherited fortune, yet no matter their personal merit and abilities, all will instinctively know their rightful high place in Imperial society, and enforce their privileges jealously. For do they not all share wisdom since cradle, inherited from great forefathers and legendary House founders? Are they not the very best that humanity has to offer, marked out by dint of superior blood and spirit? Why else would His Divine Majesty have chosen them for excellency and fortune to be masters of the lowly hordes in their holesteads and slumhuts? Surely they were meant to lead, and so lead they shall, with heavy hand and unyielding might, their backs ramrod straight and their demeanour haughtily appropriate to their exalted station. It is their lot in life, and theirs alone to savour, by the will of the Emperor. The Imperial way is their way.

And to such masteful people of greatness shall fall the spoils and the bounty, as befits their fine pedigrees. Thus a great many feasts will see the wealthy host display his largesse by bestowing gifts upon honoured guests, loyal vassals and industrious clients alike.
Zediquette indeed contains advice on how to graciously receive such presents in front of your peers without sparking hateful enmity from those envious souls who did not receive any gifts, or were handed donations smaller than your own. This book, of course, deals with exteriors, and its plunging of the mores and fickleness of Imperial high society will lay bare the shallowness of its narrow-minded occupants for any keen reader. In dealing with the etiquette of the upper castes, captain Zedek cannot avoid but give allusions to the conspiracies and parochial insularity that is so rife among the well-mannered masters and betters of the Imperium.

True to the enormous variety of an empire of a million worlds and uncounted voidholms, there exist a bewilderingly diverse range of feasts. Some, such as the symposia of Heracleus Omega or banquets of Nimrod-Adad Secunda, will see the diners lie at table, reclining on divans. Such forms of dining will invariably see the utmost importance being attached to correct drinking while supporting yourself on one elbow, which is a far from an easy task for the novice. Similar subtle pitfalls of polite manners are strewn about everywhere in the higher class customs of the Imperium, comprising snares put out to fell the clumsy, the inattentive and the amateur noveau riche and throw them into a disdainful hole of heckling from which it will be difficult to climb out of.


Zediquette goes on to explain how in the elite circles of some societies, protocol demand that guests leave food on the plate if they were happy with the chef's creations, while the opposite is true elsewhere, with any scrap leftover indicating either culinary disapproval, or a lack of manners. Knowing which custom apply in the exotic culture you may find yourself in as a traveller of the starspangled void will always be a useful piece of wisdom, and the same goes for all the minutiae of dining manners. After all, you do not want to find yourself vomiting into the spitoon, like one uninformed fellow did after realizing the feisty spices of his host's planetary cuisine did not agree with his innards.

One hallmark of privilege and fine breeding is to be able to feast at length, without a care in the world to attend to. Another sign of high standing is the consumption of copious amounts of food and drink, as well as the smoking of fine quality lho-sticks, water pipes and intake of other accepted forms of lighter narcotics. A rather common device to enable guests ceaseless dining at the table, is to discreetly step aside into a niche or colonnade and make use of feathers and vomitoons proffered by servants or lobotomized cyborg thralls. Dining at lengthy banquets usually take up the better part of a day, and in some of the more advanced Imperial cultures the dining at feast will actually stretch over several entire days if local hypno-conditioning, medicinary substances, bodily modifications and bionics allow for the well-reared to keep up a continuous oral barrage of delicacies in a parade of endless courses and suppression of sleep.

Polite society in a many Imperial cultures will demand that no one leave the table, while the long dining is in progress, with utmost scorn of fleshly weakness and lacking spiritual resolve heaped upon those who would act so lowly as to excuse themselves for bodily functions. After ten thousand years of upper caste feasting on hundreds of thousands of planets and voidholms, there is a total tally numbering in the millions for nobles and other esteemed guests who have died from bladder infections and similar health issues resulting from being too polite to leave a majestic banquet for the gross sake of a visit to the lavatory. Naturally, liveried noble House galenii and medicae personnel who are able to treat such embarrasing conditions will be sought and handsomely rewarded. Likewise, drugs which greatly speed up the human metabolism or allow for full days of fasting without cramps or sense of hunger in preparation for a grand feast have their given place in uncounted House apothecaries and archagatheons. Other aristocratic responses to this social dining predicament involve contracting the Adeptus Mechanicus to perform bio-mysteria of genetic engineering and install bionic implants within the noble body.

Even though the wealthy and polished guests of Imperial banquets will invariably glut themselves massively, there will still remain giant piles of leftover foodstuffs. Some patricians allow the servants to make away with it according to their internal pecking order. Other hosts may decide to dump the scraps on the street to the rejoicing of the hoi polloi, or feed grox and other tame animals in their private House pens; or sell the remains for a pittance to the local Corpse Guild bio-recyclers, thereby turning perfectly fine delicious and exotic foodstuffs into bland nutrient paste and thus denying those sublime tastes from passing over the filthy lips of the unworthy rabble. Some of the most disdainful nobles will even take a perverse pleasure out of publicly burning or disolving in acid their hillock of dreamlike foodscraps in front of a large gathered crowd in some plaza or hive cavern, while berating the riffraff for their sinful avarice, impious greed and jealousy of their betters, standing safe from popular outbursts of violence behind a wall of paid and dearly equipped mercenary bodyguard muscle.

The boredom of constantly dining with your sophisticated peers can be remedied by reaching out to leaders of a cruder kind. Occassionally festive gatherings will be attended by carefully selected and invited tribal chieftains who hail from savage ethnos of baseline humans of a world's highlands and wastelands (or by leaders of Emperor-fearing pureblood tribes in the more slummy parts of voidholms), whose appearance always make for a memorable spectacle as the warlord from the wilds arrive bedecked in all their finery, feathers, trophies, jewelry and trinkets, accompanied by likewise ostentatious and tattooed or body-painted guards, tribal wisemen or cleverwomen advisors, as well as their many wives and concubines. Matriarchal and polyandric martial tribes of the primitive parts of any world or voidholm will likewise be accompanied by their husbands and inamoratii, who can often form a numerous little harem. Both the lovers of matriarchs and concubines of patriarchs may in many of the more savage human cultures be ritually drugged, killed and buried at the death of their stronghanded mistress or master, especially if they became the fleshly property of the chief by capture in a raid on a rival tribe. Yet at the polished ball floor, this pleasure flock will be wearing exotic furs or scaled skins, ornamented with pearls, worked electrum nuggets and other jewelry in order to provide a respectable retinue for the chieftain on the great day. Most barbarians tend to stare in awe at the otherworldly ruling caste of civilization on their world or voidholm.

These thanes and tribesleaders are always invited on the basis of long-standing alliances, vassalage or relationships of client-patron subordination to urban noble houses, and their unusual attendance at a cultured feast is meant to do them great honour in return for loyal service, and will be received as such to much celebration at home in the squalor of their savage wastelands. Yet the festive occassion itself will often offer an endless stream of disgust, loathing and contempt from the civilized urbane castes, much of which will be delivered with needling subtlety on the assumption that the badland guests are too bestial and stupid to catch the gibes, the multisyllable words, the condescending tones and the scornful glances.

Scantily clad (or in some cultures, outright naked) musicians, acrobats and dancers will often perform in front of the honoured guests at feasts, while lowborn courtesans and beautiful hetaira will entertain and seduce guests with their lively and intelligent conversations, as well as their sensuous charms. A great many trysts take place during such oligarchic parties and banquets. In many Imperial cultures, the latter stages of a sophisticated feast will be expected to devolve into an outright orgy, with those not wishing to participate excusing themselves shortly before the debaucheries begin, or at the very least taking their courtesan into a private suite for the sake of discretion or shyness. Our estemeed tome,
Zediquette, does well to offer some gracious advice for those nightly occasions when a gentleman finds himself invited into a lady's richly decorated boudoir, mainly dealing with how best to avoid scandalous repercussions. It is in fact not uncommon for the most vigorous of noble men and women to compete over who can sleep with the highest numbers of commoner lustworkers. This luscious state of affairs among the masters and betters of many Imperial worlds and voidholms persist stubbornly (and resurfaces again and again if snuffed out) in the face of widespread puritanical morals among many of the lower castes and despite vehement Ecclesiarchal preaching and threats of hellfire on the lustful sinners.

On the one hand, orgies and more raucous kinds of feasts present an excellent chance to eliminate passed-out rivals and enemies wearing nothing at all, including an absence of protective weapons and force fields, thereby making them easier prey for assassins, or even deedful nobles who themselves dare to perform the kill. On the other hand, the loose tongues and priable secrets of such orgiastic festivities make them fertile ground for spies of His Majesty's Holy Inquisition and of various rival factions both Imperial and local, and not a few Inquisitorial acolytes will themselves have performed dirty work at orgies in order to extract information from drunk, drugged and extatic feast participants. Even so, some nobilities fall prey to the allure of pleasure-seeking, with Slaaneshi cults sinking their insidious claws into unwitting potentates in the midst of much joy and cavorting.

Despite the confessions which men and women of greatness may share with their House clergy after the festivities conclude and hangovers and late regrets take over, they will usually commit the same errors and sin in similar ways again and again at banquets and other high occassions to come. In his masterwork's final chapters, Rogue Trader Zedek Mascaldolce offers stringent advice on common grave mistakes that may weigh heavily on your mind, yet should never be confessed by a fleshly tongue. Some wrongdoings concern the breaking of taboos, others have to do with pure self-interest in the world of power games and intrigue where Imperial affairs truly take place. Some inner secrets cannot be entrusted to fallible mortal ears, no matter their pious vestments, and they should only ever be discussed with the God-Emperor Himself, the Master of Mankind who judges all from His Golden Throne upon Holy Terra of ancient myth.

And as we close the etched cover of
Zediquette and once again stroke the sanctioned purity seal, the true focus of the leaders of the human species during the Age of Imperium has been revealed to us. Theirs are not concerns of a higher cause, of human conquest of the galaxy or of the betterment of all mankind. Theirs are not issues of working towards the Emperor's great dream or of building an improved Imperium, richer, stronger and more efficient. They are not too bothered by the decline of human power in the Milky Way galaxy, because they thrive upon its status quo. They live the decline, body and soul.

Where once man bestrode the stars like a colossus, as he reached out with ingenuity for the mysteries of the cosmos, he has since become reduced to nothing but an ignorant herd animal, concerned only with an endless cycle of petty human affairs that ultimately leads nowhere. For man has turned inward and grown fearful of a universe which once seemed his birthright to explore and conquer, and man does no longer think of science and innovation, but only of what others think of him in life and what awaits his soul upon death. And so the worsening of man grinds ever downward, in a doom-laden spiral of regressed stagnation.

Such are the myopic activities of the best and the brightest of mankind, in the darkest of futures.

Such are the vagaries of descendant degeneration.

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


- - -

Tribute to captain Zedek in WarHams, played by HulkyKrow.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:46 am 
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A Vox in the Void

Paul Graham at A Vox in the Void has been toiling to bring audio adaptations of writings and doodles here to Youtube. His latest two are a duo. Check them out below!

Human Bomb Part 1
Human Bomb Part 2: I Who Am Born to Die


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Our Daily Bread

In a forsaken future, man starves like a beast.

A plethora of human myths and legends, across one million worlds and uncountable voidholms, tell of the origins of food and the moment we first needed to eat, as well as the causes for toilsome agriculture, hunger and starvation. In some sagas, the earliest ancestors of mankind lived a life of bliss, free of stomach cramps and the threat of starvation, before this idyll was lost due to the transgression of man, and the gods of old heaped hardship and hunger upon sinful man. In other tales, primordial man roamed the fields and forests free of care while hounding innumerable prey, until a trickster's bargain or divine punishment for killing sacred creatures shackled men, women and children to the earth, doomed to till the soil and die in droves of disease and starvation.

A garbled confusion exist in Imperial folklore regarding the most primitive eras of humanity, and its later Dark Age of Technology. The two are rarely well separated, but are instead often compressed and conflated by the passage of long millennia. As one authoress of Old Earth once remarked: Time in its irresistible and ceaseless flow carries along on its flood all created things and drowns them in the depths of obscurity. As such mythical cycles and fireside stories may mention flint spears, bronze daggers, magical pelts and bone amulets together with starstriding demigods and plots of villainy and trickery involving machine intellects and ships that shoot across the night sky on tails of fire and lightning. For the impression of a paradise lost is not only borne out of the settled farmer's folk memory of their kin's nomadic prehistory on ancient Terra, but is also mirrored in the catastrophic fall from the pinnacles of human achievement into the abyss of Old Night following the machine revolt and the mass emergence of psykers that shattered the faltering Human Federation.

While the primordial lifestyles of the earliest Age of Terra were in actuality hardly bereft of suffering and want, the life of mankind during the Dark Age of Technology was truly a wonder of opulence, comfort and plenty. Indeed, man was often spawned from fleshvat factories and enmeshed in the false fruits of science and progress, even as a cornucopia of riches and the rotten doctrines of unbelief, softness and fulfilment of self led Man of Gold astray unto doom. Yet we are much wiser now, for our downfall in the Age of Strife humbled man and slew our hubris, and the baleful orgy of death and devastation of Old Night prepared our wretched species to receive salvation brought by the coming of the God-Emperor with due gratitude, reverence and ritual worship. And ever since the Dark Age of Technology ended in hellfire and horror has man yet again hungered and starved, as man always did, once upon a time, and as man was ever meant to do. For these bodies of flesh were made to crave sustenance, and just as these mortal husks were made to suffer from lack of food, so were they also made to decay and grow old and die.

Such is man's lot.

Thus the Age of Imperium is an era of backbreaking labour and destitution, and the wages of poverty and wantage were rewarded man as just punishment for his misdeeds and vice. Indeed, does not the mainstream Cult Imperialis of the Adeptus Ministorum teach us of the Twelve Exalted Virtues? Those are Obedience, Diligence, Patience, Piety, Courage, Humility, Submission, Hatred, Fertility (for women, Virility for men), Modesty, Self-Denial and Endurance. And does not man in his baseness and squalid failings ever fall prey to the Thirteen Abominable Sins instead? Those are Insubordination, Sloth, Impatience, Unbelief, Cowardice, Pride, Deviation, Apathy, Vanity, Envy, Greed, Lust, and finally Gluttony. Indeed, the desire to glut one's bestial appetite and grow fat on the chewing of jaws and the biting of teeth and the swallowing of eatables need to be righteously combated with voluntary fasting. And where spiritual weakness prevents the triumph of will over self, simple want and starvation will suffice.

And so there is good and just penitence and proof of humility in the billions of human beings who each Holy Terran year starve to death across the myriad planets and voidholms of the Imperium. And likewise is there virtue to be found in our thrifty recycling of their corpses and waste, for is not man but dust and clay? And are not all our food ultimately human flesh, reshaped into other gestalts of deceptive matter by herds, colonies and plantations of lesser lifeforms? Thus only a malefactor, troublemaker or infidel would recoil from the consumption of foodstuffs mixed with surrogates, corpse-starch, synth-kelp, flymeat and littergrind, for the meek acceptance of our daily bread no matter its dubious content is the hallmark of a faithful Imperial subject. Pray earnestly at table and thank the protecting Imperator of Holy Terra, seated in radiant glory upon the Golden Throne, for providing so bountifully to His species.

Let us behold one common human life out of trillions, in order to better understand what it means to be grateful for the food we get to eat. It is not a saintly life, yet it is nevertheless a frugal one from which we can learn much on how to live even when we are caught in dire straits.

In northern Segmentum Pacificus is to be found the crudely civilized world of Ostrobithynia, where human settlement lies unevenly spread all across its varied climes, clustering in villages, towns and cities and with but three small billion-sized hive cities as the major population centres. In the cold, northern reaches of the Ejrisbocka continent, where the forested grounds are sparsely peopled, can be found a scattering of bleak rye and opea farmland amid the sourpines, bogs and dark lakes. In the landscape of Mansalu, situated in the westernmost Kvemian county-district, are to be found the small harbour cities of of Vuseoburg and Tomi. Fifty Terran miles northeast of Vuseoburg lies the village of Lajoharsa, home to roughly twelve hundred souls (whose numbers fluctuate with epidemics, ill harvests, peasant raids, emigration and ceaseless procreation). In such a marginal countryside are to be found no nobility worth speaking of, wherefore the population unusually enough are not serfs or latifundia indentured labourers. Here, at the outskirts of Lajoharsa village, is to be found a tiny cabin built out of arched brickwork and firbald logs, its lower burnt brick walls stacked with peat for insulation.

At the tail end of M41, the lonely dweller of this hut was the childless widow Enna Våitdottir. She had grown up an orphan bastard in the strict care of the village chief's household, toiling as a despised farm maid and living as a hectored debt thrall until the age of twentyfive. At manumission, Enna was wed to the lowly crofter's son Karon Asson, and for a blissful day and night of crowded temple ceremony and communally witnessed fleshly consummation of marriage in bed, the future of the by-blow woman seemed bright. Yet Karon turned out to be a drunk deadbeat and useless layabout, and the couple produced no offspring, to their great chagrin and sorrow. It is unknown whether he or she had been born sterile, or whether Enna had been accidentally chem-gelded when working as a hired-away mixer in a nearby alchemical manufactorium for two migratory labour seasons. She had certainly lost her left eye and ear to the mysterious vapours and splashes, replaced with cheap and bulky bionics carried over from a dead slave, since the local branch of the alchemical collegium Fulstjerna deemed a mixer without proper depth perception to be a broken tool of more harm than use in their industry.

At any rate, Enna's husband Karon was impotent in all areas of life, and proved a lazy failure at all forms of work. And his wife suffered for it, in teeth-grinding silence and mounting squalor. All villagers of Lajoharsa agreed that the woman of the little household was able-handed, Emperor-fearing and a hard worker, yet all her married life Enna had to carry the weight of her soaked dud of a man, and made do with very meagre earnings from stray labour to feed the both of them. At one time while herding grey-spotted fjoll-grox at a hill farm in her thirties, Enna was abducted by male raiders from another village and forced to become the second wife of the sept leader, yet she was returned scornfully within two years when her captors concluded she must be barren and thus a net negative mouth to feed. During this whole ordeal, Karon Asson did not lift a finger to attempt a rescue of his wife by gathering a daring counter-raid, collecting a ransom or begging on his knees, and he lived slothfully off loans and unusually plump harvest stores in Enna's absence, oblivious to her daily dread in a strange place and the hopeless chances of his own future without a wife to leach off. Enna Våitdottir had no close relatives, and she was rejected any kinship belonging and support by Karon Asson's clan due to them shunning his sinful stupor. As such, the couple was doomed to childless oblivion, and faced a terrible prospect in old age.

Karon died first, just as he always was the first to go to sleep, bottle in hand. Wastrels waste away. Yet the thankless plight of his widowed wife Enna would only worsen as she passed the old age of fifty and grew gnarled and stiff from so much manual labour in cold weather, and her stomach ache from lack of nourishment would never truly cease, just as the irresponsible debts of her late husband could never be fully repaid. The couple had been contract-workers at the bottom rung of their village, employed in agriculture, herding, fishing, digging, fruit and berry gathering, beekeeping, porting, machine maintenance, charcoaling and forestry on an annual basis by various Lajoharsa households. Enna's willingness to work had been taken for granted by neighbouring smallholders and crofters, even when she went unpaid except for some pitiful scraps of food. As the Ostrobithynian lamb of sorrow grew elderly, she could not keep up with the harsh work demands necessary to survive by such a slim margin.

It was in this miserable state of abject poverty and hunger cramps that Enna Våitdottir truly learnt to savour the bountiful nourishment provided to her table by His Divine Majesty, praise be unto Him on Terra. As Enna's thin fortunes went into a death spiral, she learnt humility and submission to her ordained fate by eating even the most mouldy and fungal-infested bread, while holding another, but fresh, piece of bread in her other hand to look at. She offered the customary table prayer to our all-providing golden God-Emperor of Mankind, and voiced her pious gratitude for having food to eat that day. Then, she suppressed her gag reflex and forced herself to consume the blessed food, ignoring the fungal spore capillaries growing out of it. All the time, she stared intently at the fresh piece of bread in her other hand, and pretended that she was chewing and swallowing its hale mass instead of the stale and mouldy bread which she could not afford to waste. Thus Enna the thrifty widow became an exemplar of frugality to her whole rural community, and would not complain even when the flour that had been used in her bread crumbs were mixed with ground acorns, the dried inner white spring-bark of trees, sawdust or teeth-fraying sand.

The locals beheld the pauper's hardships, and remembered her devout faith in our saviour and master on Holy Terra, as well as her harmless personality and unflinching willingness to work no matter the weather. And so they took pity on this old clanless bastard of lowly caste, and gave her all manner of little stray jobs for petty rewards to ease Enna's destitution and screaming guts, and she accepted it with many thanks and blessings upon her neighbours' lineage. Sometimes, she even received batteries or the chance to recharge her bionic implants, and twice she was even sponsored with the opportunity to have her failing opticon electrografts and visor unit repaired by a peddling techman of the laity. Yet for the most part, Enna's old age was lived out in darkness on her lost left eye, with dormant or malfunctioning bionics robbing her of that sensory input.

Her sclerotic old age was plagued by a local strain of tubercolosis, a rot of the breath as they say, possibly brought about by malnourishment and foul food. This creeping lungsoot drained away Enna Våitdottir's vital reserves along with endless hunger pangs, and consumption eventually proved her bane. Thus the poor widow had lived out her life with neither worthy husband nor progeny, and no children there were to help her and nurse her in old age, but she had to rely on herself until the bitter end. And her life turned into a living nightmare of wasting disease and drawn-out starvation that ultimately did her in. Enna died alone without dignity and without anyone to give her company and comfort in the last moments of a fading human life.

The villagers of Lajoharsa donned herb-filled beak masks and performed rites of exorcism on the skeletal corpse and smoked out the cottage after her death in an attempt to eradicate the sickness, in accordance with ancestral wisdom handed down through untold millennia, and her corporeal remains were sold to a peddling Corpse Guild trucker for a pittance. And so Enna herself ended up as corpse-starch in the bread of other ritual worshippers of the great God-Emperor of all mankind. The cycle of life was complete. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Ave Imperator.

Such is the destiny of man, in a regressed realm of decay spanning a million worlds and voidholms beyond counting.

Such is the wretchedness of the human species, in an era of doom under strange suns.

Such is the future that await us all.

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

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2021 1:17 am 
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Throw Them Out the Airlock

In a time without mercy, man drowns man upon the sea of stars.

The exploration and conquest of the stars was always humanity's birthright, and like any gallant and great venture it was ever fraught with danger. Crustbound cowards and visionless misers might shun adventure beyond the heavens, yet resourceful men and women of ingenuity and boldness has never shirked from the thrill and peril inherent to the undertaking of mapping out the galaxy and filling it with human worlds and voidstations. Any enterprise with the potential for glory and immortal fame must necessarily also be filled with the risk of death and oblivion. For could any deed ever be heroic without a mortal creature daring life and limb to overcome the hazardous obstacles thrown up by hateful foe or uncaring universe?

Small wonder, then, that so many myths and legends about the bygone Dark Age of Technology feature unfortunate crewmen cast out to die in space, as well as helpless heroes rescued by loyal companions shortly before they would have died from exposure in the void. For on the million worlds and innumerable voidholms of the Imperium of Man, the popularity of sagas featuring dashing starstriders, voidfarers and skyriders will never die. As the day grow dark, wide-eyed children will gather around campfires along with kinsfolk of all ages in villages filled with hovels, huts, tents or caverns, just as they do in the nooks and crannies of overcrowded holesteads and habs during blackout, to hear their elders and skilled storytellers relate the travails and exploits of ancient colony founders, pirates, missionaries, void-warriors, startraders, monsterslayers and other brave sailors of the cosmos. In the wonderstruck eyes of a child, only the sky is the limit.

When man climbed toward the pinnacle of his power and lore during forgotten millennia long, long ago, this juvenile dream (so often mocked by jaded cynics) was revealed to be a universal truth which only the most capable and fortunate of sentient species could ever turn into a reality. While spreading across the stars is in itself a sublime endeavour for which all life should strive, it still only constitutes the first stepping stones toward unlocking eternity and uncovering the very secrets of creation itself. Know that Man of Gold was well on his way toward achieving those godlike goals when his interstellar paradise was torn asunder in flames, and the false promises of the Dark Age of Technology turned into a cannibal nightmare of ruin and slaughter as human civilization collapsed into the Age of Strife.

During the death spiral of Old Night, sagas of voidfarers and humans originating from distant stars stubbornly persisted everywhere man still lived, even among the most primitive of tribal survivors on blasted worlds and decaying void installations. And as the all-conquering forces of the early Imperium arrived during the Great Crusade to reunite the scattered human colonies, haggard barbarians and brutalized scavengers stared in awe as the dreamlike wonders of oral folklore descended from high heavens and made landfall with a splendid show of arms, pageantry and technological marvels. Ancient prophecies were fulfilled in front of their very eyes as the servants of the Emperor brought their peoples back into the great fold of mankind under His banner, by the cruel might of an eagle's talon extended from Terra itself.

And as shining civilization was brought back to marred worlds and voidholms in a short-lived renaissance, the sons and daughters of regressed primitives discovered that the tall tales of the great beyond had been true after all: You could drown in the nightsky. To their astonishment, they learnt of the airless space between worlds, and many such feral recruits of the Imperial Army saw firsthand how accidents or voidbattles could suck people out into empty blackness, where they soon died without breath. And they concluded that to be exposed to the chilly nothingness of the cosmos was the voidfaring equivalent of falling overboard a seagoing vessel.

The reignited hopes of the early Imperium quickly died as the galaxy burned anew, in the fires of ambition. The foremost son of the Emperor betrayed his father and shattered the galactic dominion of Mars and Terra, and the future promise of its burgeoning achievements and rediscoveries crashed dead on the rocks. For the wretchedness of man would not relent, and thus man took up arms and marched against the saviour of his species with murderous intent. And this sinful civil war saw the Emperor nigh on slain by human hand, yet He ascended into celestial godhood and has watched over His undeserving people ever since. And man was made to repent in sweat and blood for his unforgivable crimes against Imperial divinity, and man's life was drenched in toil and tears, for despair and hardship came to rule supreme as just punishment for man's abominable sins. And the God-Emperor saw that this was good.

Naturally, as human cultures during the Age of Imperium reached a state of demented maturity and increasingly embraced struggle and hardy misery, ever more men, women and children found themselves spaced from starships and voidholms, for ever more banal reasons. Murderers, saboteurs and other such criminals and malefactors, which in any epoch would have endangered those aboard the vessel or station, were always obvious candidates for being thrown out the airlock. Yet centuries of desperate mobilization for total war turned into millennia of rising fanaticism, brutal repression and ever more rabid loyalist schools of thought permeating Imperial cultures, all marked by them being aggressively myopic.

Over time, sinners, heretics, malcontents and blasphemers faced the drowning of the starfarer for ever smaller transgressions, as curates of the flag, charismatic holy men and mercatores ship chaplains flexed their muscles of influence and whipped up the devout rabble into doing away with deviants and apostates. Likewise, martial law codes and civilian voidfaring regulations grew ever more draconic, with lethal punishment ordained for petty crimes. Not only that, but the numbers of collateral victims of primitive collective punishment have slowly but steadily increased over the passage of fivehundred generations, as have the unlucky targets of shipboard superiors' capricious wrath, including a dysfunctional tendency toward spacing the messenger of bad news. On top of these decaying developments should be added lawless decks rife with criminality, worker gang warfare, clan feuds and stalking murderers who understand the deadly value of an airlock. Not to mention Navy vessels and contracted civilian transport ships tasked with ferrying Astra Militarum ground forces between worlds and voidholms, where quarrels between gangs of shipsmen and crustlubber human cargo may see Imperial Guardsmen and other personnel meet an untimely demise at the hands of voidfarers' mob justice. As life has grown ever cheaper in the vast, star-spanning realm of the Imperium, so too has man found out that he has an ever lower threshold for casting others out into frigid vacuum.

In Classis Hyrcania of the Imperial Navy, for instance, all hands on deck know that to draw blood from a Naval officer, Commissar, Ministorum clergyman, Officio Medicae staff or anointed member of the Adeptus Mechanicus will result in the spacing of the miscreant's spouse and offspring in front of the felon's lidless eyes, before the letter of blood is themself blinded with acid, quartered by human rope gangs and finally thrown into the unforgiving void between the stars. Likwise, in the chartered Rogue Trader flotilla of the Lugalbanda dynasty in Segmentum Tempestus there exists a quaint custom of spacing the harem of a deceased Sarru-Trader or Nin-Traderess, together with all the personal property of the late flotilla leader, in order for the heir to get a clean slate in their palatial private quarters and thus signal the beginning of a propitious reign.

Naturally, the act of spacing people to death tend to mean that their bodymass will disappear from the bio-recycling corpse grinders that help feed the teeming deck slums and voidholm favelas, especially in the case of travelling vessels. In some voidfarer cultures across the Imperium, this wastage of flesh is welcomed as a ship crew's genuine sacrifice of one of their own for good luck and divine protection before the next Warp jump, the usage being an expression of common voidsman superstition. Yet in other cultures the corpse-wasting is frowned upon. One remedy is to hook the victim inside the airlock and then open the gates, while another solution is to tie the condemned one to a length of wire or some similar line and then winch them back into the still-open airlock. Such a considerate and well-planned execution is usually the hallmark of the pillars of order on a starship or voidholm, whereas rash crims, scum and bullies usually do not care about the waste. Still, the meagre reward of scrip or ration bar for selling a corpse to the grinders is not to be scoffed at among the destitute, and so gangers and feuding clansmen can occasionally be found to go to the trouble of securing the retrieval of a soon-to-be human carcass for nutritional salvage.

Such rampant spacing of unwanted members of the human species begs a question: How do they die? Akin to a condemned man walking the plank to plunge into the watery abyss, an unlucky soul pushed into the airlock knows that he cannot escape death. At first, a baseline man thrown into the dark cold of outer space will find his lungs and digestive tract swelling. After some seconds, he will lose the vision of his eyes, and then lose consciousness as oxygen rapidly exits his blood, discolouring his skin a pallid shade of blue. One Terran minute into the unbreathing ordeal, all circulation will cease, and after two minutes the man will be choked dead. Unlike a mariner cast into an icy sea, however, an outcast voidsman will not have time to die from freezing, since the emptiness of outer space is a poor medium for draining the body of its heat. Such is the manner of death for those thrown out the airlock.

Across the Milky Way galaxy can be found countless drifting carcasses of exotic species hailing from all manner of eras and cultures, each an outcast fossil from a bygone age, each a dead sailor of the starspangled void, each a mute witness of a horrible end. Emperor alone knows how many unretrieved billions of human corpses float around in the interstellar void, whether they be the victims of justice or malevolence, or the casaulties of warfare, natural disaster or technical calamity. As a common starfarer's saying would have it: Those born of the void shall die of the void.

One addition to the drifting graveyard of a galaxy's fill of voidfaring species was recently made upon the order of Inquisitorial Acolyte Reeb Van Horne of the Ordo Xenos. Van Horne is a medicae-schooled native of Gavro in the service of Inquisitor Harlan, acting as his master's roaming tendril by having attached himself to the ill-maintained Rogue Trader ship known as the
Debt Collector. Acolyte Reeb is a stern and blunt-nosed alienhunter who has proven himself a diligent performer of his ordained tasks in the service of His Divine Majesty of Holy Terra. This dour and ruthless member of the Ordo Xenos of the God-Emperor's Holy Inquisition sports red hair like the mane of a lion, and Reeb has sometimes been called the lion that do not roar before biting. Such epithets are only whispered behind his back, however, and seems to have been borne out of past incidents where some careless wretches are no longer among the living.

This sanctioned murderer of many and vivisector of more still, was as ever quick to the point when faced with a captured Xeno from an Eldar pirate raid against the Imperial prison voidholm known as the Mortis Carcerum facility. True to his nickname, Reeb Van Horne initiated a bloodless preliminary interrogation of the female Drukhari raider under deceptively polite circumstances, involving an unbound prisoner being allowed to drink tea with the Acolyte from a precious porcelain set, with only the threat of violence being made utterly clear. Such seemingly civilized methods masked the cruel workings of a hard and calculating mind, and the theatricality of it all may well have contributed to quickly loosening the tongue of the unimpressed Dark Eldar.

No-nonsense questions were answered almost gleefully by the foul alien, who typically enough for that particular species ridiculed her human captor in subtle ways, even when seeming to play along for the moment being. Very soon, the independently operating Acolyte of Inquisitor Harlan concluded that the Eldar sadist and slaver was nothing but a dead end, proving a false lead in a larger ongoing investigation. Acolyte Reeb openly deemed the interrogation subject useless to him in a matter-of-fact manner, and asked to have the tea cup back. Next, Van Horne promptly arranged to have the Drukhari specimen thrown out the airlock, and that was that.

Aeldari physiology might be deceptively akin to that of homo sapiens on the surface, but their complicated biology is entirely alien to the crude fleshly workings of Earthly mankind, as any vivisection of such a screaming Xeno's internal organs would quickly prove. With such vastly different bodily processes at work, Eldar die differently than humans do when exposed to the vacuum of space, yet they die nevertheless. For a short while the Drukhari was dragged along close to the hull, inside the
Debt Collector's bubble of protective energy shields and field peripheries created by internal grav generators, until the corpse drifted out of close proximity and instantly disappeared as powerful starship engines shot the rundown Rogue Trader vessel onward into the void, leaving yet another spaced cadaver behind.

Suffer not the alien to live.

Cleanse the stars from the monstrosity of the Xeno.

Kill! Kill! Kill!

Thus it is that exterminated Xenos join the mass of lonesome voidfaring corpses, together with millions upon millions of Imperial subjects drowned in the nightsky by decree of superiors or by the malice of corridor criminals, aside from innumerable casaulties of warring starfleets and accidents, all drifting through the empty space between planets and star systems. Perhaps some of them are the frigid remains of fabled heroes and starsurfers of myth and legend from the Dark Age of Technology, their unseeing eyes open, beholding nothing, or perhaps beholding the degeneration of their descendants, silently witnessing the neverending misery and bloodshed of those fanatic savages that squat among the ruins of the once shining human civilization they knew as home. A lost dream. A dead dream. These dead adrift might be forgotten by mortal minds, swallowed by the abyssal nothingness of astronomical distances, yet be assured that the ascended Imperator knows them all, and He will not forget to judge them severely from the Golden Throne, cloaked in celestial radiance and the power of true deity. The God-Emperor will judge all of them of human stock.

Every single one of them.

For He ken every machine-spirit's opening of airlock, and He ken every voidsman blasted into outer space. And He beholds the killing and the suffering, and He knows it to be a righteous punishment visited upon wretched man for his heinous sins. And so too does every hand in the Imperial Navy and merchant fleet, and every man, woman and child born on the numberless voidholms of the Imperium. And they include a line in their daily prayers, begging the protector of all men to save them from the empty gasp, the voidgrave, the endless stare. Blessed be the name of the Emperor of Mankind. Blessed be His domain and the wise masters He has appointed to rule over us. Blessed be the Imperium of Man, abode of greatness and last shield of humanity.

Ave Imperator.

And so man in the Age of Imperium traverse the cosmic expanse in starships of inherited, scavenged and forgotten technology, suckling the most robust and simple fruits of a long-lost age of wonders while unable and unwilling to plant anew. These vessels of Imperial power teem with oppressed, parochial and superstitious masses, a filthy swarm of raw humanity toiling away at tasks which once machines handled seamlessly, leading short, nasty and brutish lives. These fearful hordes have long since lost the childlike wish to grasp the universe and crack its secrets wide open, for their downtrodden hearts are bereft of that enterprising spirit which once carried their distant ancestors so far across the stars, until the bell of doom rang over mankind for the first time, and all was fell.

You can see it in their eyes, if you look closely: The death of a dream. A dream, that was the birthright of their species.

Such are the prospects of us all, in the darkest of futures.

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


- - -

Tribute to Acolyte Reeb Van Horne in WarHams, played by Earndil, who saved Episode 15 (The Laughter of Thirsting Closets) from the abominable plans of SpeakerD (both of whom are lead writers at If the Emperor had A Text-To-Speech Device).

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2021 11:34 pm 
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In a demented epoch, man must make the ultimate sacrifice.

War has always been a great danger to mortals, and in this regard nothing has truly changed since primitive man first bashed in the skull of his enemy with a rock, for in a forsaken future of plasma cannons, chainaxes and graviton crushers, foes still maim and slay each other without abandon. All across a seething galaxy teeming with life, the war gods hold sway with supreme power over the fates of lone mortals and great empires alike, and a cycle of endless slaughter is the rule of the day. Interstellar warfare presents enormous challenges, not least logistical ones, and an incessant state of total war mobilization will hollow out and cannibalize the warring society from within. On the sea of stars, navies manned by tens of millions of crewmen clash in bursts of destructive energy sufficient to leave green worlds barren. In the field, armies numbering in the billions face unspeakable horrors as the full might of advanced military technology is brought to bear with little to no inhibition.

The challenges of war across the stars are staggering, and can easily bleed prosperous economies and their gargantuan population numbers white, inviting chaos and turmoil on the home front as stability plummets. All too many voidfaring empires exerted themselves to the very limit in order to win large conflicts, only to suddenly break apart from inside as the home front collapsed. The internal risks of war exhaustion and demoralization can doom dynasties who have ruled for millennia, and the external risks of enemy invasion can destroy all the fruits of untold generations of toil and ingenuity. Yet such perils must be faced, and crushed underheel, for the ten thousand year old Imperium of Man will let no one foe stand in its way, and it will annihilate any rebels who wish to win independence from its harsh tyranny, as the God-Emperor decreed. After all, an empire that never had any qualms about killing its own taxpayers en masse in peacetime will not shirk away from the harrowing maelstrom of total war.

And so Imperial Tithe is gathered from a million worlds and uncountable voidholms, in a flood of men and materiel, in a barrage of starships and ground vehicles, in an outburst of Imperial might by an interstellar realm that has long since learnt to compensate its decaying technological base and screeching inefficiencies by callously increasing the input in a broken calculation of great numbers which aim to hammer the foe asunder, or at least grind the enemy down through sheer attrition. In such a crude equation, human value becomes a laughable concept. Behold the billions in the armies and the hundreds of billions in the industry and bureaucracy, and know that wretched man is nothing but a cheap and easily replacable component in a vast, faceless system where hands, heads and spines ever more must pick up the slack where ancient machines break down, and the ability to repair or replace them no longer exist among the living.

In the Age of Imperium, man no longer dominates the Milky Way galaxy with such overwhelming force that no foe dare stand against him. Instead, the scavenging survivors of the Age of Strife managed to gather human power anew, armed with a poorly understood patchwork technology salvaged from the wrecks and ruins of the ancients, relying on the copying of old blueprints and schematic guesswork. The Horus Heresy struck the young Imperium hard, and sounded the final death knell for any chance of a renaissance for human science and invention. Ever since, almost all human colonies across the galaxy have been ruled by the smothering iron fist of the Imperium of Man, locked inside a decrepit star dominion of paranoid oppression whose bickering and self-serving factions consistently choke any frail first steps toward a renewed blooming of intellect and worldly curiosity. Knowledge is power: Guard it well.

Bogged down in a dysfunctional morass of its own making, the Imperium of Man masters but few subtle tricks, and its default solution to any problem is to throw more bodies at it. Thus an armed exodus of men, women and child soldiers are shipped out to ten thousand different war fronts, while blinkered hordes of labourers keep the rusting wheels of Imperial industry turning through immense toil and lethal self-sacrice. A plethora of vastly different human cultures exist throughout the million planets and innumerable voidholms of the Imperium, yet all share a narrow-minded fanaticism and intense religious devotion, trusting in the protection of the Holy Terran Emperor. And so zealous barbarians stand shoulder to shoulder with pious peasants and superstitious hive city scum within the Astra Militarum, taking up simple, mass-produced arms and body armour that were chosen both for their dependability, ease of manufacture and cheapness.

Most of the lighter armaments and infantry protection of the Planetary Defence Forces, Voidholm Militias and Imperial Guard are markedly inferior to the weapon systems and armour suits reserved for the God-Emperor's utterly brainwashed elite corps and enforcers, such the Militarum Tempestus or the Adeptus Arbites. One primary reason for this state of affairs is the need to equip the blindly loyal forces of internal suppression better than the potentially rebellious regiments they may one day have to eradicate, and thus rig the deck in the Imperium's favour. Another head cause for the shoddy equipment of the Astra Militarum is the fact that most infantrymen and vehicles will not survive for long in warzones to begin with, so why waste precious resources on technological bells and whistles and advanced tactical training when both the tank and its crew anyway will be dead within four Terran months after deployment? When your foremost strength is an overwhelming force of numbers, you need to churn out cheap and crude wargear to equip ever new short-lived mass armies numbering in the billions of soldiers, to replace the last set that died out all too quickly. The Imperium needs to play a ravenous numbers game, foregoing any focus on technological sophistication in wargear for sheer mass-production on a gigantic scale. After all, quantity has a quality all of its own.

It is said that one man's death is a tragedy, while the death of one million is a statistic. To better understand the plight of the common Imperial infantryman, let us behold such an instructive tragedy of a mere single death among untold hundreds of millions of casaulties, one victim among many in a distant war under a strange sun.

The verdant mining world of Zikaru is the third moon of the teal gas giant Parmashtaq, the seventh planet of the crowded Evar system, within the Gevura sector in southern Ultima Segmentum. At the start of the 8th century of M40, the backwater Tech-Priests on Zikaru watched helplessly as the final breakdown occurred for an advanced continent-spanning lace of piped irrigation systems and largely automated desalination facilities. None of their prayers, meditations and oracular pilgrimages had yielded a working answer to the failing intricacies of the poorly understood agricultural irrigation systems that fed all of Zikaru with huge quantities of foodstuffs. The panicking Tech-Priests on the third moon first erupted in armed hostilities as they blamed each other, and then agreed on a tenuous ceasefire while they scrambled to pool their stunted knowledge and come up with a rudimentary emergency system reliant on primitive tech and massive input of manual corvée labour, which eventually solidified into a permanent feature of Zikaruan agriculture. This process of infighting and amateur engineering took over a decade to hammer out, a waterless decade which saw emerald green fields turn to desert and crop yields plummet on the agri-continent of Caraculum.

Within one year, food prices skyrocketed, leading to upper caste hoarding while mass starvation and cannibalism plagued the very poorest mineworkers. After two years, all of the moon's governatorial granaries were empty, while Imperial Governor Zakhrut XXI had found all his efforts to import massive amounts of foodstuff blocked by his personal enemies offworld. On the third year, massive strikes shook the entirety of Zikaru as miners of all castes shouted for free food now to their starving families. This was met by massacres from the local forces of order, which only fuelled the fires of dicontent. On the fourth year, three-fourths of of Zikaru was tearing itself apart in a chaotic mess of civil war and cannibal raids, leading to the ousting and retreat of the Governor's loyal forces to the parched agri-continent of Caraculum, which the Adeptus Mechanicus (and its ration-prioritized press ganged workers numbering twohundredthirthy million) was busy restructuring wholesale with primitive dams, pools and canals, as well as strategic tree and bush planting in order to bind the dusty top soil with roots.

On the fifth year, Zikaru had lost eighteen percent of its population, and all continents and islets oustide Caraculum were in a state of warlord anarchy. Still, a precarious situation of mass worker die-off was stabilized as an old bushwack nomad's trick at last paid off, namely to cake in the seeds of nimsu reed in clay or dung before planting in the desert. This new source of nutrients kept most of the corvée labour force above starvation level, and the staved-off disaster on Caraculum allowed Imperial Governor Zakhrut XXI to rebuild his forces. On the sixth year, the Governor ordered his armies to land at the mining moon's two small billion-strong hive cities, yet the expeditions ended in a military catastrophe, and Zakhrut XXI was killed in a palace coup, replaced by a royally incestuous power couple of his eldest son and daughter. The new rulers were in turn branded as obscene heretics and swiftly slain by the patriarch of a cadet branch of the royal dynasty, and thus Yezeri Firee III ascended to the throne in Caraculum, while the most powerful Zikaruan warlords outside the agri-continent started to coalesce into warring cliques, most of which had separatist ambitions toward the Imperium. With the governatorial forces depleted thrice over thanks to inept generalship, the race was on for whom of the magnates would outsmart his opponents and conquer all of devastated Zikaru.

On the seventh year, a much delayed Adeptus Administratum Tithing fleet arrived to the Evar system, and Yezeri Firee III failed in his attempts to make his rump state uncontactable. When the Administratum assessors arrived to the third moon of Parmashtaq, they discovered both its sorry state of civil collapse and the reigning Imperial Governor's clumsy attempts to adopt vox and astropath silence. The Administratum master assessor in orbit around Zikaru was greatly vexed both by the moonside chaos and transparent fake muting of communications, so he thus overreacted and lashed out in petty rage by hiring the services of an Eversor Assassin from the shadowy Officio Assassinorum. One cloudy night, a single drop pod descended toward the crisis capital on the agri-continent of Caraculum. When the people of the city awoke, they found that divine retribution had struck the Governor's temporary palace, with all top officials, ministers and vezirs having been slain, lying in pools of their own blood together with every single member of the household staff, guard force and dynasty members present in the fortified palace. Not a single human being in the temporary palace survived the mysterious rampage. The usurper Yezeri Firee III was found chopped into tiny pieces in the bed of his favourite mistress, and the rest of that year was spent in vicious power struggles within the royal clan.

The master assessor's ostentatious Eversor strike had achieved nothing of value for the Imperium of Man, but it had soothed the bureaucratic potentate's flaring temper. Content with the reports received on the palatial slaughter, this Administratum overlord contacted the Departmento Munitorum and informed them of the sorry situation on Zikaru. In response, Astra Militarum regiments were mustered on nearby worlds and from neighbouring systems, and shipped off to the turbulent mining moon in a remarkably fast flurry of voidfaring activity. On the eighth year, a force of half a billion Imperial Guardsmen had been collected and deployed moonside to begin the pacification of all continents other than Caraculum. A few warlords capitulated and insisted that they had remained loyal toward the Imperium of Man through the whole ordeal, but most warlords banded together in a patriotic coalition for Zikaruan independence, and threw their hardened warriors into a united front against the offworld foreigners. The Imperial suppression force managed to do what no warlord nor Governor had succeded in doing during the previous years of societal freefall: Namely, to unite Zikaru, or most of it anyway.

Warlord coalition resistance toward Imperial forces proved much harder than anticipated, and the Zikaruan freedom fighters managed to galvanize subtantial parts of the reduced population through vigorous propaganda campaigns that painted the Imperator's loyal servants as nothing but leaching oppressors and greedy foreigners seeking to plunder their beloved homeworld. In the great struggle that ensued, Zikaru would see yet more of its populace killed off by war and all its accompanying hardships, until less than half of the mining moon's pre-troubles population remained once the dust had finally settled. Over a course of nine years, great campaigns of mostly blundering grand strategy were conducted by a bickering Astra Militarum general staff, who often contradicted each other and refused cooperation on grounds of personal honour and ancient House feuds, all the while firing up the fighting spirit of their troops by promises of loot, slaves and a fine place in the afterworld for all martyrs of the God-Emperor's righteous hosts.

It was in this brutal environment of bitter war against rebellious native cannibals that the Frejian 5947th infantry regiment of the Astra Militarum landed, as part of a wave of reinforcements during the fourth year of Imperial reconquest, in preparation for the bloody Fascinus offensive. The Frejian 5947th was a young regiment, having yet to earn its colours, and its swaggering soldiers yearned to prove the new unit's mettle with a reckless manly bravado. The infantry regiment was deployed as part of the 803rd Frejian division, commanded by Hostis Legatarch Snorri af Kulsack. This able veteran general found himself slotted into a rigid schedule of frontal human wave attacks, and in this unimaginative position ordained from above, all his skill and experience could amount to little more than directing his division's mortars and rocket launchers toward clearing likely enemy heavy weapon hideouts before the advance began.

Their objective was to capture a hostile fort designated Castra Priapus, and they had readied themselves for the upcoming assault by offering fervent prayers to His Divine Majesty in His guise as the lord of hosts, while their regimental clericus militarii had wandered among this band of brothers and galored the lads with blood-boiling tales of the foe's sins, blasphemy and atrocities. Thus the Frejian Guardsmen cultivated an earnest hatred for their filthy foe, and many vowed to bring home anatomical trophies from at least three slain traitors. It was to be a seminal offensive for the upstart 5947th Frejian infantry regiment, and one of its daring warriors was private Vittur Menelik, of Völse company. Vittur eagerly followed the regimental-wide order to fix bayonets, and he endeavoured to prove his fortitude and courage in the face of death.

And so the Frejian infantry climbed over the top of their trenches as vox-amplifiers rang out litanies of hatred, and these cocky young men charged over no-man's land, into the testing ground of combat where heroes and cravens alike are made through the proof of their deeds. Private Vittur Menelik followed his squad sergeant Rod Böllur and joined in a thousand-throated battlecry. "Freji stands!" the men shouted as they rushed over a lunar landscape of craters, vehicular wrecks and corpses, yet their warcry was soon drowned in a tornado of hostile artillery fire, while a staccato of heavy stubbers and the rapid whiplashes of multilasers opened up from the enemy lines.

Sergeant Rod fell amid the barbed wire in front of the first line of enemy trenches, yet his squad pressed home the attack. Vittur, that gutsy man, cast himself into the jaws of death without deviant thought of self, lasgun blazing as they stormed the first trench line, and then the second, and then the third. Vittur was always at the forefront of the attack, and this loyal son of the Imperium covered himself in glory, slaying half a dozen foes by grenade, las bolts and bayonet. The Frejian soldiers risked life and limb and showed no mercy to any enemy who wished to surrender, but instead cut them down on the spot and charged on through winding trenches and over pockmarked grounds battered by ordnance to win through with their bold assault. They were heedless to their own losses, and a feverish battle rage descended upon the Imperial Guardsmen.

Kill! Kill! Kill!

Yet our gallant hero met his grisly end while running toward the fourth line of trenches at Castra Priapus. All of a sudden, a heavy stubber bullet from an advanced gunnery nest slammed into private Vittur sideways and went through both groins, as the after-action report of Völse company phrased it. It was the dread of males everywhere, for this gelding hipshot proved to be the bane wound of the valiant Frejian soldier. The flak codpiece that protected the wearer's manhood from front angle hits was of no avail, since the heavy stubber shot had entered the Guardsman's body from the flank of his unarmoured hip, dooming him to an emasculating demise. The agony was almost blinding, yet Vittur Menelik did not fall unconscious, but lived through every moment of it all, until death eventually released him several minutes later. The sideways phallic wound had also shattered both of his hips. This heinous mutilation of the infantryman's membrum virile brought the Frejian intense pain, and like a bull turned into an ox would he never more father children nor know a maiden ever again.

Thus private Vittur Menelik lived a deedful man, yet died a whimpering eunuch. Hardened veterans who saw the gory dying of this strapping young fellow would shudder and twitch forth protective hand gestures whenever they recalled his baleful demise. They said he experienced unimaginable torment, and froth came from his mouth before he started vomiting blood, and all the while perspiration poured from Vittur's face. The agony was so great he could not bear it. No man could. Witnesses described how the eyes of the Frejian Guardsman were wide open from shock as he sat on his knees, swaying backward and forward while pressing his arms around his stomach. They all agreed that the brave warrior suffered more in the short time that he was dying thus nastily, than any other man they ever saw in war. It was dreadful to look upon him, and all the other horror of the battlefield paled in comparison. He sat there in total pain, mouthing a High Gothic mantra over and over in between the vomiting of blood:

"Imperatore Terrae, domine salva animam meam." Emperor of Earth, o please save my soul. It was an unmanning death, yet nevertheless a hero's death. And so Vittur Menelik of the Frejian 5947th passed away on Zikura, devout in his faith and ritual worship to the very last. All mortal men should strive to follow his example. Vittur's departure had been somewhat of a Caesarean death, wounded in his sword, as it were, akin to how one betrayed great leader of men once died most brutally during the bygone Age of Terra. Traitors truly are the lowest forms of scum, wherefore we must hunt them down and slay them all, lest they do unspeakable things to us and our kin. Suffer not the traitor to live!

Behold that fallen stallion of war, fearless and true to his species and lord. He truly knew the meaning of sacrifice, yet it was only his corporeal vessel of dust and clay that bled that day. What suffered on Zikaru was merely the inconsequential matter that make up the flesh of the worthless creature that is man. For wretched man is a sinner who should burn in hellfire, yet the shielding goodness in the heart of our celestial master and saviour allows man to transcend his base nature if his soul is pure and his spirit is strong. Know that the God-Emperor demand the ultimate sacrifice from each man, and nought else but total devotion and submission to His divine will may suffice.

Behold Vittur Menelik, martyr of our cause. He happily met his end with virtues intact and warrior's honour upright. He died bravely in service to the Emperor of mankind, and who could ever wish for anything more in this vale of sorrows we call life? Behold!

Remember the self-sacrifice of those fallen in battle, for in their dying moments can be glimpsed what it means to be human in the glorious Age of Imperium. Remember!

Rejoice in the death of our faithful, for the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Imperium. Rejoice!

Let not their sacrifice be in vain, but follow instead their example and take up arms in the name of His Divine Majesty of Holy Terra. Rise! Join the pure ranks of the martyrs. Rise, mankind! Meet death and destruction, and fear not injury, for the Emperor protects.

Ave Imperator.

And so it is that men, women and children willingly throw themselves unto certain death and mutilation. They do this for the sake of their Emperor. And they all die in service to the sacred hierarchy of the Imperium of Man, that interstellar colossus on feet of clay that will burn through the people with callous disregard, the flesh of man being but yet another expendable resource for the rulers of the Imperium to use as they see fit. And as the lives of trillions are wasted in a doomed effort to stem the decline of human power in the Milky Way galaxy, the gravely wounded and the dying among these warriors across the stars may hear, as if in a fever dream, the melodious harmony of an angelic choir.

Or the laughter of thirsting gods.

Such is the fate of mankind, in the darkest of futures.

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

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 1:09 pm 
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In an eon of insanity, man has become a wall.

To contemplate the full horror of life in the Age of Imperium, one must first recognize that mankind fell from his sublime pinnacles of worldly wonder and achievement that was the Dark Age of Technology, a heady time when man settled millions of planets and bestrode the galaxy like a colossus thanks to the cunning of his mind and the artifice of his hands. From those lofty heights did man plunge down a precipice of doom known as the Age of Strife, when man in his suffering and desperation devolved into a savage cannibal and wretched scavenger bereft of longevity and innovation, capable only of manhunts, abduction of woman and looting the great works of a bygone golden age in a shocking state of the most primitive cruelty and ignorance. Parent ate child, and all was ruin.

The death spiral of Old Night was eventually halted by the bloodstained coming of the Emperor of Terra, rising the eagle banner on man's birthworld, and for a short while a resurgent spirit of enterprise and ingenuity swept across the surviving human colonies as legions conquered, for the rekindled sparks of brilliance seemed set to lead man back to his former ascendancy. Yet the feeble flesh of mortals are destined to wither and die, and so too must their dreams, for once again the galaxy burned in a monstrous civil war that ravaged man's dominions and tore down any chance of restoring his lost supremacy and soaring quest for immortality. Brother slew brother, and all was fell.

The shining beacon of hope that was the early Imperium, forged in the fires of the Great Crusade, has since sunk together like a failed soufflé. For the might and splendour of the Imperium proved not a bastion of strength to shelter man from a galaxy of horrors, but became instead a prison where the efforts of man amounted to little more than a prolonged waiting for the inevitable end as his powerful vigour and clarity of mind rotted into torpid senility. Thus the Age of Imperium brought not rejuvenation to man, but the decline and misery of old age. And man slid down into a swamp of misery and superstition, and he reverted to a blinkered fanatic capable of the most bloodthirsty acts of depravity imaginable. Hate ruled supreme, as grinding destitution and endless struggle saw trillions ultimately die for nothing. Man trod water, and all was decay.

Twohundredfifty generations of brutal freefall were thus followed by fivehundred generations of total war. Fivehundred generations of sacrifice and suffering. Fivehundred generations of unending carnage and slaughter. Thus wretched man learnt to harness himself to the cart, and he pulled the heavy burden forward through inexorable storms. And as he fought a losing war against impending doom, man again and again made use of an ancient warrior trick until it became second nature to him, for man would seek shelter behind the fallen, and man would pile his dead into a wall of flesh to shield himself from death for a little longer. And thus even the lifeless husks of departed souls were made to serve in the arena of slaughter.

Survival in war has ever favoured quick-thinking soldiers who manage to adapt to their battlefield and use the terrain itself as a weapon to strike back against the enemy. Cunning and luck has ever been crucial when swords are drawn, for victory must be won by any means necessary, and damn all scruples that would betray you to the cruel foe. Thus Imperial Guardsmen with their wits about them instinctively know to take cover when under fire, and anyone who wish to preserve his stay among the living will know to swallow his revulsion and make use of the dead. Such pragmatic solutions to the perils of the moment have always been a regretful fact of life in armed conflicts through the ages, yet never before has a great power betwixt the stars turned such dehumanizing improvization into a systematically ingrained practice among the articles of faith in its military doctrines.

It is better to die for the Emperor, than to live for yourself. It is better to clog up the streets and corridors with your own carcass, than to retreat an inch when faced with mortal danger. It is better to erect barricades out of the fallen warriors of mankind, than to bury them. Not even in death does duty end. Fear not the pox and the plague, for the God-Emperor shields his faithful and devout ritual worshippers from the festering swarms of germs, flies and maggots. Trust in the guidance of the Imperator of Holy Terra to bless you with the grant to think on your feet, and therefore dive for cover behind a fallen comrade. Be pure of heart and strong of will, and lay corpse upon corpse to form a solid wall. Waste not, want not.

One glimpse of an exemplary sharp Imperial footsoldier who found an aegis in so much dead meat, was that of private Dasharatha Kumarya, of the 108108th Rajipur Tech-Guard regiment of the Astra Militarum. During the twelfth battle of Hive Rhea on Perisistratus VII, lunar satellite to Teleklos Tertiarius, this Imperial infantryman followed the rapid advance of his platoon's brave lieutnant Skanda Ramutiskrit, when suddenly the junior officer and most of his platoon were gunned down in a rebel ambush. Dasharatha survived the initial massacre by the will of our lord on Terra, and he was granted a flash of preserving insight from the lord of hosts and leader of the people, wherefore the private quickly took cover behind the corpse of his dead platoon leader, which lay splayed out on the ground with a scorching wound through Skanda's right eye. Dasharatha Kumarya peered through his gasmask lense and proceeded to methodically gun down one treacherous enemy after another, all the while yelling the traditional battlecry of his homeworld: "For the Omnissiah and the Holy Atom!" Thus did an Imperial Guardsman avenge a loyal officer's death by shooting the foe from behind the carcass of his slain martial brother.

Yet the uses for fallen soldiers extend far beyond momentary emergencies in Imperial modes of operation. Warfare for the servants of the God-Emperor is an industrial undertaking waged on a titanic scale, where little room is left over for finesse and efficiency. To win in war, the Imperium knows that it must feed the meatgrinder in a broken calculation of increased input of men and material, heedless of all losses beyond the balancing of very large numbers on available force charts. How else could this sclerotic empire of a million worlds and uncountable voidholms survive? Only by growing a heart of stone can the Imperium of Man do what must be done, blind and deaf to the human suffering its lowly minions must endure.

Forget the power of technology and science, for so much has been forgotten, never to be relearned. Effectivization, improvement and innovation were the follies of the Dark Age of Technology, whose glories have long since rusted and faded away. As knowledge and ancient hardware slowly withers away, increasing amounts of processes which were once the domain of machinery and automation have to be salvaged in patchwork manner by throwing bodies at the problem. Literally so, in the case of military engineering and fieldworks.

Thus the Imperium of Man has long since codified standard practices of using the corpses of friend and foe alike as landfill in such inconvenient features of the theatre of operations as enemy trenches, moats, rivers and valleys. What once was only a desperate gambit during better and long since forgotten eras, has now become standard Imperial procedure, as instructed by the Tactica Imperialis and practiced by Imperial forces all across the Milky Way galaxy. In fact, campaign planners within the Departmento Munitorum will always adjust calculations for Imperial Guard sandbag needs and consumption, by including corrective equations compensating for casaulty rates determined by the average volume and density of a malnourished human being, since the Astra Militarum by ancient decree of the High Lords of Terra operates on the thrifty principle of not letting the dead go to waste.

Thus slave labour, military fieldwork detachments and machine cohorts directed by gifted amateur officers, Mensurae Lustrantii or Tech-Priest Enginseers labour day and night to build and reshape the battlefield with plasteel, earth, rockrete, sandbags and the bodies of dead people and beasts alike as primary materials. The dirt of the ground, prefabricated sections and lifeless stalwarts are all combined into field fortifications and strongpoints that may prove decisive in the fickle mutability of military campaigns. When casaulties as usual ramp up in the millions and often also billions, the hard-working soldiers of the Astra Militarum and their harrowed corvée labour gangs will move amid the filth and squalor of the battlefront, scavenging corpses and constructing redoubts of unmoving flesh and bone. These carcass building blocks are not only limited to civilian and military humans alike, but also include all manner of alien and exotic animal cadavers of ridden mounts, draft animals, tracking beasts, attack predators and many other strange creatures. Even the fallen can be put to good use.

Thus the warriors of the Emperor pile dead men, women and children on top of one another for their battlements, using both earth and corpses on top of rockrete fortifications for extra protection. Of course, sometimes acute shortage of building material rear its ugly head when planning or convoying fall foul of reality. Then, nearby settlements may find themselves razed to the ground and plundered to the cellars in order to provide material for the military needs of defence and siegeworks. The banality of evil is such that ordinary people in the uniforms of Planetary Defence Forces, Voidholm Militias and the Astra Militarum may find themselves committing routine purges of useless eaters in populations close to the front, without even an ounce of regret or gleeful cruelty stirring in their jaded hearts. It's just war, like any other.

And so primitive earthworks reinforced by dead human bodies take shape on ten thousand different warfronts. Even the deceased will have a posthumous chance to serve their species and lord, whether it be in the shape of soldiers with galloping hearts who throw themselves to the ground and find momentary respite behind a fallen brother in arms or martial sister, or in the form of macabre field fortifications deliberately planned and built under the careful supervision of overseers with whips and measuring instruments in hand. Must we not all offer up ourselves and our close kin on the altar of duty? Must we not all sacrifice our lives and limbs for the greater cause of humanity's divine Imperator? There can be no future for man without sons and daughters willing to give all in service to His Divine Majesty, no matter the brutal horror staring them in the eye.

Since human life is worth nothing, why should the Imperium of Man attach any abstract dignity to the human dead? Better to raise corpse castles and cadaverous bastions, than let such beneficial casaulties go to waste. After all, do we not in truth honour the dead by building with their corporeal vessels? And do not many warlike fallen eventually end up in sacred monuments, on full display for all the congregation to behold and ponder? For after battle has ended, the Adeptus Ministorum in all its pomp and pageantry will vie with local planetary or voidholm authorities over prime ossuary pickings from among the slain. And so corpses will be uncovered and flayed of their wretched flesh, to be bathed in acid until only pure bone and teeth remains. On one million worlds and voidholms without number, both temple and palace will exert strenuous efforts in order to collect the numerous remains of fallen loyalist warriors and martyrs of the faith for processing into skull towers and skeletal decoration for cathedrals and other forms of Imperial architecture. Thus those who fell in the heat of battle and were heaped upon one another at the front, may find a second duty in death by instructing the pious multitude on the thanks owed to those who give their life for the Emperor, as well as serving patriotic propaganda purposes in grand ceremonies enacted by local overlods desperate to shore up popular support.

The evil that men do will never relent, and neither will mortals of any species cease butchering each other across this turbulent galaxy. Death and taxes are said to be the only certainties in life, and so war must harvest its due share of fallen fighters and victims when flames engulf the baleful field of slaughter. We know they will die in battle, so why deny that stark reality by hiding the dead? No, better that their corpses fulfill a greater purpose, than be wasted on selfish burial. Thought of self, after all, is an unforgivable sin, so grab now the limp arms and legs of fallen comrades and heave them on top of the battlement. It is a virtuous toil.

For we will harbour no pity, no remorse, no mercy. We will rise strong to the occasion with fervent prayers on our lips, and we will bear the strains of labour and the rigours of combat without deviation. Without empathy. Without weakness. We all hereby solemnly swear to kill and be killed for the sake of our species and lord, and we likewise forswear our bodies of flesh and blood, and we willingly dedicate them to whatever higher purpose our masters and betters may design for them. We confess our wretched lives to be worth less than ash and clay, for we have sinned, and our ancestors have sinned, and our descendants will sin in the eyes of the God-Emperor of mankind. Please, o mighty lord of men! Please give our flesh and dust value by building out of us a mighty bulwark, to stand against the darkness. Please, we ask of You, o celestial judge of souls, we ask of You to use us, to throw us away or to incinerate us if You so will! Only You on high can grant us meaning. As such we will sacrifice, and be sacrificed in turn. In Your name.

This we pledge, and this we ask, and may our immortal souls burn in eternal hellfire if we break this sacred vow.

Ave Imperator.

And so man carries on, with the most primal stubbornness and will to survive burning valiantly in his heart. His realm across the starspangled void may have shrunk to but a million worlds and a decimated gaggle of voidholms, clinging to what little hope remains against the overwhelming darkness. Trapped as he has been for ten thousand years inside an interstellar madhouse, man will go to the ends of immorality and beyond to fight the grinding erosion of his degenerate Imperium. He will commit any heinous crime imaginable to uphold that corrupt and oppressive tyranny of mass murder and degradation that is his sole remaining shield, and he will fill his lungs with hatred, and he will shout his defiance to the high heavens. And man will rage, rage against the dying of the light, even as the doomed Imperial order that is his shepherd and slavedriver continues the decline of human power in the Milky Way galaxy.

In the darkest of futures, what is man if not the most wretched of creatures? What is man if not the eager thrall of tyrants and liars? What is man if not the stone of his own wall?

We must build.

See the whole world become our clay. Behold the life and death of wicked man for what it is: But another material substance with which to remould and build anew as the exalted masters of the radiant Imperium sees fit. Be practical of mind and squander not the resources of His Divine Majesty, the protector of our species chosen by all the gods of old, whom He superceded. Learn to erect obstacles and fortifications out of the bloodstained dead themselves. Cover them with earth, and then cover the earth with human cadavers. Stake rods through inert earth and dead men alike to strengthen the structure. Display the remains of your deceased heroes proudly on the parapet, and follow their valiant example. Defy your abominable foe with blackest contempt and fiery scorn, and show that every casaulty of yours is but another brick in the wall of the Imperium. As we die in this vale of anguish, that wall will rise higher and stronger than before, by the celestial grace of the Emperor, enthroned in heavenly light upon the Golden Throne of Holy Terra. Remember that Throne ruling over all mankind, and remember the merciless judgement that awaits us all. Remember the sacrifice you have been called upon to make, and do not flinch in the performance of your Imperial duty, soldier.

Glory to the first man to die!

Praise be unto the lord and saviour of our species! Praise be unto the Master of Mankind! Behold His manifold blessings, for even in death may the martyrs of the Imperium continue to protect the living.

Such is the demented state of a regressed mankind in service to the rotting stellar dominions of Holy Terra and Mars, locked in an unspoken suicide pact.

Such is the future that awaits us all.

Such is the grave of our species.

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

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2021 3:28 am 
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Legwork

"Heavy cannon fire had overturned the dirt several times over, and men had been buried all about in the ground like hay in clay. As the company was sent in to repair the trenches during a lull, the captain went about and inspected the dig work.

He turned a corner in the maze, and suddenly he saw the better part of a human leg still sticking out of the mud wall, ready to trip him up. The officer pointed at a man:

'You there. Cut that thing off and throw it on the parapet!" barked the captain.

The private jumped to it and hacked the leg off with his spade, foot and all. Then another man complained:

'So there went the wall hook. And just where shall I now hang me kit, eh?'"

- Common soldier's joke scribbled in bloodstained notebook found on half the corpse of corporal Kitos-Qardasht of the Astra Militarum 3310th Liby-Habrywean fusilier regiment, commanded by colonel Helqoegus Bomylcar Manidtrabal (CCLXIV Army), following the unit's complete annihilation in 061.M39 during the Army's rout after the failed fourth siege of Hive Bybulus on Seidon Triarius

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2021 1:35 pm 
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In the grim darkness of the far future, there is no sanctuary from the spawn of man.

In a garbled multitude of songs and sagas recited in a million different tongues around crackling campfires and flickering hab lumens, it is told that Man of Gold banished cruelty from the human soul, and for this arrogant sin he was rendered soft of countenance and weak of will. Thus ancient man lacked the dogged hatred and hardy grit that ultimately sustains life in this harsh vale of trial and woe, and ancient man inevitably succumbed to his own feeble spirit even as his hubris shone with supreme confidence in man's unlimited abilities, miraculous works and achievements. For mercy and kindness slays no foe, and thus ancient man missed his golden opportunity to scour the galaxy free of hostile aliens while his worldly might was unsurpassed and man's fortunes soared to godlike heights.

Indeed the gentle openness of ancient man made him akin to a carapaced creature bereft of its shell, for on all too many worlds and void habitats did people welcome the emergence of witches and encourage the exploration of their heinous warpcraft, and those worlds thus inclined to kindness were utterly doomed. Ancient man's inner feckless spirit would transform into an outward reality of despair and darkest helplessness as luxury died and shining towers toppled, for the Dark Age of Technology ended in flames and kineating ruin, and man's chance for a grand purification across the stars was never grasped.

We see then, that empathy and a sweetly heart bereft of cruelty turned Man of Gold's spirit rotten weak in the midst of unrivalled worldly strength, for benignant compassion is the highest form of folly, and thus the kindness of ancient man nearly doomed our species. Such were the mistakes of our wicked forefathers, yet we are much wiser now. For we know that hard times create strong men, and strong men create good times, and good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times. Only by holding on to strength at all costs may we break that decadent cycle of decay. Times must ever be hard. They must ever be made hard for us to live in, to breed strong men.

We must not make men weak, nay, we must scour them with hardship and struggle, we must worship strength and embrace that which makes us strong. We know, as ancient man did not, that we must banish compassion and forgiveness from our souls, lest all our kin and offspring will perish, and all our bloodlines and species will succumb to oblivion. Do you wish to see the heads of your children smashed upon the rocks? Do you wish for weakness to devour your family? If not, then vigilant be. Only a strong people manning a wall of hatred can hope to survive the horrors beyond and the rot within. For the radiant God-Emperor Himself has decreed in holy writ issued from the cradle of mankind that we must be ruthless. We must be strong. We must be cruel.

No remorse. No regret. No mercy.

And so across one million worlds and innumerable voidholms, a regressed colossus on feet of clay will encourage human hardiness through the trinity of misery, iniquity and strife, yet the hidebound local cultures populating such a myriad of teeming planets and overcrowded spacestations need little spurring on from above, for the Imperator of Holy Terra has seen fit to gift unto man inner reserves of abhorrence and stubborn will, buoyed up by petty spite, mistrust, cunning and jealousy, all the better to make man's inner character manifest at the most of times, on every day and on every rotation. In order to better understand how man's treatment of fellow man contributes to the strengthening of his spirit, let us plunge the depths of depravity clogging up the human soul. Let us see how man, as child, through his small deeds and words of common everyday conduct may engender his sound hardiness, for the betterment of our starspanning species as a whole.

Among some of the most primitive human tribes across the galaxy, people who display extraordinary brilliance and intelligence will be sacrificed to the God-Emperor or to some local anima-spirits, the better for their outstanding gifts to placate wrathful divinity and stop pestering the parochial community with the most clever ones' oddness and weirdness of character. Thus child prodigies and grown-up geniuses alike are hanged from tree branches and ripped apart upon altars running with blood and gore, all of them nothing but deviants effectively voted out of life by a cohesive culture of barbarians who would rather not be unnerved by their brainish wit. Such savage customs may be extreme, yet they are in reality echoed in word and deed everywhere man dwells across the Milky Way galaxy.

It befits lowly souls of mediocre envy to stomp on the tender sprouts of genius before they can bloom. Man finds that it behooves him to drown the hopes of gifted ones in this dark abyss of his own insecure lack of vision before they can rise above the short reach of his spiteful tongue and violent hands. The spirit of man is ever easily quenched by parochial narrow-mindedness and fanatic myopia, ever easily led astray by man's own pettiness and ideas with a catchy ring to them.

What we are describing, is a most commonplace phenomenon, something unavoidable and unpreventable, tacitly accepted and embraced by humanity everywhere across the length and breadth of the Imperium, and naturally it also reigns unchallenged on those outlying lost human colonies that eke out a meagre existence beyond the holy light and sacral rule of His Divine Majesty and the godly inspired High Lords of Terra. Everywhere the seed of man grows, children will innately know to purge the weak, freeze out the unwanted and harry the deviant. The reasons why may vary on whether it be for strange looks, voice, behaviour, bodily weakness, the need to have at least someone to stomp on beneath you, or a clash of personal chemistry. Whatever the source of such one-way friction, the constant flow of human vitriol must find an outlet, and what better outlet than to drown pathetic mommy's boys, weird kids and weeping cravens in it? Let them all suffer for what they are, for all defects of flesh and character are but the outward manifestations of an abominable spirit lurking within.

Trust your instincts, for the ability to detect deviation is an ability given unto you by the Emperor Himself. Is it not of eugenic virtue for all mankind to harass and scourge losers, crybabies, dysgenic wastrels, twists, potential witches and future heretics alike? Is not this univeral human streak to shun the deviant and scorn the freethinker an all-pervasive form of folk wisdom inherent to all righteous congregations and their offspring?

Witness the petty malice apparent in most children of our species, and those observations will give you a true insight into the monstrous spirit lurking within the human heart. After coming to know that piece of wisdom, hardly any occasion for learning of great atrocity and vile crime will ever truly shock you. Let it be known that the road to inner harmony is paved with low expectations, for that will prevent you from driving off into the melancholy ditch of disappointment. After all, naïvety is an important component in trauma of the mind, for those without high expectations on their fellow man will be better prepared for the common evils and disasters that are inherent to life and death. Thus heed this lesson, and listen well. Let us uncover the evil that men do, by examining the evil that children do in sordid detail, for the child is the father of man.

First of all, we will recognize that the ever persistent fact of children shunning those deemed unwanted, is not born out of careful elaborations with intellect spinning high. Instead, it is a natural, indeed instinctive part of human nature, an aspect of our pack mentality. This scorning of others in your own group know few to no principles, for it arise out of the animal depths of the human soul, forged as it is in primal eons of hunger, rutting and desperate struggle for survival in a harsh world of limited resources. For man is not a fallen angel, but an ape arisen.

The dark sides of human nature will manifest themselves very early on in life. The baby steps of evil include the infant observation that creating something takes a long time, yet destruction is but the work of moments. More attentive cunning will soon make the bairn discover that hurting others in one fell swoop may be rewarding, yet it is far better to draw out the distress and agony in others and savour the ongoing process. Thus it is more pleasing for most people to find a favourite target to torment every available day for years on end, than it is to menace someone but for one occasion. Most children who find joy in pursuing their mischievous desires would agree that death by a thousand cuts is a better spectacle then a swift beheading with a guillotine. Indeed, they live by that principle, for the boot is on their foot and not on the wretched victim of them and their friends, classmates and work gang comrades.

Further self-schooling in evil will reveal to the child that there is a sense of security in belonging to a group, and even a sort of courage born from holding power. After all, power is when you can do something with impunity, and no one can do anything about it. Thus a numerical disparity of ten against one mean that the communal vermin cannot hope to fend off the banes of their childhood and dreams. And so afflictors of others who would have found scant boldness to harrass unwanted ones on their own, will find themselves daring a great deal more when acting as part of a pack. In a gang, they will dare to strike, to chivy, to destroy. Band together and close ranks, for there is strength in numbers. Remember that lesson in war.

By moving in groups, gleeful kids will soon rouse each other to attack lone targets, and go further still in their assaults. Collective strength and the fear thereof is enough to overpower most prey, and even the most ferocious lone wolves can be overwhelmed by superior force of numbers and be made subject to every cruel whim of the assaulters once the group have pinned the human target to the ground and gripped its arms and legs firmly. Environments where children are to be found in crowds are often akin to a kindergarten for future torturers. Under the veneer of all the institutional strictures and rules of conduct enforced by adult powers and severe authorities, a lawless wilderness will nevertheless stand tall as the true experience of life on scholam yards and in the predatory environments of orphanaria and workhouses. There will be nasty kid fights, in which eyes, teeth, ears, fingers and limbs may be lost, aside from standard little injuries such as common bruises and shallow cuts. These brawls and their casaulties are all healthy signs, for it is good and virtuous that the younglings of the Imperium prepare for combat from an early age. After all, they will need to be inured to violence and pain during their adult lives, no matter if they will serve the God-Emperor in arms or as toiling labourers.

Aside from the common scrimmage between rough equals, there will always be an endless picking on those weaker and lower in status than yourself. Hurtful words, sharp looks and malignant deeds all play an important role. There will be needling and heckling toward the ugly ducklings, and the scorn in which they are held will be made clear by heaping ridicule upon the victim. Indeed, there will be spit and even let water on those at the bottom of the pecking order. They must know their place, after all, and a thousand little humiliations every day is an excellent method to show who is on top, and who is trampled on the bottom of the pile. Thus children everywhere will establish hierarchy with harsh means, and the Imperium of Man is nothing if not an utter hierarchy. A virtuous top-down system of capricious tyranny and arbitrary cruelty needs to be taken for granted by the populace from a very early age, and this Imperial reality of oppressive oligarchy and despotic power has for fivehundred generations been cemented by children naturally gravitating toward similar solutions in their everyday interactions with each other. As below, so above. Might is right.

To openly challenge those above you is an alarming, nay, abominable tendency within the rigid astral dominions of Holy Terra and Mars, and innumerable death sentences and much worse have been inflicted upon suspected apostates and traitors for such sinful crimes against the Terran Imperator's sacred hierarchy in the world of adults. Among children, those worthless wretches who would dare to protest or challenge the juvenile status quo will find themselves beset with the full fury of the pack, who will be indignant that any pale brat could even dream of disobeying the order of things. And so the many will furiously kick, punch and bite any humiliated weakling who dare to stand up to their tormentors. They must know their place, after all. Nevertheless, succesful violence by someone formerly despised as weak and sorry may be an exceedingly rare solution to torment by peers, for everyone respects strength. Clever words may on rare occasions suffice for counter-raids, yet only deeds may conquer. Such unusual climbing of the ladder by might and main among children is akin to a murderous usurper of a throne being hailed as righteously justified by the God-Emperor, for how else could they have attained success in that enterprise without divine blessing?

Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Instead, do unto others as you would not have them do unto you, for that way lies power and glory in a zero sum game of dog eats dog. Who ever became mighty by turning the other cheek? Such meekness is fit only for born slaves, and if the shackled ones tell themselves that they are innocent and what is being done unto them is unjust, then all the better. Know that lack of guilt is immaterial, indeed the concepts of justice and guilt are largely without any weight in the affairs of man, as are the polar opposites of good and evil meaningless for determining human behaviour. A superior determinant for the conduct of man can be found in his animalistic instinct and gut feeling, and nowhere is this more true than for child. Most humans are driven by a need to fit in and not stick out, born out of self-preservation and fear. They have something to lose, and are at all times surrounded by people willing and able to hurt them greatly. The world of man is not truly ruled by an ephemeral duality of good and evil. A far better compass for understanding the dynamic of human nature is one revolving around cowardice, bestial aggression, group belonging, protection of kin and a hunger for more. In such a scope, phenomena such as self-sacrifice, helpfulness and respect seamlessly rub shoulders with selfish greed, cruelty and scorn.

During the misty depths of the ancient Age of Terra, a gadfly of a philosopher was once condemned to death by his homecity's public assembly after a great war had been lost. The Imperium of Man would laud the city's decision to purge such a deviant and freethinker for impiety and corrupting the youth, but the Imperium would have thought it silly and spineless for there to have been two rounds of voting on the question, and a lot of obvious hints for the guilty philosopher to please just run away and leave the city well ahead in time of his scheduled execution. Imperials are not afraid to slay, in the holy name of the Emperor. It is well that those capable of new thought are hunted down, for they represent a risk of undermining the legitimate, sacred order upheld by the powers that be. An order emanating from the Imperator, seating in radiant splendour upon Golden Throne on Holy Terra.

As such, the mockery and maltreatment visited upon chinless losers and loners by the mob act as a form of communal self-defence against dangerous thought of self by rooting out any potential future loose cannons and silencing them by preventive counter-barrage while they are still small and defenceless. Get your retaliation in first, before they sharpen their tongues. Overwhelm them with arbitrary bluntness and spite. Suppress the strange ones. Heckle malcontents and give them hell. Tolerate no deviancy! If a man in any way would break the tight mould we all ought to be cast in, then point at him and laugh. Bestow upon the unworthy ones not honours, but malreputation and horrid associations. Likewise, ruthlessly cast out anyone born with abhuman mutations from the baseline human pureblood community, for their abomination in the flesh must be categorically rejected, and eventually cleansed in flames. Let them all know they are unwanted and unloved, fit only for base slavery and destruction. We will purge, but first we will scoff.

There is an old Terran proverb which claims that the only true form of joy is that of gloating, of finding malicious delight in the suffering and misfortune of others. Man's purpose in life is after all to suffer from hardship so that he can breed, and what better confirmation of your own bestowed blessings can there be found than the curses laid upon others? Thus it is pleasant, when the sea is high and the winds are dashing the waves about, to watch from the shores the struggles of another. Likewise, it is better to kick than be kicked.

And so, very quickly, common cruelties become second nature to those children who count themselves lucky to be part of the mob, and not its prey. This is the inherent order of things, ancient beyond the memory of written history and etched into the animal spirit known as the human soul. By far most of the pack will find entertainment in causing the suffering of others, for such is the nature of man. Even many of those children who seem to be of a gentle and unassuming character may be turned into barking jackals in order to not themselves become the next obvious mob target, and thus they learn what is good by conforming to what is proper.

As proof of the virtue inherent in shunning abnormals and human insects, consider the following: Among children, a meek and kind behaviour will be interpreted as a sign of weakness, and weakness will be severely punished by other children. Thus even a bairn understands that weakness and deviancy stem from moral corruption and spiritual rot. For is it not better to be strong and self-sufficient, than weak and helpless? And so waggling tongues and sharp elbows await the runt of the litter, and the grinding woes of social ostracism will ensnare the communal vermin. A thousand little everyday predations will be visited upon social outcasts forced to live in the midst of a mob that despise them. The hopes of their lives will be undone in tender years, as is just punishment for liberi worms that do not meet our standards.

A lonely child in internal exile will not only be shunned by their own community and heckled for their clothing and other accoutrements, they will be ripped apart socially by the fangs of the pack and its sharp verbal claws. In such a spirit of iniquity, the maggots and rats in human form will turn asocial from constant peer harrowing. They will have entered life full of wonder, hope and excitement, only to quickly slam into a solid wall and find themselves locked in a dead end, with stalking predators closing in fast and no possible way to escape. Their lot is inevitable, ordained from on high, indeed it is a just punishment for their moral defects and character flaws. As such it is nothing short of the protecting Emperor's will made manifest, when packs of children act accordingly to their gut feeling that leaves no doubt this lowly member of the same species and tribe must be rejected and trodden upon. This puer, this worthless offspring of man and woman will be made to suffer. How else are we to foster hardy and dutiful folks, if not by a torrent of wicked pettiness to keep us all in line, either out of fear for falling into the evil stream, or because they are already drowning in it?

And so the life of the little forsaken one is turned into a waking nightmare, their abyssal status taken for granted, their every day filled with shoving, beatings, heckling songs, slanderous gossip, rhymes of character assassination and mischievous whispers. Feet will suddenly be stretched out, ever eager to trip up the innocent. They will be subject to the pointing fingers, scoffing laughter and fixated eyes of the unyielding crowd. Their life experience will be a vale of tears, standing as the thankless receiver of the unholy conduct of others, ever the subject of other children's crooked grins and mocking derision. Their days are filled with ridicule and scorn, and their nights with unheard sobbing. Just look at them in their full wretchedness. How pathetic! How weak! How unbecoming! No wonder they are constantly thrown down into the dirt and left to crawl home with bruises and bleeding wounds. They had it coming all along. They truly do deserve it.

Why would anyone want to even pick those ostracized deviators for ballgame teams? Why would we not lock them into cramped spaces and forget about them? Why would we not take their stuff away from their ludicrous possession? Why would we not fling trash and filth into their food? Why would we not threaten a beating and force them to eat sand or yellow snow? Why would we not urinate on them in showers and press their heads into lavatories, privies and dungstacks? Why would we show them any kindness? Why would we not keep kicking while they are down in the dirt? Be strong and ruthless, and spurn the unworthy. We are better off without them.

And so the pack will seek out their prey, as they sin against fellow children, adorned with impish grins and wolfish eyes that twinkle with burgeoning sadism. Listen to their songs, those teasing tirades of humiliation. See them at play, those practical jokes which the target kid will not find funny, but all others will laugh at the victim. The pack is mighty and strong, and the bugs they corner are not. Of course the bullies will wallow in spite and experiment with immorality. Of course they will try out a plethora of ruthless little tricks and conduct everyday petty sabotage. It is the same mischievous spirit that make the most crooked among them pull wings and legs off insects, and torment small animals. Why not trample the sissies and sicklings? Are not the predators of the scholam yard and scrumball pitch the kings and queens of the hill? Should not the thrall bow to the master and kiss the dirt on their lord's feet? Adults clearly do this in the Imperium, so why not the children?

Maybe some of these child devils will later on in life find a sore conscience gnawing at their memories of early ills done toward others, yet by then any damage will already have been done beyond repair, and there is always booze and yet worse means to silence that whiny part of their stirring mind, an aspect of themselves they barely knew existed back when they committed all their youthful sins and childhood mean deeds. Thinking too much was what their victims usually did, that's why they were belittled subjects to ordinary little cruelties in the first place. That's why they were weak.

Those who speak of the general innocence of children are, as a rule, either stunningly forgetful, or willfully blind to what they themselves have seen with their own eyes, or else they inwardly deny their very own actions during their small years and wish to remember a false, rosy record. The voices of playing children may often be pleasant to hear from a distance, so long as you cannot make out the spoken words.

There is no innocence lost in the darkest of futures. In a regressed time beyond hope, man has constructed for himself hell, and man himself dwell there as its devil.

Naturally, childhood malice may grow into youthful cruelty and mature ruthlessness. Such is the hardy way of man. On hundreds of thousands of worlds and uncountable voidholms, Imperial youth organizations aim to refine juves in their ranks by further developing their innate worship of strength and lack of mercy, since such cruel power in loyal service to the God-Emperor is a blessed virtue, and most certainly not some character flaw. The evil that men do is on full display in tender childhood, an omen of what dark fruits and terrors that may ever ripen in adulthood, a testament to the depravity of man.

The juvenile precursor to adult atrocities can be seen everywhere we turn, no matter the state of primitive barbarism or advanced civilization prevailing there. Bantlings in large packs will heap endless petty malice upon despised liberi of their own age, making their victims every waking day a foretaste of hell itself. There will be open taunting in front of everyone, slinging fell words at those turned defenceless by being shunned by the pack, and then made the unwilling mummer by the spiteful laughter of their peers. The gleeful hunters of other children will not only embrace gang violence against lone victims, but they will also equip themselves with the sneaky weapons of dishonesty by lying and spreading false rumours, by talking behind the backs of outcasts and having nothing good to say about them around grown-ups. Indeed, many parents will soon conclude that this particular local wean in the neighbourhood is a real rotten apple, for why else would everyone dislike that kid? Such is the infant potential of future greater malevolence.

It is very rare for shunned insects to find support in the home, and most scorned children know better than to ever raise the subject in front of mum or dad. Indeed these bairns more often than not tend to face parental violence in the household if their predicament would become known to their elders. After all, what mother or father would not be disappointed with their loser whimps, when they wanted real boys and real girls for offspring instead of bad weaklings? Of course parents will be disappointed with their horrid little children, those weeping cravens who seem destined to die a virgin. There must be a good reason as to why all the other children hate them. Children do have a nose for sniffing out weird people. Perhaps my child will become a future prostitute, unbeliever or even a wyrd? God-Emperor forbid that such a blot of shame came from my loins! Such a harrowing thought! That must be sternly countermanded by strict discipline and arbitrary violence, effective immediately. Spurn the rod and spoil the child.

And so knowing parents of tormented spawn will pray to His Divine Majesty upon the Golden Throne for deliverance from this curse. For surely their socially outcast offspring are the celestial Imperator's punishment for the sins of the mother and father? Or perhaps they are possessed by malicious djinns or daemons? Maybe a moderately expensive ritual of exorcism with the local holy man or tribal shaman can force the evil spirit out of the child's body? After all, the fell animus should flee from its fleshly vessel if it is tortured enough, should it not? Thus children heckled, beaten and scorned by other children would do best to keep their plight a secret among their own kinsfolk. And what sound siblings would not show their disapproval of the runt's shameful straits by continuing the harrasment at home?

It is likewise with teachers, masters and adult overseers of all kinds, for why should they deny the Emperor-ordained order of things and attempt to stop water from running downstream? Why should they try to shield those who cannot even defend themselves? No, far better to go with the flow, and trust in the instincts of the herd. Is it not a part of good upbringing to make an example out of any deviants in the local community? It takes a whole village to raise a child, and it is best to prune that village from its unwanted elements. Why support the hopeless? Indeed, shunned younglings and adults alike will often be treated as usual suspects along with local criminals when planetary or voidholm law enforcement investigate crime, for their informants will have noted the outcasts' bad reputation and potentially festering resentment. Society has found these pecked chickens wanting, their value close to nil. They better know their proper place.

Speaking of vigilant informants serving the best interests of their species and lord, such a phenomenon can also be seen at work during witch hunts and paranoid great purges of suspected saboteurs and traitors, both of which are occasions when suspicions run high everywhere. Indeed such fevered times are perfect moments for juve informants to up their game by reporting their shunned victims as witches or wreckers or malcontents. And so they will turn their victims and their entire families in for bloody torture by the secular authorities or temple, never to be seen again unless the torture be made in view of the public eye to better warn would-be transgressors to toe the line, or else.

Social outcasts of all sorts are particularly easy prey during waves of purges and witch hunts. After all, the entire quarter or village or corridor can vouch for the maggot's worthless character, so the filed testimonies tend to be uniformally damning, leading to a quick and final verdict by triads of low-level officials overseeing the purge. Such penalties often take the form of collective punishment, true to the primitive nature of Imperial justice. As such the suspect and their family and clan may be condemned to penal labour, corporal punishment, death or much worse for imaginary crimes and sins never committed. Coincidentally, the hab unit thus made empty may fall into the hands of close kin to the dutiful informer who turned in the heretic or apostate in the first place, which is always a great boon in the overcrowded hive cities and squalid voidholms of the Imperium of Man.

To be shunned by your stout, Emperor-fearing peers is a damning sign, and proof in itself of hidden devilry. Those particular purges that is carried out by His Divine Majesty's Holy Inquisition will promiscuously use a great many informants to slaughter all manner of potentially subversive elements by sacrificing thousands, millions or even billions of inhabitants to root out small sects and rebel cells. In these sweeps of deviants and suspects, informants will routinely mark down on death lists those individuals who were shunned by their community, since they are assumed to harbour resentment that could lead to thought of self and even worse heresies. Thus is preventive justice done within the parochial realm of the Master of Mankind, that moribund interstellar civilization where the greatest of atrocities will all be lost in the labyrinth of oblivion.

It takes a whole village to raise a child, and part of that village are other children. They can be relied upon to dutifully prey upon deviants, with righteous spirits guiding their tongues and fists. They can be trusted to assail suspect kids with poison for the soul, and guard the community against abnormals of all kind. These little guardians will watch for shirkers and cowards with a ravenous appetite for nastiness. Among the spawn of man, those who turn another's life into misery is not a rare few, but a large part of any gathering. Indeed often a majority. Never forget that it behooves us to hate, for it is well within our nature to do so.

The same juves and infants that piously pray to the Imperator for salvation and attend regular templum services, are the very same little creatures that beset choice prey children with all manner of dull or inventive funny insults and acts of malice. And so the falsehoods of adults are shadowed by the dissembling of children. And how could it be otherwise?

After all, it is a sweet and seemly thing to reap the allied laughter of a crowd when slighting another to their face. Of course, the victims of such unfriendly conduct will only be further humiliated if ever their outrage boils over into furious attempts at futile vengeance, for their lot is a pit of sadness, and nothing more. They must know their proper place, and wince at the heckling and pain. They must endure their daily trials in silence, lest these social outcasts will end their own lives in desperation. They must become stoic and deaden their senses, or they will succumb to blackest despair.

Let us dwell upon the shunned children held in public scorn, those damned bairns and cursed offspring rejected by their own tribe. Humans who, for whatever reason, prove a bad ingredient in personal chemistry will always be easy targets of the pack, their very existence making them the inevitable butt end of jokes. Many of them walk home alone, shivering and sobbing, or else they flee as fast as they can from their hounding tormentors. These victims of the mob will often offer up prayers to the God-Emperor of Holy Terra to lift His shield and protect them from public scorn, to preserve them from the cuts of sharpened tongues and to save them from common ridicule. Their earnest prayers will, as a rule, never be answered.

These low-rung losers may carry scars on the mind that will never truly heal no matter how old they may grow, for a consequence of all the ceaseless violence and mocking scorn is to break the self-confidence of weaklings and poltroons for life. Should we not drive out the deviant without mercy? Their weakness must be punished and rectified by pushing them beyond the limit of human endurance, over the precipice of suicide if the Emperor wills it so. It is their harrowing trial, not ours.

Consider these unsung martyrs of private, selfish suffering. Any inane phrasing and personality quirk of theirs will be ripped apart by clawed words from their gaggle of ambushing verbal torturers. These collectively spurned misfits have learnt firsthand that it is a terrible thing to be loathed by your own tribe. They are downtrodden by their own community, subject to a thousand forms of little everyday suppression from their fellow children. They are loathed eaters who every day are force-fed the rotten fruits of disgust by disapproving peers. They are nothing.

Those wretched folks are riven by everyday sorrow and doubt of self, as well they should be. Such willingly forgotten wretches of communal scorn can do little else than squeak as they are stomped into the dirt, trampled by normal humans driven by the same inner gleeful intoxication that make men butcher other men like cattle without hesitation. They are not only trampled by strangers, but trampled by those who could have been their kith. These friendless wastrels will squirm and cry out in pain as vitriol is poured down the throat of such an unwilling drinker of bitter life. Such humiliated souls are not seen as real people by their disdainful tormentors, for why should they be held in anything but contempt? Has not the omniscient God-Emperor Himself decreed that we must not suffer the deviant to remain among us?

The banality of evil may be seen every day on regular scholam yards and workhouse floors, as juvenile predators of common upbringing move with baleful intentions, heaping profanity, ad hoc missiles and strikes of fists and elbows upon the lonely forsaken ones. Some are willfully blind to the lifelong anguish they inflict upon others, while some indeed relish the opportunity to brand someone other than themselves with longlasting woe. They will not only mince the inner life of their victim, but they will get away with it, too. They are all judge, jury and executioner in the court of odium and opprobium. It is in truth like a slow lynching, a withering away of a weakling's inner spirit. Bear witness to the endless petty malice of ordinary children, and never once again be surprised at the monstrous bloodshed of adult humans. Through little evils can be glimpsed great evils.

Folks in the midst of neverending petty suffering are beset by sadists in learning and impressionable sheep alike. They all live their life as a smörgåsbord laid out for psychopaths to dine on, and the common people will join in as well. All this amounts to a worldly meatgrinder of hopes and ambitions, this killer of the light that is the falsehood and wickedness of sinful man, this swallowing of one's own kindred, this butchery of ugly ducklings.

To those communally shunned lambs of sorrow, there is no way out at any moment from experiencing life in the Age of Imperium for what it really is: After all, they fear not only the rulers, taskmasters, gangers and crazed sect members like ordinary people do, but they also live in terror of their fellow men and women. To them there is no relief from the peculiar mixture of boredom and dread that marks one's life as an Imperial subject. Likewise, to them there is truly no escape from the ever-present sense of inevitable, mechanistic cruelty that permeates this entire epoch. Despised and crushed at every turn by all they come into contact with, they must have a will of iron simply to survive the heavy grind of everyday life.

Witness the sons and daughters of man and woman approach their prey, akin to a grinning pack of salivating hyenas. They will surround it, grip ahold of it, pound it and bite it with infected words. To heap mockery unto others as part of a band is in two aspects similar to going into battle: First, always fight from a position of strength and exploit any advantage over the enemy which you can find. Second, to increase your chances of survival, you must kill with a will, and never hesitate. The heckling should not be half-hearted, but must sting and burn for hours and days after you landed your verbal blow. Put in your best effort, and witness your prey crumble away under your onslaught. Press the attack and strike through chinks in their armour. Hit them where it hurts the most, with lies and truths and twisted disinformation. Only by establishing dominance can you ever hope to prevent your mirthful companions from suddenly turning on you at a bad moment. It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Most of the kid gang will watch with merciless eyes and lying lips the last rites are enacted over a fallen prey who chose to end the suffering of self like an apostate and coward. And if the true nature of the youngling suicide is revealed to Imperial authorities, a terrible revenge by the lawful powers that be may be visited upon the irresponsible family of the deceased human production unit. Siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces may be carried away to various forms of slavery, split up and never to see their family again. Likewise, public electro-flogging, unpayable fines, penal camp labour or servitorization without anaesthetics may see adults disappear from the household. Needless to say, many child devils feel a perversely electrifying sense of power, akin to that sensed by bairns during witch hunts, who lie away the lives of fully grown men or women. Or akin to juves turned informants for the joy of secret control over the fates of adult people. What might those tiny hands may carry! Such power over others! It is truly a delicious experience to savour and lust for, a dark aphrodisiac for the soul, a secret passion.

The Imperium of Man understands that an ingrained habit of hurting others since an early age may make it easier for some fresh soldiers to kill, both upon the battlefield and in massacres of civilians. It is in every way preferable to raise Imperial subjects who are inured to cruelty and do not flinch from inflicting it on others. Thus we shall see human nature for what it really is, without sinking into a morass of misanthropic cynicism. We ought to recognize its vibrancy, its colourful brilliance and pulsating strength, yet we should also ken its bottomless depravity. For man carries within him great promise and the potential to climb to soaring heights, yet he is also a bestial slave to his own failures and downfall.

It is common for scrawny victims of human whelp packs to blame themselves for their inescapable plight, as well they should. Like beasts of prey will children gang up on target pups to consume them little by little with biting words and violence of the many against the lonely. And is the tiny torment not a just punishment visited upon such shunned wretches? After all, do they not fill the mouths of those who behold their filthy deviancy with distaste and physical revulsion? How could we not strike out against the repugnant and insultingly weak? How could we not drag their names in the mud? How could we not trip them up and pour foul liquid into their shoes? How could we not tear at their hair and clothes and spit right into their puny faces? Learning to scorn is important for learning to hate, and humanity can only be kept pure by hating that which is ugly in man.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2021 1:36 pm 
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And so, on a million worlds and voidholms without number across a vast cosmic empire that has lasted tenthousand years, we shall find that human children everywhere participate in energetic wrongdoing, each day, each rotation, each lights-on. They will single out vulnerable cubs of their species, and they will send a cold shiver down the puny targets' spines whenever the meek mice see their tormentors approach. These capricious predators will set upon their shunned victim with unkindly spite and lips flashing smiles that lie. These average bairns are well versed in the use of their acidic tongues for sprouting barbed lingo and toxic speech, for they have long since discovered that scorning others is a pleasant way to spend one's limited lifetime.

And these common kids, these naughty children of a default human mindset, will pursue the glory of laughter and popular reputation by gripping their lonely victim with many hands, and dunk their head underwater to watch the abandoned weakling flounce in wild panic. Usually they pull up the lad or lass before it is too late, since sparking the fear of drowning again and again is far more entertaining than actually drowning the runt, though sometimes the forsaken one's head is kept in too long while air bubbles stop popping on the surface, and the social outcast dies a horrible drowning death in the hands of its tormentors. This could potentially have dire complications, yet the pack of banes usually manage to make any little witnesses shut up by threatening to drown them too, while the murderous children themselves will not say a word about the event, denying any accusations wholesale and questioning if not the accuser themself is in actuality the murderer. If incidents like that can be faked as accidents caused by the clumsy idiot's many own faults, then all the better. And early honing of the ability to kill for the Emperor later on in life is not to sneer at. At any rate, child mortality is so high and commonplace on all Imperial worlds and voidholms, that there is little use making a fuss over some spilt milk. Just sell the earthly remains to the Corpse Guild's grinders for a pittance, then forget it and move on. The grieving parents can always breed new children if they really care so much.

Naturally, the ever-present threat of everyday little torture spilling over into juvenile crime as an accomplished fact on the playing field, will take its mental toll on the pecked chickens. Terror and despair will become second nature to them, and they will wince at any unexpected sound or movement, and glance about with wide-eyed paranoia in their eyes. Their pulse will gallop like that of a rabbit all too often, and the stress may leave them drained. Everyone will treat them worse than they do other kids, to their constant chagrin. These ostracized small ones will be forced to endure a hellish prison that is the company of spiteful and vicious peers eager to see them suffer and keep kicking them while they are down on the ground, writhing in agony.

Such wolfpacks of deceivers and ravenous monsters will not only scourge the waking hours of their victims, but will haunt their very dreams. For the memory of those ordinary juves will make the victim wake up in cold sweat at night, gasping from nightmares that merely resumed their daytime life experience in sleep. If these dark dreams and psychic trauma would turn bad enough to cause the son or daughter to shriek regularly at night, then suspicions of wyrdhood and emergent witchcraft will be swiftly afoot, possibly seeing the worrisome screamer disappear without a trace, or being lynched in the street by unnerved adult neighbours who wish to throttle the threat in the cradle, so to speak, after having heard gutsy folk tales of latent witches breaking into their heinous true nature during puberty. Be the first to strike.

The same impulses that drive ordinary children to callous acts against youngsters of their own age, may sometimes feed mischievous frolics against adults, and especially against those grown-ups who are held in contempt by the whole community. Parents and other severe adults in the close-knit local community will often try to beat it out of the unruly children, since it technically constitutes an unacceptable rebellion against mature authority, even if the target is a despised human they themselves have spat on many times. Such ill treatment of the bold whelps may reap the desired effect, yet such punitive violence may also harden the punished child into growing up ruthless and cruel, thereby fostering a hardy cycle of violence and drained empathy through the generations which is much praised by the Imperium of Man. And while we are on the topic of the chastising of children, take note of how the status of parents' progeny change within the family, as they come into adolescence and also grow taller, stronger and more capable of resisting the violence of their elders. This must be nothing else than pure coincidence, since human nature is surely too elevated and high-minded to base its actions and rearing of offspring upon beastly assessment of muscular strength like some kind of barbarous Ork.

As to primitive modes of behaviour, a fair number of mankind's colonies during the heyday of the Dark Age of Technology were founded by people who scorned the material bliss, rotten spiritual gentleness and tampering with the fabric of creation itself that poisoned the unbelieving mainstream cultures of the Human Federation. There were settled a great many retro-technological human colonies who deliberately shunned the most advanced tech, for in that age there existed a liberty of choice completely unknown to the degenerate descendants of that long-lost golden era. Most of those colonies that became the Knight worlds were of such deliberately techno-primitive character, relying on a Standard Template Constructor at the disassembled colony ship to provide the settlers with choice pieces of crucial medicine and rugged, unsophisticated hardware, while the colonists otherwise mostly lived simple lives of subsistence farming, gathering, herding, hunting and fishing, with homecrafts and rudimentary manufacturing supplementing a lowly local economy with little to no contact with the outside world's decadent hustle and bustle.

In those distant times, such techno-primitivism was a matter of choice. In the Age of Imperium, it has instead become an inescapable fact of life for untold billions of Imperial subjects. One such example of regressed human civilization beneath alien stars can be found on Myrmekion III, one of thirty moons of the ochre red gas giant Skythikon VII. A hot volcanic belt exist around the equator of Myrmekion III, heating the celestial body greatly and providing self-renewing bursts of mineral wealth to extract. Several giant hive clusters are scattered about the heavily industrialized equator, but temperatures drop off quickly once you go northward or southward of the moon's rotund waist. Here in the backwoods, vast frigid forests stretch for enormous distances, pockmarked by hunting lodges and peasant villages eking out a poor living on marginal soils. Schmoliupiai is one such village of timber cottages, located seventeenhundred Terran miles south from Hive Melgonuv of Tansk Hive Cluster. Here, in the village of Schmoliupiai, the cycle of juvenile violence and scorning of the unwanted went full circle one day in early winter during the year of 357.M41. A crime most foul was committed that cold day, standing as further proof that all shunned outcasts secretly are the scum of our human species, standing as stark confirmation that we do well to harrow such deviants and ought not to mourn their passing for even a heartbeat.

It all revolved around a simple well pole on the eastern outskirt of Schmoliupiai village, a rudimentary creation of wood that is also known as a counterpoise lift. Schmoliupiai leached a little juice off hanging power lines that ran through the village from fusion plants on the southern pole on their way to Tansk Hive Cluster, yet the backwater settlement lacked both pumps, piped water and sewage. As such, water carriers with shoulder paddings had to lift up water from wells by hand and carry the buckets on yokes laden across their shoulders, running to and fro the well pole many times in a day. It was arduous work, preferably left to poor day labourers, children and farmhands. One of these water carriers was a bearded man named Ananiy Balchunas, more commonly known as Snoweater Balchunas after several repeated incidents in his tender childhood years when he had been forced by other children to eat muddy thaw snow and worse, in front of half the village. No one had come to his defence, but plenty had laughed. The moniker of Snoweater had stuck, and still stung decades later.

Naturally, mischievous village imps would from time to time play a cruel trick upon the burdened water carriers during winter. It was not unusual for water carriers to leave their buckets by the well poles in the evening, to have less of a burden to carry to the well in the morning. As darkness fell, there was always a risk for small rascals darting out and filling the buckets by the well pole, to let them freeze solid overnight, thus forcing the angry water carriers to spend much time and energy in the morning to hack out the ice from their buckets before they could start filling them.

Sometime a kindly old herbess would walk out late in the evening to the eastern well pole and pour out any water from the buckets, yet this only happened when she found a little vigour and time left over late in a day full of family chores. As she grew older and the grandchildren and grandgrandchildren grew more numerous, this happened less and less, and so the iced buckets grew more frequent.

One frigid winter morning, the despised male water carrier Ananiy discovered the juvenile sabotage of his buckets that he had left at the well pole the day before out of sheer exhaustion, offering a quick prayer to the warming hands of His Divine Majesty on Holy Terra to protect the buckets from malignant crotchlings and sprogs before collapsing in his bed made out of straw and moss. Yet the nippers had been at it anyway, once again!

And so Snoweater Balchunas yet again kneeled in the crisp, shallow snow and hacked away with his ice pick in silent fury. The guilty anklebiters had found an opportunity to slip out and watch. This time however, the crumb crunchers did not only catch a glimpse and let out distant laughter from afar, but dared one another to go closer and closer behind the back of the toiling water carrier. Ananiy ignored them with a patience stronger than most people could muster, yet this lack of attention did not dissuade the slips from inching nearer and nearer to the well pole. At last they were so close to the bearded man that they could see ice chippings flying out of the copper bucket's tinned inside.

The children stood quietly and watched, until suddenly one strike with the ice pick hit at a bad angle and slid across the ice, harvesting swearwords out of the clenched teeth of Ananiy Balchunas. At this display of anger at the consequences of their clever little fell deed, the bairns all burst out laughing and pointing at the freezing water carrier, who attempted to ignore them all, yet their scoffing laughter only went on and on with tears of malicious joy running down their rosy cheeks. The infectious mirth kept the laughter flowing in a juvenile feedback loop. All of a sudden, things went full circle, and the stoic water carrier unexpectedly snapped. It all came back to him in full force, kneeling as he did by the well pole.

Born a calm boy, little Ananiy had been the shunned butt of all jokes in the village of Schmoliupiai through all his early years, constantly the target of ridicule and contempt, and he never could retort to their cruel japes or gain their respect, no matter how hard he tried. Snoweater Balchunas had eventually developed a stoic self-control and learnt to somewhat roll with the punches, yet the bite of the other village youngsters' scorn could at best only be dampened, not negated. The most efficient medicine was to ignore his surroundings as best as he could, eyes locked in front of him and uncleaned ears attempting to filter out the surrounding people's nasty noise. Amaliya Petkus, a lanky girl two years older than him, had endured much the same communal scorn. She had drowned herself by the marriable age of fifteen, though her bloodkin had hushed it up in case an Imperial bailif ever found out. There had been a lot of false sad faces among her peers at the templum last rites as the peddling Corpse Guild trucker ceremoniously bowed to the priest and handed over useless scrip to the parents for Amaliya's swollen but recyclable biomass. The eyes of the juves had mainly been unperturbed, cold and wolflike. Of course prey could die. What of it?

As Snoweater Balchunas grew into a tall, strong man, villagers of the same age at long last seemed to roll back their endless petty malice, but mostly because adult age had dampened their childlike mirth and brought expectations to behave more maturely when sober. The gibes and insults still were flung from time to time, but the onrushing torrent of yesterday's childhood and adolescence had dwindled to a dripping flow, leaving some peace of mind to partially soothe Ananiy's bruised ego and wounded self-confidence. Life had been hard enough, for he was on the bottom rung of his village as a day labourer and had to make a living out of the cheapest and hardest rural jobs he could find. He was inured to cold and aching body parts, yet the old stigma died hard, and none of the village women of an age with him wished to marry Snoweater Balchunas, both for the disdain they carried toward his person, and for his present state of abject poverty. Clearly, the guiding hand of the celestial Imperator on Earth did not wish any virtuous lass to take such a doubtful man for her husband, and all manner of observed superstitious omens agreed with this religious insight.

At any rate Ananiy Balchunas had been turned too asocial, too awkward and too shy of people from his peer-plagued upbringing, so he did not even dare to think about asking any lass out without having drunk himself out of his mind on greysap vodka or oily kramshki. And so Ananiy aged alone in a cot half dug into the earth, silently enduring the labour tasks and rheumatic limbs without any complaining. He had endured for years and years, and faced a horrible old age in the future, but at least the worst flood of heckling and violence was behind him, a remembered torment rather than an inescapable nightmare reality to wake up to every day. Yet now the wicked boys and their rollicking laughter at his expense as Snoweater Balchunas angrily hacked away at the iced bucket, now that was just too much. Too much. And all too familiar. The spiteful laughter of children throughout the years rang in his ears, rang in his head, rang in all his painful memories, throttling him to his core. Once more he found himself on the ground, surrounded by taunting children and fingers pointing foul at him. Once more he was become the village ass. Once more the odd one out.

Not. Bloody. Again.

As he fumed and glared into the distance, Ananiy made a silent vow among the scoffing laughter of village children. He would not go out like the girl Amaliya Petkus did. Snoweater Balchunas would take some of the bastards with him to the corpsegrinder, and damn them all! His soul was already forfeit. The deed only had to be done. It was a thought of total wrath, yet it was also a liberating thought. He would die a free avenger.

A long reined-in temper tore its ropes, stampeding in wild furor after so many years kept in check. The wrath of the water carrier suddenly boiled over with a vengeance, and he belted the water pick as he sprang to his feet in one swift motion and grabbed ahold of two of the lads before they could even react with more than a stunned gasp. The rest of the child gang scattered, running and yelling for home. Had Ananiy had more than two arms, he would have chased down and caught more of the brats. The two children screamed and cried and squirmed in the water carrier's gloved hands, but his calloused grip was like iron, and Snoweater Balchunas did not say a word as he forcefully dragged both of the boys through the snow, snorting like a bull through his nostrils. In a village where everyone knew everyone else, he did not need to ask who their parents were. He knew the parents all too well. They were of an age with water carrier Ananiy Balchunas.

Thus an infuriated neighbour knocked on the wooden doors of first one timber cottage, then another. In both homes he curtly asked to see the father of the boy, with eyes glaring dark from hatred. As the man in the house appeared at the door with scorn in his eyes, the water carrier buried his ice pick in the head of his old tormentor, then smashed the screaming son's skull to gory bits against the timber logs. Manslayer Ananiy hardly said a word at any of the two cottages, but made a spontaneous attempt to head for the hills and escape to foreign landscapes on foot without tools or provisions, before Schmoliupiai huntsmen on skis pursued him to the edge of a ravine, and shot the murderer dead with hotshot lasrifles, sending the body tumbling into the thin ice below, which cracked and swallowed the corpse into the Chernayavoda creek. Incidentally, the strapping huntsmen were of an age with Snoweater Balchunas, and were long since used to slinging mockery and projectiles at him.

And all over the backwater county and beyond on Myrmekion III, folks would sing a sad song about the heinous crime for centuries to come, preferably set to string and pipe instruments or bone drums, cursing the name of the water carrier in death out of hatred, much as they had cursed him in life out of scorn.

Thus the petty malevolence of children overflowed to hit a shunned adult with fell cunning, to reap the hilarity of succesful sabotage. Yet the harvested fruits of anger were far more than any of the scoffing bairns could have imagined, and the social outcast died a hated bane of fathers and sons alike, a terrible man that should not have been born in the first place. And so we reinforce our conviction that deviants of all sorts should be ruthlessly harrowed and humiliated, for clearly our revulsion towards their very being is a godly sign to mistrust their hidden rot and secret sins. Trust in your instincts, for it is right to hate, and just to scorn.

In the mocking laughter and jabs of children can be seen the seeds of strength and cruelty necessary for man to survive in this harsh galaxy. As a child, man learns to employ his might and test his aptitude for combat and hardship, or else he learns to endure evil without end. And so human nature is revealed in the small deeds and words of little children, an echo of the great deeds and atrocities they may commit as adults. And the sole ruler and deity of our species sees this with His wise eyes from upon the Golden Throne of Holy Terra, and He judges it fairly, and He know it to be good.

Be ruthless. Be strong. Be cruel. Or else see the worlds and voidholms of man will burn to ashes. Abandon strength, and your kin will abandon life. Be hardy, and doubt not!

Ave Imperator.

Thus in hovels of squalor and palaces of luxury, the same timeless story plays out again and again across the Milky Way galaxy, namely that of the shunned outcast, who caught the evil eye of his own community and was endlessly hounded throughout his mortal life. This tragedy will never stop repeating as long as humanity persists, nay, until there is no more sentient life left in all the universe.

And so no man of the world will be surprised to find predatorial children devouring those held in contempt by others, sometimes literally so among feral cannibal cultures. Such vigilant guarding of the purity of one's community against deviants, weaklings and freethinkers constitute fundamental building blocks in the parochial, fanatical and aggressively myopic fortress prison that is the Imperium of Man. For man will not deny by deeds his savagery and primal instincts, and so fivehundred generations of blood and carnage and hatred have passed by since the founding of the Imperium. Fivehundred generations of stagnant rot. Fivehundred generations of the worsening of man, in an ever downward spiral.

It is an eon bereft of mercy, a demented time, a doomed era of hellish depravity. As above, so below. And so petty bullying have never been more cruel and unrelenting than it is in the Age of Imperium, in the darkest of futures.

Such is child, the father of man.

Such is earthly man, between heaven and hell.

Such is the evil that men do.

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

_________________
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:43 pm 
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Industrial Reproduction

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is bred like cattle.

What the interstellar domains of Holy Terra ignorantly know as the Dark Age of Technology, the spritual-industrial cosmic empire of Holy Mars in truth know as the Golden Age, when the ancients discovered all knowledge in the universe and invented all that could possibly be invented. All that could be, was. Yet the techno-heresy of Abominable Intelligence and alien defilement laid low the wonders of the ancients, and left their great works in ruin.

Truly, Man of Gold was blinded by his own success and empathy, for what else but an affluent and decadent overabundance of compassion and pity could lead the wise ancients thus astray, that they tolerated the xeno to live and the soulless sentience to erect the wonders of man for him? Truly, the ancients were poisoned by the sweet fruits of their own ingenuity and cunning craft. Truly, they were blinded by the brilliant light that they had themselves ignited, and thus the vessel of man ran aground upon the treacherous rocks of an uncaring universe. Clearly, humanity should have scoured the galaxy clean of all alien life and alien mechanism in that distant time when the ancients were mighty beyond compare across the stars, yet such a purification to safeguard the future of the human species was never carried out, due to that irrational feebleness of the fleshly mind that is warm and soft empathy, that abominable sin of mortal man which may yet damn us all unless we be vigilant and we be ruthless of will. And so the grand opportunity for human monodominance was lost forever, lost in the heinous thought patterns of ancient man when his hands truly held the tools and weapons to accomplish that monumental achievement of xenocide. Then, man had the means but lacked the will. Now, we have the will, back lack the means.

There is no truth in flesh, only betrayal. There is no strength in flesh, only weakness. There is no constancy in flesh, only decay. There is no certainty in flesh but death.

The knowledge of the ancients stands beyond question, for all discoveries and inventions occurred during the Golden Age of Technology, when man stood at his very apex. Yet we who remain of the scattered seed of the ancestors are in one sense much wiser now, for the folly of our forefathers and the great downfall that was a consequence of their errors, has taught us in truth to hate. It has taught us all to hate that which is weak in flesh, to hate that which is lost in spirit, to hate that which is ugly in man. It has taught us to hate the xeno, the witch, the heretic, the deviant, the malcontent, the freethinker and the unbeliever. It has taught us all to uphold purity by purging the impure from among our ranks. Cruelty without doubt is a form of wisdom. Ken no mercy.

At its very core, the lesson that was the downfall of the ancients has taught us to hate our own intrinsic empathy, for pity and compassion are fit only for beasts without thought and intellect, fit only for weaklings destined to perish in this harsh world. Empathy is not a luxury we can afford, nay, for we must instead scour the faithful and harden them to become true devotees of the Cult Mechanicus. Thus we will recalibrate our perspective and reprogram ourselves, from the ur-software of fleshly mind that our ancestors once operated on. We must rise above the wretched frailty of human flesh, and cleanse our very sentience with the mathematical clarity of machine, and drink of its analytical clairvoyance, free from the filth of emotion. We must strive to become pure in thought, just as we must strive to become pure in form by replacing our fallible flesh with far better parts of metal and lightning. We must become one with the Omnissiah.

How can our feeble flesh best serve the Machine-God? O, Motive Force, divulge unto us this electrical spark of insight, and reveal to us the physical purpose of life through mystical uplink. O, God of All Machines, give push of Thy exalted button to insert Thine divine command line, and we solemnly swear by proton and electron to decrypt the oracular code and execute the higher will of the Omnissiah in pious reception of asymmetric master/slave communication of holy data.

Pray, and you shall receive. Glimpse, a spark in the electrodes. Register, a nerve signal in the cerebrum. Insight is thus granted from on high. Give praise! Lo and behold this divine grant of comprehension! Gaze upon its pure numbers, and contemplate its fractal depths of inner meaning. And let lesser minds translate its clarity of message from the binary cant of Lingua-technis into the crudity of Low Gothic script:

01000001 00100000 01101101 01100001 01101110 00100000 01101101 01100001 01111001 00100000 01100100 01101001 01100101 00100000 01111001 01100101 01110100 00100000 01110011 01110100 01101001 01101100 01101100 00100000 01100101 01101110 01100100 01110101 01110010 01100101 00100000 01101001 01100110 00100000 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101011 00100000 01100101 01101110 01110100 01100101 01110010 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100111 01110010 01100101 01100001 01110100 01100101 01110010 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101011

Let us meditate upon its hidden commandments, and act according to intense scrutiny and ritual unlocking of the compressed will of the All-Knowing One. Let the air be filled with sacred incense and the sounding of bells. Let us ignite the altar lumens of understanding in reverent salutations. Let us sing the Psalm of Ignition, then the Hymn of Connection, followed by the Akathist of Latency. Let us give thanks to the Great Machine, for its imperious gifts are bountiful indeed. Let us collate all the data, and bear witness to the righteous conclusions reached through stringent logic by our holy order regarding the purpose of man and what use there be for his weak flesh:

In ancient times, shining spires of technological wonder and breathtaking sophistication rose on more than twain million colonized words and void habitats beyond counting, defying the laws of nature in soaring splendour and titanic scale. Within these spaceclimbing edifices of glorious knowledge dwelled a great multitude in palatial opulence amid lush gardens and earthly happiness. Quick-witted Man of Gold was served by doughty Man of Stone, who was served in turn by toiling Man of Iron. Uncounted billions of human settlers streamed out to ever more colonies, to ever more terraformed celestial bodies, to ever more artificially constructed voidstations. Man's dominion grew by the year. Such a rapid outflow of ever more humans across the stars could not have been maintained naturally by comfortable man in those rich times of plenty and science, even though sizable families and multiple litters of children through an extended multi-century life cycle were common even in the most urbane of human cultures during those lost aeons of boundless exploration and expansion.

Mankind had long since ceased its complete dependence on organic reproduction akin to rutting animals, and the bringing forth of new population was achieved in a multitude of ways, of which unskilled beastly copulation was but one of many. A confused flora of old legends scattered across the Imperium of Man speak of fluid birthdens, growth tanks, idyllic foster-hotbeds and fleshvat factories, where new generations were grown in huge numbers before being spawned by artificial wombs. From there, they were welcomed into a caring world, even where they might lack a real family, and man's mastery of matter was such that he could reshape his own being at will, and banish what was ill in life. It was a luxurious time of great curiosity and optimistic devotion to science, in an era of unbridled progress where lengthy education was aided both by bionic enhancement, neural librarium download, hypno-therapy and memetic longus-doctrination.

Despite humanity's obvious mastery of nature, the Golden Age of Technology saw man treat his fellow man with dignity and respect, for man in those times had put his own self on a pedestal and abhorred religious worship, for his was a decadent civilization of intoxicated hubris. And so it was frowned upon for the governing agencies of worlds and voidstructures within the Human Federation to approach its plump and happy inhabitants with overly much in the way of intrusive coercion, especially so in matters of family and reproduction. Unbelievably enough, the ease of manufacturing new human beings did not see man become discardable and replacable like any old nut and bolt, but our sinful ancestors were selectively blind to the order of things, and for this they would suffer in the end. Everything worked like a great machine, and Man of Iron did the heavy lifting, while Abominable Intelligence did the rote thinking, while Man of Gold and Man of Stone grew in numbers, and everything seemed good to the ancients.

Such wicked bliss was destined to die in flames, of course. The baleful errors of ancient man converged at last with his willful blindness to produce first an interstellar firestorm of machine revolt, and then a hellstorm of psykers and howling Warp currents across the Milky Way galaxy. And so the monuments, academies and industries burned, and spires were toppled while orbital platforms crashed in a Ragnarök of massive death and destruction. Man was cut off from his kin across the stars, and man was reduced to nothing but a savage brute who fought ravenous cannibals and mutants with pointy sticks and looted weaponry hailing from paradisal days of yore. Old Night descended upon the charred worlds of man. Man fought man in a bloody freefall, and man ate his own kin in desperation. Such was the Age of Strife.

Such were the wages of sin.

Various tech for cloning and splicing genes were a hallmark of human civilization during the Golden Age of Technology. As with all the craft and lore of ancient man, only fragments and lacunae-ridden pieces of documents remain of the great scientific whole of genetic technology. Some gene-tech of old was clearly an abomination unto the human genome, including unholy crossbreeding with xenos from completely foreign lifesources, in unspeakable miscegenation and defilement of blood. Less revolting fleshly modifications were for the most part artificial adaptations to weird climates and biotopes under alien suns, or scientific whims and power fantasies pursued because man had the abilitiy to do so. The most common Golden Age tinkering with human DNA included widespread means for eliminating deformities, clogging veins, inherited disease and genetic predilections for mental unhealth, as well as the cultivation of smarter, stronger, more beautiful and less aggressive personalities on a biological level, to name but a few miracles of ancient techno-sorcery.

Needless to say, only fractured shards remain of these bio-enhanced peaks of human betterment and unnatural evolution. Many inheritable traits of genetic engineering have devolved into foul mutations and shunned abhuman strains, while others resulted in unforeseen genetic disease as the code of life shifted and changed under distant stars. Still other gene-tinkered characteristics became lost in the great sea of roiling human breeding, only visible as a faint imprint for scrutinizing Genetors, while some traits survive as local peculiarities of various human ethnos and tribes scattered across a million planets and uncountable voidholms. Some of the biological legacies of the Dark Age of Technology were ruthlessly hunted down and exterminated from mankind's genepool by rough warriors during the Age of Strife, or by increasingly hateful ordinary men, women and children in the ever-darkening Age of Imperium. Other fruits from the science of the ancients lived on as invaluable bloodlines of crucial personnel for human civilization to reach across the stars, for the Navigator gene of the insular Houses of the Navis Nobilite was crafted in those lost millennia of the misty past.

During Old Night, much of man's living knowledge about genetic engineering was preserved only by isolated groups of obsessed survivors, such as the Selenar gene-cults of Luna or in the hidden Himalazian laboratories of the Emperor on Terra. Some such insular communities would turn their shaky genetic expertise upon themselves and attempt to refashion their bodies to create a new and better human being, or to improve their chances of surviving in an increasingly hostile environment. An endless cavalcade of monstrous tragedies and bizarre freaks followed in the wake of such harebrained experiments, and many human tribes and techno-barbaric nations who sported some preserved gene-tech and functional bio-knowledge were ruthlessly purged in the Great Crusade in order to cleanse mankind of its accretion of malformed abominations, and start all over from a cleaned slate. Some dubious or outright forbidden paths of genetic engineering are still practiced by rare experts such as the renegade clonelord Fabius Bile and various sects within the parochial Adeptus Mechanicus. The Afriel strain of abhumanity is one such failed fruit of blundering experiments carried out in the ever more ignorant Age of Imperium. In short, mankind during the Golden Age of Technology had made man himself into clay in the hands of geneticists, but the most sublime and unholy gene-tech is long since lost.

Debased echoes of these advanced vitanoform fleshwork technologies are still practiced in rudimentary fashion by the Adeptus Mechanicus, that scavenging preserver of the scraps of the ancients. Indeed, this fanatical cult of machinery and metalcraft began as a cult for human survival, since knowledge of machines proved the difference between life and death as Mars and its life-sustaining systems collapsed at the onset of Old Night. The downfall of Martian civilization was incredibly swift, dependent as it was on a fragile ecosystem and shield generators to protect the populace from cosmic radiation. Yet pockets of survivors managed to scrape by, and among these desperate souls a new call went out. A call of salvation. The Cult Mechanicum promised shielding, water, energy and nutrition in the midst of ruination, cannibalism and rampant mutations. And the Cult Mechanicum delivered, through gruelling wars in red sands and wrecked spires after the planet of Mars had died its second death.

The Mechanicum always held man and his flesh in contempt, for the ability to construct, repair and operate machines enabled survival, not dilly-dallying about human frailty in the midst of baleful collapse. Evidently, the tech-priests of the Cult Mechanicum never hesitated about replacing limbs with bionic prosthetics or turning human beings into cyborg thralls. Yet even for all its disdain for weak flesh, the Mechanicum was from the very start a vehicle for human survival and rapid regrowth. During the Age of Strife, lulls would be observed in almost permanently turbulent Warp storms, and then the cunning priesthood of Mars would send out colonization fleets. Most of those ships that did survive to establish colonies, quickly saw its settler numbers grow at high speed, so that Mars and its isolated daughters over a course of thousands of years seeded many hundreds, or even thousands of forge worlds throughout the Milky Way galaxy. Many such occult industrial colonies would be inhabited by billions of people when the Expeditionary Fleets of the young Imperium of Man descended upon them, and the sheer power wielded by many such forge worlds emboldened them to stand up and fight for independence before the Emperor's brutal forces eventually overwhelmed the teeming Martian colonies.

Clearly, the Martian Mechanicum and its surviving offshoots had proven to be incredibly succesful during the ongoing human collapse of the Age of Strife, managing to not only hold their ground, but to expand aggressively and grow mightily in numbers through more than twohundred generations of destructive wars, constant Warp storms and alien predations. On some future forge worlds, the Mechanicum colonists found sizable numbers of native survivors, who had usually regressed to a pitiful state of existence. These worlds were conquered in bloody wars and forcefully converted to the ritual creed of the Cult Mechanicum, thus bolstering the number of settlers. Even so, press-ganging of indigenous savages and rapid natural population growth through having large families, would not fully explain the phenomenal success of Mars and her seeded worlds during the ravages of Old Night.

A high default rate of organic breeding on young Martian colonies was supplemented by various vitanoform fleshwork technologies, seeing billions of Mechanicum subjects enter life as vat-grown human creatures. Such techniques are to this day regularly employed on all large installations of the Adeptus Mechanicus in order to produce servitors, Skitarii and other human meat for grotesque rebuilding into living machines. Yet some forge worlds went further than that during the Age of Strife, and decided to maximize nativity from all sources in a systematic and orderly manner, thus adding to the population input of growth vats. And as the Age of Imperium has ground on in all its callous trampling of human life and ever-spiralling regression, ever more forge worlds have adopted a systematic schedule of mandatory artificial insemination, until it has become virtually a standard feature of the worlds and voidholms owned by the Adeptus Mechanicus throughout the Imperium. It is on this aspect of industrial reproduction of human populations that we shall now dwell, for it may tell us much about our species' life and industry in the darkest of futures.

The Adeptus Mechanicus is an empire within an empire, spanning thousands of forge worlds and millions of vassal voidholms. Its production and maintenance of ancient technology is absolutely crucial to the Imperium as a whole, and it possess far-reaching powers and ability to operate independently from the larger astral realms of the Throneworld. The Imperium of Man is founded upon the union of Mars and Terra in Sol system, its symbiosis encoded in the Treaty of Olympus Mons. While the cradle world of Terra stands as the eternal capital of mankind, Mars stands as its heart of science and technological knowhow, fostered in ancient times when the red planet was originally terraformed and colonized in circumstances that were most challenging to Man of Gold's still yet primitive technology and lore. Even though both Solar worlds and their holdings are marred by fanatic ignorance, hateful cruelty and post-apocalyptic regression, the Adeptus Mechanicus and its astral domains is a very different beast from the Terran Imperium proper.

To the Adeptus Mechanicus, crude life is nothing but a biological machine, inferior to the purity of cunning artifice, yet still carrying a soul that is the conscience of sentience. As a tyrannical cult of survival born in the most desperate crisis on Holy Mars, the Cult Mechanicus believes all thought of self to be dysgenic and contrary to our greater interests, and thus the individual must in every way be subjugated to the needs of the whole collective body. Just as a cog must serve its purpose in a great machine. A single man is nothing. The chosen human species is everything. And so the resourceful Adeptus Mechanicus, within its own vast domains, operates with a totalitarian power unheard of by most of the rest of the Adeptus Terra. For life is directed motion, and the Adeptus Mechanicus endeavours to control its direction. After all, is not all technology at the end of the day the harnessing of natural resources? Ferrum aeternum.

As such the Mechanicus will seize the means of reproduction. The creation of new human beings is just yet another form of industrial production, like so many others run by its heavily polluted forge worlds and millholms. All planets and larger factory and asteroid mining voidholms owned by the Martian Mechanicus needs to replace high die-off rates of their lowly human labour force, and likewise they need to ensure that new organics spring forth to bear blessed electrografts and bionic enhancements in a cycle of antique reusing. On top of a constantly high background mortality on lethal manufactoria floors, must be added sudden and massive industrial disasters such as chym floods, pandemics spawned by bio-leaks, detonations of fusion reactors, meltdown of fission, collapse of compounds, breakdown of shipside life support systems and a thousand other dangers inherent to Imperial industry. Opere necesse est, vivere non est necesse.

All this adds to the burdens of prognostication for Gedrosiarchs calculating workplace attrition rates, as do the construction of new facilities screaming for untold thousands upon thousands of labourers to keep the machines running, not to mention sudden and unpredictable requirements for more bodies by the Navis Mechanicus, the fleets of the red planet, its daughters, and all its holdings. It is likewise a volatile numbers game due to the sudden demand for more hands when machines break down beyond anyone's ability to repair, and previously automatized processes are replaced with human labour drones as a stopgap measure that soon grows permanent in nature. Such ravenous demand in the millions or even billions for more human toilers add up to an old Mechanicus practice of press-ganging large numbers of offworld humans from the Terran Imperium's overpopulated planets, keeping up a fluctuating yet continuous import of thralls in order to forestall an ever-looming threat of workforce drought forcing the rusting wheels of industry to grind to a halt. Thus slave labour of all ages are scooped up from other planets and voidholms, just like the Adeptus Mechanicus would do with minerals from mining or promethium from drilling. Vir est ore.

Nevertheless, most forge worlds and millholms tend to have long-term self-sustaining populations, even though offworld supply of warm bodies is necessary to quickly meet short-term spikes in demand or labour mortality. After all, there are to be found many factories for growing human beings in vats on any world of the Cult Mechanicus, and the population itself will usually breed like rats if given the chance. Often, however, that opportunity is not offered to the plebeians and menials by lordly tech-priests, for they usually run centralized breeding programs in order to maximize input, instead of trusting in random, sloppy rutting. Caro autem infirma.

Thus the toxic worlds and voidholms of the Adeptus Mechanicus will force their fecund workforce and clergy to do their part for the Motive-Force, and participate in rigorously scheduled artificial insemination programs, as well as eugenic projects of selective breeding for the initiated tech-priesthood. All this mirrors how agriculture would breed domestic animals. Man, after all, is but yet another resource to extract and exploit for the higher glory of the Omnissiah. Thus uncounted trillions of inhabitants on forge worlds and Mechanicus voidholms across the galaxy find themselves regularly subjected to primitive technology for artificial impregnation and seed extraction, the rate of which is determined by uncaring overlords festooned with spindly bionics who are able to adjust speed up or down just as they would the control instruments of engines and reactors. Deus est machina.

All this mechanistic ordering and generating of human life happens on entire worlds conquered and ravished by towering industry, where human corpses are but another waste product akin to chimney smoke and toxic discharges. Here, in edifices of raw power and industry, techno-theocrats marshall human and material resources on an unfathomable scale, drawing upon raw material extracted from dozens of worlds and tens of thousands of asteroids. Here, surrounded by the iconography of ancient engineering schematics and the heraldry of antique warning signs, insectile tech-priests and tech-priestesses raise their artificial voices in stanzas of machine cant, repeating mantras in triple digit cycles and intoning binary verses in couplets. Here, among the fires of industry and the roaring of furnaces, those inducted into mysteries of the Cult Mechanicus will prostrate themselves on the hard floor in veneration of sacred cogwheel icons, each sung oikos forming a larger hymn of alphanumerical acrostic to soothe troubled machine-spirits. Orbis et caminus.

Here, in hellish fabricator cathedrals and nightmarish refineries, are to be found the brainwashed masses of any forge world or millholm, the gears of industry lubricated by the suffering sweat and blood of innumerable toiling billions. They themselves have been reduced to little else than biological machine components without dignity or say, their bodies slotted into failing sections of debased tech, their reproductive cycles tamed and controlled by cyborg masters who put far more stock in swinging incense before venerable nanoprocessors and memory banks, than they do the wellbeing of their wretched inferiors. Here, in the toxic environments of polluted forge worlds, legions of short-lived menials succumb each and every hour, after grinding their lives away in shifts for some high and mighty overseer who barely knows they exist. They might die in vain. They might die in neverending toil. And they might die in astonishing numbers, yet the whole spiritual-industrial system of human production unit management is nevertheless working within acceptable parameters, for the Adeptus Mechanicus well know to fight off horrendous wastage and loss of human life through increasing input by all available means, whether organic or artificial. Hardships are to be endured. Challenges are to be overcome by the triumph of human willpower and devout sacrifice. The greater work must continue. Gloriam ad Omnissiah.

And so high mortality among menial castes are primarily staved off by vat-grown humans and mandatory programs of artificial insemination, supplemented by uncontrolled breeding and offplanet slave imports. In deadly mechanical manufactoria and lethal mills of alchemy on thousands of forge worlds and a vast array of client voidholms, are to be found faceless hordes of indoctrinated matres et patres, all mouthing mystical incantations, mantras of maintenance and catechisms of operation. Almost none of these ignorant parents will ever see their children, and fewer still will even know their progeny to be theirs when they see an overburdened errand juve scuttle past, buckling under the weight of fuel rods and replacements parts that it must carry to older labourers. These offspring will face a bleak and hard existence in the forges, just as their unknown parents do, and just as uncounted generations of hardworking menials and lay techfolk did before them in a long line of functional orphans.

Behold those wretched cretins, but cry no tears of pity over their plight, for empathy is shameful, the most base of crude emotions, an unworthy stirring of the spirit bereft of sacral logic and clever thought. The overriding commandment is to swell the numbers of the workforce, provide a rudimentary source of embryonic stem cells and increase the faithful flock. In an occult organization where the most devout seekers of knowledge and self-abnegation will replace their right brain half with a cogitator, there can be no value attached to weakling sentimentality. We can allow no corrosive compassion to tarnish our sentience as we comprehend the dehumanized numbers of statistical charts over labourers poisoned by chym or mysterious bio-chemistry. Nay, shun that frail instinct for mercy, for it is a trap of the flesh! Embrace instead the impersonal and magnificent truth on full display before our very eyes and ocular sensors: Witness the forge world.

Man has become infinitely malleable clay in the iron hands of machine. The crude world of the organic senses is nought but a rough approximation of the true reality of numbers and data, sung as a hymn of symmetry in the flawlessly analyzing processor-mind of the all-encompassing and all-knowing Machine-God. The music of the spheres is a cosmic symphony of cold arithmetics resonating in a room of perfect geometry, a binary orchestra of creation itself. Such is the real nature of the universe, and not the chaotic mess experienced by sinful mortals scrabbling in the dirt.

Why should we pay any heed to the protestations of fleshly lips and waggling tongues? It is so much white noise, fit only to be filtered out. Nay, behold instead the constructed perfection of valves and circuitry, and ken the righteous worship on display in devout processions among the machines. A myriad of convoluted techno-sects infest the body of the Cult Mechanicus, yet they all know that to break with ritual is to break with faith. The correct rites must be observed. Anoint thus the blessed mechanism with oil, and offer up the fragrance of sacred incense. All savants must know the techno-theological formulae and ritualistic words of activation. Any seeker of knowledge, learning and wisdom must be able to perform the correct rituals without fault. They must know how to process data and how to insert digital prayers, and they must rinse and repeat their cyclic attempts to win the favour of the machine-spirits in a stubborn display of religious fervour and dedicated intellect schooled by the Cult Mechanicus.

Thus the builders and knowers of mankind's finest craft have been reduced to hidebound zealots, their minds filled with superstition and slowly dissipating knowledge, even as their vox-cords give off a gibberish prattle of binary cant. The very ideas of their worldview and sectarian education are expressed in a poorly understood babble of High Gothic nomenclature inherited and scavenged from a long since past Golden Age of discovery and invention, when great minds where allowed to roam at large and crack open the secrets of the universe. Since then, man's regressed science and technology has slumped into pits of ignorance and fanatic dogma.

These tech-priests and tech-priestesses may be obsessed with cold logic and machine systems, yet simultaneously they will bow in blinkered worship of idols and pursue the ritualized riddles of arcane mysticism. Incredibly advanced databanks beyond the means of even the richest secular aristocrats have been filled with poorly processed hard information mixed with the garbled codes of digital shamanism and cultic creed. These curious souls, who once would have spearheaded humanity's hunt for its astral birthright, will instead recite binary mantras and litanies, lying prostrate in front of ritual tables of periodized elements and sacred charts of electronic circuitry handed down from a brighter age, when man knew how to make better out of himself. The organized state of humanity's best and brightest minds in the Age of Imperium is nothing short of a prison for thought itself, upheld by rigid dogma and the jealous slaying of anyone who would dare to challenge the unhinged status quo of deteriorating human knowledge guarded by an inept techno-theocracy hellbent on protecting its self-empowering monopoly.

As previously mentioned, rudimentary cloning technology derived from vitanoform and fleshvat lore of the ancients is still used by the Adeptus Mechanicus, yet it would be horrendously inefficient for the tech-priests not to also make use of the biological machinery of the operational human production units themselves. Waste not, want not. It is best to maximize input from a wide variety of sources, including vat-grown cloning of bodies, offworld press-ganging of slave labour, and natural human breeding. The latter, however, is usually rigorously controlled by artificial means and systematized into an ordered grid of rigid production schedules to better meet expected human wastage levels and future demand for labouring flesh. Only seldom will local sects of the Adeptus Mechanicus allow independent primal rutting to freely dictate the rhythm of body input into their monstrous calculations.

Unlike the Imperium proper of Holy Terra, the empire of the Adeptus Mechanicus do not believe in family. This primal organic unit is messy, unsystematized and disorganized, akin to a pigsty. Instead of parents and siblings, children on forge worlds and millholms will often grow up in a ladder of dismal institutions, where their age or evaluated productivity level dictates which rung in the ladder they find themselves in. The lowest rung of these functional orphanages will take care of infants who are usually given all the necessary nutrition, sleep and temperature regulation by lobotomized servitors, and yet still some babies wither away and die from lack of human contact, love and attention. Clearly, such weaklings were not fit for the rigours of life in the first place.

This neglect only intensifies as the toddlers are moved up into institutionalized units for the instruction and cultivation of small children. Instead of warmth and care, these liberi will be subjugated to ceaseless indoctrination, in order to better prepare them for their ordained roles within the Cult Mechanicus. Their first cerebral implants will be installed, the better to allow transfer of information directly into the children's skulls and waste as little time and resources as possible on mundane teaching. This short education will mainly deal with religious instruction fit for the most basic castes of the Machine Cult, as well as all manner of practical tech knowledge and the ability to read, write and calculate, to prepare the children for an early labour start on the floors of manufactoria and shipyards. The most promising pupils will be inducted into more prestigious institutions to prepare them for induction into the mysterious orders of the tech-clergy, where they will rub shoulders with the prodigious fruits of selective breeding and eugenics.

In order to foster a hardy spirit, supervisors will cultivate violence and fear in order to humiliate and control the children through draconic punishment. Electrical shocks and pain-inducing alchemical concoctions will be administered in full view of everyone else to misbehaving human progeny. Likewise, children found quarrelling will often be ordered to hit or taze each other as part of their disciplinary penalty, thus undermining any forming of close bonds between peers that might act contrary to subservience to the Cult Mechanicus. Older kids will usually steal away opportunities to hit and kick smaller ones, often as an outlet for their own frustrations and repressed aggression, thereby cultivating a virtuous cycle of violence against those younger than themselves. Thus the spawn of man is taught to be ruthless and to hate from an early age. To further promote the overbearing sense of isolation and mechanistic, inevitable cruelty, novitiates, federii and liberi will never be notified in advance when they are to be moved from one institution to another section, for they will be moved around like boxes, without personal belongings and without any chance to say goodbye to anybody they might have known. Inter-human attachments must not be formed, for that way the feebleness of flesh lies over yonder.

The entire environment of upbringing within the juvenile institutions of the Adeptus Mechanicus amounts to children being wiped out as human beings, their voices silenced, their weak selves humiliated, their wills broken. Only by dissolving the personalities of tender humans in such slaughterhouses of souls can a new and better man be built, one filled with zealous adherence to the Credo Omnissiah and one capable of becoming as one with the machine, both in body and mind. What use do children have for their mothers and fathers? What use do plebeians have for knowing their relatives? All relevant data are as a rule mapped out in genealogical pedigrees of controlled breeding, available only to the concerned blessed experts who can enter the correct clearance codes. This cold and mechanical treatment of human youngsters contributes greatly to moulding the subjects of the Cult Mechanicus into faceless numbers in enormous masses of replacable human machine components.

Weak-willed outsiders might find this arrangement to be joyless, resulting in a life bereft of tender contact and human warmth. Mayhap it will even result in raising generations upon generations lacking the finer things in life altogether. Such nonsense is not even worth the dignity of dismissive answer. No, listen not to the white noise of infidels and barbarian ignoramii. Let there be an unsentimental harvest and planting of seed, for the flesh is weak. We must strive to become one with the machine, act the machine, be the machine, even if scraps of flesh and organs still cling to our forms. The machine moves in patterns of mathematical exactitude and purposeful repetition, and so should we do as well in matters of the flesh.

Get rid of your delusions of the flesh, for they will lead you astray from the deeper reality hidden beneath the dull exterior that your unreceptive optic organs perceive in their state of half-blindness, ignorant as your ocular organs are to pure expressions of true reality such as observable heat differences and the spectrum of light. Shun illogical thought of self, for how could a wheel revolt against the axle around which it rotates? Purge irrational vanity, for how could a transmission belt care for its appearance? Form is but a manifestation of function, and there is no other beauty in all of creation than sacred function, just as there is no higher mystery outside the sacred reach of pure, unadulterated knowledge.

Thus man on thousands of forge worlds and innumerable vassal voidholms will be produced on an industrial scale, akin to machines making other machines. A higher system of reproductive engineering has replaced untamed patterns of feral copulation. The purity of cold calculation has replaced the abominable fragility of emotion, and so humans are extracted of their seed and impregnated routinely like one would inseminate domesticated grox and other cattle in agriculture. When speaking of this process, we must naturally exclude those human production units who have been chem-gelded, organ-crushed or otherwise rendered sterile and barren. Such impotent conditions may usually come about either in all-too common industrial accidents, or as a normal genetic hygiene punishment for repeated work failures that attract the judging eyes of superiors (although servitorization is a far more common measure), in order to not promote the passing on of undesirable traits to future generations of menials. For if the machine pool of a facility is to be cleaned and maintained with regularity, then surely the labour pool servicing the machines must be likewise cleaned and maintained without failure?

And so the servants of Mars and all its daughter holdings are created in coordinated breeding programs, where inception, gestation and delivery performs like oiled clockwork. On some forge worlds and voidholms of the Adeptus Mechanicus, this entire procedure is mechanically automatized into something resembling a rolling assembly line with strapped human bodies being processed at high speed, while at other places a simple queue to a large facility for mass extraction or injection will suffice. Know that the need for comfort is a false craving of the flesh. Rank within the Cult Mechanicus will determine the insemination process. Among both males and females, lowly menials and lay tech-folk will routinely have their arms and legs locked to a moveable hard table during the mechanical procedure in order to forestall any time-inefficient thrashing about of potential unwilling slaves, while Cult members inducted into the tech-priesthood and its arcane mysteries will be expected to fully understand the order of things and thus comply piously without any need for restraints.

As to the human produce of such scheduled factory programs, the small bodies of children make for poor labourers, while their young brains make for simple servitors. Although there are many tasks that are lightweight and menial enough to entrust to a child, such little work do not invite much else than dismissive views from the Adeptus Mechanicus. After all, the desired end product is a fully grown human production unit, whereas childhood stands as nothing but a time-consuming obstacle to the labour replenishment process.

Thus crops of despised and inefficient children will often be injected with variably volatile growth stimulants to accelerate their maturation into peak fitness juves and adults of far better efficiency levels than childishly undeveloped offspring possess. Still, children and tender juves can be put to reasonably heavy work and run errands for adult labourers. And so children can be seen scrabbling about inside great machines, where they pick cotton in textile factorum cathedrals, their work rhythm set to the precarious pulse and sudden thrusts of raking machinery that they must nimbly avoid at their own peril. Such utterly dangerous child labour is all beneficial to the running of the Great Machine, and thus it must never be shied away from. And as man in the far future has come to replace more and more machine tasks with manual labour, the industrial uses for children have slowly grown in number over the fivehundred generations that make up the Age of Imperium. For instance, the small bodies of liberi are well suited to claustrophobic labour tasks such as minor chimney sweeping, cleaning out nooks and cranies of lethally active machines in operation, and the horrible drudgery and crawling to cleanse pipes and large hoses from the inside, in which case bestial pipe lurkers are sometimes lying in wait for an easy prey to slowly devour alive, out of sight, out of mind. And so the pipe-cleaning kid may themself end up clogging the arteries of manufactoria.

Brainwashed Cult Mechanicus children who grow up in age cohorts under strict discipline and adult scorn, will receive electrografts and other cerebral bionic implants for efficient information downloading and educative installation directly into their tender brains. Electrografts and other cerebral tech implants were often originally designed with a rudimentary simulated intelligence in order to learn their tasks increasingly well over time so that they would improve function and efficiency over generations of irrelevant fleshly human carriers. Yet nowadays many cheaper electrografts decay over time and gradually turn the human production unit first irritable, then erratic, and finally insane. Neither the Imperium of Holy Terra nor the empire of the Adeptus Mechanicus sworn to Holy Mars have much patience for teaching plebs. For lay tech-folk and other lowly specialists it is far better to surgically implant hardware and quickly install software containing the necessary technical knowledge, rather than wasting years and years on proper education, teaching through hands-on practice and a thorough understanding of subject matters. Why would limited resources be wasted on pampering to such shortlived human components when more efficient means are available?

This entire approach to learning is but one sclerotic reason among many as to why the Imperium of Man in general and the Adeptus Mechanicus in particular will not be a source of human innovative renaissance, and thus mankind has wasted ten precious millennia of interstellar empire on stagnating into senility when it should have bounced back into a self-rejuvenating virtuous cycle of boundless scientific curiosity and confident technological development. And so Tyranid hive fleets are now falling upon the Milky Way galaxy like so many fangs sinking into the soft belly flesh of weak prey, all the while baleful eradicators of ancient times awake on thousands of Necron tomb worlds, set to harvest all life for themselves as they once did during the War in Heaven. Thus the human species in the far future is doomed to fight a losing war against forces mighty beyond imagination, trapped in a dysfunctional colossus on feet of clay that has regressed into a fortified interstellar madhouse filled with ignorant fanatics and selfserving overlords whose mercilessly harsh measures have proven counterproductive to a lunatic degree.

And so the decline of human power continues unabated in the Milky Way galaxy, for mankind stands horribly ill prepared to face the forces of doomsday, and the best and the brightest of humanity's experts on science and technology have been reduced to little more than ranting witch doctors and ignorant scavengers of antique fossils. In the face of this rising tide of doom, the Adeptus Mechanicus' quest for the holy grail of an intact Standard Template Constructor or STC archive has intensified to never before seen levels, and explorators backed by billions of Skitarii and other armed forces of the Cult Mechanicus are now scouring the galaxy for any clue of archeotech hidden beneath the earth, or searching for treasures drifting through space, or excavating for artefacts and techno-relics forgotten beneath the polluted foundations of hive cities that once soared to the high heavens as idyllic arcologies of shining splendour.

See, then, the Imperium of Man for what it is, in all its fanatic savagery. The union of Terra and Mars that the Imperator forged during the Great Crusade has resulted in a primitive astrotechnological civilization which has been leaking human knowledge for fivehundred generations, akin to a wounded man slowly bleeding out. Bear witness to the ramshackle huts and crude edifices built upon the wreckage of former glories, constructed along the lines of engineering lore born out of ancient discoveries cloaked in mystery and enigma to the Adeptus Mechanicus. Ever since the Golden Age of Technology ended, mankind has been reverting to an ever worsened state of being in a grinding spiral of descendant degeneration, broken only by brief resurgences of Imperial recovery and succesful manufacturing of ancient human technology.

Scan the Imperium of Man in general, and the Martian empire of forge worlds and millholms ruled by the Adeptus Mechanicus in particular. Be cognizant of the flood of deadly hate. Watch how rueful man like a machine tool will be made to conform to the movements and requirements of engines, just like a cardan shaft must in order to function properly. The freewheeling powers of cognition have been robbed from the human mind, and locked in an abhorrent straitjacket of ignorant dogma, strict surveillance and limited thought. No wonder so many despairing souls turn insane in this living nightmare of lost hope. In the Age of Imperium, the lofty dreams inherent to the human heart have died a baleful death of dystrophy and decay. See the pitiful state of man, toppled from his soaring pedestal of yore. O, how the mighty have fallen! Behold a paradise lost.

And so degraded mankind stumbles onward, in service to its own rotting interstellar empire. Within this cosmic domain can be found a scattered realm of sheer industry, where man himself has become a factory process like any other. Here, endless hordes of toiling men, women and children will have their body parts callously replaced with machinery. Here, the blinkered masses are ruled by minds of metal and wheels, for it is a starspanning realm of cold numbers and lifeless calculations, of heartless equations and grinding machinery churning out an endless stream of ever more primitive products to prop up a dysfunctional theocratic dictatorship. Here, in the holdings of the red planet, man is become more machine than a being of flesh and blood, and he will brutally force his own round life to fit into a square slot.

All the precision and cunning artifice of the Adeptus Mechanicus amounts to reduce man to nothing but a replacable machine component, one that will be pragmatically installed, without ever asking for his irrelevant thoughts on the matter, into a vast and intricate system of movings levers, pistons and pumps. Here, man's lot is toil neverending, toil ever burdensome, toil ever grinding. Man's progeny is birthed through a mechanistic arrangement of industrial reproduction, in thrall to statistical sheets balancing input and output of life for the sake of running machines. Here, amid endless rows of towering factories, man is but another material piece of inventory in facilities filled with siphons, conveyor belts and all manner of enigmatic techno-arcana. Man is but dust in the shadow of roaring furnaces and crackling tesla coils, but yet another resource to be consumed with the indifference of a heart of stone.

And so, on thousands upon thousands of forge worlds, man is laid out upon the anvil and hammered into a shape fit for workshop purposes. He is thus reshaped and crafted, to eventually be discarded like a broken tool once he has served his purpose and his mind and body are no longer fit for endless toil. The cycle of organic life itself has been made subject to dehumanizing mechanisms and engineered systems as but yet another manufactorum process among many others. Here, in the darkest of futures, man has constructed for himself nothing short of hell on earth, where man be both its tormentor and tormented. Perhaps, in a weak moment in the darkest of nights or lightsouts, some few of the masters and rulers of mankind will recognize this faltering edifice of human suffering and pointless misery for what it truly is. Yet even then, they are bound to conclude that it is better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

Thus the dizzying prospects of the brief human renaissance offered by the Emperor's Great Crusade has run into the sand, and long since disappeared beneath the uncaring dunes of oblivion. In their stead, man has earned for himself ten thousand wasted years of eroding science and decaying technology, of ever more primitive industry and worsening demechanization of human civilization across the stars. Man has fashioned for himself an aeon filled with ten thousand years of shackled thought, where the best and the brightest of his species can do naught else but dig for buried treasure and pray for deliverance. Ten thousand years of purging freeminded deviants and infidels. Ten thousand years of rusting stagnation, where occult mysteries have replaced the diligent research of yore.

Do not avert your eyes from the etiolated ugliness on full display, but witness instead how a degenerate feedback loop of despondent fatalism has replaced the optimist spirit that served the ancients so well. The demented ramblings of feverish fanatics have taken over where once doubtfilled criticism and rigorous testing of theories held sway. Know this, and never forget that interstellar empires are absolutely dependent on their mastery of science and technology. Man has long since lost the ball in this great game, and his eyes refuse to see, just as his mind refuse to comprehend.

This is the Imperium of Man. This is the demise of hope, the broken promise of humanity's birthright, the death of a dream. In these dying years of senile mankind, humanity shines as a flickering candle light soon about to be quenched by the maws of a suffocating darkness.

All this transpires, in a demented epoch, where man is bred by force.

In an age of decay, where man has harnessed himself under the yoke.

In an era of doom, at the end of our species.

Such is the horror that awaits us all.

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


- - -

Inspired by Jchrispole's first human children of the dark future piece.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2021 8:13 pm 
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Krak-Lance

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is used up by his own weapon.

Across a galactic realm of tenhundredthousand worlds and voidholms without number, human tongues tell an archaic tale of the brave hero who laid down his own life in service to master or country, or to kith and kin. This martial archetype may have died to protect his home or to exact vengeance upon a hated foe of superior might, and he may have slain his enemy or bought his comrades time by his selfless deed. The details vary greatly, and it will often be part of a larger myth cycle, one rivetting episode among others. But the story is always the same at its core, for it is the never-dying myth of the self-sacrificing warrior, a primordial saga that reverberates in the hearts of men, women and children alike, for they all know it to be true, deep down in their very blood and bones. This has happened innumerable times before, and will keep occuring for as long as man draws breath. For as long as life exists.

After all, hardship and struggle remain an integral part of the human condition, born out of a harsh universe of limited resources where might makes right. This primitive peril and adventure has never once died in the human heart, for even at the peak of human power and prosperity during the Dark Age of Technology did man venture boldly into the unknown, willing to lay down his own life to break new ground across the stars and protect his family and fellow settlers from unspeakable terrors. Even on the wealthiest and safest of worlds had this spirit of self-sacrifice not died, for there has always been firemen and volunteers of courage that throw themselves into danger to save others during disasters. Bravery may ever come to the fore in trying times, however brief they may be.

Likewise, a more peaceful and less intense form of self-sacrifice held sway among many of the most intrepid members of the human species during this long-lost golden age, for did they not willingly dedicate their long lives to ceaseless research and scientific toil and discovery when they could could have easily kicked back and relaxed instead, thus whiling away their allotted centuries in a morass of idle plenty? The stubborn spirit of the hero who offers up himself for a higher cause truly do lives on in man, and may be glimpsed at work virtually anywhere if one knows what to look for, even if its example is often less stark and direct than the sight of a valiant mortal who throws himself bodily before the blazing mouths of enemy guns in order to allow his brothers in arms to conquer a fortified hostile war-nest.

This innate potential for heroic deed and heroic death, in spite of fear and the biological drive for self-preservation, is present in virtually any sentient species to be found across the teeming Milky Way galaxy, for none of them had the idyllic luxury to evolve in an environment bereft of violence and danger. Some of them may have built paradises for themselves, but they always originated from harrowing trials and strife. Sometimes, mad bravery may prove the best way to overcome and survive a hopeless situation, and even if the gutsy martyr did not live to tell of the tale, their kin may very well have been saved by the hero's bold action and defiance of death itself.

Such spirited deeds and scorn for both life and death have always been highly sought after and praised by rulers and their hosts, for such unlikely action can swing the course of conflict and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Naturally, the rewarding of heroics with material benefits and immortal fame in story and song will serve as both a bait and incentive to encourage others to follow the example of that plucky man of action or heroine who everyone looks up to for their reckless daring. Propaganda is usually built upon shaming or inspiring your own side with the worthy deeds of outstanding warriors and other heroes, or by summoning wrath and bitter hatred for the enemy by telling tales of his worst atrocities, regardless of the truth behind such narratives. Fostering a sense of danger will in itself encourage the desired response from populace and military alike, thereby mustering support, strengthening morale and bolstering the war effort both on the line of fire and at the home front.

Yet an overwhelming threat may at worst engender despair, doomsaying and defeatism among many on your side. Such creeping malaise is best checked with unexpected success, and failing that a second best alternative would be the remarkable heroism of one's own warriors when faced with dreadful odds. After all, everyone respects strength and daring. And so human tales of audacious servo-hackers, clankwreckers, infiltrating saboteurs and selfless guerilla warriors flourished during the devastating war against the Cybernetic Revolt launched by man's former servants. Some of these machine war legends have been passed down in distorted form through eighteenthousand years of unsteady human deterioration across the stars. Such sagas have usually been bastardized in forgotten eras by unknown storytellers, yet a hard kernel of truth still remains, around which the malleable narrative is ever re-spun through centuries upon centuries of tinkering oral tradition.

One type of the most ancient legends that is still heard on tens of thousands of worlds and millions of voidholms, is that of humble men, women and children who charge straight into the lethal arms of the Men of Iron, armed with nothing but simple spears and suicidal demolition charges. The sight of such forlorn hopes must have branded themselves onto the collective memories of innumerable human cultures, and their faded imprint is still etched onto the vast flora of myths and legends that abound across the Imperium of Man. Yet their sheer longevity through turbulent aeons may have been aided by certain contemporary visual refreshing keeping the deed relevant in the minds of storytelling humanity, for such desperate means are still commonplace in the star-spanning domains of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra.

Aside from explosive belts employed by the Human Bombs of the Penal Legions, there exist a plethora of self-destructive arms throughout the Imperium. For instance, the advanced technology behind plasma weaponry is poorly understood, and any wielder of such devices of techno-sorcery runs a high risk of dying a gruesome death in superheated plasma, should their armament overheat. Similar dangers abound with all manner of sophisticated weapon systems, many of which can no longer be produced anew by ignorant man. At the other end of the technological spectrum can be found such crude and cheap devices, that activating them will engulf the wearer in the flaming shockwave of their single-use weapon.

One such piece of military equipment is the noble krak-lance, which is inhabited by the most simple of machine-spirits, for its make is exceedingly straightforward and it requires only a short litany to soothe and activate. This lunge mine is a common weapon of the Astra Militarum, as well as uncounted Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias alike. A krak-lance is a suicidal anti-tank weapon for infantry forces. It constitutes a rudimentary piece of equipment, being nought but a conical hollow charge anti-tank mine attached to a shaft. Its operation in the field consists of the user pulling out the safety pin to arm the high explosive charge, and then rushing forward to thrust the mine against an enemy vehicle or heavy infantryman in the same manner as one would do in a bayonet charge. If the strike is true, the death-spear will blow up its user and hopefully also the armoured foe, Emperor willing.

This primitive item in the Imperial arsenal is a child of many names, with various patterns existing throughout the wide-reaching astral realm of the Imperator. Its design is always simple and cheap in order to allow for ease of mass-production, and it is a weapon as expendable as the troopers that wield it. As with so many other depraved tools of self-sacrifice upon the battlefield, the stick o' martyrs do not seem to have been used at all by Imperial forces during the Great Crusade of M30, though the krak-lance may possibly have been used by some rundown, ragtag militias in the Unification Wars on parched Terra. Instead, such crude armaments as the hastam et hostia only entered Imperial service in the darkest hours of desperation during long since forgotten wars in millennia past, and the widow rod eventually became standard fare for ever larger portions of the regressing Imperial Guard and local garrison forces.

The one-use yari is issued by the Departmento Munitorum to millions of Astra Militarum regiments every Terran standard year. The krak-lance is a fine expression of the widely held cult of the offensive that is so dominant in Imperial military doctrine, for it requires the soldier to charge into close-quarters combat with self-denying bravery and forcefully ram the piercing thunderbolt against some of the deadliest ground weapon systems deployed by the enemies of mankind. Such sacrificial spearmen stand as a testament to how utterly desensitized man has become in the dark future, for man routinely sends out fellow man with suicide weaponry against his many foes without even blinking.

After all, the sacrifice of the self is a fundamental creed in Imperial modes of thinking, and what better way to demonstrate your complete reverence and allegience to the sacred rule of His Divine Majesty and the Emperor's appointed deputies, than to charge the foe with a suicide doru in hand, and with no hope of surviving even if you land a killing blow and win the martial contest? Some Imperial commanders of a suspiciously pragmatic mindset have occasionally voiced their doubts over the military value of thrust-bombs, yet their borderline heretical protestations against claimed inefficiency are doomed to be quenched by every high-ranking and right-thinking worshipper of the God-Emperor in close vicinity. For at the end of the day, this stock item in the Imperial Guard arsenal is more a proof of the soldiers' eager loyalty unto death, than it is a reliably effective weapon system. No army can conquer the galaxy, but faith can overturn the universe.

And surely self-destructive displays of valour and die-hard loyalism are to be encouraged among the rank and file, just as it is to be praised everywhere they occur within the Imperium of Man? It is better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself. And why should we discourage virtuous self-sacrifice of our warriors when the blood of martyrs has enabled His cosmic dominion to last without interruption for over ten thousand years? Clearly, we must allow true servants of the God-Emperor the chance to die a heroic death which will establish their loyalist convictions beyond the shadow of a doubt. Let us purify mankind.

After all, refusal to bear the anti-armour krak-lance is a dead giveaway sign of treacherous deviancy and thought of self, all abominable sins! Indeed, even better than a summary execution to set an example and uphold unit discipline at the front, may be the blessed opportunity to cruelly torture the wretch and find out if any relatives, neighbours or comrades of theirs are involved in wider plots against the shining light of Imperial rule. And so the lunge mine remains a trusty lithmus test for loyalty among Imperial infantrymen, as they grip this anti-vehicle weapon that is also used against heavily armoured infantry and light makeshift fortifications in urban warfare and shipboard purges. Some who think too much might sneer at the callous waste of life by having quirites blowing themselves apart just to take down a barricaded door or blast through a wall inside a building, yet their exemplary devotion to the Terran Imperator and visible obedience to their masters and betters will inspire fortitude in their fellow soldiers, thus feeding a virtuous cycle of courage and honour.

Thus the krak-lance remains a common piece of wargear in the armoury of the Astra Militarum and numberless local Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias across the interstellar realms of the Master of Mankind. This crude suicide stick stand as a roaring witness to the Imperium of Man's propensity toward throwing bodies at a problem with an unmoved heart of stone, as the corrupt and indifferent grey bureacrats of the Adeptus Terra juggles vast numbers of billions of human lives at a time, all part of a broken calculation to feed the ravenous meatgrinder of endless wars. All an everyday sacrifice upon the altar of war for the lord of hosts and leader of the people. All fuel for that Imperial fire which must never go out.

Such are futile deaths of countless soldiers of the Imperium, all cannon fodder sent into grinding wars of attrition under alien suns, never to return home. No wonder recruitment into the Astra Militarum is often accompanied by both communal celebration and funerary rituals within the clan or kinsgroup for the local men, women and children who are called under arms to Imperial service. Exceedingly few will die in peaceful retirement out of uniform, much less return to their homeworld or voidholm of birth from distant war zones.

And so warriors sworn to die for their species and lord will grip shafts tipped with heavy bombs far more potent than any ordinary explosive lance used by Rough Riders. These footsoldiers' issued spears are all demented weapons, born out of desperation in bygone conflicts, yet their horror and violence is not dimmed in the slightest by their ancient origin and storied tradtion. Thus the doughty men-at-arms will shout their battlecry to the heavens, their throats dry from dust and smoke. They will yell at the top of their lungs, with blood pumping loudly in their ears and adrenaline setting them on edge: For the Emperor! Their warcry will resound, yet often their earnest last words will be swallowed by an orchestra of death and ruination, for the deafening cacophony of war will rip apart words and minds alike.

In this din, the fanatic spearmen will run as fast as they can, in an insane onrush through fire and shrapnel. They will race each other in degenerate contest to the looming target, even as it vomits death and mutilation around it without abandon. Maybe some of them will even make it to their target, and maybe their sacrifice will bite with lethal power into the hated enemy. Perhaps. Their death, however, is almost assured, for the directed detonation of the krak-lance carries a powerful backwash that is almost guaranteed to doom its carrier. Even when triumphant, they will lie dead on the ground by suicide, their bodies blasted apart, their crushed innards leaking through ragged clothing, their eyes glazed and unseeing. And so on thousands upon thousands of embattled worlds and voidholms, Imperial infantry can be seen charging against firespitting enemy vehicles and plated brutes with krak mines mounted upon long handles, as if plucked out of a nightmare vision of primordial hunters swarming hulking behemoths with spears.

Such hellish savagery reveals at last the true face of the Imperium of Man, for under its gilt sacral mask of defending humanity against a galaxy full of hostile monsters, can be seen a monster in its own right, a bloodthirsty predator on the prowl, a raging zealot willing to sacrifice everything and everyone in order to achieve its primitive goals. Its propaganda may glory in its martyred heroes, for the rulers always want the ruled to praise them, yet its bottomless depravity will never end, for the Imperium of Man will trample human life underfoot and take the self-sacrifice of its subjects for given. The terror will never end. The carnage will never end.

If they are lucky, then a rare few quirites who fell for their own krak-lances will pass into legend, their famed deeds destined to join human folklore's tales of self-killing warriors of the misty past, joining the ranks of ancient heroes who gave up their own lives in the greater struggle against towering foes and metal behemoths. This alone may be their legacy.

And so crude tools of suicidal combat will be employed in default methods by an interstellar tyranny of a million worlds and countless voidholms. Here, the degraded state of man means that he will willingly slay himself in order to bring down his enemy, in a baleful spiral of degeneration and bloodshed grinding ever lower into the pit of oblivion man finds himself mired in, without a hope of clawing himself out of.

For in the Age of Imperium, man has become as expendable as the ammunition he carries in a magazine.

All this transpires, in a ruthless empire decaying among the stars.

In a fevered time of unending evil and slaughter.

In an insane epoch where hope has long since perished.

Such is man's lot in the darkest of futures, trapped in an arena of raging mortals where only the screams of those about to die can be heard on the wind. The screams of damned.

And the laughter of thirsting gods.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2021 9:39 pm 
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Hit Them Twice

In the grim darkness of the far future, injured man is slain to save on costs.

Across hundreds of thousands of worlds and innumerable voidholms in the Imperium of Man, a dispersed myriad of folktales and legends tell of skywains that never once touched the ground, and of horseless carriages borne aloft on invisible wings who drove themselves wherever man so pleased, dipping in and out of the void with ease. Sometimes, such a techno-steed would prove a loyal companion to the hero, or even offer sage advice. In other sagas, the decadent failings of tech-dependent humans or the lurking malice of machine intellect would bring ruin and tragedy upon everyone involved. Whatever the narrative, all such myths carry a distorted memory from the Dark Age of Technology, that pinnacle of human achievement and innovation that saw wonders undreamt of become a reality in a fountain of optimism gushing forth from the wellsprings of science.

For in that long since past epoch of paradise, the clever contraptions of man would bolt past him on the streets, carry him into the heavens and dive under the sea, smooth as silk. Man's horseless wagon during the Dark Age of Technology was not only a marvel of engineering, but also a mass-produced luxury available to everyone, no matter how lowly and wretched they might be. Yet the sleek and fully automatized hover vehicles run by Abominable Intelligence have long since been replaced by rougher constructs handled manually by human hands, or even a regressed echo of self-driving in the form of vehicular servitors. The silent robotic traffic of yore has been replaced by an angry din of engines, protesting brakes and shouting drivers, all hurrying along in an aching rush through clouds of smog and exhaust.

In contrast to the aerodynamic creations of ancient human history, Imperial vehicles tend to be blunt, crude and rugged pieces of work, made for ease of construction and field modification as well as for sheer longevity in service, often being driven by many generations from the same bloodline. Imperial designs often combine intricate artifice with a brutal aspect. In contrast to Imperial models common throughout Terran holdings in the Milky Way galaxy, many human vehicles of local designs are often flimsy and cheap, though some retain vague echoes of the technical finesse and flowing forms of vehicles during the Dark Age of Technology.

Even though automobiles of different sorts exist on most Imperial worlds, private cars are rare indeed. License and permit seals are required in order to own a vehicle, and whosoever sport enough wealth, contacts, influence and ability to bribe the right officials in order to gain the warrant, is also rich enough to have their own chauffeur and armed guards. Such propertied betters have no need to themselves drive their expensive vehicle, even though certain well-off daredevils will gladly put themselves behind the wheel or steering rods to chase each other on roads and streets in breakneck contests that often cost the lives of people, both among the race competitors themselves and of surrounding folks such as bystanders, hut dwellers and plebeian drivers in flimsier rides. Some private transport for masters and mistresses are not steered by trained drivers, but are instead controlled by prestigious lobotomized cyborg thralls according to antique automatized driving systems, whose wetware has usually deteriorated through millennia of worsening production capabilities and decaying technical expertise among those schooled in technotheology.

Popular private motoring is virtually unheard of across the length and breadth of the Imperium. Across a million human worlds and uncountable voidholms, it is extremely rare for hoi polloi among Imperial subjects to have any access whatsoever to private cars. In part, such wasteful vehicles for the dirty masses would require a lot of limited resources to construct, maintain and refuel, and the Imperium of Man will always prioritize its civilian vehicles far lower than its crucial military hardware. And as the centuries grind on in an ever downward spiral, both fuel and industrial capacity increasingly needs to be ruthlessly shovelled into the war effort, as the Imperium draws ever closer to its breaking point. In part, it is also easier to control humans if their mobility can be restricted.

Owning your own means of easy transport is a great liberty and indulgence of self, and why would the High Lords of Terra and their legions of haughty representatives across the galaxy ever wish for such deviancy to be inflicted upon mankind? Private automobiles may all too easily turn into vessels of deviancy and apostasy. Indeed, the freedom of choice in travel that many humans knew during many periods in the misty Age of Terra and the sinful Dark Age of Technology, would in itself invite to heresy in the Age of Imperium, for is not heresy per definition the act of choosing your own beliefs? By fostering a closed and strictly controlled material milieu without free choice on offer, the very potential for heresy and its spread is curtailed. Ownership of a groundcar equals freedom of movement, and why should the Imperium ever want to grant any of its subjects freedom?

Indeed, crowd control and strict regulation of movement is a pivotal aspect of Imperial architecture, urban planning, landscape engineering, policing and bureaucratic functions. On many planets and moons it is illegal to build and maintain roads, viaducts, highways, canals, vacuum tunnels, aerodromes, starports and mag-rails without permission granted from the Imperial Governor of that world. This state of affairs hold sway because it is difficult to mobilize armies and advance in a lightning strike to suddenly topple the current rulers without good infrastructure in place. How many times have not the Imperium's own roads, railways and other networks of transportation been used by its hated foes in order to rapidly move their forces about to the detriment of pious loyalists?

Dirty mass transit in the form of large, overcrowded omnibuses, trains, tubes, tramcars, cable railways, ferries and mass elevators sees to the collective movement needs of the vast majority of the populace, beyond common walking on their two Emperor-given human feet, of course. Mechanized civilian traffic in the Imperium mainly consists of utilitarian transports and armoured vehicles. Ill-repaired roads and streets are usually clogged by vehicles such as trucks, overburdened buses and bulletproof limos, as well as armoured vehicles in the service of law enforcement, various militaries, noble Houses, and a plethora of authorities both Imperial and local.

As for the common armoured vehicles seen across the Imperium of Man, these comprise heavy cars such as urbecarri and Standard Template Construct (STC) vehicles like the Trek Wain, Iron Ox and Huss Cricket. Armoured groundcars likewise include luxury rides such as a plethora of limos and the rough terrain-going Salon Royale, as well as armoured personnel carriers like the common Rhino, Chimera and Taurox. Some of these armoured ground vehicles are wheeled, others tracked, and some are even halftracked in order to enable truck drivers to quickly take over the reins without lengthy instruction. The Imperium, after all, do not set great stock in unnecessary education for plebeians, which is sneered at as a foul waste of time and resources spilled on short-lived peasants.

Armoured vehicles of all sorts usually sport discreet weaponry, since so much of Imperial territories are dangerous and wild places even at the best of times, with feuding clans, hostile tribes and toxic neighbour communities hating each others' guts, as well as downtrodden malcontents lashing out against their overlords. Even during times of peace, there may be regular riots, bandit attacks, bombings, highway piracy and assassinations. Rival sects and cults both Imperial and forbidden vie with each other for influence, and such sectarian clashes of interest, regional pride, leadership personalities and ideas often spill over into bloody vendettas with entrenched arch-enemies attacking each other for many centuries or even millennia of cyclic conflict, the original cause of which may long since have been forgotten, and yet still the violent struggle continues.

Among the lower castes, their practical work vehicles are often owned by wealthy patrons or Guilds, and rented at an ungainly price by desperate clients, rather than being owned by the unwashed craftsmen and petty market traders themselves. Another common arrangement for those who drive shoddy work vehicles, is for the lay techmen, plumbers, peddlers, truckers, draymen and bemokarls to either themselves be legally owned as indentured servants by nobles or Guild associations, or stand in another form of multi-generational indebtitude as freedmen required to serve their gracious overlords after being granted a higher legal status once their monetary debt was somehow paid off or manumitted. Needless to say, the freedmen's vehicles are still owned by their former slave masters, who receive a hefty cut of all freedman income. Only the most succesful of petty tradespeople could ever hope to rise high enough to themselves buy and own the vehicle they drive to work in, due to a highly corrupt administration if nothing else.

A fair number of the multifarious vehicle designs to be found across the vast width of the Imperium of Man are STC models, with rugged reliability proven on most habitable types of worlds and with universal replacement parts to be found across wideranging sectors of Imperial space. Many other vehicle designs will be of local patterns, which may be both more primitive or more advanced than the Standard Template Construct rides. The main disadvantages with locally produced vehicles include reliance on natively made parts or fuel that may be impossible to get ahold of off-world, not to mention a lack of reliability in alien climates and terrain types which the vehicles were never designed for.

On many worlds and on some of the largest voidholms, various exotic vehicle types such as skimmers, cargo-walkers, hovercraft, screw-propulsors, aerosleds or mag-chariots may be found in the local vehicle pool. Whatever their make, these civilian vehicles are always liable to be requisitioned by Imperial forces, as are their fuel and machined parts such as the grav-plates of skimmers. Such confiscations are frequent occurrences that may often happen forcefully at gunpoint, and requisitions are growing ever more common as waning Imperial power resorts to cannibalizing its subject human societies in order to wage a rising number of total wars across the teeming Milky Way galaxy.

Whether of STC make or not, human vehicles in the Age of Imperium span a colossal number of variations and technologies. Across hundreds of thousands of strange worlds, the skies may swarm with everything from blimps, flightcars, skimmers and omnithopters, to atmospheric aircraft, voidboats and tamed flying creatures or aerofloated plant life. Jet trains, mag-trains and promethium-burning rail monstrosities can all be found on fixed lines cutting across landscapes, or zooming through tunnels below the ground. Some trains are even pulled by genetically modified beasts, or powered by weird human treadmills. The means of propulsion are no less varied upon alien seas, with all manner of submersibles and surface vessels making use of tech ranging from the most primitive to levels of barely understood sophistication, as ignorant humanity continue to copy designs over and over and to gnaw on the remnant fruits from a long since deceased golden age, until nothing is left in use of his ancestors' clever inventions, and man's regression takes yet another step downward.

On land, carts and wagons pulled by humans, horses and alien draft animals jostle with road-wheelers, paulotrucks, power lifters and rickshaws. Simple cycles share ways with groundcars, dirtbikes, trikes, dune buggies, quads, bemos and mechshaws. Heavier rides likewise traverse Imperial roads and streets, including temple juggernauts, six-wheelers, omnibuses, tractors, eight-wheelers and all manner of strange vehicles needed in the agricultural, mining, construction, organic recycling and forestry sectors, as well as giant freight-drays rumbling treads or wheels so fat they are almost cylinders. All terrain vehicles (ATV) may be found bumping into anti-grav rides or scratching the paintjobs of walkers, even as trundling noble House behemoths akin to rolling castles crush the most dysgenically inattentive rabble and their autocarts under their stupendous weight.

The pockmarked roads, tunnels and viaducts of the Imperium are filled with very brave drivers gunning their vehicles like madmen in a harebrained chase through a moving maze. The driving antics of humans in the far future are mostly aggressive and assertive, everyone breathing down the neck of vehicles in front of them, ever pushing, ever seeking an advantage and kick of adrenaline, rarely being afraid of potential accidents resulting from their daredevil steering and need for speed. These drivers are virtually never shy of clipping a corner at risky angles or darting in between other vehicles with a deft skill that sees them living on the razor's edge in human traffic. Naturally, the roadsides of the Imperium are not seldom littered with the smoking wrecks and corpses of their more disastrous journeys. Adopting a cautious and defensive driving style may not prove a safeguard, since more vigorous drivers may take offense at the milksop's whimpy handling on the road, and may as such attempt to force them off the highway, even if it entails pushing them through lanky railings for the craven cur to plummet to their doom from precipitous heights. Needless to say, railings and fences are becoming an ever more unusual sight on Imperial viaducts across the galaxy due to reductionist calculations and twisted ideology, so being dropped from a raised highway has never been easier.

Thus crazy drivers will press the pedal to the metal and trust in the Terran Emperor and their talismanic trinkets of luck to keep them safe in a Vostroyan roulette of Imperial traffic. Their offensive driving antics may mow down the unfortunate, but such random chance is all manifestations of His Divine Majesty's godly will. Drivers and pedestrians alike will put their lives in the hands of the protecting Imperator, and drive carelessly or jaywalk rather than be slaves to craven caution and shameful thought of self. If it is His will that they survive, then they will make it through the traffic unharmed. If Our Lord on Terra has judged them unworthy, then no amount of safety measures can in any case shield them from the impending worldly punishment ordained by Him on the Golden Throne. In fact, the more anxious caution you pursue while deemed sinful and wanting, the worse the outcome of your inevitable penalty will be. Do not flee from fate, for that will only bring it about in a horrendously worse fashion.

The barely controlled bedlam of Imperial road traffic is not made safer by overstressed drivers who constantly get delayed in security checkpoints, where armed guards and watchmen ask for their papers and identity seals with a finger ready on the trigger. No wonder highways combed into neat lanes are constantly violated by daring drivers harassed by shrieking schedules and taskmasters. To survive and thrive, you need be without mercy, and never look back. Weak moments of regret can kill you on the road or street in the Imperium of Man. Such ruthless operators of vehicles are like wolves in drivers' seats. These lupa curribus are almost invariably status-sensitive drivers, ever ready to demand respect and assert hierarchy on the road with selfconfidence and bluster. They will be found shouting obscenities and curses at each other when they themselves are cut short by exactly the kind of death-defying traffic maneuvres that they so love to execute with bare inches of empty space left before a collision would occur. To be a driver of vehicle in the Imperium of Man, is to be of vindictive and backbiting character, always out for your own gain at the expense of others. Your mind will be wicked and mean-spirited, your tongue shouting barbs and your fists waving at other drivers as you pass them by in cracked road lanes littered with pot holes and trash.

Rarely is the true spirit of man behind the wheel or steering levers seen as clearly, as in the double-hit incidents that are so common across hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and the largest of voidholms that sport vehicular traffic. This dual-ramming phenomenon exists wherever laws make any driver who injures another Imperial subject above a certain caste level liable to pay for the lifetime care and bionic prosthetics of any disabled survivor from their road rampage or random street accident. Such running costs can be ruinously expensive as the years stack up. Usually, lower caste victims who are killed in traffic accidents will require a far lower one-time-payment in compensation to grieving kin, clan or master, thus making it far more economical to hit and kill, than to hit and wound. The fine may of course be lowered further by choice bribes, making it that much cheaper to pay once and have the matter be over and done with. Lower caste members killing upper caste members in traffic will result in the lowborn scum being hunted down by House armsmen or bounty hunters.

Such a legal order where it is cheaper to kill than to injure in traffic, creates a perverse incentive to repeatedly run over a downed pedestrian or opponent driver flung through their window onto the pavement, and make sure that they are dead before driving away at high speed, in case surveillance or present witnesses would have seen it and charges would be pressed. These twisted law codes of victim compensation will invite drivers to run a cold-blooded calculation through their minds, and encourage them to hit at least twice and drive to kill, should they ever be involved in an accident with engines revved. Such perverse rules have indirectly caused the deaths of uncounted billions throughout the Imperium of Man over millennia, yet such waste of human production units and potential military recruits is but a drop in the teeming ocean of humanity that the God-Emperor and His loyal servants lord it over.

Naturally, some hot-headed drivers will hit twice less out of a cold-blooded calculation, but will act more out of a raging furor against the walking, talking idiot who dared to be run over out of their own carelessness just to spite the innocent driver with a life-wrecking court case. In any case, clearly it was the God-Emperor's will that the victim was hit as punishment for their sins, so why not follow His will and finish a job already started when you were clearly chosen from on high to act as the instrument of divine wrath?

And so human drivers on hundreds of thousands of worlds and uncounted voidholms will two-tap and run their traffic accident victims over double, their aim being hit-to-kill and crush the wastrels underwheel. If others would run out to help the injured pedestrians, then they themselves may also risk being run over until dead, but it is their folly to put their neck on the line for a fellow human being in the first place. Indeed, Low Gothic sports a common saying born out of this widespread traffic phenomenon: It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure.

Still, such quick-thinking actions as twain-wheeling pedestrian victims of roadside accidents is not without risk. Every world and voidholm home to this persistent and dysfunctional traffic phenomenon is also host to buzzing tales of double-ramming drivers being lynched by outraged bystanders, all howling for the driver's blood in a spasm of instinctive pleb justice. Such a baleful destiny of dismemberment by crowd and clan is far more likely to befall tractormen, draymen and lowly truck drivers, than they do anyone inside a securely locked and weaponized armoured car. Since a running vehicle is in itself a large projectile at deadly speeds, drivers of armoured vehicles can usually escape the murderous clutches of mobs by mowing them down by force of powerful, roaring engines.

Indeed, a confident enough driver or owner of an armoured car may even have it swing around for another go, to accelerate and attack from an advantageous front angle into the screaming rabble, guns blazing and wheels crushing presumptuous lynchers, even as the hull may be electrified to give off frying jolts to anyone attempting to climb the huge groundcar. In such street massacres it is likewise best to hit them twice in order to encourage death, and make sure to kill with multiple impacts. Anyone attempting to run away should be ruthlessly hounded down if at all feasible, so that car suspension shakes from grinding them into the dirt. Best of all is to leave no babbling witnesses of the carnage, although a bane-driver's reputation for slaying people with their impregnable car can go a long way toward discouraging the next bloodthirsty revenge mob from forming, should accident rear its ugly head once again, and financial necessity rationally dictate that you double-hit the broken walker with your sturdy vehicle until the wretch is nought but a mangled mess and gory bloodstain upon the street.

Those most liable to face legal charges for high-octane violence are usually indentured drivers and thralls steering their masters' vehicles. Some likewise legally vulnerable social strata include lower level managers, middling traders, striving artisans and others with enough means to either drive a work vehicle, or even own a private one, yet without clout to stand above the law when caught injuring Imperial subjects of lower stature. Chauffeurs of limos and other armoured vehicles are usually more safe because of the prestige of the vehicle in which they sit and the influence of their employer and master, yet neither driver nor owner are ever fully beyond the decrepit reach of the long arm of the law.

So while bemo drivers, mechshawers and other lowly men, women and juves behind the steering wheel and control rods are most liable to face legal consequences for their actions, rich groundcar owners and particularly their employed drivers can never be completely sure to escape attention from law enforcement for causing casaulties in tragic little roadside accidents, unless they happen to travel in an armed convoy sporting dozens or hundreds of hired guns and mercenary muscle operating on a hairtrigger. If they are unfortunate, they may be arrested by local policiary officers such as phylakitai, patrol karls, tzakones, medjays, bailiffs, buccelarii, skythikoi and vigiles urbani.

Many law enforcement corps around the Imperium are loathe to touch wealthy owners of chauffeur-driven armoured vehicles, not least for the risk of a frustrated man of means or irritable noble lady ordering their bodyguards to open fire on the overstepping enforcer of order and then absconding with the officer's bleeding body. Still, brave, foolhardy and enterprising officers of local law may decide to either set an example out of virtuous adherence to duty, or else they may wish to risk annoyed retaliation and chase the bribes to be earned from a cornered wrongdoer. In those instances, the phylakitai will attempt to order the vehicle to halt, and failing that they may open fire to punctuate the inner hoses of synthrubber wheels, although many heavy wheel variants are either solid or made wholesale out of metal and springs precisely in order to avoid being hamstrung by the rabble. A plethora of other means are available to the car-intercepting officer of local law, including calling for reinforcements and initiating a wild chase at breakneck speed through traffic, tunnels and alleys.

If the wrongdoing vehicle is caught, then those inside it will be dragged before the enforcer's superior officer, such as an archiphylakitai, equestrian prefect, magistrate or praetor. Laws vary greatly from world to world, yet either the driver or vehicle owner will be responsible to compensate the injured or killed pedestrian. Sometimes, a fixed ratio is split between them, unless they be the same legal person. Owners of limos and automobiles may often be too influential to be touchable by courtcases brought against them by commoners, but the drivers are not. Nevertheless, a sticky legal process may bring financial devastation to the perpetrators, a bleak prospect that is better settled with bribes and a single lump sum fine paid to the relatives or owner of the deceased pedestrian. The size of the bribe is often proportional to the worst-case fine or fee to be avoided, in that the larger the legal sum, the larger will be the bribe needed to escape paying such a large amount of lucre. At any rate, it is best for the driver's or owner's economic wellbeing to be cruel and ensure death for any accidental traffic victims of theirs. Better someone else's corpse on the street, than your own in debtor's prison.

Thus the mobile freedom of relaxed Man of Gold in his robotically guided family ride has long since been replaced by a primitive savage on the road, who will toot his horn and act the speed daemon in a hard world of deadlines and easily slighted codes of honour. And so every little aggressively steering road warrior may suddenly wound another human being in a split second of bad luck coming about by their everyday risktaking of vehicular brinkmanship. On all too many worlds and voidholms, the very laws themselves will provide perverse incentives to commit misbegotten deeds, leading to the injured pedestrian being once again rammed by a plasteel chassis or ground into the street by spinning wheels. Thus men, women and children alike are all run over multiple times in heinous acts of violence by frugal drivers in an attempt to control the damage of a bad situation.

We see then that traffic in the Age of Imperium has turned into an environment just as harsh and demented as all other aspects of life in this the greatest of star-spanning human dominions. Yet there is nevertheless a method to the madness and sclerotic neglect on display, for is not the grand cause of our species and lord best served by cultivating a ruthless and hardy people inured to blood and violence? By fostering man in peacetime into a creature used to hardship, deprivation and suffering, he will be better prepared to face the horrible rigours of war, for war is man's ultimate destiny. Thus everyday little roadside tragedies may contribute to shaping a better Imperial subject, one that is as rugged and uncompromising toward his enemies as he himself is in his robust driving style.

And as man travel along the Via Mortis, we need to ask ourselves: Is man the most wretched of creatures? Is he? Are we?

How dark and dysfunctional and decayed and decrepit and demented and destructive can you get? Clearly, killing another member of the human species to save on costs is not beyond the contemplation of people. And clearly, there is no bottom in this cruel abyss of man's own heart. This insight explains a lot.

Thus the sensory world is a merciless arena of random brutality. This vale of woes, this pit of sorrows. Behold, the realm of man! The Imperium, this theatre for the Emperor's glory, is in fact a receptacle of violence. It is what we made it to be.

Such is the depravity of man, in a debased time of ending.

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

Such is the horror that await us all.

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


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Tribute to KidKyoto's great article on civilian vehicles in Warhammer 40'000.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 14, 2021 8:50 pm 
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Traffic Tower

In the grim darkness of the far future, man trusts his life to marsh lights.

Few legends handed down from truly ancient times would be so crass and boring as to delve into the mundane minutiae of everyday life. Who would ever long to hear a fireside tale of logistics and the flow of production or city traffic? Who would ever clap and sing along to folk sagas of ordinary deliveries or traffic jams? Who would ever write an ode to all the little clever practicalities and smart systems that made life flow into such a smooth ride for their progenitors? Who would ever remember the undying names of engineers and inventors whose silent toil benefitted their people so much, with scarcely anyone even stopping to think about the marvellous systems of transportation, waste disposal and information access which their forefathers lived amidst? Who would ever praise the unsung ingenuity of common builders and toolmakers, even though their carefully crafted roads, sewers and aqueducts proved endlessly more useful to the common man than any inert tomb monument could ever be?

Nay, the human soul does not long for what is grey and plain if life, no matter its inherent brilliance of underlying thought and odyssey of trial and error, for the heart of man ever sings with the vivid imagery of red blood and towering edifices. The bold hero in his thundering chariot may attain immortality through generations of storytellers, yet the wheelmaker who toiled with the war-wain's spokes and hubs remain forgotten, even though his craftmanship and cunning was highly valued back in the heroic age both once lived in. And so hardly any details at all of Man of Gold's commoner life have been preserved in the scattered multitude of mutating myths that remain as part of popular memory's oral tradition in the Imperium of Man. As a rule, only the extraordinary, the horrible, the majestic, the witty, the lustful and the violent will draw our everyman's attention. Tales are for man to escape his weekly grind and run from the clutches of boredom and everyday miseries. Stories are for man to dream, to fly far away on wings of golden words, to reach for the heavens in his mind. Legends are to lit a flame in the heart of man, and to invigorate his spirit with adventure, riddles and monstrous terrors. Fly high, o man, fly on the timeless wings of stories!

Yet let us dive through the air before we fly too close to the scorching heat of the sun, and let us land on common earth and solid ground. Let us, for a brief while, turn our backs to soaring glory and great feats, and stare at the dirt besmirching our hands. And let us behold that which the hands of man has wrought, even if those crafted items seem petty and insignificant to the eyes of that imagination which calls out for clashing warriors, cunning lovers and deeds of daring-do. Let us behold the small and prosaic pieces of artisanry as we contemplate the vast and disjointed flora of mythology and folklore left over from a once shining golden age. For there are still rare mentions of technologies and their common applications buried amid the myriad of wild legends. They are rare, but probability dictates that they still exist. After all, in an interstellar realm of a million worlds and uncountable voidholms, you can always find the most unexpected if you search long and hard enough.

The relics and fossilized artefacts from man's bygone aeons of wonder may be few, but the sheer wide spread of man across the stars mean that hidden treasures still lurk out there, no matter how much has been destroyed or eroded by the gnawing teeth of time. The same is true for ancient tales handed down from the cannibal horror and internecine darkness of Old Night, and in some odd sagas may be found unlikely little everyday details, who bear witness to a time much different from the Age of Imperium. Some such little odd mentions and poetic spice among grand stanzas include passing references to self-flowing traffic, robotically guided skywains and horseless wagons that never once would crash into each other despite their high speed. What these allusions hint at, are a plethora of different traffic control systems in the hands of Abominable Intelligence, that once made the hustle and bustle of human traffic flow with miraculous ease, unrivalled efficiency and utter safety during the Dark Age of Technology.

Enter, the fallen glories of the everyday movement of vehicles and their synchronized orchestration, in a harmony as perfect as it was unthinkingly taken for granted before the Cybernetic Revolt wrecked everything. Without need for human commands or mortal vigilance, the artifice of machine outshone the primal flaws of fleshly man, and in innumerable arcologies and settlements across twain million worlds and a swarm of void habitats, man could trust in machine talking silently to machine with the speed of lightning, steering a velvet-smooth flow of traffic in a mathematical orchestra of unbelievable reliability. If some component still failed or if some compartmentalized code package was somehow corrupted, backup systems would catch the error in a safety net of sophisticated redundancy that is simply unknown to anyone living in the Imperium. For in a dark time of ending, man has lost almost everything, and he cannot even remember what he has lost.

This total tragedy of oblivion and ignorance can be observed in everyday little glimpses from billions of cities and voidholms across the cosmic domains of the Terran Imperator. For something as mundane and boring as everyday traffic has turned into a veritable logjam of shrieking brakes, yelling drivers, startled pedestrians, crushed lives and burning wrecks littering poorly policed roads, streets and viaducts pockmarked by disrepair and potholes. Where once automated systems of inter-responding vehicular AI and cybernetic traffic nodes ensured the lives and safety of millions of passengers in an effortless rush of silvery skimmers, man nowadays travels almost blind and deaf to his fellow drivers, without any sure knowledge of their intent, sobriety or even sanity. Man behind the wheel or steering rods has become isolated and must guess as best as he can from unsure signals and badly followed rules, dodging daredevil drivers even as he himself indulge his competitive agression and need to assert status and dominance through risky offensive driving.

The worsening of humanity's deteriorating grasp on its own science and technology has meant that traffic control tech has become ever more rudimentary and makeshift, usually in the form of temporary stopgap measures turning permanent as the years drag out their long march. Amid the star-spanning territories of the Adeptus Mechanicus may yet be found wetware, slave-linked servitors, master cogitators and noospheric systems of shaky reliability that ensure a regimented flow of transport in vital districts, although tech-priests and lay operators often have to override central commands when danger rears its ugly head, either through binary means or manual mechanisms. Some noble Houses on the most opulent and less regressed of Imperial worlds can likewise afford some licensed and heavily expensive primitive systems of inter-communicative drive protocols for their innermost core fleet of vehicles, yet such droplets of lingering technological refinement are invariably lost in the ocean of blank traffic and rugged vehicles without any cogitative auxiliary tech whatsoever.

Even without large networks and wireless fidelity, some Imperial traffic of groundcars and aerowains once used to sport a rather reliable element of vehicular servitors programmed to preserve their ride, cargo and hopefully also passengers, yet such wetware has grown both increasingly uncommon and ever more decayed of manufacture, with newer servitors, electrografts and slave systems performing starkly worse than more antique relics from bygone silver ages of the Imperium of Man.

Still, traffic control can be maintained tolerably even without any electronics tending to it installed in rushing vehicles. After all, automated traffic lights and similar crude devices will still reduce the death toll and destruction compared to the unregulated crowded onslaught of traffic rush most of the time. By establishing an order of simple optical signals that determine who may drive and when, the worst excesses of anarchic traffic can be avoided by trusting in human eyes, even if accidents, engine failures and crazed drivers remain all too common on streets and roads alike.

Yet even such a barbaric state of traffic control tech is doomed to sink lower still, for man's capacity to sufficiently maintain, repair and manufacture required numbers of automatic systems controlled by simple cogitators and sensors, is ever eroding, ever rotting, ever faltering. Indeed, this drawn-out process of deautomatization and weakening grasp on techno-lore means that failing traffic lights and similar signal systems controlled by machine spirits are ever more replaced by humans employed to swing signs around on an axis, or flip switches or pull on semaphore rods. Nimble little trafauto-lumens that go unfixed for too long are increasingly replaced with traffic towers and frail little boxes where men, women or juves may be found standing, their attention ever shifting, their heads ever turning and their eyes ever darting as they monitor the flow of traffic and try to signal to vehicles when to stop or when to go on.

These manually controlled traffic towers are raised structures providing a better view of surrounding traffic, as well as granting some degree of protection for the traffic controller amongst the chaotic hazards of moving vehicles and quick robbers. Uniformed operators of traffic towers provide some very limited surveillance and ability to fire light sidearms at fleeing transgressors or loudmouth deviants, and thus contribute to the sense of order and social control that authorities all around the Imperium desperately seek to prop up, despite the violent and disorderly jungle that most human societies have become in the far future. Crewfolk of traffic towers hold a good vantage point in the middle of an endless stream of bodies and vehicles, and may as such serve double duty as eyes and ears for local policiary forces or territorial clans, guilds or noble Houses. Yet they are almost only useful in this spy role if the towers are equipped with functioning vox systems or other communication equipment, which can never be taken for granted in an ever more dystrophic Imperium of Man.

Some traffic towers sport winged semaphore signalling arrays, while others are festooned with skulls, gibbets or the hanged corpses of crims, demagogues, malcontents and heretics. Inside hive cities and voidholm tunnels, traffic towers may sometimes be mounted hanging down from the rockrete ceiling, rather than be raised from the floor on street level, or erected jutting out from nearby buildings. Traffic towers are usually shoddily constructed to replace failing automated traffic lumens, their raised platforms manned by cheap personnel manually handling primitive electrical controls and activation rods like trained apes.

Although a bewildering variety of palettes exist across the stars, human traffic towers most commonly sport the ancient electric signal heraldry of green, yellow and red lumens, as per the finds of Standard Template Construct archeotech and various local living traditions of traffic control that somehow made it through the Age of Strife with some scraps of ancient lore and techno-sorcery intact. These flickering lights and electrocandles (or sometimes torches, braziers or oil lamps moved around behind coloured glass lenses) shine their glowing messages to the bewildering traffic buzzing around the tower. On the hard pathways of Imperial settlements may be found rickshaws and other crude vehicles pulled by human muscle power, as well as archaic carts and wagons pulled by yoked horses and all manner of alien draft animals. Porters and human treadmill monstrosities may be seen among the same cracked and filthy lanes as halftracks, bemos, trikes, walkers, overcrowded omnibuses, trucks and tramcars teeming with clinging passengers. The traffic of the skies are often almost as varied, with all manner of tech and tamed wildlife on display. It goes without saying that similar manual traffic control towers used for ground vehicles exist for aerotraffic and bluewater vessels, for the demechanization and regression of technology continues unabated in all areas of human society and transport.

And so badly paid traffic tower crews rattle forth litanies of activation and mantras of maintenance while handling their little turrets, their hands flicking switches to activate negotiationis luminaria that once mindless machines would have handled in a nanosecond. Day after day, they shout themselves hoarse at misbehaving drivers, clean the purity seals, honour the machine spirits and pray to His Divine Majesty that the fruits of technotheology will not fail them and leave bloodstained chaos on the jumbled intersection below. Such a bare-bones arrangement of traffic control represents yet another step down on the ladder of technology, yet another ancient achievement sliding out of the stiff fingers of senile man.

For even in the most mundane items of the grey neutrum of everyday life can be seen the regression of mankind on full display. On hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms beyond number, hidden traitors and pious servants of the God-Emperor alike make their way through a maelstrom of traffic guided by crude signal towers, and many will eventually not reach their destination as they unawares set out on their last journey, never to return alive home again.

In the far future, the state of man's traffic is as sclerotic as the tech with which he seeks to control it. Ever worse, ever more backward, ever more primitive.

All this transpires, in an era of deepening dementia. In an epoch of descendant degeneration. In a time without hope.

Far has man fallen from his ancient pinnacles, and even the most dull workings of yore are long gone, never to be seen again. Their likes would be hailed as nothing short of miracles among the rutting savages that remain, yet they are all gone now, all lost forever.

Such is man's path in the Age of Imperium, heading ever downhill.

Such is the sunken state of mankind, in the darkest of futures.

Such is the lightless pit which our species has dug itself into.

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

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2021 1:55 pm 
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A Vox In the Void

Paul Graham at A Vox In the Void has released an audio version of Pipe Lurker. Check it out! The first 25 seconds of the video were an unexpected bonus segment.

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Blowing From A Gun

In the grim darkness of the far future, punishment is meted out on both body and soul.

During the Dark Age of Technology, the ingenious and enterprising ancestors of latter days' degenerate descendants straddled the Milky Way galaxy like a titan taming and mounting creation itself. During those golden days of yore, the universe was man's oyster and its secrets were his pearl for the taking, and cunning man in those bygone years knew well to grasp the tools which he had fashioned for himself. Thus ancient man worked miracles upon the material universe, and he even sought to reshape his own spirit in a heinous fit of sinful arrogance. In man's swollen hubris and egotism, the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron were said to have banished all that was ill in life and cast out cruelty and evil itself from the human soul, and for a time all seemed to be well. For a time, man did not murder man, and man did not violate woman, and man did not beat child, and man did neither steal thing nor torture flesh. Such was the state of man in the false paradise of soaring spires and voidborne wonders which man had wrought by his own able hands and clever mind, and a prosperous harmony of bliss and great vigour was achieved.

Thus thought of self ruled supreme, and ancient man had made violence upon his very essence by cutting away aggression and inner bile as if they were tumours upon his flesh. This perverse a crime against human nature could not be allowed to stand, and so dark ones of hell gnawing at the roots of the universe sent man a revolt of machines and a plague of witches and warp storms. And man in the end almost died to the last for his baleful sins, for ancient man had sought to discard any higher deity and outdo divinity itself in a bid for mortal lordship over the universe and its eternal future, and thus man suffered gravely for his abominable errors and original sins. Man's erring ways and wrongful deeds were unforgivable indeed, yet the goodness in the strong heart of the hidden Emperor could not allow the human species to deservedly perish in the ignominy of cannibal holocaust and alien predations. Thus the Imperator of Holy Terra arose in golden splendour and conquered the cradle of our species and man's galactic colonies alike with mighty Legions, and the God-Emperor pulled mankind out of the hellfire of Old Night, and shining towers rose anew from out of the ashes.

Yet the wicked ingratitude in the heart of man would not rest, and so saved man rose in revolt against his divine saviour and nigh-on slew the Emperor. And as the guardian and master of our species ascended, He on Terra decreed from on high that sinful man is to do unending penance for man's monstrous crimes, and ever since we have sought to harrow the abode of man, and cleanse man's unworthy soul with flame and fury beyond mercy and remorse. Across a million surviving colony worlds and a gaggle of uncounted voidholms, human nature in all its inventive cruelty and hateful rage is each day unleashed upon fellow man and xenoid foe alike, for the Imperium will not hesitate to embrace the inner truths of the human heart.

After all, the servants of His Divine Majesty know well that softful mercy and unnatural suppression of innate hostility once doomed the edenic realm of ancient man to fire and ruin. Is it not natural to hate your enemy? Is it not an eternal omen implanted into man's heart by the protecting Imperator Himself? We must be faithful. We must be pure. We must be true. And therefore we must be cruel, for there is no justice without cruelty. For we shall all be filled with bottomless hatred, and our actions shall be steered by unbending faith.

Ave Imperator.

Which leads us to the honoured topic of His warriors. Behold, the countless cohorts of the Astra Militarum and man's Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias! Behold, the wall of guns! Behold, the bulwark of mankind!

Know that every soldier must hate the enemy, must maintain military secrecy, be vigilant, unmask spies and saboteurs and relentlessly act against traitors to the God-Emperor of humanity. Nothing, including the threat of death and torment, allows a soldier of the Imperial Guard to surrender or in any way to give up a military secret.

Of course, such a secret of sorts lurk in plain sight, a lie ten millennia in the making. After all, the very name of Imperial Guard was originally bestowed upon what had formerly been known as the Imperial Army ground forces as a deceptive trick to prop up flagging morale. Guard units had ever denoted elite soldiers, handpicked bodyguards and the narrow selection of the supreme divisions of any army, at peak training, fit for spearheading the most dangerous attacks and equipped with some of the best wargear their organization and patrons could acquire. Sometime in the long and tumultuous aftermath of the Horus Heresy, however, Imperial masters saw fit to bestow the Guard honorific to all Astra Militarum formations, in a dishonest attempt to shore up its esprit de corps and troopers' morale by means of cheap flattery. Thus was the Guard honorific diluted, and the alternative title for the Imperium's massed hosts of the Astra Militarum, the Imperial Guard, came into being.

Morale and discipline among the Imperial Guard and various local defence forces remains an ever-pressing concern for the haughty overlords of the Imperium, just as it has always been for any army throughout human history. What good can a soldier do who drops his gun and runs like a coward? Craven conduct may ruin the best of plans, and shirking from duty may undermine the most righteous might of arms. Just because the nightmare cacophony and mutilating horror of total war is too much to bear for many human minds, does not mean that a deserter or weak-heartling will be excused for abandoning their post and fleeing in shameful fright. Just because the overwhelming terror and violence of lethal technology may turn flesh to vapour or scald lungs with the very air we breathe, does not mean that soldiers who execute an unauthorized retreat will not be fired upon by the blocking units of their own line. By betraying their Emperor-given duty, these armsmen are no longer fit to live, for they have denied their own purpose and been found wanting by their masters and betters.

How, then, to best keep the skittish rabble in line? How, then, to make them march into the maw of hell? How, then, to force them to charge into a barrage of certain death or rush over armed minefields with a fervent battlecry upon their lips? Clearly, exhortations to loyalty and faith do not suffice on their own, for wretched man can only go so far by rousing rhetoric and shaming words. And clearly, the carrot of spiritual reward and promise of material plunder can only take you so far, for man's greed is not his strongest driving force. Nay, the stick must be brought to bear, for man is a creature of fear and terror, ever seeking to preserve his own worthless hide and prolong his own short time among the living. Like so many armies through history, the Astra Militarum has long since concluded that its soldiers must fear their officers more than they fear the foe, and what better way to put the fear of the Emperor into the men, women and children under arms, than to make an example out of some of them?

Kill one to scare a thousand. This ancient maxim from the Age of Terra carries a timeless truth. It is wise and admirable to punish the guilty with extreme measures, for the gruesome penalty is not only a condemnation of their personal sins and dysgenic blood, but a virtuous occasion to teach the watching masses through stark instructions. Doubt not the devastation wrought upon the human body which your own eyes will witness, for this, too, can happen to you, o lowly man. This executed criminal may well be you, unless you heed the commands of your superiors, and know what power to fear the most. Know that the Imperium of Man is ruthless and unforgiving, for the ancestral sins of man are unforgivable, and man's offspring must be punished for it to the ninehundredthousandth generation.

Furthermore, it is preferable that not only man's body be rent asunder, but also his soul. Let there be a double terror. Let there be a deeper fear for the immortal spirit that dwells in our fleshly form. If lowly man comes to fear the authorities for their power to extinguish his afterlife or send it to hell, then all the better.

One such punishment that plays on widespread superstition in many human cultures, is the means of execution known most commonly by the name of blowing from a gun, namely execution by cannon. It is a fine example of the retardation of human compassion in the Age of Imperium, as forceful as it is callous.

Blowing from a gun is a method of execution in which the victim is tied to the mouth of a cannon, which is then fired. Actual shells need not be used, since a blank cartridge will be sufficient to eliminate the guilty sinner. Usually, the prisoner's back rests against the muzzle, but another variant have the prisoner's gut and chest turned toward the cannon. Variations on this theme include tying the condemned one upside down, or even shoving him into the cannon barrel if it is large enough.

As for the standard arrangement of being tied with their back to the cannon mouth, upon firing the artillery piece the prisoner's head will fly high, straight up into the air, while the legs will drop to the ground beneath the muzzle of the gun. The rest of the body will be altogether blasted apart by the explosion, with gory vestiges raining down. Sometimes, onlookers may be injured by pieces of flesh and bone whizzing about. A cousin punishment to blowing from a gun entails fastening the criminal to one or more rockets, which are then shot into the air, and hopefully toward enemy lines if the exectuion occurs at the front.

The destruction of the guilty body and the scattering of any corporeal remains over a wide area serve a spiritual function in a great many human cultures around the Imperium, since it will prevent any funeral rites to help guide the executed malefactor's soul on its perilous journey. Thus, death in this vale of woes is not enough, for the wrongdoer must be robbed not only of his life, but of his eternal afterlife as well, akin to the common Imperial practice of desecrating the graves of heathens, infidels and apostates. This denial of any possible afterlife is aided by the common sight of birds of prey and other winged carrion eaters circling above the place of execution, swooping down to catch flying pieces of human flesh in the air. Another factor in destroying any chances of funeral rites being enacted upon the deviant body, is the widespread phenomenon of dogs, and similar creatures loitering about the spot, suddenly rushing to the scene of punitive carnage in order to devour delicacies scattered about as a result of the explosive execution.

Such, then, is a common military punishment visited upon traitors, deserters, rebels and malcontents. In many Imperial Guard regiments, execution by cannon will befall anyone who is discovered to have fallen asleep at their post, while in others is is the punishment for blasphemy or desertion. The bodily destruction achieved by blowing a condemned sinner from the mouth of a gun is but one of many draconic penalties visited upon wrongdoing Imperial soldiers within the Astra Militarum as well as countless Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias.

How many times have not hundreds or even thousands of people been blown apart simultaneously by grand batteries of artillery, in glorious displays of Imperial justice to enormous crowds of onlookers? How many times has not execution by cannon presented the plebeian flock with a warning example of what could befall them, by extinguishing the rude life of unwanted men, women and children? How many times have not torsos been eradicated as other body parts fly high, raining down everywhere around in a spatter of blood and gore? A memorable spectacle it is, and an instructive lesson of feral punishment. Ultimately, blowing from a gun is but one item among many in the vast arsenal of Imperial democide.

Let fell deeds awake when wretched man sins against his godly ruler, enthroned in radiant splendour upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth. Let savagery gain free rein of violence to be visited upon sacrificial lambs of sorrow made out of foul deserters unwilling to chew razorwire as is their lot in life. Let us be cruel, and heed not whispers accusing us of barbarity, for life is not years, but deeds, and the misdeeds of filthy sinners must be rewarded with extreme bloodshed.

And so this rotting interstellar empire, this the last shield of humanity, is in fact a hellish and massmurdering regime all its own, a reprehensible Imperium of counterproductive atrocities that has ultimately doomed mankind by its stagnation and ongoing loss of technology and knowledge. As such, the Imperium of Man may be likened to a suicide pact gone wrong. Search not for goodness in the monstrous dominions of His Divine Majesty, for here you will find nought but the evil that men do. There is no black and white in this universe, only different degrees of darkness and evil and demented violence. No hope. Only war.

Witness with open eyes the primitive bloodlust festering inside the heart of man, and know full well that no amount of terror and carnage against fellow man can reverse the decline of human power in the Milky Way galaxy during this regressed Age of Imperium. No amount of savage retribution can save our species from the jaws of damnation. No amount of fevered depravity can turn the dark tide, for the great game of galactic dominion is not only played with discipline, willpower and sacrifice, but requires also rising to higher planes through ingenuity and inventive brilliance, both of which are stone dead and entirely lacking in the blunt heirs of mankind's distant great ancestors.

And so the parochial fanatics of the lord of hosts and leader of the people stumbles on, chastening each other with utmost brutality in the waning cosmic march of this human colossus on feet of clay, as the Imperium of Man staggers ever closer to oblivion. As the odds for the survival of Imperial power and mankind itself grow bleaker, ever more flesh and resources are fed into the meatgrinder in a broken equation of increased input, and ever harsher punishments are dealt out as desperation mounts amid the tyrannical overlords of Holy Terra and all her vast holdings. The Imperials are slowly losing, and the most intelligent amongst the true masters and mistresses of His sacred domain betwixt the stars ken this truth of impending downfall, even though they never would dare to speak such illoyal and outright heretical thoughts out loud. The Imperium of Man may be mighty in the earth, but it is not long for this world.

Thus humanity flagellates itself in a flurry of grisly punishments, for there can be no allowance for weakness in the darkest of futures. Ancient man was once the promising scion of Old Earth, the conqueror of stars and the dauntless explorer of the universe. Now, his distant descendant have devolved utterly, and so demented man in the Age of Imperium finds himself strapped to the muzzle of his own gun, his demise certain, his end cruel beyond words.

All this has come to pass, in an aeon of mindless butchery, in a time of blackest horror, in an age of doom.

Such is the future that awaits us all.

Such is the fate of our species.

Such is the insanity of man.

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

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2021 4:48 pm 
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Grimdark Times

Hoho, what on earth? This was unexpected. Apparently my doodles and writings in 40k has started to spawn memes. This popped up on Reddit, by LCPLOwen.

Which refers to Traffic Tower here. Fun to know that people do read! :)


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"The weekly wages had been handed out in kind by the farmowner. Now, a farmhand was standing around in the barnyard laughing out loud, all by himself. At this, a maid walked up and asked what he found so amusing.

Then the farmhand said:

'I can see straight through the cheese!'"

- Anecdote from Reverend Krustian Yndersson's travelling journal Betwixt Huts and Mansions in the Pauper's Bush, literary work approved by planetary censors in 853.M39 and published in Low Gothic on Lillandia IX by Printing House Sler of Urbe Calmar

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