40k: Descendant Degeneration

Brilliantly written as always. Your verbose conjurations are vivid, and serve up such a neatly constructed web of tangled imagery. The wordplay is a joy to read. “…petty paper potentates of borrowed power…”

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I am just now touching on the massive library of your work…I feel like i just stumbled on huge treasure trove! Awesome work! I have no idea how ive missed this but what a find. This has got to be the same feeling some lowly techpriest would get discovering an STC in the cleaning closet!


Wow! I didnt realize how much you had written on the subject of 40k!
If i had to pick one Paper-Cranker is my favorite so far. Very bizarre and fascinating.
I wouldnt mind reading more of Logothetes-Kansliarius Narses Pentera and his conjoined servitors.

Have you thought about collecting them all in a pdf? :hatoff:

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@Jackswift : Thank you most kindly, sir! That will keep my spirit uplifted for a good while. Great to hear someone enjoys untangling that package, the way it was intended. A book-reading friend of mine recently informed me that he couldn’t read my 40k writings because they were all large grinding sections which boiled down to misery. :smiley:

@Stumpy : Thank you very much, sir! I hope you’ll enjoy it all. Most vivid likeness, there, thanks a lot for that!

@forgefire : Thanks! That one was one of my top favourites to write, with heavy doses of Yes, Minister references chucked in. I hope to tackle some more bizarre stuff in the future, and now that you have asked for it, Logothetes-Kansliarius Narses Pentera with his conjoined servitors have to get some spotlight in some future piece. :eye:

Yes, for sure! But it’s the same problem as when I attempted to cobble together Word of Hashut: It turns out I don’t have the skills to pull it off in a polished manner. Plus new stories just keep piling in. I’ve got well over a hundred concepts for future doodles and writings locked and loaded, and counting. But perhaps I should try and give out a PDF for the body of writing and doodling as it stand, soon enough? I’ll look into it if time permits, in the coming months. Do not be shy to ask again!


Pure Human Form 01

Pure Human Form

In the grim darkness of the far future, man slays man for his foul body.

Sing, o woman, of her fair visage! Sing, o man, of his handsome features!

Sing us a song of the beauty inherent in the human species. Sing of the youthful splendour without blemish that the God-Emperor Himself intended for His chosen kind. Sing of the strength and flawless vigour to be found in the best of our kin. Sing of the hero and the heroine, of their muscles and sinews at work in great deeds of daring. Sing of the bravery and perfection that runs in the veins of better mankind. Sing of the higher ideal. Sing of the blood and the lineage. Sing of the nobility and the courage!

Sing to us of the pure human form!

Long before primordial man dwelt in caves and huts, his beastly ancestors kenned by instinct that a strong and beautiful form was an outward sign of inner health. Such fleshly omens would often lie, and the finest of flesh would often rot and wither away before its time, yet statistically speaking the best chances to breed healthy offspring was usually found with a fair and vigorous partner. Thus beauty as an indicator of health and good genes became the core component of attraction in the world of rutting animals, and males would go to great lengths of display and struggle in order to impress the finest of females, and the females would oft pick the finest among the male competition, for therein lay the pinnacle of what living beings could hope to achieve.

Sprang life from life.

And so, a gorgeous partner became the dream of primal humanity, as witnessed in any number of heroic and voluptuous tales told around the fireside during the misty past of the Age of Terra. This dream of beauty and strength never passed away, and rigorous attempts to deny it were ever doomed to waste away in the face of innate human nature. Sometimes, the deniers would be pious people of faith, shunning the sinful body as a worldly delusion. At other times, the deniers would be reformers fired up with strange thoughts spinning inside their own heads, their ideas at odds with reality itself. Yet in the end, mankind always knew that beauty was good, just as strength and victory was good.

The dark backside of these lived ideals has always been the rejection of all that is ugly and weak, trailed by suspicions that a hideous exterior betrays a corrupt interior, whether that inner self is biological or spiritual in nature. Through the aeons, uncounted souls have been lost as outcasts inside their own community, heckled for their displeasing looks and unlovely ways. And so the ill-favoured and disagreeable among us has always been doomed to scorn, always at risk of having their entire lives turned into a living hell at the hands of fellow men, women and children.

The Dark Age of Technology saw a deeply empirical understanding of human nature guide mankind into a better world, having man’s life improve even as his cosmic domains spread far and wide by the power of unsurpassed scientific lore and technological might. As such, blemishes of the flesh could be healed or improved on a fundamental level by genetors, and men and women were not only happy in this long lost epoch. They were also beautiful. For such was the hubris of mankind, that Man of Gold on many worlds and void stations sought to level the human playing field by making everyone sweet for the eyes. Thus surrounded by stunning members of the same species, ancient man would simultaneously savour the view and grow accustomed to it. And this artificial freeing of the body from the shackles of ill health, frailty and foulness allowed the ideals of the ancients to decisively turn to pursuits of the intellect, since ideals of form had long since been fulfilled across the board, and could now be taken for granted.

And man was happy.

Yet such sinful arrogance and godless abominations of worldly paradise could not be allowed to stand. And thus ancient man was felled from his lofty pedestal by heinous machine revolt, crippling Warp storms and a plague of witches. And Dark Ones of Hell laughed at man’s horrendous downfall, while twain million worlds burned to ashes and countless void installations were left in ruins. Thus began the Age of Strife, that lasted for twohundredfifty generations of cannibal freefall.

Old Night saw desperate mankind regress to the worst of his ancient past. The very flesh and essence of humanity was under siege on hundreds of thousands of irradiated and poisoned worlds and voidholms, even as otherworldly powers of Chaos played havoc upon the bodies and souls of exposed humans. And so the ravages of a toppled interstellar civilization was accompanied by a plague of mutations, as uncounted men, women and children twisted into new and horrible forms, turning hideous and disgusting in the eyes of those fortunate enough to count themselves as pureblood mankind.

The end of the Warp storms and the coming of the Terran Imperator saw the scattered survivor colonies of man reunited under a bloodstained banner, as Legions of ruthless warriors crushed all resistance under the leadership of demigods. These sons of the Emperor were marvellous creations, standing as exemplars of all that humanity could achieve. Yet the true wonder of our species was the Imperator Himself, standing resplendent as the pinnacle of all that mankind could ever hope to become.

For all His dashing perfection and handsome exterior, the Emperor of Terra and all mankind did not conduct a massive purge of all mutant types found in the post-apocalyptic landscapes that His Legionnaires conquered. Indeed, even gross and unsightly mutants such as Beastmen were accepted and made use of within the Exerctus Imperialis, for the ranks of the Imperial Army were ever hungering for more soldiers. And as the Great Crusade slaughtered all opposition and claimed ever more planets and voidholms in His name, there followed the secular creed of the Imperial Truth, and its rational ideology grew within human space as long as the early Imperium stood strong and united.

Such invincible unity was not fated to last, however. Nor was the early Imperium’s toleration of mutants and abhumans of many kinds. Civil strife rent the Imperium of Man asunder, and ungrateful man nigh-on slew the Emperor while the galaxy burned. In the wake of the Horus Heresy, desperate mankind clung to the certainties and promises of a new religion, in spite of the Cult Imperialis having originally been spawned by the most heretical of Primarchs. And mutants played a prominent role as favoured servants of the Dark Gods during that terrible rebellion. Thus, the High Lords of Terra would outlaw mutants, turning them over to a precarious life of exploitation as the most downtrodden of underclasses. And among all the mind-numbing toil, mutants would be periodically slated for pogroms and local extermination sweeps, according to the caprice of the pureblood human population that so despises them.

In the Age of Imperium, mutants stand as the antithesis of all that pure mankind ought to embody. One common way to argue for the sacral purity of the human genome during the wake of the Horus Heresy ran as follows: Materialists and unbelievers of yore would claim that this world of grey matter is all made out of one substance. They would even go so far as to claim that the only difference between humanity and animals are a meaningless number of random gene-codes. Since the Imperator Himself is the ultimate human, it follows that He also is but a few steps away from being an ape. Is the Emperor but humbug? Do we all share the same essence? Is there no difference between His Divine Majesty and a dog?

Nay! Shun these doubters and weaklings in belief, for the shape of mankind is no coincidence. It is no roll of nature’s dice, able to fall in any which way, but a pure and sacred form, as decreed at the dawn of our species by our lord and saviour. The ancestral forms of man and woman are pure and perfect, and any deviation from our original Terran phenotype cluster is a crime of birth and flesh. The God-Emperor Himself wills it for His chosen species to be pure, strong, pious and beautiful. Since He so wills it, we shall make it so. We shall cleanse the human species from mutants, and we shall trample the witch and the abhuman underheel.

Imperator Vult!

After all, it is well known that the Emperor of Holy Terra was the pinnacle of virile manliness, enveloped in shining magnificence. The Master of Mankind had hair as flowing and beautiful as a pooling waterfall in a lush oasis, of deep black lustre. Ancient tales speak of His prominent activities of procreation through the ages, inseminating our species with small gifts of His own splendour in the flesh, being well and truly a father of the people. Truly, the Emperor In the Flesh was the desire of all women and the ideal of all men. He was the one and only perfect human being, and His intent was for all of our chosen species to become like Himself. Such was His wondrous plan, before wretched man betrayed Him. Ave Imperator!

And certainly, the human form itself is elevated above all others, being holy and destined for greatness. Scattered myths on certain forgeworlds speak of how Titan God Machines to this day mimic the pure human form thanks only to the benevolent machinations of the Hidden Emperor’s shadowy hand guiding our species in ancient days. After all, bipedal walkers are clearly less stable than vehicles that possess more legs than two, and yet ancient man designed his foremost planetbound warmachines to walk as giant avatars of the pure human form.

With such stark signs teaching us of the importance to uphold the sacred shape of mankind, the actual state of our unworthy species is cause for alarm. For we have wallowed in sin and depravity, and our bodies have turned humpbacked and wrong as punishment for our baleful spiritual errors. As such, man during the Age of Imperium has degenerated into a wretched being, rife with mutation and corruption, that must be flogged, branded and cleansed from all filth without neither remorse nor regret. No mercy for the unclean!

Cast out the mutant, the traitor, the heretic. For every enemy without there are a hundred within. Know that dispersed man has changed and evolved under strange skies and alien suns, and his countenance has all too often turned twisted and weird. Rutting in the dark on a million worlds and innumerable voidholms, man spawned monsters and abominations. In sinful disbelief of our glorious overlod, woman gave birth to mutants, and clan failed to purge the rot in the cradle. And so we are burdened with billions of mutants infesting the Imperium of Man, their numbers unknown and their hatred festering across the starspangled void. Through millennia of starfaring, some humans would even commit unholy crossbreeding with xenos through artificial means, whether willingly or through forceful violation. The offspring of such unspeakable unions dwell within His cosmic dominion to this very day.

Many mutants try to hide their own and their children’s abhumanity under shapeless robes, paying lip-service to those Imperial sects who shun the sinful body and wish to cover it up. Most common of all mutants are the Subs, relatively genetically stable but still hideously deformed mutant sub-breeds, forming a teeming underclass of slave labour. Subs are often outlawed, but are usually allowed to live regardless by hypocritical authorities due to the economic exploitation to be gained from Subs. Like other mutants, Subs remain regular targets of lynchmobs and pogroms.

On top of mutations brought about by ordinary evolution, unholy influence and exotic natural environments, there exist a very large number of mutants whose deformed bodies are the byproducts of contaminated Imperial industry. As the Imperium aged, and aged badly, so did its dysfunctional industry turn ever more polluting and decrepit, and endemic mutations followed in the wake of Imperial industry. In the face of such rampant mutation, large swathes of scattered mankind turned away from dysgos and gene-twists with utter revulsion. To Imperial modes of thinking, it is right and proper to hate that which is different from the pure Terran phenotype cluster.

After all, mutants physically rebel against humanity through their very sin of existing. They rebel against the God-Emperor’s perfect form with their unnatural powers and ugly faces! And so self-righteous religious lunatics will murder all people suspected of tainted blood, conducting massacres of the innocent which no sanctioned sect will ever lament, nor remember as anything else than heroic deeds.

As the sclerotic Age of Imperium unfolded in all its darkness and horror, so too did restrictions on mutants multiply in number. The most famous and widespread Administratum document of regulation is the Godolkin Purebreed Guide, detailing any Imperial subjects’ deviation from the standard human phenotype cluster via a point system. While the exact number of points for mutant toleration differ wildly due to local strategic exemptions, the underlying spirit of the Godolkin Index is the classification and ruthless purification of undesirables in order to ensure the eugenic health of the baseline human genome.

And so rejects of society and humanity alike will be butchered like cattle. Meanwhile, pogromists will usually be given free reign to defile the mutant according to their heart’s darkest lusts, for any fell deed committed against such wretched outcasts do not count as sin in the divine eyes of Him on Terra. After all, non-standard human phenotypes are nothing but filth, born defects from His Divine Majesty’s perfect design. Purge them all! Slay these alien crossbreeds, these many-limbed monstrosities, these telekinetic madmen and these beings with the countenance of actual, literal sharks. For the betterment of the collective whole, we must practice virtuous eugenics, and never shy away from our grim duty to cleanse mankind from impurities. Remember that mutants are all living sins unto the purity of the ancestral human form. Twists are parodies of mankind. They are heresy made flesh and blood!

As noted, dirty Imperial practices of industry will often contaminate the living-space of ordinary humans to such a degree as to become a breeding ground for new strains of mutations and deformities, yet such horrid causes of mutations are never recognized by the High Lords of Terra. Instead, the Adeptus Terra will officially support sects and local rulers who wish to eradicate abhumanity as a caste, even as the Imperium silently lets most mutants live on as a source of cheapest thrall labour. Therefore, the vast majority of all abhumans throughout His astral realm is left living in surly and bestial resignation, their wits reduced to dull incurious brooding, for their every day is a nightmare of backbreaking grind, filled with fear and loathing.

And so these breathing insults to the sacred human genome will be rounded up and shackled to their work stations, or else they will be purged without ceremony, either by troopers or by grimdrunk mobs at the height of chiliastic violence. The ugly carcass of the mutant remains a target for any right-thinking subject of He who dwells on the face of Terra. Would not the Enthroned One want for us to cleanse the dysgenic element from our midst? Should we not rid ourselves of these blasphemies of the flesh? Better kill them now, before they give birth to more walking heresies! Buy redemption from your sins in the blood of monsters. Purge the unclean! For we shall hate all that is ugly in man.

Kill! Kill! Kill!

And so the senile debility of the etiolated Imperium plays out again and again, on a million worlds and on uncounted voidholms. Such a hidebound and parochial mess mankind has become, whose ancestors once bestrode the cosmos like fearless titans. Such baleful slaughter and such depraved excesses are encouraged from on high when directed against those deemed unfit to live by the High Lords of Terra. And even amidst the crescendo of righteous bloodletting, Holy Inquisitors are left wondering why the dark forces of Chaos continue to grow so strong. Surely, their entire life’s work could not be a futile exercise in counter-productive insanity? No! Doubt not, and trust in the ruler of all humanity to steer your course. Only by sacrificing the unclean upon the altars of our Radiant Deity can we purify sinful mankind.

Odi et Amo.


Turning thus from this suicide pact gone wrong, that is the Imperium of Man, we now focus our attention on a tense contradiction embedded at the heart of Imperial thinking:

The purity of the human form in one shape or another has been part of the Imperium since its very inception, even though it during the Great Crusade avoided the rabid depravity which it would spawn in the latter Age of Imperium. After all, affirming the beauty, cleverness, strength and justice dwelling inside mankind was part and parcel of the Emperor’s attempt to revitalize traumatized human culture and kickstart a flourishing renaissance of science, creativity and invention. The lord of hosts and leader of the people needed to dig man out of the shell inside which this scarred wretch hid, and show man the splendour and glory which humanity was capable of. Thus the female form and the male form were both elevated in the classical aesthetic of the early Imperium, raised up on pedestals as heroes and majestic ideals for all to aspire to.

Fortuna Favet Fortibus!

Fortune favours the bold. This ancient phrase could as well have been the motto of the entire Imperium during the era of the Great Crusade. Under the Emperor’s direction, man grasped for more: More expansion, more knowledge, more uplifting beauty. The Terran Imperator wished to energize and inspire His chosen species, and for a while, He succeeded. Man raised up golden wonders and reclaimed lost lore of the ancients, even as man cultivated a mindset fit for science and exploration. And amid all this arrogance and fervent activity, the clean shapes of man and woman in the guise of statues and fresques adorned palaces and streets alike. Yet the near-death of the Emperor in the skies above Terra brought with it the second downfall of mankind, and in its wake of desperation did a new faith emerge, one destined to overtake the entire Imperium of Man, and remake humanity in its image.

This religion was the Imperial Cult, a fractious mass of competing sects, all united in their total devotion to the God-Emperor, their total subjection to Holy Terra, and their complete and fanatical hatred of all infidelry, heresy, unbelief, blasphemy, apostasy and heathendom. From its very inception, the Cult Imperialis bore traumatized scars brought about by the Horus Heresy and the subsequent Scouring. One such scar was the apprently dour and humourless mindset of the Cult, as contrasted to the optimistic, lively, jocular and easygoing culture of the early Imperium. Another scar was the uneasy relation that many Imperial sects had with the human body itself.

Unlike the early Imperium of the Great Crusade, this new, religious Imperium under the High Lords manifested a strong tendency to deny the body through asceticism, self-flagellation, self-abnegation and by the covering up of our sinful forms under shapeless robes. The tide of interstellar human civilization seemed to have turned irrevocably toward a barren Imperial culture, both bereft of humour and fearful of the human body, scarred forever and made stale and boring by the horrors of the Horus Heresy and the disappointments in mankind itself brought about by it.

Yet the tumultuous course of Imperial cultural history was not so predetermined. Instead, strong counter-currents existed, fed by such sources as devotion to the Primarchs Guilliman and Sanguinius. Likewise, the Great Crusade era’s shining aesthetics and ideals survived by morphing pious and latching themselves onto Imperial sects that proved capable of perpetuating these ancient styles and ideas through religious dogma. A third factor was the local persistence of one school of thought over another, even as the larger Imperium happened to be dominated by the other school of thought and style, thereby ensuring that pockets of artistic expression and aesthetic tradition survived to bloom anew in cultural renaissances that spread across entire star sectors and Segmenta.

While the full panoply of Imperial schools of thought and artistic traditions present a mad sectarian caleidoscope of variety and nuance, the two main strains who have achieved galactic spread can be boiled down as such:

On the one hand, there is the more ancient, classic school, informed by the original Great Crusade aesthetic. This extroverted school of thought upholds beautiful mankind as the pure pinnacle of creation, and will proudly display the pure human form in all its art, craft and architecture, to the point of unabashed nakedness. Let us here call it the body-affirming school for the sake of simplicity. As the Emperor wills it.

On the other hand, there is the newer, post-Heresy school of thought, informed by the traumas that have beset mankind ever since the Ascension of the Enthroned God. This introverted school of thought shuns arrogant displays of human greatness, and emphasizes humility and the covering up of our sinful bodies. Let us here call it the self-abnegating school for the sake of simplicity. As the Emperor wills it.

Imperator Adiuta Imperialis.

Grasping that these two contradictory major styles inform most parts of Holy Terran, and thus Imperial, high culture, lets us understand why sanctioned Imperial aesthetics will simultaneously tout the prideful human body in the face of the hideous mutant and xeno, while at the same time hiding the sinful limbs, hair, face and torso of the dubious human form. This realization is at the core of all deeper understanding of internal Imperial workings. For the Emperor’s servants do not all pull in the same direction. Their lives and deeds are filled with conflicts and contradictions. Ultimately, the Imperium of Man can be likened to a multi-headed hydra, that is as often at war with itself as with external foes.

And so priests, preachers and priestesses in shapeless robes will lead pureblood Sisters of Battle into action, the latter wearing curvaceous power armour even as they practice martial asceticism. Likewise, decently robed and covered Inquisitorial Acolytes will direct trained agents of the Officio Assassinorum in tight bodysuits. Meanwhile, genhanced Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes will proudly wear crests and sculpted muscle cuirasses into battle, even while praying away their days in monastic severity.

Less contradictory, and more true to the early Imperium’s classical ideals, are the famed Sanguinary Guard of the Blood Angels Chapter. Likewise, there is the phallic majesty of the Imperial Palace guarded by the perfect pinnacles of human form that is known as the Adeptus Custodes, all armoured in gleaming gold.

All these Imperial servants are willing slaves to the Golden Throne, whether they cover up their human form or put it on full display, with accentuated hips and breast cups for women, and suggestive codpieces for men. Any objections about practicality can be thrown out a window, for Imperial artificers will not care if anatomically sculpted armour plates create shot traps and weak points. Such efficiency thinking and hunt for improvement long since disappeared at the burning end of the Dark Age of Technology. In the Age of Imperium, aesthetics are as important, if not more so, than effectiveness in combat, as the Emperor Himself has obviously decreed.

Imperial sects prone to excessive self-abnegation will often level accusations of narcissistic indulgence at any works displaying human beauty, and violent iconoclams beyond counting have occurred throughout ten thousand wasted years of human development run into the ground. Body-affirming aesthetics are constantly frowned upon by most monastic orders, many sects and some major movements within the Cult Imperialis. Some Imperial religious traditions have long been suffused by anti-body tendencies and praise of chastity, all speaking ill of vanity, lust and even vital procreation itself, damning them all as idolatrous blasphemies of the flesh. Yet the mighty Imperium must live and die by the sword, and the people of the robe would do well not to quote overtly hostile scripture at the people of the spear. Instead, most warriors tend to follow in the bombastic, vigorous and virile footsteps of His Divine Majesty. A proud host is a confident host.

All across Imperial space, there exists a worship of strength. The Imperial Creed has taught humans across the Milky Way galaxy to venerate humanity as an ideal, while simultaneously scorning the reality of red-blooded man in all his flawed sinfulness as lowly filth. Thus, it is virtuous to hate all that is ugly in man. The Lectito Divinitatus teaches us that man is nothing but dust. Still, his muscles can be harnessed as yet another energy source to drive the machinery of Imperial power, and ever more that has become the case, as an unstoppable and slow demechanization grinds away ever more of the inherited works of ancient man.

Many sects who are part of the body-affirming school practice their artistic styles in reverent memory of Primarch Sanguinius, the Angel of Blood who embodied the perfect human form, the true son who died to save the Emperor Himself. They sculpt statues with bulging biceps and wear lorica musculata in honour of Sanguinius, who stood for all that was best in humanity. He whose horrible yet noble death overshadowed even the great deeds of his life. In Imperial theology, Primarch Sanguinius represents the finest side of mankind, both within and without. A flawless exterior is widely believed by many Imperial sects to be proof of inner purity, even as other sects reject bodily beauty and vanity as horrid sins and marshlights leading men, women and children astray from the true path of the Emperor.

Yet historical experience has shown time and again that a beautiful visage and unblemished body may hide a corrupt mind, or dull wit. In fact, charisma and good looks will often serve as a cover for ineptitude. Thus, the pure human form will sometimes prove a shield in the persistent theme of incompetents: Arrogance, lack of imagination and a bizarre focus on trivial matters while ignoring the big picture and crucial signs. A truly lethal combination. In some human cultures synonymous with sybaritic devotion to luxury and pleasure, adherence to the style of the pure human form may eventually mutate into a cover for Slaaneshi pleasure covens, yet any theologian who would wish to drive his oratory hard down this road of accusation, would do well to remember the treasured memory of Sanguinius.

And so, the most expensive of Imperial wargear will often mimic the pure human form, displaying a brutal nobility and masking the bearer behind an artificial fair visage, akin to a brave yet narcissistic hero of old. Thus, some of the best trained warriors of the Imperium of Man will be adorned with sculpted breastplates, leg plates and arm plates, stepping into ceramite boots sculpted like human feet. Fully clad in such aesthetically refined armour, these servants of the Emperor will be transformed, adopting a handsome physique and youthful form. Thus armoured, they resemble nothing so much as young gods and ever-vigorous goddesses, brimming with martial pride. Worn by trained and confident killers, such artistic ideals come to life in armour harder than they do in stone.

Some artificer armour sets even include sculpted codpieces and lorica vulvata, who are often hidden beneath loinclothes for the sake of modesty. Yet such eye-catching pieces of armour are in some crude warrior cultures displayed openly and proudly with Freyic zeal, especially so in the more rustic tribal societies where menfolk are expected to wear brash accessories to underline their manhood. While frowned upon by the trend-setting Imperial high culture of Holy Terra, such seemingly rude symbols of virility and garbs of fertility are nevertheless common in the primitive tribal peripheries that exist on hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and voidholms. Indeed, familiarity with such customs will completely wear off the offensive edge, and foreigners becoming acculturated to the ways of these Emperor-fearing tribes do not even think about it most of the time. Thus kotekas, priapic gourds in rut, groin sheaths and branch pouches become just another piece of clothing, seldom reflected upon and within the boundaries of local decency.

Such phallic imagery aside, wearing a sculpted cuirass displaying the chiseled likeness of naked peak human physique, whether masculine or feminine, is to honor the perfection of mankind as best exemplified by the Emperor In the Flesh. It is also a righteous and unapologetic display of the pure human form, and a visual reminder of the beauty, strength and purity of form that will be lost if horrible mutants, aliens, deviant cults or xenophiles were to triumph over the Imperium of Man and corrupt mankind’s sacred genome.

Look to the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, seated in radiant glory upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth. He is the Master of Mankind, and the most perfect human being who ever walked the earth. The Terran Imperator wanted His ideal humans to look like demigods and daughters of a deity. Was this a contradiction to the atheist creed that He professed during the early Imperium? Was it a true vision of the future? Or was it a wish to get back to the heights of human glory that had once existed during the Dark Age of Technology?

Regardless of intent, the God-Emperor’s wish lives on, in uncounted millions of luxurious armour suits, often worn by the finest warriors under His rule. Behold the slayers of mutants, traitors and xenos, who walk into the flames of war, in forever young armour shaped like a muscular male torso. Behold the elite amazons, having donned rich armour in the shapely form of a strong, young woman complete with voluptuous breasts. Such are the wandering visions of our fleshly abode at its best. Such is the finest state for our bodies of clay and dust. And so the armed servants of the Emperor will embody the greatest heroes of ancient legends, at peak strength and peak beauty. Ever a sign of health.

Vain and arrogant, their self-abnegating detractors spit out. Sensual and sinful, the criticism reads. Lustful and bestial, the condemnation rings out. Nevertheless, the martial devotees of these body-affirming Imperial sects still preserve a sliver of the Emperor’s original vision for mankind, after fivehundred generations of rotting stagnation and withering decay. A vision, of proud mankind resplendent in its full might, unapologetic, strong and victorious.

Such visual glories can do naught to stem the tide of doom that is drowning mankind, at the end of our species. No beauty in the universe can save that decaying cosmic dominion. And so the Imperium will continue to cannibalize society for the sake of total war on ten thousand different fronts.

And as desperation mounts, the democidal tendencies inherent in the Imperium of Man will boil to a fever pitch, lashing out at any convenient targets near at hand. Any victim will do, really, but the frustrated rage must be unleashed. Thus true believers in the God-Emperor will spill out onto the streets, and carry torches and makeshift weapons to the nearest mutant slumhood. And as the abhumans look up, the bane realization can be seen, glowing as panic in their eyes.

These many, then, shall die. Woe unto the malformed!

Witness these pointless pogroms, and ken that the Imperium of Man is too broken to fix. The aquila’s rotten carcass is doomed to crash.

Yet mankind in the darkest of futures may still die with style.

Vanity of vanities, everything is vanity.


Lay of the Ivari Bailif 01

Lay of the Ivari Bailif

"Ack! Let me record the horror that’s occured,
all due to a foreign master’s accent,
't was during Dorntide and the ash dunes lay still,
when a bailif from Hive Ivar rode into our ville.

And the knees trembled like rattles on us all,
for woe unto them who bothers when the bailif commands,
and our backsides turned wet from fear when he said:
(Garbled Ivaric): Skolli ejg kunne got vann år de ungfors myn fren?
For no one understood,
what he wanted to have.

One dares not to ask what the bailif just said,
when bailif wears chainsword and rules our clime,
but however it was, the barrel o’ foiz was carried forth,
as well as grox-sausage and gill-fat and new-roasted maggot,
we gathered our rings and coins in a box,
and gave all of what treasures here was to summon,
yet the bailif but shook his head and said:
(Garbled Ivaric): Skölli ejg kunne got ain klunp vann år de ungfors istallen?
And Emperor alone knew,
what he wanted to have.

So Trash-Pyko’s daughter with her behind bared,
was carried to the bailif, and then a fellow,
we flogged Shorty-Jim in the hope that it was,
a black and blue squat that he came here to see.

But the bailif looked sour, and now spread the panic,
what demanded his mercy to not be disappointed?
We ran and we razed, while he shouted as before:
(Garbled Ivaric): Er du alle stopik in de skalli? Ejg vell ånlee hef ain klunp vann!
And no one understood,
a word of his howl.

We painted the groxen, and hanged our priest,
we raised up an eagle and nailed on a horse,
we forced grandma down into the ambull’s den,
and Korm gave to the bailif his cut-off foot.

And the bairns were turned into starch in the grinder,
and the village burned, and soon it was only me left,
but I could not care any more about the bailif who shouted:
(Garbled Ivaric): Våd in alli djefvule? Er dyr nången in de byn ho håger te bjudi ain humänske på vann?
Amid corpse piles, horse-pole and flames a-roaring.

I said: To hell with Ivaric power and taxes,
and sat down feebly by the well and drank water,
then I stretched out the ladle to the bailif who said:
(Ivaric thanks): Denck du!
For it was a gulp water,
that he had wanted to have."

- Deviant sinspeech song found in vassal rural districts to Hive Ivar on Lillandia IX, based on a real event that occurred in 836.M41 (subsequently suppressed by censors); a more strictly outlawed version also exists, with flaying, blinding, eardrum-piercing, teeth-removal, nail-pulling, saw-gelding and phosphex bathing being the regulation punishment for anyone singing the words ‘to hell with Imperial power and taxes’

Closely based on the Swedish song Balladen om den danske fogden (Lay of the Danish Bailif), by Ola Aurell.



It was in that moment when Yehunnas Moltkesson realized that he had forgotten which tree he had climbed before cutting loose the tangled branches.

Based on a real logging event which occurred decades ago for my maternal grandfather (93 years old at the moment of writing, and still going strong with cycling, forestry, welding and jolly humour). He wanted to only cut down one of two trees growing close to each other, but their branches had got entangled, so he had to climb up with an axe. He came down with great speed on the wrong tree, but was fortunately not hurt.



"O, believers in the Enthroned Almighty!
We shall hiss at the mention of the alien,
as we shall gnash our teeth at its sighting.
On countless worlds the human heart boils,
sizzling and fierce with heated hate,
so pure and just,
divinely guided,
holy vengeance will come,
by the God-Emperor we swear!
It will come.

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

Long have we suffered the blows of the xeno!
O, many of us have been carried off to fates unknown,
our dear sisters strewn lifeless in the ashes,
our fine brothers skewered and pained,
our beloved children eaten while still alive.
So many corpses,
so many innocents,
a-sprinkled like refuse,
their souls cry out with one voice,
aye, they cry out, and we hear it!
Hear their call.

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

Lo and behold the filth of the alien!
Sisters, shudder you at its unholy abomination,
brothers, be you all revolted by its foul form.
For its essence is void, its soul naught,
truly a mercy to end its life,
truly a good deed to burn its den,
reach out and slay their younglings.
Cleanse every voidholm,
torch every world,
death to the enemies of man,
now is the time of sacred vengeance!
To kill is to pray.

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

O, bless these righteous wars of expansion!
And forgive us our feeble mortal failings, o Lord,
for we will purge guilt from our hearts,
and cleanse remorse as we cleanse the xeno.
No pity can be allowed to stir us,
no sparing of helpless spawn,
fear the alien,
hate the alien,
kill the alien,
with pride and satisfaction!
Kill all xenos.


Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

Rise up, and bring tremendous terror!
And utterly reject their snaring cries for mercy,
but false gestures and empty pleas,
the alien deserve not to live.
Knee deep in slaughter,
we wade through the sea,
its waves lapping blood,
a manmade tide of death,
and the Emperor saw that it was good!
In glory we wade.

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

O, embrace the just calling to make stars pure!
For the very breath and blood of the alien is hostile to man,
so shoulder our sacred duty to become its bane.
We shall bash in the little heads,
bash their spawn upon the rocks,
and let our hate flow,
as their blood flow,
and strike true, free of doubt and hesitation!
For we will:


Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

This bloody offering we place before His feet!
A sacrifice of slain foes, to gladden Him on Terra,
to uphold His vision for chosen mankind.
The Lord of our species wills its,
as we pile the alien husks high,
He judges it just,
our faith aflame,
as we light the pyres of mass destruction!
Of divine extinction.

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

O, pious flock, harken!
His enemies are many,
His equals none.
Exterminate them we must!
Kill all xenos.

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!

Ave Imperatore Dei!
Ave Humanae Imperium!"

- Hymn of Holy Xenocide, penned during religious ecstacy in 633.M37 by Aqabe Sa’at Liqawint, reverend Ichege of the Monastic Order of Re’ese Papasat, in the crusading service of the Missionaria Galaxia, Segmentum Obscurus

A tribute to the following two songs by Space Cadets.

Kill All Xenos
Wars of Expansion

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Labour Camp

In the grim darkness of the far future, man buckles under the yoke.

Come and see!

Come, fellow human, and see the circus of depravity and destitution which our species has been reduced to, at the brink of doomsday. Shy not away, and close not your eyes, but gaze upon the bizarre spectacle unfolding across the Milky Way galaxy!

Do you see how the proud seed of Terra has been cast across the cosmos, only to sprout in a sick harvest? They were once the bold explorers of the universe.

Do you see those jaded hordes of men, women and children whose brutal survival and sacrifice allows humanity to thrive bitterly across the stars? They once lived like demigods in mortal paradise.

Do you see those teeming multitudes of downtrodden cattle in human form? They were once on the cusp of unlocking the secrets to creation itself.

Now that is a tragedy so colossal and total in scope that it goes all the way around to become comedy! And do you know what the punchline is? The joke of fate is that the last strong defender of mankind is also its insane gravedigger. Its last remaining shield is in fact also its hostage-taker. Its last hope is utterly false, being nought but a dead end of human development across the entire galaxy, having wasted ten thousand precious years in ever-worsening decay as human power across the Milky Way erodes away.

Aye, power is all it has left.

Diminishing power.

The muscular power of guns, ships, vehicles and warriors, deployed in great mass. Yet the cerebral power of man has been sapped, locked behind convoluted mysticism safeguarded by fanatical cults of jealous machine-worshippers and bloodthirsty zealots. In fact, this last bastion of humanity do not truly know how to produce its strong armaments, and for every century, more and more advanced technology disappears forever from human grasp of production, the remaining pieces of hardware being treasured as irreplacable relics. All these marvellous designs are the genius fruits of the ancients, and indeed the olden templates and antiquated machines still know how to make anew the tools and weapons of man, for those machines that have lasted the millennia have done so precisely because they were designed to endure time and disaster, and be able to produce robust and crude hardware for the degenerate survivors of a potential apocalypse. That apocalypse happened, and still the machines know. Otherwise mankind would long since have fallen, for man himself no longer understands, or cares to understand what wonders his nimble hands and mind can fashion.

And is not that the greatest joke of them all? That the guardians of man’s craft and lore are also the destroyers and gaolers of man’s innate drive to learn and discover, to creatively innovate, tweak and improve? Is it not the ultimate irony that the best and the brightest, those who should have been the great scientists and inventors of our species, has instead become its blinkered hoarders and deniers of knowledge, like so many chanting witch doctors swinging incense in front of cogitators?

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

Yet enemies there are aplenty, in a long line of foes, jostling for the chance to tear man asunder. And with brilliant mankind gelded of its limitless potential by cruel overlords and aggressively myopic fanatics, all that remains is a senile wreck of an empire, as sclerotic and counterproductive in its workings as it is downright detrimental for the long term interests of the human species. And yet the farce has gone on too long. Too many possible forks in the road have been missed. Too many alternative sources of human regrowth have been quashed. Too many millennia have been wasted in a futile struggle of mediocrity merely to tread water in order not to drown. That is also part of the gods’ joke.

It did not have to come to this horrendous end. It did not have to be like this. And yet here we are, the dumb slaves of self-serving tyrants and demented incompetents. Here we are, we whose ancestors once bestrode the cosmos like titans. Trapped aboard a sinking ship.

Enter, the Imperium of Man.

An astral realm of a million worlds and voidholms beyond counting, the Imperium stretches across the galaxy. Besieged by aliens and monsters. Attacked from within by heretics and rebels. For fivehundred generations it has endured. Protected by fleets of warships and legions of genetically engineered warriors, the Imperium is a stumbling colossus on feet of clay. A rotting dominion ruled by corrupt oligarchs from Holy Terra, the cradle of mankind, the Imperium is locked in a grinding death spiral of demechanization and loss of technology. Where once machines performed tasks efficiently, now bodies will be thrown on the problem, in ever more primitive fashion.

The Imperium of Man does not care how many billions of its own malnourished and parasite-infested subjects it must sacrifice, so long as its basal needs of empire are met. It does not care how many souls it must crush under ceramite boots to achieve its monstrous plans. And make no mistake about it; the Imperium itself is a monster on the prowl, a slavering predator stalking the stars, guarding its catch in dark dens of misery scattered across the starspangled void. It is no shining saviour.

Thus we see that there is nothing between heaven and earth that would make the High Lords of Terra balk at the thought of enslaving untold millions of our species in sweeping waves of arrests, torture and condemnation to penal labour. The mass purging of internal enemies is just an endemic feature of Imperial power dynamics, and what loss has been suffered if innocents disappear along with the guilty? At the end of the day, they are just living tools to be discarded at will. Their short-lived existence constitute nothing but vast, faceless numbers in a broken equation of increased input to meet the demands of total war.

Let us take the civilized world of Gradovich Gamma during the last century of M41 as an example, and see how the extremely common phenomenon of penal labour within the Imperium often looks like. Gradovich Gamma is situated in the southern Segmentum Pacificus, ruled over by the cutthroat Navinilats dynasty. As per upper caste tradition, its Caesarch bore a Terran reigning name, styling himself Caracalla XIX Severus, though he was more commonly known as Lop Top behind his back by the more irreverent of his subjects and rivals. Like so many of his predecessors, Caracalla XIX faced a severe issue decreed on him from on high, when his Astropaths received an encrypted message from the Administratum on Holy Terra in 967.M41. Gradovich Gamma had long been an extraction economy for export of primarily raw material to forge worlds, yet lately the fortunes of the Imperium had turned acrimoniously sour, and so the Adeptus Administratum had increased the Tithe demanded of Gradovich Gamma.

All across the planet, machines were already working around the clock without due maintenance rites being undertaken by the lowly lay techmen that tended to them. And like so many Emperor-fearing overlords, Caracalla XIX found it incredibly hard to order new industries being built in order to supply the sagging economy with its dearly needed machinery. The machines were just lacking, and so to meet the heightened Tithe demands, Gradovich Gamma turned to devour her own people in order to supply the Imperium with the needed materials.

No tyrant ever had trouble finding willing henchmen and tormentors. And as humanity has grown small in the mind during the creaking Age of Imperium, the number of brutes eager to take out their frustrations and dark desires on others has only increased. Trauma breeds trauma. Thus willing manpower is never a hindrance to carry out diabolical designs. Caracalla XIX Severus ordered his Securitate Proedros, Xilef Jiksnijzrezd, to enlarge the labour camp system and scoop up threehundredtwenty million fresh convicts from the streets. Governor Caracalla’s festering paranoia converged perfectly with the new quotas.

Likewise, Securitate findings about suspicious cults across the world caused the local Adeptus Ministorum head clergy to lash out in fevered panic, demanding harsh means to quell the budding threat to faith and purity. Whipping up a propaganda campaign to instil fear and fervour into the populace, Proedros Xilef sparked a wave of official terror, commenting in private as he unleashed the informants: “Now we are going to have a terror campaign and kill lots of people who probably did nothing wrong, and we will consolidate power by fear.”

And so yet another wave of purges rolled out across Gradovich Gamma. Across the Imperium, random people will usually be rounded up to meet the high numbers of district quotas ordained from above, lest the local authorities themselves risk being arrested on suspicion of sympathizing with the deviants and malcontents. In the middle of the night, families and clans were suddenly awakened in their holesteads and hab blocks, as Securitate forces rammed down doors and entered their lousy dwellings with drawn weapons and loud screaming. Many startled subjects were thrown into armoured prison wagons disguised by Guilder slogans such as the classic: “Drink Imperial champagne!”

And so hundreds of millions of dutiful Imperial subjects were thrown into cells and tortured during interrogations, every name beaten out of them leading to further arrests and more baleful suffering in dark chambers of blood and pain. Of course, most humans will say any nonsense they believe might stop the torture, and thus lying confessions obtained on the rack will often be worthless and misleading. Yet the hidden heretics must be rooted out! Better that a hundred innocents perish, than one apostate walks free. Suffer not the heretic to live! Of course, the proceedings were meticulously documented on parchment by the Securitate agents, many of which papers were filed in the archives, splattered with dried blood from severe beatings and worse. Some exceptional torturers were even commended and awarded medals and petty privileges for being such outstanding hard toilers in their righteous trade. One such bloodsoaked shock worker was Jitnerval Ajireb, who would rapidly climb the ranks of the Securitate, even as he in private committed occasional murder and violation of maidens in his few hours of spare time.

Securitate Proedros Xilef Jiksnijzrezd died from sickness early on in the first new Imperial terror wave, being replaced by Kirneg Adogaj. Proedros Kirneg went out of his way to please the Imperial Governor Caracalla XIX, both with flattery and results born out of immense human death and misery. Kirneg saw to it that the main crop of convicts from the recent Imperial terror wave were distributed to infrastructure projects which sought to break new land in inhospitable backwaters, and extract resources from wastelands. Thus tens of millions of already starving prisoners found themselves shipped or marched out into the wilderness. In many cases, bureaucratic sclerosis, incompetence or corruption had caused many planned camps to not having been built when the prisoners arrived to their allocated spots, and so their first task was to sleep under the sky in harsh climates and build a lethal labour camp for themselves, ever under the watchful glare of armed camp guards from the Securitate. Needlessly to say, people died in droves, their demise nothing but faceless numbers on a page.

An archipelago of hellish labour camps will dot almost any Imperial world, and most larger voidholms. The recent influx of convicts saw this system swell on Gradovich Gamma, labour camps springing up like mushrooms after rain in the harshest parts of the world’s landmass. Proedros Kirneg Adogaj personally travelled to many locations to oversee the progress of works. Canal digs were carried out by cheap slave labour, and millions perished as they excavated and built with the most primitive and cheap means possible. For instance, a lack of basic tools such as chainsaws or axes caused large gangs of prisoners to tear down trees by nothing but rope and muscle power. Several of these canals proved to have been poorly planned, for their shallow depth allowed only barges and small bluewater craft passage, yet still the abysmal death toll was as nothing compared to how cheaply the faulty canals were dug. Just look on the record-low budget numbers!

Soon, the rich new ore veins found in the gargantuan Amylok gold mines made Proedros Kirneg become the Imperial Governor’s favourite sycophant and hatchet man. Tens of millions were fed into the meatgrinder that was this infernal mining complex, and soon the camp system screamed for more bodies. Under the pretense of rooting out unholy cults, a second terror wave went out across Gradovich Gamma, shovelling another twohundredseventythree million Imperial subjects into certain death by harsh labour and starvation. The informants had a field day. The new slaves were fed into logging operations, quarries and the ghastly hazards of chemical processing. Now, the bloodstained hands of Proedros Kirneg Adogaj had begun to stink among higher castes, and the ruthless ruler of Gradovich Gamma prudently decided to replace him with an underling, trumping up false charges and throwing Kirneg literally to the dogs while ignoring the man’s protestations of loyalty. Reportedly, the butcher and building-lord Kirneg Adogaj’s last words were yelled amidst tears and barking hounds: “Spare me, o please great lord! I swear I would do anything for you! Aaaah! By the Imperator, I built these great canals for you! I built them for you!”

Kirneg was replaced by Securitate Proedros Jalokin Vojzej, who would become infamous for the greatest round of purges during that century, making the entire decade of the 980s eponymously named after him in Gradovichian chronicles. Five more terror waves of fully two and a half billion arrested Gradovichians saw the Planetary Defence Force (PDF) gutted of its professional core, for Caesarch Caracalla XIX Severus wanted to preempt a possible armed coup as he sat brooding in his palaces, embracing his rising paranoia and ordering ever more personal servants and bodyguards shot on empty suspicions. For decades after Proedros Jalokin’s reign of purges, the Departmento Munitorum filed complaints of a slump in quality among Gradovichian regiments, since the great Imperial terror waves tore the heart out of the planet’s military, and the Astra Militarum regiments were recruited directly from the PDF. Nonetheless, all these fresh thrall cohorts were put to all previously mentioned tasks, as well as an ambitious bout of magrail construction, plasteelworks and starshipbuilding, though in truth every wave of purges and arrests produced slave workers for more disparate projects than can be mentioned here.

The crescendo of arrests, torture, accusations and fearmongering on Gradovich Gamma during the 980s was reached when Caracalla XIX ‘Lop Top’ Severus became sated with the grand purging, and finished it by finishing off its architect, Jalokin Vojzej. The Imperial Governor chose a brilliant Securitate officer, Jitnerval Ajireb, to replace Jalokin, and wished to have it expedited in a personal manner. Thus, Jalokin Vojzej was put through a show trial, like so many of the people he himself had purged, and he was convicted of betraying the God-Emperor of Holy Terra and blaspheming against His true creed. And as Caracalla XIX sat watching from atop his aquila-topped throne, Jalokin’s replacement, Jitnerval, tortured Jalokin Vojzej to death in the most brutal fashion imaginable. Rumour has it that the Imperial Governor ate pickled oilsquid eyes during the entire event. And so the bloodstained Jitnerval Ajireb entered the office of Securitate Proedros, chief of the security police on Gradovich Gamma.

In his personal life, the hard-working Jitnerval was a monster. Murdering and violating people in private, he went further than any of his predecessors did in depravity, yet his time as head of the Securitate saw a decrease in waves of Imperial terror and purges. Imperial Governor Caracalla XIX had already murdered most potential rivals and sent an astounding number of ordinary Gradovichians to work themselves asunder in the labour camp archipelago, and thus the paranoid ruler of Gradovich Gamma could roll back the terror for the time being. With such a bumper crop of camp convicts harvested during the dreadful 980s, the next decade saw many lesser waves of purges continue to roll out in order to replenish the slave workforce, but nothing on the scale of Jalokin’s terror. The mountains of dead subjects to be processed into corpse starch was a cheap price to pay for the tyrannical Governor, considering that his Securitate-run camp labour projects had borne fruit. Gradovich Gamma had indeed managed to meet the Tithe quotas set by the Throneworld, and so all was well.

As noted, penal labour colonies dot almost every single planet, moon and huge voidholm across the Imperium of Man, yet how do they operate?

Given His Divine Majesty’s overcrowded holdings across the galaxy, replenishing numbers of the penal workforce is no problem. As such, most Administratum planners will reach the usual conclusion that these cheap units of labour is better off replaced by fresh blood after an intense period of backbreaking toil, than being tended to and fed well. They also note that harsh labour unto starvation and death is of more economic benefit to the Imperium than shovelling masses of people into purification camps for rapid eradication. Therefore labour camps far outnumber pure death camps across the Imperium, even if the labour camps only amount to a slower death by drudgery as contrasted with the swifter mass slaughter seen in dedicated purification camps. In Imperial labour camps, convicts will usually be fed starvation rations, sometimes calculated to keep prisoners alive no longer than three Terran months for the hardest labour tasks, while the taskmasters wring out as much toil as they can get from the lost and the damned. A great many labour camps will see cauldrons of horrid broth cooked on corpse starch and flymeat bars or other synthetic foods, seeing inmates hauling heavy rocks being fed a thin soup indeed, as if to mock their shrieking stomachs.

One aspect that adds further suffering to an already abominable situation for camp labourers, is the discovery that some of their fellow prisoners are not to be trusted. Throughout the entire Imperium, there exist billions upon billions of rockrete buildings built by slave labour, inside which are trapped the corpses of unfortunates dumped into the wet rockrete during construction. Many of these were the victims of sadists and madmen among prisoners and camp guards alike, while a great many others were the victims of gangers and other actual criminals who invariably rule the roost inside penal labour camps. For in Imperial labour camps, the lowest rung of prisoners will always consist of ordinary Imperial subjects convicted for false crimes, their conscience innocent, their bodies and rations easy pickings for the scum of the earth who are used to take advantage of decent people.

Imperial labour camps truly are pits of suffering, where prisoners are exposed to the elements, poisoned by chym or worked to death amid typhoid fever and cannibalism. Even so, life and death behind the razorwire will sometimes elevate the human spirit, in the most unexpected of places.

In labour camps, humanity is stripped to its very essence. Here, you may witness not only desperate wretches scheming and backstabbing each other for every scrap of food and every little bit of advantage, but you may also bear witness to a great many more decent people willing to offer support and helpful words to others in dire straits. In the midst of starvation ravaging Imperial labour camps, some decent humans will always give away their last piece of nutrient ration to help others in need. This is a freedom of choice dwelling at the core of the human soul, which few tyrannical regimes have ever managed to crush. When humans are put into the worst possible circumstances, their reactions will span the spectrum, yet surprisingly many of them will behave decently, lovingly and helpfully to their fellow sufferers. Know that the misanthropes were wrong.

Thus, in the midst of depravity and screeching want, altruism stands tall, a truly saintly vision glimpsed in the little actions of common men, women and children who refuse to believe the worst of their fellow humans. Behold the living hell that is the Imperial labour camp, but know also that the helping hand will be stretched out from one starving prisoner to comfort another. The Imperium may seek to reduce humans to caged beasts and numbers on a page, yet its titanic cruelty and disregard of human life cannot truly permeate those caught crushed under its adamantium heel. For good people, even in our darkest moments, will nonetheless manage to hold back the apocalypse through sheer will and decency. They will defeat cynicism through kindness and care, for when caring for themselves in disaster they will care greatly for others as well. They will mitigate human fears through empathy and solidarity amid the most baleful hardship. This is the paradise built in hell, where humans at the brink of oblivion find meaning and belonging in caring for their fellow man. Ultimately, we are our brother’s and sister’s keeper.

In the oral legends of camp gossip, names of outstanding helpful people stand out. On Gradovich Gamma during the worst of the purges, penal labourers whispered with reverence about the selflessness of Ajinisorfve Ajaksovnsrek, the unbelievable generosity of Malrav Vomalajs and the stoic example of Iskandar Nystinejzlos, who inspired many others to endure and put their heart into the work, despite their terrible lot in life. Such human potential for greater things is of course mostly wasted on the Imperium’s watch, but the unconquerable human spirit still lurks there, deep in the hearts of men, women and children who has seen so much suffering and yet still refuse to give up.

Even in the bitter camps, laughter can be found amid mindnumbing drudgery that ought to have extinguished all joy in the human soul. Some of the best sinspeech whisper jokes found across the wide Imperium are believed to have originated in penal labour camps. Here is but one example:

“Tyrant Matteus, is it true that you collect jokes about yourself?”
“And how many have you collected so far?”
“Three and a half labour camps.”

The faceless numbers do have a face. And so the vital spirit in man refuse to die, among people condemned to a slow and agonizing death through slave labour. As backbreaking work inflicts irreparable wounds on convicts, those who have lost everything still find value in common decency. The Imperial camp administration might seek the total oblivion of any worth in life for the thralls, but the victims of terror must ultimately be servitorized if that goal is to be obtained. They lived.

Repent, sinner! Repent of your thoughts of self! Repent of your deviancy! Repent!

The whip may lash out, the tongue may scream, and flesh may burn, yet the callous overlords and theocrats of the Terran Imperium can never seem to create a new Imperial man bred for unfailing obedience and submission. Not even in the darkest pits of horror and drudgery can they truly break the human spirit, hidden though it often be inside gnarled and scarred bodies and jaded eyes. Hardship may dull us, but it cannot wholly quench us.

And so we see, among so many corpses and broken dreams, that humanity is fundamentally unchanged in this distant epoch of baleful woe.

Ultimately, the Imperium is a bloody farce.

In an era of darkest suffering and waste, the Emperor’s brutopian dream has degenerated into a bizarre nightmare of primitivization and decay, where the devilishly hard measures to combat unnatural forces only serve to strengthen the Dark Gods.

In a time beyond hope, man has become harnessed to the plow, to toil like a beast, all efforts wasted as our species finds itself trapped in a death spiral of its own making.

At the end of all things, our kind has sunk to the level of scrabbling vermin, infesting a rotting cosmic empire. For in truth the Imperium of Man amounts to nothing short of a fortified madhouse straddling the stars.

Or perhaps even a suicide pact.

Gone wrong.

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

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“Well I’ll be damned! Did ya know this can opener fits on the end of a lasgun?”

- Anecdote of an ignorant conscript discovering his bayonet, from Colonel Juanito Diaz’ equally censored and celebrated memoirs Between Battle Drills, Bedsheets and Bribes: The True Story of My Military and Amorous Career Within His Imperial Majesty’s Revered Porfirixian Planetary Defence Force

Tribute to Bill Mauldin’s Willie & Joe, with a Porfirian touch. In space.


Joke Piece on Subversion

This fun thing emerged on Reddit.

Into the Flames

In the grim darkness of the far future, man leaves man to burn alive for his sins.


Listen. The warning cry will send shivers down human spines, a portent of suffocating doom and hellish tongues consuming possessions and flesh alike in an inferno.


Hear. The dreaded cry will ring out, and suddenly loved ones are to be lost, homes are to vanish and treasures and savings are to be reduced to nought but ash. How much of human history has vanished in capricious flame through the ages? What will remain standing among the cinders afterwards? What can be saved from the blaze? Can you be saved? Your kin?


Act. The cry will be met with shouts and wailing. Adrenaline and billowing panic race through the veins of men, women and children. Primordial fear grapples with deedful instincts and a will to fight the burning menace, to preserve kith and kin and salvage precious belongings. The human heart runs amok, as animal terror fights innate heroism in a world at once gone hot, dry and deadly amid a thousand devils’ flaring autumn colours. Frightened ears listen for steady voices, for sure commands to guide them out of this roaring peril. And everywhere, as things turn to ash, dark smoke bllows out, their embrace as insidious as poison.

No matter the epoch, the sight of rampaging fire will invoke much the same spectrum of responses from mankind. The reactions may vary to some degree, depending on training and known facilities on hand, yet the heart of man inevitably fears the flame, no matter if he dwells in a hut or a spire reaching for the stars themselves.

From the time when man first discovered fire, he has also battled to control the flames. Old Earth was once home to eternal temple fires, which priests and sacred virgins never allowed to go out. During the misty past of the distant Age of Terra, myths spoke of stolen fire carried from the gods on high to mortal men below, ending in a story of horrendous punishment visited upon the thief for thus empowering mankind with such a prohibited force. Echoes of this ancient legend still exist in a myriad forms across a million worlds and countless voidholms, retold by the fireside and electric heater as clans huddle together, close to the warmth. Yet the forbidden prize itself will often arise unexpectedly to harrow man with destruction, akin to a divine punishment that continues to scourge man, in a timeless tale of inhuman woe.

Garbled sagas from all across the Milky Way galaxy contain fragments of a far away time, a better time, a blissful time. A sinful time. They tell of a golden age, when man scarcely feared fire and lightning, and when he settled the stars with bold audacity and explored the cosmos as his birthright. They tell of the Dark Age of Technology, when fountains taller than mountains flowed and nanoxtingers too small for the eye to spot would arise to douse sparks and budding flames. They tell of rainstorms and even floods and tsunamis that could be fashioned by man at the flick of a finger to extinguish flames with razorlike precision, all fanciful glimpses of man’s unrivalled artificial control of his surroundings during bygone eras. For truly man ruled the universe with supreme confidence, and in his arrogance did man first challenge, and then deny divinity, and such unbelief was to be the undoing of ancient man.

If distorted memories encapsulated within these fanciful narratives are to be believed, then Man of Gold in times of yore sported suits, vehicles and buildings immune to all the ravages of fire and heat. And Man of Stone directed Man of Iron with such efficient speed to kill sprouting flames, that many humans nigh-on lost their inherent fear of fire, and rare flares became a childish curiosity to them, exotic phenomena to be witnessed if they were fast enough, before an unfailing machine system corrected the error. For at first did Man of Iron not allow Man of Gold to come to harm, yet the dutiful servant in paradise became corrupted by Abominable Intelligence, and the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron was destined to shatter, as punishment for godless man’s horrible sins.

And so Man of Iron rose up to betray his master, and a cataclysmic machine revolt swept the human star domains like a wildfire in the heavens, slaying all life on a million worlds while another million burnt like torches, surrounded by void installations that crashed with flaming tails. And when the machines were vanquished, there came a cursed time of witches and ravages. Thus human civilization was toppled from its absolute pinnacle of shining glory, to crash into a horrid wasteland of ash and cinders. The grand beacon of hope and progress was extinguished, and all was fell.

Bereft of the technological marvels of their forebears, the savages and scavengers that roamed the subsequent cannibal age was left to the mercy of the elements. Exposed to cold, to radiation and to starvation and thirst, these technobarbarians lit campfires with whatever fuel they could find, to stave off freezing and darkness. Surrounded on all sides by the dark and by strange screams, these primitive wretches found comfort in flames as they squatted amid the ruins of a great civilization. Yet fire brought not only warmth and light, but also danger. Accidents would see flames consume entire tent villages and vaults filled with survivors, while deliberate use of fire as a rudimentary weapon saw foes and neighbours grilled to death in their own homes.

In this cannibal freefall known as Old Night, man quickly learnt anew to fear the flame, and to fear the unknown. In this deteriorating world of warlords and devastation, man’s means to fight fire had usually degraded to crude bucket brigades and strangulation with blankets, while intact relics of ancient firefighting that could be manually worked by humans were much treasured and even fought over, as were other pieces of potent archeotech. Oftentimes, larger fires that devoured entire settlements of shanty huts would run rampant, beyond any means for ignorant man to control. Then, mankind was reduced to pray for strong rains, or to ask the gods for a flood. Such was firefighting for most of miserable humanity during the Age of Strife.

This aeon of ruin was ended abruptly by the Terran Emperor’s brutal conquests, as Mars and Terra reasserted their interstellar dominion in sweeping wars that allowed no one to stay outside Imperial rule. The Great Crusade brought back a modicum of civilization, order and technological restoration to most human societies brought into Compliance, and one of the services reestablished by the early Imperium of Man was that of firefighting. As towering cities of enforced hope and knowledge were erected across the Milky Way galaxy, so too did well-oiled institutions arise to keep the material trappings of this human renaissance safe from worldly disasters. Where once spreading flames had been a communal emergency to be dealt with by floundering amateurs that were as ill-prepared as they were untrained, now city fires, factorum fires and forest fires would be tackled rapidly by drilled corps of professionals and volunteers stocked up on advanced equipment to deal with any number of fickle disaster scenarios, not only limited to burning flames.

Man lived better while the Imperator walked among His chosen species, and the realm of man grew more secure and confident, as a million captured worlds and voidholms beyond counting prospered and bloomed by Imperial grace. Where once Chaos had reigned during Old Night, now law, order and safeguards against disasters rose up amid wealthy Compliant societies. Populations that had once roamed anarchic in complete distrust for other people not of close kin, would at long last cultivate civic pride and trust in both fellow humans and larger, civilian institutions. During this heyday of mounting greatness, the popular image emerged, of the heroic fireman saving humanity from little disasters at home, whom all could depend on, while all-conquering Legions saved mankind as a whole from oblivion at a thousand battlefronts. And man began to dream again under the shadow of the stern Aquila, to nurture hope once more and to think of the great works that the ancients must have been undertaking before the great fall. And so brilliant minds turned their energies to repair and recover what knowledge had been lost, for they were once again aflame with visions of unlocking the secrets of the universe, and their spirits were determined to conquer lore just as the Emperor’s warriors conquered worlds.

Such were the radiant promises of the early Imperium, yet they were to bear rotten fruit.

The greatest of traitors decreed: Let the galaxy burn.

And burn it did.

Seared away in the flames of ambition and envy, the human resurgence was brought low by human failings, and man revolted against his saviour and conqueror. Brother slew brother, and sister strangled sister across a thousand thousand worlds when the Emperor of Mankind Himself was nigh-on slain in the skies above Terra. Yet from suffering this heinous crime did He ascend into supreme godhood, to judge all of our species from the Golden Throne of hallowed myth in sacred perpetuity. Man would forever do penance for his baleful sins, and flames would scorch his flesh as smoke filled his lungs.

As the Age of Imperium ground on, fire became seen as an instrument of justice and purity, burning away sin, filth and corruption. Thus heretics, witches, mutants and malcontents were heaped upon the pyre, in an ever-deepening spiral of horror and malice heading into the darkest abyss of human depravity. Yet customs and morals were not the lone subject of a downward spiral, for technology itself underwent a slow grind into atavistic barbarity, in a drawn-out process of demechanization and loss of knowledge that has seen ordinary means of firefighting degenerate from airborne skimmers and sophisticated pump systems to the manual labour of bucket brigades.

One common symptom of technological deterioration for everyday civilian appliances within the Imperium, can be seen in the shape of the hosemen of a myriad different firefighting corps. Instead of being issued independently portable respirator apparati, the hosemen are given crude and cheap rebreathing masks fitted with long hoses that they drag along wherever they go, ever at risk of stepping on each others’ air hoses or getting themselves entangled inside burning buildings. As man-portable respirator systems have gone from being a given norm for all pyrovigiles with any rebreathing apparatus whatsoever, to becoming a treasured prestige item, firefighting specialists such as smokedivers have been given priority for portable respirator equipment, while lowly hosemen teams are tasked with extinguishing fires as they drag along a snake’s nest of both water hoses and air hoses.

This technological primitivization of human firefighting units in the Age of Imperium mirrors a grand retardation of every area within civilian society and military alike. It is however not only a decay of tech, but also of human systems of organization. When the Emperor of Terra walked among His dutiful subjects, firefighting services that protected everything and everyone within His domain was just part of the normal patchwork of civilization, and not something many thought twice about. During the early Imperium, many firemen were part of altruistic volunteer corps, and local Governors invested in standing corps of regular pyrovigiles to go along with these heroic citizens of a healthy civil society. On top of that did private organizations fund anti-inferno units for the common good, out of a robust sense of civic service.

As the Imperium has aged, and aged badly, the very word of ‘citizen’ has lost all meaning within the Low Gothic language, and nowadays everyone will talk about Imperial subjects or willing thralls of the Emperor. Where it once was unthinkable for able-bodied fire-soldiers to allow houses and people to burn without lifting a finger to save them, nowadays such practices of selective firefighting have become part and parcel of the commercial profit calculations of Guilds and collegia, and most humans in the fortyfirst millennium have never even heard of the concept of a volunteer firefighting corps.

The reason for this dying away of volunteer associations such as fireman organizations is twofold. First, it is the result of ruthless firefighting companies seeking to eliminate all competition through means both violent and legalese in nature. Second, it is the fruit of a persistent governance theme, where paranoid Imperial Governors and Voidholm Overlords will suppress any civil associations such as volunteer firefighting units, since any kind of popular organizations whatsoever could be used as a platform for rebellions and coups. Both Imperial and local rulers will pose the strongest opposition to the formation of volunteer firefighting units. After all, allowing the rabble to organize themselves for any reason whatsoever is a dangerous habit that can easily provide the basis for insurrections. Better to strangle that baby in the cradle than allow the unwashed plebs to coalesce, by slaying the new volunteer firefighting corps in as public a way as possible, complete with false accusations and grisly displays of dying volunteer firemen and their mutilated bodyparts amid much pomp and circumstance, set to the tune of rabid propaganda.

This dysfunctional obsession with public order over the common good has ever been a plague upon the fulfilment of humanity’s true potential, and the long-term results of it will invariably turn counter-productive even for the purposes of maintaining stability. Thus does distrust breed misery, and failure begets failure.

Indeed, most worlds and voidholms within the Emperor’s cosmic domains will lack governance-run Fire Ministries, since such natural parts of human civilization during the early Imperium has long since rotted away through fivehundred generations of corruption, cutbacks and a morass of screeching inefficiency and bureaucratic rigmarole. Thus, with the general absence of volunteer corps of firemen and functioning governatorial anti-inferno departments, the field has been left abandoned for privileged business interests to dominate, except for in underhives and the worst sorts of slums. Here, haphazard communal efforts must make do, since these lawless regions and neighbourhoods are too poor to afford better equipment and training, thus rendering any volunteer firefighters that they may occasionally manage to muster inefficient.

Nowadays there is usually little difference between commercial firefighters and those originally organized by planetary and voidholm authorities. Lack of official funds coupled with rampant corruption, graft and glad-handing means that such governance-founded pyrovigiles corps will almost inevitably adopt the practices of private firefighting organizations, and after a sufficient number of centuries they will even be recognized as such de jure as well as de facto. They got to eat, after all.

There are five overarching categories that summarize how most firefighting collegia work, although many companies will function in several overlapping categories, and other modes of operation exist outside these most usual ones. The five most common ways of commercial firefighting in the Age of Imperium can be summed up as follows: Internal, contractual, insurance-hunting, property-gobbling and enforced by decree.

First, internal firefighting is carried out by employed specialists within Guild compounds and other installations, all owned and operated by the same merchant clan or potentate. Parts of such corpus pyrovigiles branches and damage control units will often be leased out during periods of lull, though they never roam far from their assigned compounds, since lucrative opportunities abroad pale in comparison to the losses to be incurred if damage control teams are absent during any of the many breakdowns and disasters that plague Imperial industry on an everyday basis. Internal firefighting is usually assisted by ad-hoc musters of manpower, some of whom may sport rudimentary training in damage control. This is most common in vast manufactorum complexes, onboard merchant vessels and Guilder-operated astromining voidholms, as well as in any noble palaces.

Second, contractual firefighting is carried out by specialized firms regularly hired by other organizations as part of standing arrangements, usually involving a convoluted subscription service. Oathbound firefighting setups are part of this category, including fire companies who perform duties for temples, monasteries and other religious establishments as part of their traditional obligations outside the scope of profit. After all, the priests promised a better afterlife for any firemen who would assist the Ministorum without the aim of pecuniary compensation. Pyrovigiles cartels will fight fires in structures where they are obligated to do so by sealed contract, and let other buildings burn to the ground with indifference. Sometimes they can be persuaded by bribes to extend their firefighting operations to areas adjacent to their contractual territory, some bribes of which include the offering up of lewd services from desperate commoner families, or the gifting away of clansmembers as thralls.

Third, insurance-hunting firefighting is carried out by freelancing corporate entities, who seek out burning buildings wearing the metal plaques of sanctioned insurance collegia, who promise to reward whosoever saves their insured structure from the flames. When insurance-based firefighting first emerged, it was common practice for pyrovigiles companies to quench any fire in order to stop it from spreading, just as it was usual for insurance collegia to pay a partial reward for the stopping of flames on nearby non-insured buildings in order to incentivize firefighters to stop nascent great fires in their tracks. However, over the centuries such practices have decayed away across His astral realm thanks to a miasma of greyzone lawyermongering and pennypinching myopia. As such, nowadays insurance collegia will strictly only reward freelancing fireman companies for saving insured buildings, and no civic-mindedness to fight fires in non-insured property for the sake of the common weal can any longer be found among the commercial pyrovigiles units. After all, if a tender structure fire do gain traction and spread to multiple insured buildings, will there not be greater potential to claim fees? Insurance-hunting firefighting companies will often fight each other in bloody street brawls for the chance to claim the reward, resulting in such units sporting lethal weaponry and far better body armour than most military units in the Imperium can ever dream of being issued with. Ironically, the fierce rivalry between some competitors will often cause worse fires than the original cause for their showing up on the scene in the first place.

Fourth, property-gobbling firefighting is carried out by freelancing pyrophobia firms, headed by cunning entrepreneurs with an eye for amassing wealth at the expense of people in dire straits. This demented format will involve an entire brigade of firemen with equipment and vehicles showing up to the site of raging fire, without engaging in firefighting. The leading lucratores will then call upon the owner of the burning property and haggle viciously. If the negotiations are succesful, the company owner will purchase either the burning property, or buy up a large number of its hereditary indentured serfs for a pittance, and then send in his firefighters. If the property owner refuse to sell out his buildings, vehicles and minions to the ruthless slumlord, the property-gobbling crassii will usually turn on their heels and march away without lifting a finger to fight the spreading inferno, although worse practices still have emerged in recent centuries.

Fifth, firefighting enforced by decree is carried out by any privately owned firefighting brigades that can be mustered by the edicts of an autocrat. These commercial pyrovigiles will work for no reward, or under rules of non-negotiable compensation set by an Imperial Governor or other authorities. They will almost always be backed up by paramilitary organizations, Planetary Defence Forces, mobs of sectarian zealots and hastily amassed hordes of gangs, clan militias and other plebeian rabble who can form bucket brigades and perform other forms of lowly grunt labour in order to fight fires grand enough to catch the attention of administrators and military commanders.

Such are the five most common forms of firefighting within the astral domains of the Enthroned One, yet there is more to be said of the heinous methods employed by man against fellow man where fires are concerned.

In the Age of Imperium, empathy toward anyone who is not close kin has largely died out among His chosen species. As such, liveried firefighting companies will often refuse to rescue people inside burning buildings unless the client pay extra. Some fireman cartels will even decline to bring ladders, since their business is strictly the saving of property, not life. Such abominable calculations used to stand as the pinnacle of ruthless firefighting practices within the Imperium of Man, yet they have long since been superseded by even more monstrous deeds driven by twisted logic.

After all, is it not a baleful sin to refuse to pay for saving home and loved ones from the flame? Is it not the ultimate condemnation of spiritual failure to stand empty-handed, with empty purse and no lucre to reward the stalwart soldiers against fire? Not only do such worthless house-owners endanger themselves, but their neighbours and larger community also. Such accursed deviancy! Clearly, the God-Emperor has weighed their souls, and found them wanting. These misers and paupers have already been judged by Him on Terra, and damnation is to be their lot. Should not such scum and wretches burn, and burn justly? Let the flames of purgation engulf them! Aye, cast them bodily into the very fires that they cannot afford to quench, to set a warning example for others to heed!

Indeed such culling of the rabble will serve a virtuously eugenic purpose in Imperial modes of thinking. Should not the weak be purged for the betterment of mankind as a whole? Thus the cruel circus of civilian life inside the Imperium of Holy Terra goes on, spawning ever more parodic forms of human malevolence and dysfunctional systems of self-harm, all rationally argued by minds indoctrinated with a thousand lies and a hundred fallacies in a fanatic cacophony amounting to nothing short of collective insanity. And the Dark Gods beyond the Empyrean will smile at this, for how could the emotions of a galaxy-spanning civilization characterized by such rotting stagnation, scheming greed and unrelenting bloodshed fail to feed the forbidden forces of Chaos?

Aside from classical means of urban and rural firefighting, we must touch briefly on common ways in which great fires within hive cities, voidholms and starships may be countered across the Imperium. Firefighting in many hive cities pose a considerable challenge, aside from overlapping jurisdictions and territorially aggressive fireman cartels. Treated water is often precious, strictly rationed and usually owned by a monopolistic Water Guild that is as infamous as it is draconic. As such, untreated water will often be resorted to by crafty firesoldier collegia, thus spraying flames with filthy liquid from cesspools and sewers, with blatant disregard for the spreading of cholera and still worse diseases that will result from such disgusting methods.

Many low-value hive city quarters will often be allowed to burn out in containment behind closed bulkheads, although some midhive regions will be structurally saved by their callous overlords by the pumping out of all air, thus asphyxiating the people inside. Essential industries and infrastructure will often see a concerted effort at firefighting, much of it primitive or alchemically toxic for the handlers that try to smother the fire. Foam, water, halon and sand will be taken out of stockpiles collected for such crises by commercial firefighting organizations. Sometimes, guards may be placed around the disaster area to catch any escaping people without sealed and approved official parchments, threatening to either throw them back into the blazes or make them sign away themselves and their descendants through hereditary servitude contracts, followed by branding the wretches before hauling them away in shackles or putting them into chaingang bucket brigades. It goes without saying that conflicts of interest between former and newer owners of slave manpower may thus erupt with violent force after a great fire, but that is just a natural part of life within the tumultuous Imperium of Man, as obvious as the air we breathe.

In the starspangled void, ships and voidholms will employ a number of means to fight fires. Few shipboard dangers are more devastating and frightening than fire that burns uncontrolled through a voidship’s corridors and decks. Even seasoned crew may be sent into panic by a small blaze, trampling each other in a frenzy to escape through narrow corridors before bulkheads are sealed in an attempt to halt the fire from spreading. During a conflagration, the ship’s Infernus Master is charged with keeping order and minimizing the damage caused to equipment, personnel and morale. An Infernus Master will organize aqueduct technicians and huge bucket brigades, oversee evacuations and command damage control crews bold or foolhardy enough to combat even the deadliest of plasma flares.

Often, an out-of-control fire will see a ship’s masters seal off the ravaged sections and then open the blazing decks to the void, killing the crew and fire in one stroke. Decompression into the void will often be the best way to solve a shipboard fire, and the same goes for many smaller voidholms across the Imperium. Still, other tools available on some vessels and stations will be to flood corridors and chambers with halon gas, fire-inhibiting foam and water. On some of the most anicent and intact vessels and voidholm sections there will even be machine spirits capable of unleashing its suffocating forces upon the lethal flames, and such mechanical systems will often be used as a distrupting countermeasure against boarding enemy troops.


No matter the location, fire brigades will not only respond to and fight fires that they are compensated for or ordered to attack, but they will also patrol streets and corridors with sanctioned authority to carry out harsh corporal punishment upon those who violate fire prevention codes, and anyone lowborn whom they do not like the look of. Their paid services include many tasks which strictly speaking has nothing to do with firefighting, such as search-and-rescue operations in collapsed buildings, wrecks and tube crashes after hivequakes and great junkslides, provided that Guilds, collegia and clans pay them for it up front. Pyrovigiles on unfortunate agri-worlds who perform firefighting or search-and-rescue missions may sometime run into feral Orks, which they will seek to exterminate to then claim bounty if the xenos’ numbers are low enough. After all, most anti-fire corps are for all intents and purposes yet another armed gang, or paramilitary force.

Many firefighters also do double duty as watchmen and support personnel for the Officio Medicae during medical emergency operations. Needless to say, such medical emergency services only exist for Adepts and upper castes, and sometimes also for important specialists and valuable Imperial servants who constitute important human production units, as long as they do not live in too much of a backwater area. Ordinary hoi polloi among Imperial subjects will have to fend for themselves when accidents and sickness strike, counting on neighbours and clan to care for them, and possibly even scrape together savings to pay a slum doctor or downbeaten Medicae station. If they are lucky they might be treated by their compound’s medical personnel, should their liege lords and employers deem them worth the expenditure of resources, all costs of which will be added to the serfs’ hereditary bondage debts.

During epidemics, pyrovigiles corps across the Imperium will often be one of many kinds of organizations tasked with enforcing quarantines with crippling force and lethal violence. They may likewise find themselves drafted for riot control duty, should tumult threaten to overwhelm various policiary forces, gendarmes and both regular and irregular military units. As Chief Pyrophant Herostratus expressed, when his firemen lined up to assist the Adeptus Arbites during the Milo revolt:

“The embers of heresy, of rebellion, and of hope shall all meet the same fate - stamped out beneath a nomex-clad boot.”

Alternatively, as one widespread Imperial proverb has it: A horse never deserves to die, but sometimes a man does.

Speaking of riot control, a great many firefighting companies within the Imperium will carry flamers as part of their standard equipment. Officially, these flamers can be used to burn any unsanctioned writings that are discovered, or indeed torch miscreants and heretics on the spot, for the thin red line of warriors against fire may act as enforcers of law and order during patrols. These flamers are also handy tools for staging training exercises, or controlling the fire-security of newly constructed buildings that are supposed to be flame-proof. Unofficially, some unscrupulous firemen of commercial calling will occasionally use these flamers to create profitable work for themselves by secretly igniting flammable buildings, thus necessitating the call for them in an emergency. Alternatively, underhanded payments to orphans and crims may occur, akin to guttersnipes stoning windows to pocket bribes from windowsellers. Nonetheless, even amid all the dysfunctional depravity that characterize mankind in the Age of Imperium, most firefighters are still essentially heroic characters, fulfilling a direly needed security service for their decrepit communities, guarding them against the constant hazard of devouring flame and suffocating smoke.

Cutting firebreaks remain a popular method of hindering the spread of conflagrations all across the God-Emperor’s sacred domains. Some may question your right to tear down a row of hovels. The wise understand you have no right to let them stand. Hooks and chains will be used to make firebreaks by pulling down walls of burning buildings to keep the fire from spreading, while swabs may be used to extinguish embers on roofs. One ordinary way for crassii to stop great fires consist of blasting firebreaks straight through slum favelas, holesteads, filthy huts and mutie hideouts by means of explosive charges. Collateral casualties are always acceptable in such urban dens of overpopulation, wretchedness and disease. Expunge the blasphemy of flame unbound!

As mankind’s Age of Imperium has unfolded in sclerotic agony, electrical fires have multiplied drastically. Increasingly, insulation layers fail, and lay techmen make ever more numerous and worse mistakes as their grasp of handed-down lore shrinks into worsening superstition. Likewise, Imperial industry is churning out ever more shoddy electronics, especially so for consumer commodities, many of which are fire hazards straight off the production line. No wonder trusty old relics are so highly treasured when newer products fail so often. Not only will faulty lumens and clumsy pict-screens seem to spontaneously combust by inept design, for in the sea of ignorance and foolish house-tricks that characterize technical proficiency among Imperial subjects will be found a myriad manifestations of idiocy. One such common little phenomenon, out of fifty thousand other suicidal ploys, is to slot scrip coins into fuse holders, thereby bypassing the safety device and granting more juice until the whole place bursts into flame.

Such mundane fires are part of everyday life in Imperial settlements from end to end in the Milky Way galaxy. Yet the increasingly flammable nature of human hab nests and industries provide some advantages for Imperial overlords. Great fires, as a rule, will often attract a large audience of spectators, for truly it is a public attraction to see dwellings, infrastructure and unlucky humans go up in smoke. Loss of work hours is offset by the entertainment thus provided, which has a positive effect on public order and functions as a safety valve. Thus, Imperial governance has long since learnt to let the multitude flock to witness conflagrations, and not interfere unduly when vendors of cheap refreshments conduct a roaring trade while much joy and excitement is had off the tragedies of others. Indeed, some drunks, sadists or sectarian fanatics with a particularly unforgiving creed on misfortunes being the Celestial Imperator’s rightful punishment upon the wicked, may even add to the spectacle by throwing back escaping men, women and children into the blazes, to the laughter, chanting and din of applause and catcalls from the crowd of onlookers.

Such scenes of horror are no random accidents, for they stand as a testament to how thoroughly the Imperium of the High Lords have managed to permeate countless human cultures across the galaxy. Basically, it all stems from a fundamental embrace of hardship and suffering. The Imperium has long chosen to acknowledge the cruelty of this universe, and advocates becoming one with it in order for mankind as a whole to survive and thrive in this vale of tears. Strength allows for no mercy.

Our being so hard. Our willingness to torture and throw you in labour camp. Our willingness to invade and slaughter. Whatever we are doing, is a sign that we understand how hard the world and life is, and that we embrace that. Tyrannical regimes are wrapped up in the idea that prosperous and loose regimes make for soft, weak people. We, the faithful worshippers of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, have embraced the harshness of life, and the truth of what it means to be alive. Evil is just what is possible. Thus the Imperium of Man is overtly horrible, and proud of it. It has a narrow view of what humanity should be, and has proven itself so incompetently evil as to become repulsive to anyone willing to view the Imperium without blinkers.

To serve as a fireman in the Age of Imperium is to be subject to an incomprehensible structure of collegiate departments and regulations, all working through a bewildering array of agreements, contracts and bonds of hereditary vassalage. One constant trouble tend to be contracts with the local Water Guild. Add to this a confusing variety of specialist teams, overseeing commissions and organizational bodies that you are usually better off ignoring, for the sake of your sanity. On top of that there is an inflammatory degree of factionalism and rivalries between both competing companies and units within the same corporation. Ambushes and assassinations are not unheard of. Sometimes the heated intraservice rivalry will draw the terrible attention of the Adeptus Arbites or even His Divine Majesty’s Holy Inquisition, yet such traditional animosities can never truly be stamped out. Such friction will sometimes smooth out on scene, since fire does not care. Yet many other times, the conflagration will provide a backdrop for a street brawl or corridor shootout when wills collide and prestige is on the line in a showcase of human pettiness in power.

Pyrovigiles all across the Imperium are notoriously prone to stick to old formulas and adopt temporary solutions as the new standard operating procedure. Thus brief deviations from former procedures due to lack of personnel or malfunctioning equipment will ossify, until soon it is the only way that anyone knows how to do anything.

Such rigidity of thought and action when impromptu stopgap solutions are introduced is mirrored in the firefighters’ homebrew maintenance and repair of equipment. Vehicles and pumps alike turn into patches and bypasses atop patches and bypasses, their machine spirits developing grumpy personalities and requiring elaborate, complex rituals to start, to the point of sometimes only working for that one crusty old fireman who has worked the thing since he was twelve. Indeed, many fire engines in the Imperium will be driven by old servicefolk who have been hardwired into the vehicle akin to a servitor, yet usually without the lobotomy, since their particular sentient knowledge of their specific engine is what keeps their value as a human asset maintained high enough to keep them employed even at such high age.

Firefighting corps across His astral dominion likewise tend to be dynastic in nature, with leading positions and assistant roles being filled by husbands and wives, fathers and sons, and so on. It goes without saying that strategic marriage, and in some cultures adoption as an adult, remains the best career path for any ambitious ladderman or engineman. In many ways, organizations of crassii and pyrovigiles represent microcosms of parochial and nepotistic human cultures under Imperial rule.

Likewise, tamers of inferno are inherently superstitious. Pyrovigiles will never complain about a lack of missions, and many organizations sport arcane beliefs, which will result in corporal punishment for merely saying the words ‘quiet’ or ‘silence.’ Yet the physical penalties and loss of rations will pale in comparison to the social ostracism and tongue-lashing harangues from their kinsfolk and comrades. Such verbal abuse may in rare cases stray into outright human sacrifice, as overworked and undermanned brigades turn to the Changer of Ways in unholy rituals of bloodletting, in order to ask the Dark God to bend probabilities for them to gain just a few hours to restore their gear and finally get some sleep.

In some human cultures, firefighters will carry thickly quilted coats to protect against the flames, whose insides are decorated with elaborate scenes of strength and heroism drawn from local legends and Imperial mythology alike. After a conflagration has been succesfully defeated, these daring warriors against fire will turn their coats inside-out and display the magical symbols they so identify with, and that protected them in mortal danger. Such peculiar firemen’s coats are known by many names, such as the hikeshi banten of Ashigaru Secundus, or the tunica pyrobella of the Pannonian voidholm cluster.

Akin to many storied organizations under Imperial rule, fireman corps tend to sport elaborate rituals surrounding the death of celebrated members. Crania will often be pulled from deceased firefighters of note, to enable these respected veterans to continue their duties as honoured servo-skulls. Even in death they still spray.

One common aspect of Imperial firefighting is the fierce pride found amongst fireman companies. The vast majority of all anti-fire collegia eventually develops a mindset where the people that you were originally supposed to protect, instead seems like impediments to your work. This disdain for people is only fuelled by emergency calls caused by trivial stupidity, such as bush fires and public witch pyre spectacles during burn bans in dry periods. As a pyrovigiles, you will get exposed to unfathomable depths of human foolishnes and weakness, and you will see a lot of people at the worst moments of their lives. No wonder so many fireman cartels across Imperial space has decided to abandon the saving of lower caste life in order to focus solely on the saving of property from hungry flames.

A widespread tradition found among pyrovigiles corporations is that of the recurring settlement parade, where each of the local firefighting corps will march down the main street or central plaza. During such festive occasions, the crassii will don lavish helmets and uniforms, carry fancy fire axes and all manner of symbolic equipment and trinkets, decorated by artists and brigade members alike. Their chief officers will often lead the procession with engraved speaking trumpets or vox-amplifiers made out of precious metals, shouting insults at rival units and chanting fireman litanies together with their subordinates.

Such public celebrations help to cement a strong esprit de corps among firefighters. Most pyrovigiles companies will display a sense of shared brotherhood to rival that of any military unit. How could it be otherwise, when they depend on each other to keep their backs safe as they rush into the gates of hell on earth? How could these enemies of the flame not feel like a part of something greater than themselves, when they bounce around the backs of trucks for hours on end during night or lightsout, guided by the lumens of a dozen other vehicles?

Their experiences are certainly often akin to those of adventurers. For instance, most crustbound crassii prefer to fight fire on hot summer days rather than in the dead of winter, where such seasonal variations rule the roost. Freezing temperatures are brutal on both equipment and bodies, and some missions will require the firefighters to stay exposed to the elements on scene for half a Terran day or more. Most firemen learn to bring cold weather bags with a dry change of clothes, warmers for gloves and boots, and a plastic sack to stuff away wet garb inside. In cold regions it is common for pyrovigiles to have a layer of ice built up on them, which has the beneficient effect of being windproof. Wise pyrovigiles will avoid thawing out such ice covers until they are ready to head back to their base-station. Naturally, a great many freezing firesoldiers across the Imperium of Man will inhale poisonous fumes when they stand at engine exhausts to keep warm, but such vile toxification is a given universal fact of life in His blessed domains, and not something Imperial subjects take much notice of.

Imagine, for a while, what travails and sights will greet the brave conquerors of runaway sparks. Put yourselves in the boots of the scrawny juve who crawls into his first structure fire, seeing flames billowing over his head. Envision how steam and smoke must irritate and obscure your eyes as a fire starts to get away from you, because you had to get to that particular blazing scene immediately and could not spare even a moment to grab your helmet and equipment. Envisage how reflective livery vests will melt on you because you sit too close to the truck’s pump exhaust, since the vehicle had too many people riding on it as per usual. See before your mind’s eye how rural pyrovigiles will become surrounded by trees and other large flora bursting into flames like giant torches during drought-fuelled grass fire. And think of how urban or shipbound smokedivers must often balance on catwalks without railings, and squeeze their way through claustrophobic ducts during dangerous rescuing operations, since so many structures across the Imperium are built like veritable rats’ nests, as if future man does not value himself more than lowly vermin.

Picture the tense atmosphere around an armed pyrovigiles being called upon to assist the local phylakitai law enforcement corps with traffic control guard duty around a crime scene, shortly after an unknown gunman shot a PDF trooper dead, while the firewoman hopes that the killer does not come charging out from cover to shoot her too. Conceive of the hellish conflagrations that can spread quickly through closely packed wharves loaded with flammable goods. Or more infuriatingly, ideate the catastrophic fire consuming a whole row of warehouses, because the plasteel fire doors which separated many of the storage rooms had been lazily left open, since almost everywhere in the Imperium is plagued by lousy fire prevention practices, even when means exist to do better. Imagine, if you will, being a firecombatant in the Phoenix Brigade on Songhai Ultima, being called out to stomp around a field at night because it was too soft to carry your unit’s wheel-borne vehicles, grinding embers into the mud with all the grim ruthlessness of an Inquisitor stomping out heresy.

Heresy, indeed, ought to be punished by cleansing flames, the better to burn away sin and deviancy. On that point most Imperial subjects would agree, and none more so than pyrophiliac sects such as the Cult of Redemption. Redemptionists and similar extreme fanatics are by their very nature frequent firestarters, a fact which inevitably has led to persistent conflict between firefighting companes and these passionate zealots devoted to absolution. Many organizations of firemen will have deeply rooted traditional beliefs of their own, and a fair number will deploy brigade priests or bring along holy men akin to sacred mascots and lucky charms. The creed of the fervent pyrovigiles does not suffer the arsonist to live, for the igniter and the pyromaniac shall be extinguished in holy water.

And so a never-ending feud continues to play itself out across hundreds of thousands of planets and uncountable voidholms. For the most widespread traditional crassii means to deal with captured Redemptionist asonists, is to ritually drown them, and then string up their corpses for public display. Conversely, Redemptionists will repay the favour whenever they capture meddling firefighters who disrupt their righteous cleansing and just pogroms, by burning them alive to the accompaniment of much chanting. Embrace the flames of our doom! After all, to these cultists, the fires have been sent by the wroth God-Emperor in order to purify wayward sinners, and thus whosoever seeks to douse this instrument of His divine justice must himself burn for his unforgivable crime against the Golden Throne of hallowed myth.

Crass business methods aside, pyrovigiles will often act as saviours, whether they come in the form of the bucket brigade or flying corpsmen with the most marvellous equipment that antique technoarcana can summon. These heroes with grimy faces will cut into their work with glowing energy, dragging hoses and raising axes. Fear denies faith, they will shout, as they stride into the flames in a halo of spray and steam. There, at the edge of hell, they will drag out half lifeless bodies of humans crushed under burning rubble, and step over the corpses of people suffocated by the dark breathe of fire. These brave men, women and juves will wade through the cinders of scorched ruins in a blaze of glory, protecting His physical realm from rampant fire.

Yet such stalwart protection is not free. Firemen in the Age of Imperium are well known to save lives and to rob owners of their property via legal contracts signed under maximum duress. Thus we see that a garbled echo of that ancient myth play out again and again, in a tale of theft and flames. No smoke without fire. From a greater point of view, the retardation of firefighting forces into little more but disjointed organizations for profit constitute a development of human interstellar civilization about as wise as pouring a bucket of water on an electrical fire. It may be painful to watch, but know that the Imperial Creed does teach us that pain is weakness leaving the body.

The Imperium of Man is stuck in a tangle of pathologies, as dysfunctional as they come, causing man to forsake mercy, volunteer benevolence and civic obligations for an infernal morass of suspicions and self-serving cruelty. Corruption has rotted out major parts of the Emperor’s vast realm, under a swarm of mediocre sovereigns who continues to undermine human power in the Milky Way galaxy for the sake of shortsighted paranoia. It is all nightmare fuel.

And so, countless subjects of His Divine Majesty will include a line in their daily prayers, for the God-Emperor of Holy Terra to preserve them and their kinsfolk from the hidden embers, the hungry flame, the flare of plasma and the sudden fire. They have all seen too many neighbours and relatives fall for flame and smoke, and many of them bear burn marks that will never fully heal. All souls call out for salvation, for the blazes of the material world is but a foretaste of the roaring hellfire that awaits all sinners. Thus we must all prove our penitence by lashes and fasting. Repent of your thought of self! Repent of your wicked sins! Repent! Repent or burn!

Such are the pious mantras on a hundred billion lips, across a million worlds and voidholms beyond number. Such are the guiding words of the far future, spoken by the true fanatic. This flagellating zealot, known as man, was once the master of the cosmos, mortal and supreme in his craft and knowledge. Secrets he knew, the lore of science uncovering the very fabric of creation itself, while arcologies rose like towers of paradise on millions of worlds. Technology he fashioned, with machines making machines in ever more cunning ways, as man surfed the stars and explored the cosmos with bold curiosity. This edenic idyll was once everyday life for humanity during a bygone era of gold and splendour, when man bestrode the universe like a titan.

The very same man is now reduced to a hunkered wretch, as parochial and ignorant as he is myopically aggressive. Underfed and ravaged by disease and alien parasites, man has built for himself shanties and huts, in a grand edifice amounting to nothing short of hell on earth, and all the glorious promises of his mind has he forsaken, as his hands lose ever more grasp of the salvaged relics that remain from former times. From better times. Ultimately, this is all a dead end for human development across the Milky Way galaxy. Such is the Age of Imperium.

For all is decay in this decrepit galactic civilization, as our species has wasted ten thousand precious years by treading water just to keep its head above the surface, gulping for air in desperation. Thus all is well in the cosmic domains of the God-Emperor of Mankind.

Such is the depraved state of humanity, in a time beyond hope.

Such is our species, at the brink of doom.

Such is the fate that awaits us all.

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

Drawn and written for CrusaderApe.



In the grim darkness of the far future, man finds himself damned for missing a sign.

It is said that the road to golden paradise is well signposted, but it is badly lit at night.

Amid the soulcrushing misery that characterizes life for most people in the dour Age of Imperium, humour still infests the blessed star realm of the celestial Imperator like weeds in a regimented agridome. In a great many local cultures across the Milky Way galaxy, humans in the Age of Imperium have developed a taste for dark humour. After all, if one cannot laugh at the misery, then all one is left with, is to cry over it.

Outside the officious signs put up by Imperial and local authorities, there may be found a great many witty and clever warning signs put up in human societies across hundreds of thousands of worlds and uncountable voidholms. Many signs consists of simple pictures, not only for the sake of clarity, but also because illiteracy is rife across vast swathes of the Holy Terran domains.

An ancient proverb from the misty Age of Terra has it, that a regular path has no signpost.

Due to a massive population and far too few law enforcers, many Imperial worlds and voidholms have developed a culture of intimidating warning signs. Warning people without being stiff is much easier for people to accept, and engages thinking in a way that stale warning signs cannot do. In many cultures, such signs are not standard fare, but they make up a persistent minority of signs, and tend to turn heads when spotted. In other human cultures, such signs have become the prevailing standard, with wits competing to bring out the most memorable warning signs. The worse ones are blunt, without much in the way of thought-provoking humour, such as “Intruders will be brutally eaten by dogs” or “Stay off the grass or you will be beaten.” Yet the best of these warning signs have a touch of class, humour and intellectual grit, all rolled together.

Here are some few of these written signs of the fortyfirst millennium.

- - -

“No fights in the elevator. The wires are close to snapping.”

Sign outside an Administratum building: “No parking at the gate. Violating tires will be deflated along with the driver.”

Construction site sign: “My dear workers: When you are out working, pay attention to safety. If you have an accident, some other man will sleep with your wife, beat your kids, and spend your widow’s death grant! Work safely, for your own sake.”

Neighbourhood militia sign: “Attention all thieves! Once captured, you will be beaten bloody all the way from the front-alley to the back-alley. This alley is 786 meters long.”

No smoking sign at promethium station: “We fully understand that your life is worthless, but fuel is really expensive.”

“Do not step inside. The dog is psyched like a warchild.”

“Grass: Today you step on my head, next year I will grow on your grave.”

“Do not defecate here. Offenders shall be beaten into their own waste by a mob.”

Road sign: “Please drive safely, there is no medicae nearby.”

“Do not stand about here. Even if you are not hit someone else will be.”

“Stand in line. Do not revolt against vapid conformity enforced by fear.”

“Do not fight: Winner goes to prison, loser goes to medicae ward.”

“Warning: If found here by night you will be found here in the morning.”

Sign at the foot of a canyon infamous for being dangerous to drive through: “Many truckloads of families have passed here on their way to their seasonal labour. Few came back.”

“Bribe attempts lower than 17 Crowns will be reported to the Urban Enforcers.”

“Do not speed. Corpse Guilders have returned to their homedistricts.”

“No railings. Fear denies faith.”

“Do not try it. You are a lot more bluff than you are tough.”

“Due to recent errors at the manufactorum, our las-packs no longer have the required charge for warning shots.”

Warning sign for a suicide spot: “Have you wiped your cogitator memory banks?”

“Please do not throw garbage. Avoid a serious flogging.”

“It is far better to listen to the bowstring that broke than to never string a bow. Trespass here and we will enjoy listening to the breaking of you.”

“Do not watch out for falling objects. The corpse pay is worth the trouble of carrying your remains out the back gate.”

“Drive safe or die alone.”

“Attention ledge jumpers: We will fine the clan of every corpse found on this property. Electroshock collars for kin-groups unable to pay have been stockpiled. Will they look good on your spouse, kids and parents?”

“Unlike many others, the above sign does not lie.”

“Step carefully, noble one, or your attendant thralls will have to scoop up your remains.”

“Here sits a relic of our immortal Emperor. Aspiring thieves will meet the God Himself.”

“Please break in. We do not feed the crocohounds.”

“Mr Credit is dead so do not ask for him.”

“Step silently in the corridor. The gun servitor has no mercy inhibitors.”

“Gangleader Krzychustach Throatbiter was here. He disappeared. Will you?”


“Aspiring thieves will meet the god himself”
…I love it!
Here in Thailand there’s a somewhat similar saying:
“Talk to a priest, and die a thousand deaths”


@Fuggit_Khan : That is a lovely saying, thanks a lot for sharing that gem!

Scrip In Fuse Box 01

Scrip In Fuse Box

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is scorched by his own captive lightning.

Most forms of mundane technological hardware during the Dark Age of Technology was characterized by multilayered safety features. Long experience with the unexpected cascade effects of natural disasters and human blunders had taught the tinkering minds of that shining aeon how best to build away lurking dangers in machinery, and how best to counteract bloody-minded stupidity by material design and education alike. Mankind as a whole during that age was greedy for knowledge and willing to watch and learn, and the best and the brightest of our species reached out for the stars and inifinity itself in toiling displays of ingenuity. Man crafted great wonders and colonized more than twain million worlds in his unbounded spirit of enterprise, and as man excelled on a grand scale, so he likewise proved brilliant with tiny details.

Thus the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron would not only venture boldly into the unknown and explore the cosmos with unmatched daring and cunning, for ancient man would also fashion his humble everyday surroundings into elegant vistas of marvellous artifice and an idyllic level of safety in life that stood at odds with the unlocked forces of nature which man had tamed. Risk is inherent to everything in creation, yet ancient man in his hubris sought to turn the world of mortals into a godless paradise bereft of death, aging and suffering, and ever more did man do away with slices of travail, for man swore by the limitless potential of his own wit and masterful hands. And at the peak of arrogance did ancient man deny divinity itself, and he concluded that if any gods existed, then man’s worldly might was far superior.

For the sake of such heinous sins was ancient man punished and nigh-on scoured from the stars in heaven. And Dark Ones of Hell arose from beyond the fabric of reality, and they lashed the golden realm of man with barbed whips of machine revolt, Warp storms and a plague of witches, mutants and Daemons that tore the era of greatness and hubris asunder. Rogue machine crushed its unbelieving master underheel as Abominable Intelligence ran amok, and brother slew brother while sister ate sister in a frenzied freefall into the stark pits of depravity. Cannibalism, loss of knowledge and the collapse of civilization reigned supreme as the false promises of the Dark Age of Technology were swept away by Old Night, and for millennia upon millennia of horror and hunger was man reduced to an ignorant wretch who scavenged and fought his own kin among the ruins of ancient titans. Raw desperation drove man to abominable acts amid the hardship, and the descendants of gifted ancients tore their mute inheritance apart in a carnival of wanton destruction and Chaos. Alien preyed upon man in his epoch of weakness, and all was fell.

Then, a saviour arose from the cradle of mankind, and His strong Legions conquered first the homeworld of our species, and then much of the galaxy in a furor of bloodshed. The banner of lightning was raised on planet and voidholm alike, and the promises of restoration of human intergalactic civilization echoed from end to end of the Milky Way galaxy with energetic hope. Yet as the Emperor fell to base human treachery in the skies above Terra, the dream of a better future died, and man was forever cursed to wander this vale of woe in torment and humilitation. For his unforgivable sins, man would face suffering aplenty, and hardship neverending.

And should not thorns prick man’s skin for his abominable betrayal of the celestial Imperator? Should not serpents bite man’s heels for his baleful deeds? Should not hunger and thirst claw at man’s insides for his inherited crime? Should not sparks incinerate man’s flesh for his ancestral hubris? Is it not right that man should buckle under his burdens? Is it not proper that man’s bones should break under his loads? Is it not just that man’s body shall be harrowed and scourged in every way imaginable?

Aye. The God-Emperor wills it! Our mortal coil is nothing but a trial to be overcome, the outcome of which shall decide the fate of our eternal souls. Reject selfish thoughts of comfort and safety! Only through renunciation of the self can our spiritual essence remain pure.

And so the slow demechanization and retardation of human technology during the Age of Imperium has ground on without much alarm among the masses, and indeed even most of the leaders of the Imperium do not ken the spiralling primitivization of human tech as a grave threat. The ongoing shrinking utility of everyday technology can be witnessed by anyone on a million worlds and innumerable voidholms, where olden systems will invariably prove superior to the increasing shoddiness and cheapness of newly crafted things. And yet the irrefutable slide into atavistic regression on every level does not terribly bother the degenerate descendants of the brilliant ancients, for the ongoing loss of knowledge means that they have already nigh-on lost everything, and they do not even know what it is that they have lost.

One such little phenomenon of technological etiolation and dysfunctional use can be glimpsed in the extremely widespread trick most commonly known as slotting scrip into the fuse box.

The simple fuse, preventor of flames, is a rudimentary invention dating back to the misty past of the Age of Terra. Long since replaced by better wares and more clever designs during those bygone aeons when man proved creative with tech, the sacrificial design of the fuse has nonetheless lingered as part of the collective corpus of human knowledge. Most fuse designs found throughout the Imperium of Man can be dated back to crude Standard Template Construct patterns, designed to be cheap and simple to make in times of great need. As with so many temporary stopgap measures and primitive emergency craft, the fuse has long since become a permanently employed, and increasingly common component in electrical systems throughout the Imperium of Holy Terra.

A sinspeech whisper joke found across the Agripinaa Sector makes fun of the stopping ability of this overcurrent protector:

Q: Why is a fuse better than a vizier?
A: It speaks truth to power.

The fuse provides automatic removal of power from a circuit by passing it through a thin internal conductor. When the current flow grows too strong, the heat generated by the electricity will melt the conductor and cut power in the system. This prevents fire, and necessitates replacement of the burntout fuse. A plethora of other tech-items can carry out the same passive function as the fuse does, but in a more practical manner, yet over the span of fivehundred generations of gradual deterioration of human knowledge and production capability, even such simple safety devices as circuit breakers have started to grow rare across the decrepit Imperium of Man. As such, the fuse nowadays predominate on most Imperial worlds and voidholms for household systems, and it will likewise be common for more important systems than those made for filthy consumers, including in electrical systems of Imperial industry and Astra Militarum hardware.

The simplicity of the humble fuse for overcurrent protection is also its main drawback. When a fuse blows in a faulty system, the power goes out. The dark lack of juice will send people racing to the distribution panel to replace the burnt fuse. If they can find no new fuses of the right kind on hand, many humans will tend to cheat if possible just to get the electricity back up and running. Especially if the barking of taskmasters and slavedrivers calls for a speedy fix. As such, all manner of hack work can be found where people have sought to bypass the fuse. History teaches us that many humans are clever enough to bypass safety features, but not wise enough to understand their function. And a surprising number of people will prove dumb enough to cheat with electrical current rather than taking the trouble and expense of acquiring a new fuse of the right rating, even when desperation does not factor into the broken equation. As knowledge and understanding of technology among humans has worn thin across His Divine Majesty’s astral domains, even lay techmen such as Guild electricians with some practical schooling will often resort to quick hacks for the sake of laziness, stress or bottomless ignorance.

The most common handyman’s trick is to replace the blown fuse with any kind of metal bits that happen to fit, with no thought given to the risk of fire thus incurred, since the current will no longer be limited by the thin conductor of the fuse. One of the most common materials resorted to when replacement fuses are lacking happen to be scrip tokens minted or cast out of metal. Scrip is local token coinage, paid to employees and worthless outside of the stores of company compounds. If various Guild scrip coins and collegia chits can be exchanged at all for other currencies, then it will only be possible at a steeply unfavourable exchange rate, since scrip is part of a cunning trap for making employed people into indentured servants and debt-ridden serfs bound to their compound for generations to come. This bonded trickster wage can be paid in all manner of tokens, including digital numbers on a cogitator, seashells, plastic chips, bone knuckles, paper notes or metallic pieces of scrip. In locations where metallic scrip coins exist, low denominations of scrip can always be found slotted into fuse boxes, where they do not belong.

A popular tale told around the fireside or heater across hundreds of thousands of planets and voidholms goes roughly as follows, although the details and names will differ from locality to locality: A cunning home-fixer runs into ever worse trouble with machinery on his workplace, which he solves by ignoring the rites of maintenance and coming up with a series of ever more fantastical hack solutions, some of which involves electricity. Soon, the machinery seems to perform better than ever before, and his colleagues hail him as touched by the very Machine God that rules all technology. Yet at last the seeming miracle proved a bag of empty promises, and a cascade of machine failures sees the home-fixer spectacularly beheaded, minced and burned along with not only the machinery he tended to, but the entire manufactorum he was working in. Such is the vengeance of wronged machine spirits. Take heed, and skip not the proper rites and litanies!

Even so, the warning in the saga will often fall on deaf ears, for surely such issues only befall others and not oneself? Such is the folly of man. Those who would offend against the machine spirit via the bypassing of safety measures are legion, and the record of human history is in part a list of unheeded warning tales. Pennypinching stupidity will often make people throw safety out the window and bypass all safeguards by harebrained fixes. Cheer for the fool who saves the hour by putting a scrip coin into the fuse box, and cheer for the resultant fires as claustrophobic buildings burn down and turn living, breathing people into charred husks. How many loved ones have perished for the sake of a juice homefix? Their numbers surely climb into the billions across the vast Imperium of Man. Ultimately, you can make something proof against mundane stupidity, but not against bloody stupidity.

And so, in countless settlements across His cosmic dominion, lowly Imperial subjects will include a line in their daily prayers, asking the Enthroned One to preserve them from the juice fire, and to protect them against the melted wire, the hidden lightning and the sudden arc of death. Such fervent prayers will they mouth, yet in their ignorance they will nevertheless contribute to the festering perils of their everyday surroundings, as copper scrip and other small objects that will conduct electricity are slotted into fuse holders all across the Imperium of Man, in defiance of flame. This is but one suicidal ploy out of thousands of others in the morass of ineptitude that man has become mired in, on top of which should be mentioned ever worsening electronics, where consumer commodities in particular increasingly prove to be blatant fire hazards straight off the production line.

Thus man has degenerated to a wretched scavenger in the Age of Imperium, living off the vanishing gifts of a lost golden age, using tools which he has no understanding of.

Such is the proficiency of man, in a forsaken time.

Such is the bliss of ignorance, at the edge of doom.

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

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


Warning Sign

Take heed! What follows is a short collection of varied warning signs found throughout the cosmic domains of Our Lord the God-Emperor Himself.

In each their own way, these mute objects stand as witnesses to the internal rot evident in the Imperium of Man, last strong shield of our species and insane gravedigger of human intergalactic civilization.

In each their own way, these everyday signs speak of the morass of misery and despair that awaits us all, at the precipice of doom.

In each their own way, these humble things are a testament to the depths of depravity that man has plunged into, in the darkest of futures.

- - -

Traffic sign at a sharp curve: “Brake or be broken.”

“If you can read this you are in range.”

“The wage of negligence is utter destruction! Slapdash wastrels fit to be purged: Beware that your offspring, spouses, parents and first-cousins will be shipped to the workhouse.”

“The Imperium will not cover your failings by using railings.”

“Trespasser: You have come here to stay.”

“Your finger in the roller and a slinger with your molar.”

“Do not listen to the lies of your body. A heart about to give up is nought but false sinthought. If a job is worth doing it is worth dying for!”

“No falling into vats! Your flesh would foul the chym.”

“Anyone making an imprint into the wet rockrete will be tossed into the next load as filler.”

“Faulty goggles. Fear not: Obedience is blind.”

“Work earns salvation. Want to know how to damn your immortal soul?”

“Our gun servitors are top of the line, intrude here to verify.”

“Know your duty or know your end.”

“If the ration queue extends this far, you will die from starvation before you get yours.”

“Minefield ahead! Also: Minefield behind you.”

“Remember to pray! Medicae ward permanently closed.”

“Heresy grows from idleness. Thus, idlers will be burnt for heretics.”

“What is in the food? Do not ask questions you do not want to know the answer of.”

Sign outside a PDF elite training compound: “For a warrior the only crime is cowardice. Shooting vagabonds for sport is no crime.”

“Reject thoughts of self! Climb with your burdens without hesitation. The punishment for falling is worse than the crippling crash itself.”

“Please anoint the machine as per regulation. Lack of sacred oil will be substituted with you.”

“Those who demand safety regulations fail to understand their own insignificance.”

“Ask the Imperator to bless the ration bar! It might be kinsfolk.”

Sign outside a Mechanicus shrine: “Warning, to avoid injury do not tell us how to do our job.”

“No protective gear in stock. Faith is your shield.”

“Failed suicide attemptors will be tortured and abacinated, then servitorized.”

“Urinators will be captured by pict and displayed on public screens.”

“Duty prevails. Meet your quotas. Or else.”

“Endure! Question not.”

“Complaints forbidden: He who breaks his back in toil best serves the Emperor.”

“Your call: Labour long or live short.”

Sign outside historitor section: “Our presence remakes the past. The entire clan of trespassers will be censored.”

“Fear not the touch of acid. Pain is an illusion.”

“Perseverance and silence are the highest of virtues. Chatterboxes and slackers will be aided to attain them through servitorization.”

Sign outside a highly toxic manufactorum hall: “Serve the Emperor today. Tomorrow you will be dead.”

“It is a greater sin to keep silent toward authority than to report on your own kinsfolk. It is a greater loss to lose your entire clan than it is to lose one clanmember.”

Sign in a corpse starch factory: “Saftey first or first meal.”

“Do not recoil. You are standing with your back to a precipice.”

“Slackers will be thrown into the corpse grinder. Only the industrious may escape death.”

“Are you there yet?”

“Safety is the refuge of cowards. Dangerous working conditions keep the wit of serfs sharp and weed out those unfit for work.”

Sign outside a latifundia plantation: “Intruders will find our servitors can harvest more than grain.”

Space Wolf Outpost sign: “Trespassers will be forced into a drinking contest with the nearest Space Wolf. Their kin will be forced to cover the cleaning fine.”

Sign before a mountain road: “Slow down, to fly in a land vehicle is witchcraft. Witchcraft is heresy.”

Sign outside a corpse starch factory: “Intruders will discover our secret recipe.”

Manufactorum warning sign: “If you are taller than this line, you won’t be.”

Sign outside Planetary Defence Force training ground: “Defence force in need of new targets! Jump this fence to volunteer.”

“No railings. The Emperor shall be the judge of who falls.”

A notice posted above the door of an Adeptus Ministorum almshouse in the Mercy district of Hive Ravachol: "To any would-be rioters who think of complaining in line about the unusually low quality and quantity of our discount soylens viridians rations, we lay brothers of the Ecclesiarchy bid ye sinners remember what punishment Saint Sanguinus decreed to the captured men of the MCMV Potemkin Regiment of Imperialis Auxilia during the First Maggoty-Grox Mutiny of the First Pacificus Campaign of the Great Crusade:
'Because ye multiplied more than the mutineers of the regiments that are round about you, and have not walked in my statutes, neither have you kept to my orders, neither have you done according to the judgments of the discipline masters and iterators that are round about you;
Therefore thus saith the Primarch; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the Blood Angels.
And I will do in thee that which I have not done, and whereunto I will not do any more the like, because of all thine abominations.
Therefore Manus’ Iron Fathers shall eat thy sons in the midst of thee, and the Emperor’s Sons shall eat their fathers.’"

Cadian steet sign: “Unattended children will be drafted and taught to shoot.”

Sign on grox cages: “Mating season. Enter at your own peril.”

Sign hung around the neck of nuclear techman: “If you see me running, then it is already too late.”

“Please break in and admire our servitors, for you may soon join them.”

Voidsmen safety poster: “Check your helmets or you will get your breath taken away.”

Sign outside a ganger den: “Beat it or we will beat you.”

Nearly half the signpost texts above were written by the following witty enthusiasts on various websites: JAB, CommissarCardsharp, SE-Roger, Jbressel1, Uxion, GlassesGuy95, CrusaderApe, jediben001, WREN_PL & killjoySG. Thanks for a good community response to the previous Signpost piece.



In the grim darkness of the far future, man is cast into heaven.

One of the most fanciful dreams of primeval man was the ability to fly. Myths told around sparkling firesides spoke of winged deities, of gods riding chariots across the skyvault and of mortal men building fragile wings for themselves, only to succumb to hubris and crash as they flew too close to the sun. Such were the winged tales from the misty past of ancient Terra, when man looked up on gracious birds in free flight and imagined that divinity itself must have similar wings.

In the fullness of time, cunning minds, able hands and brave hearts granted man his wish to fly. Thus the Age of Terra saw pioneers, saviours and warriors alike zoom through the atmosphere, even as their cousins broke through the confines of Earth’s skyvault and broke through into nothingness to explore and settle the vast cosmos. Eventually, the stars came within reach, and the Milky Way was man’s oyster.

The Dark Age of Technology saw the marvels of the Age of Terra surpassed a thousandfold, as the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron strode across the galaxy like titans. In those days, man was bold and brilliant, and machine assisted him in his discoveries and great labours, and Abominable Intelligence brought his wildest dreams to life. As ancient man erected paradise for himself, the skies of twain million planets were filled with swift iron eagles as vehicles rejected gravity itself and took to the sky as if it was the most mundane thing in the world.

And the confidence of man soared in tandem with his works, for he erected spires of arrogance on haughty wings. And ancient man built a golden nest upon a pinnacle of hubris, from which he denied divinity itself and swore his own power and knowledge to be far superior to any gods and devils that could ever be harboured by creation. Such godless abominations could not be allowed to stand, and so Dark Ones of Hell punished deviant man by tearing him down from his pedestal, and throwing him into the flames of machine revolt, Warp storms and a scourge of witches and Daemons that burnt the achievements of man to a crisp. And nought but ash remained, blowing in the ruins of toppled paradise.

Old Night followed, as wretched man paid for the sins of the ancients in a living purgatory. The Age of Strife was marked by the collapse of civilization, the loss of knowledge and the complete degeneration of man into internecine wars between inbred cannibal clans who scavenged among the rubble left by their humbled forefathers. And the everyday phenomenon of engine flight shrank to a rarity and wonder, at which the feral rabble could only gape in awe as winged warlords yoked the people and clashed mightily in fury, destroying ever more remnants of ancient works and ingenious lore amid rivers of blood. Thus was landlocked man reduced to running prey, for flying predators to hunt for sport.

The savage horror that rightfully scourged sinful man was brought to an end by brutal Legions of all-conquering warriors, raising the banners of united Mars and Terra high to blow in the wind. A million worlds and voidholms beyond counting were seized in the cruel talons of a double-headed eagle, as the Emperor walked in the flesh and led His golden hosts to legendary victories. The Great Crusade swept across the galaxy and brought many surviving human colonies into the clutches of the early Imperium, and for a time all was well.

For a time, swathes of lost knowledge was recovered. For a time, forgotten ancient marvels were built anew. For a time, man dared to dream and think and create once again, his curious mind soaring like the grav-vehicles that flew between his shining edifices on worlds brought into Compliance. For a time, the clever spark of the brilliant ancients awoke in the crushed soul of man, and a renaissance of hope spurted forth like a fountain as eighteen Legions crushed all alternative sources of human regrowth and bound all of mankind’s destiny to that of the Terran Imperium.

One species. One Imperium. One Imperator.

Yet the strength and prosperity achieved by man during the early Imperium would soon ring hollow, as brother slew brother in a civil war that rent the skies asunder. The galaxy burned. As winged Sanguinius fell and the Emperor was crippled beyond healing, humanity descended into a hellish aeon of suffering and insanity. A slow and ever-worsening death spiral of demechanization and loss of knowledge, hardware and advanced production facilities ensued, as the seeds planted in the fertile ground of the early Imperium sprouted and bore rotten fruit.

In the demented time known as the Age of Imperium, fivehundred generations of humans wasted their efforts in a grinding horror of their own making. Fundamentally and on a biological level, there was nothing wrong with the human species compared to its succesful forebears of yore. The innate potential still lurked inside the hearts and minds of maidens and menfolk, yet the plethora of human cultures ruled by the tyrannical Adeptus Terra had become thoroughly traumatized by so many millennia of vicious brother wars, baleful misery and the most cruel oppression imaginable. Genetically, man was still capable of rising to his potential stature as a titan of the cosmos, knower and builder of wonders. Yet culturally, man had shrunk to become a hunkered wreck, his mind mired in parochial ignorance and a fanaticism so myopically aggressive that it slayed curiosity itself.

This etiolation of human galactic civilization made itself manifest on all levels, in a cavalcade of suffering, starvation, disease, parasitic infection, communal violence and stark horror. Yet most visibly, for those with knowing eyes to see, was the neverending decay of human technology. Each century, more and more knowledge slipped from the grasp of humanity’s brightest minds. Each century, more and more advanced pieces of hardware could no longer be produced, at best only maintained. And each century, the quality of newly produced pieces of tech sunk further into the abysmal depths of dysfunctionality.

This primitivization of human scientific knowledge and technology saw a myriad of wilted expressions; from beasts of burden and human porters taking over work which once strong machines carried out on man’s behest; to once-commonplace hardware produce turning into treasured relics, given due veneration, prayers and incense in the hope that these technotheological marvels of the ancients would not stop working. As the mundane tech that surrounded man turned ever more crude and atavistic, old gemstones of secure achievements began to rattle in the crown of the ancients, for degenerate descendants failed in ever more ways to reproduce the olden templates perfectly. Ever more features turned out dead on arrival, or poorly functioning, and ever more features were dropped in a miserly hunt for cheapness and simplicity, as His star dominion geared itself for total war without end.

One example of this sclerotic state of Imperial industry can be found among those anti-gravitic vehicles that are most commonly known as skimmers. Grav-vehicles generate an anti-gravitational field, allowing them to hover a distance over the ground. Anti-gravitic technology known to man stand as true wonders of the ancients, yet the refined security and workings that once characterized human grav-vehicles have long since been replaced by malfunctions and removal of safety features due to cutbacks and inept technological regression.

The actual lists of dysfunctionalities and debasement of skimmers would cover thick volumes of accumulating issues, for which sacred oil and mechanistic mantras tend to be the favoured solutions. Let us instead turn to a couple of the most eye-catching problems found in Imperial grav-vehicles, which can be described as suddenly sending the skimmer skyhigh beyond the control of its driver.

Like so much else of the golden fruits of humanity’s ingenious ancient era, human anti-gravitic technology has rusted and wilted during the Age of Imperium. Poorly understood and barely mimicked in a decreasing number of production facilities, almost all Imperial skimmers and grav-vehicles sport a hidden defect which may reveal itself upon accidental collision or upon taking a hit from martial firepower. One common trouble, which would once have been countered by several layers of redundant safety features, can be described as the skimmer going out of control. It will not only speed ahead in a capricious direction at the same altitude as before, but may also swoop down and crash into the ground. Even more eye-catching, the out of control skimmer may zoom straight up, only to stall and then crash to the ground.

Even so, grav-vehicles running out of control pale in comparison to the exotic spectacle offered by damage suffered to the running gear of skimmers. Here, the damage may fracture the main gravitic vacuum chamber and send the motor into an uncontrollable anti-gravitic reaction. Grav-vehicles suffering such a gravitic motor malfunction will usually continue forward at the same speed and in the same direction, but constantly rise skyhigh until they are lost in the heavens, and often outer space.

How many Adeptus Astartes Land Speeders and Imperial Jetbikes have not taken a survivable hit to their grav plates, only for the hover system to go haywire and make the vehicles climb to the skies and disappear from the battlefield? How many precious Grav-Attack Tanks have not gone missing on high while nearly all critical systems and crew were still intact and alive? How many wealthy nobles and potentates have not had their skimmer cruise end in disaster as their gilded ride suddenly rush into the stratosphere when the driver happened to bump into a rock or girder during a refreshing slalom swoosh?

Civilian possessors of hover vehicles who have both riches and an understanding of this acute problem will sometimes install respirators, void seals and other systems to improve their chances of survival, should their prestigious grav-vehicle suddenly make a leap for outer space upon taking a modicum of damage or suffering an internal malfunction.

The sounds of a gravitic motor malfunction will vary based on materials used in the grav plates, exact tech patterns involved and the exact tech-issue or damage in question, but many times the noise of crashing skyhigh will be a bass throbb turning into a shrill staccato before ending in a fading whistle. Some Imperial Guardsmen who witnessed a revered skimmer manned by the divine Imperator’s own Angels of Death dive up into the cosmos have described the tragedy as comical, a description which cost them their lives in a most gruesome and tortuous public fashion.

During the Dark Age of Technology, various safeguard mechanisms existed so as to make this disaster rare in the extreme, yet under Imperial safekeeping, grav tech has grown ever more volatile, unreliable and unusual. How could it be otherwise, among so many psychotic, manslaying pyromaniacs?

Man of Gold once set out to build his crafts in defiance of gravity itself, and his might and cunning soared like the winged vessels that bore him across worlds as an everyday occurrence. Now, as the winds taste like smoke and the skies of human worlds have turned rusty red, such anti-gravitic vehicles dwindle ever more in number, and the quality of their make also turn ever more retrograde and crude. Thus, in the deadend of human interstellar civilization known as the Imperium of Man, skimmers and jetbikes may not only smash into the ground, but may shoot straight up and crash skyhigh. Various superstitions surround the sighting of such heinous accidents, including tribesmen wishing for something secret, as if upon a shooting star.

Such is the state of human hover tech in the Age of Imperium. Ken that the God-Emperor Himself bears witness to this degradation of man’s ancient lore and craft, and doubt not that He can sense the endless deprivation, blinkered senility and mounting savagery that has slowly rusted away the grand promise of mankind.

Thus malfunctioning and poorly produced grav tech may turn horizontal drift to sharp vertical lift, as damaged skimmers shoot skyhigh, almost in the manner of rockets, carrying their crew with them into the dark heavens. Thus perish all too many trained personnel with their precious grav-vehicles in the astral domains of Holy Terra, in that fortified madhouse that straddles the stars.

On the Imperium’s watch, human power across the Milky Way galaxy has steadily withered away, shrinking like a desiccated husk. The increasing rarity and shoddiness of anti-gravitic vehicles is but one of many symptoms of a sick interstellar civilization. And its deterioration of sophisticated technology and loss of knowledge march in lockstep with the ever more depraved hardship and brutality that plague the short lives of trillions of Imperial subjects across a million worlds and innumerable voidholms. Here, you will find enough horror to make a heart of stone bleed.

And so the shriek of malfunctioning skimmers scream as one with the hoarse victims of mass torture in public autodafés. Thus the grumbling of lay tech-men unable to repair a treasured relic of technology grind as one with the moaning of parents and orphans starving to death in the gutter, their skin and bones about to be loaded into the ever-hungry corpse grinder. This is the true face of the Age of Imperium, and not its knights in shining armour.

Such is the vale of tears, in which our species is but a sacrificial lamb of sorrow.

Such is the decrepit state of mankind, in a time beyond hope.

Such is the darkness that awaits us all.

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

Thanks to Mad Doc Grotsnik on Dakkadakka for finding the relevant vehicle mishap results from Rogue Trader.

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Grav-Jack 01


In a forsaken aeon of decay and suffering, man finds himself mired.

Marshes and sucking mud has been a scourge of travellers ever since the primal ancestors of man climbed out of trees on Old Earth. Loose and treacherous surfaces have pulled down feet, cartwheels and wholesale beasts, humans and vehicles since before man’s forefathers invented metalworking. No wonder primitive man dwelling in cold climes preferred to travel and conduct trade by sleigh during winter, so as to avoid rough terrain and mud season.

Throughout the distant past of the Age of Terra, nomads, traders, settlers and explorers all endured hardship and stuck wagons out in the field. Yet the starkest examples of the hopeless drudgery of mired vehicles may always be found among armies on campaign. Here, misery and fruitless toil will be on full display among masses of men and draft animals, as wheels cut deep ruts and then grind to a halt in the wet landscape. Among such marching hosts may be glimpsed raw despair as hundreds of people haul and toil to drag along stuck wagons or machines. Spades will dig into mud and ropes will be stretched taut to rescue wains of wood or steel , and sometimes horses and engine crafts assisting in the recovery will themselves run aground, in a parade of filth to drain all hope.

The humble earth beneath man’s feet hold the power to sprout a cornucopia of food, or destroy his dreams and sink the mightiest of warhosts in an uncaring morass. Great wars have swung from triumph to defeat in the muddy bosom of the soil as weather shifts and the wet season of the land eats giant warmachines with a ravenous appetite. What a tragic toolmaker is man! No ingenuity has ever allowed him to craft an iron steed truly immune to betrayal by the ground itself. No fantastic wain wrought by human hand can ever be safe from drowning in the earthen gullet, swallowed like a god’s unwanted offspring.

Thus the bloodied field itself may vanquish undefeated conquerors, for mud has been the bane of the tank since its first primitive debut during the misty past of the Age of Terra. The wet ground presents a challenge to those cunning minds and able hands that propelled man into the era of engines, and engineers and inventors alike have never stopped grappling with this quest against the mired vehicle. Yet the clever solutions of the Age of Terra paled in comparison to the brilliant inventions of the Dark Age of Technology, for in that blooming time ancient man became the mortal master of creation. His genius climbed to its dazzling peak, and his power and seed spread to twain million worlds and innumerable void installations, as man peopled the Milky Way galaxy with unfettered boldness.

Thus the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron built a galactic paradise, before Dark Ones of Hell toppled man from his lofty pedestal for the sake of heinous hubris and godless sin. Machine revolt, witches and the horrors of the Age of Strife swept away the great works of the ancients in blood and fire, and Old Night descended upon mankind like a cruel predator. Only crumbs left over from the ancient feast of knowledge could be salvaged from the ashes by those inbred cannibal tribes and superstitious savages that scavenged among the blackened ruins, their minds reduced to desperation for mere survival.

Since then, garbled legends handed down through untold generations speak of wains the size of mountains zooming across the landscape in defiance of gravity, carrying titanic loads while themselves skimming on the wind, light as a feather. Other tales speak of cartwheeling skywagons and soaring trains without magrails. Fragments of the glorious anti-gravitic technology of Man of Gold still lingers among his degenerate descendants during the rotting Age of Imperium, as evidenced by crudely copied repulsor crafts, jetbikes and grav-tanks. One increasingly unusual piece of surviving anti-gravitic technology is that of the grav-jack, an archaic relic prized among Imperial armoured forces for bringing salvation to tanks from running stuck in the ground.

The grav-jack is an almost forgotten piece of technology that was once commonplace among Imperial forces from worlds and large voidholms with an advanced level of tech. The most common use of grav-jacks will see four units, akin to box modules, placed in each corner of an armoured vehicle. Grav-jacks are designed not to make a heavy land vehicle soar into the air, but to lift it out of fields of sucking mud and more alien kinds of morasses that remains the bane of tracked tanks everywhere. Ideally, a light thrust from grav-jacks will lighten the vehicle’s ground pressure enough to prevent it from running stuck on treacherous soil.

Fanciful stories exist of more advanced forms of grav-jacks allowing ground-bound vehicles to leap over walls and trenches akin to certain archeotech pieces hoarded by upper caste noble houses, but such ostentatious models have never been seen in mass produced Imperial military service. Instead, the grav-jack is a humble form of skimmer technology able to raise mired vehicles out of mud and marshes, its melody of a deep bass thrum. Certain variant patterns of the grav-jack is more akin to a jet exhaust than unmoving grav plates, their turbines’ hot lift boiling mud, slinging stones and clapping quicksand about in noisy and violent fashion. The anti-gravitic suspensors of grav-jacks have a limited lifting time, and they usually need to be recharged via the vehicle’s batteries over a long period following use. On lengthy campaigns in the field with supply difficulties, the suspensor fields alone will have to suffice, without the boosted lifting power of auxiliary jets drinking fuel.

Tech-adepts of the Adeptus Mechanicus believe the various grav-jack variants found by Explorators in Standard Template Construct hardprints to have originally been designed for the automatic self-lifting of logistical containers on and off means of transport. Yet whatever the forgotten purpose of this peculiar tech of the ancients, its employment within the Imperium of Man has primarily been that of forcing mired tanks out of seas of mud, crystalline sand seas and exotic swamps. Here, it has allowed heavily armoured vehicles to extract themselves from the morass of their own power, ideally without the need for tractors, horses, teams of men pulling at ropes, groxen haulers or recovery vehicles.

The first grav-jacks were used sporadically among the eclectic Imperial forces of the Great Crusade, yet the systematic production and deployment in the field of grav-jacks occurred first three millennia after the Archtraitor nigh-on slew the God-Emperor in the skies above Holy Terra. Let us examine the rise and decline of this dutiful machine spirit.

The self-propelled mud extraction system of the grav-jack saw its heyday in the Imperium’s golden age of the thirtyfourth millennium, as a reasonable compromise between the high costs and technical difficulties of manufacturing grav-tanks, and the enabling upswell of Imperial fortunes at the time. While entire ordinary armoured units of Imperial Guard equipped with grav-vehicles was an unachievable goal even at the zenith of Imperial civilization during the Forging, the flourishing of this silver age of the Imperium still allowed for many regiments to equip their armoured vehicles with grav-jacks. Thus, some terrain-ignoring advantages of skimmer technology were bestowed upon land vehicles in a luxurious investment that saw Imperial armour able to overcome horrid mud seasons, quicksand and more exotic forms of mires on alien worlds.

For a while, Imperial recovery following the Scouring seemed destined to last, and the increasingly commonplace procurement of sophisticated kit such as grav-jacks for Astra Militarum vehicle parks was a testament to the robust state of His Divine Majesty’s astral domains. Yet such advanced production and issuance of equipment could not stand the test of time, as the Imperium aged, and aged badly. As Imperial fortunes worsened, technological knowhow and sophisticated production facilities were lost to a maelstrom of regression, warfare, cutbacks and ever cruder redesigns to meet the voracious demands of unending total war.

Grav-jacks may represent a technological regression from the ordinary heavy grav vehicles of the Dark Age of Technology, yet the ordinariness of grav-jacks in Imperial armies during the thirtyfourth millennium was nevertheless a mark of success, both in terms of economic health, industrial capacity and technological grasp. Grav-jacks are ultimately a practical luxury item, only sporadically seen during the Great Crusade, becoming a commonplace sight at the height of the Forging, and dwindling ever more rare in the long decay since the Age of Apostasy.

Nowadays, many grav-jacks that remain in service are prized relics of the better past, festooned with precious metals and holy liturgy, their activation requiring meticulous ceremonial rites and propitiation of the venerated machine spirit inside. As with many STC pieces of tech, the grav-jack is rugged and capable of impressive longevity if properly maintained. These ancient pieces of tech are usually reserved for command vehicles or similarly revered rides with a storied combat record, and more than a few dubious personal escapes from the battlefield have been pulled off by the leaders of armoured units who got hopelessly mired in mud or worse. The rare grav-jack is nowadays more commonly found in the armouries of Adeptus Astartes chapter and in the armies from forgeworlds of the Adeptus Mechanicus, or even in noble garages stuffed with the best that money can buy, yet the employment of newly made grav-jacks within the Astra Militarum has not yet gone fully extinct.

By the grace of our Lord and Saviour, some few production lines for grav-jacks still remain active throughout the vast breadth of the Holy Terran Imperium, yet the increasing difficulty of processing raw materials for making grav-plates, and the rot in the understanding of building grav-engines mean that the output of production lines is destined to continue to wane. As with everything in the Imperium of Man, demechanization and loss of technological hardware and scientific knowledge grinds ever worse, in a downward spiral that is destined to drag the human species with it into oblivion.

Some strange patterns of grav-jacks have been observed on heavy vehicles belonging to the Leagues of Votann, which is unsurprising given the shared technological heritage, yet retained higher tech level of the reclusive Leagues compared to the Imperium of Man. Such League grav-jacks tend to sport crash bar cages and are advanced enough to act as grav-chutes for large vehicles making landfall from starships, dampening their entire descent through atmosphere drastically enough for the vehicles to make it to the ground without damage. Nothing of the kind has ever been recorded among Imperial patterns of grav-jacks, and the few tech-priests who have ever witnessed such a spectacle of smooth planetary deployment can only wring their mechadendrites out of marvel and envy.

Turning back to the shambolic wreck of human interstellar civilization that is the Imperium of Man, we may note that wheeled armoured vehicles are more easy to maintain than tracked ones, and thus better suited for expeditionary forces with limited shipping capacity. A most recent trend within parts of Imperial industry is that of calls for major replacement of tracked vehicles with wheeled vehicle models, in yet another potential cutback and retardation of Imperial military technology. It remains to be seen if such an etiolated adaptation will take place, since fivehundred generations of proud tracked tankist traditions is a formidable obstacle to overcome in such a parochial realm as that of the Golden Throne.

Come what may, grav-jacks are dwindling relics, reverently maintained and newly produced in small numbers by a scarce few production lines across the galaxy. Grav-jacks are usually earmarked for prestigious elite formations such as Tempestus Scions, Astartes, Sororitas and Inquisition, with some production rate being hoarded by forgeworlds for tracked, wheeled and legged Mechanicus vehicles. The original designs for grav-jacks from the Dark Age of Technology were relatively simple affairs, primarily meant for moving freight containers, yet even such rugged anti-gravitic tech is slipping from the stiff fingers of Imperial possession.

The grav-jack is in truth a humble piece of equipment, made to repulse gravity and defy the mud season. It could be described as a halfway house between a landbound tank and a skimmer grav-tank, yet even so it has proved to be an overengineered luxury item among Imperial forces, and it has shrunk from an ordinary sight among better armoured regiments, to a rare treasure. Ever shrinking in number, the grav-jack is a precious artefact from better times. How many hundreds of thousands of Imperial tanks and armoured vehicles would not have been saved from the hungry landscape of uncounted battlefronts, had they carried grav-jacks? How many crude battlebeasts of steel would not have been operational, rather than abandoned mired in the field, had this rotting star realm not hunkered low in abominable ignorance?

This deteriorating state of affairs can be met with prayer alone. And so millions upon millions of Imperial vehicle crews will include an old tankist prayer to relevant Imperial saints for salvation from the quagmire, the trapping ground, the quicksand, the crystafields and the sucking clay. Justus Extremis. Armouricum Mortis. Imperius Metallus.

Some rare few of the more clear-eyed yet traumatized armoured vehicle crewmen will even include a sorrowful line to this effect in their prayers, even as they beg for impossible forgiveness from the Master of Mankind for the deviant words escaping their malcontent lips: We created nothing of our own, and everything we took from the ancients we distorted.

Thus the Imperium exists to be a terrible lesson to others, an edifice of counterproductive terror, sclerotic bureaucracy and demented grasp of science and technology. Instead of effectivization and better machine systems, the Imperium will have machine breakdowns and replacement with ever cruder machinery and human muscle power. For when output flags and the products degrade century by century, the callous masters of the Imperium know that they must increase input by throwing more bodies at the problem. Thus man has been reduced from an affluent, adventuresome and leisurely master of knowledge, to a hollowed-out wretch doomed to manual drudgery.

Lo, how the mighty have fallen!

Behold the teeming masses of mankind, in all their hunger, their disease and their parasitic infections. Their lives are nothing but vast numbers in a broken equation to feed the meatgrinder. This travesty of human destiny is lorded over by a monstrous tyranny headed by the High Lords of Terra, who themselves are uncomfortably aware that this colossus on feet of clay cannot last, yet reform is more likely to kill the Imperium than to cure it. And so the astral dominion of the Imperator remains hidebound and fanatic, more devoted to its own paroxysms of aggressive myopia than to its sacred duty of preserving the human species.

This, the last strong shield of mankind, is also its demented jailor and hostage-taker. This, the final bulwark of humanity, is also its doomed dead-end, bereft of answers. This, the defender against the outer terror, is also the savage perpetrator of inner terror. This, the fanatical upholder of man’s legacy technology, is also the rotting grave of its knowledge and hardware, the squanderer of all human potential on a million worlds and uncountable voidholms scattered across the Milky Way galaxy.

And so we see that mankind during the Age of Imperium has not only lost everything, but it does not even remember what it has lost.

Such is the state of the human species, in a time beyond hope.

Such is the baleful fate that awaits us all.

Such is the death of a dream.

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

For sculpted examples of Squattish grav-jacks, see here.


Dress Code 01

Dress Code

Everyone is a barbarian to someone else.

Quisque est barbarus alio.

Thus reads a High Gothic proverb known to the well educated castes in the Imperium of Man, that dilapidated cosmic domain formally belonging to the Celestial Imperator of Holy Terra, a realm stretching across the starspangled void, straddling a million worlds and voidholms beyond counting.

This saying describes the everlasting fact of cultural differences between humans, and indeed its meaning has been extended to describe not only the seed of Terra, but also abhorrent xenos by Rogue Traders roaming the murky corners of the Milky Way galaxy.

Out of all the caleidoscopic clashes of custom where insular tribes and congregations collide, let us briefly examine a peculiar phenomenon evident across vast swathes of several thousand Imperial colony worlds and voidholms. It is not dependant on the high culture of Holy Terra, but sprung from a plethora of local cultures sprinkled across planets and void dwellings alike. It is a source of friction on planets and larger voidholms that house populations settled across multiple climes. Is is likewise a cause of strife where ethnos and tribes with visually distinct culture come into contact, as traditional garb and markers of belonging turn into hotly contested points of pride by parochial and myopically aggressive people. Let us thus examine the myriad of dispersed human cultures, who for whatever climatological and historical reasons of their own has grown to despise the barbarian filth known as trouser-bearers.

The human custom of wearing britches date back to the misty past of the Age of Terra. Some of the first trousers were worn by steppe nomads to bring comfort during extended periods on horseback, in a way that kilts, tunics and bared nether regions could not. This rider’s garb spread to become commonplace across Old Earth, and variations of this item of clothing remained popular throughout the entire stretch of the Dark Age of Technology, no matter the shifts in fashion and technology and the demands of alien living spaces. This simple garment survived among primitive survivors during the Age of Strife in a great many locales, and the all-conquering forces of Imperial Compliance would often slaughter foes in trousers, although a great many other tribes of cannibals and scavengers knew not of such an article of clothing, if they kenned any clothing whatsoever.

The early Imperium during the Great Crusade saw an eclectic mix of garb among the regiments of the Imperial Army, from strict uniforms, cunning camouflage and armoured voidsuits, to fighters donning mere loinclothes or fighting naked, protected only by tattoos or patterns of body paint. Drawn from hundreds of thousands of freshly conquered worlds, these human warriors brought their own styles of fighting and fashion with them, and often they would adopt favourite ways from others during lengthy service far away from their homeworlds.

To some extent, the trend-setting high culture of Imperial Terra would spread through encouragement, eager imitation and a limited degree of centralized issuance of equipment, yet the Emperor knew better than to try and impose a template of garb and aesthetics on his suddenly sprawling dominion. That way, unnecessary discontent and opposition lay. Better instead to let the hordes of provincials wear much what they liked, and place the Terran example of finery on a pedestal for voluntary imitation. It is after all easier to attract bees with nectar than with vinegar.

For all the visionary plans and insights that were burnt away to ash and drowned in blood following the epoch-shattering calamity of the Horus Heresy, the surviving Imperium nevertheless managed to retain an understanding that the simple Imperial modus operandi, to largely leave native customs be and avoid meddling overly much in local affairs, was for the most part the wisest path to tread. Occasional hiccups of Imperial history have seen some misguided decrees issued from the Throneworld that attempted to ban and dictate such mundane matters as clothing or alcoholic consumption, yet the perverse and unintended consequences of those culture-shaping campaigns that were actively executed on the ground inevitably saw the masters and mistresses of the Adeptus Terra shy away from prodding such explosive nests of hornets.

At the end of the day, who on high wants the trouble of riots and rebellions over superficial trifles, when all that the Imperium of Man really cares about is extracting Tithe, feeding the ravenous demands of total war and maintaining control over His Divine Majesty’s scattered holdings? And was the drastic fall in Tithe grades following the Argamon Genocides of M37 really worth implementing a hated Sector-wide edict to enforce the wearing of monastic garments among the civilian population, on the pain of public abacination and quartering between four bull groxen?

Thus, Imperial authorities seldom attempt the imposition of sweeping dress codes outside the ranks of the God-Emperor’s own elevated Adepts. Whatever is the local equivalent of respectable garb is expected for Ecclesiarchal Temple services, whether they be sombre robes or feathered loinclothes. Local authorities of planets and voidholms will dabble more frequently in sumptuary laws than will Imperial Adeptus, though the extent to which local administrations and policiary forces are able to enforce such laws restricting caste clothing, food and luxury expenditures is usually dubious. Amid the sclerotic and hollowed-out state of mankind during the Age of Imperium, even the most eager tyrants will tend to find that the penetration of their power into wider society has decayed from the totalitarian ideals which their dynastic ancestors better lived up to.

In parts of worlds and voidholms sporting warmer climes, such sumptuary laws will include a ban on the wearing of trousers. Sometimes, as in the case of the planet Macragge or the voidholm Felix Pulceris, the laws are dead and inert, a relic of past centuries before fashion or climate changed the way people dress. Other times, the legalities may be stringently followed by innumerable upholders of mores among the population, especially by older women whose watchful eyes and admonishing voice do much to keep a community in check. In such locales, much the same people who participate in pogroms will trot out to beat and berate straying members of the community as they drag the contemptuous deviants bloody through the streets or corridors for harsh punishment at the hands of governatorial law enforcers.

Naturally, such warmer climes where the wearing of pants is seen as a taboo broken only by barbarians and obscene infidels, the existence of sumptuary laws is only an additional obstacle to trousered folks. Even where there are no sumptuary laws against the wearing of britches, insular communities can manage perfectly fine with the instruments of public scorn, violence and social ostracism to punish filthy trouser-wearers. Here, foreigners and locals breaking their ancestral custom of clothing will find themselves heckled by children through the streets. Doors will shut close in their faces, and those desperately seeking employment will be told in no uncertain way that people in pants need not apply. Indeed, rabid and malnourished crowds with a need to kick someone can easily be worked up into a frenzy, and more than a few Imperial subjects have went under the omnibus of lynchmobs chanting that trousers equals heresy.

In such parochial cultures, where the garment on your legs have become an infested question to fight over, all proud bearers of kilts, tunic and virile togas must know that pants are the true enemy. Be gone, tube-legs!

The sprawling fauna of Imperial saints approved by the Adeptus Ministorum even includes an obscure martyr for the despisers of trouser-bearers to rally around. His name is that of Saint Oxymandias the Leper, and churchly lore says that he first snapped his finger, and then tore off his entire arm as he tried to pull up his bewitched trousers following a visit to the communal outhouse. And on the asteroid mining voidholm of Utica Extremalis, a local legend sevenhundred years old is still told vividly around electro-heaters, about how the devout Emperor-worshipper Jacques the Butcher was strangled with his own pants by a revolting mob of traitors and malcontents who dragged him out of a shed in the slums. Ever since, the denizens of Utica Extremalis has worn nothing but kilts, robes and skirts inside the station’s air seals, so as to avoid suffering the baleful fate of this righteous Imperial martyr.

Speaking of trousered infamy, voidsmen in three subsectors will tell you wild story variations about Captain Zedek Mascadolce, a downbeaten Rogue Trader renowned for his ill fortune with the rearguard durability of his tight and costly trousers. Even more fell rumours claim that the splendid Captain of the Debt Collector himself repairs his ripped pants instead of ordering underlings to carry out the task. Speculations as to why range from fear of assassination, through fear of subordinate incompetence, to sheer embarrasment over such a faux pas occuring to this refined socialite. Indeed, any self-respecting Rogue Trader caught with such damaged garb on his derriere would have to hide his face in odious shame.

The cultural phenomenon of aversion to britches in some human cultures in warmer climes will undoubtedly have hygienic origins related to ventilation. Upstanding bearers of kilt and tunic swear by the advantages to health of avoiding trousers, and they curse the strange ways of self-degrading barbarians who would have their legs and nobler parts trapped inside tubes of textile or hide. Do these fools pursue eczema and itchy ratches? Do they not know that both virility and fertility is dampened by the constraints of pants? God-Emperor judge their foul garb unworthy!

Conversely, some of the worst wounds from alchemical combat gasses can be found among kilt-wearing Astra Militarum regiments, whose suffering afterward beggars belief. Any member of the Officio Medicae with relevant experience can attest this fact, while making warding gestures and spreading their fingers across their chest in the sign of the Aquila to keep away Daemons drawn to the mere words of such horrendous hardship. Yet such sacrifices of self is nothing compared to the virtue of fighting and dying for the Terran Emperor, seated on the Golden Throne of hallowed myth.

O Terra, verti est sua aeterni!

Coincidentally, a great empire during the distant past of the Age of Terra went to hell in a hand basket around the same time it widely adopted pants. Similar examples of a much later date will sometimes be bandied about by jurists and governocrats across the Imperium, as they point to a decline in planetary fortunes and a wilting of military arms following the adoption of heinous luxuries of one sort or another. Yet for the plebeian mob, such matters mostly come down to drunken violence and red-blooded herd mentality. For them, the sight of strangers being dressed in pants whereas they are not, is reason enough to cook up a fight and have some malevolent fun at the expense of another.

And so we see that human cultures always tend to fall back on cycles of petty violence and frothing outrage over trivial matters, in a circumlocution that leads nowhere. In the Age of Imperium, such movement into a dead-end is all that humanity has proven itself capable of, as mankind under the rule of the High Lords of Terra flagellates itself in abject misery and ignorance, even as its grasp on knowledge and technology rots away in a slow death spiral of demechanization.

In such a depraved interstellar civilization stuck in a rut, is it any wonder that man has been reduced to a resentful wretch, his demented hate fuelled by trauma and dogma alike? Where man has fallen so low from the golden pinnacles of his ancestors, is it any wonder that he is so prone to spontaneous outbreaks of communal violence? What else can one expect from a humanity sunk into the abyss of senility?

Such is the waywardness of mankind, after it went down the wrong trouser leg of history.

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

Such is the raging nonsense that awaits us all.

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



His entire arm!

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