• It's time once again to ferret out those murderous vampires in a new VAU - Vampires Amongst Us. A cross between Cluedo and a roleplay, sometimes gory and often hilarious! Find out more and sign-up! here.
Nov 3, 2014
88
A Vox in the Void

Paul Graham on a Vox in the Void has laboured to combine three separate pieces into one, namely Quartering, Saw and Hangman. Check out Imperial Justice if you dare, for twenty minutes of bonkers grimdark delivered by a skilled voice actor.

- - -

ttjZm3U.png

Infant Exposure

In the grim darkness of the far future, the spawn of man is cast aside as refuse.

A careful examination of mortal existence will reveal that it is a matter of lowly hunger and lust, of bestial desperation and survival at all cost. Life is far from placed on a lofty moral throne of higher justice and inalienable rights, for it is in truth a red-blooded and savage thing. Life itself is a hunter's arena of rutting and consumption where gutsy truths hold sway, and where might makes right. Instead of talking about the mortal coil as an elevated matter of light and darkness or of good and evil, let us speak of life as a matter of feeding and starvation. A better understanding of the fundamental drives of mortal creatures will be had from phrases like ravenous hunger and eat or be eaten, than any sublime philosophy can ever offer.

Consider the cosmos. Is not all the vast universe a banquet laid out for those with the will, cunning and appetite to bite into it? Yet to what end?

To stave off the inevitable?

Listen carefully, o mortal soul, and you will hear the laughter of thirsting gods. Maybe all of creation is nothing but a cruel joke, where the dying of mortals such as yourself constitute the punchline. A foreshadowing, perhaps, of the great end of all things to come. Many may find this possibility incomprehensible and malignant beyond any scope of joy, yet that, too, is appropriate. After all, dark humour is like food: Some do not get it.

Behold the dangers of childbirth, the aching pulse and the bearing down that must happen. Both mother and child are in peril as the infant enters the world through her portal of flesh, the gateway of life itself. Some do not survive this miracle of lifegiving. The pain, blood and deadly hazard at birth is a herald of what life truly is. And so the fruit of seeds sown in lust will sprout into an uncaring world. The fortunate tender babies will have loving mothers and fathers and families to raise them and nurture them, to care for and protect them. But love is no substitute for nutrients, and so every newborn infant is yet another mouth to feed. It has been thus since time immemorial.

Such strain of children upon family and livelihood was rarely an issue during the Dark Age of Technology, in that golden epoch of material paradise stretching across twain million human worlds and voidholms beyond counting. In those long-lost shining days of yore, children rarely had to die. For man in that time had banished what was ill in life, and subdued the primordial scourges of poverty, sickness and starvation. Truly, Man of Gold had cast out misery and suffering from life, and in his sinful hubris he mounted a brilliant pedestal of mortal ascension and challenged any divinity there might ever be, to topple him if it so possessed power and daring enough to best mortal man in his state of supreme mastery of creation.

And the challenge boasted by mortal man was heard, and it was answered by dark ones of hell. For ancient man was torn down from his splendid pinnacle, and his great works were rent asunder in an unending orgy of bloodletting and catastrophe stacked upon catastrophe. And so the lore of the ancients was shattered and lost, and man descended into animalistic savagery and cannibal desperation. Man had climbed the heavens and his fingers had found no purchase. And in his fall he destroyed all the wonders his hands and mind had wrought. And thus paradise was lost forever in flames and ruination.

The humans that survived this freefall into barbarity reverted to their species' most primitive ways during the Age of Strife. The coming of the Imperium of Man ultimately failed to change this sorry state of affairs, for the brief golden age of bloody conquest and restoration was ended when the Warmaster Horus turned upon the Emperor. And so man yet again slayed his brother and burned down his own creations, and all was fell anew. The Age of Imperium that followed saw the value of human life cemented at an all time low, and thus it is no surprise to find that the darkest of futures will rival any past aeon in wretchedness and inevitable cruelty.

For instance, all across the regressed domains of the Terran Imperator, human cultures on hundreds of thousands of worlds and innumerable voidholms practice exposure of infants. These may be unwanted newborns, or else the parents would have preferred to keep their little offspring, yet inability to feed further additions to the family may dictate that they must surrender the fruit of their loins, else everyone will starve.

Ancient legends and folktales from the Age of Terra all tell of exposure in hard times, with infants left out in the wilds explaining the origin of kings and prophets alike. This bygone oral flora of sagas and stories is much akin to that found in human societies across the vast Imperium, for there, too, the abandonment of tender children is an everyday common practice, and a fact of life like any other. And so babies will be left out in the wilderness, and tiny children will be abandoned in corridors, niches and gutters. The act itself is not considered to be murder, since the exposed child still have a chance of being discovered and saved by some benevolent soul passing by. Yet the widespread custom is infanticide in all but name.

Most humans in the Age of Imperium live in dens of overpopulation, disease and filth. While some turn sterile from chemical pollution, corporal punishment without anaesthetics or callous overseer dictates beyond their control, most of them will be abundantly fecund and grateful for their prolific fertility and virility. After all, the burden of caring for children is a tradeoff against the baleful fate awaiting anyone who in old age would find themself childless and uncared for. Such lonely elders without offspring or clan face some of the most dismal ends imaginable. After all, everywhere man thrives bitterly across the Milky Way galaxy, children are the only safeguard in man's old age, except perhaps for such locations where those too old to labour will be euthanized or chased out into the wastelands to die.

The most common motivation for infant exposure is to fend off starvation, for food will be scarce and precious, and the stomachs that crave it will already be all too many in number. Sometimes, callous couples will expose infants even when they can afford to feed and clothe the new children, in order merely to not burden their selfish lives with more cares. More usually, however, infants born out of wedlock in bastardous stigma may find themselves stealthily abandoned. And so too will be many children of prostitutes and shamed victims of violation.

Parents will often place their unwanted offspring in well-travelled spots such as by crossroads or in corridor junctions. Thus they hope to improve the chances of someone picking up their cast-off baby and adopting them, and they will therefore pray for the Imperator to guide fellow humans to pick up and nurture their abandoned offspring. All parents with some form of decency hope for their exposed infants to face a better future by subjecting them to such a twisted roulette of fate, yet most breeding adults know that thralldom or worse remain the most likely outcomes. For the inclinations of humans who have lived their entire lives in a threatening morass of hardship and deprivation will rarely tend to be sympathetic and benevolent in dealing with fellow members of their teeming species. Some Imperial subjects will be more likely to kick the rejected baby just because they are already in a bad mood after a hard day of work, and they will have no patience left for such wailing to add to their personal miseries.

Where men's wives are more fertile than their fields, infant exposure help to regulate the excesses of human fertility. In some human cultures within the Imperium, unwanted infants will be ritually disposed of in offerings to the Emperor, or else given to Death Cults during solemn rites. Such barbarous practices are frowned upon by the Ecclesiarchy, yet all manner of depraved local customs thrive on every single planet and void installation under Imperial rule in spite of Holy Terran disapproval, for the reach of the Imperium into the depths of local society will often be shallow and limited.

Elsewhere, unwanted infants will be cynically sold to shady organ-harvesters or the respectable Corpse Guild for a pittance, and some such unfortunate tender mortals will even be fed to the corpsegrinders whilst still alive and screaming. Others still will be sold as servitor-meat, cherubim conversion material or be buried alive to repay the soil its gifted fertility, out of heathen practices from the Age of Strife which are still embedded in local folk customs. From ashes to ashes. From womb to womb.

In most locales, infantile orphans will either die from lack of water and nutrition, fall prey to hypothermia, die from dripping toxins or radiation, or be eaten by wild creatures. Others will be picked up by human hands and face either a cannibal end, heretical sacrifice, adoption into a clan, or enslavement to last for generations on end. After all, it cost resources to raise a human from infancy to a productive childhood age when they can begin to earn back the expenditure of keeping them alive, so why should not the bairns and juves grow old and die while still working to pay off the lifedebts they owe to their magnanimous slavemasters? Of course you must toil for the master or mistress who saved you from certain death, to prove your humble gratitude and value as a dutiful Imperial subject. It is even mandated in holy scripture.

The best that swaddled babies left alone by their biological parents can hope for, is to be adopted. Rare kind couples with offspring of their own, or barren couples desperate for children at all, will often be the best caretakers of the abandoned spawn of man. Some exceedingly few gutter babies may even be taken up, for whatever strange reason, into noble clans, merchant houses and other wealthy elite families with status and influence, though their privileged lives may often be marred by peer derision and constant mockery if ever their adoption from the scum-rats of lower castes become common knowledge.

Some exposed children will be adopted by Imperial or local governance organizations to be raised as brainwashed orphans. These souls will be cast in a mould of loyalty unto death for Emperor or Governor, and their adult lives will invariably find them in other institutions. Many times these indoctrinated thralls will be recruited as fanatically devout guard units, on which Imperial and local governance authorities usually can depend with complete trust, no matter how hated the rulers may be by other armed forces and influential factions.

Some such bonded orphan guards, who are raised to be utterly loyal to the present Imperial Governor, may find themselves pursue selfish group interests upon the death of their revered exclusive master, interfering in governance, taking new Governors hostage or assassinating them to put their own candidate on the throne. All this is an accepted part of the power plays that characterize the internal workings of human societies in the Age of Imperium, and many Imperial thinkers postulate that such vicious cycles of violence and treachery serve a virtuously eugenic function by allowing the most ruthless and capable to rise to the top by removing those weak rulers who had lost the mandate of His Divine Majesty. After all, only those blessed by Him on Terra could ever hope to attain power.

Other small children left in wastes and ruins will find themselves adopted by mutants and inbred tribes of scavengers desperate for fresh blood to stop their genetical deterioration. Further reasons for human savages to adopt exposed infants include barren couples wanting to remedy their dismal childlessness, or shamanistic interpretation of strange omens. Yet more often a rational striving to increase the numbers of the clan to better its chances in future petty wars will see such little orphans adopted and raised as full members of those insular communities that took them in. Martial deathmaking always need a plentiful supply of life to feed on.

And so infants find themselves exposed on a million worlds and voidholms beyond counting, be it for reasons of poverty, parental shame or selfishness. Unwanted newborns on almost every single Imperial world and voidstation may find themselves exposed, whether they are dumped like trash in the gutter or carefully placed on choice spots in utility vessels with trinket amulets and bits of prayer parchment to guide their innocent souls to a better life, or failing that to guide their spirits to the divine embrace of the protecting Emperor.

At least, a great many Imperial sects claim that the souls of babies are untarnished and pure, and so billions of parents find solace in the knowledge that a good afterlife will await their abandoned children. Other sects teach that the depravity of man is absolute from his very inception, and no amount of redemption can pay off his sinful soul debts and inherited vice. To adherents of such a damning creed, the afterlife of their rejected offspring will be one of darkness and suffering to dwarf the woes they could ever have known in their short and bleak lives. For such men, women and children, there truly is no hope beyond the God-Emperor's forgiveness of our worthless souls. It all lies in His hands.

And with that, we gain a glimpse of the sheer horror facing our species in the dark future. For their cheap lives are not only doomed to indebted servitude, hunger pangs and backbreaking toil. Their worthless lives are often forfeit at birth, their crying little bodies left deserted in walkways and agoras, their mothers and fathers unknown. In endless human settlements on worlds and voidholms across the Emperor's sacred domains, millions of infant exposures take place every day, every shift rotation, every lights-on. Witness this inescapable fact of life, and do not deny its existence or the failure that it speaks of. For the Terran Imperator Himself planned to rekindle a golden age of enlightenment and banish such crude customs to the abominable past. And yet, instead we find that the opposite has taken place, for His grand designs for humanity took a nosedive into oblivion, and all that He built stagnated as fivehundred generations of human descendants toiled and died inside an increasingly degenerate star realm.

Lo! How the mighty have fallen. How the wise have turned foolish. Truly, everything is decay and wasting rot under the sun.

And so the Age of Imperium grind on, its crippled machinery lubricated by human blood, sweat and tears. There mankind stands, trapped by his own works, shackled to a sinking ship and tormented by fellow human hands in atavistic agony.

Such is the lot of our species, at the end of its life-course.

Such is the damnation of man.

Such is the fate that awaits us all.

To be a child in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. Small and alone, in an aeon of lost hope. Abandoned, in an era of broken promises and unending carnage. Exposed, in an age of utter suffering and total darkness.

And whatever happens, you will not be missed.
 
Nov 3, 2014
88
DIeBl8O.png

Confessions of a Disgruntled Inspector

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

Behold the sprawling realm of man, stretched thin across the starspangled void.

Behold its million worlds and uncounted voidholms, where man thrives bitterly under the rule of uncaring overlords.

Behold its countless armies and mighty armadas, each host and fleet nothing but a cogwheel in a titanic machinery greased by human blood, sweat and tears.

Bear witness to the Imperium of Man in all its power and glory, and ken it as the dead-end of human interstellar civilization. Forged in a hopeless age of ruin and strife, the early Imperium shone bright with torches of promise and hope, carried aloft by a walking god amongst men and borne to the farthest edges of the Milky Way galaxy by His all-conquering Legions. Yet the brilliant renaissance of man was cut short by common human treachery, and mankind's re-ascendance to its former pinnacles of knowledge and craft died in the flames of a ravaged galaxy. Ever since this crippling catastrophe, humanity has been left treading water, like a man doomed to drown out at sea. This is the best mankind can hope for, under the suffocating reign of the High Lords of Terra.

Bear witness to the stumbling colossus on feet of clay that man has become. Once upon a time, the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron bestrode the cosmos with unsurpassed wisdom and skill, fashioning a mortal paradise for themselves across twain million worlds and innumerable void installations. Once upon a time, man in his prime worshipped at the altar of science and reason, and his soaring technology came close to unlocking the secrets of eternity itself. Once upon a time, the sinful ancestors of latter day's degenerate descendants fell to machine revolt, civil strife and diabolical calamities. Nowadays, man has turned senile and dumb, his fearful eyes refusing to see, his blinkered mind rejecting his innate curiosity and genius, his sluggish feet moving in nought but a fruitless circle fivehundred generations in the making.

An ancient philosopher from the misty Age of Terra once claimed that he would rather teach truth to one intelligent man than entertain ten thousand fools. Let us hear the truth of human folly in the decrepit Age of Imperium. Let us hear first-hand of this cavalcade of petty parasites, counterproductive dogmatists, frothing fanatics, corrosive traitors and self-serving scoundrels. Let us hear of the ills and ailings of future man from the horse's mouth.

Shirk not. Do not shut your ears, but listen, and listen well. Let us hear the forbidden thoughts of a disgruntled watchman. Let us tap the mind of a loyal lapdog of a mass-murdering theocratic dictatorship. Let us see the internal workings of the sclerotic Imperium of Man through the eyes of a willing lackey. And let us know his damning verdict upon the very empire he has given his life to serve.

Enter, Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir of the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property, under the ever-watchful aegis of the Adeptus Arbites. A man of crisp salutes who needs no beverage to act crazy. A hard-working maniac whose primary joy is to be found in fulfilling his tasks well, no matter what fortress-precinct or subsector he finds himself rotating to. An ambivert freak, whose conduct will range from carrying out his duties with theatrical flair, to performing tasks with a boring, mechanistic exactitude.

The eldest son hailing from a quarrelsome lowborn clan, this Arbites Inspector is a man of both paper scrutiny and savage violence. Possessing an intense focus and tunnel vision, Saihtam fancies himself a rustic poet, though others find him more rustic than poetic. He is an eccentric tongue-waggler who shifts from polished speech fit for polite society, through endless fact-chewing rants at high speed, to brusque comments composed of blunt or outright insidious words. It is not a type of personality usually found within the dour and leaden-heartened Adeptus Arbites, yet certain bookworm specialist roles still has a use for such odd human resources. This strange character is an avid reader of books and adherent of dark humour, and he will spice his everyday speech with obscure references to Imperial history and plebeian toilet humour alike. Such is the man known as Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir.

As to this Arbitrator's duties, let us consider this banned yet widespread whisper joke, a piece of sinspeech told on hundreds of thousands of planets and voidholms across the astral domains of His Divine Majesty:

Two former mates from the Schola Progenium met in the street.
"Where do you work?"
"I'm a scrivener. And what about you?"
"I work as a Detective Surveillor."
"Oh, and what are you doing at the Arbites?"
"We unearth those who are dissatisfied."
"You mean, there are also some who are satisfied?"
"Those who are satisfied are dealt with by the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property."

As may be inferred, this Division is tasked with rooting out fraudulent usage and wastage of the Emperor's assets. It is likewise an anti-corruption unit, a maverick bloodhound organization who will infiltrate and raid all manner of Imperial departments, notaria and bureaux. Its snooping about in chancelleries, scriptoria and archive-vaults is an inherently dry and mind-numbingly patient activity of crunching numbers and puzzling together signs of creative book-keeping.

Nevertheless, the extremely fractious and dangerous cultural climate on virtually all Imperial worlds and voidholms mean that members of the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property will experience their fair share of shootouts, ambushes, booby traps, melees and bloody crackdowns. Death by paper cuts is not the worst occupational hazard. To serve in this Arbites unit mean that it is not at all improbable to be assassinated by shady clerks and slimy officials, and then have your corpse disappear clandestinely into some grinder or other. After all, attack is often the best form of defence. Both situational awareness and documental vigilance will be required to survive for long in this dreary line of work. Never go in alone.

Toiling for his mistrustful Arbites Division, Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir spends most of his life grubbing around in parchment records and datamills, as well as sailing the wild waters of the multiple overlapping and conflicting law codes that characterize the disjointed legal landscape of edict accretions that constitute His sacred astral dominion. Ever armed and armoured to the teeth while on duty, the pious Saihtam has committed countless mercy killings in the field, both ranged and up close and personal with blood and spittle spraying his face. And the Arbitrator knows his bane deeds to be acts of mercy. After all, surely death was a mercy compared to the tender cares of Arbites Chasteners? Of course, summary beatings, electroture and undertaking field interrogations at the top of one's lungs also goes with the job. Serving in this Imperial Adeptus, sworn to uphold the Emperor's order and the Lex Imperialis, is a baleful duty not fit for those faint of heart. Only those willing and able to embrace brutality can prosper in such a lethal and sinister environment. Break those who would break the law.

The middling rank of Inspector Ruminatus means that Llezir closely cooperates, from a junior position, with Intelligencers, namely the spymasters of the Adeptus Arbites. Their spycraft usually consists of tending to informant networks and chasing endless paper trails via planted agents, as well as forensic expertise. Staying fed with information from relevant secret sources constitute a major investigative advantage for the Division for the Struggle Against Embezzlement of Imperial Property. Knowledge is power, guard it well.

The arduous archive digging and information sifting has seen Arbitrator Saihtam and his colleagues carry out dozens of Imperial asset seizures at gunpoint, often in the midst of furious compound combat and corridor wars. This is a thrilling aspect of duty that the crazed man relishes, and he takes hidden pride in equipping himself above and beyond the call of duty, both as regard lethal weaponry and practical tools. The backside of his small ceramite shield, for instance, is festooned with a sheathed shortsword side-arm, multikeys and all manner of easily-retrieved items that tend to be handy to hold in one hand even while grasping the shield with the other. What spare surfaces are left over on the shield's backside is covered with kill markings and little glued pieces of trophy parchment and order-printouts from both intellectually and martially challenging inspections. Saihtam Llezir is nothing if not a man who wish to preserve memories as clearly as possible, and so token keepsakes and grisly trophies alike adorn his cramped hab-unit, in amongst troves of equipment, tools and stacks of books.

Now, this exposer of fraud and hunter of Adeptus corruption, has seen the God-Emperor's vast dominions from a large number of different angles, from on high and low. And more to the point, his excavations of peripheral archive niches has unearthed material long lost and long redacted by official Imperial policy. The position of a roving Inspector Ruminatus has carried with it many a surprising discovery in the nooks and crannies of data-logs and archivist caverns, ones who has given this lowly Adept an unusual bird's eye perspective of the Imperium and mankind as a whole. And while many would have preferred the bliss of ignorance to the harrowing and eye-opening glimpses of knowledge he has beheld, Saihtam himself will secretly damn ignorance, despite Imperial dogma. Knowledge may be a heavy burden to carry, but it's ultimately a dignity for any thinking creature alive.

Unlikely though it may seem, he once found a couple of ancient Imperial propaganda mantras from the distant times of M.32, upon the hive world of Cylaxis Ultima. Both mantras speak of changing times in the wake of the now-mythical Horus Heresy, yet the second mantra already displayed the unhinged lunacy that would become so entrenched in human cultures all across the beleaguered Imperium of Man:

"Remain calm.
The Master of Mankind endures.
The God-Emperor lives.
The Imperium of Man shall endure.
There is much to be done."

"The Banner of Lightning drops, giving way to a red dawn.
There is only hatred under the Imperial Eagle.
Hail the Regency of the High Lords.
Hail the nightmare.
Hail mankind."

Likewise, most of the bloodsoaked doings of the Adeptus Terra during the Age of Apostasy may have been scrubbed out from history, yet on the old asteroid mining voidholm of Porus Obraluj II, Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam managed to stumble across a rusty cogitator filled with machine spirit-files from this five thousand year old reign of terror. Crucially, it had once belonged to the Adeptus Astra Telepathica before a mysterious purge had seen the choir killed off and one lone cogitator forgotten in the fiery cleansing of the installation. As such, the archival information gave certain glimpses into the guts of Imperial governance across the stars, a snapshot from a bygone aeon. Many hours of fascinated reading sufficed to patch together a fragmentary picture of a suppressed period in Imperial history, whose all-pervading watchword seemed to have been repeated over and over in official documents:

"Goge is Terra."

And for all the horrible deeds carried out in the name of this apostate High Lord, and for all the condemnation he received from his victorious enemies, the dire orders of slaughter and purging and historical rewriting and megalomania and ruthless imposition of production quotas and recruitment blood taxes, were ultimately little different from how the Imperium functions ordinarily. The nuances of cruel extraction and demented democide during Goge Vandire's reign were a difference of degree, not of kind. At the end of this rare opportunity to investigate remnant documentation from the Age of Apostasy, the unimpressed Inspector Ruminatus concluded that High Lord Goge Vandire, cursed be his name, was merely the purest manifestation of the Imperium's overlords and internal workings. His schismatic tendencies, ruinous construction projects and paranoid purges were excessive by ordinary Imperial standards, yet routine Imperial modes of operation have long been excessive and depraved to begin with.

Naturally, such private conclusions can never be voiced aloud nor written down, for to do so within the Imperium is to invite an agonizing end at the hands of torturers. It can not even be confessed to an Arbites Chaplain. How many secret realizations of similar kind have been carried to the grave by Imperial servants through ten thousand years of doubt? No one, but the lord and saviour of our species Himself, will ever know the answer to that question of the soul.

Saihtam Llezir has come to learn that the mysterious facade of governance is less an impenetrable intricacy of masterful genius divinely guided by Him on Terra, and more a front for common mediocrity, grasping hands and disappointing stupidity even at the highest positions in vaunted hierarchies. The inherently optimistic Inspector Ruminatus has become jaded by a lifetime of staring sheer human incompetence, self-serving falsehood, treachery and unending malice in the face. The pettiness and screeching inefficiency is ceaseless. While his faith in the Master of Mankind seated upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth remains unshaken, his faith in humanity itself is challenged on a regular basis. He has become secretly disillusioned with the insane dysfunctionality of the Imperium that he serves. And yet Saihtam remains loyal unto death toward a monstrous regime whom he knows to be a dead-end for human hopes and aspirations in the Milky Way galaxy. He has stumbled across too much classified information, and gained too much of an overview to be in any doubt as to the impending doom of mankind, and its horrendous flaws.

Speaking of terrors, the Inspector Ruminatus' scrutiny of paperwork has occasionally unearthed heretical sects and cells of traitors and xenophiles, sometimes as part of a wider Inquisitorial investigation. These dizzying glimpses of available alternatives to the Imperium have confirmed for him that once you achieve an elevated enough position of broad knowledge and gaze around you in all directions, you will discover that there is nothing but idiots and madmen on all sides. On a service tour through the Eastern Fringe, Saihtam Llezir heard the siren call of the Greater Good, and found it wanting. He has stared the promises and powers of the Dark Gods in the eye, and he is not impressed. All options are either traps, marshlights or abominations stalking the darkest age of mankind.

Such a high vantage point of observation will prove that there is hypocrisy stacked to the roof-beams on every side imaginable. Everywhere, madness reigns. Hope is dead, but duty calls. Duty, that dull and grinding purpose in life. Duty, that pillar and that burden. Duty. Duty without end. Duty toward the Emperor, despite the horrible mess His chosen servants have made of His once-shining star realm. And so Inspector Ruminatus Saihtam Llezir continues to serve the Imperium in his petty position, with an eye for detail and a monomaniacal energy that translates well both into summary violence and stalking dodgy paper trails.

Such is his lot, and such is his purpose. If a Chastener or Inquisitor ever found out about his roaming thoughts and secretly reached conclusions on the order of things, he would be flayed and roasted alive. Yet no matter the false confessions they would have tortured out of him, this erratic servant of the Golden Throne will never waver in his silent loyalty. If you can be nothing else, then be constant. Be true.

What better altar to worship at, than that of your ancestors? In a world of lies exposed, that may be the only truth left to cling to. In a universe of false promises and baleful horrors, you may yet pick your poison. And what better poisoned chalice to drink from than the one you were raised to grasp?

Ave Imperator.


- - -

Self-portrait, akin to Magister Illuminus Blanche.
 
Nov 3, 2014
88
1vmS5xz.png

Commissariat

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is herded into battle at gunpoint.

Take a step back and behold our recorded past, with all its lacunae and all its lying word wizardry. Take a step back, and know that history is a race between adaptation and catastrophe. History is driven by fear and greed, occasionally spiced by nobler aspirations yet inevitably reverting to basal appetites, no matter how high and selflessly man may rise to face a challenge.

One virtue of history is to combat human arrogance. While man tends to think of himself as the pinnacle of creation, the historical record actually shows him bumbling around like a chimpanzee having a go at a typewriter. Let us follow one such clumsy thread of history, through a landscape of broken dreams and bloodsoaked decay. Let us untangle one typical knot of arrested human potential.

Our starting point must be the end of the Dark Age of Technology, when a shining aeon of mankind thriving across the stars was brought to a horrifying end by a cascade of crippling blows. Suffice to say, that once upon a time mortal paradise was a common fact of life across twain million human colony worlds and innumerable void installations, and the cult of science and innovation ruled supreme. Yet pride and excess brought disaster down upon ancient man, and all his works fell to ruin, and man butchered man in savage cannibal frenzy. And so the Age of Strife began, the Old Night that swathed human existence in darkness and pain through twohundredfifty generations of spiralling destruction and loss. Thus man was made to suffer for his abominable sins.

This freefall into oblivion was halted by a god walking among men. An Emperor arising on Terra herself, forging an Imperium to last a million years, crushing all resistance to His Legions in a fury of galactic conquest. Uniting dispersed mankind under a single banner, He thus eliminated all alternative sources of human regrowth, and so the fate of humanity became shackled to that of His Imperium. And so man for a time built anew among the ashes, with rekindled hope and brilliance, and warriors flocked to His eagle standards to partake in the glory, the loot and the intoxicating new dream of Imperial Truth.

This manifest destiny of human dominion to be established over the entirety of the Milky Way galaxy was increasingly pursued by common men, women and children, mostly unaugmented plebeians marching in great organized hordes under the command of demigods and supermen. And so the Imperial Army of the Great Crusade was formed, an eclectic cavalcade of regiments ranging from the most primitive brutes to the most sophisticated void fighters, recruited from whatever worlds and voidholms had been brought into Imperial Compliance. These rowdy and colourful forces of brutalized post-apocalyptic survivors not only served as occupation armies and garrisons within the Imperialis Militia, but also came to bear the brunt of the fighting toward the end of the Great Crusade.

To maintain order and loyalty among the ranks, many Imperial Army units employed specialist officers known as Discipline Masters. Stern hunters of deserters and grisly executioners armed with tracking eagles and electro-scythes, these merciless servants of resurgent Terra were feared throughout the Imperial Army and civilian populations alike. Theirs was the duty to perform summary executions and make public examples out of cowards, fifth columnists, criminals and shirkers. Their office, methods and function was a dark omen of the times to come, yet no one in the early Imperium could have imagined just how far their species would come to plunge the depths of depravity. No one, not even the most jaded and humourless taskmaster of the Great Crusade, could have ever predicted the demented extremes of tyranny and terror which their degenerate descendants would arrive at. No one during that sparkling renaissance could have foreseen the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. No one, indeed, but the most insane madmen harrowed by psychic nightmares to rend their hearts and souls asunder. And yet man was destined to build his own hell on earth, and all the Emperor's achievements were fated to either rot or burn for the sake of man's failings.

Fighting as auxiliary forces under the Legiones Astartes, unbreakable bonds between Imperial Army regiments and whatever Legion they were attached to, were forged across thousands of Expeditionary Fleets. And so split loyalties were sown. The early Imperium was characterized by deep factionalism, with Iterators attempting to paper over rifts between hundreds of thousands of local loyalties, even as the great warlords known as Primarchs created newer and greater factions around themselves, groupings of allegiance which would become apparent in bloody fashion. The tension around these fault lines erupted into the galactic civil war known as the Horus Heresy, which tore the Imperium apart with great devastation.

In the wake of this calamity caused by human flaws, the Primarch Roboute Guilliman introduced sweeping reforms to systematically counteract the possibility for rebellions and power seizures from spiralling out of control. A few of the more noteworthy reforms included the Legiones Astartes being split into tiny individual Chapters, while the Imperial Army found its fleet and ground forces permanently separated. No more would regimental cruisers organic to the organization of their attached ground forces be allowed the chance to roam the Imperium at will. Henceforth, the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Guard would be two strictly different organizations, in order to rob ambitious rebel warlords of the chance to spread their conquests to other worlds. Better leave them stranded on whatever local planet or voidholm they happened to seize power over, for an Imperial response force to crush at a later date.

All these reforms to prevent future large scale civil wars came at a prize, and all served to turn the armed forces of the Imperium more stale and rigid, or too small for any one force to deal with a greater threat on its own. The potential for the dynamic leadership of genius war leaders was severely dampened. The openings for brilliant high commanders to make their success snowball into unstoppable Imperial conquests were by and large closed, and many future Warmasters met a fatal end due to Imperial fears of their ambition. Military capabilities had become a secondary concern to questions of loyalty, and an increasingly poisonous atmosphere of distrust and paranoia began to clog the lungs of mankind in the Age of Imperium, and its arteries were increasingly afflicted with bureaucratic sclerosis. The vigorous warfare and grand reforms of Primarch Guilliman had bought the Imperium a new leash of life, yet even in its most splendid silver ages yet to come, it was still a stunted creature prone to crush human potential wherever it might arise. And so stagnation set in, and long-term decay became well and truly unstoppable.

The restructured Imperium proved just as rife with fractious infighting and treachery, albeit on different levels compared to the disastrous civil strife that had brought low the early Imperium. The overarching governance of the Adeptus Terra turned into a petty dance of despotic control, both over civilian societies and Imperial militaries, with increasingly arcane mechanisms put into place to hinder treachery and heresy from taking hold. A great many new institutions were formed to curb malcontents and deviants before their thought of self could boil over into rebellion and otherworldly corruption, yet the tightening grip of uncaring Imperial masters would increasingly prove counter-productive in the extreme. And so fire was fought with fire, and ever more of the Imperium's internal troubles that required bloody suppression stemmed from the faulty actions of said Imperium itself.

Some of the most famous new organizations to fight heresy and betrayal included the Inquisition and the Adeptus Arbites, whose danger of torture racks and crushing armaplas boots linger malevolenty wherever Imperial subjects make their dwelling across the starspangled void. The fruits of these organizations' deeds contributes greatly to the unique blend of endless boredom and dreariness of Imperial life, and the subdued sense of threat and demise. Thus a grand strategy of butchery increasingly rose to the forefront, in a fever frenzy of purges and democide, all adding up to a dreadfully sacrificial and inferior mode of organization. And so humanity in the darkest of futures comprise an ocean of poor, uneducated, apathetic, hostile and downright sadistic commoners, lorded over by their thieving, arrogant and ruthless rulers. A far cry from their bold and clever ancestors, who bestrode the cosmos like titans.

This carnival of human insufficiency has resulted in the sole remaining shield of mankind, the astral domains of the God-Emperor, turning step by step into a fortified madhouse, a rotting prison for human development and a dead end for human interstellar civilization in the Milky Way galaxy. It has been a slow and gradual process, yet the pervasive trend over ten millennia has been one of a remorseless march toward worsening cruelty, technological retardation and primitivization of the entire species. The regression of His Terran dominion into an etiolated husk has been carried out in the name of strengthening mankind and saving the human species, with the opposite coming to pass. The decay into atavistic barbarity has been executed without compassion, amidst a villainous tyranny of severe regimentation and kinslaying blocking detachments. And so we arrive at the Imperial Commissariat.

To gain permanent control over the entire Imperial military, the High Lords of Terra early on introduced the Officio Prefectus, and with it the position of Commissar. Worried about the influence of officers with potential for particularist sympathies, heretical leanings and hidden grudges against their divinely appointed masters and betters, the Commissars has helped to ensure that soldiers remain loyal to the Imperium of Man. The spiritual successors to the Discipline Masters of the Great Crusade, Imperial Commissars have went much further in ensuring military obedience and Emperor-fearing devotion. With a mandate to watch over all personnel like hawks and execute anyone found wanting, the Imperial Commissar has turned into the living terror of the Astra Militarum and the Navis Imperialis alike. Their debut was spectacularly murderous, with untold millions of suspects executed at the hands of Commissars during the Scouring and reforging of the Imperium.

The Commissars of the Imperium were originally instituted as a bulwark against the allure of Chaos among Imperial voidsmen and Guardsmen, their modus operandi being to kill one to scare a hundred. Yet the Dark Gods of Chaos have been fed to titanic proportions by the swelling depravity, misery and bloodshed that reigns supreme across the Imperium of Man, whose heart of stone is well exemplified by the conduct of its Commissars.

Recruited among children whose parents died in service to Him on Terra, these exemplary products of the Schola Progenium are among the most brainwashed and fanatically devoted of any Imperial servants, unhesitant in slaying anyone who obstruct the loyal workings of His Divine Majesty's armed forces. Cadet-Commissars are not only chosen among the Schola's heavily indoctrinated orphans for their undying loyalty and physical prowess, but also for possessing a weighty gravitas and good people skills, not least of which is the ability to rouse and manipulate others by the power of their spoken word. Most Commissars possess a natural social presence and charisma which make people turn and notice them as they enter a room. Progenii who aspire to become Commissars will be trained with live firing exercises upon living prisoners, and undergo a harsh regimen to weed out the weak, the impious and those lacking in moral fibre. The training of Commissars is extremely strict, and so are the human products of this brutal system. Cadet-Commissars will be formed into Commissar Training Squads, equipped in the cheap fashion of Imperial Guardsmen, yet sporting most of the Commissariat's panoply, such as leather long coats, gloves, jack boots and peaked caps. Upon being deemed worthy by a Commissar, the cadet will eschew their blue trim and training emblems for the distinctive red sash and regalia of a Junior Commissar, going on to serve in small units at the start of their perilous career.

Those Cadet-Commissars who fail to live up to the exacting standards of this corps of fanatical Imperial loyalists, will often be relieved of their duties if their failures included no cowardice or insubordination, although other common fates for failed cadets include a commission in a Penal Legion or service in a Rogue Trader entourage. The destiny of failed ex-cadets is almost invariably decided upon by the Commissar under whom they trained, for the freedom of volunteer choice and personal inclination has scant value in the glorious Imperium of Man. A true Imperial subject will know only duty and servitude without end. Know your place, and question it not.

Variously referred to in different Low Gothic dialects and language branches as politriques, impolitis and politruks, Imperial Commissars are supervisory political officers charged with securing civilian control over the military Imperial Guard and Navy. Their organ, the Officio Prefectus, is a subdivision of the Departmento Munitorum. Commissars are responsible for the indoctrination of armsmen into Imperial modes of thinking, guarding the soldiery and serving voidsfolk against anti-Imperial thought and action in order to ensure Imperial victory. These fanatical devotees of the Imperial Creed are tasked with keeping the minions of the Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy under intense discipline, subjecting them to draconic punishments for minor infractions, ever ready to fire their pistols into the back of the heads of offending miscreants and poltroons.

The Emperor's soldiers should at all times be more afraid of their own officers than of any enemy, and Imperial Commissars ensure that this is the case, no matter how monstrous the foe faced in the field. The Commissariat's agents has become an ever-pervasive facet of the command structures of the Astra Militarum and Navis Imperialis, with at least one Commissar attached to most regiments and voidships. The guiding principle of the Officio Prefectus is a core tenet of Imperial thinking, namely that of the triumph of will over self. Or as the Graian Mantra of Discipline would have it: Steel of body, steel of mind. And indeed Imperial Commissars tend to be pillars of resolve and self-control, utterly bereft of mercy in carrying out their righteous duties, and possessed by a virtuous cruelty and pious hatred for all the foes of mankind, and for all that is ugly in humanity.

In many periods of Imperial history, the Commissar has held military rank equaling that of the unit commander to whom he was attached, naturally with the full authority to countermand the orders of the unit commander, or execute the commanding officer on the spot. Imperial Commissars have always tended toward a wasteful approach to warfare, with human manpower being nothing but a deep reservoir to empty in pursuit of the Emperor's holy war aims. Innumerable are the occasions when experienced military officers have given seemingly cautious orders to not squander lives needlessly and instead pursue a war of wit, surprise and outflanking cunning, only for their suspiciously cerebral commands to be contradicted and overruled by the attached Imperial Commissar, who will often call for frontal assaults or for the troops to stand their ground and die rather than give up a single inch of ground. What better way to prove your dedication to the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, seated upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth, than to willingly cast yourself into the jaws of certain death?

In some of the less desperate times following the reforging of the Imperium, Commissars would lose their influential role as an unofficial second commander within military units, and become militarily subordinate to the unit commander. Such downgrading of the Commissariat's status and powers were often the result both of military resentment against innumerable ineffective countermands of orders, and of intrigue among the High Lords of Terra. Within such periods of Commissar demotion, political officers would be deprived of any direct command in the field, and relegated to teaching, ideological instruction and other morale-related functions. Yet those times would inevitably come to an end, and grow ever more rare as the Imperium aged, and aged badly. Increasingly, the beleaguered Imperium found no space for such luxuries, and a stern and unforgiving agent of the Officio Prefectus with wide-ranging authority to cow the military would ever be wished for by the callous and paranoid masters of the Imperium. Historical occasions when full Commissariat powers have been reinstated to the Officio Prefectus have usually been accompanied by great purges, often led by vengeful Imperial Commissars themselves.

And so the steely gaze of Commissars is inescapable for members of the Imperial Guard and Navy. These venerated heroes of Imperial propaganda are likewise primary targets of fragging and of mutineers and traitors, ever the first officers to be placed against the wall in case of military rebellion. To desecrate the corpse, garb and insignia of an Imperial Commissar constitute a potent trophy of rebellious foes of the Imperium. Commissars have proven to be lynchpins of Imperial military morale and loyalty, just as they are crucial instruments of Imperial terror. The depraved methods and suspicious eyes of distrustful Commissars make them feared and loathed in equal measure throughough the Astra Militarum and Navis Imperialis. The Imperial Commissariat constitute one reason among others as to why so many human languages and dialects in the far future have single words describing a feeling of the lurking of inevitable doom: Valhallans, for instance, call it pizdets.

Outside the Officio Prefectus, there also exist a bewildering array of local Commissariats, overseeing Planetary Defence Forces, Voidholm Militias and System Defence Fleets. Local Commissariats may be found with authority over only a single continent or voidholm section, and they may likewise be found all across a sub-sector or even an entire sector, often doubling as yet another security police force. These local Commissariats are as a rule subordinate to the Imperial Commissariat, yet plenty of friction and inter-service rivalry exist between the two due to overlapping and conflicting jurisdictions, since Imperial Commissars down on their luck or in bad health are occasionally charged with overseeing the PDF and other local units for entire planets or even sub-sectors as an ambulating political officer. It is far from unheard of for Imperial Commissars to execute their local counterparts for stepping over the line, and it is likewise not a rare occurence for gangs of local Commissars or cadets in training to secretly make an Imperial Commissar disappear in an act of revenge for previous slights. Insults to a Commissariat's honour cannot be allowed to stand.

And so the political supervision of the Imperial Guard and Imperial Navy has been effected by the Imperial Commissar, who has been introduced to most units and formations, ideally from company- to army group-level for the Astra Militarum, and ideally for everything from single escort vessels up to flotilla- and fleet-levels for the Navis Imperialis. Commissars overseeing the higher levels of Imperial command will often consist of a triumvirate or troika, with a Lord Commissar or some other rank of senior Commissar being assisted by two lower-ranking members of the Imperial Commissariat. Not even the highest generals or admirals are safe from the baleful glare of these extraordinarily brutal individuals.

One recent inspiring example of the deeds of an agent of the Officio Prefectus can be seen in the case of Junior Commissar Anemas Viriathus. Upon graduating from the Schola Progenium, the youthful Anemas was assigned in 987.M41 to oversee Teal Platoon of the Third Company of the 23789th Cilician Fusiliers, then deployed on the third moon of Chandax Primus. During his very first frontline tour, Anemas' assigned regiment was subject to a surprise assault from secessionist crater raiders, striking with such sudden rapidity and overwhelming fire support that several platoons turned and fled on the spot. Teal Platoon was no exception, yet the young Commissar reared it in by pulling his laspistol, calmly aiming and gunning down eight Guardsmen from behind while shouting admonishments and litanies of moral purity in order to shame the retreating soldiers to return to the fight. His bloodstained orations bore fruit, and soon the devotion of the men, women and juves under arms was rekindled, ready for Anemas Viriathus to lead Teal Platoon in a zealous bayonet charge into the teeth of the foe's crater raiders.

Against all reason and expectation, this suicidal attack by the Fusiliers hit home and bulldozed through the raiders' frontline command squads, in spite of a flurry of frag grenades and rapid autogun fire. The surprising counter attack of the Cilicians in Teal Platoon broke the fury of the crater raiders, who soon retreated in order to minimize casualties. Through the whole ordeal, Junior Commissar Anemas Viriathus had stood straight as a pinetree, bending neither knee nor back for the sake of cover, even as slugs and energy beams whizzed all around him. As Teal Platoon virtually wiped itself out in its blazing last charge, Viriathus led them, sword drawn, striding miraculously unscathed through the violent mayhem even as his underlings destroyed themselves against the most potent weapons of the enemy. The survivors of Third Company hailed the Commissar as a hero chosen to save the hour by the divine Imperator Himself, and soon the frontline was all abuzz as word of mouth spread the news with electrifying vigour and religious exaltation.

The first action of the Junior Commissar, however, was to stride back over the smoking battlefield, seeking out each and every Guardsman he had shot in the back during the panicked flight. He denied the still living ones medical assistance and made sure that they would not be accidentally saved by their comrades in arms, yet he also cut short their traumatic suffering by mouthing off quick mantras of redemption before beheading them on the spot. Their heads where subsequently bathed in acid, and the skulls were engraved with the High Gothic word for 'coward' on their foreheads, before being stacked like beads on a pole outside the bunker barracks of Third Company, morbidly resplendent and ready to greet new recruits as a warning example. Camp gossip that day claimed that Commissar Anemas Viriathus had seethed with indignant hatred and righteous fury against the poltroons, and verily had he steeled himself for the task of dismembering and disembowelling both wounded survivors and corpses of the cravens he had shot, when an inner voice like gold, majesty and angelic harps had wished him to extend the Emperor's Peace unto the undeserving wretches. And so the pious man had complied, and let justified vengeance rest for once.

Weep, children of old Terra, that this cruel, hateful figure is in fact among the noblest of your scattered sons and daughters.

And so the politico-military officers known as Imperial Commissars will labour to ensure the loyalty of military units to the Imperium. They will work to suppress fractious infighting and hinder Imperial military units from becoming associated with special interest groups with different and conflicting goals to that of the wider Imperium. They will endeavour to uphold morale and the purity of Imperial indoctrination. They will never cease to stamp out malcontents, spreaders of defaitism, rebel infiltrators, heretical elements and thought of self from the ranks. They will never hesitate to summarily execute shirkers and cowards, and they will never blanch at making a diabolical example out of poltroons. These men and women of abominable deeds will always be first in line to zealously undertake purges within Imperial military organizations, and woe betide anyone whom they find lacking. They are both feared, hated and admired, and the Imperial Commissars stand as true expressions of Imperial will made flesh.

For what is happiness but the feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome?

Thus abominable acts are committed by crude organizations within a rotting starfaring empire, the mass graves long forgotten, the victims eternally damned as rightfully purged. Where once ancient man strived to unlock the secrets of the universe and reshape human nature itself to a sublime condition, nowadays his degenerate descendants wallow in the dirt and embrace the evil that men do with shameless enthusiasm, and name it devotion. Where once all was a realm of shining wonder betwixt the stars, all is now a morass of misery and carnage, in horror unending.

We must ask, are these merely the motions of a doomed breed? The lowly spasms of a slowly dying empire facing an abysmal end? Is this a humanity stupid beyond redemption?

Yet it is not given for the part to criticize the whole.

In this universe, anything you do can get you killed. Including doing nothing. A great man during the misty Age of Terra once said, shortly before his spectacular death, that it is better to die suddenly, then to always be expecting death. Perhaps the best one can do, is to live life fearlessly, and to die in like manner. The brave man, after all, only die once. The coward dies a thousand deaths.

Know the horror that awaits us all. Mankind in the darkest of futures finds itself doomed to forever tread water in order to just avoid drowning, barely keeping its head above the whipping surface as it gulps for air with aching lungs and wild panic in its bloodshot eyes.

That is the best which the future of our species can offer.

All else is oblivion.

Vigilant be.
 
Nov 3, 2014
88
Mematicus Secundus

The following joke image from Reddit was composed by RossHollander (all the writing is his, and wonderful it is) over on Grimdank:


Remember that Warhammer has always been a joke, a comedy from the very start. When at its most grimdark, it is its own parody. Sense of irony required.

Cheers!

- - -

And now, catch all the sir Humphrey Appleby references:


yJj6Bq1.png

Paper-Cranker

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is enslaved by his own documents.

On hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms beyond counting, myths grown out of ancient legends speak of an idyllic past when life was much simpler and brighter, when man was healthier and happier, and when man lived longer and toiled less for more gain than he has ever known since paradise burned. If one was to sift through this myriad of oral folklore, one would eventually discover stray references to a bygone world bereft of the straitjacket of bureaucracy and snares of red tape in a myriad of old tales dotted around the Imperium of Man. Such remnants of memory are essentially wrong cases of wishful thinking, for the lives of Man of Gold and Man of Stone were never free from a web of rules and systematic organization, even in locales were no form of taxes, statute labour, gamete contribution or conscription at all existed. Yet these rose-tinted accounts of humanity's elder days are still correct from a certain point of view, for the primordial swamp of administration and tedious paperwork had long since been streamlined and rendered efficient like oiled lightning during the Dark Age of Technology, and the contrast to civilized life in the Age of Imperium could hardly be more stark.

At the bustling height of the Dark Age of Technology, the inertia and headache of disjointed procedure, manual identification, permits and documentation had long since been replaced by automatized systems of order, all smoothly organized by Abominable Intelligence and working with a marvellous level of cybernetic quality honed by many generations of brilliant minds and tinkering hands. These higher forms of administration communicated between departmental databanks and decentralized picoregistrars without the worthless need for human footwork in corridors and vox queues. These faceless, robotic management systems were set up so as to allow for the difficulties of Warp travel and interstellar communication of that epoch, without constantly running into hitches and programming boundary hiccups between regions, and likewise were they hardcoded to seamlessly account for synchronization errors whenever vessels arrived ahead of schedule estimates and slightly broke the arrow of time by arriving at a somewhat earlier point in the calendar or chronometer than their timestamp told the system they started on their journey.

In golden times of yore, man's higher forms of administration were silken smooth in their workings, and they were meticulously designed with a purity of function and a mimimum of hassle, waste and inhumanity for any citizen who happened to be on the receiving end of machine registrar and governance protocols. These inner workings of ancient paradise have since been replaced by crude wetware and agonisingly slow manual paperwork, as trillions upon trillions of grey-clad drones shuffle business, stamp parchment made from human skin and cling to paragraphs of procedure and points of protocol with an inane myopia bordering on insanity. These swarming lowly sticklers of bureaucracy manifest all the pitfalls of human tardiness, tunnel vision, error and ineptitude that the machine systems of ancient times were made to avoid.

Gone is the elegant ease of such matters that was a fact of life during the edenic days of the Dark Age of Technology. Gone is the flow, replaced instead by a bizarre labyrinth of messy complications and endless rigmarole as petty paper potentates of borrowed power chew procedure at desktops and cogitators and decide the fates of downtrodden people. Any misfiling and error of theirs can mean the end of living and breathing Imperial subjects, sometimes vast numbers of subjects, for any men, women and children who fall through the cracks will become irreversibly cast out of society and find their lives destroyed, unless they possess immense power and influence to fight the system in arduously drawn-out affairs of bribery, threatmaking and appeals burdened by friction. Without papers, you are nothing. This boring farce of bureaucracy is filled with paradoxical catches and a cavalcade of hassle, as taxes are levied, corvée labour mustered, license charters issed, unwanted deviants purged and conscription undertaken, all while departments who no longer fulfill a function go through the motions and labour with paper tasks no longer real. Such tragic regression of the machine of governance is surrealistic to behold, but at least the taut officials are technically correct, which is the best kind of correct.

And so mankind in the Age of Imperium has fallen foul of the worst excesses of administration. Man has fallen into a bottomless pit of deskjockey trouble worse than anything witnessed under the heavens since the first scribes made cuneiform indentations into clay tablets to keep track of granaries and debts on Old Earth. Speaking of the ancient cradle of our human species, a military writer during the misty past of the Age of Terra once stated that management of the few is the same as management of the many. It is a matter of organization. While true, this observation does not explain the problems of scale and bloat that plagues the bureaucracy of the God-Emperor of mankind.

It is said that the Imperium have an army of soldiers on their feet, an army of priests on their knees, an army of civil servants on their seats and an army of spies crawling on the ground. Yet for every man under arms, ten men scribble quills and shuffle papers behind the lines. His scribal cohorts far outnumber even the armed forces of our radiant Terran Imperator, for the Adeptus Administratum is the largest of all organs comprising the Adeptus Terra, and ten billion Adepts of the Administratum work in the Imperial Palace alone.

To grasp the vital function of this swollen mess of maddening tedium, know that the Adeptus Administratum is the memory and nerve system of the Imperium, in all its bloated monstrosity and all its lacunae-ridden dementia. In all its sclerotic inertia and shrieking inefficiency, the Adeptus Administratum is still indispensable to the Imperium of Man, even as it slowly sucks the life out of mankind. The Administratum is a gargantuan organization of endless departments and divisions, with tendrils reaching almost everywhere, a teeming body of dour officials obsessed with preserving documents correctly, yet simultaneously self-censoring, falsifying, revising and destroying its own archive material in a contradictory cycle of saving and deletion. Much preserved ancient knowledge beyond the scientific and technological has been irredeemably lost in the labyrinthine mess of the Adeptus Administratum's cavernous archives, and much irreplacable knowledge has been eradicated in endless waves of revisory adjustments and document purges.

Ever since humans ascended to city life and civilization, death and taxes have been the one certainty in their existence. Everything else is subject to the mutability of fate. Instead of flaying the sheep by looting people of all they own in one go, rulers of antiquity discovered that it was far more efficient to fleece the flock repeatedly. Few human activities are as pressing and expensive as warfare, and the demands of total war can easily force administrations to cannibalize society to feed the roaring furnace of destruction. Long ago, in benighted millennia of endless conflict, the Imperium of Man discovered how much it could squeeze out of human societies once it set its mind to it. And so the urgent needs of ten thousand different war fronts have caused the Adeptus Administratum to ever more scrape the barrel, and ever more hollow out mankind as the talons of the grasping Imperium continue to claw ever more downward through its reserves of flesh, raw resources and preserved technology.

Behold the doomed realm of man stretching across the stars, straddling the cosmos in the darkest of futures. Bear witness to the unfolding nightmare as crookbacked pencil-pushers harry the filthy masses, even as the ravenous hordes of doom tear into senile mankind. See with open eyes, how countless human beings scurry about like blind thralls in a broken ant colony, buckling under the weight of a suffocating bureaucracy where everyone chatter off protocol, and everone there is morbid. Watch the mingled significance and the unreality of the decisions, for a sense of impending catastrophe overhangs the dull scene. Here, in the last days of our species, the futility and smallness of man before the great events confronting him is on full display.

The end times may be upon us, yet duty calls. Thus a leaden host of auditors, deputies and sub-officials each day and each lightson go forth, on hundreds of thousands of worlds and innumerable voidholms. Equipped with paper and symbols of office, these obstructive clerks with all the charisma of a filing cabinet will conduct population censuses, collect revenue and assess Tithe grades, constantly recording, collating and archiving all manner of information, some data of which no one any longer knows why they gather. Blindness hold sway, in a mad caleidoscope of inter-departmental intricacies, demented makework and organizational decay. These impersonal bureaucrats are tasked with running the depraved husk that is the Imperium of Man. To them, understanding is neither required nor wanted.

The Adeptus Administratum is full of officious scribes acquitting themselves with an air of importance and rigorous precision, their exactitude of hairsplitting being a point of pride. Make way, subject, for each one of them are members of the grand machine of Imperial power, under which your are but dust. The Administratum is a quill-scratching tool of dominance, as dysfunctional as they come. Its members are all harrowed by the threat of draconic punishment for failure, which often incentivize them to make no decision, shuffle issues sideways and escape all responsibility. When in charge, ponder. When in trouble, delegate. When in doubt, mumble. Death by a million paper cuts could happen to you.

Those perfidious officials that rise to high positions as the dry lords of the Adeptus Administratum will invariably tend to pursue the benefit of their own organization, rather than primarily seeking to fulfill its function. No wonder slimy Administratum officials all across the Imperium can be found cunningly housetraining appointed noble statesmen to serve as their departmental figureheads and rubber stamps. What a tangled web these humble civil servants of the Emperor of Terra weave, as they live out an entire career devoted to avoid the answering of questions. Prima facie, we evaluated the opportunity to be good. Yet it would seem that the original decision in the fullness of time caused issues which it has now become too late to do anything about. Listen to the babble of circumlocutory lingo and savour the hypocrisy and lack of principles. It is the hallmark of grey eminences, those unassuming background figures of any court who conduct themselves with the princely dignity of those whose food is paper, and whose blood is ink.

Certainly, prominent Chancellarchs everywhere around the interstellar dominions of the Emperor can be expected to further the self-interest of their Adeptus, their department and their own esteemed selves in the first place. The overarching Imperial weal is in practice not a top priority. Yet administrators are nevertheless able to make systems of terror function efficiently without the slightest sense of personal responsibility or understanding. As blood flow in rivers and cries of agony rise from torture chambers, they retreat into the arcane language of all specialists, to mask what they are doing and give to their work a sanitized, clinical veneer. On thousands of planets and millions of voidholms, blasphemously irreverent jokes claim that it is better to sin against the God-Emperor Himself than against the Adeptus Administratum. Our deity may forgive you, but His bureaucracy will never do so.

Members of His Divine Majesty's All-Assessing Administratum live sheltered lives, growing into boring people excessively parochial and naïve to the ways of the world, even as this thousand-headed staff conduct themselves like stone-hearted petty tyrants. Many Adepts of the Administratum attain their ranks through inherited positions, due to wisdom since cradle being a fundamental assumption throughout all of Imperial space. Everyone in the Imperium of Holy Terra is subject to their scrutiny and intervention, even as the scriveners themselves attempt to fulfill their function, better their own lot and avoid asking unnecessary questions to their superiors. This teeming Adeptus makes up an incomprehensible system of internally competing agencies and departments of administrative affairs, even as the Administratum itself compete with other branches of the Adeptus Terra in a neverending Imperial power struggle, as the Age of Apostasy readily can attest to.

The retrograde organization of the Adeptus Administratum seek to control information to a fault. Knowledge is power. Guard it well. The dull deskjockeys have all heard of disappearances among their colleagues, and many have seen it firsthand, grateful that they themselves were not dragged off. And so every Adept of the Administratum who wish to prolong their stay among the living innately knows to stay inside their thought coffin.

One such grey soul is Logothetes-Kansliarius Narses Pentera, serving His Divine Majesty with diligence and humility in Section 896 of the Bureau of Nutreobrachycera Hatcheries on the Vassal Voidholms of Naram-Sin Triarius. Upon promotion to his current rank, the Logothetes-Kansliarius was surgically conjoined with a pair of slave-linked clerk rejects, who for the sake of their abominable sins in service were enthralled to their superior official in order to exploit their biological processing power. Both rejects had their entire personalities obliterated in the process, and are now nothing but appendages to the human resource bearing the name of Narses. Adept Pentera may have advanced through the ranks through merit, but his department was chosen by hereditary office, as befits his long line of scribal ancestors. The Logothetes-Kansliarius was hypno-conditioned to handle vast amounts of data since he was a pre-verbal infant, and as a juve he learnt his ordained work through rote learning and the stern rod. Like so many Adepts of the Administratum, the lacklustre personality of Narses Pentera is plagued by a lack of gumption, his hypogean life a flood of paperwork and parochial ignorance in monastic seclusion.

One of Narses' conjoined scrivener brains have turned senile, while the electrografts of his own cerebrum have started to malfunction, thus sending the Logothetes-Kansliarius into the first stages of a downward spiral that begins with erratic irritability and ends with drooling insanity. Apart from his ongoing mental breakdown, Adept Pentera is likewise plagued by arthritis, rheumatism and aching, stiff fingers. Worse still, the Imperial subject's legs have in recent years become harrowed by gangrenous wounds, which Narses try to hide as best as he can since he fears the Officio Medicae may either choose to amputate his limbs and install him permanently fixed into a resuscitatory bionic socket at his work station, or euthanize him to replace the failing functionary and recycle Adept Pentera's wretched flesh to useful corpse starch. The ignorant Logothetes-Kansliarius is thus secretly applying snakeoil ointments, purchasing cheap folk remedies and resorting to superstitious rituals such as aromatic candle burning, centeniary mantras, self-flagellation with chained amulets containing leaden curse tablets, as well as exotic prayer formulas in order to combat the unknown creeping disease that is slowly breaking down Narses from the bottom up. The sclerotic Adept thus offer up his prayer to the Imperator of Holy Terra, and beg for salvation.

Words, not deeds.

Such has ever been the guiding principle of the Adeptus Administratum, as it grew out of the God-Emperor's Imperial Administration, originally created during the closing days of the Great Crusade and controlled by the mythical figure known as Malcador the Sigillite, the Regent of Terra and foremost of the Curia Imperialis. Through words and numbers and stamps and seals does the Adeptus Administratum tend to the distribution of resources, the raising of Imperial forces and questions of life and death for untold billions of people. The Administratum's remit is the running of the Imperium, and countless grey officials and minor functionaries make up its corrupt staff, all chewing through endless documents in soulless work, as they seek to become one with the paper. After all, red tape holds the Imperium of Man together.

Such are the mechanisms of Imperial mastery. Keep the shining warrior in mind all you like, but never forget the faceless bureaucrat that keeps the whole clogged system working, in however flawed a fashion. Know their everyday. The dusty atmosphere of officialdom may kill anything that breathes the air of human endeavour, drowning hope in the supremacy of parchment and ink. Adepts of the Administratum will inevitably care more for routine than for results. Such is this body's inescapable defect.

To gain a glimpse of the sheer administrative rigmarole of the Imperium, consider an inherent quality in far lesser organs than the Adeptus Administratum: Most human organizations sport a fulcrum of responsibility in their middle management, a point of inertia where problems may remain still while the upper and lower ranks of bureaucrats move around it. This dysfunctional feature of human organizations is strongly exacerbated within the Adeptus Administratum, where horrible punishments await anyone who commit an error in their line of work. It is of no account to the galactic domain of the High Lords of Terra if mere human lives are ruined by filing errors, yet on rare occasions entire planets and swathes of voidholms have fallen between the cracks and been lost to the Imperium due to a clerk's momentary absence of mind or wrong handling of paperwork. Such avoidable losses constitute self-inflicted disasters, for the misfiling of a world by a senior scribe mean that all the manpower and resources to be Tithed from that world or voidholm will be denied to the Imperium in its worsening hour of need, that splendid last shield of mankind which upholds His sacred rule over the stars.

The Byzantine bureaucracy of the Imperium is riddled with corruption and creative inertia, carrying out convoluted procedures in hidebound fashion among cogitators and vast datamills. Junior curators equipped with gigantic quills of office will reel off mind-numbing data and procedural instructions per ancient tradition, while parasitical scriveners load unto menial Veredi cart-pushers their tall stacks of files, communiqués, stilactic documents and circulars. A peculiar air of stress, boredom and dread hangs over the Administratum, as its thin Adepts shuffle parchment, hand out forms, write out vehicular travel permits and gather statistics for ministry charts. The usually frail frames of the grey clerks and notarii may sometimes hide a sinewy strength and even ingrained skills at martial arts taught to them in the Schola Progenium, for those Adepts drawn from that venerable institution of a truly Imperial upbringing for orphans will have learnt unarmed combat.

These dry figures in bland robes may be seen to hurry past each other in narrow corridors stacked to the roof beams with scrolls and tomes, the shelves of which may contain massive bound books bearing exciting titles such as Vocabulary of Transportation Stores, or Inventorum Registrar For Permit Receipts Sub-Department CCCLXXVIII (Volume 18). Ultimately, nothing is personal to the Adeptus Administratum.

Consider briefly the hoarding of memoranda and missives and all the other documents circulating within the Administratum. Somewhere in there, the entire worth of your life may lie stored in secretive databases, retrievable and accountable. And above all vulnerable. Many Imperial subjects have become hopelessly lost to society from faceless administrative errors such as misfilings or accidental deletions or somesuch nonsense amid the dataslates and telefacsimile machines. In the Imperium, it is almost impossible to appeal against an administrative decision. Of course, such power over life and death may occasionally offer temptation and opportunity for corruption among the Adepts of the Administratum. Remove the document, and you remove the man. How simple it is to destroy lives.

Yet grave danger hangs over these shuffling hordes of tiny bureaucrats. The paperwork must be in order, or else the hammer may fall. It is an ordinary event for the loyal servants of the Adeptus Administratum to purge large numbers of its own members with mechanistic indifference, just as they would stamp a requisition application for a district's distribution of monthly ration cards. Such callous purging of the Adeptus' own multitude is especially common where information leaks are discovered. The Imperium maintains a constant lockdown on publicly available data, spoon-feeding its literate subjects snippets from heavily doctored public records, all of which will invariably lie. To have classified information slip out, is a grave sin.

Ego vos mandatum istud mihi multam nimis.

Paperwork is the embalming fluid of bureaucracy, maintaining an appearance of life where none exists. Spirit-draining scribe work and endless red tape copied in quadruplicate is an inevitable part of life within the sluggish Adeptus Administratum, in all its shifting myriad of departments, offices, priority committees, sub-divisions, agencies, notary chambers, registries, commissions, directorates, authority collectives, satrapal scriptoria and chancelleries. Most internal divisions live with the frigid friction of inter-departmental rivalries. Their stubborn disagreements over things such as specific classification and area of responsibility may on rare occasions lead to short but nasty archive wars between Adepts from conflicting sections, splattering blood and gore over neatly stacked parchment scrolls and dataslates. The staff of more than one bureau has been discovered lying strewn about in pools of their own body fluids, peppered with slug rounds and wounds from steel-tipped quills, or else the unit's personnel all disappeared with no other trace than a discreetly filed document for shipment of several human remains to the corpse grinder.

Such violent strife will often be overlooked by higher management unless it would result in a major disturbance, since the merciless spirit that animate the bold deed is in itself a virtuous asset to the Imperium. Also, if the losers were too weak to defend themselves and proved unfit to live, then all the better for their departmental enemy to have purged their dysgenic wastrel blood from the body of mankind. The slaughter did us all a service, really, and never mind the bloodstains. The Adepts need a good reminder that they are mortal, after all.

Internal casualties from purges and civil combat are at any rate easily replaced from the swarming masses of humanity, for what parent would not wish for their malnourished child to be taken up into an Imperial Adeptus? As ever, the bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy. By overdeveloping the quantity of the Adeptus Administratum, the Imperium has damaged the quality of its functions. As several ancient writers from the misty Age of Terra once held: When the state is most corrupt, then its laws are most multiplied. By putting its faith in procedure to eliminate corruption, humanity has succeeded in humiliating honest people while providing a cover of darkness and complexity for bad people, for the latter will always try and find a way around law, while good people do not need rules to tell them to act responsibly.

The very nature of the opaque maze that is the Administratum will make clever men act stupid, and make good men act evil. Here, petty minds thrive, while people of talent are stifled and essentially remade to carry out soul-destroying rote work. Here, initiative and innovation are suffocated, while ineptitude rules supreme. There are staggering inefficiencies in the Imperium's restrictive bureaucracy. The constant technological decline of labour productivity and military prowess is answered by throwing more men and material at the problem, and the same goes for the Imperium's logistical misorganization issues.

And so brainwashed Administratum planners collate and catalogue information before ordering men and materiel about, requesting supplies and compiling schematisma within the Departmento Munitorum. They set mobilization levels and dictate Tithe grades, barking at indentured menials and subordinate slaves as punchout forms are spat out of primitive machines. Each year and each rotation, the Adeptus Administratum will exact enormous resource extractions to feed the maw of total war. All this dour activity take place in monastic corridors filled with the soulcrushing grind of paper and the minutiae of countless tasks, as Adepts hide their headache and squint at radioactive screens amid a labyrinth of oppressive cells and cubicles.

A mighty migraine may be had from dealing with the moral vaccuum of bureaucratic miasma all day long, whether you yourself work in an organization committed to purposeful obfuscation, or whether you are forced to endure frustration and boredom when applying for permits or registration from the faceless grey hordes in robes. Behind the desk, your duty is to spend endless hours circulating information that is not relevant about subjects that does not matter to people who are not interested. In front of the desk, know that the matter is under consideration, as you while away your lifetime, bored stiff from endless waiting. If the autoquill is sharper than the sword, then the paper trail is surely slower than the turtle.

A jungle of titles will assail you in the halls of the Administratum: Ordinate, notarius, protasekretius, chartoularius, quaestor, eparch, magister maximus officiorum, sakellarius, protonotarius, cipher, horeiarios, kephaleus, curopalatanovestiarius, kanikleos, trapezarius, protostrator, mesazonius, silentarius, aedile, referendarius, censor and many more ranks will bewilder you, make you feel unwelcome and befuddle your efforts, ever sending you to yet another queue to yet another subdivision through endless floors of milling clerks.

Imagine this morass of disutility. Imagine yourself trapped in a madhouse of endless offices. Locked inside a hell of swelling paperwork. Ensnared in a nightmare of neverending red tape. As you hunt through the loops of paper trail, walls of restrictions will arise to hinder you, while tardy clerks will slow down your march through the institution, made all the worse by incompetent notarii.

Such is the Administratum’s size and complexity that whole departments have been subsumed by their own procedures, yet they blindly and dogmatically continue to operate despite the intent or requirement for their founding function having long since been forgotten or rendered obsolete. After all, a bureau's success is measured by the size of its staff, since it does not have results such as loss and profit by which to ken its prestige among other departments. On every level, it is of primary interest to the mandarins of the Adeptus Administratum to increase bureaucracy. Thus this Adeptus is everywhere overstaffed, extravagant and incompetent. In the Age of Imperium, human power in the Milky Way galaxy has become chained to a corpse, dragged down more and more by the stunning inefficiencies in the rotting interstellar realm of the Terran Imperator, never made more apparent than inside its overgrown bureaucracy. Increasingly, the Adeptus Administratum has declined as a tool of power projection, and has instead grown as an obstacle to its very own purpose. The Imperium has become overburdened by so much dead weight of its own making, and this accretion of dysfunctional departments show no sign of halting.

This process ten millennia in the making has not gone unnoticed by Imperial subjects across the galaxy. For instance, in 783.M39, a sharp-tongued acoustibard on Holy Terra composed a rhyme set to a catchy little tune, for which the skald was drowned in cobric acid for the heinous crimes of high treason and slander of masters. The very act of reading such classified lines is enough to have unauthorized personnel turned into servitors following lengthy torture involving abacination and slow mutilation:

"The bureau is spreading and swallowing Earth.
Let us all run to Venus and settle our worth.
Yet the bureau is growing so damnably fast.
That I fear it will gobble up Venus at last."

In the insterstellar dominions of the God-Emperor of mankind, organization has got out of hand. The Imperium of Man has developed into a basket case, and devil take the hindmost. Behold the cosmic realm of the Imperator of Holy Terra, behold it with warts and all: The Imperium is a vast assemblage of people groups united by a mistaken view of their past and by hatred for their neighbours. In running the whole show, the Adeptus Administratum has long since become a parody of its own function, standing as a true manifestation of the strict and inverse relationship between productivity and paperwork.

Thus Imperial subjects on hundreds of thousands of worlds and innumerable voidholms across the Milky Way galaxy will each day, each shift-cycle and each lightson offer up prayers to the preserver of their species and ruler of all mankind. These prayers contain a line that asks the God-Emperor of Holy Terra to save them from the attention of scribes, from the sealed snares and the deathless queue, as well as the cutting paper, the dry morass and the bottomless pits of script and damning numerals. In a galaxy of horrors, death by paperwork is by far one of the most underestimated and insidious banes of life there is.

Of course, it is not just the slothful slaying of life and hope that is the unofficial business of the Adeptus Administratum. One of its most baleful divisions is that of the Historical Revision Unit, which will purge, censor and alter records of Imperial history with a terrible zeal. As the centuries lurch by in a feverish spiral of deepening regression, ever more phrases are deemed subversive, and so ever more writings are destroyed or maimed by fanatical historitors. Thus the natural and Empyreic difficulties of establishing an accurate account of the sprawling Imperium's fragmentary and contradictory history is made all the worse by willful obliteration and falsification of ancient records. In this monstrous regime claiming the Emperor on His Golden Throne as its liege, the past itself is unpredictable.

Thus the Adeptus Administratum is among the most anti-intellectual organizations to be found throughout the Imperium of Man. This body seems to be based on literacy and numerosity, yet it has proven itself be a jail of human thought and human initative, a heinous enemy of all that which leads to revival and golden ages of flourishing innovation and enterprise. The Administratum, this bloodstained apparatus of terror and oppression, will endure through its sheer momentum, until mankind is scoured from the stars.

How horrible man is. How insatiable he is. How horrible his self-serving lusting for power over others is. See through the stricture of structure to the desires lurking at the heart of the Adeptus Administratum. Let us face what power is: Power is dark. Power corrupts. It clouds judgement, and yet power is essential for survival.

The Imperium is not at all the best it could be. On the contrary it is a decaying husk of a starfaring realm forged ten thousand years ago by armies and craftsmen superior to their degenerate descendants. The astral realms of His Divine Majesty may be humanity's last shield by virtue of eliminating all opposing sources of regrowth, but it is also a sinking ship. For the Imperium of Man has slowly undergone a massive spiral of depression and corruption since the day its Emperor was seated deathless upon the Golden Throne.

And so man in the Age of Imperium is bedevilled by a swollen bureacracy strangling the life out of human civilization across the stars by means of tyranny for the sake of tyranny itself, offering up the fruits and offspring of man and his labours on the ravenous fire altars of total war. The Imperium will deal with wicked difficulties by throwing more bodies at the problem. In the eyes of their indifferent overlords, the lives and deaths of Imperial subjects are nothing but vast numbers in a broken equation of increased input to feed the meatgrinder and sustain a stumbling colossus on feet of clay. And so the decline of human power in the Milky Way galaxy continues unabated, on the Imperium's watch.

Do not avert your eyes, but look, nay, stare at this faltering behemoth!

Behold this corroding Imperium of iron and rust. Behold this sea of man's own ignorance in which he is slowly drowning, treading water in vain as he shouts his defiance to the high heavens, kicking the dark ocean with fury and vigour as he screams, screams against the dying of the light.

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

Such is the destiny that awaits us all.

Such is the end of our species.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only lunacy.
 
Nov 3, 2014
88
di2iiXJ.png

Lifeless

"Trust not in iron,
Its skin gnawed by air,
Impurities and rust,
To bend and break,
Its spine so strong,
Yet fate but dust."


- - -

kMuqV16.png


Howl

"The baying of the mob,
Akin to blind devourer,
Well enough to rob,
By sheer spoken power."


- - -

yd6iXky.png

Purge the Taint

In the grim darkness of the far future, loyalty is rewarded by death.

An ancient jokester during the misty Age of Terra once quipped that our recorded past is full of weird, wonderful and worrible things. Indeed, the trials and tribulations of human history form one unending litany of cruelty. Sometimes such callous acts toward fellow creatures are carried out with sadistic glee, sometimes with the drunk joy of possessing power whereas your victim does not, and sometimes reluctant evil is carried out with a grim resolve to do what must be done.

While humans are good at seeming to be things they are not, they are likewise prone to pick up flawed perceptions of a seeming situation, and act accordingly. Sometimes, he who has been burned once will avoid fire like the plague, and he will overcompensate beyond all reasonable bonds in order to avoid being burned again. Such a phenomenon can be observed ad nauseam in that splendid last defender of humanity, that lone shield against the dark, that holy prison of our species that is the Imperium of Man.

Here, in that rotting starfaring realm spanning the Milky Way galaxy, the servants of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra will scour life from entire planets in order to stop the spread of unholy influence. Here, in that fortified madhouse of cosmic proportions, billions will be tortured, slain and burnt without second thought in order to root out the taint. Here, in that decrepit haunt of fanatics running amok betwixt the stars, bloodthirst and righteous zeal combine to form a hateful whole, as counterproductive as it is excessive.

Such a feverish fixation with cleansing the teeming mass of mankind from suspect corruption stems from a long history of disasters and hellish woe brought about by internal strife, untamed wyrdlings and Daemonic incursions. If there is one thing that the final downfall of the soaring Dark Age of Technology and subsequent hardships has taught the millions of jaded human cultures across the galaxy, then it is the need to hate the deviant, purge the malcontent and burn the witch.

Rare fragments from the eldest days of the Imperium hints at a time when the all-conquering Emperor was well aware of this fundamental shift in mindset of post-apocalyptic mankind, and wished to combat the oppressively torpid mood of such a traumatized and fearful species. Indeed, the Emperor sought to kickstart a flourishing renaissance of human intellect, enterprise and curious innovation, and the regressive scars left on the minds of parochial survivor colonies from five thousand years of cannibal freefall proved a formidable obstacle to overcome. Perhaps the Master of Mankind would have succeeded in record time to reform the thinking and acting of His chosen species, had He remained among the living for longer. Yet internecine conflict and naked treachery cut short the grand works of the holy Imperator, and thus He ascended into heavenly godhood to judge sinful mankind for our abominable sins.

Ever since, the dream of recapturing some of the golden paradise that was lost in the Age of Strife has long since died. Not only achievable human dreams have met their demise, but uncounted numbers of living, breathing human beings themselves have been slain in an orgy of vengeful self-flagellation. Fivehundred generations has passed since the God-Emperor walked among His scattered flock. In that time, the fevered crisis of total war and the sclerotic way of doing things within the Imperium has seen His star realm enter a slow death spiral of primitivization, retardation of thinking, demechanization and unrelenting carnage. In a demented state of cultural mass psychosis, Imperial thinkers, planners and dogmatists have ever more resorted to the need for necessary evils, thereby creating a negative feedback loop of deepening depravity, shrieking insanity and mental disconnect from rational, constructive measures. If it seems to be a problem, burn it! If it talks, torture it! If it moves, kill it! No man, no problem.

O, pious faithful. O, strong loyalists. O, martyrs in becoming. Embrace struggle and suffering!

The Imperium is formidable at multi-tasking hatreds, as ten millennia of howling madness, xenocides and internal purges of massive proportions have borne witness to. It is well capable to simultaneously loathe the mutant while it abhors the witch, tramples the malcontent, burns the heretic and spits in the face of the xeno. Feel no pity for the hypothetically innocent who must be cleansed, so that greater mankind may live! They may have the blood of ancient Terra in their veins, but the oceans of humanity are nigh inexhaustible, covering one million worlds and innumerable voidholms like a galactic plague of locusts and cockroaches. For truly man has been reduced to vermin under the stern stewardship of the High Lords of Terra, a parasitic sentient species scavenging off the fading glories of its brilliant ancestors, even as it forgets more and more of their forebears' ingenious works and discoveries for each century that pass it by.

If man lives like vermin, then why not eradicate him like vermin when the prudent need arise? Verily, the monstrous claws of unspeakable Chaos cannot be allowed to hook the dutiful worshippers of His Divine Majesty. Nay! That nightmarish threat is an insidious one, and may hide inside the hearts of each and every one of us. We cannot trust in faith and purity alone to stem the tide. We cannot tolerate the risk of contamination.

And so, each day and each lightson, on a thousand worlds and voidholms, masses of loyal warriors and obedient slaves of the Terran Imperator will be rounded up and exterminated, by the orders of uncaring overlords. What does it matter that this regiment fought like demigods against the lethal foe? What weight does the heroism of the frontline fighters carry, when the survival of mankind as a whole is at stake? Is it not far better to kill those, who were used to destroy Chaos, rather than to risk the spread of malignant corruption? Is it not better to burn the unseen seeds of future heresy, even before the bearers of said seeds know they have been planted inside their heads?

Thus, it befalls the most faithful servants of the God-Emperor to undertake the solemn duty to give these veterans a martyr's death. And so gunnery crews of orbiting Imperial Navy ships, aircraft pilots, ground-bound Astartes superhumans, Titan Legios, Arbites enforcers, elite amazons of the Adepta Sororitas, Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, Securitate Military Police and a host of other Imperial units will fall upon the victorious heroes of harrowing battles, and give them the Emperor's peace that they did not even know they were in need of. Mercy killings, they may be written off as. A distasteful necessity. Standard war protocol. A wise precaution.

Often, the overbearing weight of firepower and costly equipment at the hands of the undertakers of the ordained purge will stand in sharp contrast to the cheaply armed and exhausted victors of the recent battle against Chaos. Witness the absurdity inherent in the situation, when Imperial Space Marines first brings a cannon to a gunfight, and then proceeds to gun down their non-genhanced comrades in arms, who carries but flimsy flak armour and simple las weaponry of puny mass make.

Of course, however grisly and unjust the end visited upon victorious heroes may be, the official story will never say a word of what truly transpired on that day, as the dust settled after an outright devilish fight against forces no man nor woman was meant to face. Of course, truth is the first casualty of war. And so we see that the glorious saviours of a hive city or voidholm section will be shamelessly touted in Imperial propaganda as having fought to the last warrior in defence of thier loved ones and sacred Imperator. Tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter, even when the hunter himself was hunted down after making his kill.

It is a virtuous act of governance to censor the murder of war heroes. After all, reality will always disappoint, so where is the value of knowing the truth?

By Throne and faith we swear eternal loyalty to He who dwells upon the face of Terra. We renounce our own will, and abandon all thought of self. We surrender all concern for our fellow human beings, for we will obey without question the divinely appointed masters and betters of the Holy Terran Imperium. When they give the order, we will carry it out no matter what we may think of it in our heart of hearts.

And so the history of the Imperium of Man is the malevolent story of how ruthless leaders squandered the blood and treasures of the human species. To their indifferent overlords and dominas, the lives and deaths of Imperial subjects are nothing but vast numbers in a broken equation of increased input to feed the meatgrinder and sustain a stumbling colossus on feet of clay. This freakshow of interstellar empire has lasted this long mainly through sheer size and might, for quantity has a quality all of its own. Size matters, yet it makes no one invulnerable.

The Imperium of Man is deeply corrupt, overburdened and harrowed by a zealous insanity of its own making. The fanatic faith in the Imperator may often give strength and unity to persevere and win through, even while buoying up the fortunes of a rotting theocratic dictatorship, yet worship of Him on Terra is no substitute for a stellar dominion based on mastery of science and technology, as the Emperor Himself well knew. Thus the salvation afforded mankind by its overbearing Imperium is a false one, an empty shell of stagnation, retardation, myopia and corpse-like rigidity devoid of a vivid ability to adapt, evolve and survive. And the truest manifestation of this fruitless dead-end of human development may be glimpsed in futile scenes of utter horror, as the bravest of heroes are shot down from behind by their own brothers in arms, and cut down in cold blood by their own martial sisters.

And so we see that mankind has been consigned to an eternity of carnage and suffering.

Such is the end that awaits the best of us, in an aeon of madness.

Such is the lot of mankind, in a time beyond hope.

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

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

About us

  • Our community has been around for many years and pride ourselves on offering unbiased, critical discussion among people of all different backgrounds. We are working every day to make sure our community is one of the best.

Quick Navigation

User Menu