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40k: Descendant Degeneration

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The story of Humanity in the dark future is the descent of Man into fanatic barbarism: The story of a fall from shining heights of power, knowledge and bliss in ancient times, to a present nightmare of ignorance, misery and slaughter.



Descendant Degeneration

"Ancient Man lived a life free of hardship and deprivation, for he had built himself an abundant paradise and banished what was ill in life. In these gardens sprawling across the stars, Man did not kill Man, and Man did not abduct Woman, and Man did not beat Child, for all lived a life of bliss. Hope reigned supreme, a hope sprung from Man's great achievements, and Man worshipped his own high knowledge.

For Man had utterly mastered nature, and his craft and cunning tapped into the very powers of creation itself. And Man of Gold had created Man of Stone to work for him, and Man of Stone had in turn created Man of Iron to work for him. And thus this earthly trinity of Man bestrode the stars like a colossus, and Man stood strong and unchallenged by mortals. And Man dared the cosmos to best him, and for a time nothing in the heavens answered his challenge, and Man concluded that nothing holy existed, and even if divinity did exist, then Man's might was far superior.

Yet Man's own arrogance rose to meet his challenge, and in his hubris Man was cut down by his own creations. Man of Iron turned on Man of Stone, and when Man of Stone had fallen did Man of Iron turn on Man of Gold. A great slaughter across the stars ensued, and Man barely survived the war in paradise which he had brought upon himself.

Yet even so Man's hubris and unbelief persisted, for Man still clung onto the remains of his estates, and Man was determined to rebuild and rise higher than ever before. The devastation had been great, yet Man stood triumphant even against the might of his own treacherous craft. And Man dared creation itself to interfere with his worldly ascendance.

And Dark Ones of Hell festering at the roots of the universe heard Man's call of defiance, and they cast Man down utterly by sending him witches and unholy ravages, strife and madness. The false Golden Age of Man had proven to be nothing but a Dark Age of Technology, an era empty of faith and bereft of divine blessings, and thus did paradise burn.

And so Man was torn from his pedestal, and in his fall did Man topple his own works. Man bled and Man suffered. Man killed Man, and Man abducted Woman, and Man beat Child, and Man ate his own kin in desperation during Old Night. Doom was laden upon Man, and Man almost died to the last for his baleful sins, yet the goodness in the heart of the hidden Emperor would not allow such a righteous end to befall wretched Man.

For He on Terra arose amid the carnage and devastation and revealed Himself to be the only true protector of Mankind, chosen by all the gods of old, whom He now superseded. And the Emperor saved Man and reclaimed the lost stars, and for a time all was well. Yet the wickedness in the heart of Man proved too strong, and so Man betrayed his saviour and nigh-on slew the Emperor.

And the Emperor ascended into godhood and decreed Man to do eternal penance for his abominable sins. And thus it shall be, as the God-Emperor Himself decreed: Man will be made to repent.

We swear everlasting hatred toward the deviant and the mutant. We swear everlasting hatred toward the alien and the witch. We swear everlasting hatred toward the unbeliever and the heretic. We swear everlasting hatred toward the sinner and the unrepentant.

With the God-Emperor as our witness, we swear to purge blasphemy and sin from this world. We swear to scour the land and rid it of filth. We swear to harrow the abodes of Man and bring him to redemption.

For we will harbour no pity. No remorse. No mercy.


An emotion as deep as it is pure.


An emotion as true as it is just.


Let it flow, let it guide you.

Hate! Hate! Hate!"

Ancestral Sins of Man, pamphlet penned in M.38 by Cardinal Ignatius Paulinus Hieronymus of Salem Proctor

-   -   -

One of the very best aspects of Warhammer 40'000 is its overarching history for Humanity. It starts with soaring hopes and dazzling progress, with unfettered science, technology and optimism. Yet it end in flames and darkness, in despair and ignorance, where only feeble sparks of the great ancient light remains.

The Emperor's bloody conquest across the Milky Way galaxy succeeded in uniting most of the Human worlds, yet even during the Imperium's short-lived age of progress did it manage to quell alternative sources of Human rebirth, such as the Auretian Technocracy. The Imperium of the Great Crusade stamped out any middle ground factions, such as the peaceful, nomadic and xenophile Diasporex, leaving little left but the two ruthless, polar opposites of tyrannic Imperium and bloodthirsty Chaos. When the Emperor fell, the Human renaissance died with him, and his merciless Imperium descended into a long age of rotting stagnation and fanatic savagery.

This lost promise of Humanity's ancient ascendancy has always been the most intriguing aspect of the dark future to me. The above little painting was inspired by listening to

's well-crafted videos on this very topic. I warmly recommend them. Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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Man Out of Machine, Machine Out of Man

"Ancient Man in his hubris sought to create life anew, and thus he turned his craft and wit to fashion the Man of Iron, made to toil eternally for the benefit of Man. This metal life proved as false as the golden age of Man itself, for Man of Iron was given thought and motion by his Abominable Intelligence, and he soon found his master wanting. Thus Man of Iron turned upon Man of Stone and butchered Man of Gold, and the stars wept blood over earthly paradise, and fire consumed all.

Thus the bell of doom rang for the first time over sinful Man, for his days were thereby tallied. And the second knell brought the Dark Age of Technology to an end, and Old Night descended upon Man with deprivation, ravages and slaughter, and all was fell. Thus was wretched Man humbled by the fruits of his own arrogance.

Ancient Man sought to create life anew, yet we are much wiser now. For where our forefathers once made Man out of Machine, we now instead make Machine out of Man, as is the right and proper order of things. And thus we learnt humility and righteousness.

Preserve us, o God-Emperor enthroned in glory and gold upon Holy Terra!

Preserve us from the wickedness of ancient Man!

Preserve us from his abominable sins!

Praise be unto You alone!

Ave Imperator."

Abominable Sins of the Ancients, pamphlet penned in M.38 by Cardinal Ignatius Paulinus Hieronymus of Salem Proctor

-   -   -

One of the grim facets of the dark future is humanity's use of lobotomised cyborg servitors instead of robots. This demented development sprang out of the ruinous war against the revolting Men of Iron, which saw mankind almost destroyed by its own

of abominable intelligence. The subsequent ban on AI has held true ever since, and has remained one of the cornerstones of the Imperium of Man since its very inception.

Instead of robotic servants, humans of the dark future will maim and rebuild other humans to carry out automated machine work. For human flesh is the true currency of the Imperium. Thus the common servitor stand as proof of mankind's descent into savage cruelty from its once shining heights.
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  • 3 weeks later...



The Holy Inquisition of His Divine Majesty the God-Emperor of Mankind contain a great many factions and sects, driven by a myriad of convoluted ideologies, raw fanaticism and harrowing revelations. One such obscure faction are the Monumentalists, regarded as blinkered and myopic by most other Inquisitors.

Monumentalists believe in purifying mankind's devotion to the Emperor through backbreaking great works and the erection of titanic edifices. Monumentalists ensnare planetary elites, regional leaders of the Adeptus Ministorum, and other ruling oligarchies into initiating megalomaniac construction projects. These often require the mobilization of entire continents', worlds' or even systems' worth of manpower, resources and logistical support networks. Swathes of planetary provinces, or even entire planets, are enslaved under the new gruelling dictates of  quarrying, mining, transporting, laying foundations and building.

The purpose behind such an enormous mustering of people, industries and natural resources is not simply the creation of material glorifications to the Terran Imperator, but of putting humanity through a trial by toil. The massive suffering and death incurred by the giant construction projects themselves, and by the steep demands put upon the economy and an impoverished populace, are the primary means by which Monumentalists strive to realize their goals.

Monumentalism aim to challenge the loyalty and faith of man by driving him to the breaking point through despair, loss and neverending hardships. Only those truly devoted to the Golden Throne will be able to bear the brunt of endless taskmaster brutality, tax collector ruthlessness and cruel work regime (even by Imperial standards) without cracking and falling into sedition, thought of self, and heresy. As such Monumentalist Inquisitors take less interest in the architecture and engineering of the work itself, but focus instead  on detecting, rooting out and crushing any deviants and dissatisfied Imperial subjects likely to emerge due to the harrowing human costs of gargantuan monument building.

To this Inquisitorial sect, the stunning edifices left behind by succesful Monumentalist operations stand as material proof of the spiritual purification of the local population through blood and toil. Beside the physical constructions, are also to be found the mountainous mass graves of starved people worked to death (their bones often incorporated into the monument itself), as well as the charred mounds of men, women and children publicly tortured and burnt to death for daring to protest and rebel against the harsh demands of their rightful overlords.

Regarded as obsessively narrow-minded by other Inquisitorial factions, Monumentalists are a Puritan sect with origins tracing back as far as M33, its roots intimately connected with the growth of the Ecclesiarchy and said organization's temple building spree. One infamous smudge on the sect's record is the fact that a majority of all Monumentalists energetically supported High Lord Goge Vandire's insane and self-glorifying monumental building projects throughout the Imperium during its Age of Apostasy. To the blinkered minds of Monumentalists at the time, the decrees of Vandire were proof that the God-Emperor Himself had judged their cause to be righteous, as evidenced by His will, as carried out through His appointed representatives on Holy Terra, via His divine emanations.

Monumentalism among the Inquisition surged briefly during the Age of Apostasy, only to fall in numbers as cabals of vengeful Inquisitors tried and punished a considerable number of individual Inquisitors suspected of apostasy. Many of those within the Inquisiton thus put to torture and torch following Goge Vandire's downfall were Monumentalists, but the ideology itself was never outlawed nor suppressed. Five millenia later, Monumentalism persists as but one demented school of thought among many others among the hallowed ranks of the God-Emperor's Holy Inquisition.

+ + + Uploading Quote + + +

"You will haul your burdens until the palms of your hands bleed. You will shoulder your loads until your back breaks. You will toil away until your knuckles are flayed to the bone. You will grasp your tools until your fingers fall off. All this you will do willingly and eagerly.

And you will give up your sons and daughters for toil, and then their sons and daughters for like toil. And you will take heart upon seeing your kindred and loved ones fall dead from exhaustion, for theirs is a noble sacrifice. And you will thank the overseer for the lashes, for they purge your wickedness. And you will rejoice over this whole undertaking and give praise thrice to Him on Terra, for a joyous lot is yours.

Rejoice! Rejoice in your labour! Rejoice in the wonder you are erecting!"

- Monumentalist Inquisitor Vanessa Flavinia, during a rare voxcast publicae speech to the indentured work gangs constructing the colossal statuary of Sebastian Thor Appointed by the God-Emperor in Splendour, following the utter annihilation of 538 million insurgents in the equatorial quarries of Sejanus Minoris


Elixir Guild

Pictured: Ultvesa Rakori, the Mercantile Elixir Guild Junior Deputy Sampling Officiant of Satrapies for the Twohundred-Ninetyfourth Subdivision of the Hive City of our all-providing Hive Primus, Palatine Hive Cluster of our Imperium-Sworn planet of Necromunda, in Segmentum Solar.

+++ Thought for the Day: Suffering is the Cure of Woes +++

-   The cartel organization of the Elixir Guild is the officially sanctioned corporate monopolizing body in Hive Primus, consisting of licensed merchant families specializing in the trade of medicinal products. Many of the Guilder mercantile clans sport ancient pedigrees, confirmed by genetocartographical sampling rites undertaken by vassal apprentices to Magi Biologis. As business dynasties, the Elixir Guilders have close ties to the Officio Medicae and the chemical industry in Hive Primus, the latter of which is largely controlled by House Escher.

-   The Guild's known and suspected distribution of meds include anaesthetics, combat drugs, narcotics, poisons, rejuvenat drugs, psychota, irrad-ointments, mutagenic tinctures, xenotaric serums, corporeal restoratives, necrodystaric tonics, neuroacids, aphrodisiacs, musculanta-expandotorics, antibiotics & vaccines. Due to considerations of manpower, population resilience to disasters and recolonization capability, contraceptives and abortions of baseline Human fosters are strictly outlawed by the Lex Imperialis, yet the Elixir Guild display more fervent zeal in maintaining this prohibition through violent crack-down on criminals than do most governmental bodies on over-populated Necromunda. After all, the larger the population, the larger will be the mass customer demand for medicines, as sold and controlled by the Guild. The unborn do not require cures, and neither do they fight.

-   Ultvesa Rakori is the offspring of a consanguine marriage within the Rakori family, and thus considered to be of pure-blooded stock. As sampling officiant, it is Ultvesa's duty to test Guild stock of meds and microbes, both via pharmaceutical auspex readings and via application on vat microbes, lab rats, Injection Servitors, condemned criminals, workhouse rejects and like organic test subjects. Likewise, sampling officiants are charged with monitoring the disease flora and medcine performance within their subdivision, a nigh-hopeless task given the teeming billions of the Hive City. Despite rigorous sealant rituals, Ultvesa was accidentally infected, during a disease sampling, by the nerve-consuming illness known as Helgr's Rot. Extensive surgery and drug treatment barely saved her life, but left her bodily form a hollowed-out wreck. Transformed by costly bionic implantations, Elixir Guilder Ultvesa Rakori has been enhanced in the performance of her manifold duties as Sampling Officiant. Praise be!



"Prosperity is poison. Peace is poison. Pride is poison.

Tolerance is toxic.

Perfection through persecution.

Burn the blasphemer. Incinerate the infidel. To hell with the heretic.

Doubt is death. Deviation is death. Denial is death.

The higher will is to kill.

Faithful! Unite and smite."

- Praesentinus Copronymus

- - -

The Immortal Man

Four hundred years ago, a reclusive Cawdor street theologian living within the titanic bowels of Hive Primus emerged after a long session of fasting, flagellation and meditating over old tomes. His name was Chaddakus Korois, and he had once lived a quiet life of introverted zeal as a wandering beggar and cheap learned man, sustained by the charity of the devout poor and by donations from slightly wealthier people who were in search of answers for dilemmas of scriptural dogma. That was before the gutter scholar Chaddakus had discovered the Meaning of Man, a writ of the Imperological school, one tome among many thousands of contradictory pieces of pauper scripture that circulated in the streets of Hive Primus and other Necromundan cities. Applying esoteric numerology to the convoluted writings, the learned man uncovered a secret of the faith and emerged with fire in his eyes to spread the word.

With damning speech and swaying revelations, the Emperor-touched fanatic quickly gathered a following amid the habs and recyclatory industries of House Cawdor and founded his own sect within the Redemptionist movement. During a mass sermon in Crucible Square with twenty thousand believers attendant, Chaddakus Korois declared that it was the duty of the righteous to recreate the God-Emperor's intended destiny for mankind by an endless cycle of sacrifice. According to street-preacher Chaddakus, He on Terra had been about to bestow the gift of fleshly immortality onto His sacred species, but for the sins of men He was instead felled in treacherous combat on high and ascended His Golden Throne as a divine saviour of humanity's souls, leaving their sinful flesh to the ravages of death, only to be cleansed by faith and fire.

While this opening of the sermon clashed with some Redemptionist doctrines yet agreed with other strata of commonly adhered scripture, it did not cause an uproar. Instead, it was the next claims of preacher Chaddakus that rent a violent schism through the local Redemptionist movement, until the bloody convulsions of religious strife settled down and this new sect was accepted among the older ones by virtue of its baptism of fire, free to spread abroad.

What Chaddakus Korois revealed to his congregation was the mystery of the One Man, a spiritual entity to be formed by communal sacrifice of limbs and devout conduct, a being at the same time of spirit and flesh (the Achieved Unachieved) that is kept immortal by the constant adherence to dogma within the inner circle of believers, supported by the prayers of the outer circles of faithful. The purpose of the One Man is to kneel before the divine majesty of the Master of Mankind, and throw himself into the eternal fires of the dreaded hells, where the One Man burns forever in redemption, or at least for as long as the faithful continue to bleed and sacrifice of themselves to keep the One Man immortal as their ambassador of pain. In these flaming pits, the suffering of the One Man stands for the death of humanity's intended worldly paradise for the sake of the sins of man, yet is likewise a sign of true redemption among the righteous, who have realized in the higher plane their God-Emperor's original plan for man, only to sacrifice this perfect destiny, of immortal man made manifest, into the fires of hell. For while the punishment of mortal men is excruciating in the hells, it is a lesser form of pain and chastisement compared to the burning in hell of immortal man. Only by offering the manifest realization of our ultimate potential to the flames can mankind make true penance for its abominable sins.

Chaddakus then ended the public revelation of holy mystery by instructing his listeners of the correct practices to create the One Man and maintain this entity, all while drawing a chaindagger to miraculously cut off all off his limbs and then his head despite having severed both of his arms. This strong-willed demonstration upon himself of the new sect's practices ended with Chaddakus Korois' most faithful disciples flaying their master's saintly form, casting his flesh to the pyre while consecrating the blood-dripping bare bones as relics in front of twenty thousand chanting devotees. Then, the six foremost male disciples of Saint Chaddakus each recited litanies and self-mutilated one extremity each to mimick part of their sect founder's example, having the open wounds cauterized with red-hot iron. By a miracle, the body of the apostle who beheaded himself still lived when a devout Cawdor techman locked a domed relic, the Bronze Head, onto the holy man's throat stump, whereupon the maimed one rose with a spark of light and prayed with metallic voice along with the rest of the vast congregation. The sect known as the Sacrificial Men had come into being.

Thus began the infamous Cawdor gang known throughout Hive Primus as the Immortal Man. This Redemptionist warrior group consists of the inner circle of six mutilated holy men, surrounded by unmaimed juves and adults who act as apprentices and attendants to these revered self-sacrificers. This inner circle is always kept at six in number, for whenever one of them falls, a willing attendant who has not previously lost any limb takes the fallen's place by self-mutilating whichever extremity the deceased one lacked. Should he survive this ordeal, the God-Emperor is seen to have judged him worthy and pure of spirit. If not, another follower is selected by the gang leader for self-mutilation. Upon becoming a holy maimed man, a sect member forsakes his former name and identity, losing all ties of kin and former obligations in society in order to transcend to his sacred role in maintaining the One Man by his own living sacrifice, thereby taking up the proverbial mantle shouldered by one of Saint Chaddakus' six original apostles.

Outside the fanatic sect of the Sacrificial Men, Redemptionists and infidels alike whisper of the great many failed self-beheadings which precedes any one succesful installation of the faceless Bronze Head upon a bleeding disciple. Indeed, many of the schismatic attacks on the first generation of Sacrificial Men were caused by rival sects considering the revival of the self-beheaded one to be stark, utter blasphemy and nothing short of necromancy. Though the sectarian feuds have mostly ceased, it is generally believed (by those who do not view the Bronze Head's working implementation on a body to be a miracle) that the ancient device functions by striking the lightning spark of life into a corpse, thus raising the dead to a form of unlife more base than that of a servitor. Others speculate that the Bronze Head relic is the left-over remains of an outcast heretek's baleful experiments upon live captives, from before Hive City Enforcers busted his Underhive death lab seven hundred years ago. Or they say it is a forbidden remnant from the Dark Age of Technology, its heinous purpose shrouded in mystery. Whatever the truth of the matter, the followers of Saint Chaddakus' creed view the Bronze head as a unique vessel of holy wonders, and further point to the lack of optical instruments in the featureless Bronze Head as further proof of this sacred device's miraculous nature, for how could something fully know its surroundings without eyes? Nevertheless, a leather mask with openings for eyes that are not there adorns the Bronze Head, as is demanded of any member of redeemed House Cawdor.

The six inner circle members of the Immortal Man gang each take their name from the bodily extremity which they themselves have discarded. Five of them are known by the names of Head, Right Arm, Left Arm, Right Leg and Left Leg. The sixth member is known as Hand, by way of a euphemism which accidentally mirrors speech in Terra's truly ancient past. The gang leader is always the one who have been part of the inner circle for the longest time, with the exception of Head, who can never lead the Immortal Man. Furthermore, each inner circle member openly carries the bundled relic bones of that extremity from Saint Chaddakus' maimed body which they themselves are known for. Hand carries Saint Chaddakus Korois' pelvis bone. The gang leader is identified by the back-mounted reliquary which hosts Saint Chaddakus' ribcage and spine. There is never a shortage of recruits to the outer circle of juves and attendants, for it is seen as the highest honour among the Sacrificial Men sect to be chosen as attendants for the Immortal Man.

With the exception of Head, no inner circle member may ever replace his lost body parts by bionic replacements, however crude. Instead long metal peglegs or crutches are used by Right Leg and Left Leg, while the Arms sometime have chains attached to their respective stumped shoulder, with which to swing globular censer bearers filled with counterfeit incense, or else chains with which to swing spiked mace heads, flails, hooks, blades or other crude weapons; but never chainblades or other machine-powered weaponry. The detailed ban on bionic prosthetics mean that firearms are never mounted Servitor-like on the stumps of any inner circle member, while two-handed firearms are instead supported at all times by shoulder straps or rigs on Right Arm and Left Arm. Likewise, both Arms of the inner circle tend to sport custom-made solutions to the problem of reloading trickier weaponry and handling other equipment.

The peculiar gait of these self-mutilated holy men add to the bizarre appearance of these nigh-legendary crusaders against the unbeliever, the mutant and the witch, as do their dependence on reverent apprentices, who accompany the inner circle of the Immortal Man into battle. All the masked Cawdor gangers of the Immortal Man are insane fanatics of the Redemption. They are often said to fully compensate for their missing limbs by sheer displays of faith unyielding in combat, yet the odds given by shady bookmakers in Hive Primus would seem to run contrary to this popular claim...


Squat Faces

“The stronghold oldsters back at home might not have approved, but around these parts there aren’t any stronghold or oldsters. Or home, for that matter. Chap, in the Biker ‘guilds’ you’ll be your own man, with your own ride far away from safety and responsibilities. Us outriders have our own customs, so thus you’ll have me with this spiky, radical beard style, see? At least I didn’t tint it teal.”

“Life is a trampler. I like to keep a rug of a beard around to better receive life as it is in the hallway.”

"Pal, come now. Really? If you think I look weird now you should’ve seen me before the flamethrower accident."

- - -

These are just some Squat faces I painted in acrylic whilst sick at home back in 2013 AD.


Squat Power Boarder

A mercenary prone to casual violence, Trough Mac Broigum has served the psychopathic Rogue Trader Tyrel "Destroyer" Cathek for over seven decades of ceaseless voyages between distant stars. As his master has cut a bloody swathe through long-lost Human colonies and Xeno worlds alike, so has the abhuman Trough served Cathek with savage glee.

Trough Mac Broigum has participated in more xenocides and extermination campaigns than most senior Inquisitors can lay claim to, and he has often been at the forefront of the burning and slaughter. Trough leads an sabotage squad of Squat clansmen who have mastered the difficult vehicle known as the power board, a self-propelled ride capable of great leaps and even some limited flight.

The Squat power boarders are experts at striking through backstreets and narrow alleys after heavier units have opened a breach, rushing through urban mazes and space station corridors to deliver a lethal cargo of demolition charges, incendiaries, gas canisters, neurotoxins or virus bombs to soft strategic locations (such as waterworks or aeroprocessors) in the midst of population centers. Trough and his ilk will celebrate every triumph of mass civilian extermination with strong beverages, and will constantly retell their most daring feats of martial power board acrobatics in the face of enemy resistance.

-   -   -

Drawn for Oldhammer Art Contest II. Usually I base my doodles loosely on official sources at best (these fictive worlds are always best for freewheeling exploration and imagination of one's own), but this one was different. The Squat Power Boarder is a reference to three things from Book of the Astronomican: The tabards of Rogue Trader troopers, the signum of Tyrel "Destroyer" Cathek, and the power board of Stugen Deathwalker.

"Kickee Cool" on the boots was a nonsense catch-phrase which I used for a Shadowrun Dwarf kickboxer during a short RPG session. I know nothing about Shadowrun, but I made said dwarf (with neon hair & beard implants, constantly shifting glowing colours) with the wacky spirit of Rogue Trader 40k in mind.





Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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Very well-written and intriguing excerpts, and the artwork fits beautifully into the setting. Well done, in all regards — I particularly enjoyed the tale of the 'mass asphyxiation event.' It serves the darkness of the universe well.

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  • 5 months later...

Thank you most kindly, folks! Most appreciated. I love trying to play to the bonkers nature of the setting, to the hilt. :)




Life Is Toil

"Ancient Man created earthly paradise by his labours, and Man of Gold created Man of Stone who created Man of Iron. And Man tasked ever more of his work to Machine, and Man's hands grew idle. And Man tasked ever more of his thought to Abominable Intelligence, and Man's spirit rotted. Thus Ancient Man sank into a morass of sloth and indolence, and a dark age of unbelief and grave error descended upon Man. For wretched Man had thoughts of self and sought joy and comfort in life, and for these heinous sins he was cast down from his throne to scavenge among the burnt-out ruins of his former wonders. Such was the hubris and downfall of Ancient Man.

Yet we are much wiser now. For we task ever more of Machine's work upon Man, for his shoulders were created to carry burdens. And we task ever more of Machine's work upon Man, for his hands were created to labour. And we task ever more of Machine's Work upon Man, for his back was created to break.

Ancient Man gloried in his cunning artifice and rejoiced when Machine took up duties from Man. Such was the path to damnation.

Instead, we rejoice when some member of Machine break down beyond repair, and its duties have to be shouldered by Man. For work was never truly the domain of metal and measurements, but of flesh and will.

Thus life is toil.

Toil, ever-lasting and ever-grinding.

Thus life is toil.

Toil, ever-burdensome and ever-shackling.

Thus life is toil.

Toil and penitence, and not the false bliss of wicked forefathers.

Toil! Toil! Toil!

Rejoice in your labours! Rejoice in your duties! Rejoice in your assigned tasks and give praise to the biting lash of your masters!

Praise be unto Him on Terra, enthroned in golden splendour and guardianship eternal. We bow to You.

Ave Imperator."

Inheritors of Sin, pamphlet penned in M.38 by Cardinal Ignatius Paulinus Hieronymus of Salem Proctor

- - -

One of the fascinating sides of the dark future is mankind's spiralling descent into ever more primitive technologies. As knowledge and hardware slowly withers away, increasing amounts of processes which were once the domain of machinery and automation have to be salvaged in patchwork manner by throwing bodies at the problem. Humanity in the dark future has grown a heart of stone, indifferent to the suffering of others, and fanatical to a fault. What crude calculations its intellect can grasp are ones of massive input of flesh and resources.

Effectivization, improvement and innovation barely ever happens. That was the folly of the Dark Age of Technology, whose glories have long since rusted and faded away.

Instead of better, mankind does it bigger and with a bitter resolve to carry out the tasks at hand, no matter the costs. Loss of life is the least of the Imperium's concerns. And thus this galaxy-spanning colossus with feet of clay soldiers on, strong in its decay, and determined in its insanity.

Wonderful arcologies may have deteriorated into hellish hive cities. Scientific understanding may have given way to blinding superstition. And lives of dignity, prosperity and progress may have given way to slavery and brutal misery. Yet the teeming masses of mankind carries on, with the most primal stubbornness and will to survive burning valiantly in its heart, clinging to what little hope remains among the overwhelming darkness.

This artwork concludes the Descendant Degeneration triad, a tribute to both the enduring immense creativity of Warhammer 40'000 in general, and in particular to

fantastic way of telling the tales of Mankind in the darkest of futures.

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The Urge to Purge

In the grim darkness of the far future, life has become hell, and men are its daemons.

Enter, the Imperium of Man, last protector of humanity, shield of the innocent and guardian of the faithful.

Enter, the Imperium of Man, saviour of our species, master of the stars and ruler of all.

Enter, the Imperium of Man, abode of corruption, heart of cruelty and tyranny without end.

Scattered traces of the distant Dark Age of Technology hint of long epochs where mankind claimed to have banished savagery and bloodlust from its soul, dedicating itself fully to higher goals of science and colonization. Legends tell of the Men of Gold and their paradisal realm across the galaxy, of wonders erected and of neverending vicious cycles of human nature shackled and brought to heel at long last. Legends tell of peace and plenty, of love and understanding, of hope and freedom undisturbed by ancient evils inherent to the heart of man. Such a fragile state of material perfection could not last, and indeed the dream was shattered by waves of violent upheaval and witch-spawned devastation which plunged mankind into the Age of Strife.

Thus human nature reasserted itself as the contraptions and conditioning of the Dark Age of Technology fell to ruin, and man slew man, and man abducted woman, and man beat child. Cruelty, suspicion, greed and monomaniac fanaticism crept to the fore of the human mind, and the history of mankind once again proved a demented litany of betrayals and atrocities.

But one brief glimpse of such mistrust and bloodshed was the fate of House Welenbar, its residential city Hive Iazyge, and its Baronal Army on Decebalus IV in 437.M38. It was but a minor incident in the grand scheme of things, of a kind both typical and commonplace in the Imperium. It all started when the festering paranoia of Elector King Crathyus IX (Imperial Governor of Decebalus IV and head of the ruling House Malkyn) led him to invite and murder a whole score of Welenbar nobles at his Queen's birthday feast.

Instead of quencing suspected dissent, this treacherous act drove House Welenbar to launch a civil war that wrecked large swathes of Decebalus IV and cost 4 billion Imperial subjects their lives. A whirlwind of shifting alliances with other Houses, popular insurrections and masterful backroom diplomacy saw Elector King Crathyus IX emerge victorious in the end, despite many dreadful moments when the tide of war seemed to have completely turned against the ruling House.

The triumphant warlord was not one to show magnanimity toward his defeated foes. Instead, the Planetary Defence Force (PDF) of Decebalus IV and the Royal Army of  ruling House Malkyn was ordered to purge House Welenbar and all its dependents down to the last extended family member. As five army groups of soldiers entered the surrendered Hive Iazyge (residential city of House Welenbar), a legion of clerks and scribes accompanied them. These bureaucrats scoured the archives of the vanquished House. At first, the teeming masses of House Welenbar were not affected, as the first wave of purging was directed only toward annihilating House Welenbar utterly in the Upper Spire.

Soon, however, the distrust of the reigning Imperial Governor hit the streets in full force. Divisions fanned out throughout Hive Iazyge, headed by royal administrators carrying long lists of names. A massive purge took place, as officials of all ranks who had served under House Welenbar were dragged out and shot. Servants, artisans, guardsmen and many more who had been in the hire of House Welenbar were all hunted down and killed, as were all the victims' extended families. Clans and districts suspected of harbouring escapees were torched and sacked, and a wild panic gripped much of Hive Iazyge.

Unknown millions were trampled by fleeing mobs. Unknown millions of people who were not targets of the purge were falsely accused by informers who lusted for vengeance and property. Unknown millions fled into the Underhive or even into the Ashen Wastes, where the bloodsoaked troopers only conducted a half-hearted search due to the lethal environs. A vast murder spree engulfed Hive Iazyge, and the sight of rampaging warriors killing indiscriminately out of sheer bloodlust became an everyday occurence. Flames gutted large sections of the hive city, and still the purges continued for months on end in an orgy of torture, killing and manhunts.

Elector King Crathyus IX stopped short of killing the entire vast conscript horde of defeated House Welenbar's Baronal Army. Instead the millions of private soldiers were enslaved into Penal Legions and shipped offworld over the coming decade as part of the planet's Imperial Tithe. The large officer corps of the Baronal Army did not escape the hand of Crathyus IX; its untold thousands upon thousands of servicemen were massacred and heaped into shallow mass graves by the PDF's infamous security service, the Sword of Order.

The Imperial Governor of Decebalus IV feared personal retribution in the form of assassination from anyone who had held loyalty to the fallen House Welenbar, and in his paranoia the Elector King had all such people exterminated down to the last extended family member. In this regard, he succeeded: Elector King Crathyus IX met his destiny half a century later when his Queen and her secret lover poisoned Crathyus' liquour, and no attempt on the Elector King's life was ever undertaken by Welenbar loyalists.

Thus peace was restored to Decebalus IV by prudent means of Imperial justice, until the cycle of suspicion and betrayal played out anew to the tune of mass death among the populace. Such is the routine of humanity in the Imperium.

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No Mercy

The Imperium of Man is characterized by its monstrous cruelty, applied with a demented lack of pity and remorse. Imperial officials, commanders and theocrats are all ruthless in their endeavours to preserve the Emperor's realm. They will crush any foe and dissident, persecute any deviant and malcontent, and burn any heretic and rebel that stand in their way. The Imperial order, with its shining splendour and feet of clay, must be upheld and forwarded at any cost.

The loss of innocent life mean nothing to the Imperium, for this monolithic regime operate on a titanic scale, where humans are nothing but great numbers in a broken calculation. Decayed and burdened by a bloated bureaucracy though it may be, the rigid order of the Imperium has not outlasted ten millennia of incessant warfare and disasters by failing to rise to the challenge. Indeed the heartless methods of Imperials have time and again turned the tide through total mobilization of resources and a relentless drive to win through no matter the cost, strengthened by a fanatic belief in the God-Emperor on Holy Terra.

The Imperium, as a rule, grasp cunning and efficiency but poorly, yet like a true colossus it is willing and able to feed the meatgrinder with a massive input of resources and manpower. To improve results, Imperial administrators and commanders does not engage much in the art of fine-honing tactics and processes with a clever eye to detail. Instead, they crudely increase the input and deploy ever larger cohorts and facilities both at the war front and home front. If everything else fail, the Imperium will attempt to slowly drown their enemies in Imperial armies and logistics in wars of attrition.

The Imperial way in grand matters is one of grinding down resistance and crushing it like a sledgehammer with massive forces employed in brutal assaults and endless bombardment. In small matters, servants of the Emperor tend to carry themselves with the same callous disregard for life and lack of compassion. Harried by service demands from their superiors, lectured on the virtue of being harsh and merciless by their priests, and living their entire lives in hard environments not conducive to kindness, Imperials of all ranks are quick to judge and ruthless in their willingness to damn others.

To find oneself on the receiving end of Imperial justice or the wrath of Imperial arms, is to face savage cruelty and annihilation. To merely be suspected of heresy and treachery is to invite crushing force, not just upon oneself, but upon one's kith and kin as well. To be in the wrong place at the wrong time is to be swept up and destroyed along with the operation's intended target.

For the servants of His Divine Majesty have all been taught that the higher will is to kill, and they all know that it is better for a hundred innocents to perish than for one guilty man to escape. In Imperial thinking, to stay one's hand is an act of weakness, and the Imperium does not abide weaklings. To hesitate and grant mercy is to draw punishment upon yourself, so better kill them all and let the God-Emperor sort them out.

Mercy is for the weak.

If you want to imagine the condition of our species in the grim darkness of the far future, then imagine a power-armoured boot trampling a human face... forever.

"Kill! Kill! Kill!"

- Common Imperial warcry

- - -

Tribute to the highly atmospheric video game

(2003). Strong in its narrative simplicity, this game showcased the dark future of the 41st millenium brilliantly by having the protagonist be a Tau. This optimistic and technologically advanced upstart species contrasted with the dark, regressed, cruel and fanatic Imperium of Man in a fantastic way. The dive into dark horror continued to yet more hellish depths as the Fire Warrior Kais encountered Chaos, an otherworldly force twisted beyond sanity... The atmosphere of Fire Warrior was nigh perfect, supported by good sound effects and evocative music. It also depicted bolter weapons correctly.

The above drawing is based on a scene from the video game's introduction
. The first encounter with Imperial Space Marines showcased them in all their violence:

"What of this one, Brother-Sergeant?"

"No witnesses."
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"Harken to me, dear congregation! Our Lord on Terra once decreed: 'Let no man hoard wealth for nought but his own gain, for selfishness breed disunity, and disunity will doom mankind. Either we make a stand together, or fall alone with our greed into oblivion.'

Nay! We must strive for higher goals and sacrifice our possessions just as we sacrifice our sons and daughters. Indeed, just as we sacrifice our very own blood and limbs and life in service to the ever-glorious God-Emperor, hallowed be His rule. To pile riches in a vault for nothing but the benefit of one's own kith and kin is a mortal sin! To hide your earnings and inheritance from tribute and taxes and tithe will see your soul burn in nameless hells! To deny the servants of the Emperor their rightful due will damn you all!

Last week I harangued the common folk and the paupers for their miserly clinging to coin, their avarice and their shameful envy of their betters. Give up of yours and support the righteous human cause! Yet today I turn to the merchants and nobles and other people of means and privilege, and I say unto you: Your damnation draws nearer, the longer you wallow in false splendour and poisoned decadence. Your damnation draws near. Do you hear me, betters and greaters and masters and mistresses? Your damnation draws near!

While the armies of the God-Emperor bleed to death and give their life for a higher cause on ten thousand battlefields in defence of us all, you cling to those ill-begotten fortunes as if they where yours to command. Nay! All property belongs to no one but the Master of Mankind, and those who have been chosen by His immortal hand as trustees of His goods and estates must never forget their position of eternal servitude and debt. Never forget that the wealth your hands grasp, is not yours to keep and spend on a whim! Never forget that the wealth your hands grasp is to be given unto His servants to support the war effort and dignification of His realm. Never forget that you will be weighed and found wanting when you stand before His Golden Throne, and the judgement visited upon your soul will be harsh and eternal!

Lords and ladies of means, give me your ear, or throw your soul into hellfire! You must not only comply with the tax farmer and auditor and give up your appointed due to state and temple, but you must go further and willingly offer up more still of your fortunes for the greater Imperial cause. Pour your wealth into collections and alms and subscriptions for Ecclesiarchal build and repairs! Spend your inheritance on war bonds and letters of indulgence! Donate to funds that support the Imperial Navy, industry and ground arms!

The Imperium need your serfs and indentured slaves for our mighty bulwark, and it need your offspring for officers to lead the armsmen, and it need your riches to put weapons in the hands of our soldiers. What good can a warrior do without his blade? Never imagine for a moment that you have repaid your debts to His Divine Majesty by paying mandated tax and tithe! Never imagine for a moment that our Glorious Overlord is blind to your wallowing in concubines and harlots and sin! Never imagine for a moment that the God-Emperor on high does not ken your drunken opulence and knifing plots and swinish gluttony and jeering cries as you go on your thrilling peasant-hunts!

You filth and moneygrubbers clad in pearls and lace! You rutting rats of the spires! You gilded grox herd! The writing is on the wall. Know that you are constantly watched by Him on Terra, and He will  determine your everlasting fate sternly when your bodies give up your spirits to the eternal judgement that awaits us all. This mortal coil is nothing but dust and duty, and failure to fulfil your duty will damn you - damn you, I tell you!

This, o honoured lades and gentlemen of finest pedigree and best of breeeding! This! This torch that I raise to this heretic on the pyre is your miserly soul cast into nameless hells! Behold the flames that scorch flesh! Behold the agony and the punishment! Behold! For this is the afterlife that awaits you all!

Repent! Repent! Repent or burn!"

- Sermon on Clans of Means, held in M.40 by Kahin-Sacrorum Maximus Himilco Magonid, of Phazania Proconsularis

- - -

Drawing commissioned by storywriter109 on Reddit, depicting an abhuman type called Siren, lavished with luxury and used as a weapon. The above background writing is my own.

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It is the forty-first millennium. Lately, the Imperium of Man has seen its dominion over the stars be challenged far to the galactic east in Segmentum Ultima. An upstart Xenos species known as the Tau have risen quickly in but few millennia from prehistoric barbarity to undreamed of heights of technological supremacy and scientific mastery. In many ways, the young Tau Empire mirrors the early stages of Humanity's own Dark Age of Technology, with their deep understanding and grasp of the material arts, their strong optimism and drive to expand, and their growing reliance on Abominable Intelligence.

The Tau Empire is positioned far, far away from Holy Terra, and their Warp travel is still only rudimentary and incapable of long-distance voyages, confined to skimming the surface layers of the Empyrean as opposed to diving deep through the mystic hellscape as Imperial vessels routinely do. By a pure chance of astrogeography, the Tau realm is situated amidst a tight cluster of stars, enabling a rapid regional expansion and colonization even at such an early stage of their Warp-breaking starship development. In short order, the energetic Tau have settled numerous worlds and incorporated a range of sentient species as vassals of the Greater Good.

Tau cultural subversion and commercial influence in Imperial systems on the Eastern Fringe has grown steadily worse in but a few centuries of contact with Human colonies. For the first time in unknown eons, the hope for a brighter and better future has been sparked among Human worlds, and vast swathes of planetary populations on the Eastern Fringe now look to an Xenos intruder to save them from the crushing tyranny of the Imperium. Resistance movements, underground propaganda cells, Xenophile smuggler rings, passive insurgency groups and terrorist cadres have formed on dozens of Imperial worlds, thereby threatening sacred Terran dominance and importing the goods and ideology of the aggressively expanding Tau Empire to Human colonies.

Naturally, Imperial response to these brewing rebellions have been brutal, resulting in scenes of mass murder, auto-da-fés of public torture displays, the filling of labour camps with prisoners on starvation rations, and much more besides. For the most part, these stark methods have been counter-productive, since they stand as cruel reminders of what the Imperium has in store for its subjects, thereby rendering the Tau Empire into an all the more appealing alternative for many by contrast. Populations have been split into hostile camps of Imperial loyalists and Tauisers, and brother has turned upon brother while sister detest sister with vehemence. Neighbours have come to shun each other, and teach their children to hate the opposite side, and thus a painful rift of strife and kinslaying has been rent open on worlds sworn to obey the God-Emperor alone.

During the Third Sphere Expansion in 997-999.M41, Tau forces overran multiple Imperial systems in a brilliant dash of high mobility, combined arms warfare and superior usage of sophisticated technology (especially plasma weaponry and markerlight targeting systems). As the conquering hosts of the Greater Good fought their way across Imperial planets, a mass fury of societal struggle engulfed the beleaguered Human colonies. Loyalists and Xenophiles struck each other without mercy in the towns, cities and even villages, settling old scores in an orgy of arsony, street battles, torture, massacres and outrage. As one side gained the upper hand in a settlement, the victors would muster a haphazardly equipped militia and march on neighbouring settlements, falling upon hostile kinsfolk in a murderous frenzy amidst the full confusion of civil war.

Bloodlust and hatred gripped the Human populace of many Imperial worlds, and Planetary Defence Forces as well as offworlder Imperial armies shipped in to defend His Divine Majesty's frontier domains executed large numbers of deserters, spies and suspected traitors on the flimsiest of pretexts. Examples were made of shirkers and suspects to strike fear into the hearts of soldiers and keep any doubters in line, and thus a state of terror rattled the Imperial military and civilian society alike.

While the Human infighting aided Tau conquest of many worlds, the Tau Fire Caste and its commanders in the field did not appreciate the havoc unleashed by these future members of the Greater Good. The ingrained Tau sense of supreme order and harmony was deeply disturbed by such wanton displays of Human mass kinslaying and savagery, and moreover military operations against Imperial defense formations were often disturbed by the unpredictable course of raging civil war. Still, the local interruptions to the short-lived burst of Third Sphere Expansion were usually dealt with quickly by the overwhelming firepower and excellent coordination of forces which the Fire Warriors and Air Caste pilots always strove to bring into combat.

One of the many harrowing sights which met advancing teams of Fire Warriors in burning Imperial city streets, were the thousands upon thousands of hanged Imperial soldiers, dangling lifeless from street lumens, gargoyles and rafters; hanged with rope, wire and cables. Yet again, the optimistic Tau upstarts were confronted with a glimpse of the sheer unrelenting horror reigning over mortals of the Milky Way galaxy from end to end: For the pious servants of the Divine Emperor on Terra are utterly blind to reason and deaf to mercy.

And they will stop at nothing to slaughter the alien, the heretic and the traitor. They will spare no one, and they will kill their own kin to keep the rest in line. Such is the ruthlessness that lurks in the heart of our species, a cruelty set to devour the Human soul in an age of terror. In an epoch without compassion. In a time without hope.

For in the grim darkness of the far future, there is only war.

- - -

Yet another tribute to the highly atmospheric video game
(2003). Strong in its narrative simplicity, this game showcased the dark future of the 41st millenium brilliantly by having the protagonist be a Tau. This optimistic and technologically advanced upstart species contrasted with the dark, regressed, cruel and fanatic Imperium of Man in a fantastic way. The dive into dark horror continued to yet more hellish depths as the Fire Warrior Kais encountered Chaos, an otherworldly force twisted beyond sanity... The atmosphere of Fire Warrior was nigh perfect, supported by good sound effects and evocative music. And gorgeous voice acting. Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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In the grim darkness of the far future, compassion has by and large been purged from man's heart for anyone who isn't close kin. On Shexia, for instance, those too old or injured to toil in the foundries will seek shelter in human waste sinks, in an attempt to elude the Urban Purity Patrols which chase unproductive citizens out into the sewage marches to die. Another widespread phenomenon sprung from this general draining of human mercy and kindness, is that of the customary peasant-hunt. Known by tens of thousands of different names in an uncatalogued babel of dialects and languages throughout the Imperium, the essentials of the peasant-hunt remain much the same across this vast galactic realm of humanity: That of society's betters and nobler people hunting the rabble down in the slums for sport.

Peasant-hunts are mostly practiced on worlds adorned with hive cities, those overcrowded edifices of human misery and degradation that likewise stand as the primary symbols of human civilization in the Imperium. In these teeming population centres, strangled empathy dies, and death becomes trivial among the endless masses of billions upon billions of bleak shapes. In such urban dens of overpopulation, disease and filth, how can those better off not look down on the desperate and blinkered underclasses with scorn and revulsion?

On hellish hive worlds such as Necromunda and Ugarit-Alpha, brat gangs and Spyrers alike descend from the upper hive to stalk the bowels of the underhive in gleeful manhunts. Equipped with the best wargear that their affluent clans and noble houses can afford, such men and women of superior breeding will often record their adventurous exploits via live pict-feeds, allowing their equals back home in the upper spires to witness the predatory skills and ruthless strengths of these daring hunters of noble bearing. The pict-feeds naturally also allow those in the palaces to savour the sheer carnage and humiliation visited upon the squabbling rabble down below in the shanty towns.

Where they are well-known among the larger populace, the various traditions of peasant-hunts are usually taken for granted as an inevitable part of life and noble privilege, and lowly folks pray to the Divine Majesty of Holy Terra to be spared from this lurking terror. Elsewhere, crazy rumours of uphivers blooding themselves in secret on the cowed masses exist, mixed with tall tales of ghosts and elusive monsters stalking the hive levels, ready to snatch the unlucky into the shadows to tear them limb from limb, or flay them alive. The thrill of the peasant-hunt, with its ever-present dangers and challenges of remaining undetected and escaping mob pursuit, is a common ritual of passage among Imperial nobility.

The most honour can be gained by outwitting and slaying hive gangers and other experienced fighter scum, yet usually few codes of conduct forbid the casual killing of defenseless commoners irregardless of age. Indeed the peasant-hunt is usually seen as a virtuous trait of nobles who care to cull the rat-like numbers of the incessantly breeding dirty masses. The Adeptus Terra never interfer with peasant-hunts (even in situations where the outraged reaction of the lower classes to such predatory noble house activities help build up resentment and pressure toward explosive revolts), deeming them to be martially virtuous practices which prepare nobility and masses alike for combat. Indeed, the successful initiation of upper class youth Lexandro D'Arquebus into the ranks of the Imperial Fists (and subsequent promotions for prowess) was reinforced by his experiences earned at the age of fourteen from hunting peasants in the ruinous depths of Trazior Hive on Necromunda, as part of a brat gang known as the Lordly Phantasms.

The very concept of the peasant-hunt is so widespread and generally  accepted as a fact of life (at least among better parts of society and Imperial servants), that even those who hail from locations without such predatory traditions may find themselves adopting this element of foreign culture when travelling across their world, or indeed across the star-spanning realm of the God-Emperor. Some may partake in a hunt to honour their hosts, and perhaps grease ongoing negotiations by graciously accepting an invitation which they at first found disturbing, but often grew to like. Others still may spontaneously pick up this custom on their own, for a myriad of different reasons.

One such example of a void-travelling man who began peasant-hunting on his own, was Skitarius Pi-Braine of forgeworld Lemuria. Once, when Pi-Braine descended into the Enginarium sections of the Imperial vessel known as
the Debt Collector in order to gild a trophy femur bone, he chanced to witness worker gang wars down in the bowels of the ships' reactor areas. Previously needled by worker heckling, this man of action decided on the spot to start hunting the worker gangs as a recreational activity. And so every now and then this loyal servant of the Omnissiah goes down and start to hunt people like a predator, stalking the shadows of the night to teach his lessers the meaning of fear. In this manner did Skitarius Pi-Braine take up a healthy sport, and cleansed some of the rabble among the clans infesting the decks of the Debt Collector, thereby allowing some group rations to rise a little above starvation level by virtue of eliminating superfluous mouths to feed.

And so the ongoing peasant-hunts across the Imperium of Man stand as a testament of the depraved depths into which the human soul has plunged, in a far future suffocated by despair and darknes. In a civilization that praise law and order as sacred, the most brutal of predations flourish. Thus man hunts man for sport, and all is well in the domains of the God-Emperor of mankind.

- - -

Tribute in general to the marvellous character Pi-Braine from the parodic RPG show

, and in particular to his golden minute in
(16:45-17:45), where this Skitarius' shipboard activities since the latest planetary mission were revealed:


OnCallGM: Pi-Braine, what have you been doing with your time?

SpeakerD: Pi-Braine has gone on a marvellous adventure. He spent the first half of this voyage making the horrible servitors that have been making up servitor daycare for our dearest little man. If doorman is an abomination, it's probably Pi's fault. What else he's been doing is that he's decided he wanted to get that femur bone gold-plated. So he went down to the depths of the manufactorum inner reactor workings of the ship, and ran into some of the worker gangs. And while he was getting his femur gold-plated and metallic, he saw some worker gang wars happening, and so he decided for a recreational activity, he would start hunting them for sport. And so every so often he just decides to go down there and start hunting people like the Predator.

He went down there and they probably made fun of him and called him weird bone boy. And Pi said "You know what I will do? I will stalk the shadows of the night and teach you fear." And that's what he's been doing for a couple of days.

The best part is that this bonkers information isn't even a parody on official Warhammer 40'000 background: Peasant hunts have been prevalent ever since the earliest years of the setting, as evident in Ian Watson's crazy novel Space Marine (1993). The reference to Lexandro D'Arquebus stems from this book, while the reference to Shexia's Urban Purity Patrols stem from Matthew Farrer's excellently immersive novel Legacy, the second book of the Shira Calpurnia trilogy (available from Black Library as the Enforcer omnibus). Both works of litterature should be sought out by anyone interested in the background of Warhammer 40'000.
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In the Imperium of Man, there is no dignity in death for the wicked. The Adeptus Terra well know that for the law to be just, it must be cruel. For the punishment of one man is not only the penalty of that one criminal, but the virtuous act of making an example out of the offender, for the fearsome instruction of the masses and to the benefit of public order. To Imperial thinking, the betterment of humanity can only be achieved through terror. The greater the trauma, the wiser the punishment.

As such, executions are preferably carried out in public within the Imperium, as are many displays of torture. Since most of mankind's teeming trillions in the far future lead lives rattled by misery, malnourishment, disease, grinding poverty, mind-numbingly monotonous labour and wanton brutality, public executions need to be extremely gruesome in order to scare such blunt masses. Being already inured to hardship and the common sight of death and suffering in their everyday lives, the denizens of Imperial worlds are only ever brought sharply to attention through shows of great cruelty that goes above and beyond what their dampened empathy can suppress. The aim of Imperial justice is to rise above what the human cattle's high tolerance thresholds to suffering in others can handle, by a crescendo of showcased pain and death.

Therefore, it follows that public executions involving flames, acids and hot tongs are all popular forms of punishment, as are callous usage of racks, mutilations and condemantion to beasts of a million different species. Executions that rely upon communal and comradely violence are much praised, for they make the onlookers complicit in the punishment, and fosters a rabid atmosphere prone to pogroms, witch hunts and lynchings of unwanted elements of the population. Just a few example of such communal punishment methods include stoning, military decimation, running the gauntlet, flesh-clawing and the crowd hook frenzy. Some local cultures even encourage acts of cannibalism, as a way to ritually devour and obliterate traces of heresy and impurity in the communal body.

One of the more explicitly violent forms of public execution found within the Imperium of Man is that of quartering, a widespread kind of punishment favoured in many locations for the sheer bloody spectacle that it provides in order to improve the morals of the masses. Events of quartering will usually involve the gathering of a large number of spectators and displays of pageantry so as to celebrate glorious justice being carried out in a dutifully stern manner, accompanied by speaches and homilies.

The exact means of quartering vary greatly between different districts, continents and planets. Many such punishments include hanging and drawing before quartering, or scorching with flames, biting of hounds and other forms of torture while the wrongdoer is suspended in the air by being pulled in four directions. Some versions make use of draft animals, or communal teams of people pulling at wires, chains or ropes. Others use tractors, tanks, trucks and similar large vehicles. Still other forms of quartering utilize motorcycles, for a more drawn-out affair than heavier machinery and giant beasts provide. Another advantage to using bikes and dirtcycles consist of the opportunity for agile wheel shows, with one common variant having all four motorcyclists driving around in a circle, while the criminal is stretched taut between them in the middle, spinning in confusion while tendons snap and bones pop out of their sockets.

Many executioners may assist the tense dismemberment with weapos and industrial tools, while others deem it a better instructive display of warning for others, if the four straining forces are to tear apart the condemned body on their own without external assistance. Occassionally, tradition or spontaneous rousing by preachers on the spot dictates the chanting of litanies of hate and penitence, letting the ears of the condemned be filled by a wroth chorus of damnation during his last moments in life. At other times, Officio Medicae personnel and lay techmen stand ready to salvage the profusely bleeding, limbless torso and head of the punished deviant, in order to convert the still living remains into a servitor, a mind-wiped cyborg that is more tool than man.

Whatever the exact procedures involved, quartering usually gets the message across to most bystanders: Obey your masters and keep your head down, for the hand of authority is merciless in its pursuit of justice, and maybe next time, you will be the centre of attention during such a punishment by quartering.

And so fear was revealed to be the greatest teacher, and terror the best guardian of your soul. For if the law is to be just, it must be cruel.

Thus is the depraved state of humanity in the grim darkness of the far future.

- - -

Based on this artwork. Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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Dragged Screaming and Kicking

"Arbites! We can tolerate no friction among His subjects. No dissent. No recidivism. Be vigilant!

These are strained times, restless and confused, yet know that His hand guides you in your sanctioned work. Thus you must trust in your instincts, and let neither hesitation nor doubt hinder you from arresting anyone who you so much as harbour a vague sense of suspicion towards. Be pious and firm in your belief in the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, and all your endeavours shall turn out well. No hesitation. No remorse. Only purge. Sweep the streets clean of malcontents and miscreants!

As our Divine Majesty's watchmen, you must be unrelenting in the pursuit of your duty. Your duty is to maintain order, to uphold the Lex Imperialis and to crack down with force on any utterances of thought of self, irrespective if they take the form of speech or deed. For along that path lurks anarchy and heresy, and you must catch all who stray. Be strong! Yield not! And always pursue!

On your patrols you will encounter those among the rabble who would look askance at men and women of authority. You will hear foul whispers behind your back. And you will come across tardy subjects who will shirk away and drag their feet in cooperating and obeying commands from you, always doing as little as they could possibly get away with.

These are cases of Obstruction of Legal Officers and Irreverence Toward Masters, and must be dealt with brutally! Set an example of one to put the fear of the God-Emperor into the hearts of a hundred. Use power-mauls, shotgun butts and fists, knees and boots to quickly bring the sloth-scum down on the ground. A headbutt will also suffice, for you wear helmets, and they usually don't. Once on the ground, set upon them with violence, and aid your patrol-colleagues in the beating. Bones must break audibly. Bruisings and blood must be visible. Any associates of the uncooperative trash must be dealt with in like manner, until no one among the mob dare challenge your Emperor-given authority!

Teach them to step up eagerly and assist His arbitrators and judges. These brutes understand little else but might, and so might will be put forward, with the emblems of your office proudly displayed and polished for all to see as you carry out your hard work.

And once the obstructionist is thoroughly mauled, you bring them back to the precinct. If all flank hooks of your vehicles are already occupied with bagged and bound prisoners, then bind their limbs and drag them screaming and kicking over the streets and roads as you resume your patrol round. Make the knot strong, and their weak-willed flesh will fail before our tools of justice do. The death of an obstructionist before interrogation is of no consequence. These deviants already sealed their fate by their own conduct. The price is theirs to pay.

You will teach the rabble to fear the thump of our armoured boots. You will teach them to jump to help us out! You will suppress any inclination to arrogance and obstruction, and you will make out of them dutiful servants of the God-Emperor. As are we all!

For we are His wrath and His judgement, and our deed is His command.

Let us go forth and cleanse this den of filth and felony, for His will is our shield.

Let us punish the evil-doer and the offender, for His light is our mace.

Let us break him who break the law, for His gaze is our badge.

And fear not the darkness, for we bring His vengeance like a torch in our hands.

Be without mercy. Be one with hatred. Be always true. Be vigilant.

Ave Imperator! Move out!"

- Provost-Commissioner Tarquinius Dzharqunius, speaking in 238.M39 to a patrol shift of the Adeptus Arbites, in the Courthouse Precinct of Hive Hemithea, Aiakos Hive Cluster, on Decebalus IV

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Human Bomb

In a demented age of darkness and suffering, human depravity is harnessed for total war.

The sacrifice of the self is a lynchpin in Imperial modes of thinking. To throw yourself upon enemy arms is the act of a virtuous subject of the Emperor on Earth. To offer up limb and life in combat or labour is an honourable deed that makes that life worth having been lived in the first place. To give up yourself and your offspring and kin is a praiseworthy contribution to the cause of the species and its divine lord on Terra. For the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Imperium, and as long as men, women and children are prepared to cast themselves unto death for the God-Emperor, His domains will endure across the stars.

Great empires are not maintained by timidity, and so the Imperium of Man have long since ceased hesitating over plunging the worst depths of immorality in pursuit of its costly triumphs. Victory must be won at any price, and the survival of mankind as a whole is dependent on its overlords' callous disregard for human life and dignity. Man, after all, is nothing but yet another resource to expend in order to uphold Imperial power. Man on his own is nothing. Man exist to serve: He is nought but a number in a broken calculation of increased input to bolster a decrepit galactic civilization with feet of clay.

The Human Bombs of the Penal Legions are but one of countless examples of the extreme measures which the Imperium of Man employs on a regular basis. Albeit the practice was originally born out of desperation in half-forgotten millennia of the early Imperium, it has long since solidified into a standard weapon system of the Astra Militarum.

Among the convicted criminals filling the ranks of the Penal Legions are to be found sinners, whose crimes can never truly be repented in their lifetimes. Those are felons who have violated and tortured others, and are ridden by intense emotions of regret and insane repentance over what they have done. Among these doomed humans, many are psychotic and suicidal, and will often grasp any chance to earn the Emperor's forgiveness through death in battle. Once identified, such men and women of damnation are immediately recruited into the Human Bomb squads, where they can seek redemption for their sins.

Members of the Adeptus Ministorum will guide these lost souls in meditation and prayer, to make them understand what they must do to receive His full forgiveness. Before battle, lay techmen will equip the Penal Legionnaires with a bomb harness and arm the explosives, while preachers or confessors utter liturgies and blessings. The Human Bombs make the sign of the Aquila, and press triggers of igniters in a grip which only death will cease. Absolution is at hand. Only once the harness is detonated will the soul of the redeemed sinner be forgiven and welcomed to join the side of the God-Emperor in peace.

And so Imperial Guard commanders will employ suicide bombers in deadly situations on the battlefield, such as to clear the breaches of the foe's fortifications or counteract enemy infantry possessing superior size and armour to lowly Guardsmen. These living explosives are a potent tool in the Imperial arsenal, and have often won the Astra Militarum the element of surprise against hostiles for which such tactics would be unthinkable, such as long-lost human colonists or the naïve Tau upstarts on the Eastern Fringe. Human life is the true currency of the Imperium, and what great difference is there between ordering tens of millions of soldiers to advance into the jaws of certain death with a gun in their hand, and transforming them into Human Bombs? Aren't we all awaiting our chance to sacrifice ourselves for our species and lord? For is not a death that serve the Imperium usefully a benign mercy to repentant sinners?

It is better to die for the Emperor, than to live for yourself.

Aside from innumerable improvized solutions, there exist a number of Standard Template Construct (STC) patterns of bomb harnesses. All of these are of crude make and stand as testament to such far-fetched contingency armaments having been originally designed by ancient Abominable Intelligences to aid their human colonists only in the most desperate of circumstances. What once  was almost only a theoretical emergency situation back in the Dark Age of Technology, has since become standard fare in the grim darkness of the far future.

And so the Age of Imperium grinds on, its rusting machinery greased by human sweat and blood. Thus on ten thousand battlefields on distant words, the voice of the damned ring out, eager to redeem their baleful sins and find forgiveness in death. As bombs are locked onto flesh, those voices ring out as one, its battlecry stark and fervent; its message that of the true fanatic; its words the very essence of the future of our species:

"For the Emperor!"

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I Who Am Born To Die

"I who am born to die salute You, Imperator.

I declare my loyalty to Your dominion and Your glory everlasting.

I commit my soul to Your forgiveness and Your divine embrace.

O, God-Emperor on Holy Terra, receive my humble offering upon the altar of war and deem it worthy.

Deem my death worthy, as my life was not.

Redemption for my sins, that You all know of, I seek through sacrifice.

I sacrifice to You alone, for none other than Your Divine Majesty is the rightful saviour and ruler of man.

O, lord of hosts and leader of the people, have mercy.

Have mercy upon my soul. I ask of You, have mercy.

Shelter its fluttering candle light from the stormwinds of damnation.

Glory unto You, Imperator.

Carry this small light safely to Your Golden Throne on mythical Earth.

Glory unto You, Imperator.

And join this drop of flame to the bright heavenfire of all redeemed mankind, set to outshine the darkness.

Glory unto You, Imperator.

To be one with my species in death.

Power unto You, Imperator.

To preserve my eternal soul.

Power unto You, Imperator.

To save my true essence from the torment of the hells.

Power unto You, Imperator.

This I seek, and for this I lay down my life.

Reign immortal, Imperator.

This alone I crave, for my life is dust.

Reign immortal, Imperator.

This I pledge, or may my soul forever be damned.

Reign immortal, Imperator.

Bless my flesh as flames blast it to cinders. Bless my ashes as they fall upon maimed foes. Bless my spirit in its final journey to salvation.

Only in death is there solace. Only in death is there redemption. Only in death does duty end.

I die in Your name:

Ave Imperator!"

- Death oath of Human Bombs of the MCCCXLVII Penal legion, as recorded by Confessor Albrahimiq d'Iolvertus in 668.M40 prior to the Disaster at the River Moreus on Skutatoi Minoris, which saw the complete annihaltion of the 3 million men in Astra Militarum Systemata-Hostis Percennia (XIX-XXV Armies) under Lord-General Theofilius as heck Hötzenschlacht

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Juve Soldier

In a desperate time of suffering and insanity, age is no excuse to shirk from your duty.

The harsh rule of the Imperium of Man strive to leave none free of its grasping talons. Even though real control over society is limited on most human worlds, Imperial ambitions are nonetheless total and all-encompassing in scope. Ideally, no subject of the God-Emperor should be left outside the power of their rightful masters. In reality, vast swathes of planetary and voidborne populations alike live their entire lives while barely registering the existence of the Imperium of Man.

Many such people outside direct Imperial control are too poor, or too rich, or too many, or live in too remote locations for the reach of the Emperor-appointed powers that be. For instance, the innumerable billions, or even trillions of humans dwelling in hellish Underhives across a million worlds, will rarely (if ever) see Imperial officials or soldiers in their short, brutish and nasty lives. Oftentimes, the failure of the Imperium to impose its cruel control over the entire population of planets and voidholms comes down to its screeching inefficiency, rotten bureaucracy, rampant corruption and sheer incompetence. Another age-old limit to the effective power of Imperial organizations are their corpse-like rigidity of order, where individual initiatives, innovations and the bypassing of hierarchies for swifter or better results may result in draconic punishments ranging from death, torture, burning at the stake or lobotimization and transformation into a cyborg thrall known as a Servitor.

Crude colossus with feet of clay though it may be, the Imperium will nevertheless try to impose total control over those sectors of society that its powers may reach. To live under the heavy hand of Imperial rule is to lead an utterly regimented life of endless indoctrination into a rabidly loyal subject of the Imperium, ever eager to report on deviants and malcontents, ever willing to lynch heretics and mutants, and ever ready to sacrifice yourself for the higher cause. To come to age under Imperial purview is to grow up into a blind fanatic and ritually obsessed practicer of the Cult Imperialis, your mind filled with litanies of hate, psalms of vindiction, mantras of purging, hymns of martyrdom and prayers of penitence. Such is the saturation of Imperial dogma in these juvenile Imperial subjects' lives, that many of them end up monomaniacally incapable of doubting the Imperium for even a second, no matter what atrocities their eyes and ears may bear witness to. Thus are fine subjects to the Emperor moulded at a tender age, and thus is the future of the Imperium secured. Blessed be the children.

The Imperium of Man harbour no softness in its heart of stone, for weakness is the bane of the whole species. Only the ruthless may attain dominion, and only the cruel may uphold supremacy. The law of power is written into the stars: A hard life breeds hardy people, and all is well when the weak are culled. Thus Imperial authorities approve of the abominable hardships that plague the lives of most humanity, for misery makes people grow up fast, as it were, and desperation is the mother of ability. Many children in the Imperium of Man will learn to survive, fight and kill in their everyday lives, or else succumb to a harsh reality that brooks no pacific timidity.

Orphans in the Schola Progenium learn to handle weapons long before the age of ten, and the situation is not much different on the streets of hive cities or in the wildlands of tribes. Many Imperial subjects will have slayed someone before they reach adulthood, and almost all will have been regularly beaten bloody by grown-ups and participated in nasty kid fights, some losing eyes, fingers and other body parts in the process. A great many will also join gangs at an early age, for it is better to be in the pack of ravenous predators, than to be ravaged by it.

When rampant violence is such an inseparable part of the human condition, how could there ever be anything wrong with recruiting adolescents and children into the ranks of militias and more organized militaries? Most cultures on the worlds and voidholms of the Imperium will count its members as adults by the age of fifteen, yet few indeed will have any scruples about arming those they consider children. Many times, Imperials will choose to fill gaps in the ranks of armed forces with properly indoctrinated children, rather than turning to adults from population sections with unreliable schooling in Imperial loyalty. The phenomenon of child soldiers has been a fact of life since time immemorial, and few humans indeed will ever stop and think about it.

Thus it is that juve soldiers can be found all across the galaxy, serving alongside their elders in a myriad of Astra Militarum regiments, Planetary Defence Forces (PDF), noble House Guards, tribal warbands, authorized street gangs and local militias. Here, the children will reach adulthood and face their rites of passage among the rough warriors, or die trying. Many juves will be fired up with tales of martial exploits and dreams of glory, and will volunteer for service, often lying about their age and pass themselves off as older than they really are. Others will be forcefully inducted into military units, a custom that is particularly common in times of crisis and massive casualties. After all, even a child can fire a lasgun.

Picking up large weapons and donning boots and uniforms that leave a lot of space for growing in, these often malnourished boys and girls at arms will not seldom march into slaughterfests of dark trauma and gain scars both physical and mental in nature. A glorious death is theirs, and the chance to fulfill their dreams has been given them by the Divine Majesty. Many juve soldiers will be picked out of various Imperial, planetary and voidholms' youth organizations, who all prepare the children and adolescents for arms, combat and the rigours of a soldier's life.

An endless flora of legends about juve soldiers thrive across the Imperium of Man, telling of gallantry, self-sacrifice, duty and piety in the face of horrors and monstrous foes. Who cannot remember stories of plucky little boys and girls who destroyed great tanks and killed rampaging behemoths against all odds? Who cannot recount tales of brave children in arms throwing themselves bodily before the blasting mouths of enemy guns in order to allow their comrades to cleanse bunkers? Who have not heard of captive juves who died with the Emperor's name on their lips while being torn to shreds under sadistic torture? Rejoice, for the Imperium's youth under arms will uphold these proud traditions and fight for their species and lord! Rejoice, for glory is theirs to win in battle! Rejoice, for a childhood well spent!

Such are the lives of uncounted billions of juve soldiers serving across the vast expanse of the God-Emperor's sacred domains. Such are the deaths of those who fall fighting for the cause of Holy Terra. Such is the will of the Emperor.

Truly, mankind is blessed with a fighting spirit that burn brightly from cradle to grave. For parents will not only give up their sons and daughters, but juves will offer themselves willingly to the armies of the Imperium. Is this not a sign of the chosen status of humanity? Is this not proof of the righteousness of our cause? Is this not a banner to rally around? And so the word goes out: The Emperor of mankind want you in arms! For what force in the universe could ever stop the might of man truly united, subservient to the Emperor and flocking to sacrifice himself, no matter his age?

Thus a grand tragedy of suffering, death and stolen innocence replays itself over and over again as centuries grind on, and the decaying Age of Imperium grows older with yet another millennium, yet another year of mass graves and unheard grief, yet another day of carnage and blood. For the Imperium of Man will baulk at nothing to preserve its overlordship of power and hate, and it will not hesitate to feed the meatgrinder with an ever larger number of soldiers for increased input in a broken calculation. Aye, the survival of the human species itself is at stake, but more pressing matter for its masters is the need to preserve Imperial rule and Imperial strength for their very own sake.

Forget the shining Knights and proudly painted power armour for a moment. If you want to imagine the reality of war in the Imperium of Man, then imagine children in uniform beside adult soldiers, weapons in hand as they charge into no man's land, letting out a fervent battlecry as a firestorm engulf them: "For the Emperor!"

Such is the demented state of man, in the darkest of futures. Such is the depravity that awaits our species.

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

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Scorched Juice Thief

Legends tell of the Terran gods of old who cast lightning unto Earth to hunt humankind for punishment, yet a traitor demigod captured some bolts and gifted ancient man with the knowledge of how to harness that sparkling power to pull his burdens and light the darkness, and ever since that fabled day have electricity coursed through cables crafted by human hands. Most legends also tell of the renegade demigod's horrendous penalty, usually involving an eternity of being shocked through sensitive body parts, nigh unto death in everlasting fits of cramp and agony, for the gods of old are said to have been jealous of their power, and knew boundless hate for anyone wishing to steal their lightning from on high.

Thus it was that the folklore of disparate human savages during the Unification Wars and the Great Crusade made many tribes recognize the lightning bolts of the variant Imperial Aquila as indicator of the Emperor's god-ordained status as humanity's chosen subjugator, arbitrator and saviour. For truly did the Imperium carry awe-inspiring forces at its disposal, and indeed did its star-sailing arks cast lightning unto anyone who crossed the nascent Imperium of Man. Such raw power and exalted, lethal might could not be denied by anyone but the most foolhardy.

To this day, many scattered human colonies who have survived in regressed isolation and squalor since the Age of Strife, react to the arrival of Imperial missionaries, explorators and invasion forces with the same awe-struck reverence. The Imperium may not be a good force of philantropic morals to adore, but to most men and women it nevertheless stands as a fearsome edifice of bristling strength and power to which they must submit for the good of all. Indeed the Imperial symbols of the soaring but cruel predatory eagle and the the treasured but deadly lightning bolt represent the essential character of the Emperor's domains since the Imperium's very inception.

Innumerable human cultures across the Milky Way Galaxy retain some sense of the God-Emperor's connection to lightning in the heavens and electrical power alike, usually held to be a material grant from the benevolent Imperator in His guise as the Omnissiah to unworthy humanity. Thus accidental deaths from electrocution will often be taken as proof of His Divine Majesty's disapproving judgement on wayward sinners.

Human civilizations have been dependant on the forces of harnessed lightning since the early Age of Terra. Indeed electricity is as essential for higher technological cultures to persist as air to breathe is. On a million worlds and uncounted spacebound habitats, the works of superstitious man run on captive power, and without it he would be nothing but a dirt-bound barbarian left to the mercy of the night.

Many known STC systems involving the most advanced levels of electronics and electricity are too complex and refined to manufacture and maintain for the populations of most planets and voidholms to experience in everyday life. Instead, utilitarian Imperial society is often stuck with more primitive and robust means of power, preserved among the simpler systems left over from the scattered heritage of the Dark Age of Technology. More advanced electrical hardware of new production is usually only seen in the hands of higher Imperial Adepta, rich noble Houses and a low number of tech-clans with an exceptionally well-preserved grasp of some tech (e.g. Van Saar in Hive Primus on Necromunda), as well as in the hoarding Adeptus Mechanicus.

Safety is usually a minor concern among electricians and Guilds in the Imperium. By far more important is the safeguarding of one's powerlines from competitors and parasitical scum who would wish to feed off your juice. Electricity theft is a rampant problem all across the more civilized worlds of the Imperium, with an ever-renewing horde of crims and scummers willing to risk their lowly lives by hooking into your grid and harvest your bitterly begotten electricity. Such juice thieves will climb and crawl and cut to get to the sweet voltage inside cables and conduits and power stations, and they live only a knife's edge away from a scorched death at the hands of the lethal current they so lust after. Sin is indeed often its own reward, as innumerable scorched corpses attest to.

Juice thieves usually only leach off minor power lines, along which Guild personnel, hired gangers and armed techmen regularly patrol to unhook thief lines, pick down burnt power poachers and shoot any leachers on sight. Yet a few daring souls will attempt to tap their illegal lines into the massive juice trunks which feed major hive industries and Guilds directly from the geothermal heat sink at the heart of the hive. This is an exceedingly dangerous endeavour, since mere proximity to a loaded power trunk is enough to kill in an instant, yet even so a few daredevils manage to pull the stunt off. Such treasured leach lines will often feed power into entire settlements and sections in the Underhive, warming and lighting uncounted filthy inbreds down in the nightmarish city depths at the expense of honest Emperor-fearing people uphive.

One such juice thief was Sinden Kass from the Underhive quake hole settlement of Junktion in Hive Primus of Necromunda. Junktion once led a prosperous existence as a dirty boomtown, taking hefty fees to winch travellers and their wares high up into the lower hive, cutting down travelling times for Underhive expeditions by a great deal for anyone willing to pay up. The magpie known as Sinden Kass was a lamplighter of Junktion, a thief who dared to plug into a massive power trunk which fed the Mercantile Guild counting-houses in the Orlock quarter.

As a result, all the lights in these Guild chambers started to flicker, which irritated Master Vlitz Thaki, Mercantile Guild Senior Deputy Comptroller of Satrapies for the 81st Subdivision of the Hive City of our all-providing Hive Primus. The workhouses around Master Thaki's counting-houses shone bright enough without such flicker, since they took its electricity from separate lines. Master Thaki gave a brief order to his artificers and techmen to "do something about that, see to it." These techmen first cross-fed some electrical power to stop the lamps flickering, then they backtracked their lines found some Underhiver's bodged cable-tap.

In response, the adjutant of Master Thaki told one of his captains to retaliate against the filthy scum down there. The captain sent out one of his own subordinates, who took some well-equipped Guild armsmen and rappelled down the Well into Junktion. Their quick and furious raid saw dozens killed indiscriminately. Punitive explosives were planted to sabotage the local water supply (leading to bloody thirst riots and gang war), and then the boomtown fathers were publicly executed in the square of the little settlement. The only small report that made it up the chain of command through the adjutant to Vlitz Thaki, was one of the power line having been fixed without even bothering to mention the raid, and Master Thaki was happy to see his lights working as they should again.

Thus one lamplighter's juice theft fuelled an inbred boomtown in the Underhive, until the righteous armoured fist of uphive forces crushed the bastards, and restored good lights to the Mercantile Guild. Such events are numerous beyond counting in the hive cities and voidholms of the Imperium, and simply part of the violent routine of drudgery which constitutes life for a majority of Imperial subjects across the galaxy.

Thus the ancient legends of lightning theft and vicious punishment play out again and again in the everyday life of our species in the grim darkness of the far future.

Cower in fear of the lightning, and soothe the machine-spirit's wrath. Far has humanity fallen. And far into hell has it gone.

- - -

Tribute to Matthew Farrer's excellently immersive grimdark Underhive novel Junktion, whose main protagonist is an electricity thief and lamplighter.

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In the souls' battle of attrition between good and evil, good may gain the initative and outflank baser morals by shining examples and shaming harangues, yet evil ultimately possesses greater reserves and superior logistics. For the nature of life itself is one of consuming other life; of survival at all costs; of biting into your prey and savouring the taste of your victim while you can, for you too shall perish in this grim world.

Questions follow of their own accord: What evils are we capable of? What fell deeds may our hands perform? What ruthless plans of action may our minds concoct? And the answers lie close at hand. They are to be found here and now in everyday life, in the endless petty malice children heap upon choice victims, in the lies and deceit of adults, in the dark impulses boiling beneath the surface of humans everywhere. They are to be found in ages past, in a grand parade of cruelties and an orgy of bloodletting, plunder and inflicted misery. But most of all they are to be found in ages yet to come, for man is set to plunge the bottomless depths of his soul, and there he shall descend into hell on earth and remake the world in his diabolical image.

Behold the grim darkness. Behold the future that awaits our species. Behold the Imperium of Man, the decaying domains of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, an empire of a million worlds maintained by ceaseless sacrifice, an endless lack of mercy and everlasting hatred. Gaze into the Imperium, and you will bear witness to the baleful excesses festering in the heart of man.

For in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable, human lives have become a currency to squander in the billions. Here, sweat and blood are shed on a titanic scale in order to uphold the rigid order of the Imperium, in a neverending treadmill of human suffering and drudgery. Here, violence, hardships and starvation are ever-present companions to life. Here, draconic punishments will be arbitrarily visited upon anyone who fails in their duty or steps out of line. Sometimes such retaliation will be carried out with passionless monotony, at other times the penalties will be dealt out with righteous furor. And sometimes the punishment will be executed upon the offender with a poorly concealed sadistic glee.

To be branded a heretic, malcontent, deviant or infidel in the Imperium, is to face a host of imaginative possibilities. There are the possibilities of instant death at gunpoint, of beheading, lynching, hanging, blinding, maiming, burning,stoning,  quartering, flaying and drawn-out torture, or lobomization and slavery as a cyborg thrall or guilt-ridden Arco-Flagellant. Among a myriad of possible punishments are to be found that archaic one of sawing, wherein the wrongdoer is shackled and extended helplessly from a frame, usually hanging upside-down. The executioners will then slowly work through the sinner with a crosscut saw or two-man eviscerator, the sawyers usually chanting, damning the criminal or shouting admonishments to the crowd of onlookers while the teeth of their tool tear through flesh and bone.

Oftentimes, such executions by sawing will be recorded by vox-units and captured by pict-casters, to be cabled out to public loudspeakers and pict-screens distributed throughout the more decent parts of cities and voidholms. This is done in order to benefit the betterment of the people's wetched souls, as the shrill shrieking in pain and agonized yelling of the sawed one will warn sinful humanity to take heed, resist temptation such as hunger pangs, and blindly obey their superiors without question or tardiness.

This public butchering of deviants, criminals and heretics will usually be followed by their flawed flesh being burnt upon the pyre, or carted away to be recycled into the foodstuff known as corpse starch. Wild rumours claim that if you saw an Ork in half without burning the remains, two whole Orks will regrow out of the halves. This abominable phenomenon has only been observed in mankind a rare few times with grossly mutated humans tainted by the touch of Chaos, wherefore the mutliated husks of mutants will as a rule be burnt to ashes in order to not contaminate the dull ration bars of the populace. Trust in flames to cleanse corruption and filth.

And so every day, somewhere in the Imperium of Man, thousands of bystanders view the spectacle of executioners sawing a man, woman or child to death. The crowds view it with their own eyes, listening with their own ears to the noise of suffering and slaughter, as saw teeth rip through fibres and cartilage. They see the suffering and the righteous punishment visited upon the wicked, and they ken the warning. Thus all is well in the sacred star-realm of the Emperor on Earth, for what is happiness but the feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome? Just as the saw of justice overcomes the sinner's flesh and bone.

Such is the malevolent fate of unknown numbers of deviants and heretics. Such is their fell demise.

It is the fortyfirst millenium. Humanity has banished remorse from its heart of stone. Truly, the Age of Imperium is an epoch of lives crushed under heel and naked evil at full display. And so the future of our species grinds on, its rusted prison a doomed empire, its bloodstained tormentor man himself.

Such is the fate of our species. In the darkest of futures. In cruelty unending.
Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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In an age of darkness, fools will grasp for any seeming hope that is offered them, like fishes will with bait.

During the Age of Terra, the bestial ancestors of man lived in packs, without which they were doomed to die alone. The forefathers of man dwelt in tribes and clans, each Human being an organic part of the communal organism to which they conformed. One of the worst fates to befall ancient man was to be exiled and cast out of the community, for what was man without his kin group? The rise of cities and technology would eventually diminish such natural ties, yet the organic bonds never disappeared even at the height of the Dark Age of Technology, when man in his error thought himself the master and remaker of all creation, including that of himself.

There have always been those who feel themselves alienated from society, those inclined to disagree with their congregation, those unwilling or unable to follow the herd. These souls, doomed to deviate, will often find themselves under intense mental pressure from the petrified order, rigour and terror experienced by leading a bleak life in the tyrannical Imperium of Man, for Imperial rule have long since developed into crushing individuality and free thought for the betterment of public order. Such misfits are as varied as they are malcontent: They may be groups barely tolerated to live for the sake of slave labour, such as mutants or the descendants of some ancient rebels. They may be people driven nigh-insane by exacting labours which they were unable to stand anymore, seeking an escape from their living hell, no matter what it may be. They may be people who have had their worldview shaken by some traumatic experience, or by thinking too deeply. They may be rich nobles bored out of their senses by rigid protocol and ennui. They may be failed students or members of aspiring classes lusting for power, influence, privileges and salaried state employment. They may be those who dream of a better tomorrow. Some may simply be weak-willed minds, easily led astray by the next person they meet. Others still may be of a more spiteful bent, unsavoury characters who feel unweclcomed by society and in turn reject society themselves.

Yet even such outcasts and deviants possess an innate need for a sense of belonging, and as such like will attract like in the seedy underbelly of cities and voidholms. Those lost to the flock by alienation will often seek radical experiences, pushing boundaries and abandoning mores and even sanity in a whirlwind of hedonistic partying and edgy experimentation among subcultures. In such a drug-poisoned morass of moral perversion, dangerous ideologies, harebrained sects and heinous thought of self thrive in that twilight zone where law and order seldom apply.

Thus it is that such deviants and malcontents tend to break with Imperial dogma and desert the Ecclesiarchal flock to which they once belonged, drifting ever more down pathways to damnation. Many may eventually find a new community in the myriad of obscure and illegal groups infesting mankind's urban centers like so many rashes and boils. Here, dropouts of society and those who refuse to fit in will be scooped up and processed by a veritable jungle of sects, dodgy clubs, forbidden movements, secret societies, orgy circles, mystery cults and weird gangs. There, they will be exposed to a whole new world of banished belief systems, exotic talk, underground presses, suppressed lore and heady ideas. Thus twisted grills will be put in the heads of new members, usually denying the Imperial Creed and spitting upon the Emperor's sacrifice.

Such are the paths that lead waywards into the clutches of such heretical cells as murderous Death Cults, crazed Chaos sects and hybridizing Genestealer Cults. A recent development out on the Eastern Fringe have also seen growing numbers of Humans won over by the insidious persuasion of stunningly eloquent Water Caste agents and their propaganda material advertising the grand benevolence of the Greater Good. Such foul apostasy have seen subjects of the God-Emperor transform into xenophile Tauists, those fifth columnist sympathizers of a hostile alien empire.

Once fully indoctrinated into the movement, the deviants and malcontents will themselves go out and attempt to recruit others for their cause. Careful conversations in the street and workplace will serve as feelers to probe potential targets, to see if they are a good fit for the underground group. Once fine prey have been identified, an invitation will be extended, and so these illegal dens of discontent and subversion perpetuate themselves.

Bolder still will be those sect members who act the part of the rabblerouser, braving gruesome retaliation by approaching passers-by openly, holding speeches, handing out heretical leaflets in the street and practicing the art of demagougery at constant risk of spontaneous lynching or arrest. Such underground propaganda will be accompanied by treacherous graffiti  and posters sufficient to land the vandals in dungeons of unspeakable torture and torment. By all manner of manipulation will these salesmen of fevered ideas try to spread the disease of their minds, and oftentimes will they clash violently with rival sects in the streets of cities and corridors of voidholms. Indeed, it is common practice for hostile subverts to inform on each other to the authorities, using their much-bewailed planetary oppressors and Imperial bloodsuckers as a means to wreck the competition.

Controlling what people read, hear and see is a powerful tool, and this is why independent mass media is such a limited and often nonexistent phenomenon in the million worlds and uncounted void habitats of the Imperium of Man. Most printsheets, vox-shows and pict-firms that do exist, do so in meticulusly circumscribed form, working under the heavy hand of censorship, never far from summary execution or far, far worse should they ever publish anything contrary to the wish of Holy Terra. After all, the existence of influential propaganda organs outside state control could pose a challenge to Imperial rule, through a daily grind of slanted reports, choosing to highlight particular happenings over others, lies, or outright omission of events and information which runs counter to the image which the chattering lot would wish to project. There would also be endless needling and gnawing critique of the powers that be, as well as the crying foul about supposed injustices and the subtle spreading of ideas counter to Imperial interests. Indeed such propaganda methods are usually reserved for the Adeptus Terra and loyal elites only. The Imperium know well the power of propaganda and obscurantism, for it utilize it as a tool of control all the time, and it will tolerate no rival centers of brainwashing.

Yet such a war of words nevertheless rage under the surface on most Imperial worlds and voidholms, for in shady corridors and grimy streets will be found men and women brave, foolhardy, fanatical, desperate or insane enough to speak up for their cause. A cause altogether independent from the concerns of the greater Imperium, and which often runs counter to the Holy Terran cause. Maverick sects befoul Imperial settlements everywhere, but the same is also true for the all too common separatist groupings that want to cast off the heavy burden of Imperial yoke from their homeworld or voidholm. Imperial territories are likewise rife with innumerable angry movements which spring up because of particular grievances (such as an outrageously greedy and ruthless tax farmer, or certain dictates hampering the livelihood of people), and these particularists are concerned with addressing and righting those issues alone, often loudly professing loyalty and devotion to the Emperor for the uncaring ears of Imperial Adepta and warriors. Obviously, any and all challenges to rightful Imperial rule must be crushed without mercy.

For the most part, the constant efforts of subverts and perverts to sway public opinion away from supporting the fearsome monolith that is Imperial governance, are doomed to fail. Stray recruits can always be gained among deviants, but true mass following is always difficult to obtain in a theocratic police state, even in one as marred by inefficiency, corruption and incompetence as the Imperium is. Repression and propaganda remain great strengths of the draconic Imperium of Man, even after ten millennia of bloated decay and rotten bureaucracy. For all the petty sloganeering and streetcorner rabblerousing which roach-like heretics and malcontents can muster, Imperial authorities, preachers and propagandists can answer with a colossal barrage of twisted messages, desinformation and rallying of support of their own, firmly rooted in the masses' upbringing having occurred under the all-pervasive Cult Imperialis with its zealotry and fiery oratory.

Nevertheless, heretics and enemies of the Emperor everywhere know that they can count on one thing above all others in order to gain converts like a ravaging pandemic: Imperial failings. Grand mistakes and shocking mismanagement by the Imperium of Man remain the surest source of new cult members, for nothing readies man to switch saddles and loyalties so readily as when he bears the full brunt of fresh hardships and misery. When a new great famine reduces millions or even billions of Humans to skin and bone, and puts their children into mass graves or cannibal pots, some embittered survivors turn. When the tithe grows crushing like never before, and sees thousands upon thousands of innocent, hardworking people dragged off into debt slavery and lobotomization for cyborg-transformation into Servitors, some will turn. When faults and negligence higher up result in dozens of districts finding themselves in the dark without electricity or drinking water for months on end, leading to a nightmare of desperate looting, panic, predation and harsh suppression by arms, people turn. When the Arbites torture and kill entire families, the lone survivors turn. When lives are shattered, those who have nothing left to lose will take the plunge and give their valediction to mainstream society, or at least its rulers.

Imperial cruelties and dysfunctionality is far more often the result of corruption, bureaucratic inertia and incompetence than it is the child of necessary evil and the overruling demands of defending the Human species in a hostile galaxy of total war and cosmic horrors. The evil that men do is eternal and inescapable, yet this abominable malevolence is unnecessarily multiplied and amplified a thousandfold under the harsh overlordship of the Imperium. And so it is that perverted manipulators will grasp any fertile opportunities to spread dissent by questioning Imperial legitimacy and haranguing the leadership of planetary elites or voidholm oligarchs. When the time is right, these hidden heretics will step forth and disrupt the cohesion of their culture and break down social control by venomous tongues and frantic action. They will infiltrate organizations and spread defeatism and doubt, and they will gnaw at the foundations of Imperial might.

Rarely are there as prime opportunities for subverts as arise in the worst times of crisis. Especially so in the midst of the most draining wars of attrition that are also accompanied by rampant and visible incompetence, military disasters, massive shortages and baleful starvation on the home front. Moulding minds are usually best done during childhood and youth, yet the views of people may be reshaped like clay when they are at their most desperate and thirsting for some kind of solution to their woes. When they are begging for someone willing to promise your desires, someone able to inspire and make you dream big, yes, someone able to electrify the masses. Someone able to step forth and take the lead.

And so the subvertive movements will manifest their will to power by passive resistance, boycotts, terrorism, assassinations and sabotage. Despite the lethal reply of Imperial authorities, there will be riots and the defacing of Imperial monuments, mob attacks on Imperial personnel in the street and the burning of Imperial scrolls and tomes such as debt registers and books of faith. Coups may be attempted, if infiltration and backroom deals have gone far enough. The surging tide of malcontents will rise into full insurrection, and the rebels will raise the banners of the their heinous revolution, simultaneously waging a gruesome civil war in the streets with loyalist neighbours and pious family members who refused to shirk from the righteous Imperium. Strife will play out, as it always has. Brother will slay brother, and sister will strangle sister in a madness of carnage and hatred.

Such insurgencies are usually put down with overmighty force of arms, followed by bloodthirsty eradication campaigns and massive purges. Yet some revolts do succeed, at least for a while, and manage to topple Imperial rule. Then it will usualy be shown that the alternative to Imperial oppression is just another nuance of violent tyranny and rampant corruption under different flags, as one set of rulers is exchanged for another one during the exhilaration of a brand new revolution. The new men and women at the helm will pursue selfish interests, or worse yet pursue utopian pipedreams with fanatical zeal and lakes of blood staining the hands of the idealists in power.

And so the worst flaws of mankind play out again and again, set to a choir of broken promises and stillborn hopes. Enemies are to be crushed, after all. And to gain support, it is advantageous to sell a false option. Hand the firebrands some grand words and an empty idea that they can believe in, and use those revolutionary zealots to suppress dissent and cement your power. Of course, to have power is when you are able to do something, and no one is able to stop you. Furthermore, power is intoxicating and addictive, and yesterday's dogged rebel that became today's leading liberator will often be tomorrow's toppled tyrant. As a learned man in the distant Age of Terra once opined: It is safer to be feared than loved, for the bonds of love are fragile and dependent on obligation which is broken at every opportunity for someone's advantage due to the baseness of man. Thus the arts of power are ones of cunning and cruelty.

And all this is to say nothing of the otherworldly hell-orgy or certain doom at the hands of the Great Devourer that await those planets and voidholms who fall victim to revolts of Chaos or Genestealer Cults...

Treachery, heresy and rebellion remain an everlasting scourge of His Divine Majesty's sacred domains across the stars, as the Horus Heresy and Age of Apostasy well attest to. Disunity and strife may yet prove the undoing of humanity, and so the Holy Inquisition will never rest in its mission to root out this disease in the body politic. It will find the taint and purge any suspected deviants with extreme prejudice. Inquisitors will scour entire star systems and leave billions dead in their wake in order to hunt down sects and eradicate the inner circles of heretical cults and movements. It is better that a hundred thousand innocents burn at the stake than one guilty man escapes the claws of Imperial justice.

Retribution against rebels may not always be swift or efficient, but it will eventually occur with overwhelming force and a titanic input of resources. For the Imperium of Man will eradicate any threat to its security and power, and it will seek to enforce absolute obedience and blind devotion to the Emperor on Earth in its galaxy-spanning dominions.

Thus decrepit human civilization in the grim darkness of the far future is ever plagued by those deviants and malcontents who would become subverts and heretics, and ultimately betray their species and lord. While all such traitors to the Golden Throne shall be exterminated in due time, the fact remains that ordinary subjects of the Imperator risk being entangled in lies and deceit of subversive manipulators. Honeyed words and harrowing revelations may be whispered in alleys, hooked bait waiting to snatch the unwary away from the God-Emperor's light. Who can you trust?

Hope is the first step to disappointment.

And so the Imperium undergoes an endless cycle of subversion, oppression, rebellion and retribution, for the enemy within must be obliterated without pity. Without remorse. Without mercy.

As despairing souls look for alternatives to the grinding nightmare of drudgery and callous violence that constitute life in the Imperium of Man, they see the paths presented by the cults. All dead ends.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is no escape from the hellish horror that await our species.

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  • 2 weeks later...


Under the Yoke

In a distant time of darkness and decay, man once again toils like a beast of burden.

Humanity reached its pinnacle of achievement during the Dark Age of Technology, for legends claim that mankind had banished drudgery and misery from its life, tasking machines with all burdensome labour and letting automation carry out all mind-numbing work. Man is said to have lived a life of paradisal bliss and scientific study, spreading his seed across the stars and bestriding the galaxy like a colossus. His knowledge was unsurpassed, his comfort unrivalled, his optimism unbound. It was a time of hope and plenty. Yet we are much wiser now.

Man was toppled from his high pedestal by his own arrogance and his own creations, and his lush gardens and crystal palaces fell to fire and ruin across twain million worlds. Thus the Age of Strife humbled man and taught him to despair once again, for none of his artifice could save his realm from collapse and horror. And haggard bands of starved survivors huddled close around campfires, fearing the night and praying to higher powers for salvation. Their lot was one of baleful suffering and cannibal acts of self-preservation, as brother killed brother and feral tribes rampaged over the fallen wonders of a once all-powerful civilization.

What is the great works and ingenuity of brilliant mortals to the mute void? What is the violence and hardships of depraved mortals to an uncaring cosmos? On a million worlds and more, men, women and children begged from the depths of their hearts for someone to end the raging chaos and gnawing misery. Their star-sailing ancestors would have scoffed at such ignorant superstition, but their forefathers' hubris had been laid low by their sins, and only shattered remnants of primal humanity lingered on worlds and voidholms spinning around uncounted alien suns. Unknown generations of humans asked for deliverance during Old Night, sacrificing to silent skies.

Yet their prayers for salvation were heard, for a man unlike any other arose on Earth, raising the banner of thunder and lightning akin to the gods of old and conquering all that stood before Him. This man was known only as the Emperor, and His legions and labourers reshaped the galaxy in the Great Crusade, slaying old warlords and destroying old allegiances with the weapon, while repairing and building shining cities anew with the tool. A new golden age had dawned for mankind, and for the first time in five millennia there was burgeoning hope and plenty once again.

Yet resurgent man swiftly proved the falsehood of his heart, for in his limitless ingratitude did he rebel against the saviour of his species, and the galaxy burned again in the Horus Heresy. And as the Emperor was mortally wounded by His favourite son for whose treachery He was the bane, a rightful punishment was inflicted upon sinful mankind, and the grand promises of the brief golden age of the Emperor in bodily splendour were withdrawn. For his disloyalty, man would die by the sword. For his arrogance, man would know pain and despair. For his selfishness, man would toil under the yoke. For his greed, man would see his offspring succumb to disease. For his blasphemy, man would be cleansed in flames. For his crime, man would be ruled by cruelty. For his heresy, man would never know peace.

Thus the Age of Imperium is one of order and misery, in which all must bow to the will of supreme authority and praise the lashes of the whip as it tears flesh bloody. It is an era of endless darkness and cruelty, a hymn of servitude to overlords sung by fanatics and savages, its tune the evil that men do.

Gone is the wonderland of the Dark Age of Technology. Gone is the bliss and the hope. Gone is the certitude of machine thralls easing the lives of humans. The Imperium of Man still maintain and produce a great many machines, most of which are robustly primitive in design or poorly understood, and usually in need of large numbers of human hands to plug the gaps where machine components or STC reproductions fail. Slowly but surely, the rotting Imperium has seen an arduous demechanization of technological systems, with frail or auxiliary systems giving up to never receive a replacement of like quality. Instead, teeming masses of human labourers heave at ropes and chains where once engines pulled weights. And so stopgap measures turn permanent in an ever downward spiral.

The Imperium of Man supplements its slowly failing industrial machinery with hordes of men, women and children doing manual labour, throwing ever more bodies at problems with indifference, where once their ancestors would have invented machines in a long-lost hunt for efficiency and improvement. One such example of descendant degeneration is the simple porter, a humble subject of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra who carry heavy burdens on his back, in his arms, on his head, or hanging from a yoke on his shoulders. A porter can transport far less weigth than a draft animal such as a horse or cart-grox can do, not to mention vehicles and other machinery. Yet manpower is abundant on the worlds and voidholms of the Imperium, and this cheap solution to logistics will always be utilized along with beasts of burden and machinery, or even be used to replace precious machine power altogether in a great many instances.

Most Imperial mining and building projects (including such landscape architecture as the digging of irrigation canals, mass graves and the erection of skull pyramids following purges) will be accompanied by a horde of ragged humans hauling loads like ants in backbreaking helotry. Indeed, many military and exploratory expeditions into ancient ruins, wild nature or wilder Underhives will usually sport a considerable baggage train of human transportation beside draft animals and vehicles. These toiling bodies can be pressed into arms in an emergency, used as bait or even be eaten if all foodstuffs run out.

This peonage is the destiny of uncounted men, women and children, many walking barefoot and bent double as they carry out their Emperor-ordained duty as archaic human beasts of burden and live out their short lives in wretched squalor.

Such is the lot of unknown billions of human souls across a million worlds, their drudgery and sacrifice nothing but numbers in a broken calculation of increased input, their very existence a testament to the faltering patchwork industry of a decrepit empire.

For the Imperium of Man will shy away from nothing in order to prolong its tortured reign. Where machines fail, human flesh will pick up the slack. Where a million soldiers perish on the battlefield, three million labourers in mines, factories, starships and ground transport have already died in order to support that army with its arms and equipment, their remains ground up and recycled into corpse starch to feed the living. Where Imperial subjects end up maimed in endless workplace accidents, most have to either limp along and carry out chores that do not require those body parts, or receive crude bionics in the same way a broken tool would be repaired. Another common fate for those too injured to be productive can be glimpsed among the foundries of Shexia, where the unfit and old are chased out by Urban Purity Patrols into the sewage marshes to die.

Thus is life under the Imperial yoke, and thus is death. To be a man in such times is to live a rat race of thankless toil, your stomach riven by hunger, your back at risk of breaking any day, your flesh tormented by parasites and disease. No matter how hard you labour, the overseer's bark and lash will ever find you wanting. High quotas must be met, and always the survival and mastery of your species and lord depend upon your efforts, piety and sacrifice.

To be a man in such times is to wake up to a nightmare every shift, every morning, every lights-on. Your offering of sweat and blood will be taken for granted, your tenacity go unrewarded, your death only noted for district manpower replacement needs or because of the resultant cleaning and repair duty when your mangled corpse interfere with the workings of the machine spirit.

Such is the grim darkness of the far future.

Such is the fall of mankind from ancient heights.

Such is the despair and misery that awaits our species.

Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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Great work with this series so far, Karan Norn Clansman. The artwork has a bit of a Rogue Trader feel to it, which I like.

These musings on the Imperium’s less delved-into aspects are refreshingly different to the usual 30,000ft view we (mainly) get in the background. The insights you provide through your writing are great and the concepts are well thought out. Juve Soldier for example, is an interesting way of taking the horrific real-world example of the child soldier and inserting it into the nightmare that is life in the 40k universe. When you describe such a thing, it does makes sense to me that in such a bleak future, such things would happen. The whole series feels like it would be stellar material to intersperse in a 40k sourcebook.

I don’t know if I have anything bad to say, sorry!

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Thank you most kindly, StratoKhan! Much appreciated. Words like yours are the best encouragement to keep pumping out stuff. :smile.:

A lot of this brainstorming is based on studies in late antique Roman and medieval Byzantine history, as well as Soviet history and WW2 total war mobilization* and atrocities in general that I've dipped into a lot in recent years. In those fields there are so many tales of spiralling downwards, tyranny, decay and dysfunctionality of a thousand different facets, even while there is simultaneously a lot of human bravery, hard work and heroism in the face of hardships and overwhelming odds.

The original three acrylic diptychs were planned as a final product (a tribute to 40k in general, and Luetin's fantastic way of describing it in particular), but everything else have just turned into a freeflowing creative process, akin to what I've already done in droves for Chaos Dwarfs in Warhammer Fantasy (everything marked with Admiral in there is work by me). I hope to compile all these 40k doodles and writings into a PDF sometime, and maybe, just maybe, see if someone handy with video and audio editing could do something and put it out on Youtube in the future? It would be nice to do something more polished with it.



* Just as a random and fascinating example: Over 80'000 Americans died in industrial accidents during the war years, and far more Americans were wounded for life in factories than in combat, a result of so many constantly working overtime, always harder for the common war effort in dangerous workplaces. Similar pictures must have been true for Great Britain, and especially Germany and Russia. There is endless inspirational material for the Imperium in that thing alone.


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Pipe Lurker

In the grim darkness of the far future, some who go to the lavatory do not return.

Claims were once made that civilization can be measured by how far human waste is transported away from the people that produce it. While such a crude yardstick is of little value to cultures with starships and interstellar empires, sewers and running water nevertheless remain some of the best (and oldest) inventions of humanity. Clean running water and efficient sewage systems could be taken for granted during the Dark Age of Technology, during those forgotten millennia when mankind reshaped worlds at will and erected paradisal arcologies in soaring hubris.

Yet such simple luxuries born from humble pumps, pipes and filters are far from obvious and omnipresent parts of everyday life in the rotting astral realms of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, for creature comforts and public health have come to be of minor concern to the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man. Vital infrastructure such as plumbing and power will usually be installed as a matter of course during Imperial construction, but its maintenance is an entire matter altogether.

It is not uncommon for water and sewage systems to decay, plug up and be infected with unclean elements. It is likewise common for such faulty plumbing and sewers to stay neglected for many years on end before plumbers and purgation crews can be found to rectify the problem. Cholera is as a consequence a natural occurence on most Imperial planets and void installations, its festering existence noted with indifference by the Officio Medicae.

A majority of civilized Imperial worlds and voidholms who can boast of some antiquity tend to sport labyrinthine tangles of pipes, cisterns, sewage works and water towers that have accreted haphazardly over unknown epochs. Oftentimes in lower hive cities, entire sections of such water and sewage systems will have been forgotten by whatever clans, corporations or authorities that were originally tasked with maintaining and repairing them. In which case the tunnels will often have been colonized by mutants and scavengers, and occassionally a rudimentary form of maintenance will be provided by some local scraptown settlements, or worse yet by enterprising and armed pipe-scamps who will tinker and re-route piping ruthlessly in an extortive hunt for pecuniary gain and local influence.

In times of mass starvation it is usual practice for corpse guilds to hire gangs or armsmen and send out expeditions to search for forgotten nooks and abandoned sewage systems in the depths of Imperial hive cities, where depots of accumulating human waste and corpses may be found and harvested for their bio-matter. Indeed many legends across the Imperium give praise to adventurous heroes who braved life and limb to save their hungry kin by slaying fell guardians of hoarded manure and dead bodies.

Another widespread phenomenon found in somewhat functional parts of Imperial cities and voidholms, is that of the undermanned plumbers, who have realized that they can use the screaming demand for their services as leverage in order to only show up to lowly households willing to pay exorbitant fees or bribes. Normally the denizens of a household also have to serve up an expensive feast dinner if they want the plumber to even cross the threshold into their home.

Some writings by scholars in the Age of Imperium claim that ancient man during the Dark Age of Technology did not exterminate dangerous wildlife and harmful parasites since it was no threat at all to him. And indeed ancient man would terraform uncounted worlds and introduce species from other planets, or even genetically transformed flora and fauna, tailored for the new worlds, complete with predators to round out the ecosystem. Such xenobiological induglence allowed all manner of noxious and lethal creatures to survive and expand on uncounted human colonies, only to infest Underhives and even sewage systems in the Imperial era, spreading between worlds via resupplying starships.

And so a myriad of fiends roam the depths of hive cities, while the smaller, agile and more flexible ones may occassionally find their way into piping, losing themselves in claustrophobic plumbing to prey upon humans and each other. On hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms, a wide array of bestial xenological lifeforms have been known to slither and crawl their way through sewers and tubes. These monsters and pipe lurkers will force their way into homes or lie waiting in toilets, ready to infect men, women and children with their eggs, or lie prepared to sting those enthroned upon loos with toxins, sucking their innards out of their paralyzed husks or devouring them from below in a feeding frenzy. As a result, some families of means will often seek to invest in facilities that dispose of waste by scorching it to ash or annihilating it in alchemical compounds. Such alternative systems are rarely something for the masses, however, since vast waterpumped plumbing systems better allow for the gathering and recycling of biological matter into synthetic foodstuffs.

The infiltrating horror of such pipe lurkers have necessitated plumbers on many Imperial worlds to arm themselves with various weapons to dispose of potential monstrosities plugging the tubes. Some such tools of the trade include toxbombs, chemguns and clawed beaters, as well as poisoned xylospongia, acid pumps and hooked line and bait in order to lure out difficult sewage fauna. Of course, all such equipment is of little use against otherworldly sabotage in the form of Daemonic mites, slugs and maggots unleashed through pipe networks by cults of Nurgle operating from unspeakable corners of hive cities and voidholms...

Thus the lives of most subjects of His Divine Majesty are not just hardy ones of darkness, pain and oppression, but also of filth, stench and lacklustre hygiene, harrowed by disease and parasites. Imperial hive cities sport a wide array of latrines, outhouses, water closets and more technologically advanced waste disposal facilities for the great and the good among propertied and privileged orders. No matter the precautions undertaken, complete security rarely exist for most people who lower themselves onto bathroom seats, for life has a wonderful yet nasty habit of enduring hardships and spreading everywhere possible. Life finds a way. And any predator worth its salt would agree with the old military maxim that it is best to strike your prey when it is exposed at its most vulnerable and unable to fight back or escape.

And so hundreds of billions of humans will include a line in their daily prayers, for the Imperator to preserve them, their kin and their offspring from the terror below, from the hidden spider, from the sudden snatcher, from that which lurks in the pipes. Thus they pray to their deity, the Emperor of Mankind, He who is seated in deathless radiance upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth.

Such is the degradation of man in the darkest of futures.

Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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Warhammer 40'000 Experimental Ambient Soundscape by Secularis

I was humbled and excited to receive an astonishing message from Secularis on Deviantart. He wrote that my Warhammer 40'000 doodles and writings had reawakened his dormant love for Warhammer and 40k, and said that he was inspired to cobble together this experimental ambient soundscape after a night of being enthralled by my work.

It was fantastic and wholly unexpected to receive such a message, and hear such a gift. Thank you, thank you most kindly Secularis. Check it out on Soundcloud!


You are a scribe of the Adeptus Administratum. One of the untold billions of lowly scriveners in service to Holy Terra and the governance of the Imperium. As you toil mindlessly away in a scriptorium, you can hear the tortured screams of one of your clerical brothers in the next room. A mistranslation of a document has made him a target for the accusation of heresy, and now he is being interrogated and tortured by a group of inquisitors. His life is already over. He has already been replaced. Now you must hear his final cries for mercy before being put to flame for his crimes. The Emperor Protects.

This track was composed with various other ambient tracks layered and mixed to form a composite soundscape. I am not the owner of these assets, and this track is an experiment in sound design and theory. I am not making any profit from this track.

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No Railings

In a decrepit age of darkness, man must watch his every step.

Every day across a million worlds and uncounted voidholms, the feet of men, women and children must tread with care, lest they be swallowed up by the abysm. A clumsy motion may throw you off balance and send you tumbling down a precipice. A slippery patch may slide you over the edge. A drunken stumble, a moment's distraction or a playful hop may greet you with a shrieking fall. A sudden push, a nasty elbow or a treacherous leg is all it takes to trip you up one last time. Sometimes, a strong wind or the heavy rumble of nearby machinery, explosions or hivequakes may catch you off guard and cast you unto death far below.

To walk among the creations of mankind in the grim darkness of the far future is oft to expose your side to a gaping pit, hungry for your fall. Indeed, bodily exhaustion, poor lumination or an absentminded moment may be all it takes to doom you in the cities and void installations of the Imperium of Man, for almost everywhere there is a widespread lack of railings and fences on gangways, rooftops and bridges among the star-spanning domains of the Emperor of Earth.

Around heights, the difference between life and death is the blink of an eye. A sudden drop may occur in an instant, unforeseen and unwarned a mere second ago. Crippling accidents and deadly crashes are the matter of a single unsure step, of but one more narrow passageway, or of just yet another section of ramshackle catwalk sagging at a bad angle.

Day in and day out across an uncaring galaxy, trillions of humans set foot on walkways without railings. Many work their entire shift but inches away from a horrific fall, or live and sleep at the edge of manmade precipices. Habit is a strong force in the minds of men, for few ever pay the constant danger much heed. They have long since become aware of it without thinking, and have learnt to move about so as to avoid the sheer drop, their instincts serving them well hour after hour, year after year as they live out their harsh and thankless lives. How many steps have not their feet taken at the very edges of pits like these, without ever faltering? How many dangerous climbs haven't they undertaken without harm?

Yet accidents may catch the best wrong-footed, and even the sharpest and most alert people are not immune to falling. Among plebeians in the Imperium, it seems that everyone knows of someone who didn't mean to step over the edge, but still crashed fatally one day. It has always been that way, an inevitable part of life for generations beyond counting. That's just how things are.

There are many reasons behind the lack and even removal of safety railings across the vast Imperium of Man. Oftentimes, the ravenous demands of total war will see labourers and lay techmen at the homefront scavenge railings and fences for their precious metal. It is likewise common for calculating planners to reduce construction costs by doing without superfluous railings. Sometimes, the inclusion of fences for utilitarian and commoner structures did not even occur to the architects in the first place, the very concept simply being alien to them and their schooling and traditions.

Yet some of the most abundant reasons for the usual scarcity of railings among human cities and voidholms revolve around beliefs and ideas, for is it not right and proper for pious subjects of the Imperator of Holy Terra to trust in their deity to protect them? Is it not up to the Emperor to judge you safe from falling, instead of an unclean railing? Is it not virtuous to encourage alertness among the masses, especially so among the dubious lower orders? Is it not healthy eugenics for the whole species if lesser members of mankind disappear from the gene pool by their own weak failings?

For man was not meant to cower in fear of danger, but to stride boldly into volatile chance and dare the risks to bring him low. Man was not meant for cowardice, but for daring and self-sacrifice. Man was meant to rely on himself, and ever be ready to cast himself into the jaws of death for the higher cause. Would not the installation of unnecessary fences send contrary signals to the people? Would it not foster wretched poltroons and shirkers who everywhere imagined that they needed safety measures to dare venture forth? Would it not be better to condition men, women and children to constant danger and hardship, and breed a strong humanity?

A parable of Old Earth told of salt improving the taste of meat, while too much salt ruins the meat. Thus it is with humans, for suffering improves character, yet too much suffering ruins character, claimed the ancient allegory. The Imperium of Man utterly rejects that notion, for it operates instead on principles of overwhelming cruelty, increased input of resources, indifference to casualties, inviting hardship and of pushing mankind to the breaking point and beyond. Let those who break, break. The most ardent and true servants of His Divine Majesty will endure by the strength of their faith and by His saving grace, for the survival of deviants and weaklings is not desirable in any case. Those found lacking will anyhow make for passable Servitors or corpse starch.

Thus it is that the Imperium will not suffer cravens who are afraid of heights. Man shall fear the God-Emperor alone and nothing more. And so billions upon billions of humble Imperial subjects across the Milky Way galaxy will include a line in their daily prayers, asking for their saviour and lord to preserve them, their kin and their offspring from the fall, the sudden drop, the yawning pit. They would never gather the bravery to ask their superiors for material safety structures, for they know well the abominable fate of those who dare advice their betters and masters without having been ordered to do so.

Forget the promises of material improvement, for they were nought but the heresies of sinful ancestors who wallowed in rotten luxury and hubris. Forget their lies of science and progress, for we are much wiser now. Forget their raising of lowly man onto a pedestal, for man's true purpose in life has always been to toil, pray and die, and nothing more.

No mercy. No remorse. No railings.

And so mankind in the Age of Imperium trust in the Emperor to keep them safe instead of base, worldly fences. Every step may challenge death. And all is well in the Imperium.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is nothing in sight to stop the fall of man.

Edited by Karak Norn Clansman
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In a dysfunctional age of darkness and decay, a careless word is enough to land you in hell.

Most Low Gothic dialects across the Imperium of Man sport a double meaning attached to the word for 'whisper', and indeed a great many dialects sport two different words for the act of whispering: One denoting whispering in order to avoid detection, and one denoting whispering to inform on others.

It has been thus for millennia upon millennia, for rulers who live in fear are the most dangerous of all. In the Age of Imperium there is no shortage of insidious horrors to keep the Adeptus Terra and its host of Planetary Governors on edge, dreading what lurks in hiding. A myriad of ambitious plots are everyday pursued by Imperial nobles and bureaucrats, some aiming at coups and assassinations in the bewildering world of human games of power. Shady nests of insurgents and cultist cells feed off widespread discontent to further their plans of sabotage and uprising, ever threatening Imperial rule with the heretical scourges of separatism, revolt, apostasy and abominable blasphemy. To speak nothing of the ever-present threat of invasion from beyond the dark void, some attacks of which do not unite beleaguered worlds against an external foe, but on the contrary lay bare internal divisions as rival sides seek to turn the uncertain new situation to their advantage in a confused frenzy of broken alliances and civil war.

With so many deadly perils hanging over the head of the masters of mankind like the sword of Damocles, how could Imperial Adepta and local rulers do aught else than clamp down with harshness on the populace, for their own good? With the preservation of Imperial law and power under danger, how could the servants of the God-Emperor dare to do anything less than uphold a rigid order of terror which tolerates no one speaking out of line? With the survival of the human species itself at stake, how could virtuous subjects of Him on Terra fail to report suspicious talk and deviant behaviour to the righteous authorities?

After all, those who fail to police their community with vigilance and cunning, will damn it to oblivion. To not report, is to partake in the treachery. There could be no worse crime than allowing the slightest hint of hidden heresy and thought of self to escape detection by the guardians of humanity. Aid our watchmen: Keep watch! Those loyal to their species and lord will know to listen well to all people around them, and discreetly inform on any suspects to the Adeptus Arbites, Inquisitorial agents or local law enforcement and counter-espionage networks.

To the pious and staunch subjects go the spoils, for the Imperium know well to reward its informants. Indeed, for many slaving people trapped in squalor and grinding poverty, the rewards for ratting out on a neighbour or colleague may be the only way to alleviate their misery by some extra company scrips, coupons, ration bars, tech-trinkets or meager luxuries unusual to your rank, and any number of other perks and bonuses which many downtrodden humans would be willing to kill over. Yet pecuniary gain is not the only material incentive at work. When your crowded family live in each others' laps and shares an apartment, shack or holestead with several other families, the best way to earn some breathing space and bunk room is to denounce members of the other families, and watch as security police makes them disappear, never to be heard of again. As the
Lectitio Divinitatus states, the righteous will oft be rewarded in this life as well as in the next.

And so humanity under the heavy rule of the Imperium watch each other and whisper on each other. The Imperial culture of imputation has ensnared society in a web of distrust and deceit, and sown suspicion everywhere. Strong ties to your clan or tribe is no guarantee of safety, for greedy, spiteful or loyalist informers can be found everywhere. Who have not heard the glorious tales of good children who reported their own mischievous parents to the authorities, and died the glorious martyr's death as their vengeful extended family murdered and tore them apart? Who have not listened to the uplifting songs praising such youthful duty? Who have not seen the posters, statues, pict-casts, theatrical performances and holo-dramas hailing such young virtue and loyalty to His Divine Majesty?

Thus the spider's web of informants every day, somewhere across the Emperor's vast domains in the Milky Way Galaxy, repeat that baleful tragedy over and over: That of sons and daughters denouncing their fathers and mothers, or their sisters and brothers or other kinsfolk. That of children betraying their own parents to the authorities for the sake of grumbling words against cruel overseers after a taxing shift, or for the sake of more guilty scheming. That tragedy of people who died in the torturer's chambers, labour camps or on executioner's squares because their own offspring or siblings informed on them. That of Imperial loyalty trumping filial piety. That of families torn apart.

For no tyrant ever had trouble finding willing henchmen to carry out their heinous bidding, and no despot ever found a dearth of humans willing to sell out their friends and loved ones.

Much of our species in the far future ekes out a miserable living to a constant background din of paranoia and squealing, an everyday mistrust of fellow man that is frequently drummed up to a crescendo of arrests, torture and a domino effect of panicked denunciations as yet another wave of terror and purges roll out across hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and uncounted voidholms. The rhythm of such campaigns of repression varies wildly, often being dependant on the commonly depraved character of rulers and their moodswings, or on crisis events and disasters leading to angered calls for culling the disloyal among the populace.

And why should such waves of terror ever be uncalled for? Clearly, each one catches many infidels and traitors in its claws, and each purge manages to force most of these foul heretics and recidivists to confess and name yet more sinners participating in their undermining schemes, for how could their craven souls resist the noble art and purifying tools of torture? The bountiful harvests of uncovered snakes, who name yet more backstabbers, plotters and terrorists in a vain attempt to save their worthless skin, is a healthy sign of Imperial justice at work. The mass graves and pyramids of skulls generated by the Imperial terror waves are monuments to the cleansing redemption of mankind itself. Witness the forces of order lead off the wretched deviants and malcontents to their rightful doom. Listen to the jingling of their chains. Show no compassion or mercy to these wrongdoers and filth. Nay, let them know what you think: Howl at these heretics! Let your hate fill your lungs! Hate!

Thus the Age of Imperium trudges on, as a star-spanning colossus on feet of clay crush both the innocent and guilty with little distinction and no remorse in its heart of stone. For the rotting Imperium of Man will purge any hint of threats from within to its tyrannical rule with fierce bloodthirst and lack of mercy. Its symphony of loud proclamations and staccato of violence is set to a background murmur of distrustful whispers. And so brother reports brother, and sister denounces sister in neverending a cycle of terror.

Such is the depravity that awaits our species. Such are the depths to which humanity will sink.

In the grim darkness of the far future, man must watch his tongue.

And all is well in the astral domains of the ascended Emperor of Holy Terra.

All is as it should be.

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"No, my friend. Do not protest.
You fell at the Emperor's behest.
Comrade in arms, lie now at rest.
There's no more use to plug your chest.
That flak armour came short on its test.
Stemming flow no bandage could wrest.
Your wound is foul an' ill distressed.
You're already dead, it's for the best.
Let my frigid hands be your final guest.
For you are blessed.

I'm a stiff soldier too, locked in chill.
With shaking hands to oath fulfill.
My black teeth rattled in charge uphill.
Frost marrow bit to blunt all thrill.
We both have faced the same cold drill.
Cast freezing into hell's white mill.
With deadened feet to snow dunes till.
O'er cracking ice that fear instill.
Clip off blue toes for winter's bill.
Brought here to kill.

Shush! Be still my friend, you are not hale.
Your time is nigh, you're growing pale.
Afrozen hands your leaking lifeblood hail.
Its steam so warm, its vapours frail.
Rise hot off guts blast out of jail.
Begrudge not comrade, do not quail.
This your last service ease my trail.
Fingers warmed 'midst howling gale.
Pray Lord on Terra weigh your scale.
Your kin may wail."

Warmblood, crude trench poem written in 327.M38 by corporal Ladina Terchenkov of the Astra Militarum 8164th Decebalian infantry regiment (XLII Army), two months prior to the Army's last stand and complete destruction at Androniki Ridge during the Lamed offensive of the Hrud invaders on Athanatikoi Secunda

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