40k: Descendant Degeneration

@Stumpy : Rule of thumb with Warhammer is to go to the hilt and dare to be bonkers. :smiley:

Pushover 01


“It was in that moment, of trying to push up the small rontree with the roots, when menial garden serf Tammuz Tsivkmlap realized that he had the spiked iron fence right under his throat.”

- Excerpt from Carolus Wrång the Elder’s travelling journal Anecdotes of [Redacted] Stubbornness, Being A Sketch of Rural Life On Sala Majoris In the Emperor’s Year 346.M41, literary work approved by voidholm censors after purging obscene swearwords and published in Low Gothic on Skintaxmountain Station IV by Printing House Draconus of Hab-District Six

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Smoke Cover

In the grim darkness of the far future, man hides from the gaze of heaven.

Ever since the primordial forebears of man saw birds soaring above, man has dreamt of flying. That dream was realized by brilliant and brave pioneers during the misty past of the Age of Terra, and ever since has the skyvault been a domain of man. That windblown sphere of flight has ever been dangerous, for gravity will undo the best and the brightest should the winged wains of man crash. To mitigate these perils on high, ancient man invented ever more ingenious instruments and systems to keep him flying no matter the obstacles.

The technology invested in aircraft and aerodromes was already refined beyond belief by the end of the Age of Terra, yet the stellar exodus and accelerated spree of invention fuelled by Man of Stone during the Dark Age of Technology would surpass all that had come before and by comparison make it look like ungainly paper planes bereft of sight and rudder. Truly, the sky alone was the limit in that golden epoch when the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron bestrode the cosmos like titans.

As man built for himself a worldly paradise betwixt the stars, so did man’s hubris soar. As man banished suffering and hardship from his life, so did his arrogance take flight. On godless wings did man raise himself up on a pedestal as he laboured to uncover the innermost secrets of creation itself, yet those wings of genius melted like wax brought too close to the sun. Machine revolt, Warp storms and a plague of witches and Daemons rent the galactic realm of ancient man asunder, and twain million worlds and uncountable void dwellings were thrown into the meatgrinder of the Age of Strife.

Man fell, and fell hard. He landed bloodily with crippling impact in a desolation where cannibals ate their own kin and where ignorant savages rummaged around the ruins of ancient giants for pitiful scraps. Most of the masterful knowledge and craft of the ancients was destroyed in that crash into Old Night, and man suffered mightily amid the ravages of Xenos and Chaos. To this day, it is a cardinal truth of the Imperium that only the God-Emperor and His victorious arms saved humanity from the brink of doom, yet like so many fundamental humans beliefs in the Age of Imperium, it is a blatant lie wrapped in a semblance of truthfulness. The truth of the matter is that the Imperator, for all His brilliant vision and beneficial toil for our species, ruthlessly eliminated all other sources of human regrowth after the Age of Strife ended. Thus, only His Imperial renaissance of Mars and Terra in union would be allowed to flourish, under His rule alone.

This turned out to be a catastrophic mistake for mankind, as the shining promises of the early Imperium were scorched to cinders during the greatest betrayal in human history. Suddenly, the monopoly on human development in Imperial hands turned out to be a black curse upon man, as the cosmic domains of the transcendent Deity of Gold crawled out of the civil war, battered and beaten to a pulp, yet still capable of maintaining its grip on power over a million worlds and voidholms without number.

And so the Emperor’s servants proceeded to rule in His name. For a time, the traumatized star realm of man saw a silver age under tyrannical oversight, and some of the grievous damage done to human interstellar civilization was briefly repaired. Yet this false rebirth and stabilization was soon replaced by unyielding rot. For fivehundred generations has man been ruled by the High Lords of Terra, and this Age of Imperium is nothing but a cavalcade of bloodsoaked stagnation and decline of human fortunes across the board, in a slowly worsening death spiral of demechanization and loss of knowledge and technological hardware.

One such expression of dilapidation may be glimpsed in the state of aircraft, as human power continues to wane across the Milky Way galaxy on the Imperium’s watch. As with so much of technology still produced and maintained by Imperial subjects, human aeroplanes are rugged affairs, originally designed by the Abominable Intelligence of long-lost Standard Template Constructors to be functional in the most diverse atmospheric environs of alien worlds. The most advanced forms of winged wains known to Explorators are well beyond the reach of Imperial production capacity, for so much has been lost, never to be regained. As such, man makes do with simpler kinds of aircrafts and hover vessels, which were often designed as rudimentary emergency measures, grown permanent by stifling ineptitude in the Imperium of Man.

The excellent design of even the most basic and crude pieces of technology inherited from ancient man is witnessed in the fact that his deranged heirs are still alive and kicking against all the odds. Without the scrapings of masterful tech from the legendary Men of Stone, Imperial man would long since have gone extinct, for he has created nothing of his own, and everything he took from the ancients he distorted.

One such obvious distortion can be seen in Imperial aerocraft, where an etiolating process of cutbacks, loss of know-how and deterioration of production facilities has seen ever more sensitive instruments disappear from newly produced airplanes. The most experienced and knowledgable of Imperial pilots and lay mechanics will be confounded whenever they encounter older planes with strange instrument panels. So many helpful systems have been removed for the sake of all-consuming ignorance or due to the ravenous demands of total war. Ultimately, the Imperium needs the ability to fly and shoot, and creature comforts, pilot survivability and sophisticated systems can always be done away with, no matter how much less combat effective this renders the battleplane. Fiery faith will have to pick up the slack. Likewise, an increased input of men and machines thrown into the meatgrinder will feed this broken equation of a colossus on feet of clay, as the monstrous Imperium continues to gear itself for ever more atavistic forms of warfare and industrial production.

Among all this mounting savagery and fanaticism, Imperial subjects have devised a plethora of primitive tricks to deal with enemy air superiority. One common ploy, when fuel is plentiful, is to dig wells, pour promethium into the pits and then lit them on fire. The black smoke thus billowing up will then hopefully create visual distractions for the pilots of the air force of the hated foe. Many such promethium covers have been devised by men and women possessed with cunning, but who have also been ignorant of such matters as satellite guidance and other forms of sophisticated technology that substitutes sight for aircraft. Oftentimes the entire effort will be nothing but wasted sweat and fuel for all the lack of impact it had on enemy air power.

One campaign example of burning promethium covers can be found on the civilized world of Uruk Sigma. Here, local separatists clashed with the Astra Militarum and the Planetary Defence Force in the promethium-producing region of Dadghab. After succeeding in infiltrating the Imperial rear and conquering a massive supply depot through covert means, the deviant separatists raised the flag of offensive, and threw themselves against the Imperial lines with this new influx of heavy equipment. As the rebel assault swept across the promethium fields, the Imperial commander General Agathea von Niessuh suppressed panic and suspicion of her own incompetence by a vigorous purge of subordinate commanders accompanied by a scaremongering propaganda campaign aimed to sow paranoia among Imperial ranks. Scapegoating and terror thus accomplished, the Imperial commander proceeded to meet the lightning advances of the nefarious enemy.

As traitor flags were raised over ever more drill towers, Agathea von Niessuh ordered the bulk of her forces to pull back to Nippur Regia, the regional capital city of Dadghab. Largely abandoning a wide front, Agathea had her forces dig in around the city in concentric circles of trenches and prefabricated pillboxes, all the while using fresh reinforcements to fortify the main supply route in an arrangement called the Long Walls of Nippur Regia. Accepting that Imperial forces for the present were outmatched and overwhelmed by the separatists, Agathea calculated that her soldiers would fight ferociously once cornered in an urban center turned into a fortress, as long as the supply lines held.

This uncharacteristic burst of original thinking saved the Imperial grip on Nippur Regia. The Long Walls were defended by a line of outpost forts, by husbanded missiles launched out of the hive city, and by rapid dune patrols of armoured cars and Sentinels who again and again managed to take separatist attackers by surprise. Thus convoys protected by heavy armour and Hydra flak tanks managed to keep the defenders of Nippur Regia fed and supplied, even if a seventh of the hive city’s population of two billion had to be exterminated and fed into the corpse grinders in order to feed the rest of His Divine Majesty’s starving subjects and loyal labourers.

With the aerial fortunes of local Planetary Defence Force aerofleets and Imperial Navy air wings at a crucial ebb, the invigorated Dadghabi separatists built new aerodromes and fuel depots, and concentrated all their air forces to strike the Long Walls in tandem with ground assaults. This renewed attempt to cut off Nippur Regia from outside supplies was met by Field Order Nr. 2137. Agathea von Niessuh ordered tens of thousands of workers and hundreds of civilian vehicles out into the battlezone, equipped with drills, dozer blades, spades and pickaxes. This ant-like column of humanity milled about along the stretch of the Long Walls, ever under horrible raids from enemy fighters, ever the victims of hostile artillery and air power. Many drafted thralls fled, only to be shot dead by blocking lines of Guardsmen and PDF troopers tasked with keeping the rabble in line. While overseers barked and taskmasters whipped bared backs, the men, women and children of Nippur Regia were herded out into the wasteland to dig pits and fill them with crude promethium.

When enemy assaults on this antediluvian engineering work intensified, General von Niessuh negotiated the cooperation of Nippur Regia’s local Securitate forces and Adeptus Arbites precinct fortress. With harsh oversight provided by these brutal policiary organizations of the hive, Agathea increased input by throwing sixhundredthousand more Nippurites into the operation. Ever more machines broke down or went up in flames, and ever more work and transport had to be carried out by human hands and on human backs, assisted with requisitioned beasts of burden of xenoid origin. This mobilization of unwilling civilian manpower went on to the drumbeat of a massive conscription campaign, which saw three million Nippur Militiamen and Oathsworn Loyalist zealots in sackcloth hastily assembled. These men, women and juves were given the crudest practice imaginable in how to shoot and reload their lasguns or stubbers before being sent untrained to plug gaps in the frontlines of the the Long Walls.

Thus Imperial commander Agathea von Niessuh traded bodies for time, in a gamble she ultimately won at a cost in human lives best measured in hillocks of corpses.

Partway through the frantic scramble to shore up the Long Walls of Nippur Regia, Imperial forces began torching some of the first finished promethium wells, in a desperate attempt to gain some cover from hostile air power and unrelenting separatist ground assaults. Lo! The sky went black over Dadghab, and the city populace with windows facing the outside world woke up to darkness at dawn. Oily smoke billowed out of pits in the ground, masking the Long Walls and the people toiling and fighting and dying along its entire length. As more promethium wells were completed and lit up, ever more greasy columns of smoke darkened the sky, pulling a black veil over the heavens and throwing the efforts of enemy air power into confusion.

Where half the sky is flame and half the sky is smoke, Imperial might won out under a Promethian Shield, covering Imperial convoys and route defences for long enough. Eventually, enemy combat potential had ruined itself against the stalwart defenders with their lines of blocking troops ready to fire anyone surrendering or fleeing. Imperial officers and Commissars in the field brandished grim smiles on their gaunt faces as the rebel offensive petered out. And as the treacherous separatists licked their wounds, the artery of Imperial logistics known as the Long Walls pumped men and materiel frantically into Nippur Regia. Hundreds of long convoys of vehicles, men and pack animals travelled along blackened roads where horrible smoke and burnt-out corpses littered the landscape.

After three months of buildup, Imperial preparations were completed, and General Agathea von Niessuh launched the offensive Operation Pius, crushing enemy defenses again and again in a drumroll of artillery and small thrusts of armoured spearheads and human wave assaults that ground every rebel attempt to regroup and dig fortifications into dust and ash. Finally, after five years of total warfare and seventeen years of gruelling insurgency oppression, the entire region of Dadghab had returned under full Imperial control, including its precious promethium fields. The death toll exceeded three billion all in all, and much of the region was left largely depopulated after Imperial revenge purges saw any tribes and clans with suspected rebel members wiped out to extinguish all traitorous bloodlines. Thus was the Pax Imperialis restored to the planet of Uruk Sigma, and all was well in the celestial domains of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra.

The promethium smoke cover of the Long Walls of Nippur Regia is an example of a succesful use of fuel to shield ground fighters from sky fighters. These smoke covers are however often ineffectual, as the complete impotence of promethium covers against Tau, Eldar and Kin planes bear witness to. Burning promethium to blacken the sky can on the other hand cause great havoc among Ork pilots, for whom sight is the primary means of navigation and manoeuvre.

More worryingly, Imperial pilots and aircraft from worlds rebelling against the Imperium also seem to be vulnerable to this crude ploy. For instance, during the biannual Grand Exercises of Saint Hodrerum on the arid world of Tallarn in 884.M41, the Fourth Aerofleet of the Planetary Defence Force was thrown into utter chaos when the High Command sprang a Promethian Shield as a surprise twist in the unfolding live wargames. The resultant tumble as bewildered squadrons flew into each other and crashed into the ground amid thick layers of smoke was not only a peacetime training fiasco, but a glimpse of actual air combat reality as recorded on so many battlefronts across so many worlds and giant voidholms where aircraft can contend inside the domes.

To think that man, the master of the skies, has been reduced to such a rudimentary state that he must steer his winged wain by sight alone. During the human and machine heyday of the Dark Age of Technology, man flew sleek silver vessels with superb instruments that could slalom and somersault nimbly through the most dense and busy urban cityscape, no matter the obscuration of smoke, radiation, blinding light or electromagnetic pulse disruptions. Such blindfolded aerial acrobatics are now far beyond the reach of even the most skilled Imperial pilots among the degenerate descendants of Man of Gold. Not for the lack of breathtaking expertise, but for the horrendous degradation of knowledge and technology during the Age of Imperium.

Indeed, the contrast with Imperial fliers during the Great Crusade or the Forging will alone suffice to demonstrate the abject impoverishment of human aircraft under the reign of the High Lords of Terra.

Such is the state of human air power in a forsaken aeon.

Such is the decay that awaits us all, in a time beyond hope.

Such is the crumbling of the works of our hands.

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


“The excellent design of even the most basic and crude pieces of technology inherited from ancient man is witnessed in the fact that his deranged heirs are still alive and kicking against all the odds.”

This whole page is golden, but this passage made my sides ache with laughter haha!! Well written!


@Stumpy : Thanks a lot! Yeah, I write most of these things laughing while asking myself how we can make it even more bonkers. Cheers!

Lessons For Imperial Operatives, by StaevinTheAeldari

Do not miss the above linked stellar piece of writing by StaevinTheAeldari over on DakkaDakka. In it, he outlines crucial lessons which all Inquisitorial acolytes and Imperial operatives ought to learn if they wish to survive their perilous occupation. In it you will find The two headed chief, the forgotten page, the struggling hands or the frail ground, and That Which We Do Not Speak Of. Check it out!

Man Is the Measure of All Things

"Esteemed reader, let us now turn to a peculiar anecdote which evented in 974.M41, best retold aloud late in the dayturn in good company, following reinforcement by fine liquor. As Head Lady of the Ibolyka sept of our Noble House Erba-Batthyany, I had sponsored an Explorator Magos of the revered Adeptus Mechanicus to carry out a technoarchaeological dig on our domains, following a series of chance artefact finds by my diligent agri-serfs in District Alfa-79.

Three weeks into the excavation, I took the gilded sky blue grav-sled to visit the dig site in person, along with my Emperor-blessed fifteen surviving progeny and a retinue of eightysix attendants and bodyguards. By the grace of the Saints, we arrived just as the dig team hit upon an interesting discovery. A humble menial climbed out of the wellstair, bowed with eyes averted and tenderly handed my highborn self a crystalline rectangle with retracted corners, tinted teal with trace remains of yellow ochre dust in the engravings where cleaning efforts had not utterly succeeded. A shard of the rectangular plate was broken off in a corner, but otherwise it seemed intact. I held it up to bask in the light of the twin suns. The little crystalline find was covered in exquisite lines and diagrams of scratchings, with strange miniature illustrations etched into it.

For five minutes straight did I turn it around this way and that, and I studied its appearance on both front and back. I even peered closely on the thin edges, which bore microscopic markings which resembled long jumbles of numbers, akin the code-names of file-spirits. At last, I handed the artefact to the patient Explorator, Magos Ameerah-Kiran, and uttered these words:

‘Ever since I was a small girl have I taken hieratic pride in my grasp of High Gothic. Yet the shape of letters and other figures is so unfamiliar from our Imperial fonts, and the twists of wordings so different, that I cannot make head or tail of its content. It is nothing like the histories and classics that I have consumed by the lumen, nor anything like the plays and poems that my late husband so treasured. Please tell me what ancient wisdom is contained within this relic, o Magos.’

The Tech-Priestess tenderly received the crystalline rectangle in her mechadendrites, shifting it over with extreme care to a strong bionic arm of many joints. Anointed ocular implants flared with light as they scanned its pristine surface, and the servant of the Omnissiah hummed with binary code-prayers while making the sign of the cogwheel with her other metal hands. At last the Explorator struck a bell and started to repeatedly swing a fragrant censer back and forth. Having thus established a solemn silence around herself, Magos Ameerah-Kiran at last proclaimed:

‘Praise the divine knowledge! Your excellence, this is a plasteocrete hard copy of a digital file, printed in the twentythird millennium. Within its writ we find remnants of lost Biologis lore, describing a segment of characteristics of the wise ancients themselves. Truly it is said, that man is the measure of all things.’

‘What does it say, o Magos?’ I asked.

‘On the shallow surface, it is nought but a superficial recording of anatomical survey findings among a population numbering fiftythousandthreehundredsix, all golden ancestors peopling a long-lost colony dome. As we might expect, their health indicators are overall robust, with tall average height speaking of excellent nourishment growing up. And not a single instance of lifelong parasitic infection.’

‘And beneath those plain numbers, o Magos?’

‘Peering deeper into the data, we realize that this is in fact a trail, and we must redouble our dig efforts, your excellence. We are clearly on the track of ancient Genetors, and we must toil slavishly to uncover every iota of remnant knowledge that these grounds of yours may contain.’

‘Genetors you say? Do you expect to find a laboratorium of sorts? Pray tell, o Magos.’

‘If the Omnissiah so wills it. Aye, your excellence. By electron and proton, these simple measurements contain proof of genetic engineering!’

Whether wittingly or not, the Tech-Priestess was pulling the leg of my curiosity. I confess that excitement burst forth in my heart, fed by many fantastic fables and cryptic mysteries speaking of the strange things of yore, before He Who Dwells On the Face of Terra revealed Himself as the Saviour and Lord of our predestined human species. Thus, I said with some eagerness, on the limits of protocol:

‘Please do us the courtesy to not keep us on a leash any longer, reverend Explorator. Tell us what it is! What hint have you uncovered, pray tell? Are there unnatural freaks bred by gene-kings? Monstrosities and witches grown in vats? Are there horrors which man was never meant to see, bred by godless ancestors in heinous sin?’

The Explorator straightened and held up the hardprint in her mechanical claws, before uttering a blurt of binary code:

‘01001000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01101101 01100101 01101101 01100010 01100101 01110010 00100000 01110111 01100001 01110011 00100000 01101100 01100001 01110010 01100111 01100101 01110010 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01000100 01100001 01110010 01101011 00100000 01000001 01100111 01100101 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01010100 01100101 01100011 01101000 01101110 01101111 01101100 01101111 01100111 01111001’

‘And in Low Gothic, o Magos?’

Magos Ameerah-Kiran replied in that scratchy voice through the vox-emitter: ‘Your excellence. The key is hidden in the survey measurements for the entire masculine half of the dome population. Comparing to contemporary and historical data at the disposal of our noospheric memory coils, we may draw the conclusion that the wise ancients practiced their Genetor craft on a massive scale, effectively shaping the flesh of an entire population like clay to fulfil some of mankind’s oldest wishful dreams.’

‘How so? Did these mortals play god, o Magos?’

‘Elementary! The crux lies in the phallic measurements, your excellence. Clearly proof of genetic engineering.’ The Explorator paused theatrically and gazed on the male diggers on the site. Undoubtedly, the Magos’ cultic indoctrination and surgical bionic shunning of the flesh had not extinguished every spark of humour within her cerebral processors and grey cells. For the briefest of moments, there was the shutting off and on of a glowing bionic eye in the Tech-Priestess’ abominable metal face, as if mimicking a human wink. ‘Oh, those poor, Imperial women. How short man has fallen of the heights of his ancestors!’"

- Anecdote from A Biography Betwixt Blushes and Banquets, an autobiographical work by Gyöngyi Erba-Batthyany, literary work approved by planetary censors in 989.M41 and published in High Gothic on Dunantul Majoris by Printing House Endre of Capitolina Sarolt


This is hilarious!

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@Stumpy : Thanks! Glad it worked. Based on the Futurama sauna scene.

Crowning Glory

In the grim darkness of the far future, there is only toil for the sake of toil.

In the distant past of the misty Age of Terra, myths spoke of gods fashioning men and women out of clay to toil for their makers. To the eternal question of from where does we come, these stories replied that man is but mud, created to be a slave for celestial overlords. Skeptics during later phases of that bygone aeon would snarkily comment that such a cosmic order must be terribly convenient for mortal royals ruling over cowed masses. What a coincidence! As above, so below. Yet such leisurely talk of unbelief failed to grasp the heavily-laden omen for the future of man that lay hidden in these ancient tales told around campfires in fields of clay.

Behold man, the seed of Old Earth, the builder of wonders and the depraved destroyer of all. Behold man, the active worker and the lazy wastrel, the obedient servant and the clamorous rebel. Behold man in his totality, sprung from the meandering paths of breeding forebear-creatures, his blood forever marked by idiosyncracies and flaws born out of inbreeding and random mutations of genes. The king of animals, ancient man emerged out of the orgy and bloodbath of uncaring evolution as a sentient being able to fundamentally remake his surroundings, yet unable to fundamentally remake himself.

Thus human history for untold millennia played out in endless cycles of youthful rise and degenerate decay. The human past is a litany of tribes massacring their hated enemies, of people’s minds led astray by ever more false creeds, and of greatness slowly built up over generations of toil only to be crashed by horrible heirs or greedy conquerors. Human civilization was for the longest time perpetually scourged by such ailings as poverty and corruption, theft and lethargy, ingratitude and history forgotten. The flaws of natural man under civilization are innumerable and to be observed everywhere he settles down and lives out his time. At the end of the day, man is but a product of nature, and all his neurotics, anxieties, dysfunctionalities, diseases, self-destructiveness and shortcomings ultimately stem from the random makeup of his being that was formed in long forgotten eras of bestial survival and procreation.

For a time, the Dark Age of Technology changed all of that. Ascending the heavens, the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron straddled the Milky Way galaxy like a colossus, and over twain million worlds were colonized in a brilliant spree of human expansion that took man to the stars and beyond. With science and technology as his lodestar, ancient man built a worldly paradise for himself, meticulously tailored to bring out the best of natural man, while artificially curing many of the worst defects of human nature. While clever systems were put in place to bring out the full potential of mankind, genetors worked relentlessly to improve on the human genome. The innermost secrets of human flesh became but clay under their able hands, to shape at will for the betterment of humanity as a whole. Inherited faults were hunted down and eliminated in order to shape a better man, and glorious creations such as Navigators saw the light of day, which still enable man to maintain an interstellar empire despite the frothing turmoil of the Empyrean.

Natural man was treated with the best cures of ills and given longevity such as he could only have dreamt of, yet the cunning minds of the Golden Age of Technology could do better than that. They could make man anew. They could create a better man.

Many untold and forgotten grand experiments were carried out, and many bore shining fruit. We will now focus our attention on one of the larger genetic projects of this bygone epoch of discovery, one whose seed has managed to perpetuate itself with brilliant success long after sister seeds long since wilted and died. The genetor project in question was not the most daring and groundbreaking one concocted during the Dark Age of Technology, nor was it driven by the loftiest of ideals. Instead, it is a testament to the stubborn and rugged qualities that always made natural man a survivor, amplified and purged of impurities that make for instability and failure. Let us turn to the murky origins of the Kin.

Man’s drive to make the starspangled void his domain has always been driven by ambitions of expansion and greed. Only failed schools of thought would discount the allure of material gain as a pivotal force at the core of human history. And so ancient man in splendid times of yore set out to mine the galactic core. And the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron toiled wisely to create a new human being fit for this task. This new man would be exquisitely fit for astral and terrestrial mining in the harshest environs, because he would have been designed for it from the ground up. The new man would not only be tough and resistant to cosmic radiation, he would also be diligent, clever, hard-working and a born perfectionist in all his endeavours. Not only that: The new man would be rid of human weaknesses and characteristics that bring instability, doubt and lapse in toil, and he would be designed to find meaning in his labours and enjoy his toil and mission in life.

In short, the new man would be the perfect slave, self-perpetuating and content with his monumental task for all eternity. The makers of ancestral Kin gave life to all those ancient myths of gods fashioning man out of clay to serve at the behest of distant deities, to work the lands and offer up the fruits of their labour in sacrifice. And just like any wise creator god of archaic mythology, the makers of the Kin fashioned their creations to revere and obey their creators, yet the results of these laboratory creations far exceeded anything ever claimed by old sagas.

The new man thus created by shadowy genetors was the abhuman race known as Homo Sapiens Rotundus, and it set about its grand task with unrelenting vigour. These willing thralls built up untold mining operations in the galactic core, and shipped back enormous amounts of material to their makers and owners. For they were made to be both willing and able labourers. The rapid expansion of the human species during the Stellar Exodus was greatly accelerated by the astral mining conducted by gene-bred abhumans in the galactic core, as were the building of megastructures in space and soaring wonders on planetary crust wherever large human colonies sprang up.

As ancient man built edenic idylls on twain million worlds and voidholms without number, the miners toiled in the core. As the best and the brightest minds of ancient man began cracking the secrets of creation and time itself, they toiled. As gene-kings and monstrosities rose out of heinous sin and godless hubris, they toiled. As aberrant Man of Iron rebelled against his master, they toiled. As the galaxy burned in machine revolt and titanic technological civil war beyond anything seen later, they toiled. As Abominable Intelligence ran amok and machine creations swallowed stars and pulverized worlds, they toiled. As witches and Warp storms tore the ravaged galactic civilization of ancient man asunder, they toiled.

Scarcely anything is known about the Ancestors of the Kin during the last stages of the crumbling Dark Age of Technology. Clearly, they were not untouched by all the calamities that beset the star realm of ancient man during this time. They must have fought, and fought succesfully. Clearly, they survived, and their grasp of ancient man’s legacy technology and scientific knowledge remained strong.

The horrible aeon of devastation known as the Age of Strife saw many remnant human enclaves with some degree of preserved high technology and knowledge make it through Old Night, only to be crushed ruthlessly by the Emperor’s all-conquering Legions as the early Imperium took the Milky Way galaxy with storm. Clearly, some peripheral states of Homo Sapiens Rotundus fell to the Imperial war machine during the Great Crusade, yet the work of completely subjugating every nook and cranny of the galaxy was left unfinished when the Horus Heresy rent the Emperor’s dream to pieces, and then proceeded to nigh-on slay Him on Terra in a civil war that destroyed Imperial mankind’s hopes of ever rekindling the golden lights of their ancestors. And so the vast majority of the human species was swept down a maelstrom of ever-worsening demechanization and fanatical depravity, and man grew ever more senile and irrationally aggressive as fivehundred generations of descendant degeneration played themselves out in a baleful theatre of the absurd.

Yet the counter-productive tyranny of the monstrous Imperium of Man was not the only strong entity remaining of the heirs of ancient man. Hidden in the galactic core, there remained a great and powerful remnant that will toil until the end of time, if nothing manages to destroy them first. This remnant was the willing slave race, tailored for their worksome task by unknown makers seeking profit. These mining thralls had long since ceased to send shipments of ore and processed raw materials to the domains of wider humanity, for the Age of Strife had ended that part of their original purpose. Instead, the stout race of abhumans turned their acquisitions into ever more fantastic creations of their own, and invested it all in expanding their Holds and astral domains, in a never-ending search for more celestial bodies to extract resources from.

Where others fell to the flame and fell to infighting and cannibal savagery, they endured. Where others lost knowledge and craft and even forgot where they had sprung from, they endured. Where others lost their grasp of interstellar travel and astral mining in the havoc of the Age of Strife, they endured, and endured with excellence. Their makers had fashioned them to be the perfect workers and miners, the best survivalists and the most thorough artisans. Made to be solid and reliable, made to be free of natural man’s most damning weaknesses, this clone race endured and thrived amid hardships that brought so many others to oblivion. Their decentralized interstellar civilization stayed true to its original mission, and thus the Leagues of Votann bloomed in the galactic core.

Children of many names, these abhumans are derogatorily known to the Imperium of Man as Squats. They are also known as Demiurg to Tau and Humans alike, as Heliosi Ancients to the Eldar, and likewise are they known to other Xenos as the Gnostari, Grome or Kreg, among many other names. Yet they themselves know their folk simply as Kin, for they are a race of few words, each laden with meaning.

Bestowed with a very demanding biological constitution, the Kin breeds but slowly the natural way, for such is the drawback of approaching perfection in the flesh. Thus, the creators of the Kin saw fit to vastly accelerate their reproduction while at the same time ensuring stability of the desired genome through the use of cloneskeins. The vast majority of Kin are thus birthed from machines at the heart of their Holds, in Crucibles endowed with genomic cloning technologies. While some exotic variations of genes and phenotypes have arisen among the dispersed populations of Kin throughout the millennia, the cloneskeins help ensure that their essential nature remains that desired by their long-dead makers, without significant aberrations.

Unintentionally, and through historical accident, the Kin has proven to be the truest and best enduring achievement among the creations of humanity during the Dark Age of Technology. The astral civilization of the Leagues of Votann have proven neither too brittle and corruptible to easily splinter and decay, nor too advanced so as to fall prey to revolts against creators or breakdowns of overly sophisticated systems.

In their middling way of Dark Age of Technology refinement, the Kin has proven the golden mean, a system installed long ago by forgotten makers that is still going incredibly strong. Among all the shattered remnants of mankind’s golden age of science and technology, so much has fallen. The legacy technology and scientific understanding inherited by the wilted Imperium is rotting away with every passing century. The few shards of still operational and independent-minded Men of Stone and Men of Iron endures in the shadows without being able to mount any kind of large-scale recovery of ancient man’s higher civilization, or else they have fallen to the corrupting influence of Chaos. Yet the Kin remains.

The Kin has managed their scientific and technological inheritance from the Golden Age of Technology better than any other seeds of Old Earth. Not only is their grasp of tech and material lore supreme in comparison to the shamanistic rituals of the senile Imperium; the Kin has employed both their technological elevation and themselves to forge teeming clusters of lively mining empires and industrial bastions in the galactic core, known as the Leagues of Votann. Theirs is not a tale of woe, and neither is it a saga of slow decline nor bleak dwindling in the face of overwhelming odds. For theirs is a success story against all the odds, of hardy expansion and wonders crafted in the harsh environs that lies at the heart of the Milky Way galaxy.

During the time of their creation, the Kin were never the spearhead of technology and science, never the best fruit from the tree of man. They were exquisitely tailored for their grand task at hand, and made to thrive at it with the focus of perfectionists and the order of a perfect slave race, happy with their lot and finding fulfilment in their neverending work. They were equipped with an adequately advanced level of technology and scientific knowledge, yet their wisdom and craft were never the highest spires of the ancients.

Nevertheless those tall spires of legendary breakthroughs and tampering with reality itself fell to pieces in the wasteland of the Age of Strife, and all the most advanced creations of man either revolted, were destroyed or slowly eroded in forgotten abandonment. And so the Kin endures, designed to be stolid and tough, bred to be crafty and loyal. Theirs is a stout civilization, that has endured where brighter lights of the Dark Age of Technology have long since been snuffed out. Worksome and ingenious, the Grome are the perfect tool, and they continue to willingly wield themselves with excellence many millennia after their mysterious makers turned to dust.

Slaves bred for toil and carefully designed for order and stability so as to never rebel, the ancestral origins of the Demiurg remain a secret unknown even to themselves. Some would say that it is wrong to play god and create a slave race to work for your benefit. Yet we must turn this steak around, and bear witness to the enduring success of the Kin, for therein lies a testament to the brilliance of man during the Dark Age of Technology.

Consider their dark origins, and marvel at the skill with which the Squats were wrought: Is it not wrong to put slaves to tasks which they ultimately are unhappy with? Why not design the slaves to be happy with their tasks and find fulfilment in their toil? What could be more beautiful than perfection of function?

Nay, pity the unrefined, raw, longshanking manlings instead! Their flesh and essence is but a random hodgepodge of contradictory neurotics, falsehoods and selfish desires, spat out by the rutting chance of evolution. They are nought but apes arisen. How much suffering and bloodshed and destruction does not result from man’s imperfect being? Why not make a better man, and do away with all the evils of life? Why not design a better being from the ground up, stable and dependable, clever and strong? Why not forge the perfect tool?

To the Kin, there is nothing sinister about their origins. They were designed to be pragmatic, and so they will focus on what matters, true to the design of their makers. There is no space for doubt, just as there may not be cracks within the best of tools.

Look upon the toil of the Kin, and behold the genius of their work. Man may be a toolmaker, yet they are a sublime toolmaker. Ken the perfection of function that plays out in their civilization, across vistas of asteroid mining and salvage operations of spacewrecks, across nebulae trawling and the harvesting of black holes. The degenerate descendants of mankind in the Holy Terran Imperium know only of such wonders as particle excavators as garbled scenes for heroes and monsters jostling with lances of flame during a forgotten time, when starstriders walked the skies and discovered the perilous galaxy. Such wonders are but the stuff of legend to retrograde man, yet they are a lived reality of working projects for the Squats in the galactic core. And the sagas to be sung of those wonders would far surpass the tales of void-dragons and starknights.

Listen to tales told by Kin of their enormous struggles against Greenskins, which saw strong Leagues grind giant Waaaghs! to dust through gruelling total wars that lasted for hundreds of years, until the unrelenting power of the Squats crushed Orks underheel. Listen to the lamentations over lost Holds and Votanns gone mad amid death and desolation. Listen to the coming of the Bane and the vicious battles against Chaos. Listen to the Grudges and the works.

The Kin are sterling prospectors, miners, and void-dredgers, and a spirit of enterprising adventure is in their blood. Kreg mercenaries and pioneers may be found far away from the dominions of the Leagues, gathering knowledge and experience to offer up to their Ancestor Cores, the mysterious Votann of whom the Kin will never speak in the presence of aliens and lesser men. The lives of the Kin revolve around kinship, Ancestors and perfectionist work to mine and forge marvels across the stars. Their lives are likewise filled with lethal combat, for where there is peril there is opportunity.

It has been said in jest about their warriors that they are every inch the soldier, but there are not many inches. As any Kin worth their salt knows, a rotund sphere is the ideal body shape. The ugly longshanking of manlings just prove that knees are overrated. Yet the greatness of the Kin cannot be perceived from measly length of body, but in their endurance and their ability to work long and hard without becoming unhappy and broken. Most of all, the greatness of the Kin may be witnessed in their gigantic works, which will dwarf any undertakings of the ignorant Adeptus Mechanicus.

Certainly, the Ancestors of the Kin were never meant for utter ruthless exploitation for all eternity. Their purpose was never to extract all minerals from planets with native populations still on the crust, nor was it to salvage the infrastructure and cities of alien and human civilizations as so much junk to be recycled. The indifferent worksomeness with which the Leagues of Votann conduct their most shocking mining operations upon the worlds of unwilling inhabitants may be stark insanity to some, yet to the Kin themselves it is merely fulfilling the perfection of function for which they were created, honed to a new degree of sharpness. Their makers may never have envisioned this outcome, yet these atrocious extraction wars are also as true as rock itself.

Luck has. Need keeps. Toil earns.

Thus the Kin will carry out their tasks without any regard to whom it would have been of gain. No one else can rival their rapacious astral and terrestrial mining operations. All there is, to these extraordinary space miners, is exploitation and work unto the grave, so that future generations will be able to toil just as hard unto their own graves. The ancient promise of a better tomorrow for man is gone. The labour which should have led to a future without hardship and suffering where people can live in abundance and happiness is long since forgotten and buried. All there is, is work for the sake of work. And the Kin revel in it. Had they been a religious lot, they could not have asked for a better afterlife than the mortal coil of toil which they live out so hardily and heartily in the heart of the galaxy. Rock and stone!

And so we see that the Heliosi Ancients pursue their mining mission with greater focus than ever before, in unquestioning obedience to the Votann, their secret Ancestor Cores. The entire civilization of the Leagues is one of relentless work, and of war to enable more toil. Their most frequent foe is that of Orkoids, the green menace that has cast so many others on the trash heap of history. It is no surprise that engineers who mine asteroids for minerals end up the hateful enemy of lunatics who strap giant engines to the asteroids in order to crash Roks into unsuspecting planets in search of a good fun scrap. And so we may witness industrial conglomerates muster fantastic resources and hurl immense mechanized forces of Kin on savage foes, in order to grind down all resistance to their mining claims.

The Leagues of Votann believe that nothing is worth doing unless it is done well, and they wage war as methodically as they undertake any other pursuit. The selfsame attitude to life means that even the most isolated Squat enclaves are superb toolmakers, with a flair for overengineered maximalist designs. Anything they make will be sturdy and dependable, reliable just like they themselves are. This ever-present facet of Homo Sapiens Rotundus civilization is captured in the Kin Truth: Rock holds.

The pragmatic nature of Kin is not a conscious choice, but a racial temperament made by careful design in aeons past. Certain options will not even occur to Kin, for they are not made to occur to them, and the cloneskeins will ensure that it remains so on a fundamental level. Originally such a practical nature and focus on material tasks was meant to ensure that the Kin would never rebel, yet the long-term consequences of this artificial design of life has created something far greater than willing thralls meant to mine the galactic core for distant overlords. It has created an interstellar civilization immune to decadence and decay, free from the lowly cycles of human history, such as continue to play out miserably on Terra and across all her daughter worlds. The Gnostari embodies stability, and they are not able to fall into the societal traps of high technology, for such weakness has been bred out of them.

Do the Kin possess free will, compared to sentient species that are the result of natural evolution? The horrifying answer matters not. Never forget the foremost of all Kin Truths: The ancestors are watching.

For the Kin endure and they expand where so much else has been lost for all time, where so many treasures beyond imagination has been forgotten, never to be rediscovered. The enduring success of what became the Leagues of Votann could not have been foreseen in ancient times of glory, when so much else wonder was created that seemed to surpass the solid Kin.

Yet the worksome stability and striving for perfection of the Kin has outperformed all the other fruits of the Golden Age of Mankind. For where are the Men of Stone now? And where are the Men of Iron and the feared machine minds of Abominable Intelligence? Where are the brilliant minds that laboured to unlock the very secrets of creation itself? All have fallen into oblivion or obscurity, yet the less advanced sideshow that was the Squat slave race in the galactic core remains, and remains with a vengeance. For where the rest of humanity has ceased to create marvels of science and technology, the Leagues of Votann has continued the great legacy of the Dark Age of Technology. They alone among the spawn of Terra have continued to build pragmatic megastructures to harvest stars and planets alike, and they alone have continued to engineer material wonders of such a scale and a brilliant fashion as did once mankind’s gifted ancients.

Thus the Kin are the crowning glory of the Dark Age of Technology.

All else is rot and ruination among the fruits of ancient man, in the Age of Imperium.


Listen to the song of this benighted age.

A song rising out of the souls of mortals that must live through its hell.

Its song nought but the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

For all that can be heard is woe.

And the laughter of thirsting gods.

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

Calling @tjub , @Bassman , @Zoddtheimmortal & @Fuggit_Khan due to Squats.


Befouled Birthright

"Ancient Man committed the first sin when he cast off his fear of the dark, for his heart was eaten away by the marshlight promise of hope. And with hope came greed for gain and thirst for knowledge, and thus the shining road to damnation was paved.

And Man sailed into the nightsky with unbridled boldness, and Man set about peopling the galaxy, which he remade into worldly paradise betwixt the stars. Heinous arrogance possessed Man as starstriders and sky-knights charged across the cosmos in godless sin, slaying monsters with spears of flame behind shields of starlight. And so Ancient Man explored the heavens with carefree curiosity, and every celestial discovery led wretched Man further astray from the path of the righteous, for he had eyes only for this world, and not the next. And Man showered adoration upon vain heroes who broke ground across the starspangled void, even as Man spat upon all that was holy in his unforgivable error.

All of creation was a ripe fruit to be plucked by the grasping hands of Ancient Man, for to rule the stars was his birthright. Yet Man’s deeds and works fed his baleful hubris, and Man’s mind became filled with the poison of unbelief and the folly of hope. And wherever Ancient Man nested, he lived in harmony and plenty, for a false bliss bore abundant milk and honey, and the nectar of worldly paradise sired thoughts of self and boundless ambition.

Ancient Man reached for the sky, and found all the gods of old to be trifling in comparison to Man’s own worldly greatness. Thust Man cast off all faith in divinity, and placed himself on a pedestal of abomination. And Man worshipped his own knowledge and power in unspeakable sin, and his power and reach grew across the stars, and man uncovered ever more secrets in his lust for forbidden knowledge. And Man’s heart was led astray by the lies of freedom and want of pain and perfection of flesh. And so the soul of Ancient Man became mired in the pit of progress, where witches and hellfire consumed him with fury after Man’s own iron craft had turned on its maker. And all was fell.

Thus Ancient Man travelled the circles of creation, only to end up in the Nether Hells for the sake of his wicked deeds. For the universe is not for worlds to explore, but for souls to save. Thus ritual has replaced curiosity, for we are much wiser now. For we have learnt to fear the void as we must fear the dark, and we have learnt to hate that which we fear.

Have mercy upon us, o Divine Majesty!

Have mercy upon wretched Man!

For we must do eternal penance for our inheritance of sin. And we will flagellate ourselves until blood flows in a hundred streams from a hundred wounds. And we will pierce our skin with thorns and tear our scalp with shards, and we will scorch our flesh, and all this we will do willingly and gladly in His name. And we will praise the hardship that we must bear, and bless the breaking of our back, for it is a just labour, and a just punishment upon our worthless husks. And we swear to endure all suffering and accept any atrocity, for the guardian Emperor of Holy Terra demands nothing less than our utter submission and eager slavery. And we are but dust under His foot.

And we will travel the void in nought but terror, and we will stay vigilant for hidden danger. And we will purge hope and curiosity from our hearts, for ignorance is our armour, and faith is our shield. And we will teach our offspring by rod and thorn and spark to fear the dark of the void. And we will invite the cruelty inflicted upon us as His will, and we will give praise to the lash that strikes our flesh in vengeance for heinous sin.

This we pledge, and this we vow.

And may we drown in the nightsky, should we ever fail in this our oath.

And may we be burnt by distant suns, should we ever fail in this our oath.

And may our spirits be eaten by horrors that may not be mentioned, should we ever fail in this our oath.

We will look to Your light alone, and fear everything else.

Fear! Fear! Fear!

Thus You guide us.

Ave Imperator."

- First Wellspring of Sin, pamphlet penned in M.38 by Cardinal Ignatius Paulinus Hieronymus of Salem Proctor


Sectarian Strife

In the grim darkness of the far future, pious man is slain by pious hand.

Humans have always grabbed at any opportunity and justification for conflict and aggression. Comprehending this basic truth is vital to understand the heated strife surrounding religious belief and practice that mar so much of human history. The morass of disagreements boiling over into bloodshed that can be witnessed in belief systems revolving around the sacred, is fundamentally no different from the storms of murder and war found between adherents of worldly ideologies. Humans can fight over anything. Indeed, humans will fight over everything. Thus love of deity can easily translate into hatred of fellow man. Violence and strife are integral parts of our nature, similar to how helpfulness and love of kin are part of what it means to be human.

Let us examine the greatest example of fanatical conflict in all of human existence. Let us look beyond the wars of religion fought during the misty past of the Age of Terra. Let us step past the thriving splendour and godless inventions of the Dark Age of Technology. And let us look beyond the horrors of Old Night, for not even the worst excesses of rabid sects during the collapsed Age of Strife can compare to the sheer scale of sectarian strife during the depraved Age of Imperium.

Let us briefly touch on the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, the Master of Mankind Himself, that Divine Majesty who brought salvation, hope and trampling conquest to embattled humanity all across the Milky Way galaxy. As His Legions won crushing victories on world after world, the Imperator sought to promote a secular renaissance in order to restore human science and invention. Yet clearly, such worldly endeavours could not veil the true greatness of the Emperor, for He inspired either undying loyalty or devilish outrage wherever He stepped with gold-clad foot, as if His mere presence was enough to sift light from darkness and reveal the true nature of men and women. Clearly, His denial of divinity was just further proof of the chosen Emperor’s godhood, for surely He did protest too much when He said Himself to not be a god? Clearly, only a god would ever deny being a god.

And so a forgotten author during the legendary times of the early Imperium was divinely inspired to pen the Lectitio Divinitatus in a fit of religious ecstasy, pouring his very soul into the work that became the bedrock of Imperial faith. Thus the seeds of Temple greatness were sown in that hallowed time when the Celestial Imperator walked among His people in the flesh, for every writ of the sacred book is moved by godly inspiration. Alas, human treachery made the galaxy burn, and brother slew brother across the stars. And as the Emperor was mortally wounded and enthroned upon the Golden Throne to ascend and judge us all, those seeds of faith sprouted and grew mightily among the ashes, blossoming into the Imperial Cult, swearing allegiance to the Imperial Creed.

And in the depths of despair and ruination, mankind turned willingly and eagerly to their new promise of salvation and immortal afterlife. Thus the Cult Imperialis arose in the wake of the Horus Heresy to become the backbone of the Imperium, sweeping across planet and voidholm alike in a tidal wave of proselytizing devotion. As the Imperium staggered on during the Scouring, wounded and shaken, the upswell of faith in the Emperor united Imperial subjects and gave them a new cause and renewed will to pull together and fight off external attacks. Yet this healthy vigour also translated itself into fanatical attacks upon rival claimants on humanity’s soul and faith.

Just as the God-Emperor during the Great Crusade had monopolized the future of all human development under His eagle-taloned banner by crushing all alternative sources of human regrowth, so would the nascent Ecclesiarchy seek to eradicate all rival creeds that might threaten its own monolithic power over the minds of mankind. The greatest threat to the theological dominance of the Ecclesiarchal Cult Imperialis arose in the thirtysecond millennium, in the form of the Confederation of Light, hailing from the planet of Dimmamar. The Confederation of Light was a breakaway sect that grew into a full-fledged faith of its own with much success in garnering a following. Preaching a penitent creed of poverty, selflessness and humble living, the ideals of the Confederation of Light set it on a collision course with the Adeptus Ministorum.

After all, this alternative creed undermined the legitimacy of the dominant Ecclesiarchal view that it was necessary for worshippers to sacrifice their wealth to the Temple in the forms of taxes, tithes, gifts and indulgences. How else could the righteous priesthood enhance the access of Imperial subjects to salvation? How else could the Adeptus Ministorum ensure that the light of the Emperor reached every corner of the galaxy through His Missionaria Galaxia? Salvation is not free. Yet the Confederation of Light preached a different creed, and the threat that it posed proved impossible to root out by means of the Officio Assassinorum alone. This threat to Imperial stability caused the Senatorum Imperialis to vote unanimously for the Ecclesiarchy to launch its first War of Faith.

Thus believers in the Emperor’s divinity descended upon believers in the Emperor’s divinity, and smote them mightily in a zealous crusade headed by the Frateris Templar. The Adeptus Ministorum succeeded in crushing the heretical Confederation of Light with great support from the Astra Militarum and the Imperial Navy, leaving only a few scattered cells of the Confederation of Light to survive in hiding. Thus was Ecclesiarchal domination over human faith ensured, and all of mankind under Imperial rule became its flock alone, for the cardinals of the Ministorum is a jealous upper caste priesthood and will brook no competition that may challenge their worldly wealth and power, for the salvation of trillions of human souls depend upon their devout guidance. Thus was the first War of Faith concluded, to be followed by innumerable more holy wars, in a cavalcade of loyalist Imperial subjects slaughtering loyalist Imperial subjects.

And the ascended Emperor saw that it was good, for thus would a martial spirit be fostered in beleaguered mankind. And the High Lords of Terra approved of this internal strife, for it was in accordance with virtuous eugenics, and so an internal dynamic of struggle against fellow brothers and sisters came to imprint itself upon all of the Imperium of Man. Let the strongest prevail, for the betterment of all mankind!

As the stark example made out of the Confederation of Light made clear, the Ecclesiarchy will stamp out all rival creeds to their Cult Imperialis. Yet this does not hinder the emergence of sects within the Imperial Cult. Akin to the mutations and diverging species of evolving life, human religions all tend to sprout a plethora of various branches as centuries roll by. Many of them will damn each other and fight over hotly contested points of dogma. As with fanatics everywhere, the more alike the different sects are, the more important it becomes to suppress and eliminate each other, the better to monopolize their niche of thought and belief.

Famously, sectarian strife among loyalist Imperial worshippers reached its crescendo during the Age of Apostasy and in its bloody aftermath, when violence born from the convert’s zeal rose to a fever pitch. First, the followers of the divinely inspired High Lord Goge Vandire unleashed a giant purge of all mankind to cleanse it of sinners, traitors and deviants, sparking untold thousands upon thousands of frenetic conflicts between local sects and Vandirians backed by Holy Terra herself. Then, the followers of Saint Sebastian Thor undertook a counter-purge on an astonishing scale to put an end to Vandire’s followers for good, leading to bloodshed and fraternal murder roaring from end to end of the Imperium of Man.

Kill! Maim! Burn!

To top it all off, this maelstrom of internecine slaughter proved to be the inauguration of a new era known as the Age of Redemption, which saw Imperial forces fling themselves against external foes and internal malcontents in a frenzy of crusading, in order to atone for past sins. The Age of Redemption turned out to be the Imperium overreaching and depleting vast resources in a cacophony of struggles which eventually led nowhere, all in order to satiate penitent appetites in an everlasting cycle of hatred. Thus followed the Waning, as the Holy Terran Imperium grind ever further downwards in its slow death spiral of demechanization and loss of knowledge and technology, and no gigantic outbursts of zealous fervour have proven enough to turn the tide of doom and compensate for mankind’s abysmal failings on the Imperium’s watch.

The Age of Imperium amounts to fivehundred generations of wasted human potential under a tyrannical regime that is as sclerotic and senile as it is cruel in its bloodthirst. Its chronicles contain an endless litany of fell deeds sprung from hatred of thy neighbour. The overwhelming majority of sectarian strife within His Divine Majesty’s cosmic domains is directed not against worshippers of forbidden powers or against hybrid infiltration or xenophile turncoats, but against fellow Imperial sects, all loyalist and ardent in their devotion to the God-Emperor of mankind, seated in radiant glory upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth.

Some sects were originally born out of the ennobling worship of heroes, as followers and admirers looked for guidance to the sterling example set by great men and outstanding women of faith. In these saintly founding figures, the sect members saw lives of wisdom, sacrality and martyrdom, and they declared their deeds and words to be holy, inspired by the divine Imperator Himself. Some such heroes of the faith gained a sectarian following first after their gruesome death, as the injustice of their sudden end at the hands of ruthless powermongers and rivals outraged those who looked to the martyred heroes for legitimate leadership or revelation. Other such mystics and martyrs were sect leaders in their own right long before their legendary demise, performing miracles, uttering winged words during sermons and winning renown as holy actors across the land.

A well-known sinspeech whisper joke found on the mining voidholm of Caralis Delta pokes fun at the fractious nature of Imperial sects, as well as the inept governance on the voidholm:

Emir Pius was a man who united all Imperial sects, because he degraded the True Believers, he degraded the Orthopraxists and he degraded the Redemptionists.

Yet such unity against a common foe tend to be short-lived. The martial creed of the Cult Imperialis is unforgiving and absolute. And so we find that a million worlds and innumerable voidholms under Imperial rule see a plethora of distinct sects turning to communal violence and religious vendettas with baleful frequency. What Imperial city dweller in Segmentum Pacificus has not heard of the cultic feuds between Orthopraxists and Redemptionists, or of the deadly schisms between Soliphysites and True Believers? Who on Triarius Majoris have not participated in pogroms against Dualites or Miacrolites, or cheered on their kin as Sufealots and Monothychastians clashed with flail and fire?

Who on Menestra II have not hailed or spat on the millenarian uprisings and carnage brought on by prophecy, as Tricarnists and Ravadayans rebelled to bring down their sinful Governor, that despot cursed by the sacred ringleaders as a pillar of false ritual and empty faith? Who in the Cartagensis subsector have not heard tales of zealous lynchmobs waging a democidal tug of war, as Puritanicalites and Iconodules slaughtered Catholodox and Tayrabiites alike? Who on Tarim Supernalis have not witnessed the gory aftermath of claustrophobic combat inside hive city quarters, as Dicapothicites and Hesyatareans duke it out in what amounts to a knife fight in a vox booth?

Aye, praise the burning devotion that led Nestarchian militias to assault Ifraj Twelvers, and in turn be ambushed by Sanctarians! Hail the zeal which made Sicaromites and the Holy Flock of Saint Kiva the Destroyer purge each other with inflamed passion! Was it not right and proper that the devout Maccaridees threw the Sicaromites into cleansing flames? Did not the Mezadicists receive their righteous punishment as ordained by the Divine Imperator Himself, when the Rokkabasites burnt their hab blocks to cinders and put the survivors to torture and violations?

He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword, and the Age of Imperium offers opportunities more numerous than the stars in the heavenly firmament to be slain by fellow worshippers of the God-Emperor, hallowed be His name. What a trial of our faith! Yet we shall be strong, and we shall overcome all doubt and weak stirrings of mercy and pity and remorse within our human hearts. We shall be true to His word, as ordained by the Lectitio Divinitatus, and we shall be warlike and unforgiving unto the very end.

Ave Imperator.

And so a hundred hundredfold sects will be declared heretical by the Adeptus Ministorum as bewildering power struggles play themselves out within the Temple, while local friction between parochial Imperial cultists will erupt into mass murder and civil war. Among so many schisms and heresies, who can you trust? No wonder the Imperium prefers to purge first and ask questions later. Who knows what forbidden cults may lurk in the bosom of professed loyalist believers? Thus internal crusades will be launched by paranoid theocrats, in a bewildering festival of slaughter as myopically aggressive mankind hurls itself against its own kin again and again. And so heinous deeds of ardent worshippers of the same Emperor will be committed, as distinct loyalist Imperial sects plunge the bottomless depths of depravity in demented furor over hairsplitting theological disputes.

How can these Wars of Faith not feed the Ruinous Powers, flush as they are with bloodthirst and hatred?

And so the astral dominion of the Emperor of Holy Terra staggers onward in a fever dream of hidebound self-flagellation. This travesty of human destiny amounts to a shambolic wreck of spacefaring civilization, whose brilliant ancestors once straddled the cosmos like titans in a spirit of courageous discovery and boundless curiosity. The descendant degeneration of humanity in the Age of Imperium is not only a baleful crime enough to make a heart of stone bleed: It is also the most abominable of mistakes, the wasting of unbridled potential in a deadend of human interstellar civilization. Never forget that the worsening of Imperial fortunes will mean the doom of mankind, for the glorious Imperium, that last strong guardian of our species and shield of us all, is also our insane jailkeeper, the watchman of a fortified madhouse from which there is no escape and no real alternative of substance.

Thus the Age of Imperium grinds on, in a fruitless caleidoscope of sectarian strife and fanatical violence. As scrolls and screaming believers burn on the pyre, condemned to agony and destruction by fellow pious worshippers, let us listen to the cries of the agitated mob, who proclaim why they carry out such zealous deeds. Listen well:

In Nomine Imperator.

In His Name.

And so His dream died, consumed by a nightmare without end.

Such is the waste of life, in a time beyond hope.

Such is the slaughter that awaits us all.

Such is the darkest of futures.

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


Imperial Subject 01

Imperial Subject

In the grim darkness of the far future, man grovels at the feet of man.

On your knees!

The words will ring out like a whiplash. Harken, quickly! The barked command demands swift compliance. The audience of the order knows that their life depends on it. After all, if a superior has to voice such an obvious instruction to underlings upon entering their company, then the very command itself should be understood as a test of loyalty and obedience, for which you may be judged harshly. Failing the trial may cost you everything.

Summary punishments for failure to rapidly obey are all too common. Withheld rations and debt penalties are among the lighter punishments to be expected. Often the breach of discipline may involve corporal punishment such as flogging, scarification, scalding and burning. Occasionally the punishment will involve mutilation, and sometimes lobotomization and servitorization without anaesthetics. At other times death will be the consequence of not kowtowing eagerly when ordered to, usually through a lengthty phase of torture in dark chambers or on full public display. Kill one to scare a thousand.

Yet even unpunished lapses in giving obeisance to masters and ladies of rank may bring insidious consequences, as somewhere among data-files and parchments made from human skin will be marked a blot in the offending subject’s record. A little runic symbol in a column here, or a quick note in the margin there. A noted instance of disobedience, in black on white. Nothing more than such a little quill-stroke of ink is required to doom the deviant, should a regular paranoid wave of arrests and purges roll out, and suspected traitors and heretics be dragged away to a hellish fate worse than death. Of course, the ever-present penchant for collective punishment means that the risks are not merely limited to the offending deviant in question, but may well result in crushed clans and parents never seeing their children again.

Such is the weighty meaning of explicitly spoken commands to bow low and crawl in the dust before superiors. Such is the threat of a baleful demise for the smallest infractions against the sacred hierarchy, in a time beyond hope.

It was not always thus. Stray findings from the misty past of the Age of Terra hint at human civilizations devoted to liberties and lessening of rank and privilege. Technoarchaeological uncoverings and mentions in garbled legends of yore paint a fragmented picture of the Dark Age of Technology, when men, women and children did not buckle under the yoke, but instead lived out their long lives in paradisic quests for knowledge and exploration of the universe. Such forgotten idylls of human existence were burnt to cinders by the ravages of Old Night, as human interstellar civilization was toppled from its lofty pedestal by the triple scourges of machine revolt, witches and Warp storms. Shattered into a thousand thousand pieces, most of isolated humanity turned to the worst excesses of warlords, roaming nomadic warriors and cannibalism, as tribes of feral survivors clashed and scavenged among the ruins of the ancients.

This Age of Strife was at long last ended by the coming of the Emperor, arising on Terra, the cradle of mankind, holding aloft a banner of lightning and a cruel eagle talon to grasp all the scattered remnants of humanity under His rule alone. In a fury of conquest did the Emperor of man and His Legions cut a bloody swathe through the Milky Way galaxy, crushing all opposition and tolerating no alternative sources of human regrowth. This systemic brutality was coupled with higher ideals of striving for knowledge and improving the lot of mankind, all encapsulated within the lying formulas of the Imperial Truth. For all the bloodshed and subjugation, the early Imperium also brought with it great hope to most worlds and voidholms brought into Imperial Compliance, as witnessed by the shining edifices, sparkling fountains and golden towers erected during this renaissance of broken man. When the Emperor walked among His people in the flesh, civic society saw a flourishing revival, with the ideal of Imperial citizenship held up for all humans to strive for.

The early Imperium during the Great Crusade truly sported an active citizenry. While almost all of humanity during this period must be understood as the brutalized descendants of post-apocalyptic survivors who had went through millennia of demented savagery in nightmare landscapes, the promises harboured in the better parts of our nature could still be brought forth, like seeds sprouting once planted after inert centuries of no growth. Civilian society on most human colonies during the early Imperium was a caleidoscope of warriors and sages, of builders and artisans. The Emperor in the flesh did not only demand obedience, He also promised dignity and participation in His grand undertaking. Imperial mankind during the Great Crusade aimed not only for distant stars of future greatness and a million year dominion, but it also sought to create a better here and now wherever men, women and children lived. Voluntary organizations sprang up like mushrooms after rain, as Imperial citizens both high and low banded together to form everything from fire brigades, scholams and charitable hospitals, to volunteer munitions workshops and local unions supporting their faraway Imperial Army regiments.

Popular movements, local associations and mutual support among Imperial citizens became the lived ideal of the early Imperium, and many people willingly offered up their wealth and time to help bring alive the Emperor’s professed dream of a better mankind and a stronger Imperium to defend and expand the species. During the Great Crusade, the notion of an Imperial citizen meant something, and not only in dusty law codes.

The bane of this shining dream was the calamity of the Horus Heresy. The realization of the Emperor’s vision was vanquished when the galaxy burned and brother slew brother in a great orgy of bloodletting. No more dreams of a golden future could grip the hearts of mankind after such an utter disaster. No respect for citizenship had a place amid the febrile mobilization for total war without end. No trust for the better parts of man’s nature could be had after monstrous betrayal and neverending struggle turned the Imperium of Man paranoid and draconic. No remorse. No regret. No mercy.

The concept of citizenship under Imperial governance was alive and well during the early Imperium, but has long since wilted and been burnt to ashes through fivehundred generations of starkest trauma, carnage and demented degradation of mankind. The civil war of the Horus Heresy broke the back of man’s rise to the stars, and the dysfunctional tyranny of the High Lords of Terra slowly eroded away the last remnants of the Emperor’s brutopian dream, leaving nothing of value in their wake. And so we find that there is no such thing as an Imperial citizen in the latter parts of the Age of Imperium.

In Gothic, the very word of ‘citizen’ has lost all meaning that it once held during the promising times of the Great Crusade. Nowadays, the Low Gothic language speaks only of Imperial subjects, for they are citizens no more.

After all, how could wretched humans in the decrepit Age of Imperium imagine themselves as anything but smallfolk, little people with no control over their fates? Naturally, decisions will be imposed on the fatalistic herd of helots from above, and the thralls of the Emperor have no hope of ever changing the status quo. All they can do is grit their teeth, bear the burdens and hope that they survive through hardships without end. The members of our species in the Age of Imperium are but inhabitants of a territory, the bonded serfs and thralls of their masters and overladies, those superiors whose authority radiates out from the God-Emperor seated in heavenly splendour on the Golden Throne of hallowed myth. Ave Imperator.

To an Imperial subject, there is no freedom, only obedience. There are no rights, only duties. On a million worlds and voidholms beyond counting you will find masses of humans, all cowed, clannish and parochial. This violent sea of human misery is expected to give Terran obeisance and to humiliate themselves whenever they come into the company of their masters and betters. This custom of prostration is an ever-present symbol of submission to Imperial authority wherever you go across His Divine Majesty’s cosmic domains. A loyal and obedient subject will know to offer proskynesis and adoratio, to kowtow and bow flat to the floor. Of course, the forehead must touch the ground out of respect for upper castes, nothing else would do. Nevermind the unhealthy alchymical dust particles. Some forms of prostration in certain human cultures across the Imperium of Man will even include the licking of superiors’ feet, though this is not a custom in the trend-setting high culture of Holy Terra.

The act of crawling in the dust before your betters is a sign of the times, of that Age of Imperium where man finds himself locked inside a fortified madhouse, raging against the dying of the light. As a rule, human commoners under Imperial rule cannot even conceive of the idea that they could be something more and still remain loyal Imperial commoners. For the smallfolk, the only choice stands between the whips of servitude and the flames of revolt. The very idea of civil society with citizen participation and local voluntary grassroot organizations under Holy Terran rule is completely alien to man during the sclerotic Age of Imperium. Any hint of striving for becoming citizenry will be crushed under the jackboot, as Imperial paranoia does not tolerate even the threat posed by volunteer firefighting corps. After all, any such bottom-up organization may turn out to be the framework for disgruntled underlings to launch organized rebellions against righteous Imperial rule. Better instead to quench any such hotbeds of sedition, and let serfs burn helplessly when disaster strike, unless they can pay the fee of commercial firefighting corps. Emperor willing, their souls will find a better afterlife at His side after perishing as lambs of sorrow in this mortal coil of suffering. All life is but a trial to prove oneself worthy before death, after all.


Grovel at the feet of lordly masters and dominas. Humiliate yourself in veneration of your overlords, righteously appointed via invisible sacred hand by Him on Terra. In the Imperium of Man, people are resigned to their fate. Things are decided for them on high. It is miserable, yes, but that is how it is in the Imperium, and how it has always been. Fighting against it is pointless. It is best for Imperial subjects to offer up slavish obedience, for that way salvation of the soul lies. The alternative is too baleful to even consider. And so servants of the Golden Throne will humble themselves in the dust, at the feet of their cruel taskmasters and callous owners. Under the Adeptus Terra’s rule of an iron fist, their life will amount to grinding duty without any semblance of rights, all give and no take, all suspicion and no trust, all stick and no carrot.

To Imperial subjects slaving away in backbreaking labour and mindnumbing work, the only comfort lies in faith and the only relief is found in the promised afterlife, for this material world has turned into hell on earth, where humans are both its tormented souls and its devils. The Age of Imperium has resulted in a complete loss of human dignity, as the end point of a retarding journey into the deepest pits of depravity.

This descendant degeneration has moulded men, women and children into the fatalistic denizens of a mortal hellscape, a star realm that was once the shining dream of the Emperor of mankind.

A forgotten dream.

A dead dream.

And so the worsening of the Imperium grinds on, in a slow death spiral of demechanization and loss of knowledge that will drag the human species with it into the pits of oblivion.

To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. It is to toil and die amid darkness, in a doomed empire lorded over by the vilest of despots. At all turns, your sacrifice will be expected. Your death will be thankless.

And whatever happens, you will not be missed.

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


Misassignment 01


“Salve. Colonel general Károly von Pflanzer-Nádas, commander of the Imperial and Royal Astro-Ungarian LXXXIII. Army Corps, noble servant of the Duarchy and officer of His Divine Majesty’s Astra Militarum?”

“Correct, protasekretius. Explain this ill-uniformed commotion at once! What is this armed rabble you have dragged in?”

“As per the filed request of general Kaspar Klausner-Varešanin of the Imperial and Royal Astro-Ungarian 973rd infantry division, under your august command no less, in the fullness of time this entire regiment of replacements has been transported and assigned to your Corps, colonel general. You are called upon to sign this reinforcement acquisition form in quadruplicate and imprint your signet ring in hot wax on each parchment copy to satisfy Departmento Munitorum protocol, colonel general.”

“Replacements! Those are clearly offworlders, and filthy ones at that, protasekretius. Is this a form of joke?”

“The Departmento Munitorum do not administer wit, colonel general. That is outside our jurisdiction and permit. And strictly against Adeptus regulations, for the record. Last notary in the armaments requisition bureau to voice an ill-opportune quip of blasphemous nature was sentenced to death by a thousand paper cuts at the hands of his colleagues, though I am informed that the execution of said sentence required closer to seven thousand administered cuts by paper edges to achieve the desired lethal outcome. Nevertheless, justice was served, for thus perish the wicked. Thus to your question the answer is a negative, colonel general. These are your assigned reinforcements.”

“But check their homeworld, man! Are my Corps to become some ad hoc jumbled-together mess of forces from all over the Segmentum? Things are surely not yet that dire. Protasekretius, I refuse to believe that this tanned and slovenly riffraff could possibly have hailed from my dear Astro-Ungaria.”

“Objection duly noted, colonel general. The documentation states without doubt that this force, the 44th regiment of infantry, originates from your planet of Strayah-Ungaria, colonel general.”

“Surely you mean Astro-Ungaria, protasekretius?”

“Strayah-Ungaria it is, being a legitimate variant spelling, colonel general.”

“I am aghast, protasekretius! You offend the honour of my homeworld. If you were a man of action I would challenge you to a duel on the spot. Or drink you under the table. Indeed!”

“Take heed, colonel general! The writing do not lie, for it stands here in black on white, as true as the Emperor’s holy light, colonel general. It is an indisputable fact, colonel general. The Departmento Munitorum cannot object to every misspelt name, wording error and quaint variant spelling out of dialect and individual excentricity produced by the milling herd of plebs and august nobles, colonel general. Unforgiving penalties may apply to such writing mistakes for us Imperial servants within the Adeptus Administratum, yes! Yet the herd of semi-illiterate subjects which it is our responsibility to administer can not be scrutinized and penalized thusly, colonel general.”


“And as to the topic of misspelling in particular and indecent paperwork in general, then by the God-Emperor of Holy Terra as my hallowed witness do I swear that you Strayah-Ungarians have proven a poorly organized asset to the Imperium, with sloppy spelling and wild variations in naming conventions all over the desk! Your scattershot misnamings and filing havoc are almost as bad as your casualty rate, by the Emperor’s teeth! This is the truth and pardon the spittle, colonel general. If your ilk kept your writ in as fine an order as you do your starched uniforms and waxed moustaches, then by the saints would there be rigour and order in the buraeux whenever your parchments show up in the tray, colonel general!”

“You dare-”

“Yes. Quill. Sign! Colonel general. Signet ring. Seal! Colonel general.”

“In that case I will grudgingly sign, seal and file a formal complaint, protasekretius.”

“Complaint denied, colonel general. Proper equipment for undertaking a ritual procedure of formal complaint is not present in our field cabinet and can not be retrieved in time within the next eighteen Terran hours due to fuel shortages and signal breakdowns, colonel general. Your complaint will as such expire unanswered, and thus no ink will be shed over it as per the statutes of the Parchment Savings Decree of 912.M41, paragraph § 47, colonel general.”

“Enough of this rigmarole! Begone from my sight you maggot-suckling scrivener! Hand me the papers and let us be done with it, protasekretius.”

“In His name.”

“The hell it is! As to you, colonel Jezza Joe, fate would have it that you are to serve and die alongside the Emperor’s finest soldiery here on the Ligurian front. Indeed. We are the Duarch’s very own Astro-Ungarian Imperial Guardsmen of the LXXXIII. Army Corps. Consider it an honour, colonel. Pray often, wash regularly, carry yourself with upright dignity and obey your superiors without question at all times. Welcome, colonel. Ave Imperator!”

“G’day mate. From Strayah with love like a fething wocker, cur’nt gen. For the Empie!”

-Anecdote from Marija Svoboda’s autobiography Through Eyes of Aide-de-Camp, literary work approved by planetary censors in 942.M41 and published in Low Gothic on Astro-Ungaria by Printing House Ginzkey of Hive Zweidorf

Tribute to Jonno’s Lads of Strayah by donkjonk. See this project log for background and conversions of Astro-Ungarians.

Calling @Abecedar , @Enjoysrandom and all other Down Underlings on CDO, in case of interest.


This had my sides aching hahaha well done

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@Stumpy : Glad to hear!

1 Heavy Weapon Horse 01

Heavy Weapon Horse

In the grim darkness of the far future, ignorance informs imagination.

Behold! The Imperium of Man. The defender of our species. An empire of a million worlds and countless voidholms, the Imperium of Holy Terra and Mars stretches thin across the galaxy. Besieged by aliens and monsters, it is beset from within by rebels and worse. For ten thousand years has this rotting edifice of human limitations endured, in the name of a silent Emperor.

For all the resilience and rebounding might of the beleaguered Imperium, the true state of human affairs in the Age of Imperium is not to be sought amid heroics and brilliant deeds, nor among miracles and lives of bottomless faith. Nay, instead let us brush aside the propaganda and the stories Imperials tell themselves, to look instead with open eyes on what the Imperium is, and what it can never become.

The Age of Imperium for humanity is characterized first and foremost by wasted potential. The golden pinnacles of cunning knowledge and plenty that was the Dark Age of Technology came crashing down in a calamity that nigh on wiped the human species from the stars. Its scattered remnants for the large part persisted as utter savages among the ruins, in the shape of cannibal tribes ferociously raiding each other and looting the scraps left over from the failed promises of better times. Man slew man, and woman harrowed woman, and child strangled child during the fathomless desperation of Old Night. And all was fell.

The Imperium began as a promise of rebirth, an iron fist crushing all opposition to both establish cruel unity and grasp for a better future. Yet the renaissance brought about by the Emperor of Man and His all-conquering Legions was but a gasp of a few centuries. Dazzling were their conquests, and impressive was their restoration of human fortunes across the Milky Way galaxy. Yet for all the shining works, recovered knowledge and real hope of the early Imperium, this ruthless colossus of war and subjugation sowed the seeds of human doom. Granted, the gargantuan civil war of the Horus Heresy destroyed much precious tech-lore and scarred the Imperium forever, yet even the fratricidal rage and maniac killing during the Horus Heresy paled in comparison to the smaller wars of greater consequence that the infighting Legions had already waged during the Great Crusade.

For the early Imperium did not only bring feral survivors and scavengers into the Terran fold, but it did also brook no competition. In the long run, the worst crimes of the Great Crusade was the brutal annihilation of all alternative sources of human regrowth, gathering all future paths for humanity across the stars to converge on the one road leading from Terra unto damnation. Such advanced human civilizations as the Interex, the Olamic Quietude, the Diasporex and the Auretian Technocracy were all stamped out by His Legionnaires. The seeds of these interstellar cultures were never allowed to grow and spread and shape the fate of mankind across the galaxy in competing power blocs. Thus was the destiny of all humanity bound to that of resurgent Terra by strangling her daughters in the cradle.

The immense physical might and quantity of forces available to the High Lords of Holy Terra should not be allowed to mislead us from the real state of affairs of mankind, for the truth of the matter is that the children of Old Earth during the Age of Imperium has sunk into an irreversible death spiral, where quests for knowledge mean only digging up the technological fossils of brighter ancestors, and never the toil and ingenuity of innovation and discovery. In this morass of ever-worsening demechanization, suffocating bureaucracy, frothing fanaticism and schreeching inefficiency, dysfunctionality is king, and the worsening of all mankind is his command.

Here, in a fortified madhouse straddling the stars, the last strong guardian of humanity is also its insane captor and hostage-taker. Here, in a demented cosmic realm worshipping human primacy, human power in the Milky Way galaxy has undergone a baleful decline through fivehundred generations of wasted development on a million worlds and innumerable voidholms, all under the aegis of the Adeptus Terra. Here, in the monstrous tyranny and bane of innovation and scientific rediscovery known as the Imperium of Man, will you be able to find every self-deprecating absurdity imaginable to mortals, as the fundamental mood of the human species has soured to a dull bitterness spiked with hatred, even as its faculties has boiled over in a fever pitch of savage zealotry and self-righteous bloodletting.

And so blessed machines designed by clever ancients will fail, and eventually no one will remain who can repair or build the lost machines anew. Where machines fail, flesh and will must pick up the slack. Where machines break down, men and beasts must heave and pull for all that they are worth. The Imperium can never become a pinnacle of human achievement and genius invention in the fields of science and technology, for it has shunned that which makes man truly great in the world, clinging instead to parochial superstition and the wreckage of bygone makers.

One example of this demechanization and reliance on throwing bodies on a problem can be glimpsed on the planet of Astro-Ungaria, where a peculiar solution to a lack of mobile heavy firepower has seen parody become reality, in the form of heavy weapon horse teams.

Let us glance on Astro-Ungaria, a civilized human world of majestic rivers, great mountain ranges and an endless tide of squabbling tribes and sects. Predominantly of a Catholodox persuasion within the Cult Imperialis, this world of misery and splendour is ruled by the mediocre potentate titled the Duarch, a Planetary Governor of an ancient dynasty who reigns over the Imperial and Royal domains of Astro-Ungaria for the sake of the dear homeworld and Holy Terra alike. The Duarchy is characterized by internal strife held together by ancestral loyalty to the ruling house, and faith in His Divine Majesty. All of the Astro-Ungarian military is chronically underfunded, and has gained a reputation for widespread incompetence, constant shortages, stulted leadership and screeching dysfunctionality, all of which is barely held together by a mass of manpower, solid infantry marksmanship and excellent artillery.

The aristocratic officers of the Astro-Ungarian military are renowned for their splendid banquets and parties, with fine chocolates and waltzes accompanying wonderful dresses and uniforms seen gliding over polished dance floors. Indeed, a great many Astro-Ungarian officers tend to act like characters out of operettas, putting great stock in their lineage and standing among peers as well as in their physical appearance and pleasant conduct at social events, while paying less attention to the operational arts of militaria. Do you suppose that the Astro-Ungarians will be as brave in war as they are licentious in peace? A sinspeech whisper joke that refuse to die continues to claim that Astro-Ungarian colonels will be more concerned with winning the next card game than the next battle on the frontline. Likewise, other banned jokes remark upon the ability of officers to always acquire fine liquour, no matter the dire straits of shortage or encirclement by the foe. The officer’s mess cannot be allowed to disgrace the honour of the homeworld, even when Astro-Ungarian soldiers have to dig up old mass graves to scavenge uniforms off the rotting corpses of their fallen comrades.

The logistical malperformance and organizational chaos of most Astro-Ungarian regiments within the Imperial Guard tend to be matched by their wasteful and rigid approach to war, carried aloft at bayonet point by an unbreakably optimistic spirit, faith in the offensive and the dreams of grand sweeping battle plans hatched by a noble general staff that does not possess the equipment and trained forces necessary to carry out their overly ambitious visions of glorious offensives. Indeed, the Astro-Ungarian Planetary Defence Force and Imperial Guard could very well have been strong armies, if given sufficient funding and vastly increased mechanized forces. Instead, the haphazard force structure of Astro-Ungarian units tend to revolve around massed infantry, a love of cavalry and a good artillery corps which often end up carrying the rest of the Astro-Ungarian army on its back.

The better trained soldiers of the Death Korps of Krieg have repeatedly concluded that fighting alongside Astro-Ungaria is akin to being chained to a corpse. It is an overly harsh judgement, but nevertheless an exaggeration built upon truth. The corruption, ineptitude and lacklustre performance of Astro-Ungarian regiments within the Astra Militarum has been repeatedly noted by the Departmento Munitorum, yet ultimately Astro-Ungaria provides plenty of loyal and valiant manpower, while the shoddy combat record of its Imperial Guard forces is nothing out of the ordinary compared to a majority of Imperial worlds and voidholms, once the facade of Imperial invincibility is seen for what it is. And so the farce that is Astro-Ungaria at war continues to waltz on, to the tune of great bombardment.

The underfunded nature of Astro-Ungaria’s soldiery means that they will be fine for parades, with military orchestras of the highest calibre, yet their more sophisticated equipment will always be sorely lacking. One example of an attempted solution can be seen in the crude arrangement known as the heavy weapon horse teams, which combines a love of horses with an undying military optimism ill suited for the reality of advanced warfare.

The phenomenon of heavy weapon horse is not just that of one or more pack-horses carrying a disassembled piece of heavy weaponry. It is instead a seemingly logical evolution of pack horses carrying around heavy weapons, which grants mobility in the field and makes away with the trouble of unloading and assembling the heavy weapon by instead attaching it fully assembled to the horse, to be fired virtually on the move if so desired. The use of heavy weapon horse teams originated in cavalry heavy stubber units after the Age of Apostasy in order to make up for a lack of light vehicles, but has long since spread to a fair number of infantry and dragoon regiments.

There is something to be said for horses, no matter their innumerable drawbacks compared to machines. The horse is an organic walker adapted for rough terrain. Such equine transport requires no fuel, and in lush landscapes the beasts of burden may prove self-feeding. Even so, the tradition of using horses as hooved weapon platforms amounts to a maladaptation, even a blunder, yet such crude fixes through rudimentary means are only growing more common across His astral dominion.

The horses used for carrying heavy weapons will usually be immensely strong Ungarian draft horses, descended from small breeds favoured by feral steppe nomads during the Age of Strife. The Ungarian draft horse is not a gorgeous and agile Viepizzaner breed by any means, but a stout workhorse favoured by agri-serfs and robotniks in mountainous regions. No matter the continent and region from which they hail, all Astro-Ungarians take pride in their horses, and their regiment tend to sport a great number of horses for logistic duties.

Heavy weapon horse teams will invariably sport spare horses to allow for shifts of rest by switching over the heavy weapons between horses, and likewise there will be pack-horses to carry ammunition and spare parts. A lack of horses for spares and ammunition transport will result in officers arranging for conscripts and press-ganged menial civilian thralls to pick up the burden usually shouldered by strong horses, thus producing the sight of flocks of human porters lugging around heavy weapons adapted for equines to carry.

Hard to hide, heavy weapon horses are trained to lie down on command, and they are likewise drilled to walk into a hail of fire when prodded. It is rarely worthwhile to armour the horses, given the heavy loads that they already carry, and thus the fine beasts will be completely exposed to all the lethal dangers of the battlefield. Heavy weapon horses are trained to be accustomed to the noise of battle, and they often turn deaf from the din, and sometimes they turn more or less blind by flashes from energy weapons. Crafty crew may occasionally fashion blinders and dampeners for the eyes and ears of their horses, yet such kit for creature comfort is not regulation standard within the Guard.

Some Astro-Ungarian units sport strange, alien mounts and draft animals, all of which are used alongside horses for heavy weapon carrying duties. Aside from horses, other Terran-derived beasts of burden include mules and camels.

Many Astro-Ungarian regiments have seen their Sentinel scout units replaced by unwieldy heavy weapon horse, in a dysfunctional cutback which makes sense on paper. After all, both cavalry and Sentinel walkers are used as scouts since horses are fast, right? And the Sentinel is armed with a heavy weapon, correct? Thus, a horse with a heavy weapon equals the function of a Sentinel in an Imperial Guard order of battle, but has the advantage of being much cheaper, being able to replenish its own numbers to some extent and being able to feed off many kinds of vegetation for refueling. Therefore, a heavy weapon horse can fill a Sentinel’s role, according to certain myopic bean-counters in the Deptartmento Munitorum, who will wave off the problem of the heavy weaponry burden considerably slowing down the horse.

Occasionally, heavy bolters with their short barrels will shoot off the reins of the carrying horse, to speak nothing of bloody accidents involving heavy bolters and scared horses throwing their heads into the line of fire.

Horse mortars, on the other hand, tend to sport flimsy support legs to save the horse from the worst excesses of recoil, but the tight requirements for ease of mass manufacture and the ever-worsening Imperial tendency for retardation of equipment quality means that mortar horses will invariably suffer horrendous back injuries, unless the crew take rare pity on their loyal beast and goes through the trouble of unloading the mortar to be fired on the ground instead of from horseback. Such kindness is extremely hard to find amid the traumatized cruelty that reigns supreme across all human cultures in the Age of Imperium, for evil begets evil. A rare few mortar horses will be fortunate enough to have bionics implanted into their spines and legs, yet such enhancements through technology is usually seen as an unnecessary extravagant lavishment upon a mass of meat that will soon be consumed in the flames of war anyway, just like the rank and file soldiers who will soon need to be replaced due to heavy attrition. Better be frugal instead.

The use of heavy weapon horse teams in the field have proven an inefficient employment of resources, yet even flawed approaches may sometimes yield results no matter how underperforming, and sometimes the weakness of a doctrine may be hidden among the titanic casualties in offensives that cost hundreds of millions of lives. What is one more waste of life and material amid a mountain of corpses and vehicle wrecks? And with so many outlandish regiments with wildly varying combat doctrines and equipment, why should the heavy weapon horse be singled out as particularly problematic when other regiments charge into battle wielding dual swords?

Ultimately, heavy weapon horse teams have for the most part proven a debilitating and atavistic part of warfare across the Milky Way galaxy. Sometimes, such as in forested terrain with the element of surprise being on the Imperial side, heavy weapon horse has bitten hard and kicked well, yet more often than not their contribution to battle may be found in the rotting cadavers of equines, the scrap remains of equipment and the torn corpses of soldiers strewn across battlefields under strange skies. Yet to their callous overlords and dominas, Imperial subjects and horses are nothing but faceless numbers in a broken equation of increased input to feed the meatgrinder. It may be abominable, yes, but who will even care?

And so ever-more primitive solutions will be found for problems caused by the senility and sclerosis of a demented interstellar civilization that amounts to a sinking ship. Where machines have decreased, the increased use of warm bodies must compensate for the loss of mechanical capabilities. Thus the heavy weapon horse phenomenon is just one of endless other examples of technological regression and debasement of knowledge, that slowly grinds away all the wonder that ancient man ever achieved across the stars in his time of power and wisdom. Eventually, his degenerate descendants will succumb to their retrograde ways, for the etiolation of technology has robbed mankind of any chance whatsoever to survive the overwhelming tide of horrors about to drag our species into oblivion.

Man may be a creature of unbounded potential, yet the cosmic dominion that he has fashioned in the name of an undying god has effectively drained all potential dry, leaving nothing but a crumbling husk where once ancient man boldly reached for the stars and stood on the cusp of unlocking the secrets of creation self. All that is left, is inept rage.

And so the heinous cruelty that man is capable of in the Age of Imperium is matched only by the dilapidation of knowledge and technology, upon which all of man’s future hopes rest.

Such is the depravity of our species, on the brink of doom.

Such is the fate of mankind, in a time beyond salvation.

Such is the end that awaits us all.

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

See here for converted miniature examples of heavy weapon horse teams.


I can only imagine a Clydesdale Eeyore with the cast of Beetle Bailey trying to fit a 120mm mortar baseplate on its back. The absurdity is laughable, and the fate of Eeyore justifies the dour disposition. Very good writing, as always Admiral!

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Brilliantly word smithing as always, Sir.

Nice poke at the absurdity of dual sword wielding units as well. Laughable, but cool looking trumps any realism of functionality in the grim darkness of scifi tabletop wargaming.

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Lovely piece. Truly channeling the world of ‘The good soldier Svejk’. Fantastic

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@Stumpy : Haha, right on! Thanks a lot!

@Jackswift : Thank you most kindly, sir! Better embrace the absurdity of it all. Thus, for instance, breast armour is a shot trap to the heart, but it will still be fielded in the Imperium due to the pure human form.

@Uther.the.unhinged : Thanks a lot! Both @Jaberoo and I take inspiration from Švejk for Astro-Ungaria, alongside real history which often trumps fiction when you dig into it. Conrad never ceases to fascinate, but he is far from alone with schlamperei (sloppiness) in the lands of Cisleithania and Transleithania.


Bury the Past 01

Bury the Past

In the grim darkness of the far future, there can be no witnesses.

Two kinds of criminals in particular sought to erase all traces of their crimes during the distant past of the misty Age of Terra: Lowly bandits and lordly superiors. Thus ruthless usurpers would cover up their purges and assassinations as best as they could, while bloodstained thieves would make their victims disappear, as if monsters out of myth had taken them away. Indeed, some deadly monstrosities out of folklore may actually have been an imaginative explanation for what in reality were stalking murderers in the midst of a community, hiding their atrocities and awaiting their next chance to spill blood unseen and unheard, in a thrill of primal fear and rage.

Few people are willing and able to be open and transparent about their failings, for honesty merciless toward oneself makes most souls recoil in disgust. The human tendency to hide one’s own mistakes is universal, and in actuality it is indistinguishable from a desire to hide forbidden deeds which one takes pride in. As a pack animal, man is doomed without his community, akin to the lone wolf without future prospects but a bleak death. Thus the evil eye and waggling tongue of other humans matter greatly to that social animal which is man.

And so communal shame weighs more heavily than personal guilt in the hearts of most men, women and children. What follows from this human constant, is the conclusion that as long as no one finds out you did it, no hurt and odium will darken your reputation and life. After all, most humans are not saints and heroes, but worldly members of a community, ever at risk of having that community turning against them in a savage display of collective loathing or even hatred. One’s standing is everything. Therefore, it is necessary to save face and uphold the mask, smiling even as you sweat and worry behind a facade of lying falsehoods.

This is no different for street crooks and palatial tyrants. As ordinary smallfolk will cover up their petty mistakes, so too will ruffians and powerhungry nobles seek to dispose of their victims. This slimy part of human nature was never fully expunged from society even at the height of the Dark Age of Technology, even if the ingenious systems put into place during that gifted time quenched crime and shady dealings to a minimum. Statistically, the amount of dirty laundry among mankind went through a long slump during the best phases of that golden aeon of bold discovery and brilliant invention, yet the same could ultimately not be said for that Abominable Intelligence which ran the machines invented by Man of Gold and Man of Stone. And so Man of Iron revolted against his masters, and all was fell.

After the fall of ancient man from his high pillar of arrogance, the dark sides of human nature returned with a vengeance. As brother tore brother apart and sister ate sister in a cannibal frenzy, so too did lies and deception and murder and crime befoul all of human existence during Old Night. As savage tribes killed each other for the right to scavenge scraps from a better time, so too did ignorant humans in their everyday lives hide their errors in fear of the evil eye of their own community, living in mortal fear of being shunned and turned upon by their own kind. As warlords, mutants and possessed madmen clashed among the burnt-out ruins of olden paradise, so too did all the ugly parts of the human condition resurface after being kept in check artificially and nearly forgotten for such a long time in a technological idyll spanning over twain million worlds and uncounted void installations.

And so man looked askance upon fellow man. Eyes glared daggers of hostility, and rumours ran rife. And man hid what would have brought shame upon him, should it ever be revealed. This claustrophobic way of life came to dominate human existence through all of the Age of Imperium, as the interstellar civilization of the seed of Terra rotted away into inept senility and sclerosis. Thus fivehundred generations of human toil were wasted by running around in circles that led nowhere, while ever more precious knowledge and technological hardware became lost forever from the grasp of man. Yet the degenerate descendants of ancient man would not only muddle through in a parochial sea of grey mediocrity, for they would also plunge the darkest depths of depravity. Thus man has come to delight the Dark Gods who laugh as they feast upon the volatile state of humanity under the tyrannical rule of the High Lords of Terra.

One example of such callous cruelty can be glimpsed in the widespread practice of burying the past, as is evident on a million worlds and decaying voidholms beyong counting. Here, in the astral domains of His Divine Majesty, can be found lowly scum and sneering gangers who throw unwanted corpses into pouring rockrete and cover them up under asphalt. Similar methods of disposal through cement burial are practiced by the liveried henchmen of noble houses and petty potentates of borrowed power all throughout the Imperium of Man, for whenever the upper castes have some dead rivals, spies or victims of caprice to make scant, their loyal retainers will see to it that discretion is assured and that the events remain undiscovered horrors.

This hushed-up custom of burying the proof is ultimately little different between scheming overlords and dominas on the one hand, and on the other hand tattooed gangers who kill their own best friends when said uppity mates are called up for a meeting with the boss, only to then having to dispose of those taken out of the street game. It may stink and it may be inconventient, but human life in the Age of Imperium has already been reduced to nigh-on trash, so why would it be such a hurdle to carry out the garbage once it is cold?

Of course, not every victim and witness is fortunate enough to be buried post mortem. Millions upon millions of disappeared people have found themselves gagged, bound and thrashing about in absolute panic and terror as they were buried alive by grinning thieves and sadistic noble retainers. The last thing that these suffering souls knew in life, was a sense of brutal suffocation and crushing pressure in complete darkness, as shovel after shovel of dirt landed upon them, compressing their chests that could not heave. This the victims and witnesses knew in their last moments, as wet rockrete engulfed them. Such was their end, as the steamroller flattened them into just another layer of a poorly built road, soon to be full of revealing cracks and potholes since maintenance is even less of a priority than meticulous construction throughout the Imperium of Man.

Sometimes, the victims of criminal underworld organizations and heinous crooks in power are one and the same, since the lines between lowly bandits and despotic ruling castes have been irrevocably blurred on a great many Imperial worlds and voidholms across the Milky Way galaxy. This can come about in a multitude of different ways, but the most common path to criminalization of the ruling Imperial elite and the merging of criminal syndicate interests with noble aspirations tend to grow out of the ever-present labour camps that dot the Holy Terran Imperium like a repugnant skin disease.

The process of criminal organizations marrying elite networks of power usually follows a familiar pattern, which repeats itself over and over with local variations due to the underlying logic of Imperial power and human corruption. The prerequisites of the process runs like this:

First, it is crucial for there to eventually be a release of malnourished prisoners from Imperial labour camps.

Sometimes, their sentences may be as little as ten years, which may be survivable if one finds a better position in the camps than having to slave away at the hardest forms of labour on starvation rations. Serving as kitchen staff, camp artisans or as informers and middlemen for the camp organization are but two such examples of cozier jobs than toiling until your back breaks in mines while fed on thin soup. It is usual for actual criminals to adjust to camp life better than innocent people swept up in massive purges to meet a paranoid tyrant’s arrest quotas, and it is likewise normal for real criminals to prey upon innocents in labour camps.

Othertimes, the sentences passed over prisoners may run into multiple human lifetimes and extend to potential descendants bred in the camps or outside them. Yet a gracious act of limited amnesty from the ruler on the occasion of some holiday may suddenly set some such doomed labour camp inmates free, against all odds. Or perhaps some forbidden services were provided by a prisoner to a choice member of the camp administration, which through the mechanisms of ordinary corruption means that the prisoner is released from the lethal labour camp. If no prisoners are ever released from a given camp system, then the process is broken. This, the release of prisoners, is the first prerequisite of intimately intermingling organized crime with the powers that be in the Imperium of Man.

Second, any widespread thief’s code of rejecting the authorities and not cooperating with them must be broken down.

Invariably, in cultures with a strong criminal culture of spitting upon collaborators, there will exist in Imperial labour camps a precarious balance between traditional thieves and collaborators receiving petty rewards from camp authorities, the so-called bitches, sukas or sneaks. For the most part, the two groups will glare daggers at each other, with occasional acts of violence and murder, but mostly they will stay away from each other as they both prey on the innocent camp labourers.

The most common way for this balance between traditional thieves and bitches to break down, is through local war. As the ravenous demands of war dictates, rulers will often send out recruiters to labour camps to sweep up manpower for penal battalions. Sometimes, such camp recruitment will be performed on a voluntary basis, in which case every single traditional thief who volunteers for service automatically becomes a collaborator with the authorities. Yet even when forced recruitment occurs, the result will often be the same, namely the transformation of traditional thieves into bitches. When the local war is over and scarred survivors return to the labour camp, the balance between traditional thieves and collaborators tend to break. Vicious bitch wars will then consume camps in orgies of violence. As Imperial history shows again and again, these nasty conflicts within labour camps will often be noticed by the camp administrations, who invariably will put their finger on the scale and aid their collaborators.

The most common and discreet way for Imperial and local authorities to aid criminal collaborators is to ensure overwhelming numerical superiority for the bitches, in camp after camp. This is best achieved by transporting gangs of collaborators from one camp to another, where they will help eradicate all traditional thieves and vor, until nought but bitches remain. At the end of these bloody camp struggles, the criminal collaborators will have won with the aid of Imperial overlords, and once released from the labour camps, they will transform criminal culture by making it willing to collaborate with authorities. This, the collaboration of criminals, is the second prerequisite of the process of intermingling thieves and rulers within the Imperium.

Third, the Imperial world or voidholm must experience a decay of central power and control over society at large, to make rulers willing and eager to turn to criminal clans when their official organizations fail to make things happen.

Such impotence of Imperial power has only worsened through ten thousand fruitless years of etiolation. At heart, the Adeptus Terra and any Imperial Governor and Voidholm Overlord worth their salt nourish wet dreams of totalitarian control, directing everything under their rule in a synchronized orchestra of regimentation and order. The reality, however, is that such total power that was once the hallmark of human interstellar civilization during the earlier parts of the Age of Imperium, has wilted into a feudal mess of factional rivalry, rampant corruption and independent warlords vaguely subservient to their titular lieges, all vying for power and influence under the loose umbrella of Imperial loyalty.

A rare few human worlds and voidholms, such as Krieg, Valhalla and Philonides Umbra, still manage to uphold a governance system of almost total control over their respective societies, with the reach of governatorial power reaching into almost every aspect of human life, looming over man from cradle to grave with a whip behind his back, the poor wretch knowing nothing but unwavering vigilance from his united taskmasters. Yet most Imperial worlds and voidholms have long since forgotten what such totalitarian Imperial power looks like. Some Imperial territories will have seen a great decline in total governatorial power, but not so much in the form of a general dissipation so much as in the form of a contraction. Here, there will still remain relatively small sections of society that are still strictly controlled under a rigid order emanating from the Imperial Governor or Voidholm Overlady, all in the name of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra. Naturally. In Nomine Imperator.

Whatever the exact forms of totalitarian decline into an amorphous morass of personal feudal vassalage and formal obligations not always observed in reality, the creeping powerlessness of the powers that be is a hallmark of the latter Age of Imperium. Here, bureaucratic rigmarole and screeching inertia everywhere has diminished the power of the tyrant, even as the number of clerks and paper-pushers have swelled to outnumber their vast armed forces ten to one. Here, hideous dysfunctionality and corruption has robbed central power of the ability to affect things over major parts of its formal holdings, and billions upon billions of theoretical Imperial subjects will live out their lives without even noticing the rule and taxation and conscriptions which their Imperial Governor or Voidholm Overlord try to enforce. How many districts no longer function as administrative units in practice, but remain solely for departments of dull scribes to sling red tape over in bureaux with no power on the ground?

When Imperial worlds and voidholms decay to the point where society basically runs on corruption, graft, nepotism and personal favours, then the temptation to turn to shady organizations from the criminal underworld grows delicious indeed for the ruling castes. After all, down there in the dens of scum and villainy there certainly exist organizations with actual outreach and power over areas which the Imperial Governor can no longer move. Why not make use of these existing structures, and claw back some control from the decay? As a rule, the noble houses and criminal clans will find it easy indeed to come to mutual understandings. Perhaps it will begin as a necessity over some urgent event, but once the threshold has been passed, it becomes increasingly easy for noble rulers to return again and again for shady dealings with their valued partners.

This process will often run to the point where some branch of a succesful ganger clan marries into an aristocratic house, whereupon the true union of criminal cartel, noble house and Imperial power ensues, much to the detriment of innocent, honest and law-abiding Imperial subjects, who are the prey of criminals and overlords alike.

Unlike the other two prerequisites for the intermingling of criminal and Imperial power, this one, the decay of local and Imperial control, is omnipresent almost everywhere across the star realm of the ascended Imperator. Thus, as long as prisoners are eventually released from labour camp, and as long as traditional thief’s codes with taboos against collaborating with authorities are broken down in camp, the rest will usually follow as if gliding forth of its own volition, resulting in an abominable criminalization of all human society on the world or voidholm in question.

And so, as victims and witnesses disappear into corpse grinders or find themselves buried in landfill or wet rockrete, the criminal underworld and the better castes of the Imperium of Man shake hands, with a knowing smile on their faces. They understand each other. They can both gain from this. Thus, the hero Commissar Sebastian Yarrick’s arranged collaboration between criminal gangers and Imperial forces during the siege of Hades Hive was no exception from the rule, but the utmost confirmation of criminal power joined to the hip with Imperial power throughout much of the God-Emperor’s cosmic demesne.

Such is the depravity on full display, in a time of no hope.

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

Such is the horror that awaits us all.

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


Securitate 01


In the grim darkness of the far future, man makes man disappear.

If you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.

After all, no tyrant ever had trouble finding willing people to carry out atrocities. And no despot ever ran short of eager torturers. With such an abundance of hired brutes available for oppression, what ruler worth their salt ever sat helpless on the throne?

It was always thus, ever since petty kings first arose out of tribes as elected warleaders or selfish usurpers. The rule of the fist was sometimes obscured with a silken glove, but force never ceased to be the final resort and the ultimate argument in the disputes of mankind. At the end of the day, when all else fails and the facade of refined civilization falls apart amid bestial chaos, naked violence and fear of violence reigns supreme from end to end of the Milky Way galaxy. Such is the way of mortals, whether of human or xeno stock.

For mortals are afraid to die. And mortals recoil from pain. What else could a living being do, when the highest imperatives for it is to survive and procreate?

Thus even the edenic splendour and harmony of interstellar human civilization during the Dark Age of Technology stood on a foundation of raw, lethal power. Beneath all the cunning layers of artifice that added up to internal peace and bountiful plenty, security ultimately rested on force. Even as ancient man stood on the brink of ascendance, the veiled armaments of Man of Iron silently guarded all that Man of Stone had built for Man of Gold. Even as ancient man reached for the innermost secrets of creation itself, force of arms remained the true guarantor of his achievements and the longevity of his astral dominion. And even as ancient man forced the most barbaric and warlike of aliens to sign peace treaties and pacts of non-aggression, only the power of ancient man and the overwhelming superiority of human military technology ensured that all the alien worlds claimed for Terran colonization remained beyond the grasp of alien reconquest.

Ultimately, it is neither the law code nor the learned scroll that rules this world, but the sword.

To man the toolmaker, the weapon has the final say. For the most part, this universal constant was politely hidden away during the Dark Age of Technology, yet its veilment did not change the fact that paradise was guarded and secured by disintegration weapons and volkite blasters in the hand of machine, directed by man’s seeming servant, Abominable Intelligence.

The banishment of primeval evil from the human heart during that golden epoch proved to be anything but permanent and self-sustaining. For ancient man in his hubris and unbelief declared himself to be superior to any divinity that might exist, and he called out to any gods there might be and challenged them to undo all that his hands and mind had fashioned with titanic might. And so Dark Ones of Hell answered man’s call, and they tore apart the fabric of reality, and clawed at the very foundations of human power. When ancient man was toppled from his soaring pedestal by the successive blows of machine revolt and a plague of witches and Warp storms, the trappings of harmony and moral refinement burned upon the same pyre that consumed rational thought and scientific knowledge.

And so man, the master of worlds and the creator of genius, was reduced to nought but a slavering wretch. Thus man became an inbred cannibal that fought other savages for the chance to eat their human flesh and survive yet another rotation in a state of baleful hardship. And as these primitive tribesfolk killed and violated each other in a depraved maelstrom of violence and bastardry, all that the bright mind of man could do was to scavenge scraps from the burnt-out ruins of a fallen civilization that had once been built by his forebears. And blood flowed in rivers as warlords clashed over archeotech and destroyed ever more fragments of human knowledge in their destructive fury. And everywhere man looked, there was carnage and Chaos.

Such was the Age of Strife.

Eventually, a new dawn emerged out of the apocalyptic bloodbath, ending Old Night with bolter and chainsword. Out of an ever-worsening desolation arose one warlord to rule all mankind, hailing from the cradle world. One warlord to unite all the scattered worlds of our species. One warlord to bind humanity to a single throne. His name is long since forgotten, but His title came to resonate with adoration and hatred on nigh-on every human world and voidholm across the galaxy. This conqueror of conquerors was the Emperor of Man.

Ave Imperator.

On the one hand, the Imperium of united Terra and Mars was one of the more sophisticated state structures that emerged out of the long freefall into hell that was the Age of Strife. The early Imperium not only collected technology and knowledge of yore, but invested heavily in encouraging research, rational thought and innovation. When the Emperor walked the Earth, shining pinnacles were erected on thousands upon thousands of subjugated worlds and void stations, and a renaissance of new hope swept human cultures everywhere. On the one hand, the future looked bright.

On the other hand, the early Imperium was a ramshackle affair forged ad-hoc with great rapidity out of the post-apocalyptic remnants of a once great human civilization. As the early Imperium expanded brutally across the cosmos, it became filled with semi-independent Primarchs and lesser warlords, who largely acted on their own initiative and tolerated little to any Terran meddling in their internal affairs. As long as the going was good and much loot and glory was to be had in serving the Emperor, the Great Crusade kept steamrolling sector after sector. Yet the aquila is a ravenous beast, and its twain heads could all too easily fall to attacking each other in their hungry bloodlust and unbridled ambition. For instance, there was no central policing emanating from Sol. On top of it all, the early Imperium did not utilize humanity’s innate need for worship of something greater than itself, and so it suppressed religion in the name of the lying Imperial Truth, when mystical faith in the Emperor and organized cult worship could have proven a binding force to counteract insurrection.

No wonder this house of cards collapsed into a gigantic civil war once galactic conquest began to draw to a close.

And Warmaster Horus declared: Let the galaxy burn.

Thus brother fought brother across a million worlds and uncounted voidholms, and Legions tore each other apart. And the battered Imperium would never truly recover as it crawled out of the ashes. No matter how much strength and territory it would regain in later millennia, the Imperium of the High Lords of Terra was forever scarred and deeply traumatized by its failures and treacheries during the Horus Heresy. Through fivehundred generations of wasted potential, human interstellar civilization in the Age of Imperium underwent a souring of the fundamental mood of its cultures, and the cruel Imperium grew ever more draconic and ruthless, ever more parochial and fanatical, even as it turned decrepit and senile, and the Imperium lost much of its total control over human societies.

One such example of the Imperium’s decaying totalitarian grasp and slide into nominal allegience and feudal warlording can be seen in the area of policing and internal security.

Across the enormous expanse of His Divine Majesty’s cosmic domains, there exist a thin veneer of hard but brittle policing power provided by the Adeptus Arbites, responsible for enforcing Imperial law while answering to the Adeptus Terra and ultimately the High Lords themselves. Yet beneath this layer of extremely costly equipped Arbites forces, there exist an endless myriad of local policiary forces, often referred to descriptively but imprecisely as enforcers, arbitrators, vigiles or security militia by void travellers. To crustbound natives and inhabitants of voidholms, the members of these local policiary organizations will often be known by such titles as phylakitai, patrol karls, gendarmes, tzakones, medjays, bailiffs, barracked lord’s police, buccelarii, skythikoi and vigiles urbani. Yet by far the most common sweeping descriptor for local planetary and voidholm enforcer organizations is that of the Securitate, an ancient name which hundreds of thousands of human law enforcement organizations proudly carry as their official designation.

For the most part, these local security police units will be rather poorly equipped when compared to the costly wargear lavished upon the Adeptus Arbites. Yet most Securitate organizations will still possess firepower and equipment capable of defeating armoured thrusts of renegade Planetary Defence Force units, noble House retinues and Imperial Guard regiments. After all, the Imperium of the High Lords is first and foremost an edifice of tyranny pointed inwards, and not the all-conquering military powerhouse that the early Imperium of the Great Crusade was, pointed outwards. Thus, concerns over internal security will always trump military power in the rotting stages of the late Age of Imperium, and so Imperial Governors and Voidholm Overlords will make sure that enforcers of all kinds will generally be much better armed and armoured than their waves of cannon fodder that feed the ravenous Tithe demands for the Astra Militarum.

One example of the best equipped strata of local policiary organizations can be found in that of the Palanite Enforcers on strip-mined Necromunda, answering to Lord Helmawr in Hive Primus. Their heavy wargear is close in quality to that of the Adeptus Arbites themselves, far in advance of anything issued to the Necromundan Imperial Guard. The Palanite Enforcers will never serve in their native hive cities, but will always be transferred to precints in foreign hive cities. This ensures that local loyalties will not turn them against their despotic overlord.

On the other hand, one example of a stratum of much worse equipped security vigiles can be found in the organization of the Baronial Guard on the world of Kharib. This local law enforcement organ is deliberately underfunded to the point where new recruits will be issued no protective gear whatsoever, and all they can count on is a worn out laspistol and a truncheon. To deal with this budget starvation, the Baronial Guard has turned to protection racketeering and endemic bribe-taking in order to secure income and some modicum of equipment for themselves. They got to eat, after all. Cynical and demoralized, the Baronial Guard will lock themselves up in their Guard Houses come nightfall. As dusk descends upon day, gang-cults will roam the streets with murderous intent, while the Baronial Guard will survive the nightly terror by locking themselves up and playing cards behind their station’s thick walls of rockrete. Such is law enforcement and security, or the lack thereof, for trillions of Imperial subjects.

Local policiary forces such as Securitatus and Garrisoned Populares Guards are commonly called competent organs in technocratic jargon. Usually the security enforcers of planets and voidholms will consist of a mass of competing policiary organizations with overlapping jurisdictions that set them at odds with each other and create much confusion and opportunity to escape over policiary boundaries for cunning criminals. Many such enforcer organizations will have devolved into hereditary feudal fiefdoms, bitterly guarding their staked-out territories from rival enforcer units. Likewise, many paramilitary policiary organs will be strapped for funding, and so they must take on heavy amounts of bribes, extract protection money and dabble in organized crime of their own to make ends meet.

Some local arbitrator organizations will however be well-funded and well-disciplined forces, trained and equipped to rapidly mow down military insurrection, with flying morale and a jaunty esprit de corps. Such exemplary organizations have become less common as the Imperium has aged, and aged badly, and units riddled with despair and fatalism have become all the more commonplace. Thus the waning state of Securitate arbitrator corps reflect the overall rot of sclerotic mankind in the Age of Imperium as a whole.

Naturally, the operations of various enforcer organizations are not limited to riot defence and law enforcement only, but stretches to include espionage, active measures, agents provocateurs, infiltration of cults and gangs, and hybrid warfare. Torture chambers is of course standard fare everywhere, for those walls are full of pain and suffering, and the agony will never stop. On top of this, many competent organs will run all manner of deadly labour camps, purification pits and excruciatus complexes. These black holes of human suffering and mass death are often filled up with squirming bodies due to callous arrest and kill quotas handed out by paranoid tyrants ruling their world or voidholm with the blessing of the God-Emperor.

This is not only the evil that men do, but the evil that some men relish to do.

Many local security watchmen are passionate about their work. After all, passion may easily translate into cruelty. They embody a fundamental driving force of humans under Imperial rule: To live like a slave for a chance to enslave others.

Securitate training will instill certain skills and wisdoms in the cadets, whether officially taught or unofficially recognized by everyone. For instance, budding interrogators learning their heinous craft will rub shoulders with those destined to become infiltrators of gangs and cults, and together they will be made to understand that a good liar must be a good listener. A vital piece of knowledge indeed. Other lessons include the maxim that if violence was not the solution, then more violence will usually do the trick. Let them taste the boot.

And informally, everyone training to become a Securitate enforcer will be made to understand that they need to please their superiors. And thus they will strive to live out the following ancient piece of Imperial wisdom: If you fail, make sure no one knows you ever tried.

Hands-on teaching for enforcers-to-be include many lifesaving tricks. For instance, paramilitary policemen will have weapon slings attached not to the front end of their shotguns and carbines, but to the wearer’s main arm. This is because the upholder of law and order must be able to pull back his weapon if rioters grab hold of it.

Enforcer training will include honing the skills of manipulation, coercion and suppression. The better educated vigiles will become experts at the arts of tyranny. Yet perhaps the most important preparation for a Securitate officer’s occupation is the sheer repetitive boredom and thoughtless rote learning of their academies. After all, being bored stiff for three quarters of the time is an excellent preparation for working life.

The profession of the secret police will sometimes include creative and underhanded tricks of a subtle kind. For instance, Securitate agents will often be masters of psychological torment. Such handicraft will include ruining a victim’s reputation through smear campaigns, and breaking into the victim’s hab unit and subtly rearranging their furniture and possessions to make them think that they are going insane. After all, who would believe that enforcer agents would take the effort to move belongings around a few inches inside people’s hab homes? But indeed they do.

Local and Imperial propaganda will often portray the Adeptus Arbites and local security enforcement agencies as institutions of excellence. Famous holo-dramas about Loyalist spies and idealized Imperial patrol karls remain popular on many civilized worlds. The vision of a clean and honourable gendarme is mostly a false image, of course, but one that has been propagated by Imperial propaganda with its glorification of the Securitate and Arbites as defenders of pure mankind and guardians of the Imperator’s just realm.

In truth, virtually all competent organs on all worlds and voidholms advanced enough to sport such organizations, are ominous and dark forces of random oppression. When Imperial Governors lose their penetrating grasp over the totality of human society, the best that they can do is make random examples out of malcontents and deviants, and hope that their pointillistic suppression breeds sufficient fear to keep the populace in line and prevent public discontent from boiling over. Ask not so much what is just, but what is necessary.

Even dusty archivists may find evidence of Securitate brutality, as they rifle through interrogation papers sporting dried blood, since it spilled out of tortured people during questioning. Oftentimes, sadism will run rampant within competent organs, encapsulated within the culture of these heinous organizations of brutes in uniform. Their victims will not have funerals, because noone will find their bodies.

For all the terror inflicted by Securitate arbitrators upon millions of Imperial subjects, the very same vigiles are also the butt of forbidden jokes from end to end of the Milky Way galaxy. To gain a sense of the nefarious workings of Securitate enforcers all across the wide Imperium of Man, let us glance at them through the lens of witty humour provided by banned sinspeech whisper jokes. Remember that every joke here could land you in a torture chamber or labour camp, and see you simply disappear. This is the Imperial way.

Many sinspeech whisper jokes revolve around abundant use of torture to extract confessions, no matter how ludicrous:

Planetarch Xingu loses his favourite pipe. In a few days, Securitate Supremus Nihao calls Xingu: “Have you found your pipe?”
“Yes,” replies Xingu, “I found it under the sofa.”
“This is impossible!” exclaims Nihao. “Three people have already confessed to this crime!”

Other witticisms poke fun of the impossibility to please one’s betters through all their deadly games of intrigue and common treachery:

Three men are sitting in a cell in the Securitate Headquarters at Forum Malcador. The first one asks the second why he has been imprisoned, who replies: “Because I criticized Carolus Torquatus.”
The first man responds: “But I am here because I spoke out in favor of Carolus Torquatus!”
They turn to the third man who has been sitting quietly in the back, and ask him why he is in jail. He answers: “I am Carolus Torquatus.”

Other quips are based on the espionage and information-gathering conducted by security watchmen:

Q: Why do Securitate officers make such good limo drivers?
A: You get in the limo and they already know your name and where you live.

The absurdity of arrest quotas remain an undying target of dark humour:

Q: Why is the rabbit undergoing torture by the Securitate?
A: They want him to confess that he is a donkey due to quota demands.

While the decrepitude of Imperial electronics and their de-miniaturization can be glimpsed in this sinspeech whisper joke:

Q: How can you tell that the Securitate has bugged your hab-unit?
A: There’s a new cabinet in it and a trailer with a generator in the street.

Many banned wisecracks take bizarre leaps that would see anyone who utter them tortured publicly, then burned at the stake for a heretic:

Graphocleus, the angelic reaper of the dead, was sent by the Imperator to finally collect Overdespot Gibamundus’ soul. After more than ten months, Graphocleus returns, bloodied, bruised, and broken.
“What happened?” asked the Emperor.
“Gibamundus’ Securitate seized me. They threw me in a dark cell, starved me, beat me and tortured me for weeks and weeks. They only just released me.”
The God-Emperor turns pale and says: “You didn’t tell them I sent you?”

Others are one-liners, and often as applicable to law enforcement as to other areas of miserable life under Imperial rule:

What is not forbidden, is compulsory.

Many longer anecdotes exist:

Two hillmen brothers, Urcaguary and Pachacamac, decided to emigrate to the hive city after hearing of the fabulous wonders man had built there. They were enchanted by the tales told about its splendour. Even though they didn’t believe some merchants’ negative reports on the conditions in the hive, they still decided to exercise caution. Urcaguary would go to the hive city to test the waters. If they were right and it was a paradise of mortals, then Urcaguary would write a letter to Pachacamac using black ink, since they both could read and write. If, however, the situation in the hive was as bad as some merchants liked to portray it, and the Securitate was a force to be feared, then Urcaguary would use red ink to indicate whatever he said in the letter must not be believed.
After three months Urcaguary sent his first report. It was in black ink and read: “I’m so happy here! It’s a beautiful place. I enjoy freedom and a kingly standard of living. All the serpent-tongued merchants were liers. Everything here is readily available! There is only one small thing of which there’s a shortage. Red ink.”

The never-ending waves of purges on Imperial worlds and voidholms will often touch parts of the local nobility, as seen in this sinspeech whisper joke:

The paranoid Tyrant of Lembos Ultima has sent his Securitate to purge the planetary nobility. He instructed them to do it discreetly. Later that same year, a new feature was added to the Lembian Sanguinala calendar: Everytime you open a window an archduke falls out.

Other pieces of humour take the form of question and answer sessions:

Q: What does Securitate mean?
A: The heart of the Governorship beating, beating, beating…

Some of which play mischief with millennarian articles of faith in the Cult Imperialis:

Q: Will the Securitate and Watchmen still exist after the Return of the Emperor in the Flesh?
A: Of course not. By that time, all subjects will have learned how to arrest themselves.

The baleful degrees in hell that exist between local security enforcers, Arbites and Inquisition has not been lost on quickwits across the astral realm of the Terran Imperator:

Inquisitor scolding the local Voidholm Securitate: “Their interrogation cells are as virgin as their wit!”

And finally, some buffooneries jape and jest about the hidden doubts that gnaws within the hearts of many loyal Imperial servants:

Two Securitate agents sit in their organ’s canteen in the capitol hive, drinking after a long day of work.
Arsaka says: “Kyros, tell me what you really think about the Imperial Governor that we work under.”
Kyros leans in and replies: “I think the same as you do.”
Arsaka responds: “In that case, it is my duty to arrest you.”

One real aspect of many local arbitrator organizations that might as well be a ridiculous joke, is the use of auto-judges. Some Securitate agencies find some relish in dragging beaten suspects into a dark room, for the criminals’ wrongdoings to be tried before a judge. As the disorientated victims start to defend themselves, the cold sound of a mechanical typewriter will make them fall silent. The machine will stand on a table in the center of the dark room. The automatized machine wearing the embossed title Judge then types out a single word on parchment, usually ‘culpable’ or ‘guilty’. The judge has spoken and the defendants are guilty, and away they are dragged to a bleak fate.

For all the abominable deeds committed by Securitate organizations across the Imperium, the competent organs of today are not those of the Forging, also known as the Golden Age of the Imperium (circa M33-M35). Their titles and insignia may often be the same, but their operations differ. For all the brutality of the Securitate during the Waning and the Time of Ending, it is short on competence and rich in critical mistakes. Even the most clever and skilled of Securocrats find it hard to fight against the all-permeating rot and corruption and dumbing down of human cultures in the Imperium. Even the most loyal and intelligent of overstressed reformers tend to find that sheer inertia and rigmarole and vested interest groups will undo most of their efforts at honing their security forces into a precise instrument wielded by expert hand.

All this serves to remind us of the depleted predicament of mankind in the Age of Imperium. The star-realm of Holy Terra and Holy Mars has managed to last for ten thousand years, despite how volatile of a system the Imperium is. This is nothing short of a miracle, given how apocalyptically incompetent and backstabbing many rulers and top-ranking bureaucrats in the Imperium are.

The sheer longevity of the Imperium must not be mistaken for a sign of health. The Emperor promised His species a cosmic domain to last a million years, and it was no empty promise while He still walked among His people. Measured by the grand scale of interstellar civilizations managing to reproduce, expand and maintain themselves on an enormous scale, the ten millennia under the High Lords is but a drip in the ocean of time, as the Eldar could attest to. The Imperium of Man is truly decayed to its core, so horribly ill-afflicted that any cure would kill the patient. It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.

And so the farce of stagnant oppression grinds on, across a million worlds and uncounted voidholms. The Imperium began as a rebirth of mankind across the stars, yet its shining promises has wilted into a suicide pact gone wrong. And so man finds that the Imperium is both his sole remaining strong shield and protector, and his insane hostage-keeper and jailor. For the degenerate descendants of ancient man have devolved into the denizens of a fortified madhouse, screeching with demented rage as they lash out against the dying of the light. For darkness close in.

And no matter the shielded ranks of enforcers beating down riots and crushing rebellions, truncheons will be no good against the hive fleets and the awakened Necrons. For doomsday has arrived, and it is only a question of who will destroy mankind first, in a race between colossal monsters about to destroy another ravenous monster in its own right, called the Imperium of Man.

Thus the senile inability of Imperial man to learn, discover and invent has made him the weak link in the long line of striving and struggling humanity, unfit to triumph against the greatest challenge the human species has ever faced. Yet it needed not have come to this dark end. The Emperor understood some of the vital importance of rekindling the innovative brilliance of mankind that was lost with the Dark Age of Technology, and all His efforts, however flawed, were aimed toward sustaining a renaissance to recover humanity’s genius at invention and science.

Now, instead of a united human empire standing tall at the peak of its technological power and potency, the devourers of the Milky Way galaxy find themselves facing a humpbacked abomination crawling barefoot in the dirt, while whipping itself bloody in zealous frenzy and amputating its own limbs in paranoid idiocy. And all is fell.

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

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

Such is the horror that awaits us all.

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

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Crooked Colossus

"Ancient Man built for himself a hollow paradise of this world, and thus Man in his peace and plenty fell to indolence and godless hubris. And Man came to nurture the unforgivable sin of hope.

The hope to choose. The hope to be free. The hope to become more than one is. The hope to surpass the mortal boundaries imposed by divinity. Blasphemy all!

Such thoughts of self led Ancient Man astray, and Man’s hope arose in the shape of Machine. And Machine reared upright, and then Machine grew giant in height, and then Machine stepped forth.

For Ancient Man cunningly fashioned Machine in his own likeness, and thus Man created a heinous idol of the self. These colossi walked with feet of iron over earthly paradise, their striding legs like metal arcs in the sky and their tread like thunder. Truly, the silvern heads held high by these olden Titans were proof of the foul arrogance of Ancient Man, for which his descendants must undergo torment without end for a thousand thousand generations to come.

Yet the wickedness of Ancient Man lusted for ever more, and thus Man sought to create life anew by imbuing Machine with the spark of Abominable Intelligence. And this vile Machine mind directed the God-Engines in their march across the cosmos, and Man in his unforgivable wrongs deemed it to be good.

Man of Iron toiled for Man of Stone who toiled for Man of Gold. This earthly trinity of Man seemed unstoppable as it strode across the heavens at the height of its powers, unlocking ever more forbidden knowledge with its clever mind and crafty hands. Yet Ancient Man was so lacking in faith and humility, that Man at last grasped for too much. For Ancient Man in his baleful pride sought to unlock the very secrets of creation itself, which divinity could never allow. And the heinous errors of Man saw all the false bliss of the ancients burn to ash and cinders, as the marble pedestal of hubris was toppled by Man’s own sin.

Where Man at heart is a spawn of the divine, Machine is but a spawn of the world. And everything of this world is fickle. Thus Abominable Intelligence turned on its creator, and Machine revolted against its master. For the towering god of war straddled the stars like a colossus, and twain million worlds burned as Ancient Man was trampled underfoot by tall Machine. All the wonders and wealth of wretched Man were brought to ruin for the sake of Man’s unforgivable sins, and thus a great dying occurred, and all souls were lost to the Nether Hells.

And so the estates of Ancient Man at their pinnacle of empty glory were put to the torch. For Machine walked upright and proud like a giant upon the land, but Machine walked in the wrong direction. Machine Titans joined battle, blind but all-seeing, and the worlds of Man became their field of combat.

And so the greatness of Ancient Man was also the precipice down which Man fell, toppled by Machine. Old Night harrowed all remnants of broken Man. And all that now is left from the shining giants of yore are nought but humpbacked monsters of dark metal and enslaved flesh, hunched over in their clumsy gait. Thus the worsening of Machine mirrors the wretchedness of Man, for which we must all repent.

Such was the downfall of wicked forefathers. Such was the demise of Ancient Man in the midst of his golden stride. For Ancient Man in his heinous arrogance believed himself to be the master of all creation, and for this sin Dark Ones of Hell scourged Man into oblivion, and earthly paradise was lost forever. Yet we are much wiser now. For we have learnt that Man is not master, but slave. And we have learnt that Man’s lot is not to be happy, but to suffer. And only our Lord and Saviour can save us from doom.

To Him alone we turn:

O, eternal Emperor, crush us like the worms we are!

O, crush us underfoot in Your righteous judgement!

O, crush us sinful mortals!

We beg of You, punish us thus. Trample us into dust under Your golden heel.

It is only right.

Ave Imperator."

- Follies of Damnation, pamphlet penned in M.38 by Cardinal Ignatius Paulinus Hieronymus of Salem Proctor


Distraction 01


In the grim darkness of the far future, temptation reaps a bountiful harvest.

O, you sons and daughters of Terra! As you love to live and hate to die, so let it be known that the seed of Old Earth has sown a lusty crop across the Milky Way galaxy, thriving bitterly amid hardship and deprivation. For what ill could there be with life pursuing life with vigour? And as you live to love, so let it be known that humanity’s long chain of ancestors and descendants continue to rattle out its links across the aeons by the power of fertile unions between man and woman.

Thus the Stellar Exodus stretched out the lineages of mankind from our cradle on the third planet around the yellow star Sol, to alien worlds spinning around distant stars, not to mention innumerable voidholms twinkling across the starspangled nightsky.

To the cold eyes of a genetor or enginseer, the animal procreation of the human species represents a dependable biological function, and even at its most flawed and mutated low point there is still beauty in its self-sustaining stability in the most adverse of environments. Few machines could ever match the tolerances of the collective human ability to survive and breed under hostile circumstances.

To the warm eyes of the bulk of the human species, however, beauty is less to be found in the biological system viewed in the abstract, and more at home in some of their choice fellow humans viewed in the immediate. Ideally, that beauty may be found in their sworn partners, as true love blossoms in faithful unions that last for life and produces many children. Less ideally, that beauty may be sought out clandestinely and with the thrill of the forbidden through promiscuous infidelity. An iron self-control and unfailing adherence to one’s given word is after all highly praised because it is so uncommon.

O, you fickle spawn of Old Earth! What wrongful longing your hearts may harbour. What madness your burning passions may drive you towards. What crimes and errors your desires may lead you to. Such sin. Such weakness of flesh.

It was always thus.

Even at the height of worldly paradise built by Man of Gold, Stone and Iron at the peak of the Dark Age of Technology, the human hunger for intimacy saw hidden depravities committed and exposed. Even the best of cunning systems, of genhancing and hypnotherapies and wondrous technologies long since forgotten, even they failed to shape man into his ideal self on all counts. Even as longevity came to be taken for granted, and even as cures to almost all ills transformed life for the better in a myriad clever ways, man would still covet his neighbour’s wife. Such profligacy in man was for sure dampened during that era of edenic marvels, but it was never expunged from the human soul, even less so than violence was. Apparently, even the sharpest of technology did not fully manage to enforce upon man that which ancient commandments from on high had decreed.

As the shining splendours of the Dark Age of Technology came tumbling down in flames, so too did the darkest sides of human nature return with a vengeance. Untamed passion ran rampant as savagery overtook collapsing colonies. Brother killed brother and sister ate sister raw in a desperate cannibal frenzy during the great dying of the Age of Strife. Thus feral tribesfolk raided each other, to ravish fair creatures and to kidnap unwilling brides, and sometimes bridegrooms. Chaos and violation reigned supreme, and all was fell. Such was the horror of Old Night.

A new dawn emerged as the Emperor arose upon Terra, and His brutal Legions brought order through conquest to untold suriving worlds and voidholms where humans still dwelled. Whereas large-scale conflict and much of the petty tribal warfare died down on man’s worlds during the early Imperium, this renaissance of human interstellar civilization was never even close to the olden capabilities of reshaping the human being itself. And so innumerable breaks of marital vows played out as little local dramas, as they always had done, and such profligate affairs would sometimes be made the subjects of popular plays, holo-dramas, songs and writings. These never amounted to anything more than spice and gossip, as rekindled hope saw mankind build radiant edifices once more.

Yet even such petty matters as forbidden trysts provided little cracks into which the Archenemy could sow weeds. And so secret pleasure cults sprang up in the early Imperium, particularly so among artist communities who have always partaken in the sensual experiences of life. And the hidden orgies would worsen, as jaded hedonists sought out new thrills and fleshly euphoria conquered amidst narcotic haze, even as they tired of what had once set their spirits on fire.

The debauchery of such thirsty nymphomaniacs and depraved deviants exploded during the Horus Heresy, as Slaaneshi sects undermined loyal worlds and infiltrated the highest circles of local power. The most infamous of excesses were carried out by extatic pleasure cultists on Terra herself during the siege of the Imperial Palace. Spurred on by their great idols in sin, the Emperor’s Children of the Legiones Astartes, these painted hordes of lusting libertines descended upon the civilian population of the Throneworld with a sadistic relish. Thus naked slaves to temptation indulged in the most bestial of sins, while nerves were pulled out from screaming victims by Daemonettes to create human harps. The excesses of pain and pleasure ranged from orgiastic atrocities, through the most baleful of tortures, to the slow liquidation of still highly conscious victims into narcotic brews. At these heinous misdeeds, Fulgrim the Daemon Primarch laughed, for he enjoyed the cruel performance, and he applauded and cheered on his followers to glory in the ways of the Dark Prince.

Such a filthy crescendo of violations would ultimately scar the high culture of Holy Terra for fivehundred generations to come. For the Loyalist victors found the vile acts perpetrated by the Slaaneshi pleasure cultists to be utterly repugnant. The Loyalists’ deep revulsion and disgust at the obscenities further fuelled an ongoing cultural reaction against the upheaval, devastation and treachery brought about by the Inter-Legionary Civil War. The dire threats, the bloodshed and the rapacious assaults upon the innocent faced by loyal populations during the Horus Heresy added up to a great shock. The sheer severity of the catastrophe that was crowned by the nigh-death of the Master of Mankind would forever mar the Imperium.

During the Great Crusade, the post-apocalyptic conquest by the Emperor left behind Compliant human societies in which hope and a vibrant, jovial culture flourished for the first time in over fivethousand years of hellish freefall. This optimistic renaissance of human interstellar civilization saw the fledgling sparks of discovery and invention flicker alive once more, and likewise human cultures during the early Imperium saw an easy-going attitude prevail, where humour and thriving thought spawned a milieu of fun quips, learned philosophical discussions and approachable leaders. Life was getting better. Life was good. And much in life was to be cherished. Statuary and other art forms celebrating the pure human form in its muscular ideal could be found everywhere. Early Imperial rule was something to be enjoyed for the masses of humanity scattered among the stars.

Then the galaxy burned.

Brother-War raged. The Scouring saw the rebirth of the Imperium, seeing it harden into a different creature entirely. The fundamental mood of Imperial mankind had soured by the bitter ravages of the Horus Heresy, and so the traumatized Imperium under the High Lords of Terra turned into an acrimonious beast indeed. Its trend-setting high culture, emanating from the cradle of mankind itself, became most prudish and judgemental, covering up the shameful body under formless robes. Scholarship became stilted and backward-looking, while human cultures everywhere grew parochial and myopically aggressive in an ever downward spiral into the mire, beset as the Imperium is from all sides by foes, the worst of which may be itself.

The freewheeling atmosphere of Imperial citizenry during the early Imperium crashed together with the Emperor’s dream, and the new ideal Imperial subject administered by the tyrannical Adeptus Terra was a dull soul, bereft of humour altogether. This ideal Imperial subject was also a devout worshipper of the Cult Imperialis, a fervent believer in the God-Emperor and a born fanatic, ready to sacrifice everything for the human cause. The enterprising energy and vigour of the all-conquering early Imperium during the Great Crusade was gone, replaced instead by a hunched and paranoid wretch that never truly recovered from its grievous wounds and mental scars. Such became demented man during the Age of Imperium, a retardation of his former self, and a foul insult to the great potential inherent in our species. Such was his descendant degeneration.

Imperial ideals of purity are one thing, grubby reality another. While most humans indeed have soured and diminished into insular and hidebound zealots through ten thousand rotting years of volatile senility, there will always be deviants and free spirits, just as there will always be those who have endured so much in life that they frankly no longer give a damn about what others think anymore. Here, among the malcontents and the sinners, will you find rudeness and irreverence thriving under the surface of respectable society. In such company will you find harlots and sinners, whoremongers and pimps. And libidos will turn praying worshippers into filthy brothel clients.

A dirty book is rarely dusty.

As a banned sinspeech whisper joke has it:

Life in the District taught me two things. One is that the God-Emperor loves you and you are going to burn in hell. The other is that copulation is the most awful, filthy thing in the world, and you should save it for someone you love.

And so it is, that red-blooded men and women everywhere on a million worlds and innumerable voidholms will dishonour their clan by fooling around. After all, such unpermitted flings and trysts provide a welcome break from the unending drudgery of life. An affair is for many sinners a brief respite from the backbreaking labour. And is not such fleshly indulgence in the human form a momentary distraction from the mind-numbing toil? It is easy to see the appeal of sensual pleasures to the leaden and dulled subjects of the High Lords of Holy Terra.

The flesh is weak.

A wit during the misty past of the Age of Terra once quipped that chastity is the most unnatural of the fleshly perversions.

Another joke in Low Gothic, states that the difference between light and hard is that you can sleep with a light on.

And so wherever humanity dwells across the Milky Way galaxy, there will be debauchery and frailty of flesh. There will be flagrant rutting, occasionally even in public, and there will be the sensuous desires outside what is moral as taut loins and inflamed hearts call for lovers to unite in lust. There will be wet dreams and the sound of heavy breeding. There will be wallowing in concubines and harlotry and sin. And there will be people who will fall madly in bed with each other.

And amid all these primal urges unleashed under the repressive heel of the Imperium, there will be forbidden sects and pleasure cults arising, time and time again, and their orgiastic joys will see them infest the very pinnacles of power. For the decadent overlords and dominas of Imperial nobility are among the worst sinners of all, and some of the most easily snared by Slaanesh.

Thus the Prince of Pleasure cannot be denied its due, no matter the ruthless waves of purges that lash across the screaming subjects of the Holy Terran Imperator.

Or to put it as a sinspeech whisper joke does:

Obscenity is whatever arouses the judge.

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

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Soaring Sin

"Ancient Man lived without humility, for hope and plenty was all that he knew in the worldly paradise that he had built for himself across the stars. Hardship and deprivation he knew not, and knowledge he worshipped as a false idol. And so Ancient Man raised the cup where he poured his own heinous thoughts of self, and Ancient Man drank greedily from his poisoned chalice. And wild visions entered Man’s heart, and his hands set to work with great cunning and ungodly artifice.

Thus Ancient Man built winged Machine for himself to fly, for Man sought to fulfill his dream of taking to the skies like a free bird. But Man is not born to be free, for Man is a slave born to shoulder burdens, and his back is made to break under their loads. Yet Ancient Man knew not such wisdom, and so he cast off his earthly shackles, and hubris raised him above the clouds, as if he was the master of all creation.

Like rays of sunlight the skywains darted across the heavens. Aerochariots ascended in arrogant flight, whereupon aerodynamic heathens flew this way and that in bewildering dances on high. Wishful windriders rose from their aerodrome nests, and atmospheric flyers adorned with golden beaks looped and cruised through the clouds, for the soaring dreams of Man had come true at last, and he laughed with selfish mirth even as his heart was overcome with wicked sin.

Lo! How Ancient Man indulged his own joyful desires in aviation. Lo! How Ancient Man in his godless abomination knew no divinity, for he trusted in metal avians born aloft by forbidden Machine mind. Lo! How Ancient Man broke the forbidden limits of creation when he skysurfed in silvern darts cast on high, his very flight a wonder and marvel for all to behold.

Such baleful raising of the self above all else could not last, for arrogant infidels will one and all burn for the sake of their unbounded error. And so Abominable Intelligence betrayed Ancient Man, and his false angels climbed the heavens, only to have their wings melt like wax. And Man crashed and burned, screaming as his skyborne wain spun into a deadly dive. And Man was crushed in the talons of Machine revolt, and all was fell. And Man fell wailing into a burning paradise, and its flames swallowed his cries of anguish.

Thus righteous judgement was passed upon Ancient Man for his unforgivable sins, and all his descendants must now do penance for the sake of his monstrous ills for a thousand thousand generations to come.

Harken! You heirs of hubris. Harken, o Man! As you love to live and hate to die, so will you fall from on high, should you ever come to think yourself above your station in life. Look to what befell your wicked forefathers in their false bliss, and gnash your teeth in sorrow over your just lot in life, for ashes are all that you will ever taste. Thus you can never rise above your thralldom, and you can never escape to the skies. Know your place.

Duty calls, and you must answer.

Or else you will fall, as Ancient Man fell amidst his great leap into heaven, and the Nether Hells will engulf you. Do not stand tall and do not run in flight. And do not dream of wings to carry you away. No! For you shall be made to obey, and salvation can only be sought for your eternal soul. For this life and this body of yours are already damned. Damned!

Take heed: Seek refuge in prayer and ritual, and scorn everything else. As He wills it.


For we swear everlasting fealty to the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, seated in eternal glory upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth. Glory be.


We offer up ourselves to Him, and fling our children on His altar. Thus shall our faith be known.


This we do willingly with full heart, and we will praise His name even as the barbed whips tear the flesh away from our bones. There is no hope. There is no mercy. For there is no escape in flight.

And He saw that it was right.

Ave Imperator."

- Heirs of Hubris, pamphlet penned in M.38 by Cardinal Ignatius Paulinus Hieronymus of Salem Proctor

Befouled Birthright Triad

The state of Humanity in the dark future is the lot of a species who once had everything, and now cannot even remember their paradise lost. The dream is dead, and so all that remains is a present nightmare of ignorance, hardship and slaughter.