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Civilian Life in Warhammer 40k - Part 3

Civilians in Warhammer 40,000 AD - Part 3

By Kid Kyoto

This is the third part of my series on civilian live in Warhammer 40k, it will have a few more short stories followed by profiles of some typical subjects.

You can see the first part here: http://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/Civilian_Life_in_Warhammer_40%2C000_AD

And the second part here:



Selection Day

"I don't understand" Canna asked. "Can you explain it again from the beginning?"

She was standing by the armorglass windows of her aunt's fortified villa in the mountains overlooking Puerto D'Morsus. The streets below, usually bustling with trucks and land trains hauling goods to and from the interior were now filled with mobs of people some dressed in red others in blue. Their torches and bonfires were visible even from the heights as was the hellish glow as entire neighborhoods burned.

Rikah smiled and poured her niece another glass of amasec then twisted a knob. The images visible through the glass grew larger zooming in on one intersection where two mobs exchanged curses and the occasional firepot.

"Good idea, let me start at the beginning. When Puerto D'Morsus was founded it was built by exiles, outcasts, and penal gangs. The early Barons had great difficulty keeping control. Eventually there was an uprising and the entire colony was nearly lost."

It was easy to forget that her niece knew none of this. She was visiting from the northern hives, spending a winter with her aunt to get away from the rad storms and food riots that gripped the north each winter.

"Lost? But surely the Defense Force or even the Imperial Guard-"

"This was a long time ago my dear, during the Hurd Migration, we could barely defend the northern hives, there were no one to put down a revolt in an obscure southern colony. So the Baron at the time, Vash Harrington I believe it was, he made a bargain with the rabble. They could select representatives to bring their grievances to him. So they did."

"But... but... how can that be? As you said they were rabble, exiles, they were not meant to lead, only to serve!"

"Precisely! I see you have studied the works of the Malicite well. But therein lay the genius of Baron Vash's plan. These 'representatives' after all were no more enlightened or wise than the scum they came from, they were chosen on nothing more than popularity. Soon he had bought their loyalty and they in turn used their popularity to bring the rabble back in line. Soon production was up and dissent far down. And it cost him less than a company of Leman Russ Punishers. Do you remember the Malicite's 23rd axiom?

"It easiest to lead a beast that think it has chosen the way." Canna recited perfectly.

"So there you have it. So to this day, every decade the masses below select a 'Lord Mayor' and a 'Citizen's Council' to represent their interests to the Baron. The Baron in turn pays them well to convince the masses to follow his orders. It generally works well, the once price is every decade we must wall ourselves in our villas as the rabble fight it out below."

"But what are they fighting about? Surely they must know their leaders are powerless."

"Ah but they are not! The Lord Mayor appoints hundreds of people to municipal jobs, each title holder in turn collects fees and payments for government services while making sure his people are taken care of." She gestured to the scene in the window. "For example the Reds below, they are supported by the Orthodox sect, the banking houses, the traders, the farming freeholders and security forces." She gestured and the scene changed showing another mob, this one in blue. "While the Blues have the support of the Puritan sect, the scribes, the laborers and the bushmen. Whomever wins will decide which roads are repaired, which water pipes are maintained and which districts are patrolled. All these things we take for granted up here, will be decided by the whims of the rabble below."

Canna squinted at the mobs, they seemed to be centered around shrines and temples, either protecting the buildings or trying to fight their way in. She asked about it.

"Ah, you see Canna that is one of more quaint customs here. There are boxes scattered throughout the city, in temples, schools, civil offices and so on. Each faction tries to secure as many as they can to fill them with paper slips supporting one side or the other."

"Paper slips?"

"In theory each one represents the choice of once subject. At midnight you will see the Baron's men move through the city in armored cars dispursing the mobs with shock mauls and stubber fire. They will collect the boxes and around dawn the Baron will declare the new Lord Mayor."

"But Aunt Rikah surely he must know the slips of paper are meaningless!"

Rikah laughed merrily. "Oh Canna, they are doubly so! For you see the Baron has better thing to do than count slips of paper. Can you imagine? There are millions of them. Instead he is watching tonight just as we are to see which faction better acquits itself in these street battles. Which can put more supporters on the street. After all that faction is naturally better suited to maintaining public support and suppress its rivals and is therefore better suited to rule."

"Aunt Rikah if I had not heard it from you I would never have believed it. Things are much more civilized in the north, if the lower ranks disobey we simply turn off their power and air. They soon fall back in line. Or choke in the dark."

"I know, things here must seem rough and barbaric at times but it is our system and while messy it generally works."

The Harvest

The horizon was lit with a hellish orange glow. The fields were burning.

But that was OK.

They were supposed to burn, the fire would consume the undergrowth and drive away the snakes and lizards that infested the fields while the hardy stalks of 'tose would survive. This field had burned the day before and now it was ripe for the harvest.

Loyee kept her eyes on the ground, not that she had much choice these days what with her back so bent she had to crane her neck to see in front of her.

She was an old woman now, she'd seen more than 40 summers, which made her about the oldest woman in the estate. She'd birthed 8 children, 5 of them still alive, though she was only assuming her oldest was still kicking.

She remembered her eldest Tar, since he was small running errands and doing favors for the Landlord's armsmen. But it paid off, they got him into the Planetary Defense Force. She remembered his uniform, he was so smart in it with his lasgun and bayonet. Then a year or two ago she got a letter, he was leaving, his unit had been inducted into the Imperial Guard, the Emperor's own forces! She'd not heard from him since but he was a good boy, by not he was probably promoted to a commissar or even a space marine! Wouldn't that be something, Loyee's little boy a space marine! She was so proud of him, a pict still hung in her shack. She just wish she'd known who is father was.

In front of her were two more of her boys, Lar and Log. They were swinging their cutlasses low hacking down the 'tose stalks one by one. Stooping behind them Loyee gathered the stalks. When the bundle got too big she turned and walked back to the waiting autocart and deposited them. The driver was asleep under his broad-brimmed hat, later he'd drive the battered old autocart to the canal and someone would load the stalks into a barge and they'd go away. Loyee had once heard they made them into all kinds of things, boracha, energy tonics, even a white powder the landlord used for his cha. But she didn't believe it. Anyone could see plain as day these were stalks not some white powder!

She walked back, her eyes still low watching for sharp stones that might cut through the rags around her feet or for snakes which might bite. She kept a stick in her hands to whack any snakes that might come by.

When she returned Lar and Log were singing an old harvest song.

When you see the cart, down by the road Just stick in your stalk it can take the load Jam in there nice and tight Shove it in with all your might If you see your buddy call him by Two friends loading push and try Hear the cart, hear it groan Shove in more, make it moan

Well at least as far as the ministrum was concerned it was a harvest song, but they all knew it was really about taking a wench in the fields. It was a long song with plenty words, enough to fill a hot day in the sun.

Still a lot of stalks to cut.


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