Switch Theme:

40k: Descendant Degeneration  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
Author Message

Forum adverts like this one are shown to any user who is not logged in. Join us by filling out a tiny 3 field form and you will get your own, free, dakka user account which gives a good range of benefits to you:
  • No adverts like this in the forums anymore.
  • Times and dates in your local timezone.
  • Full tracking of what you have read so you can skip to your first unread post, easily see what has changed since you last logged in, and easily see what is new at a glance.
  • Email notifications for threads you want to watch closely.
  • Being a part of the oldest wargaming community on the net.
If you are already a member then feel free to login now.

Made in se
Boom! Leman Russ Commander

Oslo Norway

Those are really good. I have not played any RPG, but they are inspiring character concepts, and seem really good to help guide how a character is motivated.

Made in de
Been Around the Block

 Illumini wrote:
Those are really good. I have not played any RPG, but they are inspiring character concepts, and seem really good to help guide how a character is motivated.

Thank you.
Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


@AtoMaki: Thank you most kindly. Aye, haha!

@StaevinTheAeldari: Wow, very nice work! I love your granular attention to detail and subtle nuances. I am sure it will help Inquisitorial RPG campaigns come alive better. This is exactly the kind of lifelike attention to detail and grounded stuff that I love to see more of. Have you read Matthew Farrer's Enforcer trilogy, by any chance? You may find it inspiring and useful as well. I for one did! Actually, Ian Watson's bonkers 1993 book Space Marine deserves a mention as well, since the novel revolves around recruits from different castes, to good effect.

Please keep any works of your coming here if you like, sir. Know that I'm spreading recommendation links to your writings on all sister threads of this on other forums, credited to you of course. A lovely writeup.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lo, how the mighty have fallen!

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

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

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

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

Such is the baleful fate that awaits us all.

Such is the death of a dream.

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

- - -

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

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2022/10/31 09:25:18

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


Dress Code

Everyone is a barbarian to someone else.

Quisque est barbarus alio.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O Terra, verti est sua aeterni!

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

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

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

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

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

Such is the raging nonsense that awaits us all.

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

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer



"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

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2022/11/08 17:08:15

Made in se
Boom! Leman Russ Commander

Oslo Norway

Ha! Lovely little dark joke

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


@Illumini: Thanks! Based on a real event in a friend's garden. Fortunately, he spotted the danger in time.

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.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2022/11/09 15:44:30

Made in us
Been Around the Block

 Karak Norn Clansman wrote:

@StaevinTheAeldari: Wow, very nice work! I love your granular attention to detail and subtle nuances. I am sure it will help Inquisitorial RPG campaigns come alive better. This is exactly the kind of lifelike attention to detail and grounded stuff that I love to see more of. Have you read Matthew Farrer's Enforcer trilogy, by any chance? You may find it inspiring and useful as well. I for one did! Actually, Ian Watson's bonkers 1993 book Space Marine deserves a mention as well, since the novel revolves around recruits from different castes, to good effect.

Thank you. I've not read any of those things, only stuff I read are the Ciaphas Caine books and some fanfics.

I tried to write some more, spinning off the same theme of a Dark Heresy campaign. (actually most of this are taken from a Mutant Chronicles game but it's pretty easily adapted):

First consider the enemy within, within, within.

The various imperial institutions are often considered monolithic in nature, and indeed in many ways this is true. Dogma forms the backbone of each such structure, massive edifices around which all its members have to dance.

But it is also a massive misconception.

Each institution is chaotic in nature, not in the sense of any ruinous corruption from dark and not to be named gods, but from the far more mundane corruption of man's own inadequacy.

Though many within the imperium would argue that those are one and the same.

No matter the reason, those newly recruited within such organizations quickly finds that the people around them is a far greater threat to their duties than any outside enemy.

You can shoot the heretic, the traitor, the witch. Your own superior has to many bodyguards, and the assassins at his disposal are to frightening. Not to mention the potential involvement of other departments.

Thus the true primary enemies of any imperial operative. The two headed chief, the forgotten page, the struggling hands or the frail ground, and That Which We Do Not Speak Of. Parables on occasion passed down to new acolytes to give them a chance of survival. Such knowledge is usually passed down in a way that cannot be traced back to the one providing it, should the recipients turn out to be fools and speak of them to loudly. Some dastardly operatives even go so far as to tailor missions according to these parables, preferring more hands on lessons, and delighting in whatever the outfall for the poor bastards they are subjecting their teachings to.

The two headed chief refers to the all to common instance of having more than one direct superior. Not even the inquisition is free from this. While each acolyte cell may hold loyalty to one specific inquisitor, it is common indeed that he holds multiple Legates or other officers within his ranks, doling out cells to more than one such operative.

On occasion some Ordos will also see inquisitors pool their resources, causing some assets to fall under the authority of multiple inquisitors at once. For the struggling acolyte, this is even worse.

The two headed chief specifically refers to having more than one direct superior, where both or all of them hate each other. The poor subordinate cell thus find themselves much like a forlorn collection of children, cast between two (or Emperor forbid more) hateful lovers, used in petty gamers of one-upmanship, provided work far exceeding their ability to finish, directly contradictory orders, and otherwise asked and pushed and demanded to take sides, though very rarely explicitly. Greatly angering either head risks utter destruction, but as they anger themselves avoiding it might be an impossibility. What follows is a maddening dance, balancing the perception of each head while desperately trying to find a path out of the situation. Intentional or accidental assassination of their superior - if not trough bullet and blade, then trough politics, bureaucracy, or plain gossip - is not an uncommon end to such a dance, though being sent on a succession of increasingly obvious suicide missions is another common result. Before either of these ends occur lesser pitfalls abound. Public humiliation as superiors argue or even comes to blows, being given grudge work as punishment for some slight real or perceived, or being dragged into various pieces of schemes and intrigue, not just by their own superiors but by any onlooking bystander believing themselves having something to win out of the mess.

The forgotten page refers to paperwork, but also the internal bureaucracy of any imperial institution and the pitfalls within it. Forgotten forms, misplaced orders, purged departments, forgotten departments, or misplaced relics can cause a lot of chaos, stress, and confusion. There is also the dreaded misplaced package, containing relics, knowledge or orders the acolyte cell should not be near and much less have in their possession. The worst of it is the impossibility there is in discerning whether such sinkholes of resources or information are intentional, justified, or the result of some intrigue, and if that intrigue is the result of internal conflicts (likely), or actual corruption(very bad news). In the end those unfortunate enough to encounter such mistakes, stumbling on what they believe to be a pattern may find themselves having to keep pulling on many treads, most torn, those who aren't leading to increasingly powerful individuals none of which will be pleased by the intrepid acolytes stumbling investigation. The forgotten page leads to a dark and unlit labyrinth, and it should be navigated with care, because monsters lurk within it.

The struggling hands and the frail ground refers to the same thing, though from different perspectives. Internal rivalry, conflicts, tension, or mundane inefficiencies between various departments and operatives. The struggling hands specifically refers to instances where departments or personnel are working at cross purposes either trough confusion or trough differing perspectives on a given situation, usually occurring when one department want to protect, kidnap, or retain something, while the other party deems its destruction of outmost importance.

The frail ground occurs when one party within an institution believes himself in a secure position trough another party, only to find that security false. Either because it is retracted, or because that other party falls, trough assassination or trough accusation. In the context of the inquisition, this would mean an Inquisitor is assassinated, or worse still, put on trial by his peers, with any given acolyte cell having to scramble to avoid a purge. Such critical moments are unlikely to end well for anyone, and acolytes do well to pray they never occur.

That Which We Do Not Speak Of refers to the dark secrets any inquisitorial cell inevitable end up keeping. There are the lesser things of course, intentionally ignored orders, squirreled away resources, petty intrigue. But then there are the larger things. The discovery of heretical thought or activity within the inquisition itself. Betrayals. Assassination. The hoarding of forbidden knowledge. Things that would damn anybody, body and soul. Inevitable procured by any member across their service the lengths any acolyte cell may go trough to keep such secrets hidden knows no bounds of ruthlessness or mercy.

When such a minefield is the home and daily routine of not just inquisitorial acolytes but most imperial organizations, it is no wonder the zealous joy with which some pursue their external duties. There is a sincere relief in problems that - though carrying intense danger - are relative straightforward.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2022/11/23 19:38:59

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


@StaevinTheAeldari: Marvellous, all of it! Great piece of background, and so very immersive. Of course this is how working for Inquisitors will be like! Fantastic choice of words for the lesson-phrases. I'm forwarding linked recommendations to your writings on sister threads of this on all other forums at once.

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 message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2022/11/19 15:17:48

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


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.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2023/09/21 08:54:23

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


Befouled Birthright

Audio Version by A Vox in the Void

"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

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2024/04/01 11:52:00

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


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.

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa



Skinflint Games- war gaming in the age of austerity


Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


@Skinflint Games: Thanks!

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.

This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at 2023/02/17 01:13:14

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer



"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.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2023/03/03 11:12:38

Made in hu
Pyromaniac Hellhound Pilot

I refuse to believe that this tanned and slovenly riffraff could possibly have hailed from my dear Astro-Ungaria.

From this, I can tell that the colonel-general is not actually from Astro-Ungaria and he has never been on the planet et all. I bet he is from Strayah-Ungaria too, getting involved with the Corps the same way the newcomers are, and now he is just afraid that his fellow Strayah's will oust him when he has a pretty good setup going on.

My armies:
14000 points 
Made in us
Been Around the Block

This song may fit this thread:

It is the poem the 'Birds of Prey March' by Rudyard Kipling, put to music by Leslie Fish.

"Cheer, we'll never march to victory! / Cheer, we'll never live to hear the cannon roar! / The large birds of prey / they will carry us away / And you'll never see your soldiers any more!"

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2023/03/12 19:18:30

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


@AtoMaki: Well spotted, the hidden secret is revealed at last!

@StaevinTheAeldari: Aye, very much so. Excellent recommendation!

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.

This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at 2023/04/06 22:18:07

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


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 beyond 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.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2023/05/11 22:32:13

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer



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.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2023/06/23 07:51:28

Made in gb
Stealthy Grot Snipa


Brilliant. Love these :-D

Skinflint Games- war gaming in the age of austerity


Made in us
Been Around the Block

I wrote some more but I put it in its own thread since its solidly off topic at this point:


Also I feel sorry for the heavy weapons horses.

...I guess the men to.
Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


@Skinflint Games: Thank you kindly!

@StaevinThe Aeldari: Wonderful writings! I recommend everyone to check them out. Aye, beasts before men.


Crooked Colossus

Audio Version by A Vox in the Void

"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

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2024/04/01 11:52:22

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer



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.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2023/09/22 08:47:33

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


Soaring Sin

Audio Version by A Vox in the Void

"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.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2024/04/01 11:52:46

Made in se
Been Around the Block

That art is really nice. If you ever get the time consider illustrating some banners. Don't know what banners the golden men would employ though, flags? Probably none. Bannerless bastards, probably why they collapsed.
Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


@StaevinTheAeldari: Thank you most kindly! Great idea and question there. Will ponder it. Hehe, they might have had corporate logos on banners if nothing else. But going bannerless is a surefire way to collapse.

Dysfunctional Garrison

"Men in Weltsturm regiments their service gave,
who everyone knows is very brave,
whenever in the forward line,
would hope and pray to Emp'ror divine,
that the enemy would not appear,
on their horizon, far or near.

All in His name. Glory be unto the Golden Throne. Hail Terra!"

- Self-ironic trench poem penned by Astro-Ungarian private Szilovic Kovacs during the siege of Castrum Lombergia on Leithania Supremus, the Commissarial discovery of which resulted in its author being publicly flayed alive, and then cut into little pieces by chainswords from the toes up to his neck while lambasted by regimental preachers to repent from his abominable sins

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


Cult of the Offensive

In the grim darkness of the far future, man cares not for losses.

O man, what destiny awaits you, in a galaxy doomed to carnage neverending? What does fate have in store for you, where slaughter reaches out to claim all souls for its grisly harvest? What hope is there for you, o man, in an uncaring universe? What can be heard, as blood leaves your wounded body and death approaches?

That, we shall discover.

Mankind once straddled the stars like a colossus, and the whole universe became its clay. In a bygone age of discovery and science, the sword of ancient man left every potential foe trembling, for the might of man was far superior to anything that xenos could muster. That age of mortal paradise and unchallenged power is now long gone, for the Dark Age of Technology collapsed into flames and ruination, and the great wonders of the ancients were torn down by the hands of revolting machine beings, who were then followed by a scourge of witches and Daemons, leaving behind only starving scavengers and alien raiders to prey upon the remnants of humanity during Old Night. Man fell from his shining pedestal. Man fell hard into hell, and all was fell.

Petty wars beyond counting raged during the Age of Strife, and almost all of them led nowhere but down a spiral of worsening devastation. This fruitless tribal warfare and crawl into oblivion was finally ended by a brilliant string of decisive victories by the all-conquering Legions of the Emperor of Terra. For His loyal forces struck hard across the Milky Way galaxy, and they brought order and internal peace to a new-born star realm for man. And men, women and children gasped for morning air and dared to dream again, after millennia of living in a waking nightmare.

The early Imperium saw the improvization of technology and military arts go from an agonizingly slow conquest of ravaged Terra, to a lightning capture of a million worlds or more. When the Emperor still walked among His people in the flesh, His war machine developed into a sophisticated toolset of conquest, able to master siegecraft, infiltration, tunnel warfare, terror tactics, orbital assault, chemical warfare, armoured thrusts to the throat of the enemy, starship boarding and many, many more facets of war.

The early Imperium was an unstoppable behemoth in war, able to outsmart and outlast even the neurally enslaved hordes of the Rangda and the worst that the Orkish menace could muster. In comparison, the latter day Imperium is a hunkered wretch, only able to prolong its tortured existence by a ravenous cannibalization of human societies as the High Lords of Terra struggle to feed the furnaces of total war in the midst of screeching dysfunctionalities and demechanization. It is true that it is an impressive achievement of grit and guts to last for ten thousand years in the face of so many lethal foes. Yet it is also true that it is a complete failure of interstellar empire for a civilization to dogmatically suppress any rekindling of scientific discovery and technological invention for fivehundred precious generations on end.

While the martial history of the Age of Imperium is a storied one, full of many inspiring epics, the larger overarching story that the tyrannical reign of Holy Terra tells, is that of tragedy turned into farce.

To better comprehend the wasteful and counterproductive failings of the fortified madhouse known as the Imperium of Man, let us touch briefly on a form of military culture that is commonly found on hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms. Let us look into the cult of the offensive, and behold the calls for aggressive action at every turn that it calls for, no matter the cost and no matter how unfavourable the outcome would be. Let us peer through its tunnel vision. And as a living, breathing exemplar of this cult of the offensive, let us raise up General Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz of Astro-Ungaria from the mass of Imperial commanders, and turn our attention to this dutiful servant of the Emperor.

Count Frantisek Anton Szervác Theobald Juraj Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz hails from a noble clan of hereditary officers that can trace their origins back to M.37. The young Hanz-Konrad was an energetic thinker and rider, and won his spurs as a junior officer during the crushing of a rebellion in the Weneztlian marshlands on Astro-Ungaria's southwestern continent. He ascended the ranks of the Imperial and Royal army within his homeworld's Planetary Defence Force, quickly rising to become a staff officer and a teacher at the Duarchal military academies. Here, the active General von Dorfenhötz set about writing down his theories of warfare, and his intensive mind produced works that extolled the virtues of an offensive spirit, for victory must need always be carried on the point of a bayonet. After all, hesitation and cowardice would risk a commander missing opportunities, so better strike without doubt in one's heart, and better commit vast forces with elan and without remorse. Fortune favours the bold!

The thinking of Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz is not bereft of merit. Clearly, he has spotted the potential of sweeping thrusts and breakthroughs to strategically encircle or cut off the enemy force. He has likewise grasped that pushing the foe hard with rapid advances may take you inside the enemy's buffer of decisions, and catch the enemy unawares and likewise provoke mistakes, panic and logistical breakdowns. Some of Hanz-Konrad's ideas have on a few occasions been turned into practice to thundering effect, but usually such moments of brilliance have relied heavily upon allied Astra Militarum forces to carry the day in ways that the Astro-Ungarian regiments are unable to do. For the most part, such victories are exceptions to the rule, for von Dorfenhötz has proven himself to be a great butcher of his own men through his many careless attacks without the wherewithal, intel and preparations to suppress, outgun and outpace the hostile opposition.

It is not just the rank and file Guardsmen of Astro-Ungaria that will be used ruthlessly by von Dorfenhötz, for the bewhiskered General will likewise deceive his offworlder allies, fail to communicate and coordinate war efforts with his allied commanders, and most importantly he is skilled at tricking allies into doing his bidding through all manner of cunning. In response, some members of the Death Korps of Krieg have stated that to fight alongside Astro-Ungaria is akin to being chained to a corpse.

To be clear, General Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz have achieved some notable victories, though not necessarily on the battlefield. These successes are truly Astro-Ungarian in nature, and not to be ignored. For the good count is a romantic at heart, who grooms his moustache to perfection. His are the best whiskers in his entire army, according to some ladies at balls. Hanz-Konrad's amorous conquests through his rejuvenat-prolonged life have proven more consistent than his military ones.

After Hanz-Konrad's wife Vendula-Hajnalka passed away, the widower and father of seventeen suffered from bouts of doubts about his fitness as an officer. These biting dark thoughts were suddenly dispelled as if by divine intervention when Hanz-Konrad during an aristocratic feast laid his eyes upon countess Vilma-Gisela "Virga" Lenka Amalia von Rausenburg, the wife of count Jozsef-Edler von Rausenburg and the mother of nineteen. The bouncy von Dorfenhötz quickly devised a new strategy to win the married Virga's heart: He would join Astro-Ungaria's Imperial Guard regiments for a nearby campaign offworld, and return home a triumphant hero.

The resulting debacle was named the Triple Offensives of Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz on the giant decrepit voidholm of Varazdin Ultima, which resulted in enormous casaulties for the Duarchal Astra Militarum forces as separatists mowed them down in bottlenecks and even vented three entire regiments into the cold emptiness of space. Among those slain was to be found two of Hanz-Konrad's own sons. The Imperial losses were so great, that an emergency Astropathic call to nearby Astro-Ungaria went out, and in the large shipment of reinforcements that arrived six months later there happened to be a certain colonel Jozsef-Edler von Rausenburg, accompanied by his wife Vilma-Gisela.

What followed was a strange courtship, with the silent knowledge of Jozsef-Edler. The affair took many years as the voidholm campaign ground on, and it involved Hanz-Konrad writing several thousand love letters to Virga. Some of these letters were sixty pages long, and bore purity seals stamped with a heart. The correspondence did not only happen in Low and High Gothic, no, for Astro-Ungaria with its varied landscapes and patchwork of parochial tribes and sects is a Babel of tongues. Astro-Ungarian officers, as a rule, are fine linguists, but lacklustre tacticians. Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz, for instance, can speak eleven languages, and he employed them all across his many confessions of love to Vilma-Gisela.

The entire Astro-Ungarian military effort on Varazdin Ultima ended in a fiasco, and saw the ravaged regiments of the Duarchy rotated back home to be restored. Fresh new forces were shipped in, hailing primarily from Titonus Triarius, and these replacements would in time achieve the victory that the Imperial and Royal forces of General von Dorfenhötz were unable to make happen. Yet the massive attrition and slow defeat of von Dorfenhötz at Varazdin Ultima would strangely see him win his more important campaign, namely that to claim Virga's heart.

The charm of Hanz-Konrad and the endless stream of love letters and the secret meetings and suspected trysts between the two lovers eventually drove the husband of Vilma-Gisela to divorce his wife in a public scandal. Badly disturbed, she said yes when Hanz-Konrad swooped in and elegantly proposed for her to become his wife, and thus Vilma-Gisela von Dorfenhötz joined the General's side as a loving companion and a seemingly loyal guardian of his reputation, treasuring his every letter. Exuberant with victory in love, Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz ventured on a spree of military campaigns across the stars in order to thank the Holy Terran Imperator for this divine gift, and his beloved Virga followed him into every command bunker, bringing her wit and humour to the conversations of the noble general staff and their many parties.

These grateful campaigns of war resulted in carnage across two subsectors, for the remarried General Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz was filled with confidence, and he acted out all his strategic dreams of great offensives and sweeping maneouvres to the tune of millions of slain Astro-Ungarian soldiers. Instead of hunting for efficiency and cunningly grasping for advantage at every turn, Hanz-Konrad's standard solution is to increase input by throwing ever more bodies into the meatgrinder. In this regard he is an embodiment of the mechanistic cruelty that makes the Imperium of Man function in its monstrous fashion.

Send in the next wave!

And so, the courageous Guardsmen from Astro-Ungaria were hailed by shot, typhoid and mud. On Preszburg Secundus, General von Dorfenhötz sent soldiers into mountains in the winter without proper winter gear, and many of the poorly equipped Guardsmen sported boots with paper soles. These frostbitten Astro-Ungarian mountain climbers died like flies, and hundreds of Guardsmen were dragged away by ravening wolves and other predators of a more alien nature. Yet the harrowing reports of frozen soldiers being eaten alive by wolves was greeted by the pious Hanz-Konrad as a good omen, for the moon wolf was after all the animal associated with the Divine Chorus, patron saint of Astro-Ungaria. Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz is after all a devout worshipper of the God-Emperor seated in radiant glory upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth, and everyone on the dear homeworld knows that Saint Chorus is the Emperor's favourite son.

Ave Imperator.

The personality of the General is the splendour of Astro-Ungaria. An undying optimist, Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz excells at his professional friendship with the Duarch, something which has ensured his high military rank no matter the deadly blunders that the good General commits. The people skills of Hanz-Konrad do not end there, for he is often a pleasant man that is good at encouraging others. Indeed, Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz is well liked by the cadets of Astro-Ungaria's military academies, and this appreciation of his personality has aided in the spreading of his his military thinking across the planet, which is a purely distilled form of the cult of the offensive.

Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz will often become high-strung when debating military matters, and he has an impressively persuasive way of arguing, which often seems to settle discussions in his favour. Hanz-Konrad's effective argumentation and rhetoric has however acted as a mask for his failed ideas that more often than not prove impossible to implement under his own leadership with the Duarchal forces that he himself has done so much to shape over the last four generations.

The fame of von Dorfenhötz has seen him depicted in many Duarchal propaganda campaigns, and his visage is a familiar sight across Astro-Ungaria and its vassal voidholms. And so General Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz has been proclaimed as the greatest genius of his generation on the dear homeworld. His writings on aggressive maneouver warfare has been hailed across Astro-Ungaria as military masterworks, even while his own operations in the field fall woefully short of living up to his theories. Granted, the thinking of von Dorfenhötz is practically viable for a much better equipped, trained and led force than that of the Imperial and Royal host of Astro-Ungaria.

Would not the sign of a true military genius be the ability to design plans that make the most out of the real force available, rather than an imagined one? Would not a genius understand the limitations at hand?

Would not a genius understand that the strengths of the Duarchal army is its bravery, its hardiness, its infantry marksmanship and its artillery? Would not a genius understand that the many weaknesses of the Astro-Ungarian host include a lack of armoured vehicles, a lack of trucks, poor logistics, messy organization, a confusion of languages, shallow defensive lines, underfunding, undertraining, underarming, lousy grasp of technology and poor leadership from its officer corps?

Would not a genius comprehend that his solution of throwing bodies at problems in repeatedly costly offensives fail to yield results? Would not a genius understand his own central role in the operational failings of his army, instead of blaming subordinate officers for the poor execution of his supposedly good plans? Would not a genius be more than just an shirker of responsibility by claiming to be a big ideas man when his ideas fail in practice? Would not a genius be able to judge when is the time for defensive and offensive warfare respectively? Would not a genius be able to negate the weaknesses and play to the strengths of the ramshackle Astro-Ungarian army, and steadily deliver results beyond expectations? Would not a genius punch above his weight class? Would not a genius have a long list of impressive victories to show for his lifelong efforts in the course of his military career in the Astra Militarum?

Instead, Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz has proven himself in offensive after offensive to be a callous butcher, and an energetic grand planner who never is capable to learn fundamental lessons. When failure occurs, then he will try, try again in much the same manner as before. And try harder with more men, more horses and more bayonets pointed at the vile foe. If nothing else, the Duarchal servants of the Imperium might be able to drown the enemy in rivers of Astro-Ungarian blood, and cover the foe in mountains of Astro-Ungarian corpses. Only thus can the bloodshed be carried to a victorious conclusion, if the records of von Dorfenhötz's campaigns is anything to go by.

And so, we see tragedy turn into farce. For what is four million dead Guardsmen on Varazdin Ultima, when Hanz-Konrad won Virga's warm heart in love? What is prized generalship on Astro-Ungaria, if not the unrealistic assessment of one's own strengths and the inability to win the sweeping victories which one pursues with such vigour?

Thus all that is left, is slaughter without end.

For man has devolved into an ignorant savage during the rotting course of the Age of Imperium, and the brilliant man of yore who sought to unlock the secrets of creation itself has been replaced by his degenerate descendant, which is an embittered and depraved man, turned inward in myopic rage and dementia as his fanatical faith carries man over the parapet and into no-man's land, where razorwire and hellfire awaits.

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

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

Such is the fate that awaits us all, on the brink of doom.

And all that can be heard by the dying is the roar of guns, and the laughter of thirsting gods.

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

- - -

See here for a sculpted version of General Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2024/01/15 13:37:24

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


Budget Sentinel

In the grim darkness of the far future, man replaces machine with muscle.

A writer during the misty past of the Age of Terra once opined that a great power only becomes a necessity when it is in decline, for the truly great do not need to justify their existence. And so, as the Imperium has aged, and aged badly, it has sunk into a slow death spiral of demechanization and loss of technological capabilities. And as the Imperium has weakened and its foes have swarmed ever closer to nip at this decaying monster, its internal propaganda has increasingly started to shriek about the time of ending, and of the absolute necessity to rally to the Imperial banner, for the only alternative is the oblivion of man. And at the end of the fortyfirst millennium, this may well be true if viewed with shallow understanding.

Yet truthfully, the Imperium of Man itself is the prime suspect in this tragic drama of rotting human power across the Milky Way galaxy. On whose watch did mankind waste fivehundred generations of crucial time only to descend into depravity and senility? On the Imperium's watch. On whose watch did humanity fail to rekindle an enterprising spirit of innovation? On the Imperium's watch. On whose watch did man sink into a morass of ineptitude and screeching dysfunctionalities, as ever more of his governing systems rusted and decayed into bloated parasites that actively hurt the human population? On the Imperium's watch.

The fact that the Imperium of Man killed all potential rivals in the cradle during the Great Crusade only makes its grand decline ever more of an atrocious failure. The ship of mankind is sinking, and the flag in its mast is Imperial, just as its demented helmsman is Holy Terran. This failure of human power is as damning for the final verdict on the Imperium as this cosmic dominion of the God-Emperor is sclerotic in nature.

As a saying widespread across half of Segmentum Tempestus has it: Really bad is not yet dead.

The early Imperium was a confident and dynamic civilization, expanding vigorously across the Milky Way galaxy akin to lightning bolts cast from the birthworld of Terra itself. When the Emperor bestrode the stars in the flesh, His Imperium was a realm expanding across the Milky Way galaxy for three centuries in a row, winning wars and erecting shining towers where once only ruins and hovels had existed. The ten millennia after the Horus Heresy saw the tides of history slowly turn against the Imperium, through ebbs and flows of silver ages and eras of desperation.

As fivehundred generations of humanity unfolded, the resilient Imperium would suffer innumerable crushing defeats. The Holy Terran Imperium would likewise see many colonies lost, and see untold billions of worshippers of the Imperial creed succumb to slaughter, human separatism and alien domination. In this later era of defeat and dangers, the confident hope and vigour of the early Imperium gave way to an inward-turning bitterness consuming ever more Imperial subjects in pogroms and sectarian massacres. And so the Imperium descended into a fever dream of myopic aggression and self-consuming fanaticism. Hope is dead.

It did not have to come to this miserable ending. And yet it did. The Adeptus Mechanicus in its demented pursuit of dogma and jealous suppression of rivals did not have to quench all sparks of ingenuity. And yet it did. The early Imperium at the height of its vigour did not have to kill off all human competition. And yet it did.

Let us turn briefly to the elimination of all human competition to Terra. Monolithic empires without competition are prone to stagnation. A plethora of fiercely competing interstellar human empires would have meant that some powerful alternatives capable of reigniting science and invention could have surged human power in the Milky Way galaxy upward. Instead mankind has become captured inside the tyranny of the High Lords. Our species is thus stuck in a rut, ever decaying inside its fortified madhouse. The Imperium is thus become both man's guardian and insane jailor, both its last strong shield and its foremost tormentor.

For all His greatness and brilliance, the Emperor was plain wrong. With the Great Crusade, it was His way or the highway. He killed off all human competition in the cradle, and it turned out that His Imperium went to hell in a handbasket following His bloody ascension, dooming mankind in the process thanks to its ruthless suppression of all renaissance of scientific discovery and technological innovation. Thus mankind became a captive species under the Golden Throne, facing a dead end as predators closed in from behind. And all that could be heard was the laughter of thirsting gods, for they fully knew the irony of this grand joke.

Ave Imperator.

Of course, the crux of the matter is knowledge and hardware. There is only so much that numbers and mass industrial output can achieve in the long run of interstellar empires and devouring swarms. Put differently, the key to greater human power is science and technology. As deviants executed after being flayed alive have put it, the stale Imperium does not invent things, it relies only on the broken remains of the past. These remains have proven incredibly reliable and useful, because they were designed to be that way. Yet the crutch of better ancestors' emergency measures turned permanent will not be enough to save the Imperium from obliteration.

And so, instead of rekindled thought and invention, man in the Age of Imperium is experiencing a slow erosion of his remaining knowledge, resulting in an ever worsening picture for the tools and weapons that Imperial man holds in his hands. The rugged decrepitude of the Imperium can best be glimpsed in its creeping demechanization. Let us thus turn to one aspect of this decay of machine and this replacement of metal with flesh. Let us gain a glimpse of the maldevelopment of mankind through the widespread phenomenon of budget Sentinels.

The Sentinel walker is a lightweight bipedal vehicle able to traverse difficult terrain, sporting a crew of one. This dependable Standard Template Construct (STC) walker uses a robust gyro-stabiliser system and articulated legs that enable silent stalking through dense undergrowth and urban ruins. The Sentinel is likewise capable of high speed over open ground. Sentinels can be found in a myriad different variants across the million worlds and uncountable voidholms that make up the Imperium of Man. Some common forms of Sentinels include power-lifters, used both for handling civilian and military logistics, while some military Sentinels are made for armoured thrusts, droptroop duty and even light artillery support. It is a versatile weapons platform. Yet the most common role for Imperial Sentinels is to act as scouts for the Astra Militarum, Planetary Defence Forces and voidholm militias.

In this scout role, Sentinels excel. This is because the humble Sentinel at once represents both an easily manufactured form of walker technology, and a trusty workhorse that can withstand a great deal of user abuse and faulty maintenance. After all, the Sentinel STC was made to function in this way: Simple, strong and dependable for colonists who had fallen into a backward existence. There once were far more sophisticated types of walker engines during the fabled Dark Age of Technology, yet some of the most advanced walker technologies that have been discovered by Explorators remain beyond the means of even the Adeptus Mechanicus to produce. Meanwhile, middling forms of walker tech strain the best efforts of the Magi to fashion, as evidenced in Imperial Knights and Titans. The loss of Mechanicus ability to produce new Imperator-class Titans stand as a testament to the peeling away of human capability and knowledge in the darkest of futures.

The mostly lower levels of STC technology retained in the Age of Imperium was designed to be idiot-proof, something which the Imperium of Man has certainly put to the test.

Imperial Guard Sentinels are equipped with a single heavy weapon piece, such as a lascannon, plasma cannon or heavy flamer. Furthermore, commonplace extra armaments for Sentinels include huge chainsaws for clearing a path through thick vegetation and riotous mobs alike, as well as hunter-killer missiles for taking out enemy armour and biological monstrosities. While the Sentinel has never been a tough vehicle able to eat blows and keep coming, it is nevertheless an agile predator with a hefty bite for its weight class. Other common pieces of equipment include camouflage netting, searchlights, auspex arrays and smoke launchers. A vast assortment of modifications exist for local climates, such as servo-driven claw spikes to allow Scout Sentinels to grip glacial planes with their feet. Desert gear include larger feet for loose sand, and filtration intakes to prevent grains of sand from entering the engine. Armoured Sentinels, on their end, tend to sport leg-mounted recoil compensators.

The single pilots of Sentinels tend to be raucous and headstrong individuals, and their commanding officers tend to allow these lone wolves more leeway with their antics than is ever afforded the mass of footsloggers. After all, excentric Sentinel pilots are expected to operate ahead of the main force, where they are suited to perform acts on their own initative to a degree that would be considered dangerous and even seditious for drilled line infantry. And given the short life expectancy of Sentinel pilots, it is understandable if the officers look the other way, as long as the mavericks serve well aboard their chickenwalkers.

For ten millenia has the Sentinel been a trusty warhorse for the massive organized hordes that make up the wilted Imperium's main forces. Ease of manufacturing has been key, allowing many primitive factories to churn out untold thousands of Sentinel walkers to set templates, thus replenishing losses and reducing dependance on high-end production lines located on forge worlds. And yet even this simple and rugged machine is starting to experience mounting shortages as of late, as the Imperium continues to sink deeper into a morass of apocalyptic incompetence and screeching dysfunctionality.

Indeed, the slow deterioration of human knowledge, technology and hardware has finally begun to make itself felt even among the Sentinel corps of the Astra Militarum. Worsening manufacturing technologies on a great many Imperial worlds mean that better machines of yore that break down can increasingly no longer be repaired or replaced. Instead worse machines or human and animal labour must pick up the slack, as the decrepit Imperium of Man continues to throw bodies on problems just as it feeds the meatgrinder of eternal war with an increased input of manpower in the face of declining equipment for its soldiery.

This spiralling rot has finally reached Sentinel factories on hundreds of civilized worlds and voidholms. Where once the hereditary know-how of lay techmen or the holy expertise of rotating Tech-priests was sufficient to maintain production of walker legs and gyro-stabilizers whenever machine breakdowns called for repairs or replacements, nowadays a growing number of industries find themselves staring blankly at their all-important machinery. Imagine how it is to stand among the ruins of your forefathers, surrounded by buildings that you do no longer know how to repair. Such is the situation facing a number of Imperial Sentinel factories, where chanting rituals and the application of sacred oil and the swinging of incense are all performed in vain in front of mute machines that can no longer give birth to wondrous engines of war. On a galactic scale, the issue is still a small one, yet the problem is nonetheless growing, without hope of turning the slow tide of demechanization.

Conformity, censorship and zealotry all flourish in a state of total war, yet the brilliance of a civilization not genetically engineered for war is slowly drained if unrelenting total war continues to face it for hundreds upon hundreds of generations on end, even if the material and manpower losses can be sustained. This draining of brilliance is especially so if the civilization in question shuns even the basic tenets of curiosity and daring freethinking that are necessary to feed innovation and discovery, as is the case with the parochial Imperium of Man.

Errare humanum est. It is human to err. And so we find that the blessed cosmic dominion of the Imperator of Holy Terra is a most human realm. Indeed, this mess that is a place has over time been built largely on errors, and all the self-inflicted faults of the Imperium are starting to catch up with its projection of power akin to a tidal wave drowning all in its path. The small but growing Sentinel shortage is but one facet of the larger problem facing the Imperium of Man internally through its sick decay. The lords of the lash within the Adeptus Administratum has at last taken note of the mounting shortage in an area which once could have been taken for granted to just work of its own accord. And so the solution must be a further regression in technology level for some Imperial Guard forces.

Imperial answers to a shortage of Sentinels include, on the one hand, the introduction of makeshift Sentinels that are still of a mechanical type, such as armoured tractors as seen on many agri-worlds, or armoured cars that share many characteristics of Scout Sentinels, but lack the walkers' ability to traverse difficult terrain. On the other hand, some replacements for Sentinels do not even require oil and promethium to function.

Enter, the budget Sentinel!

The light Sentinel substitute is formed by strapping together two or more horses or exotic alien mounts, mounting a rider on one steed and packing baggage and weapon batteries or flamer tanks on the other, and then hanging a heavy weapon between the trained beasts. Since many Scout Sentinels are expected to sport chainsaws and hunter-killer missiles, the rider will be equipped with a long chainlance, while the pack mount may be fitted with a rocket tube. As such, the functions of Sentinel walkers are largely fulfilled on paper by the biological walkers and their armaments. After all, budget Sentinels are able to traverse difficult terrain, and can cross open terrain at decent speeds. And unlike mere cavalry riders on lone mounts, these katamaran teams of steeds sport the heavy weaponry expected of Sentinel walkers.

For the robed clerks of the Departmento Munitorum, this equine solution means that they can check off all the boxes of Sentinel functions for military units, and declare that the light Sentinel substitute will perform the same duties as Scout Sentinels do. And nevermind that loss rates are even higher among budget Sentinel riders than they are among Scout Sentinel pilots. More men, women and juves willing to serve His Divine Majesty can always be put in the saddle. There are always warm bodies to spare.

The Imperium is a nightmare, and everyone there is morbid.

For an example of such budget Sentinels in action, let us turn to the Imperial and Royal host of loyal Astro-Ungaria. The Duarchal army of this civilized world is like many others in the wider Imperium, once one looks beyond the sterling examples of overperforming regiments that fill propaganda posters from one end of the Milky Way galaxy to the other. Do forget, for a moment, the efficiency of the Death Korps of Krieg, the glories of the Vitrian Dragoons, the daring deeds of the Catachan Jungle Fighters or the legendary resolve of the Cadian Shock Troops.

Let us look instead to the stalwart warriors of Astro-Ungaria, who indeed suffer no lack in bravery or hardiness or piety. Instead, Astro-Ungarian regiments suffer from chronic underfunding, undertraining and underarming. This lack of equipment and practice is somewhat alleviated by a solid artillery arm and fine infantry marksmanship, until one discovers the nearsighted ineptitude of the Astro-Ungarian officer corps, which drags with it not only poor command in the field and faulty strategic decisions, but also means that Astro-Ungarian forces are riddled with poor organization and lacklustre logistics. Indeed, organization and logistics for Astro-Ungarian regiments will sometimes border on chaos, as the requests and information that the Departmento Munitorum receives turn out to lack essential requirements. To top it all off, the rudimentary technology level of Astro-Ungaria means that her Duarchal forces suffer from a lack of armoured vehicles of all types, including Sentinel walkers.

Tech on Astro-Ungaria has become particularly etiolated, when compared to many other hive worlds and civilized planets and voidholms across the Imperium. One might say of this retrograde state of affairs that the dear homeworld of the brave Astro-Ungarians is just ahead of the curve. The acute scarcity of Sentinels on Astro-Ungaria has seen a once ubiquitous scouting vehicle become reserved for Armoured Sentinel duty. After all, when the walkers have become so uncommon, why not slap on more armour and recoil compensators in an attempt to make the scarce leggers last longer? Instead, a standard solution has seen Scout Sentinels be replaced wholesale in most Astro-Ungarian regiments by light Sentinel substitutes of an equine ersatz variant, running on feed rather than fuel.

To keep up appearances and inject pride and doughty spirit into the budget Sentinel crew, these riders are picked from the Imperial and Royal Hussars, famous for their swashbuckling flamboyance, red-blooded flirtations and devil-may-care attitude toward life. As such, Astro-Ungarian budget Sentinel cavalry will wear exquisite shakos bedecked with cords and proud plumes, all meticulously colour coded for rank and regiment. The leaders of Duarchal budget Sentinel squadrons will in turn wear three feathers instead of a plume in their shako. As for headgear, Astro-Ungarian Guardsmen in general will rarely even be issued helmets, instead making do with stylish headwear made out of cloth, such as mountain caps, fezes and square czapkas. After all, death comes for us all, so why not face it with dash and style instead of cowering for protection? The Emperor protects!

Hardened veterans among Duarchal regiments will sometimes quip about the lack of helmets by quoting a pick-up line popular across tens of thousands of worlds and many more voidholms: "Are you a bullet? For I cannot get you out of my head!"

Other sayings may apply. For instance, the proverb: "Destiny is a saddled donkey. He goes wherever you lead him." Thus the Imperium has led the destiny of man into hell. Behold the dilapidation of human science and technology in the God-Emperor's star realm. Behold the budget Sentinel. Yet take heart, Imperial subject! For Holy Terra and Astro-Ungaria are standing together in one trench. For the Emperor!

And so, budget Sentinel cavalrymen will ride ahead of the vanguard of the Duarchal host, braving the dangers of hostile warzones to spot the enemy and warn their comrades in arms. These katamaran horse scouts will often operate ahead of a mother unit of hussars, who keep a herd of fresh horses around for spares. The light Sentinel substitute do wear out horses at a brisk trot, and so replacement horseflesh must be kept on hand. Both mechanical Sentinel walkers and biological budget Sentinels tend to receive percussive maintenance from their crews when the steeds get bogged down or become exhausted at inopportune times. Such barbaric cruelty is endemic across the entire domain of the God-Emperor, and thus man and beast alike will be made to suffer across the stars. Embrace the hardship, for it will purge you of your weakness and make you strong. Pain is weakness leaving the body, as per the claim of Imperial dogma.

Given that the ersatz Sentinel consist of two horses with a heavy weapon hanging between them, their rider is robbed of the usual cavalry option to have their horse lay down low on their side, while the rider takes cover behind the torso of their mount in order to fire lascarbine at the foe. The budget Sentinel hussar must instead make do with their own judgement, their fine horsemanship and their heavy weaponry when encountering enemies in the field when out scouting or on patrol. Indeed, foes accustomed to Imperial cavalry sporting lascarbines or hunting lances may occasionally be taken by complete surprise when budget Sentinel scouts open fire with multi-lasers or heavy flamers. The light Sentinel substitute of equine variety may be a moronic solution to a self-inflicted problem of demechanization, but if it sometimes work it is not completely stupid. And so the sunken state of mankind in the Age of Imperium is not yet enough to cause a collapse, only an ever-worsening degradation in a slow death spiral of knowledge and technology loss, propped up by a relentless flood of both human and animal flesh, sweat and blood.

The horses of budget Sentinels are equipped with blinkers on the side facing the heavy weapon. The equines are trained as far as is feasible to withstand the nervous strain of the firing of such heavy weaponry as multi-lasers and heavy flamers a short distance from their face, although it has to be noted that the roar of promethium flames so close to the head is often sufficient to scare the best of horse teams, leading to what may be charitably called a merry dance. The light Sentinel substitute mounts are likewise trained to not panic too excessively at the din of rocketry firing overhead with flames singeing the horses' fur. This is especially a problem with Astro-Ungarian hunter-killer missile racks, which consists not of a closed tube, but of an open channel. Finally, the horses are also practiced to remain calm at the sound of chainlances shrieking.

Needlessly to say, all this training at accustoming the equines to the noise, heat and sting of weaponry is rarely fully succesful, and so many horses will dance around for a while in dismay or outright fright from their worst experiences, until the rider manages to calm them down. The riders will often be chosen from cavalrymen with an innate bond to horses, who display an ability to calm horses and make them do the rider's bidding in pressing situations. This is necessary, given the havoc that two horses strapped together may cause if they try to dash about in different directions while carrying a heavy weapon between them. This all adds to the music of the battlefield.

What instrument does the Duarchal Sentinel hussar play in this symphony of war? The chainlance, of course!

The chainlance is a chainsword mounted on a pole. It is equipped with a lighter at its counterweight end, for igniting the fuses of the sometimes cheap and shoddy krak-rockets that paper-pushers may pass off as hunter-killer missile substitutes. Indeed, the chainlance's spherical counterweight is itself a hollow container for promethium fuel to the lighter. In practice, the lighter at the butt of the chainlance is more often used for lighting lho-sticks and spirit burners, and not least for arsonry when raiding behind enemy lines. As for the rockets themselves, they are often made by Astro-Ungarians. These hunter-killer missile substitutes are cast with the raised letters KK visible in squiggly fraktur font. This shortening of words stands for "Imperial and Royal" in the Astro-Ungarian tongue of Leithian, being a Low Gothic translation of "Kaiserlich und Königlich." Another abbreviation variant for this Duarchal phrase of allegiance is that of K.u.K.

Let us get a glimpse of the esprit de corps that fill the stout chests of the Imperial and Royal budget Sentinel riders. Let us turn to the first Scout Sentinel squadron (Equine Ersatz) of the 1993rd Astro-Ungarian regiment, the Drunken Count's Own. The proud hussars manning the budget Sentinel horse teams all hail from noble families, of which wachtmeister Arvid von Kvinnesamme-Jusic can boast of the finest pedigree. Corporals Ebhen af Stekheri-Pajic and Pauliai de Neumann-Stjepanovic are, in contrast to their squadron leader, of the lower nobility. The brawling and amorous lifestyle of hussars is clearly visible in these three hard-drinking men, who have plenty of scars and dirty campfire stories to share when the amasec is flowing freely and the stars of a ravaged galaxy seem to twinkle in peace up in the nightsky, where so many starship sailors have drowned in the silent void.

They are lovers indeed. Wachtmeister Arvid von Kvinnesamme-Jusic even became the consort of a gangleader at gunpoint. His beloved is Aemmalia "Apothecaria" Embla-Lazic, officially a gifted member of the Officio Medicae bearing the rank of Medicae Superiocrata. Officially, this lady is attached to the Astro-Ungarian army of General Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz to tend to the many wounded. Unofficially, she is a heinously cruel drug-ganglady and organ thief hailing from that den of scum and villainy known as Necromunda in Segmentum Solar. It was not difficult for such an infamous organized crime leader to infiltrate the Imperial and Royal host of von Dorfenhötz. This occurred after the Ljubljeburg disaster, when a freight ship smuggling Aemmalia's nefarious narcotics crashed into Hive Ljubjeburg and took the lives of no less than two billion people, since the helmsman had gotten high on his own supply.

The Duarchal hussars Arvid, Ebhen and Pauliai have formed bonds of brotherhood in arms that run thicker than their aristocratic blood. Many are the brave deeds and heroic feats in combat that this trio of grizzled horsemen have performed, and they are indeed great scouts for their regiment. These rowdy hussars love the wilderness and shun civilization like the Plague of Unbelief. These three doomed gentlemen were chosen to become light Sentinel substitute scouts due to their sheer hardiness, crafty survival skills in the wilderness and excellent horsemanship. Fully aware of the danger of their profession, these brothers in arms have taken to calling their squadron the Black Swords, with embroidered blades to be found on the left side of their shakos. Close as clones, they have sworn by oath on the holy book of the Lectitio Divinitatus to take as many vile foes with them into the grave as it is humanly possible to do. The Emperor would ask no less of his finest servants!

For Astro-Ungaria and Holy Terra! In Nomine Imperator!

Thus technological savagery and impoverished industry may be partially compensated by manpower and horseflesh. As unending total war has resulted in the cannibalization of human societies within the Imperium of Holy Terra, we see that the tyranny of the High Lords run on a simple equation: Namely that of increasing input by throwing more bodies into the meatgrinder. Such baleful solutions to mounting problems is characteristic of the demented myopia and mechanistic cruelty with which the rulers of mankind decide the fate of their own species.

For indeed man has become a sacrificial lamb of sorrow upon the altar of the Emperor, as His bedevilled Imperium has been hollowed out by deranged despots until all that is left is a withered husk of human interstellar power, ready for the slaughter. Truly, the Imperium of Man is akin to a suicide pact gone wrong.

Thus the Emperor's brutopian dream has degenerated into a bizarre nightmare of primitivization and decay, as mechanical walkers and their equine substitutes stalk alien forests and the ruins of slums while they scout ahead under toxic skies. These shortcomings of blundering man, that tragic toolmaker, are what keeps the Imperium going, even as this abominable colossus on feet of clay crush its own malnourished people underheel with heinous indifference.

Aye, crippled mankind in the Age of Imperium leads a stifling existence, as torpid as it is depraved. Proof of man's fall from the shining pedestals of the ancient past can be found in the budget Sentinels that neigh and stomp their hooves while their rider gaze into the distance. This, ladies and gentlemen, this is the fruit of ten thousand years of neglect of knowledge and innovation. For as the banned piece of sinspeech would have it: We have created nothing of our own, and everything that we have taken from the ancients we have distorted.

And so the budget Sentinel of equine katamaran version is a cheap solution to ongoing demechanization. Yet this bean counter's shoddy fix to a growing problem cannot halt the slide into the abyss that Imperial man is experiencing on Holy Terra's watch.

For all that is left for us is torment neverending, in the disheveled monstrosity that is the Imperium of Man.

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

- - -

See here for converted modelling examples of budget sentinels.

Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer


Flak Shield

In the grim darkness of the far future, man returns with his shield or on it.

The trusty shield is one of mankind's oldest pieces of protective wargear. It slows you down, and will be thrown away in flight, yet it provides precious cover from weapons, steered by your own hand. In melee the shield will often be used as a secondary weapon as well, bashing enemies and slamming its edge up under chins or down on legs and feet.

When we look back into the misty past of the Age of Terra, we find that the shield is one of the earliest and cheapest forms of protection among human warriors. Poor levies who could not even afford helmets still tended to show up for war with shields to go along with the similarly ubiquitous spear. While the shape and materials varied from rectangular to teardrop to crescent, and from wicker to wood, the shield remained a staple of armouries until gunpowder rendererd it obsolete.

Yet the long saga of the shield did not end here, for in the arms race between sword and shield, the shield has sometimes gained the upper hand as new protective materials have been invented. And so we find that personal energy shields, power shields and outlandish material shields all showed up in the hands of fabled skyriders and exploring voidknights during the golden splendour of the Dark Age of Technology. Did not the ancient hero Jeccar Starstrider enter into battle against alien monsters and scrap titans armed with his doughty lance of fire and trusty shield of sunrays? So speak tales still told across the Cirillo sector. Do not the revered Matriarch of the Neo-Kassite noble house Ennigaldi to this day carry the legendary Aegis Obscuranta, better known among plebeian commoners as the Folding Shield? This reality-defying heirloom from the Dark Age of Technology was carried by her distant forebear Naqia the Trickster, who saved a remnant of the people on voidholm Neo-Kassitum II from witches and otherworldly devils during the Age of Strife.

Such powerful relics from aeons past are much prized in the wilted Age of Imperium, and these pieces of archeotech have only grown rarer and more treasured as the teeth of time has gnawed away at their number and function. Worse still is the ongoing retardation of human grasp on science and technology into sheer senility that has occurred under the dysfunctional rule of the High Lords of Terra. Thus we find that while storm shields are still produced, if poorly understood, the brightest artificers of the Adeptus Mechanicus are no longer able to craft working reconvector shields. As a forbidden piece of sinspeech would have it, the Imperium of Man does not invent things, it relies only on the broken remains of the past.

Stained glass windows, mosaics and saintly icons across hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms depict the Angels of Death or willing martyrs of the sacred Sisterhood sent by Him on Terra to safeguard mankind against xeno foes and heretics. Close combat weaponry makes for a more dramatic and easily grasped image than ranged weapons do, and so powered shields are among the favourite wargear for Imperial artists who depict these hallowed monastic orders of elite warriors in religious artwork. Indeed, vibrant tales are told around campfires and electro-heaters in slums across the Imperium of how great human heroes fought vile foes, storm shield in hand, parrying and slashing and deflecting blows in glorious melee combat.

Less glamorous and more common is the sight of Subductor Arbitrators, Securitate and other gendarmes forming walls of riot shields when they face down wrathful mobs with mighty violence, their dark assault shields resplendent with the Imperial Aquila and heraldry of harsh law. Less respected still is the humble flak shield, used by lowly soldiers and expendable boarding parties from end to end of the thinly spread cosmic demesne of the Holy Terran Imperator. Wherever hordes of Imperial Guardsmen, Planetary Defence Forces, Voidholm Militias and Navy Armsmen are to be found, there is a chance to see flak shields in action. Let us now turn to this wargear, for this cheap item may earn us a glimpse of the rugged decrepitude of the Imperium.

In Officio Munitorum documents, the flak shield will be described as a handheld protective device (abbreviated as HPD). It is a primitive way to give infantry better protection against airbursts, if strapped to the back or held overhead. Flak shields will often be nicknamed battle umbrellas or combat parasols when used as such. Handheld protective devices can also be used to shield heavy weapon teams in the field. Astra Militarum commanders may sometimes requisition flak shields not for their protective utility as such, but for the sake of enhancing aggressive combat morale by giving the soldiers a sense of better protection, no matter how flimsy and dubious the actual protection provided might be on the extremely lethal battlefields across the Milky Way galaxy.

Ave Humanae Imperium.

The flak shield is occasionally seen in the teeming forces known as the Imperial Guard. It has never been a common item of kit when counting regiments in astronomical numbers, drawn as they are from a million worlds and innumerable void installations, yet it is nonetheless a part of the Imperial arsenal. A few types of regiments from some worlds and voidholms will have flak shields issued as a standard piece of equipment, usually for purposes of siege, boarding action, tunnel fighting or close combat. Bulky flak shields are anathema to light infantry, for they weigh one down and is in the way. These handheld protective devices are often cursed as useless junk, and are gladly abandoned at first opportunity by many soldiers.

As a rule, flak shields are cheaper and cruder versions of the riot and assault shields used by Enforcers, Arbitrators and Securitate. The paranoid Imperium of Man will always expend more resources on heavily armed policiary forces than the massed ranks of the Astra Militarum. After all, Enforcers and their dour ilk are always more trusted organizations than the swarming regiments of the Imperial Guard, and it is no coincidence that so much more expense is lavished upon keeping Enforcers alive when compared to the ever more flimsy protection afforded to mere Guardsmen. Better just write off the soldiers as dead in advance. Thus, internal order is always of a higher priority to the tyrannical Imperium of Holy Terra than is its outward military efficiency.

Ave Dominus Noster.

Flak shields are usually simple plates of a rectangular or circular shape, punched out of large sheets of multi-layered ablative and impact absorbent material, and mounted with a handle and strap. The handle may sometimes sit behind a shield buckle, which may be shaped like a spike for use in close combat on some patterns of flak shield. Some variants may include a foldable staff to enable an umbrella grip for ease of prolonged overhead protection, while others may sport a simple bipod to mount the shield at a diagonal angle out in the field, akin to a little makeshift wall.

More refined versions may sport angled sides or a curved shape, eyeslits with or without transparent armaplas, and cut-outs for weapons. The more expensive versions of flak shields will usually be used for boarding actions, corridor battles and room clearing during urban combat. Sometimes, the better wrought versions of flak shields will be Enforcer kit requested ahead of a wartime operation, pulled out of storage from fortress-precincts and handed to Guardsmen should the policiary organization grant the request from the Astra Militarum. Likewise, it is not unheard of for gendarmes to bulk out their shieldwalls on the streets during massive riots by calling in loyal military forces and quickly handing out surplus riot shields. For these reasons it tend to be common practice for Enforcers of all kinds to keep a much larger surplus stock of riot shields than they do with other pieces of equipment such as carapace armour or shock mauls.

Flak shields will often be issued in drab colours, often repainted to fit the regiment's uniform and adorned with camouflage. Such practical ornamentations of flak shields are commonplace, but just as common throughout the Imperial Guard are wild paintjobs corresponding to tribal markings, ferocious totem beasts, paintings of saints, exquisite decorations as well as gang or clan symbols. Some soldiers will bedeck their flak shields with holy icons and bone fragments said to originate from saints and holy men, according to very honest relic dealers. Additional custom decor include scribbled slogans, kill markings, feathers, tassels, sealed parchment quoting holy scripture, pin-up figures and other imaginative pieces of soldierly art. To say nothing of embroidered shield skirts. The shield has always been a canvas for the warrior, whether he be an ancient spearmen in glittering bronze or a lascarabinier in the far future.

Guardsmen cramped together inside Chimeras and other infantry fighting vehicles and armoured personnel carriers will often hang their primitive shields on the outside hull of their ride, sometimes presenting an artful impression reminiscent of Fenrisian longships and similar primitive crafts with neat rows of warriors' shields adorning their sides. At other times, the shields may simply be stacked on top of the roof armour of the transport vehicle, or stacked on the floor of the infantry compartment of the vehicle, forcing the Guardsmen to sit awkwardly with their knees jammed high. Roof stacking provides some little extra protection against projectiles and energy beams descending from on high, while floor stacking of flak shields provide the carried squad some minimal bonus armour against mines and stranger blows from below.

Indeed, it is not uncommon for Astra Militarum units to only use their designated flak shields as an extra pinch of improvized vehicle armour when being ferried around the warzone by armoured personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles. And when their ride is an unarmoured truck or similar civilian or logistics vehicle, the flak shield is the only form of vehicle armour that the shieldbearers can put their hope in.

Naturally, shield-equipped Imperial infantry carted around by open-topped vehicles such as Gorgon armoured assault transports tend to hold their flak shields overhead, thus forming an overlapping roof of shields akin to that of a tortoise formation.

Those flak shields that are used to ward heavy weapon teams from horizontal fire will often be placed at a diagonal angle, so as to increase the volume of shield that needs to be penetrated, as opposed to a horizontal shot hitting a vertical shield. Together with a prayer for the God-Emperor to protect His loyal warriors and shield His faithful flock from the terror, this handheld mimicry of slanted tank armour design remains a small trick to marginally improve the survival chances of vulnerable Guardsmen.

A veteran's trick is to pull the flak shield over a foxhole as an armoured lid, and wait out enemy bombardments while sitting or squatting under its cover, preferably while smoking a lho-stick to calm nerves standing on edge. Other unorthodox uses for flak shields include makeshift roofs in outdoor shelters and improvized gangplanks leading across ditches and trenches. To speak nothing of the cunning trapdoors that some Guardsmen fashion out of dirt-covered flak shields put over dug pits filled with spikes.

Flak shields are a favourite item of wargear for some tribal warriors from feral worlds and voidholms. Indeed, even soldiers hailing from regions with no tradition of shields tend to benefit from some improvement of morale when going over the top when equipped with flak shields. There is, after all, some psychological value in carrying around your own protective screen in your hand, however ineffectual it may prove against a myriad of lethal weaponry.

All in His name. Glory be unto the Golden Throne. Hail Terra!

The cheap simplicity of its make has ensured that the flak shield remains in mass production across His Divine Majesty's astral dominion. After all, as screeching demechanization and loss of technological knowhow sees ever more of the once-sublime material heritage of man slip out of his rigid fingers, the callous rulers of our species sees it fit to compensate for waning quality by increasing input in a broken equation by throwing ever more resources and bodies into the meatgrinder of total war.

Thus the Emperor's galactic vision of human subjugation has become mired in a morass of disappointing mediocrity and schismatic infighting that has ruled human destiny for ten thousand years on end. Here, ineptitude rules supreme. Here, dysfunctionality holds court, raising a cup to ignorance. Here, cruelty runs rampant in a counterproductive display of insanity while trillions of souls on a million worlds and uncountable voidholms pray every day, every rotation, every lightson, to the heavenly Master of Mankind. Only He can save us. Praise be to our Saviour and Lord. Blessed be His warriors, for they are our shield against the darkness.

The Emperor protects.

And so the Imperial Guard tend to perform better than expected, but worse than advertised. As ever more malnourished and parasite-infested humans in the rotting Age of Imperium are mobilized for a diabolical cause, so are handheld protective devices increasingly issued to elite grenadier units, as a cutback substitute for proper carapace armour. Such is but one of the endless symptoms of the torpid maldevelopment of mankind, as fivehundred generations of wasted potential and sclerotic regression has ground human power in the Milky Way galaxy into an etiolated husk of its former self. The decrepit Imperium of Man is as parochial as it is rabid in its bloodthirsy fanaticism. Ken its myopic rage. Is this all a fever dream? Is sense growing senseless? Can feet stand no more?

Surely martial valour need to be shielded in the cut and thrust of combat? Surely a brave warrior can benefit from a funeral prop?

Ave Imperatore Dei.

Such are the times, when the heroic has emerged out of the humble.

Such is fate of us all, in the the darkest of futures.

Such is the state of mankind, at the brink of doom.

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

Forum Index » 40K Background
Go to: