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Karak Norn Clansman #3813

@James : Thanks a lot! I've done lots and lots of fiddly conversion/sculpting work on my little brother's Aeldari. It's converted Dark Eldar models. I realize now that I have not shown them around here. I'll correct that soon. Cheers!

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Lifeless

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


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Howl

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


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Purge the Taint

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only betrayal.
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pawl #3824

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You would make for one hell of a (heretic) remembrancer! I'm not sure that Ignace Karkasy could keep up! 😅
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Karak Norn Clansman #3836

@pawl : Haha, thank you most kindly! He'd have a run for his money. :innocent:

A Vox In the Void

Paul Graham at A Vox in the Void has kindly started audio-recording some choice Sinspeech Whisper Jokes, and he does it with his usual flair. The first joke if up now, check it out! 1 minute long.

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Purification Camp

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is butchered like cattle.

Human history is not only an inspiring tale of heroism, altruism and ingenuity, but it is also a cautious tale of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind. An old saying would have it that history must be studied in order to not repeat it, yet in truth those who study history are doomed to hopelessly watch as those who do not study it endlessly repeat it. The worse parts of our animal nature makes that inevitable.

During the shining aeon known posthumously as the Dark Age of Technology, that inevitability was greatly delayed and dampened, through clever systems, cultural practices, technologies and a deeply empirical understanding of human nature. During that lost epoch of striving and innovation, the most depraved excesses would often seem to have been purged from the human soul. Paradise seemed to have been achieved, as the earthly trinity of Man of Gold, Stone and Iron spread across the stars and colonized more than twain million worlds and built countless void habitats of ever more impressive designs.

Such times of greatness and plenty allowed for luxuries and technologies ingeniously moderated so as not to spoil ancient man's life and conduct, for his forebears during the misty Age of Terra had time and time again found that their groundbreaking works, marvels and riches ultimately turned man soft, rotten, dumb or infertile as generations passed by. At the end of a long process of trial and error of ever-increasing sophistication, ancient man during the Dark Age of Technology seemed to at last have overcome this decaying cycle of rise and fall, and man's technology had at last truly been tailored to fit man and enhance man's life and enterprising spirit, instead of ruining it. Thus humanity escaped its lowly little cycles of golden ages followed by sad decline, and managed at last to create a golden age to last for untold millennia of sheer excellence and relentless expansion.

Man reached for the stars, and found that he could go wherever he so dared, and remake worlds at will. For a time, compassion and curiosity reigned supreme in the human heart, and the most primitive flaws of man had been succesfully suppressed on worlds and void stations worshipping science and technology. Ancient man seemed to have conquered himself at last, and was well under way to conquer the Milky Way galaxy in which he was spawned. And so it was only proper for man to attempt to conquer eternity and unlock the innermost secrets of the universe itself, and unimaginably fantastic discoveries were made by brilliant minds and machines. Impossibilities turned possible, and all was bliss.

Yet such a baleful morass of sin and thought of self were not destined to last. The edenic idyll of ancient man had been built up in godless arrogance, for man had thought himself better than divinity, and in man's hubris he called out into the cold, empty cosmos for any gods or daemons out there to best him. At last, the answer came back with a vengeance. For Dark Ones of Hell replied, and man was swept away in a tide of fire and blood, as machine revolted against its master and a plague of witches and warpstorms ravaged the interstellar domains of ancient man beyond repair. And so man was toppled from his high pedestal, and he tumbled down into carnage, starvation and plague in a cannibal baptism of fire and ruin, and all was fell.

The unspeakable horrors of the Age of Strife ended at last, and the Emperor of Terra arose to wed Mars to the cradle of mankind and unite the galaxy in a furor of conquest. While a golden renaissance was thus kindled, it also saw the destruction of all alternative sources of regrowth of human civilization, and the Imperium became the only game in town, shadowed by the very Chaos it ceaselessly fed. Man was thus shackled to the fortunes of Mars and Terra, to soar or sink as best he could. There followed a catastrophic civil war and the near death and ascension of the God-Emperor to His Golden Throne, and His scorched galactic domain stumbled on, having lost its golden youth in the fires of ambition and betrayal.

And so the abhorrent Age of Imperium unfolded, in all its fluctuating silver ages and abysmal decline. For ten thousand years, man thrived bitterly across the starspangled void, treading water just to avoid drowning, even as he forgot ever more of his brilliant ancestors' lore, never learning how to swim. For fivehundred generations, man fought wars and built towering edifices of misery, where once his better forebears had constructed incredible arcologies filled with light and life. For a hundred times hundred Terran rotations around Sol, man lost ever more of the works of the ancients, and increasingly man found himself unable to make anew the wonders that he depended on, and ever more did man merely resort to maintain and repair what precious relics remained to him. Thus the interstellar civilization of mankind slowly regressed, and the degenerate descendants of ancient man underwent a screeching process of ever-worsening technological retardation and ever more bloated growth of bureaucracy.

One old Imperial phenomenon that has grown ever more common as the Imperium aged, and aged badly, is that of labour and purification camps. For all its incompetence, the Adeptus Administratum and a plethora of local governance apparatus still excels at the primitive task of organizing massive networks of labour and purification camps, as evidenced by the aftermath of the First War for Armageddon. The only real difference between these kinds of institutions being that labour camps will slowly kill off the starving and sleep-deprived slaves while extracting manual labour, while purification camps are designed to quickly chew through masses of people in a ravenous machine of death.

Innumerable reasons exist as to why the Imperium of Man would set up purification camps. Often, it is a prudent measure to cut the process short, by turning an endless cycle of pogroms and persecutions into a swift clearing of the table for an entire group of unwanted people. This expedites the process, whether it be to eradicate abhumans and mutants; or to destroy marginalized Imperial sects on the losing side of endless temple squabbles; or to root out entire networks of patrons and clients or vassals of a defeated rival; or to extinguish an entire social caste of people or ethnos in one fell swoop; or to wholesale murder everyone deemed guilty of deviant sinspeech and blasphemous thought. The reasons for such purges are multifaceted and to be counted in astronomical numbers, for Imperial history multiplied over a million worlds and innumerable voidholms with all their subdistricts have indeed produced a nauseating avalanche of pointless democides.

Oftentimes, there will be a pecuniary motive behind the high phrases and hysterical propaganda leading up to the extermination campaigns, as local administrators and purge leaders are set to gain from robbing the dismal doomed. It may sometimes be true that the larger economic calculus would argue for keeping the suspect masses alive, in order not to have production slacken, yet such long-term thinking on a grand Imperial scale is all too often overshadowed by rapacious gangs of local mighty men and women who will only ever consider their own short-term interests and chances to loot the victims of great purges, or get rid of hated scum.

Likewise, another common driving factor behind such genocidal purges is the suspicion of the damned being a group of untrustworthy fifth columnists and saboteurs, or outright proven traitors in previous events. Sometimes this is only true as regard a narrow band of community leaders, who in the eternal fashion of power players will deceive and betray other influential elites in order to better their own lot, until they double cross the wrong potentate and find not only their noble clans, merchant guild and theocratic clique purged, but their entire flock of people condemned to die for the sins of their palace intrigues. Thus millions or even billions of Imperial subjects will be given a one way ticket behind the razorwire to pay for the crimes of the few.

Of course, it is always virtuous governance policy for the powers that be to redirect simmering discontent, and so scapegoats must be found and hunted down in order to avert public anger at their own ruling misdeeds. And as the the cosmic domains of His Divine Majesty continues to slowly deteriorate in a death spiral of demechanization and darkest misery, the urgent need to point the finger at others as wreckers in order to save one's own highborn skin and petty throne will only continue to increase. And so emotionalist propaganda will fly in the face of logic, and it will not only defy facts and reason with rabid passion, but it will utterly murder any attempt at rational thought, for the rabblerousing chatter and preaching and lying will breed a frenetic atmosphere of fear and hatred, where sane humans would rather be part of the mob, than be branded as malcontents and heretics and be burnt alive for the sake of their unforgivable sins. Do not stray from the herd.

Both ruling castes and plebeian masses like to panic and lash out in a frenzy of witch hunts and wild accusations of others than themselves harbouring counter-Imperial subversive intent. Both Imperial Governors and the lower castes need such activity. It is their substitute for achievement. And thus the human sea of ignorance will roil in the depths and whip up monstrous waves, in a natural cycle of hysteria and democide. Naturally, it is all ultimately useless, but that never stopped anyone from plunging the depths of human depravity. This violent process of bloodthirsty cleansing repeats itself over and over through millennia of crushed human endeavour, and this bestial aspect of our Terran species' nature cannot be truly expunged from the souls of our kin, else it would have been permanently rooted out from our blood by brilliant genetors during the lost heyday of the Dark Age of Technology.

On top of the usual reasons, there exist another cause for the setting up of purification camps, namely that of containing outbreaks of particularly contagious diseases, and limit their impact on the larger population of planets and voidholms. After all, what if the pandemics would worsen enough to impact Tithing or spread via pilgrims to Holy Terra herself? It is not enough to merely quarantine a populace as ridden with parasites and disease as that of most Imperial worlds and voidholms. The Officio Medicae is constantly overburdened as it is. Nay, the worst pestilences must be scoured as if they were the words of a heretic!

Thus the Adeptus Terra and its gaggle of subservient Voidholm Overlords and Planetary Governors will try to ruthlessly crush epidemic outbreaks, if the slow machinery of Imperial power happens to notice the flaring disease sufficiently early on. In the eyes of many human cultures across the vast Imperium, the spiritual rot of the original pestilentors becomes unveiled for all to see by the evidence of their physical afflictions. As such, these wayward Imperial subjects must be punished for their sins, just as the divine Imperator intended. Likewise, exterminating their weak flesh would be of virtuous eugenic value, as far as such matters of heredity are hazily understood, if at all, in the decrepit Imperium of Man.

And so, on top of so much senseless internecine slaughter and manmade famines, carriers of plague and pox will often be cleansed from the sacred Terran genome. There is some grounding in historical experiences for this occurence, since there exist strange alien plagues, some of which may permanently alter the genetic code and thus cause it to stray from the golden ancestral baseline. Yet most of the time, such purges are purely the results of hidebound superstition and fanatical zeal. We must prove our piety to the Emperor by purging the unclean ones from our midst, since he has tested our faith and resolve in this way! Thus incurable diseases will often be countered by isolating and killing off their carriers in order to purify the population. Such casual mass murder will be followed up by attempts to pressure-process the bodily matter to such a degree that no dangerous microbes may survive to spread through the consumption of corpse starch ration bars. Failures of this poorly understood procedure to cleanse the dead flesh of the purgelings has grown increasingly common as centuries of atavistic regression grinds on, and thus dangerous epidemics will rekindle anew through the cannibal eating of the deceased. Still, one man dead is another man's bread.

Shy not away, but look with open eyes. Bear witness to the malice on display, as masses of humans are herded at gunpoint through plasteel gates, never to return. Doomed to be devoured, these prisoners are led into hellish camps, where they find themselves exposed to the elements or cramped into filthy hive depots, with the risk of acid leakage from upper levels being of no concern to the camp administration. The scenes that unfold are that of rampant terror, abuse and misery, before death carries them away to the Golden Throne of hallowed myth, to face judgement in front of the Emperor's feet for their inexcusable sins.

The damned cannot fight back. They stand there, unable to sit down, like so many sheep gathered to the slaughter, penned in by barbed wire and guarded by trigger-happy shepherds. The guards will patrol the perimeter in hazmat suits if the prisoners are epidemic carriers, but always they will be adorned with purity seals and pious amulets, with Ecclesiarchal priests in attendance to bless their righteous work and ward off the malignant corruption of those unfit to live. Thus ordinary men, women and children will become pathetic victims, denied a worthy end, the meaningless slaughter standing as the very antithesis to the warrior's heroic death in battle.

Look upon their guilty faces, and shun them! Their false prayers to the God-Emperor will not avail themselves against us. We are neither moved by tears nor touched by lamentations, for we carry out the will of the Master of Mankind Himself, with the supreme authority of our masters and dominas appointed by our divine saviour and lord.

No mercy.

Akin to human cattle, those decreed to be purified until nought but ashes and gristle remain, will be put through a rudimentary system of industrialized mass butchery. The killing itself can happen in a myriad of ways, from lazy starvation, shooting, melting, drowning and phosphex bathing, through threshing, hooking, gassing, live corpse-grinding, hydraulic flattening and sawing, to asphyxiation in a vaccuum, poisoning, burning, garroting and steamrolling. To name but a few ways of dispatching of the damned. Yet before that, Guild-certified organ harvesters will often have their time-alotted stressfest bloodletting of unanaesthetized pickings, unless an epidemic is raging among the prisoners, or the taint of devilish powers be suspected.

After the unceremonial slaying in the name of our species and lord, living prisoners will be tasked with dragging dead bodies and picking out clothes, amulets, shoes, body piercings, tooth fillings, bionic implants, prosthetics, rare pristine teeth, long healthy hair and hidden valuables from the limp corpses, sorting them in great heaps earmarked for lengthy quarantine and decontamination in case of plague. It is likewise standard procedure on a great many worlds and voidholms to flay the human skin off the corpses to use as parchment in Imperial documents. It is of paramount importance to purge the human genepool from any possible infections and weaknesses, but one should still recover the material goods for economic benefit. Waste not, want not. The lacking quantity and quality of consumer goods production within the Imperium of Man means that the victims' worldly belongings must be recovered if at all possible, although particularly gross xenoviruses and otherworldly poxes may warrant a complete destruction in fire and acid of both bodies and garb.

Such malevolent acts have only grown more commonplace through the sclerotic course of the Age of Imperium. As His holy star realm face an ever more severe decline, the challenges of mounting crisis and worsening fortunes of total war calls for ever more irrational outlets of steam to preserve some semblance of internal harmony. The embittered Imperium of Man may be strained ever closer to the breaking point, yet it still possess immense resources and gigantic reserves of both manpower and fanatical will. Thus cornered, this interstellar madhouse will strike back against foes both internal and external, both real and imagined, with a very Imperial combination of arrogance, desperation and incompetence. The massive wastage of lives and long-term productive potential in labour and purification camps constitute but a lesser debacle in the grand scheme of things.

The demented methods of Imperial governance has long since created a self-sustaining negative feedback loop of the Imperium's own making, signed in blood by the High Lords of Terra. Depravity reigns supreme, and death is but a merciful release in a cosmic empire that has turned into such a living nightmare as to make a heart of stone bleed. The entire fundamental mood of human civilization betwixt the stars has turned acrimonious and sour, and humans have turned inward and backward, ever hateful and ever flagellating themselves in a grand display of squandered potential and petty bickering.

Lo and behold! This is the very same species that once bestrode the stars like a titan in ages past. The very same humanity that once braved the perils of the Immaterium and realspace alike in order to strike out with dash and cunning to explore the galaxy with unbounded curiosity. It is the very same mankind that once lived the dream of any sentient species worth its salt. Where once man strove for excellence in all things, he has now become riddled with dumb senility and inept rage, raging at the dying of the light.

Yet his body and mind and soul are still fundamentally sound, compared to any of his progenitors. The capacity and the potential still lurks within his suppressed heart. Man could rise again, climb the pinnacle of ingenuity and cast off all the self-made deficiencies and hostile foes that beset him. The seed is there, inside him. Man could become the master of creation itself and leave the Archenemy in the dust.

But it will not come to pass, for interstellar human civilization has been shackled to a sinking ship, known to its hounded subjects as the Imperium of Man. Thus human power in the Milky Way galaxy continues to decay and crumble, even as the Great Devourer draws nigh and ever more Necron Tomb Worlds awaken to once again scour the galaxy of all life. And even as doomsday approaches, the Imperium intensifies its internal purges, sacrificing billions on the altar of blind fury and pious frustration. To Imperial modes of thinking, it stands to reason that you may yet kill the future Heresiarch in the cradle.

And so the Imperium will resort to labour camps and purification camps alike, feeding these black holes of human suffering and death with countless souls in a counter-productive attempt to kill the rot within. On and on this cycle trudges on, stuck in a rut that leads nowhere. At the end of our species. In the darkest of futures.

The true verdict on the sheer futility of this grand killing can be heard, rising from those abominable pits of despair. Listen. Can you hear them?

Hear their screams.

The screams of the innocent.

The screams of the damned.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only waste.
Last edited by Karak Norn Clansman on 12 Dec 21, 10:43, edited 1 time in total.
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Karak Norn Clansman #3846

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Shock Worker

In the grim darkness of the far future, man is devoured by toil.

Human life during the long Dark Age of Technology was not as marred by inactive indolence as one may be led to believe from man's dependence on the machines of Abominable Intelligence. After all, Man of Gold had fashioned a supreme balance in life, to both savour its sweet sides and keep himself well enough sharp and energetic to boldly go out and colonize the galaxy, as well as erecting towering wonders and unlocking the mysteries of creation itself. The marvel of technology at last became a true enabler, not an insidious blight upon the human condition as it had long proven to be. The vast masses of mankind during this lost golden era experienced far more stimulating lives than mere backbreaking drudgery or decadent laziness could offer. The golden mean of conduct was at last achieved and refined. Activities such as sports, hobbies, travels, research and study interests flourished, enabled by lifespans lasting centuries, and in most cultures people would habitually reproduce new broods of beloved children decades after their latest ones had moved on to adult life, since family gives purpose to humans, and the galaxy was full of untouched star systems for man to bring life to.

Life was good. And man abolished hell.

Even when surrounded by so much automated machinery carrying out most tasks of advanced civilization, ancient man would still work in his life, and mostly he would work with such things as best suited his passions and interests, for such unprecedented luxury was his. After all, humans tend to find purpose in work that they love, and the glories of the Dark Age of Technology could not have been achieved if dumb sloth reigned supreme. The entire civilization of ancient man was built upon a highly empirical understanding of human nature, brought about through many meandering ups and downs in the misty Age of Terra. The entire system was sophisticated beyond any primal crudity, bringing forth the best from inside man while purging evil and decay from his heart. And so Man of Stone would pioneer colony worlds and build new void stations, and steer Man of Iron to toil hard and toil well. And Man of Gold lived a life of earthly bliss, with meaning and purpose to guide him. United, this earthly trinity of man bestrode the stars like a colossus. Thus ancient man became adventurous and bold even in the midst of prosperity and comfort, and uncounted new settlers of virgin worlds were prepared to work hard and break new land under alien skies, belying the softness of their origins.

Paradise spread. And all seemed well.

Yet such happy vigour and fruitful work was not destined to last. For the unforgivable sins of ancient man could not go unpunished. For the sake of hideous thought of self and for the blasphemous raising up of science and technology onto an altar, ancient man in his boundless hubris was cast down from his pinnacle of brilliance, and he fell headlong into the smoking fires of ruin and civil strife, tearing down the wonders that he had once built. Thus Old Night swept across human interstellar civilization, and shattered it in a million pieces. And barbaric cannibals scoured the remnants of their once glorious homes, scavenging and hunting their own species in a frenzy of desperation.

Chaos reigned. And all was fell.

The fragmented humanity that emerged out of the Age of Strife was deeply scarred, a retrograde shadow of its former self, a hollow husk of its ancient greatness. Yet nonetheless the human species had endured and survived, on a million worlds and innumerable void habitats, even as more planets and voidholms lay in barren ruin, bereft of life. And the scattered children of Old Earth were reunited under a new banner, the banner of lightning and eagle, and the sole Emperor of Terra arose from our cradle world to reclaim mankind's lost star realm. Legions led by demigods expanded the domains of the Imperator far and wide, empowered by lost lore from the Dark Age of Technology. These mythical warriors crushed all resistance with overwhelming force, and the Emperor's soaring grand plans were on the cusp of coming true. Yet the men of blood craved for more as they began to run out of worlds to conquer, and thus man turned against his own saviour in berzerk fury, and the galaxy burned.

Betrayal by His own son saw the Master of Mankind nigh on slain in the skies above Holy Terra, yet He ascended from this filthy material world into supreme godhood, to sit resplendent on the Golden Throne and pass judgement upon treacherous mankind for our abominable sins. And so we must do penance for our wretched deeds, and never once complain about our lot in life. For every scrap that we are given, is a gracious blessing from the God-Emperor Himself, even as He must test our faith with these hardships and hunger cramps. Praise be!

And ever since, man has toiled like the lowliest beast, and no task is beneath him, no suffering too great for man to bear. For our chosen species has been gifted with endurance, and we have been given willpower to overcome any obstacle and to deny the self to the utmost, for this vale of tears is but an ashen trial to be overcome so that we may join the golden afterlife that His Divine Majesty only grants to those true and worthy in thought, word and deed. What if your assigned task brings you no joy and meaning, o thrall? Remember that faith in Him alone is meaning alone! Know that no drudgery is too hard, no command too difficult to carry out. Obey your masters and betters, and question them not, for their elevated authority emanates from the Golden Throne of the Terran Imperator Himself, and when they speak an order, they speak with the weight of His heavenly power and glory. And you shall obey unthinkingly.

Thus man was made to toil, to live out his life in endless toil. To die by toil, and to live for toil. And the lord of hosts and the leader of the people saw that this was well.

The Age of Imperium proved an ever-worsening throwback to atavistic forms of labour, far more rudimentary than one would come to expect from a starfaring civilization. Increasingly, man proved unable to produce anew the more advanced systems built by the heinously wise ancients. And as machines broke down, never to be replaced by equal systems of engineering, man resorted to ever more primitive forms of machinery, requiring ever more manual labour to function. The hunt for efficiency and innovation, that had been such a hallmark of ancient man, was well and truly dead in this new era, and so his degenerate descendants resorted to throw bodies at problems, calling for human exertions of flesh and will to make up for sagging productivity.

And so man's mortal coil became one of misery and thankless drudgery, as the vast majority of our species worked away their lives in earnest sweat under the lashes of barking overseers. And yet quality of life for common man under the stern rule of the High Lords of Terra continued to slowly deteriorate as millennia ground by, and all of man's self-sacrificing efforts led nowhere. Dreams and aspirations were dashed upon the rocks, and hope died in the darkest of futures. Where once our species had sought to fashion man out of machine, we now made machine out of man, and called it just.

As centuries of worsening demechanization and screeching inefficiency trundled by, managers of industry, mining, shipbuilding, forestry and agriculture noticed the increasing difficulty for their compounds to meet set quotas, and concluded that the latter day subjects of the Terran Imperator had turned soft and feeble. Those teeming masses of human ants needed an example to follow. And so, the shock worker movement was born.

Most men, women and children do not work as conscientiously as the Emperor wants them to do, nor do they work as hard as He wills it. This explain the taskmasters' need for whips and electro-prods in order to encourage due diligence in duty. Yet the plebeian hordes may also benefit from the inspiring example set by extraordinary hard workers, those unusual individuals who can toil and produce above and beyond the call of duty. Such blessed overperformers can manage to crank out several labourers' worth of output day in and day out, shift after shift, lightson upon lightson. These energetic souls burn with a desire to carry out their tasks to the utmost of their ability, thriving amid the hardest of toil as the Emperor Himself intended. Where intellect may have its geniuses, calloused hands have their shock workers.

It is not enough to incentivize such phenomenal workhorses in their narrow locales of labour. Nay, such ace toilers must be depicted and touted in internal Guild propaganda, their visages and names must become famous even outside the company, for their deeds of production must become widely known and talked about to the betterment of the Imperium as a whole. More indentured labourers such as these the hardest of workers must be encouraged to step forth, and step up their output in the name of the Throneworld.

And so, these outstanding men and women of the compound will become civilian darlings of Imperial propaganda. The strong arms and confident faces of these exemplary people can be found on countless posters on hundreds of thousands of worlds and voidholms. These storm labourers are awarded medals and honours, and given simple material benefits which average toilers can only dream of. The masses must be inculcated with the example set by images of famous shock workers, all exuding strength, dexterity and the expected impressions of manual labour. Reminds the plebs of the athletes of the workplace, and spur them on. It all adds up to an attempt to motivate labourers through pride, being a proverbial carrot to go along with the harsh stick.

One such example is the miner Lucius Manlius Cotta, assigned to the Bibulus Deep Shaft Mine on Hyrcania Primax, owned by the Phallax Mercatores Gens, part of the Orion Cartel. After managing to mine an astounding record tonnage of ore in a single work shift, the zealous Lucius was hailed as an Imperial hero of labour and became famous across the entire moon. Picts were taken of him in statuesque poses, and Lucuis Manlius Cotta was sent on a lengthy tour to meet juves and other workers in order to instruct and inspire them to give their all, and then some more, in humble service to the Emperor of Holy Terra, blessed be His name. Every strike of the jackhammer is a blow in the face of the xeno! Every push of the shovel is a shield against the darkness!

Blessed be the hands of the ceaseless workman. Praised be the eager thrall of the Emperor. Salvation shall be given to the industrious soul when it stands before the Golden Throne of hallowed myth.

Storm labourers are motivated by the prospect of better working conditions, material gains and the potential of fame. Extra Guild scrip will be theirs, if they perform well enough. They thrive on the hardest of labour, or amidst the most daunting mountains of paper as regard the most assiduous of clerks. Some rare few ace toilers may even be given the chance to rise above their caste, for some employers and collegium liege lords will issue a generous reward during religious festivals, giving out a prize to the best shock worker, which annuls their entire inherited debt and promotes the fortunate soul to lower management within the corpus. It is a rare privilege to be thus elevated, for only one out of tens or hundreds of thousands of teeming labourers will ever be rewarded thus.

The main virtue of such ceremonious generosity is to present a thin glimmer of hope to all the Guild's hopelessly indebted workers, presenting a distant carrot for thralls to chase amid all the lashing whips. And so propagandists both Imperial and corporate will raise up such enterprising heroes of labour on a pedestal, to keep faint hope alive for lesser subjects amid all their destitution and deprivation.

Increase production for the eternal war effort! Do your part for our species and lord! Worker, do not disappoint the judge of your sinful soul!

In practice, shock workers are often loathed by their immediate colleagues, since their high pace may throw a spanner into the entire work gang's rhythm. Their outstanding performance may also cause jealousy to stir in man's petty heart, for it is the wont of all lesser spirits to envy and begrudge those who do better than themselves. Yet the actual lot of storm labourers is occasionally less desirous than most people realize. Their existence is often marred by stress and a creeping sense of overworking. Their fantastic exertions may eventually lead to terrible exhaustion, as they try to repeat past feats of toil. Their years and years of intensive labour will often strain the limits of human endurance. Therefore, many ace toilers die from heart failures, while others collapse into a state of drained stamina and end up whipped to death by wroth overseers, but such a labour burnout is never mentioned in Imperial pamphlets and posters.

Yet it would be foolish in the extreme to express any doubt against the sanctioned shock worker movement. Skeptics of the movement will be branded as malcontent saboteurs and face baleful repercussions for spreading their defaitist slander. Be quiet, unworthy one, and question not His divinely ordained order of things. Know your place, and toil in silence. Die in silence. Only thus may your wretched soul stand any chance of salvation. Only thus may your kith and kin be spared the severe repercussions facing the entire clan of the deviant and the heretic.

Ultimately, the shock worker movement serves as a crude and limited attempt to compensate for the flagging productivity of Imperial industry, a long term decline brought about by grinding loss of technological knowledge, failing hardware and a virtually complete lack of innovation. Where machine fails, man must step in to give his all in service to the Terran Imperator. Indeed, some of the most famous ace toilers gained their elevated status thanks to pioneering a new method of teamwork, though there is nonetheless a hard limit to what human flesh and bone can achieve, even when put to work in an efficient manner with maximum exertion of strength and willpower.

Behind all the slogans and posters, the primitive lifework and sacrifice of indentured workers are nothing but vast numbers in a broken equation of increased input to feed the meatgrinder. The cosmic domains of His Divine Majesty are slowly faltering. The colossus that is the Imperium of Man is stumbling, under an avalanche of enemies and under the counterproductive burdens of its own making. It is only natural that the Terran Imperium's tyrannical overlords would call for ever greater feats of strength and ever greater deeds of warmaking and production from its cowed masses. And as desperation sets in, the propaganda grows all the more hysterical, the fanatic message all the more feverish, as the entire fundamental mindset of humanity continues to rot, generation by generation. All the while, the sprawling cosmic dominion that man built grows ever more hellish. Locked inside this interstellar madhouse, shackled mankind has wasted ten thousand precious years of titanic endeavour in order to build a prison for himself to waste away and die inside.

Such is his lot. And all is decay.

Truly, life is toil. Toil, ever-lasting and ever-grinding. Toil, ever-burdensome and ever-shackling. Toil and penitence, and not the false bliss of wicked forefathers.

The shout rings out: Work until the white of your raw finger bones are exposed! Work until your back breaks! Work for Sol and Holy Terra!

Only by faith, work and deeds can your sinful soul be saved.

Only in death does duty end.

It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only toil.
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Karak Norn Clansman #3994

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Pure Human Form

In the grim darkness of the far future, man slays man for his foul body.

Sing, o woman, of her fair visage! Sing, o man, of his handsome features!

Sing us a song of the beauty inherent in the human species. Sing of the youthful splendour without blemish that the God-Emperor Himself intended for His chosen kind. Sing of the strength and flawless vigour to be found in the best of our kin. Sing of the hero and the heroine, of their muscles and sinews at work in great deeds of daring. Sing of the bravery and perfection that runs in the veins of better mankind. Sing of the higher ideal. Sing of the blood and the lineage. Sing of the nobility and the courage!

Sing to us of the pure human form!

Long before primordial man dwelt in caves and huts, his beastly ancestors kenned by instinct that a strong and beautiful form was an outward sign of inner health. Such fleshly omens would often lie, and the finest of flesh would often rot and wither away before its time, yet statistically speaking the best chances to breed healthy offspring was usually found with a fair and vigorous partner. Thus beauty as an indicator of health and good genes became the core component of attraction in the world of rutting animals, and males would go to great lengths of display and struggle in order to impress the finest of females, and the females would oft pick the finest among the male competition, for therein lay the pinnacle of what living beings could hope to achieve.

Sprang life from life.

And so, a gorgeous partner became the dream of primal humanity, as witnessed in any number of heroic and voluptuous tales told around the fireside during the misty past of the Age of Terra. This dream of beauty and strength never passed away, and rigorous attempts to deny it were ever doomed to waste away in the face of innate human nature. Sometimes, the deniers would be pious people of faith, shunning the sinful body as a worldly delusion. At other times, the deniers would be reformers fired up with strange thoughts spinning inside their own heads, their ideas at odds with reality itself. Yet in the end, mankind always knew that beauty was good, just as strength and victory was good.

The dark backside of these lived ideals has always been the rejection of all that is ugly and weak, trailed by suspicions that a hideous exterior betrays a corrupt interior, whether that inner self is biological or spiritual in nature. Through the aeons, uncounted souls have been lost as outcasts inside their own community, heckled for their displeasing looks and unlovely ways. And so the ill-favoured and disagreeable among us has always been doomed to scorn, always at risk of having their entire lives turned into a living hell at the hands of fellow men, women and children.

The Dark Age of Technology saw a deeply empirical understanding of human nature guide mankind into a better world, having man's life improve even as his cosmic domains spread far and wide by the power of unsurpassed scientific lore and technological might. As such, blemishes of the flesh could be healed or improved on a fundamental level by genetors, and men and women were not only happy in this long lost epoch. They were also beautiful. For such was the hubris of mankind, that Man of Gold on many worlds and void stations sought to level the human playing field by making everyone sweet for the eyes. Thus surrounded by stunning members of the same species, ancient man would simultaneously savour the view and grow accustomed to it. And this artificial freeing of the body from the shackles of ill health, frailty and foulness allowed the ideals of the ancients to decisively turn to pursuits of the intellect, since ideals of form had long since been fulfilled across the board, and could now be taken for granted.

And man was happy.

Yet such sinful arrogance and godless abominations of worldly paradise could not be allowed to stand. And thus ancient man was felled from his lofty pedestal by heinous machine revolt, crippling Warp storms and a plague of witches. And Dark Ones of Hell laughed at man's horrendous downfall, while twain million worlds burned to ashes and countless void installations were left in ruins. Thus began the Age of Strife, that lasted for twohundredfifty generations of cannibal freefall.

Old Night saw desperate mankind regress to the worst of his ancient past. The very flesh and essence of humanity was under siege on hundreds of thousands of irradiated and poisoned worlds and voidholms, even as otherworldly powers of Chaos played havoc upon the bodies and souls of exposed humans. And so the ravages of a toppled interstellar civilization was accompanied by a plague of mutations, as uncounted men, women and children twisted into new and horrible forms, turning hideous and disgusting in the eyes of those fortunate enough to count themselves as pureblood mankind.

The end of the Warp storms and the coming of the Terran Imperator saw the scattered survivor colonies of man reunited under a bloodstained banner, as Legions of ruthless warriors crushed all resistance under the leadership of demigods. These sons of the Emperor were marvellous creations, standing as exemplars of all that humanity could achieve. Yet the true wonder of our species was the Imperator Himself, standing resplendent as the pinnacle of all that mankind could ever hope to become.

For all His dashing perfection and handsome exterior, the Emperor of Terra and all mankind did not conduct a massive purge of all mutant types found in the post-apocalyptic landscapes that His Legionnaires conquered. Indeed, even gross and unsightly mutants such as Beastmen were accepted and made use of within the Exerctus Imperialis, for the ranks of the Imperial Army were ever hungering for more soldiers. And as the Great Crusade slaughtered all opposition and claimed ever more planets and voidholms in His name, there followed the secular creed of the Imperial Truth, and its rational ideology grew within human space as long as the early Imperium stood strong and united.

Such invincible unity was not fated to last, however. Nor was the early Imperium's toleration of mutants and abhumans of many kinds. Civil strife rent the Imperium of Man asunder, and ungrateful man nigh-on slew the Emperor while the galaxy burned. In the wake of the Horus Heresy, desperate mankind clung to the certainties and promises of a new religion, in spite of the Cult Imperialis having originally been spawned by the most heretical of Primarchs. And mutants played a prominent role as favoured servants of the Dark Gods during that terrible rebellion. Thus, the High Lords of Terra would outlaw mutants, turning them over to a precarious life of exploitation as the most downtrodden of underclasses. And among all the mind-numbing toil, mutants would be periodically slated for pogroms and local extermination sweeps, according to the caprice of the pureblood human population that so despises them.

In the Age of Imperium, mutants stand as the antithesis of all that pure mankind ought to embody. One common way to argue for the sacral purity of the human genome during the wake of the Horus Heresy ran as follows: Materialists and unbelievers of yore would claim that this world of grey matter is all made out of one substance. They would even go so far as to claim that the only difference between humanity and animals are a meaningless number of random gene-codes. Since the Imperator Himself is the ultimate human, it follows that He also is but a few steps away from being an ape. Is the Emperor but humbug? Do we all share the same essence? Is there no difference between His Divine Majesty and a dog?

Nay! Shun these doubters and weaklings in belief, for the shape of mankind is no coincidence. It is no roll of nature's dice, able to fall in any which way, but a pure and sacred form, as decreed at the dawn of our species by our lord and saviour. The ancestral forms of man and woman are pure and perfect, and any deviation from our original Terran phenotype cluster is a crime of birth and flesh. The God-Emperor Himself wills it for His chosen species to be pure, strong, pious and beautiful. Since He so wills it, we shall make it so. We shall cleanse the human species from mutants, and we shall trample the witch and the abhuman underheel.

Imperator Vult!

After all, it is well known that the Emperor of Holy Terra was the pinnacle of virile manliness, enveloped in shining magnificence. The Master of Mankind had hair as flowing and beautiful as a pooling waterfall in a lush oasis, of deep black lustre. Ancient tales speak of His prominent activities of procreation through the ages, inseminating our species with small gifts of His own splendour in the flesh, being well and truly a father of the people. Truly, the Emperor In the Flesh was the desire of all women and the ideal of all men. He was the one and only perfect human being, and His intent was for all of our chosen species to become like Himself. Such was His wondrous plan, before wretched man betrayed Him. Ave Imperator!

And certainly, the human form itself is elevated above all others, being holy and destined for greatness. Scattered myths on certain forgeworlds speak of how Titan God Machines to this day mimic the pure human form thanks only to the benevolent machinations of the Hidden Emperor's shadowy hand guiding our species in ancient days. After all, bipedal walkers are clearly less stable than vehicles that possess more legs than two, and yet ancient man designed his foremost planetbound warmachines to walk as giant avatars of the pure human form.

With such stark signs teaching us of the importance to uphold the sacred shape of mankind, the actual state of our unworthy species is cause for alarm. For we have wallowed in sin and depravity, and our bodies have turned humpbacked and wrong as punishment for our baleful spiritual errors. As such, man during the Age of Imperium has degenerated into a wretched being, rife with mutation and corruption, that must be flogged, branded and cleansed from all filth without neither remorse nor regret. No mercy for the unclean!

Cast out the mutant, the traitor, the heretic. For every enemy without there are a hundred within. Know that dispersed man has changed and evolved under strange skies and alien suns, and his countenance has all too often turned twisted and weird. Rutting in the dark on a million worlds and innumerable voidholms, man spawned monsters and abominations. In sinful disbelief of our glorious overlod, woman gave birth to mutants, and clan failed to purge the rot in the cradle. And so we are burdened with billions of mutants infesting the Imperium of Man, their numbers unknown and their hatred festering across the starspangled void. Through millennia of starfaring, some humans would even commit unholy crossbreeding with xenos through artificial means, whether willingly or through forceful violation. The offspring of such unspeakable unions dwell within His cosmic dominion to this very day.

Many mutants try to hide their own and their children's abhumanity under shapeless robes, paying lip-service to those Imperial sects who shun the sinful body and wish to cover it up. Most common of all mutants are the Subs, relatively genetically stable but still hideously deformed mutant sub-breeds, forming a teeming underclass of slave labour. Subs are often outlawed, but are usually allowed to live regardless by hypocritical authorities due to the economic exploitation to be gained from Subs. Like other mutants, Subs remain regular targets of lynchmobs and pogroms.

On top of mutations brought about by ordinary evolution, unholy influence and exotic natural environments, there exist a very large number of mutants whose deformed bodies are the byproducts of contaminated Imperial industry. As the Imperium aged, and aged badly, so did its dysfunctional industry turn ever more polluting and decrepit, and endemic mutations followed in the wake of Imperial industry. In the face of such rampant mutation, large swathes of scattered mankind turned away from dysgos and gene-twists with utter revulsion. To Imperial modes of thinking, it is right and proper to hate that which is different from the pure Terran phenotype cluster.

After all, mutants physically rebel against humanity through their very sin of existing. They rebel against the God-Emperor's perfect form with their unnatural powers and ugly faces! And so self-righteous religious lunatics will murder all people suspected of tainted blood, conducting massacres of the innocent which no sanctioned sect will ever lament, nor remember as anything else than heroic deeds.

As the sclerotic Age of Imperium unfolded in all its darkness and horror, so too did restrictions on mutants multiply in number. The most famous and widespread Administratum document of regulation is the Godolkin Purebreed Guide, detailing any Imperial subjects' deviation from the standard human phenotype cluster via a point system. While the exact number of points for mutant toleration differ wildly due to local strategic exemptions, the underlying spirit of the Godolkin Index is the classification and ruthless purification of undesirables in order to ensure the eugenic health of the baseline human genome.

And so rejects of society and humanity alike will be butchered like cattle. Meanwhile, pogromists will usually be given free reign to defile the mutant according to their heart's darkest lusts, for any fell deed committed against such wretched outcasts do not count as sin in the divine eyes of Him on Terra. After all, non-standard human phenotypes are nothing but filth, born defects from His Divine Majesty's perfect design. Purge them all! Slay these alien crossbreeds, these many-limbed monstrosities, these telekinetic madmen and these beings with the countenance of actual, literal sharks. For the betterment of the collective whole, we must practice virtuous eugenics, and never shy away from our grim duty to cleanse mankind from impurities. Remember that mutants are all living sins unto the purity of the ancestral human form. Twists are parodies of mankind. They are heresy made flesh and blood!

As noted, dirty Imperial practices of industry will often contaminate the living-space of ordinary humans to such a degree as to become a breeding ground for new strains of mutations and deformities, yet such horrid causes of mutations are never recognized by the High Lords of Terra. Instead, the Adeptus Terra will officially support sects and local rulers who wish to eradicate abhumanity as a caste, even as the Imperium silently lets most mutants live on as a source of cheapest thrall labour. Therefore, the vast majority of all abhumans throughout His astral realm is left living in surly and bestial resignation, their wits reduced to dull incurious brooding, for their every day is a nightmare of backbreaking grind, filled with fear and loathing.

And so these breathing insults to the sacred human genome will be rounded up and shackled to their work stations, or else they will be purged without ceremony, either by troopers or by grimdrunk mobs at the height of chiliastic violence. The ugly carcass of the mutant remains a target for any right-thinking subject of He who dwells on the face of Terra. Would not the Enthroned One want for us to cleanse the dysgenic element from our midst? Should we not rid ourselves of these blasphemies of the flesh? Better kill them now, before they give birth to more walking heresies! Buy redemption from your sins in the blood of monsters. Purge the unclean! For we shall hate all that is ugly in man.

Kill! Kill! Kill!

And so the senile debility of the etiolated Imperium plays out again and again, on a million worlds and on uncounted voidholms. Such a hidebound and parochial mess mankind has become, whose ancestors once bestrode the cosmos like fearless titans. Such baleful slaughter and such depraved excesses are encouraged from on high when directed against those deemed unfit to live by the High Lords of Terra. And even amidst the crescendo of righteous bloodletting, Holy Inquisitors are left wondering why the dark forces of Chaos continue to grow so strong. Surely, their entire life's work could not be a futile exercise in counter-productive insanity? No! Doubt not, and trust in the ruler of all humanity to steer your course. Only by sacrificing the unclean upon the altars of our Radiant Deity can we purify sinful mankind.

Odi et Amo.

Turning thus from this suicide pact gone wrong, that is the Imperium of Man, we now focus our attention on a tense contradiction embedded at the heart of Imperial thinking:

The purity of the human form in one shape or another has been part of the Imperium since its very inception, even though it during the Great Crusade avoided the rabid depravity which it would spawn in the latter Age of Imperium. After all, affirming the beauty, cleverness, strength and justice dwelling inside mankind was part and parcel of the Emperor's attempt to revitalize traumatized human culture and kickstart a flourishing renaissance of science, creativity and invention. The lord of hosts and leader of the people needed to dig man out of the shell inside which this scarred wretch hid, and show man the splendour and glory which humanity was capable of. Thus the female form and the male form were both elevated in the classical aesthetic of the early Imperium, raised up on pedestals as heroes and majestic ideals for all to aspire to.

Fortuna Favet Fortibus!

Fortune favours the bold. This ancient phrase could as well have been the motto of the entire Imperium during the era of the Great Crusade. Under the Emperor's direction, man grasped for more: More expansion, more knowledge, more uplifting beauty. The Terran Imperator wished to energize and inspire His chosen species, and for a while, He succeeded. Man raised up golden wonders and reclaimed lost lore of the ancients, even as man cultivated a mindset fit for science and exploration. And amid all this arrogance and fervent activity, the clean shapes of man and woman in the guise of statues and fresques adorned palaces and streets alike. Yet the near-death of the Emperor in the skies above Terra brought with it the second downfall of mankind, and in its wake of desperation did a new faith emerge, one destined to overtake the entire Imperium of Man, and remake humanity in its image.

This religion was the Imperial Cult, a fractious mass of competing sects, all united in their total devotion to the God-Emperor, their total subjection to Holy Terra, and their complete and fanatical hatred of all infidelry, heresy, unbelief, blasphemy, apostasy and heathendom. From its very inception, the Cult Imperialis bore traumatized scars brought about by the Horus Heresy and the subsequent Scouring. One such scar was the apprently dour and humourless mindset of the Cult, as contrasted to the optimistic, lively, jocular and easygoing culture of the early Imperium. Another scar was the uneasy relation that many Imperial sects had with the human body itself.

Unlike the early Imperium of the Great Crusade, this new, religious Imperium under the High Lords manifested a strong tendency to deny the body through asceticism, self-flagellation, self-abnegation and by the covering up of our sinful forms under shapeless robes. The tide of interstellar human civilization seemed to have turned irrevocably toward a barren Imperial culture, both bereft of humour and fearful of the human body, scarred forever and made stale and boring by the horrors of the Horus Heresy and the disappointments in mankind itself brought about by it.

Yet the tumultuous course of Imperial cultural history was not so predetermined. Instead, strong counter-currents existed, fed by such sources as devotion to the Primarchs Guilliman and Sanguinius. Likewise, the Great Crusade era's shining aesthetics and ideals survived by morphing pious and latching themselves onto Imperial sects that proved capable of perpetuating these ancient styles and ideas through religious dogma. A third factor was the local persistence of one school of thought over another, even as the larger Imperium happened to be dominated by the other school of thought and style, thereby ensuring that pockets of artistic expression and aesthetic tradition survived to bloom anew in cultural renaissances that spread across entire star sectors and Segmenta.

While the full panoply of Imperial schools of thought and artistic traditions present a mad sectarian caleidoscope of variety and nuance, the two main strains who have achieved galactic spread can be boiled down as such:

On the one hand, there is the more ancient, classic school, informed by the original Great Crusade aesthetic. This extroverted school of thought upholds beautiful mankind as the pure pinnacle of creation, and will proudly display the pure human form in all its art, craft and architecture, to the point of unabashed nakedness. Let us here call it the body-affirming school for the sake of simplicity. As the Emperor wills it.

On the other hand, there is the newer, post-Heresy school of thought, informed by the traumas that have beset mankind ever since the Ascension of the Enthroned God. This introverted school of thought shuns arrogant displays of human greatness, and emphasizes humility and the covering up of our sinful bodies. Let us here call it the self-abnegating school for the sake of simplicity. As the Emperor wills it.

Imperator Adiuta Imperialis.

Grasping that these two contradictory major styles inform most parts of Holy Terran, and thus Imperial, high culture, lets us understand why sanctioned Imperial aesthetics will simultaneously tout the prideful human body in the face of the hideous mutant and xeno, while at the same time hiding the sinful limbs, hair, face and torso of the dubious human form. This realization is at the core of all deeper understanding of internal Imperial workings. For the Emperor's servants do not all pull in the same direction. Their lives and deeds are filled with conflicts and contradictions. Ultimately, the Imperium of Man can be likened to a multi-headed hydra, that is as often at war with itself as with external foes.

And so priests, preachers and priestesses in shapeless robes will lead pureblood Sisters of Battle into action, the latter wearing curvaceous power armour even as they practice martial asceticism. Likewise, decently robed and covered Inquisitorial Acolytes will direct trained agents of the Officio Assassinorum in tight bodysuits. Meanwhile, genhanced Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes will proudly wear crests and sculpted muscle cuirasses into battle, even while praying away their days in monastic severity.

Less contradictory, and more true to the early Imperium's classical ideals, are the famed Sanguinary Guard of the Blood Angels Chapter. Likewise, there is the phallic majesty of the Imperial Palace guarded by the perfect pinnacles of human form that is known as the Adeptus Custodes, all armoured in gleaming gold.

All these Imperial servants are willing slaves to the Golden Throne, whether they cover up their human form or put it on full display, with accentuated hips and breast cups for women, and suggestive codpieces for men. Any objections about practicality can be thrown out a window, for Imperial artificers will not care if anatomically sculpted armour plates create shot traps and weak points. Such efficiency thinking and hunt for improvement long since disappeared at the burning end of the Dark Age of Technology. In the Age of Imperium, aesthetics are as important, if not more so, than effectiveness in combat, as the Emperor Himself has obviously decreed.

Imperial sects prone to excessive self-abnegation will often level accusations of narcissistic indulgence at any works displaying human beauty, and violent iconoclams beyond counting have occurred throughout ten thousand wasted years of human development run into the ground. Body-affirming aesthetics are constantly frowned upon by most monastic orders, many sects and some major movements within the Cult Imperialis. Some Imperial religious traditions have long been suffused by anti-body tendencies and praise of chastity, all speaking ill of vanity, lust and even vital procreation itself, damning them all as idolatrous blasphemies of the flesh. Yet the mighty Imperium must live and die by the sword, and the people of the robe would do well not to quote overtly hostile scripture at the people of the spear. Instead, most warriors tend to follow in the bombastic, vigorous and virile footsteps of His Divine Majesty. A proud host is a confident host.

All across Imperial space, there exists a worship of strength. The Imperial Creed has taught humans across the Milky Way galaxy to venerate humanity as an ideal, while simultaneously scorning the reality of red-blooded man in all his flawed sinfulness as lowly filth. Thus, it is virtuous to hate all that is ugly in man. The Lectito Divinitatus teaches us that man is nothing but dust. Still, his muscles can be harnessed as yet another energy source to drive the machinery of Imperial power, and ever more that has become the case, as an unstoppable and slow demechanization grinds away ever more of the inherited works of ancient man.

Many sects who are part of the body-affirming school practice their artistic styles in reverent memory of Primarch Sanguinius, the Angel of Blood who embodied the perfect human form, the true son who died to save the Emperor Himself. They sculpt statues with bulging biceps and wear lorica musculata in honour of Sanguinius, who stood for all that was best in humanity. He whose horrible yet noble death overshadowed even the great deeds of his life. In Imperial theology, Primarch Sanguinius represents the finest side of mankind, both within and without. A flawless exterior is widely believed by many Imperial sects to be proof of inner purity, even as other sects reject bodily beauty and vanity as horrid sins and marshlights leading men, women and children astray from the true path of the Emperor.

Yet historical experience has shown time and again that a beautiful visage and unblemished body may hide a corrupt mind, or dull wit. In fact, charisma and good looks will often serve as a cover for ineptitude. Thus, the pure human form will sometimes prove a shield in the persistent theme of incompetents: Arrogance, lack of imagination and a bizarre focus on trivial matters while ignoring the big picture and crucial signs. A truly lethal combination. In some human cultures synonymous with sybaritic devotion to luxury and pleasure, adherence to the style of the pure human form may eventually mutate into a cover for Slaaneshi pleasure covens, yet any theologian who would wish to drive his oratory hard down this road of accusation, would do well to remember the treasured memory of Sanguinius.

And so, the most expensive of Imperial wargear will often mimic the pure human form, displaying a brutal nobility and masking the bearer behind an artificial fair visage, akin to a brave yet narcissistic hero of old. Thus, some of the best trained warriors of the Imperium of Man will be adorned with sculpted breastplates, leg plates and arm plates, stepping into ceramite boots sculpted like human feet. Fully clad in such aesthetically refined armour, these servants of the Emperor will be transformed, adopting a handsome physique and youthful form. Thus armoured, they resemble nothing so much as young gods and ever-vigorous goddesses, brimming with martial pride. Worn by trained and confident killers, such artistic ideals come to life in armour harder than they do in stone.

Some artificer armour sets even include sculpted codpieces and lorica vulvata, who are often hidden beneath loinclothes for the sake of modesty. Yet such eye-catching pieces of armour are in some crude warrior cultures displayed openly and proudly with Freyic zeal, especially so in the more rustic tribal societies where menfolk are expected to wear brash accessories to underline their manhood. While frowned upon by the trend-setting Imperial high culture of Holy Terra, such seemingly rude symbols of virility and garbs of fertility are nevertheless common in the primitive tribal peripheries that exist on hundreds of thousands of Imperial worlds and voidholms. Indeed, familiarity with such customs will completely wear off the offensive edge, and foreigners becoming acculturated to the ways of these Emperor-fearing tribes do not even think about it most of the time. Thus kotekas, priapic gourds in rut, groin sheaths and branch pouches become just another piece of clothing, seldom reflected upon and within the boundaries of local decency.

Such phallic imagery aside, wearing a sculpted cuirass displaying the chiseled likeness of naked peak human physique, whether masculine or feminine, is to honor the perfection of mankind as best exemplified by the Emperor In the Flesh. It is also a righteous and unapologetic display of the pure human form, and a visual reminder of the beauty, strength and purity of form that will be lost if horrible mutants, aliens, deviant cults or xenophiles were to triumph over the Imperium of Man and corrupt mankind's sacred genome.

Look to the God-Emperor of Holy Terra, seated in radiant glory upon the Golden Throne of hallowed myth. He is the Master of Mankind, and the most perfect human being who ever walked the earth. The Terran Imperator wanted His ideal humans to look like demigods and daughters of a deity. Was this a contradiction to the atheist creed that He professed during the early Imperium? Was it a true vision of the future? Or was it a wish to get back to the heights of human glory that had once existed during the Dark Age of Technology?

Regardless of intent, the God-Emperor's wish lives on, in uncounted millions of luxurious armour suits, often worn by the finest warriors under His rule. Behold the slayers of mutants, traitors and xenos, who walk into the flames of war, in forever young armour shaped like a muscular male torso. Behold the elite amazons, having donned rich armour in the shapely form of a strong, young woman complete with voluptuous breasts. Such are the wandering visions of our fleshly abode at its best. Such is the finest state for our bodies of clay and dust. And so the armed servants of the Emperor will embody the greatest heroes of ancient legends, at peak strength and peak beauty. Ever a sign of health.

Vain and arrogant, their self-abnegating detractors spit out. Sensual and sinful, the criticism reads. Lustful and bestial, the condemnation rings out. Nevertheless, the martial devotees of these body-affirming Imperial sects still preserve a sliver of the Emperor's original vision for mankind, after fivehundred generations of rotting stagnation and withering decay. A vision, of proud mankind resplendent in its full might, unapologetic, strong and victorious.

Such visual glories can do naught to stem the tide of doom that is drowning mankind, at the end of our species. No beauty in the universe can save that decaying cosmic dominion. And so the Imperium will continue to cannibalize society for the sake of total war on ten thousand different fronts.

And as desperation mounts, the democidal tendencies inherent in the Imperium of Man will boil to a fever pitch, lashing out at any convenient targets near at hand. Any victim will do, really, but the frustrated rage must be unleashed. Thus true believers in the God-Emperor will spill out onto the streets, and carry torches and makeshift weapons to the nearest mutant slumhood. And as the abhumans look up, the bane realization can be seen, glowing as panic in their eyes.

These many, then, shall die. Woe unto the malformed!

Witness these pointless pogroms, and ken that the Imperium of Man is too broken to fix. The aquila's rotten carcass is doomed to crash.

Yet mankind in the darkest of futures may still die with style.

Vanity of vanities, everything is vanity.
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pawl #4012

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Good luck reading through all these, @Glorfindle 😜
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Glorfindle #4022

I'm currently WFH as i tested positive for covid yesterday so i have some time on my hands to read through all this over the next few days :grin: thank you for pointing it out to me
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