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