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Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer




Sweden





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.


- - -

Parody sculpt of Austro-Hungarian field marshal Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf and his second wife Virginia von Reiningshausen (Virginia von Hötzendorf after remarrying), made for my friend JAB. This quicksculpted model was not made with casting in mind, and the positioning of the two lovers is not mould-friendly. Otherwise I would have been tempted to have it cast.

Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf has been one of my favourite historical personages ever since I devoured an 800-page book on the first world war at age 13, borrowed from the local town library. The more one learn about von Hötzendorf, the more fascinating he becomes. If the first world war feels like a meaningless story to you, then look at it with these eyes instead: It's Conrad's war! He got the girl and a happy ending, aside from the millions of dead.

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2024/01/15 13:37:43


   
Made in au
Alluring Mounted Daemonette




Australia

Great work mate - hold onto my hat dear, I have a war to win...

Can I ask what you mean when you say quicksculpted? It sure looks like you are lovingly detailing all these lil fellas!

Nice fluff too - very evocative of the endless meat grinder of war - although it definitely took me a few goes before I stopped calling him Doofenshmirtz...

Thanks for sharing!

t z you are k 
   
Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer




Sweden

@tzurk: Thank you kindly! They are quicksculpted as in I would have invested more time and care if they were for casting. And especially if they were Elves and Dwarves in heavily ornamented gear. Still, demand means that I will have these figures scanned, and sometime in the future STL files may appear if volunteer 3D-sculptors clean up the raw scan files and work back details. Watch this space!




Astro-Ungarian Partygoers

Alas, court gossip on Imperial and Royal Astro-Ungaria has proven true, as if illuminated by the holy light of the God-Emperor Himself. And so we can trust in the waggling tongues of our fellow men and women. For indeed the loose talk about half of the von Wochenschlaussen noble house being open polygamists is justified by the facts of the matter. Yet fell rumours about baleful pleasure cults and hidden debauchery beyond the wildest imaginations of sinful mortals have so far turned out to be so much hot air and deviant chatter. Perhaps Inquisitorial scrutiny should be turned upon the sinspeech rumourmongers who speak of dark powers and heretical depravity in the first place, rather than upon a most well-bred aristocratic clan of fine pedigree who donates lavishly to the Ministorum temples?

Ave Terra.

For indeed the von Wochenschlaussen house is a pillar of opulent Astro-Ungaria. Indeed this ancient family claim distant Holy Terran lineage with more than a pinch of His Divine Majesty's fleshly seed mixed into the bloodline, if their audacious origin myth is to be believed. With such a godly touch of the Imperator's own virility and fertility and magnificient stature marking out the von Wochenschlaussen kin for greatness beyond humility, surely lesser humans must understand why they break homeworld commoner norms about monogamous marriage in such flagrant a fashion? Surely this is not just decadent aristocratic defiance of local plebeian mores and customs? Surely this is divinely ordained, by the will of the Emperor, seated in radiant glory upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth.

Ave Imperator.

And so we see a splendid trio enter the dance floors and fortified bunkers of General Hanz-Konrad von Dorfenhötz! As servants fret and busy themselves around their owners and betters in caste, in sweeps landgravine Zsazsa-Karla Frézia von Wochenschlaussen from the proto-spire of Colonia Apensberg. This noblest of noble ladies is accompanied on her right side by baronet Rezsõ-Ratko von Hermandorf from Civitatis Kirchenhoff, fond of bringing exotic and alien flower bouquets to his beloved, although he is so youthfully besmitten with Zsazsa-Karla that this Medicae-cunning man sometimes will be heedless of the risk of xenoid toxins and infectious diseases carried by strange fauna from strange worlds under strange skies. Baronet Rezsõ-Ratko is willing to risk everything to bring his beloved samples of rare and beautiful bloom. Meanwhile, on Zsazsa-Karla's left side can be found edler Jadranko Mijat-Slavoljub von Hadik-Gyulai-Nechterling, a solid fellow hailing from the island district of Sachsa-Hugonnai, with a pious reputation to match his old-fashioned puritanical Catholodox beard.

Salve Imperatore Dei.

The fabulously beflowered headgear of landgravine von Wochenschlaussen is adorned not only with jewels, skulls and the bone of holy martyrs, but her large hat also bears a couple of purity seals flanking the sacred icon of the moon wolf, the animal associated with the Divine Chorus, patron saint of Astro-Ungaria and favourite son of the Emperor according to the treasured founding myth of the dear homeworld. This lucky wolf's head signum can also be found on the left tunic side of major von Hermandorf, in the form of an Argentilupus medal of honour, drawing upon the cherished Astro-Ungarian tradition that selfless Saint Chorus defended the mortally wounded Emperor in the flesh against the fiendish assaults of the devil Lougarh. According to popular sagas told around campfires, hearths and electro-heaters on Astro-Ungaria, Saint Chorus was assisted against the heinous traitor by his trusty moon wolves.

Gloria In Chorus Ex Luna.

Blessed be the faithful, for their ceaseless worship and sacrifice shall be rewarded with eternal life after death by the celestial God-Emperor Himself, ruling living and dead alike from Holy Terra in His ascension to godhood. And so all is well in the divinely appointed order emanating from on high unto all worlds and voidholms of the Emperor's cosmic demesne, and all humans thus look up to their stern masters, who in turn look up to His Divine Majesty for guidance. Thus all souls are united under one Golden Throne, sworn to one Emperor upon one cradleworld.

Ave Humanae Imperium.

And as we watch the shining Zsazsa-Karla Frézia von Wochenschlaussen glide over the dance floor with both her beloved in a Lijetranese waltz of passion, surely we must reckon that such bountiful amorous blessings are her rightful due, as the truebred lady of an ancient noble house that is sworn to protect and serve the exalted Duarch of Astro-Ungaria, as well as the Saviour and Lord of all mankind. Praise be!

In Nomine Imperator.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2024/01/25 22:34:57


   
Made in ca
Fixture of Dakka





Surrey, BC - Canada

Great sculpting Karak Norn Clansman.

Cheers,

CB

   
Made in se
Stubborn Hammerer




Sweden

@Captain Brown: Thank you, Captain!























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.


- - -

Tribute to three friends.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2024/02/06 10:10:53


   
Made in ca
Death-Dealing Dark Angels Devastator





Canada

I was not prepared for so much awesome art to sculpt and idea to sculpt miniatures. Any vehicles yet?
   
Made in us
Grisly Ghost Ark Driver






Wow, that is so creative - from concept to execution to narrative, you have the whole package there!

See what's on my painting table Now painting: Radukar the Wolf 
   
 
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