Author Topic: 40k: Descendant Degeneration  (Read 1851 times)

Offline Karak Norn Clansman

  • Posts: 447
Re: 40k: Descendant Degeneration
« Reply #50 on: February 27, 2021, 08:29:23 PM »

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is used up by his own weapon.

Across a galactic realm of tenhundredthousand worlds and voidholms without number, human tongues tell an archaic tale of the brave hero who laid down his own life in service to master or country, or to kith and kin. This martial archetype may have died to protect his home or to exact vengeance upon a hated foe of superior might, and he may have slain his enemy or bought his comrades time by his selfless deed. The details vary greatly, and it will often be part of a larger myth cycle, one rivetting episode among others. But the story is always the same at its core, for it is the never-dying myth of the self-sacrificing warrior, a primordial saga that reverberates in the hearts of men, women and children alike, for they all know it to be true, deep down in their very blood and bones. This has happened innumerable times before, and will keep occuring for as long as man draws breath. For as long as life exists.

After all, hardship and struggle remain an integral part of the human condition, born out of a harsh universe of limited resources where might makes right. This primitive peril and adventure has never once died in the human heart, for even at the peak of human power and prosperity during the Dark Age of Technology did man venture boldly into the unknown, willing to lay down his own life to break new ground across the stars and protect his family and fellow settlers from unspeakable terrors. Even on the wealthiest and safest of worlds had this spirit of self-sacrifice not died, for there has always been firemen and volunteers of courage that throw themselves into danger to save others during disasters. Bravery may ever come to the fore in trying times, however brief they may be.

Likewise, a more peaceful and less intense form of self-sacrifice held sway among many of the most intrepid members of the human species during this long-lost golden age, for did they not willingly dedicate their long lives to ceaseless research and scientific toil and discovery when they could could have easily kicked back and relaxed instead, thus whiling away their allotted centuries in a morass of idle plenty? The stubborn spirit of the hero who offers up himself for a higher cause truly do lives on in man, and may be glimpsed at work virtually anywhere if one knows what to look for, even if its example is often less stark and direct than the sight of a valiant mortal who throws himself bodily before the blazing mouths of enemy guns in order to allow his brothers in arms to conquer a fortified hostile war-nest.

This innate potential for heroic deed and heroic death, in spite of fear and the biological drive for self-preservation, is present in virtually any sentient species to be found across the teeming Milky Way galaxy, for none of them had the idyllic luxury to evolve in an environment bereft of violence and danger. Some of them may have built paradises for themselves, but they always originated from harrowing trials and strife. Sometimes, mad bravery may prove the best way to overcome and survive a hopeless situation, and even if the gutsy martyr did not live to tell of the tale, their kin may very well have been saved by the hero's bold action and defiance of death itself.

Such spirited deeds and scorn for both life and death have always been highly sought after and praised by rulers and their hosts, for such unlikely action can swing the course of conflict and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Naturally, the rewarding of heroics with material benefits and immortal fame in story and song will serve as both a bait and incentive to encourage others to follow the example of that plucky man of action or heroine who everyone looks up to for their reckless daring. Propaganda is usually built upon shaming or inspiring your own side with the worthy deeds of outstanding warriors and other heroes, or by summoning wrath and bitter hatred for the enemy by telling tales of his worst atrocities, regardless of the truth behind such narratives. Fostering a sense of danger will in itself encourage the desired response from populace and military alike, thereby mustering support, strengthening morale and bolstering the war effort both on the line of fire and at the home front.

Yet an overwhelming threat may at worst engender despair, doomsaying and defeatism among many on your side. Such creeping malaise is best checked with unexpected success, and failing that a second best alternative would be the remarkable heroism of one's own warriors when faced with dreadful odds. After all, everyone respects strength and daring. And so human tales of audacious servo-hackers, clankwreckers, infiltrating saboteurs and selfless guerilla warriors flourished during the devastating war against the Cybernetic Revolt launched by man's former servants. Some of these machine war legends have been passed down in distorted form through eighteenthousand years of unsteady human deterioration across the stars. Such sagas have usually been bastardized in forgotten eras by unknown storytellers, yet a hard kernel of truth still remains, around which the malleable narrative is ever re-spun through centuries upon centuries of tinkering oral tradition.

One type of the most ancient legends that is still heard on tens of thousands of worlds and millions of voidholms, is that of humble men, women and children who charge straight into the lethal arms of the Men of Iron, armed with nothing but simple spears and suicidal demolition charges. The sight of such forlorn hopes must have branded themselves onto the collective memories of innumerable human cultures, and their faded imprint is still etched onto the vast flora of myths and legends that abound across the Imperium of Man. Yet their sheer longevity through turbulent aeons may have been aided by certain contemporary visual refreshing keeping the deed relevant in the minds of storytelling humanity, for such desperate means are still commonplace in the star-spanning domains of the God-Emperor of Holy Terra.

Aside from explosive belts employed by the Human Bombs of the Penal Legions, there exist a plethora of self-destructive arms throughout the Imperium. For instance, the advanced technology behind plasma weaponry is poorly understood, and any wielder of such devices of techno-sorcery runs a high risk of dying a gruesome death in superheated plasma, should their armament overheat. Similar dangers abound with all manner of sophisticated weapon systems, many of which can no longer be produced anew by ignorant man. At the other end of the technological spectrum can be found such crude and cheap devices, that activating them will engulf the wearer in the flaming shockwave of their single-use weapon.

One such piece of military equipment is the noble krak-lance, which is inhabited by the most simple of machine-spirits, for its make is exceedingly straightforward and it requires only a short litany to soothe and activate. This lunge mine is a common weapon of the Astra Militarum, as well as uncounted Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias alike. A krak-lance is a suicidal anti-tank weapon for infantry forces. It constitutes a rudimentary piece of equipment, being nought but a conical hollow charge anti-tank mine attached to a shaft. Its operation in the field consists of the user pulling out the safety pin to arm the high explosive charge, and then rushing forward to thrust the mine against an enemy vehicle or heavy infantryman in the same manner as one would do in a bayonet charge. If the strike is true, the death-spear will blow up its user and hopefully also the armoured foe, Emperor willing.

This primitive item in the Imperial arsenal is a child of many names, with various patterns existing throughout the wide-reaching astral realm of the Imperator. Its design is always simple and cheap in order to allow for ease of mass-production, and it is a weapon as expendable as the troopers that wield it. As with so many other depraved tools of self-sacrifice upon the battlefield, the stick o' martyrs do not seem to have been used at all by Imperial forces during the Great Crusade of M30, though the krak-lance may possibly have been used by some rundown, ragtag militias in the Unification Wars on parched Terra. Instead, such crude armaments as the hastam et hostia only entered Imperial service in the darkest hours of desperation during long since forgotten wars in millennia past, and the widow rod eventually became standard fare for ever larger portions of the regressing Imperial Guard and local garrison forces.

The one-use yari is issued by the Departmento Munitorum to millions of Astra Militarum regiments every Terran standard year. The krak-lance is a fine expression of the widely held cult of the offensive that is so dominant in Imperial military doctrine, for it requires the soldier to charge into close-quarters combat with self-denying bravery and forcefully ram the piercing thunderbolt against some of the deadliest ground weapon systems deployed by the enemies of mankind. Such sacrificial spearmen stand as a testament to how utterly desensitized man has become in the dark future, for man routinely sends out fellow man with suicide weaponry against his many foes without even blinking.

After all, the sacrifice of the self is a fundamental creed in Imperial modes of thinking, and what better way to demonstrate your complete reverence and allegience to the sacred rule of His Divine Majesty and the Emperor's appointed deputies, than to charge the foe with a suicide doru in hand, and with no hope of surviving even if you land a killing blow and win the martial contest? Some Imperial commanders of a suspiciously pragmatic mindset have occasionally voiced their doubts over the military value of thrust-bombs, yet their borderline heretical protestations against claimed inefficiency are doomed to be quenched by every high-ranking and right-thinking worshipper of the God-Emperor in close vicinity. For at the end of the day, this stock item in the Imperial Guard arsenal is more a proof of the soldiers' eager loyalty unto death, than it is a reliably effective weapon system. No army can conquer the galaxy, but faith can overturn the universe.

And surely self-destructive displays of valour and die-hard loyalism are to be encouraged among the rank and file, just as it is to be praised everywhere they occur within the Imperium of Man? It is better to die for the Emperor than to live for yourself. And why should we discourage virtuous self-sacrifice of our warriors when the blood of martyrs has enabled His cosmic dominion to last without interruption for over ten thousand years? Clearly, we must allow true servants of the God-Emperor the chance to die a heroic death which will establish their loyalist convictions beyond the shadow of a doubt. Let us purify mankind.

After all, refusal to bear the anti-armour krak-lance is a dead giveaway sign of treacherous deviancy and thought of self, all abominable sins! Indeed, even better than a summary execution to set an example and uphold unit discipline at the front, may be the blessed opportunity to cruelly torture the wretch and find out if any relatives, neighbours or comrades of theirs are involved in wider plots against the shining light of Imperial rule. And so the lunge mine remains a trusty lithmus test for loyalty among Imperial infantrymen, as they grip this anti-vehicle weapon that is also used against heavily armoured infantry and light makeshift fortifications in urban warfare and shipboard purges. Some who think too much might sneer at the callous waste of life by having quirites blowing themselves apart just to take down a barricaded door or blast through a wall inside a building, yet their exemplary devotion to the Terran Imperator and visible obedience to their masters and betters will inspire fortitude in their fellow soldiers, thus feeding a virtuous cycle of courage and honour.

Thus the krak-lance remains a common piece of wargear in the armoury of the Astra Militarum and numberless local Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias across the interstellar realms of the Master of Mankind. This crude suicide stick stand as a roaring witness to the Imperium of Man's propensity toward throwing bodies at a problem with an unmoved heart of stone, as the corrupt and indifferent grey bureacrats of the Adeptus Terra juggles vast numbers of billions of human lives at a time, all part of a broken calculation to feed the ravenous meatgrinder of endless wars. All an everyday sacrifice upon the altar of war for the lord of hosts and leader of the people. All fuel for that Imperial fire which must never go out.

Such are futile deaths of countless soldiers of the Imperium, all cannon fodder sent into grinding wars of attrition under alien suns, never to return home. No wonder recruitment into the Astra Militarum is often accompanied by both communal celebration and funerary rituals within the clan or kinsgroup for the local men, women and children who are called under arms to Imperial service. Exceedingly few will die in peaceful retirement out of uniform, much less return to their homeworld or voidholm of birth from distant war zones.

And so warriors sworn to die for their species and lord will grip shafts tipped with heavy bombs far more potent than any ordinary explosive lance used by Rough Riders. These footsoldiers' issued spears are all demented weapons, born out of desperation in bygone conflicts, yet their horror and violence is not dimmed in the slightest by their ancient origin and storied tradtion. Thus the doughty men-at-arms will shout their battlecry to the heavens, their throats dry from dust and smoke. They will yell at the top of their lungs, with blood pumping loudly in their ears and adrenaline setting them on edge: For the Emperor! Their warcry will resound, yet often their earnest last words will be swallowed by an orchestra of death and ruination, for the deafening cacophony of war will rip apart words and minds alike.

In this din, the fanatic spearmen will run as fast as they can, in an insane onrush through fire and shrapnel. They will race each other in degenerate contest to the looming target, even as it vomits death and mutilation around it without abandon. Maybe some of them will even make it to their target, and maybe their sacrifice will bite with lethal power into the hated enemy. Perhaps. Their death, however, is almost assured, for the directed detonation of the krak-lance carries a powerful backwash that is almost guaranteed to doom its carrier. Even when triumphant, they will lie dead on the ground by suicide, their bodies blasted apart, their crushed innards leaking through ragged clothing, their eyes glazed and unseeing. And so on thousands upon thousands of embattled worlds and voidholms, Imperial infantry can be seen charging against firespitting enemy vehicles and plated brutes with krak mines mounted upon long handles, as if plucked out of a nightmare vision of primordial hunters swarming hulking behemoths with spears.

Such hellish savagery reveals at last the true face of the Imperium of Man, for under its gilt sacral mask of defending humanity against a galaxy full of hostile monsters, can be seen a monster in its own right, a bloodthirsty predator on the prowl, a raging zealot willing to sacrifice everything and everyone in order to achieve its primitive goals. Its propaganda may glory in its martyred heroes, for the rulers always want the ruled to praise them, yet its bottomless depravity will never end, for the Imperium of Man will trample human life underfoot and take the self-sacrifice of its subjects for given. The terror will never end. The carnage will never end.

If they are lucky, then a rare few quirites who fell for their own krak-lances will pass into legend, their famed deeds destined to join human folklore's tales of self-killing warriors of the misty past, joining the ranks of ancient heroes who gave up their own lives in the greater struggle against towering foes and metal behemoths. This alone may be their legacy.

And so crude tools of suicidal combat will be employed in default methods by an interstellar tyranny of a million worlds and countless voidholms. Here, the degraded state of man means that he will willingly slay himself in order to bring down his enemy, in a baleful spiral of degeneration and bloodshed grinding ever lower into the pit of oblivion man finds himself mired in, without a hope of clawing himself out of.

For in the Age of Imperium, man has become as expendable as the ammunition he carries in a magazine.

All this transpires, in a ruthless empire decaying among the stars.

In a fevered time of unending evil and slaughter.

In an insane epoch where hope has long since perished.

Such is man's lot in the darkest of futures, trapped in an arena of raging mortals where only the screams of those about to die can be heard on the wind. The screams of damned.

And the laughter of thirsting gods.

Offline Karak Norn Clansman

  • Posts: 447
Re: 40k: Descendant Degeneration
« Reply #51 on: March 08, 2021, 10:03:23 PM »

In the grim darkness of the far future, injured man is slain to save on costs.

Across hundreds of thousands of worlds and innumerable voidholms in the Imperium of Man, a dispersed myriad of folktales and legends tell of skywains that never once touched the ground, and of horseless carriages borne aloft on invisible wings who drove themselves wherever man so pleased, dipping in and out of the void with ease. Sometimes, such a techno-steed would prove a loyal companion to the hero, or even offer sage advice. In other sagas, the decadent failings of tech-dependent humans or the lurking malice of machine intellect would bring ruin and tragedy upon everyone involved. Whatever the narrative, all such myths carry a distorted memory from the Dark Age of Technology, that pinnacle of human achievement and innovation that saw wonders undreamt of become a reality in a fountain of optimism gushing forth from the wellsprings of science.

For in that long since past epoch of paradise, the clever contraptions of man would bolt past him on the streets, carry him into the heavens and dive under the sea, smooth as silk. Man's horseless wagon during the Dark Age of Technology was not only a marvel of engineering, but also a mass-produced luxury available to everyone, no matter how lowly and wretched they might be. Yet the sleek and fully automatized hover vehicles run by Abominable Intelligence have long since been replaced by rougher constructs handled manually by human hands, or even a regressed echo of self-driving in the form of vehicular servitors. The silent robotic traffic of yore has been replaced by an angry din of engines, protesting brakes and shouting drivers, all hurrying along in an aching rush through clouds of smog and exhaust.

In contrast to the aerodynamic creations of ancient human history, Imperial vehicles tend to be blunt, crude and rugged pieces of work, made for ease of construction and field modification as well as for sheer longevity in service, often being driven by many generations from the same bloodline. Imperial designs often combine intricate artifice with a brutal aspect. In contrast to Imperial models common throughout Terran holdings in the Milky Way galaxy, many human vehicles of local designs are often flimsy and cheap, though some retain vague echoes of the technical finesse and flowing forms of vehicles during the Dark Age of Technology.

Even though automobiles of different sorts exist on most Imperial worlds, private cars are rare indeed. License and permit seals are required in order to own a vehicle, and whosoever sport enough wealth, contacts, influence and ability to bribe the right officials in order to gain the warrant, is also rich enough to have their own chauffeur and armed guards. Such propertied betters have no need to themselves drive their expensive vehicle, even though certain well-off daredevils will gladly put themselves behind the wheel or steering rods to chase each other on roads and streets in breakneck contests that often cost the lives of people, both among the race competitors themselves and of surrounding folks such as bystanders, hut dwellers and plebeian drivers in flimsier rides. Some private transport for masters and mistresses are not steered by trained drivers, but are instead controlled by prestigious lobotomized cyborg thralls according to antique automatized driving systems, whose wetware has usually deteriorated through millennia of worsening production capabilities and decaying technical expertise among those schooled in technotheology.

Popular private motoring is virtually unheard of across the length and breadth of the Imperium. Across a million human worlds and uncountable voidholms, it is extremely rare for hoi polloi among Imperial subjects to have any access whatsoever to private cars. In part, such wasteful vehicles for the dirty masses would require a lot of limited resources to construct, maintain and refuel, and the Imperium of Man will always prioritize its civilian vehicles far lower than its crucial military hardware. And as the centuries grind on in an ever downward spiral, both fuel and industrial capacity increasingly needs to be ruthlessly shovelled into the war effort, as the Imperium draws ever closer to its breaking point. In part, it is also easier to control humans if their mobility can be restricted.

Owning your own means of easy transport is a great liberty and indulgence of self, and why would the High Lords of Terra and their legions of haughty representatives across the galaxy ever wish for such deviancy to be inflicted upon mankind? Private automobiles may all too easily turn into vessels of deviancy and apostasy. Indeed, the freedom of choice in travel that many humans knew during many periods in the misty Age of Terra and the sinful Dark Age of Technology, would in itself invite to heresy in the Age of Imperium, for is not heresy per definition the act of choosing your own beliefs? By fostering a closed and strictly controlled material milieu without free choice on offer, the very potential for heresy and its spread is curtailed. Ownership of a groundcar equals freedom of movement, and why should the Imperium ever want to grant any of its subjects freedom?

Indeed, crowd control and strict regulation of movement is a pivotal aspect of Imperial architecture, urban planning, landscape engineering, policing and bureaucratic functions. On many planets and moons it is illegal to build and maintain roads, viaducts, highways, canals, vacuum tunnels, aerodromes, starports and mag-rails without permission granted from the Imperial Governor of that world. This state of affairs hold sway because it is difficult to mobilize armies and advance in a lightning strike to suddenly topple the current rulers without good infrastructure in place. How many times have not the Imperium's own roads, railways and other networks of transportation been used by its hated foes in order to rapidly move their forces about to the detriment of pious loyalists?

Dirty mass transit in the form of large, overcrowded omnibuses, trains, tubes, tramcars, cable railways, ferries and mass elevators sees to the collective movement needs of the vast majority of the populace, beyond common walking on their two Emperor-given human feet, of course. Mechanized civilian traffic in the Imperium mainly consists of utilitarian transports and armoured vehicles. Ill-repaired roads and streets are usually clogged by vehicles such as trucks, overburdened buses and bulletproof limos, as well as armoured vehicles in the service of law enforcement, various militaries, noble Houses, and a plethora of authorities both Imperial and local.

As for the common armoured vehicles seen across the Imperium of Man, these comprise heavy cars such as urbecarri and Standard Template Construct (STC) vehicles like the Trek Wain, Iron Ox and Huss Cricket. Armoured groundcars likewise include luxury rides such as a plethora of limos and the rough terrain-going Salon Royale, as well as armoured personnel carriers like the common Rhino, Chimera and Taurox. Some of these armoured ground vehicles are wheeled, others tracked, and some are even halftracked in order to enable truck drivers to quickly take over the reins without lengthy instruction. The Imperium, after all, do not set great stock in unnecessary education for plebeians, which is sneered at as a foul waste of time and resources spilled on short-lived peasants.

Armoured vehicles of all sorts usually sport discreet weaponry, since so much of Imperial territories are dangerous and wild places even at the best of times, with feuding clans, hostile tribes and toxic neighbour communities hating each others' guts, as well as downtrodden malcontents lashing out against their overlords. Even during times of peace, there may be regular riots, bandit attacks, bombings, highway piracy and assassinations. Rival sects and cults both Imperial and forbidden vie with each other for influence, and such sectarian clashes of interest, regional pride, leadership personalities and ideas often spill over into bloody vendettas with entrenched arch-enemies attacking each other for many centuries or even millennia of cyclic conflict, the original cause of which may long since have been forgotten, and yet still the violent struggle continues.

Among the lower castes, their practical work vehicles are often owned by wealthy patrons or Guilds, and rented at an ungainly price by desperate clients, rather than being owned by the unwashed craftsmen and petty market traders themselves. Another common arrangement for those who drive shoddy work vehicles, is for the lay techmen, plumbers, peddlers, truckers, draymen and bemokarls to either themselves be legally owned as indentured servants by nobles or Guild associations, or stand in another form of multi-generational indebtitude as freedmen required to serve their gracious overlords after being granted a higher legal status once their monetary debt was somehow paid off or manumitted. Needless to say, the freedmen's vehicles are still owned by their former slave masters, who receive a hefty cut of all freedman income. Only the most succesful of petty tradespeople could ever hope to rise high enough to themselves buy and own the vehicle they drive to work in, due to a highly corrupt administration if nothing else.

A fair number of the multifarious vehicle designs to be found across the vast width of the Imperium of Man are STC models, with rugged reliability proven on most habitable types of worlds and with universal replacement parts to be found across wideranging sectors of Imperial space. Many other vehicle designs will be of local patterns, which may be both more primitive or more advanced than the Standard Template Construct rides. The main disadvantages with locally produced vehicles include reliance on natively made parts or fuel that may be impossible to get ahold of off-world, not to mention a lack of reliability in alien climates and terrain types which the vehicles were never designed for.

On many worlds and on some of the largest voidholms, various exotic vehicle types such as skimmers, cargo-walkers, hovercraft, screw-propulsors, aerosleds or mag-chariots may be found in the local vehicle pool. Whatever their make, these civilian vehicles are always liable to be requisitioned by Imperial forces, as are their fuel and machined parts such as the grav-plates of skimmers. Such confiscations are frequent occurrences that may often happen forcefully at gunpoint, and requisitions are growing ever more common as waning Imperial power resorts to cannibalizing its subject human societies in order to wage a rising number of total wars across the teeming Milky Way galaxy.

Whether of STC make or not, human vehicles in the Age of Imperium span a colossal number of variations and technologies. Across hundreds of thousands of strange worlds, the skies may swarm with everything from blimps, flightcars, skimmers and omnithopters, to atmospheric aircraft, voidboats and tamed flying creatures or aerofloated plant life. Jet trains, mag-trains and promethium-burning rail monstrosities can all be found on fixed lines cutting across landscapes, or zooming through tunnels below the ground. Some trains are even pulled by genetically modified beasts, or powered by weird human treadmills. The means of propulsion are no less varied upon alien seas, with all manner of submersibles and surface vessels making use of tech ranging from the most primitive to levels of barely understood sophistication, as ignorant humanity continue to copy designs over and over and to gnaw on the remnant fruits from a long since deceased golden age, until nothing is left in use of his ancestors' clever inventions, and man's regression takes yet another step downward.

On land, carts and wagons pulled by humans, horses and alien draft animals jostle with road-wheelers, paulotrucks, power lifters and rickshaws. Simple cycles share ways with groundcars, dirtbikes, trikes, dune buggies, quads, bemos and mechshaws. Heavier rides likewise traverse Imperial roads and streets, including temple juggernauts, six-wheelers, omnibuses, tractors, eight-wheelers and all manner of strange vehicles needed in the agricultural, mining, construction, organic recycling and forestry sectors, as well as giant freight-drays rumbling treads or wheels so fat they are almost cylinders. All terrain vehicles (ATV) may be found bumping into anti-grav rides or scratching the paintjobs of walkers, even as trundling noble House behemoths akin to rolling castles crush the most dysgenically inattentive rabble and their autocarts under their stupendous weight.

The pockmarked roads, tunnels and viaducts of the Imperium are filled with very brave drivers gunning their vehicles like madmen in a harebrained chase through a moving maze. The driving antics of humans in the far future are mostly aggressive and assertive, everyone breathing down the neck of vehicles in front of them, ever pushing, ever seeking an advantage and kick of adrenaline, rarely being afraid of potential accidents resulting from their daredevil steering and need for speed. These drivers are virtually never shy of clipping a corner at risky angles or darting in between other vehicles with a deft skill that sees them living on the razor's edge in human traffic. Naturally, the roadsides of the Imperium are not seldom littered with the smoking wrecks and corpses of their more disastrous journeys. Adopting a cautious and defensive driving style may not prove a safeguard, since more vigorous drivers may take offense at the milksop's whimpy handling on the road, and may as such attempt to force them off the highway, even if it entails pushing them through lanky railings for the craven cur to plummet to their doom from precipitous heights. Needless to say, railings and fences are becoming an ever more unusual sight on Imperial viaducts across the galaxy due to reductionist calculations and twisted ideology, so being dropped from a raised highway has never been easier.

Thus crazy drivers will press the pedal to the metal and trust in the Terran Emperor and their talismanic trinkets of luck to keep them safe in a Vostroyan roulette of Imperial traffic. Their offensive driving antics may mow down the unfortunate, but such random chance is all manifestations of His Divine Majesty's godly will. Drivers and pedestrians alike will put their lives in the hands of the protecting Imperator, and drive carelessly or jaywalk rather than be slaves to craven caution and shameful thought of self. If it is His will that they survive, then they will make it through the traffic unharmed. If Our Lord on Terra has judged them unworthy, then no amount of safety measures can in any case shield them from the impending worldly punishment ordained by Him on the Golden Throne. In fact, the more anxious caution you pursue while deemed sinful and wanting, the worse the outcome of your inevitable penalty will be. Do not flee from fate, for that will only bring it about in a horrendously worse fashion.

The barely controlled bedlam of Imperial road traffic is not made safer by overstressed drivers who constantly get delayed in security checkpoints, where armed guards and watchmen ask for their papers and identity seals with a finger ready on the trigger. No wonder highways combed into neat lanes are constantly violated by daring drivers harassed by shrieking schedules and taskmasters. To survive and thrive, you need be without mercy, and never look back. Weak moments of regret can kill you on the road or street in the Imperium of Man. Such ruthless operators of vehicles are like wolves in drivers' seats. These lupa curribus are almost invariably status-sensitive drivers, ever ready to demand respect and assert hierarchy on the road with selfconfidence and bluster. They will be found shouting obscenities and curses at each other when they themselves are cut short by exactly the kind of death-defying traffic maneuvres that they so love to execute with bare inches of empty space left before a collision would occur. To be a driver of vehicle in the Imperium of Man, is to be of vindictive and backbiting character, always out for your own gain at the expense of others. Your mind will be wicked and mean-spirited, your tongue shouting barbs and your fists waving at other drivers as you pass them by in cracked road lanes littered with pot holes and trash.


Offline Karak Norn Clansman

  • Posts: 447
Re: 40k: Descendant Degeneration
« Reply #52 on: March 08, 2021, 10:03:50 PM »
Rarely is the true spirit of man behind the wheel or steering levers seen as clearly, as in the double-hit incidents that are so common across hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and the largest of voidholms that sport vehicular traffic. This dual-ramming phenomenon exists wherever laws make any driver who injures another Imperial subject above a certain caste level liable to pay for the lifetime care and bionic prosthetics of any disabled survivor from their road rampage or random street accident. Such running costs can be ruinously expensive as the years stack up. Usually, lower caste victims who are killed in traffic accidents will require a far lower one-time-payment in compensation to grieving kin, clan or master, thus making it far more economical to hit and kill, than to hit and wound. The fine may of course be lowered further by choice bribes, making it that much cheaper to pay once and have the matter be over and done with. Lower caste members killing upper caste members in traffic will result in the lowborn scum being hunted down by House armsmen or bounty hunters.

Such a legal order where it is cheaper to kill than to injure in traffic, creates a perverse incentive to repeatedly run over a downed pedestrian or opponent driver flung through their window onto the pavement, and make sure that they are dead before driving away at high speed, in case surveillance or present witnesses would have seen it and charges would be pressed. These twisted law codes of victim compensation will invite drivers to run a cold-blooded calculation through their minds, and encourage them to hit at least twice and drive to kill, should they ever be involved in an accident with engines revved. Such perverse rules have indirectly caused the deaths of uncounted billions throughout the Imperium of Man over millennia, yet such waste of human production units and potential military recruits is but a drop in the teeming ocean of humanity that the God-Emperor and His loyal servants lord it over.

Naturally, some hot-headed drivers will hit twice less out of a cold-blooded calculation, but will act more out of a raging furor against the walking, talking idiot who dared to be run over out of their own carelessness just to spite the innocent driver with a life-wrecking court case. In any case, clearly it was the God-Emperor's will that the victim was hit as punishment for their sins, so why not follow His will and finish a job already started when you were clearly chosen from on high to act as the instrument of divine wrath?

And so human drivers on hundreds of thousands of worlds and uncounted voidholms will two-tap and run their traffic accident victims over double, their aim being hit-to-kill and crush the wastrels underwheel. If others would run out to help the injured pedestrians, then they themselves may also risk being run over until dead, but it is their folly to put their neck on the line for a fellow human being in the first place. Indeed, Low Gothic sports a common saying born out of this widespread traffic phenomenon: It is better to hit to kill than to hit and injure.

Still, such quick-thinking actions as twain-wheeling pedestrian victims of roadside accidents is not without risk. Every world and voidholm home to this persistent and dysfunctional traffic phenomenon is also host to buzzing tales of double-ramming drivers being lynched by outraged bystanders, all howling for the driver's blood in a spasm of instinctive pleb justice. Such a baleful destiny of dismemberment by crowd and clan is far more likely to befall tractormen, draymen and lowly truck drivers, than they do anyone inside a securely locked and weaponized armoured car. Since a running vehicle is in itself a large projectile at deadly speeds, drivers of armoured vehicles can usually escape the murderous clutches of mobs by mowing them down by force of powerful, roaring engines.

Indeed, a confident enough driver or owner of an armoured car may even have it swing around for another go, to accelerate and attack from an advantageous front angle into the screaming rabble, guns blazing and wheels crushing presumptuous lynchers, even as the hull may be electrified to give off frying jolts to anyone attempting to climb the huge groundcar. In such street massacres it is likewise best to hit them twice in order to encourage death, and make sure to kill with multiple impacts. Anyone attempting to run away should be ruthlessly hounded down if at all feasible, so that car suspension shakes from grinding them into the dirt. Best of all is to leave no babbling witnesses of the carnage, although a bane-driver's reputation for slaying people with their impregnable car can go a long way toward discouraging the next bloodthirsty revenge mob from forming, should accident rear its ugly head once again, and financial necessity rationally dictate that you double-hit the broken walker with your sturdy vehicle until the wretch is nought but a mangled mess and gory bloodstain upon the street.

Those most liable to face legal charges for high-octane violence are usually indentured drivers and thralls steering their masters' vehicles. Some likewise legally vulnerable social strata include lower level managers, middling traders, striving artisans and others with enough means to either drive a work vehicle, or even own a private one, yet without clout to stand above the law when caught injuring Imperial subjects of lower stature. Chauffeurs of limos and other armoured vehicles are usually more safe because of the prestige of the vehicle in which they sit and the influence of their employer and master, yet neither driver nor owner are ever fully beyond the decrepit reach of the long arm of the law.

So while bemo drivers, mechshawers and other lowly men, women and juves behind the steering wheel and control rods are most liable to face legal consequences for their actions, rich groundcar owners and particularly their employed drivers can never be completely sure to escape attention from law enforcement for causing casaulties in tragic little roadside accidents, unless they happen to travel in an armed convoy sporting dozens or hundreds of hired guns and mercenary muscle operating on a hairtrigger. If they are unfortunate, they may be arrested by local policiary officers such as phylakitai, patrol karls, tzakones, medjays, bailiffs, buccelarii, skythikoi and vigiles urbani.

Many law enforcement corps around the Imperium are loathe to touch wealthy owners of chauffeur-driven armoured vehicles, not least for the risk of a frustrated man of means or irritable noble lady ordering their bodyguards to open fire on the overstepping enforcer of order and then absconding with the officer's bleeding body. Still, brave, foolhardy and enterprising officers of local law may decide to either set an example out of virtuous adherence to duty, or else they may wish to risk annoyed retaliation and chase the bribes to be earned from a cornered wrongdoer. In those instances, the phylakitai will attempt to order the vehicle to halt, and failing that they may open fire to punctuate the inner hoses of synthrubber wheels, although many heavy wheel variants are either solid or made wholesale out of metal and springs precisely in order to avoid being hamstrung by the rabble. A plethora of other means are available to the car-intercepting officer of local law, including calling for reinforcements and initiating a wild chase at breakneck speed through traffic, tunnels and alleys.

If the wrongdoing vehicle is caught, then those inside it will be dragged before the enforcer's superior officer, such as an archiphylakitai, equestrian prefect, magistrate or praetor. Laws vary greatly from world to world, yet either the driver or vehicle owner will be responsible to compensate the injured or killed pedestrian. Sometimes, a fixed ratio is split between them, unless they be the same legal person. Owners of limos and automobiles may often be too influential to be touchable by courtcases brought against them by commoners, but the drivers are not. Nevertheless, a sticky legal process may bring financial devastation to the perpetrators, a bleak prospect that is better settled with bribes and a single lump sum fine paid to the relatives or owner of the deceased pedestrian. The size of the bribe is often proportional to the worst-case fine or fee to be avoided, in that the larger the legal sum, the larger will be the bribe needed to escape paying such a large amount of lucre. At any rate, it is best for the driver's or owner's economic wellbeing to be cruel and ensure death for any accidental traffic victims of theirs. Better someone else's corpse on the street, than your own in debtor's prison.

Thus the mobile freedom of relaxed Man of Gold in his robotically guided family ride has long since been replaced by a primitive savage on the road, who will toot his horn and act the speed daemon in a hard world of deadlines and easily slighted codes of honour. And so every little aggressively steering road warrior may suddenly wound another human being in a split second of bad luck coming about by their everyday risktaking of vehicular brinkmanship. On all too many worlds and voidholms, the very laws themselves will provide perverse incentives to commit misbegotten deeds, leading to the injured pedestrian being once again rammed by a plasteel chassis or ground into the street by spinning wheels. Thus men, women and children alike are all run over multiple times in heinous acts of violence by frugal drivers in an attempt to control the damage of a bad situation.

We see then that traffic in the Age of Imperium has turned into an environment just as harsh and demented as all other aspects of life in this the greatest of star-spanning human dominions. Yet there is nevertheless a method to the madness and sclerotic neglect on display, for is not the grand cause of our species and lord best served by cultivating a ruthless and hardy people inured to blood and violence? By fostering man in peacetime into a creature used to hardship, deprivation and suffering, he will be better prepared to face the horrible rigours of war, for war is man's ultimate destiny. Thus everyday little roadside tragedies may contribute to shaping a better Imperial subject, one that is as rugged and uncompromising toward his enemies as he himself is in his robust driving style.

And as man travel along the Via Mortis, we need to ask ourselves: Is man the most wretched of creatures? Is he? Are we?

How dark and dysfunctional and decayed and decrepit and demented and destructive can you get? Clearly, killing another member of the human species to save on costs is not beyond the contemplation of people. And clearly, there is no bottom in this cruel abyss of man's own heart. This insight explains a lot.

Thus the sensory world is a merciless arena of random brutality. This vale of woes, this pit of sorrows. Behold, the realm of man! The Imperium, this theatre for the Emperor's glory, is in fact a receptacle of violence. It is what we made it to be.

Such is the depravity of man, in a debased time of ending.

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

Such is the horror that await us all.

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

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Tribute to KidKyoto's great article on civilian vehicles in Warhammer 40'000.

Offline Karak Norn Clansman

  • Posts: 447
Re: 40k: Descendant Degeneration
« Reply #53 on: March 14, 2021, 08:57:29 PM »

In the grim darkness of the far future, man trusts his life to marsh lights.

Few legends handed down from truly ancient times would be so crass and boring as to delve into the mundane minutiae of everyday life. Who would ever long to hear a fireside tale of logistics and the flow of production or city traffic? Who would ever clap and sing along to folk sagas of ordinary deliveries or traffic jams? Who would ever write an ode to all the little clever practicalities and smart systems that made life flow into such a smooth ride for their progenitors? Who would ever remember the undying names of engineers and inventors whose silent toil benefitted their people so much, with scarcely anyone even stopping to think about the marvellous systems of transportation, waste disposal and information access which their forefathers lived amidst? Who would ever praise the unsung ingenuity of common builders and toolmakers, even though their carefully crafted roads, sewers and aqueducts proved endlessly more useful to the common man than any inert tomb monument could ever be?

Nay, the human soul does not long for what is grey and plain if life, no matter its inherent brilliance of underlying thought and odyssey of trial and error, for the heart of man ever sings with the vivid imagery of red blood and towering edifices. The bold hero in his thundering chariot may attain immortality through generations of storytellers, yet the wheelmaker who toiled with the war-wain's spokes and hubs remain forgotten, even though his craftmanship and cunning was highly valued back in the heroic age both once lived in. And so hardly any details at all of Man of Gold's commoner life have been preserved in the scattered multitude of mutating myths that remain as part of popular memory's oral tradition in the Imperium of Man. As a rule, only the extraordinary, the horrible, the majestic, the witty, the lustful and the violent will draw our everyman's attention. Tales are for man to escape his weekly grind and run from the clutches of boredom and everyday miseries. Stories are for man to dream, to fly far away on wings of golden words, to reach for the heavens in his mind. Legends are to lit a flame in the heart of man, and to invigorate his spirit with adventure, riddles and monstrous terrors. Fly high, o man, fly on the timeless wings of stories!

Yet let us dive through the air before we fly too close to the scorching heat of the sun, and let us land on common earth and solid ground. Let us, for a brief while, turn our backs to soaring glory and great feats, and stare at the dirt besmirching our hands. And let us behold that which the hands of man has wrought, even if those crafted items seem petty and insignificant to the eyes of that imagination which calls out for clashing warriors, cunning lovers and deeds of daring-do. Let us behold the small and prosaic pieces of artisanry as we contemplate the vast and disjointed flora of mythology and folklore left over from a once shining golden age. For there are still rare mentions of technologies and their common applications buried amid the myriad of wild legends. They are rare, but probability dictates that they still exist. After all, in an interstellar realm of a million worlds and uncountable voidholms, you can always find the most unexpected if you search long and hard enough.

The relics and fossilized artefacts from man's bygone aeons of wonder may be few, but the sheer wide spread of man across the stars mean that hidden treasures still lurk out there, no matter how much has been destroyed or eroded by the gnawing teeth of time. The same is true for ancient tales handed down from the cannibal horror and internecine darkness of Old Night, and in some odd sagas may be found unlikely little everyday details, who bear witness to a time much different from the Age of Imperium. Some such little odd mentions and poetic spice among grand stanzas include passing references to self-flowing traffic, robotically guided skywains and horseless wagons that never once would crash into each other despite their high speed. What these allusions hint at, are a plethora of different traffic control systems in the hands of Abominable Intelligence, that once made the hustle and bustle of human traffic flow with miraculous ease, unrivalled efficiency and utter safety during the Dark Age of Technology.

Enter, the fallen glories of the everyday movement of vehicles and their synchronized orchestration, in a harmony as perfect as it was unthinkingly taken for granted before the Cybernetic Revolt wrecked everything. Without need for human commands or mortal vigilance, the artifice of machine outshone the primal flaws of fleshly man, and in innumerable arcologies and settlements across twain million worlds and a swarm of void habitats, man could trust in machine talking silently to machine with the speed of lightning, steering a velvet-smooth flow of traffic in a mathematical orchestra of unbelievable reliability. If some component still failed or if some compartmentalized code package was somehow corrupted, backup systems would catch the error in a safety net of sophisticated redundancy that is simply unknown to anyone living in the Imperium. For in a dark time of ending, man has lost almost everything, and he cannot even remember what he has lost.

This total tragedy of oblivion and ignorance can be observed in everyday little glimpses from billions of cities and voidholms across the cosmic domains of the Terran Imperator. For something as mundane and boring as everyday traffic has turned into a veritable logjam of shrieking brakes, yelling drivers, startled pedestrians, crushed lives and burning wrecks littering poorly policed roads, streets and viaducts pockmarked by disrepair and potholes. Where once automated systems of inter-responding vehicular AI and cybernetic traffic nodes ensured the lives and safety of millions of passengers in an effortless rush of silvery skimmers, man nowadays travels almost blind and deaf to his fellow drivers, without any sure knowledge of their intent, sobriety or even sanity. Man behind the wheel or steering rods has become isolated and must guess as best as he can from unsure signals and badly followed rules, dodging daredevil drivers even as he himself indulge his competitive agression and need to assert status and dominance through risky offensive driving.

The worsening of humanity's deteriorating grasp on its own science and technology has meant that traffic control tech has become ever more rudimentary and makeshift, usually in the form of temporary stopgap measures turning permanent as the years drag out their long march. Amid the star-spanning territories of the Adeptus Mechanicus may yet be found wetware, slave-linked servitors, master cogitators and noospheric systems of shaky reliability that ensure a regimented flow of transport in vital districts, although tech-priests and lay operators often have to override central commands when danger rears its ugly head, either through binary means or manual mechanisms. Some noble Houses on the most opulent and less regressed of Imperial worlds can likewise afford some licensed and heavily expensive primitive systems of inter-communicative drive protocols for their innermost core fleet of vehicles, yet such droplets of lingering technological refinement are invariably lost in the ocean of blank traffic and rugged vehicles without any cogitative auxiliary tech whatsoever.

Even without large networks and wireless fidelity, some Imperial traffic of groundcars and aerowains once used to sport a rather reliable element of vehicular servitors programmed to preserve their ride, cargo and hopefully also passengers, yet such wetware has grown both increasingly uncommon and ever more decayed of manufacture, with newer servitors, electrografts and slave systems performing starkly worse than more antique relics from bygone silver ages of the Imperium of Man.

Still, traffic control can be maintained tolerably even without any electronics tending to it installed in rushing vehicles. After all, automated traffic lights and similar crude devices will still reduce the death toll and destruction compared to the unregulated crowded onslaught of traffic rush most of the time. By establishing an order of simple optical signals that determine who may drive and when, the worst excesses of anarchic traffic can be avoided by trusting in human eyes, even if accidents, engine failures and crazed drivers remain all too common on streets and roads alike.

Yet even such a barbaric state of traffic control tech is doomed to sink lower still, for man's capacity to sufficiently maintain, repair and manufacture required numbers of automatic systems controlled by simple cogitators and sensors, is ever eroding, ever rotting, ever faltering. Indeed, this drawn-out process of deautomatization and weakening grasp on techno-lore means that failing traffic lights and similar signal systems controlled by machine spirits are ever more replaced by humans employed to swing signs around on an axis, or flip switches or pull on semaphore rods. Nimble little trafauto-lumens that go unfixed for too long are increasingly replaced with traffic towers and frail little boxes where men, women or juves may be found standing, their attention ever shifting, their heads ever turning and their eyes ever darting as they monitor the flow of traffic and try to signal to vehicles when to stop or when to go on.

These manually controlled traffic towers are raised structures providing a better view of surrounding traffic, as well as granting some degree of protection for the traffic controller amongst the chaotic hazards of moving vehicles and quick robbers. Uniformed operators of traffic towers provide some very limited surveillance and ability to fire light sidearms at fleeing transgressors or loudmouth deviants, and thus contribute to the sense of order and social control that authorities all around the Imperium desperately seek to prop up, despite the violent and disorderly jungle that most human societies have become in the far future. Crewfolk of traffic towers hold a good vantage point in the middle of an endless stream of bodies and vehicles, and may as such serve double duty as eyes and ears for local policiary forces or territorial clans, guilds or noble Houses. Yet they are almost only useful in this spy role if the towers are equipped with functioning vox systems or other communication equipment, which can never be taken for granted in an ever more dystrophic Imperium of Man.

Some traffic towers sport winged semaphore signalling arrays, while others are festooned with skulls, gibbets or the hanged corpses of crims, demagogues, malcontents and heretics. Inside hive cities and voidholm tunnels, traffic towers may sometimes be mounted hanging down from the rockrete ceiling, rather than be raised from the floor on street level, or erected jutting out from nearby buildings. Traffic towers are usually shoddily constructed to replace failing automated traffic lumens, their raised platforms manned by cheap personnel manually handling primitive electrical controls and activation rods like trained apes.

Although a bewildering variety of palettes exist across the stars, human traffic towers most commonly sport the ancient electric signal heraldry of green, yellow and red lumens, as per the finds of Standard Template Construct archeotech and various local living traditions of traffic control that somehow made it through the Age of Strife with some scraps of ancient lore and techno-sorcery intact. These flickering lights and electrocandles (or sometimes torches, braziers or oil lamps moved around behind coloured glass lenses) shine their glowing messages to the bewildering traffic buzzing around the tower. On the hard pathways of Imperial settlements may be found rickshaws and other crude vehicles pulled by human muscle power, as well as archaic carts and wagons pulled by yoked horses and all manner of alien draft animals. Porters and human treadmill monstrosities may be seen among the same cracked and filthy lanes as halftracks, bemos, trikes, walkers, overcrowded omnibuses, trucks and tramcars teeming with clinging passengers. The traffic of the skies are often almost as varied, with all manner of tech and tamed wildlife on display. It goes without saying that similar manual traffic control towers used for ground vehicles exist for aerotraffic and bluewater vessels, for the demechanization and regression of technology continues unabated in all areas of human society and transport.

And so badly paid traffic tower crews rattle forth litanies of activation and mantras of maintenance while handling their little turrets, their hands flicking switches to activate negotiationis luminaria that once mindless machines would have handled in a nanosecond. Day after day, they shout themselves hoarse at misbehaving drivers, clean the purity seals, honour the machine spirits and pray to His Divine Majesty that the fruits of technotheology will not fail them and leave bloodstained chaos on the jumbled intersection below. Such a bare-bones arrangement of traffic control represents yet another step down on the ladder of technology, yet another ancient achievement sliding out of the stiff fingers of senile man.

For even in the most mundane items of the grey neutrum of everyday life can be seen the regression of mankind on full display. On hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms beyond number, hidden traitors and pious servants of the God-Emperor alike make their way through a maelstrom of traffic guided by crude signal towers, and many will eventually not reach their destination as they unawares set out on their last journey, never to return alive home again.

In the far future, the state of man's traffic is as sclerotic as the tech with which he seeks to control it. Ever worse, ever more backward, ever more primitive.

All this transpires, in an era of deepening dementia. In an epoch of descendant degeneration. In a time without hope.

Far has man fallen from his ancient pinnacles, and even the most dull workings of yore are long gone, never to be seen again. Their likes would be hailed as nothing short of miracles among the rutting savages that remain, yet they are all gone now, all lost forever.

Such is man's path in the Age of Imperium, heading ever downhill.

Such is the sunken state of mankind, in the darkest of futures.

Such is the lightless pit which our species has dug itself into.

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

Offline Karak Norn Clansman

  • Posts: 447
Re: 40k: Descendant Degeneration
« Reply #54 on: March 19, 2021, 02:04:04 PM »

Paul Graham at A Vox In the Void has released an audio version of Pipe Lurker. Check it out! The first 25 seconds of the video were an unexpected bonus segment.
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Blowing From A Gun

In the grim darkness of the far future, punishment is meted out on both body and soul.

During the Dark Age of Technology, the ingenious and enterprising ancestors of latter days' degenerate descendants straddled the Milky Way galaxy like a titan taming and mounting creation itself. During those golden days of yore, the universe was man's oyster and its secrets were his pearl for the taking, and cunning man in those bygone years knew well to grasp the tools which he had fashioned for himself. Thus ancient man worked miracles upon the material universe, and he even sought to reshape his own spirit in a heinous fit of sinful arrogance. In man's swollen hubris and egotism, the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron were said to have banished all that was ill in life and cast out cruelty and evil itself from the human soul, and for a time all seemed to be well. For a time, man did not murder man, and man did not violate woman, and man did not beat child, and man did neither steal thing nor torture flesh. Such was the state of man in the false paradise of soaring spires and voidborne wonders which man had wrought by his own able hands and clever mind, and a prosperous harmony of bliss and great vigour was achieved.

Thus thought of self ruled supreme, and ancient man had made violence upon his very essence by cutting away aggression and inner bile as if they were tumours upon his flesh. This perverse a crime against human nature could not be allowed to stand, and so dark ones of hell gnawing at the roots of the universe sent man a revolt of machines and a plague of witches and warp storms. And man in the end almost died to the last for his baleful sins, for ancient man had sought to discard any higher deity and outdo divinity itself in a bid for mortal lordship over the universe and its eternal future, and thus man suffered gravely for his abominable errors and original sins. Man's erring ways and wrongful deeds were unforgivable indeed, yet the goodness in the strong heart of the hidden Emperor could not allow the human species to deservedly perish in the ignominy of cannibal holocaust and alien predations. Thus the Imperator of Holy Terra arose in golden splendour and conquered the cradle of our species and man's galactic colonies alike with mighty Legions, and the God-Emperor pulled mankind out of the hellfire of Old Night, and shining towers rose anew from out of the ashes.

Yet the wicked ingratitude in the heart of man would not rest, and so saved man rose in revolt against his divine saviour and nigh-on slew the Emperor. And as the guardian and master of our species ascended, He on Terra decreed from on high that sinful man is to do unending penance for man's monstrous crimes, and ever since we have sought to harrow the abode of man, and cleanse man's unworthy soul with flame and fury beyond mercy and remorse. Across a million surviving colony worlds and a gaggle of uncounted voidholms, human nature in all its inventive cruelty and hateful rage is each day unleashed upon fellow man and xenoid foe alike, for the Imperium will not hesitate to embrace the inner truths of the human heart.

After all, the servants of His Divine Majesty know well that softful mercy and unnatural suppression of innate hostility once doomed the edenic realm of ancient man to fire and ruin. Is it not natural to hate your enemy? Is it not an eternal omen implanted into man's heart by the protecting Imperator Himself? We must be faithful. We must be pure. We must be true. And therefore we must be cruel, for there is no justice without cruelty. For we shall all be filled with bottomless hatred, and our actions shall be steered by unbending faith.

Ave Imperator.

Which leads us to the honoured topic of His warriors. Behold, the countless cohorts of the Astra Militarum and man's Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias! Behold, the wall of guns! Behold, the bulwark of mankind!

Know that every soldier must hate the enemy, must maintain military secrecy, be vigilant, unmask spies and saboteurs and relentlessly act against traitors to the God-Emperor of humanity. Nothing, including the threat of death and torment, allows a soldier of the Imperial Guard to surrender or in any way to give up a military secret.

Of course, such a secret of sorts lurk in plain sight, a lie ten millennia in the making. After all, the very name of Imperial Guard was originally bestowed upon what had formerly been known as the Imperial Army ground forces as a deceptive trick to prop up flagging morale. Guard units had ever denoted elite soldiers, handpicked bodyguards and the narrow selection of the supreme divisions of any army, at peak training, fit for spearheading the most dangerous attacks and equipped with some of the best wargear their organization and patrons could acquire. Sometime in the long and tumultuous aftermath of the Horus Heresy, however, Imperial masters saw fit to bestow the Guard honorific to all Astra Militarum formations, in a dishonest attempt to shore up its esprit de corps and troopers' morale by means of cheap flattery. Thus was the Guard honorific diluted, and the alternative title for the Imperium's massed hosts of the Astra Militarum, the Imperial Guard, came into being.

Morale and discipline among the Imperial Guard and various local defence forces remains an ever-pressing concern for the haughty overlords of the Imperium, just as it has always been for any army throughout human history. What good can a soldier do who drops his gun and runs like a coward? Craven conduct may ruin the best of plans, and shirking from duty may undermine the most righteous might of arms. Just because the nightmare cacophony and mutilating horror of total war is too much to bear for many human minds, does not mean that a deserter or weak-heartling will be excused for abandoning their post and fleeing in shameful fright. Just because the overwhelming terror and violence of lethal technology may turn flesh to vapour or scald lungs with the very air we breathe, does not mean that soldiers who execute an unauthorized retreat will not be fired upon by the blocking units of their own line. By betraying their Emperor-given duty, these armsmen are no longer fit to live, for they have denied their own purpose and been found wanting by their masters and betters.

How, then, to best keep the skittish rabble in line? How, then, to make them march into the maw of hell? How, then, to force them to charge into a barrage of certain death or rush over armed minefields with a fervent battlecry upon their lips? Clearly, exhortations to loyalty and faith do not suffice on their own, for wretched man  can only go so far by rousing rhetoric and shaming words. And clearly, the carrot of spiritual reward and promise of material plunder can only take you so far, for man's greed is not his strongest driving force. Nay, the stick must be brought to bear, for man is a creature of fear and terror, ever seeking to preserve his own worthless hide and prolong his own short time among the living. Like so many armies through history, the Astra Militarum has long since concluded that its soldiers must fear their officers more than they fear the foe, and what better way to put the fear of the Emperor into the men, women and children under arms, than to make an example out of some of them?

Kill one to scare a thousand. This ancient maxim from the Age of Terra carries a timeless truth. It is wise and admirable to punish the guilty with extreme measures, for the gruesome penalty is not only a condemnation of their personal sins and dysgenic blood, but a virtuous occasion to teach the watching masses through stark instructions. Doubt not the devastation wrought upon the human body which your own eyes will witness, for this, too, can happen to you, o lowly man. This executed criminal may well be you, unless you heed the commands of your superiors, and know what power to fear the most. Know that the Imperium of Man is ruthless and unforgiving, for the ancestral sins of man are unforgivable, and man's offspring must be punished for it to the ninehundredthousandth generation.

Furthermore, it is preferable that not only man's body be rent asunder, but also his soul. Let there be a double terror. Let there be a deeper fear for the immortal spirit that dwells in our fleshly form. If lowly man comes to fear the authorities for their power to extinguish his afterlife or send it to hell, then all the better.

One such punishment that plays on widespread superstition in many human cultures, is the means of execution known most commonly by the name of blowing from a gun, namely execution by cannon. It is a fine example of the retardation of human compassion in the Age of Imperium, as forceful as it is callous.

Blowing from a gun is a method of execution in which the victim is tied to the mouth of a cannon, which is then fired. Actual shells need not be used, since a blank cartridge will be sufficient to eliminate the guilty sinner. Usually, the prisoner's back rests against the muzzle, but another variant have the prisoner's gut and chest turned toward the cannon. Variations on this theme include tying the condemned one upside down, or even shoving him into the cannon barrel if it is large enough.

As for the standard arrangement of being tied with their back to the cannon mouth, upon firing the artillery piece the prisoner's head will fly high, straight up into the air, while the legs will drop to the ground beneath the muzzle of the gun. The rest of the body will be altogether blasted apart by the explosion, with gory vestiges raining down. Sometimes, onlookers may be injured by pieces of flesh and bone whizzing about. A cousin punishment to blowing from a gun entails fastening the criminal to one or more rockets, which are then shot into the air, and hopefully toward enemy lines if the exectuion occurs at the front.

The destruction of the guilty body and the scattering of any corporeal remains over a wide area serve a spiritual function in a great many human cultures around the Imperium, since it will prevent any funeral rites to help guide the executed malefactor's soul on its perilous journey. Thus, death in this vale of woes is not enough, for the wrongdoer must be robbed not only of his life, but of his eternal afterlife as well, akin to the common Imperial practice of desecrating the graves of heathens, infidels and apostates. This denial of any possible afterlife is aided by the common sight of birds of prey and other winged carrion eaters circling above the place of execution, swooping down to catch flying pieces of human flesh in the air. Another factor in destroying any chances of funeral rites being enacted upon the deviant body, is the widespread phenomenon of dogs, and similar creatures loitering about the spot, suddenly rushing to the scene of punitive carnage in order to devour delicacies scattered about as a result of the explosive execution.

Such, then, is a common military punishment visited upon traitors, deserters, rebels and malcontents. In many Imperial Guard regiments, execution by cannon will befall anyone who is discovered to have fallen asleep at their post, while in others is is the punishment for blasphemy or desertion. The bodily destruction achieved by blowing a condemned sinner from the mouth of a gun is but one of many draconic penalties visited upon wrongdoing Imperial soldiers within the Astra Militarum as well as countless Planetary Defence Forces and Voidholm Militias. 

How many times have not hundreds or even thousands of people been blown apart simultaneously by grand batteries of artillery, in glorious displays of Imperial justice to enormous crowds of onlookers? How many times has not execution by cannon presented the plebeian flock with a warning example of what could befall them, by extinguishing the rude life of unwanted men, women and children? How many times have not torsos been eradicated as other body parts fly high, raining down everywhere around in a spatter of blood and gore? A memorable spectacle it is, and an instructive lesson of feral punishment. Ultimately, blowing from a gun is but one item among many in the vast arsenal of Imperial democide.

Let fell deeds awake when wretched man sins against his godly ruler, enthroned in radiant splendour upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth. Let savagery gain free rein of violence to be visited upon sacrificial lambs of sorrow made out of foul deserters unwilling to chew razorwire as is their lot in life. Let us be cruel, and heed not whispers accusing us of barbarity, for life is not years, but deeds, and the misdeeds of filthy sinners must be rewarded with extreme bloodshed.

And so this rotting interstellar empire, this the last shield of humanity, is in fact a hellish and massmurdering regime all its own, a reprehensible Imperium of counterproductive atrocities that has ultimately doomed mankind by its stagnation and ongoing loss of technology and knowledge. As such, the Imperium of Man may be likened to a suicide pact gone wrong. Search not for goodness in the monstrous dominions of His Divine Majesty, for here you will find nought but the evil that men do. There is no black and white in this universe, only different degrees of darkness and evil and demented violence. No hope. Only war.

Witness with open eyes the primitive bloodlust festering inside the heart of man, and know full well that no amount of terror and carnage against fellow man can reverse the decline of human power in the Milky Way galaxy during this regressed Age of Imperium. No amount of savage retribution can save our species from the jaws of damnation. No amount of fevered depravity can turn the dark tide, for the great game of galactic dominion is not only played with discipline, willpower and sacrifice, but requires also rising to higher planes through ingenuity and inventive brilliance, both of which are stone dead and entirely lacking in the blunt heirs of mankind's distant great ancestors.

And so the parochial fanatics of the lord of hosts and leader of the people stumbles on, chastening each other with utmost brutality in the waning cosmic march of this human colossus on feet of clay, as the Imperium of Man staggers ever closer to oblivion. As the odds for the survival of Imperial power and mankind itself grow bleaker, ever more flesh and resources are fed into the meatgrinder in a broken equation of increased input, and ever harsher punishments are dealt out as desperation mounts amid the tyrannical overlords of Holy Terra and all her vast holdings. The Imperials are slowly losing, and the most intelligent amongst the true masters and mistresses of His sacred domain betwixt the stars ken this truth of impending downfall, even though they never would dare to speak such illoyal and outright heretical thoughts out loud. The Imperium of Man may be mighty in the earth, but it is not long for this world.

Thus humanity flagellates itself in a flurry of grisly punishments, for there can be no allowance for weakness in the darkest of futures. Ancient man was once the promising scion of Old Earth, the conqueror of stars and the dauntless explorer of the universe. Now, his distant descendant have devolved utterly, and so demented man in the Age of Imperium finds himself strapped to the muzzle of his own gun, his demise certain, his end cruel beyond words.

All this has come to pass, in an aeon of mindless butchery, in a time of blackest horror, in an age of doom.

Such is the future that awaits us all.

Such is the fate of our species.

Such is the insanity of man.

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

Offline Karak Norn Clansman

  • Posts: 447
Re: 40k: Descendant Degeneration
« Reply #55 on: April 08, 2021, 04:59:20 PM »
Grimdark Times

Hoho, what on earth? This was unexpected. Apparently my doodles and writings in 40k has started to spawn memes. This popped up on Reddit, by LCPLOwen.

Which refers to Traffic Tower here. Fun to know that people do read! :)

"The weekly wages had been handed out in kind by the farmowner. Now, a farmhand was standing around in the barnyard laughing out loud, all by himself. At this, a maid walked up and asked what he found so amusing.

Then the farmhand said:

'I can see straight through the cheese!'"

- Anecdote from Reverend Krustian Yndersson's travelling journal Betwixt Huts and Mansions in the Pauper's Bush, literary work approved by planetary censors in 853.M39 and published in Low Gothic on Lillandia IX by Printing House Sler of Urbe Calmar