In the grim darkness of the far future, there is no sanctuary from the spawn of man.
In a garbled multitude of songs and sagas recited in a million different tongues around crackling campfires and flickering hab lumens, it is told that Man of Gold banished cruelty from the human soul, and for this arrogant sin he was rendered soft of countenance and weak of will. Thus ancient man lacked the dogged hatred and hardy grit that ultimately sustains life in this harsh vale of trial and woe, and ancient man inevitably succumbed to his own feeble spirit even as his hubris shone with supreme confidence in man's unlimited abilities, miraculous works and achievements. For mercy and kindness slays no foe, and thus ancient man missed his golden opportunity to scour the galaxy free of hostile aliens while his worldly might was unsurpassed and man's fortunes soared to godlike heights.
Indeed the gentle openness of ancient man made him akin to a carapaced creature bereft of its shell, for on all too many worlds and void habitats did people welcome the emergence of witches and encourage the exploration of their heinous warpcraft, and those worlds thus inclined to kindness were utterly doomed. Ancient man's inner feckless spirit would transform into an outward reality of despair and darkest helplessness as luxury died and shining towers toppled, for the Dark Age of Technology ended in flames and kineating ruin, and man's chance for a grand purification across the stars was never grasped.
We see then, that empathy and a sweetly heart bereft of cruelty turned Man of Gold's spirit rotten weak in the midst of unrivalled worldly strength, for benignant compassion is the highest form of folly, and thus the kindness of ancient man nearly doomed our species. Such were the mistakes of our wicked forefathers, yet we are much wiser now. For we know that hard times create strong men, and strong men create good times, and good times create weak men, and weak men create hard times. Only by holding on to strength at all costs may we break that decadent cycle of decay. Times must ever be hard. They must ever be made hard for us to live in, to breed strong men.
We must not make men weak, nay, we must scour them with hardship and struggle, we must worship strength and embrace that which makes us strong. We know, as ancient man did not, that we must banish compassion and forgiveness from our souls, lest all our kin and offspring will perish, and all our bloodlines and species will succumb to oblivion. Do you wish to see the heads of your children smashed upon the rocks? Do you wish for weakness to devour your family? If not, then vigilant be. Only a strong people manning a wall of hatred can hope to survive the horrors beyond and the rot within. For the radiant God-Emperor Himself has decreed in holy writ issued from the cradle of mankind that we must be ruthless. We must be strong. We must be cruel.
No remorse. No regret. No mercy.
And so across one million worlds and innumerable voidholms, a regressed colossus on feet of clay will encourage human hardiness through the trinity of misery, iniquity and strife, yet the hidebound local cultures populating such a myriad of teeming planets and overcrowded spacestations need little spurring on from above, for the Imperator of Holy Terra has seen fit to gift unto man inner reserves of abhorrence and stubborn will, buoyed up by petty spite, mistrust, cunning and jealousy, all the better to make man's inner character manifest at the most of times, on every day and on every rotation. In order to better understand how man's treatment of fellow man contributes to the strengthening of his spirit, let us plunge the depths of depravity clogging up the human soul. Let us see how man, as child, through his small deeds and words of common everyday conduct may engender his sound hardiness, for the betterment of our starspanning species as a whole.
Among some of the most primitive human tribes across the galaxy, people who display extraordinary brilliance and intelligence will be sacrificed to the God-Emperor or to some local anima-spirits, the better for their outstanding gifts to placate wrathful divinity and stop pestering the parochial community with the most clever ones' oddness and weirdness of character. Thus child prodigies and grown-up geniuses alike are hanged from tree branches and ripped apart upon altars running with blood and gore, all of them nothing but deviants effectively voted out of life by a cohesive culture of barbarians who would rather not be unnerved by their brainish wit. Such savage customs may be extreme, yet they are in reality echoed in word and deed everywhere man dwells across the Milky Way galaxy.
It befits lowly souls of mediocre envy to stomp on the tender sprouts of genius before they can bloom. Man finds that it behooves him to drown the hopes of gifted ones in this dark abyss of his own insecure lack of vision before they can rise above the short reach of his spiteful tongue and violent hands. The spirit of man is ever easily quenched by parochial narrow-mindedness and fanatic myopia, ever easily led astray by man's own pettiness and ideas with a catchy ring to them.
What we are describing, is a most commonplace phenomenon, something unavoidable and unpreventable, tacitly accepted and embraced by humanity everywhere across the length and breadth of the Imperium, and naturally it also reigns unchallenged on those outlying lost human colonies that eke out a meagre existence beyond the holy light and sacral rule of His Divine Majesty and the godly inspired High Lords of Terra. Everywhere the seed of man grows, children will innately know to purge the weak, freeze out the unwanted and harry the deviant. The reasons why may vary on whether it be for strange looks, voice, behaviour, bodily weakness, the need to have at least someone to stomp on beneath you, or a clash of personal chemistry. Whatever the source of such one-way friction, the constant flow of human vitriol must find an outlet, and what better outlet than to drown pathetic mommy's boys, weird kids and weeping cravens in it? Let them all suffer for what they are, for all defects of flesh and character are but the outward manifestations of an abominable spirit lurking within.
Trust your instincts, for the ability to detect deviation is an ability given unto you by the Emperor Himself. Is it not of eugenic virtue for all mankind to harass and scourge losers, crybabies, dysgenic wastrels, twists, potential witches and future heretics alike? Is not this univeral human streak to shun the deviant and scorn the freethinker an all-pervasive form of folk wisdom inherent to all righteous congregations and their offspring?
Witness the petty malice apparent in most children of our species, and those observations will give you a true insight into the monstrous spirit lurking within the human heart. After coming to know that piece of wisdom, hardly any occasion for learning of great atrocity and vile crime will ever truly shock you. Let it be known that the road to inner harmony is paved with low expectations, for that will prevent you from driving off into the melancholy ditch of disappointment. After all, naïvety is an important component in trauma of the mind, for those without high expectations on their fellow man will be better prepared for the common evils and disasters that are inherent to life and death. Thus heed this lesson, and listen well. Let us uncover the evil that men do, by examining the evil that children do in sordid detail, for the child is the father of man.
First of all, we will recognize that the ever persistent fact of children shunning those deemed unwanted, is not born out of careful elaborations with intellect spinning high. Instead, it is a natural, indeed instinctive part of human nature, an aspect of our pack mentality. This scorning of others in your own group know few to no principles, for it arise out of the animal depths of the human soul, forged as it is in primal eons of hunger, rutting and desperate struggle for survival in a harsh world of limited resources. For man is not a fallen angel, but an ape arisen.
The dark sides of human nature will manifest themselves very early on in life. The baby steps of evil include the infant observation that creating something takes a long time, yet destruction is but the work of moments. More attentive cunning will soon make the bairn discover that hurting others in one fell swoop may be rewarding, yet it is far better to draw out the distress and agony in others and savour the ongoing process. Thus it is more pleasing for most people to find a favourite target to torment every available day for years on end, than it is to menace someone but for one occasion. Most children who find joy in pursuing their mischievous desires would agree that death by a thousand cuts is a better spectacle then a swift beheading with a guillotine. Indeed, they live by that principle, for the boot is on their foot and not on the wretched victim of them and their friends, classmates and work gang comrades.
Further self-schooling in evil will reveal to the child that there is a sense of security in belonging to a group, and even a sort of courage born from holding power. After all, power is when you can do something with impunity, and no one can do anything about it. Thus a numerical disparity of ten against one mean that the communal vermin cannot hope to fend off the banes of their childhood and dreams. And so afflictors of others who would have found scant boldness to harrass unwanted ones on their own, will find themselves daring a great deal more when acting as part of a pack. In a gang, they will dare to strike, to chivy, to destroy. Band together and close ranks, for there is strength in numbers. Remember that lesson in war.
By moving in groups, gleeful kids will soon rouse each other to attack lone targets, and go further still in their assaults. Collective strength and the fear thereof is enough to overpower most prey, and even the most ferocious lone wolves can be overwhelmed by superior force of numbers and be made subject to every cruel whim of the assaulters once the group have pinned the human target to the ground and gripped its arms and legs firmly. Environments where children are to be found in crowds are often akin to a kindergarten for future torturers. Under the veneer of all the institutional strictures and rules of conduct enforced by adult powers and severe authorities, a lawless wilderness will nevertheless stand tall as the true experience of life on scholam yards and in the predatory environments of orphanaria and workhouses. There will be nasty kid fights, in which eyes, teeth, ears, fingers and limbs may be lost, aside from standard little injuries such as common bruises and shallow cuts. These brawls and their casaulties are all healthy signs, for it is good and virtuous that the younglings of the Imperium prepare for combat from an early age. After all, they will need to be inured to violence and pain during their adult lives, no matter if they will serve the God-Emperor in arms or as toiling labourers.
Aside from the common scrimmage between rough equals, there will always be an endless picking on those weaker and lower in status than yourself. Hurtful words, sharp looks and malignant deeds all play an important role. There will be needling and heckling toward the ugly ducklings, and the scorn in which they are held will be made clear by heaping ridicule upon the victim. Indeed, there will be spit and even let water on those at the bottom of the pecking order. They must know their place, after all, and a thousand little humiliations every day is an excellent method to show who is on top, and who is trampled on the bottom of the pile. Thus children everywhere will establish hierarchy with harsh means, and the Imperium of Man is nothing if not an utter hierarchy. A virtuous top-down system of capricious tyranny and arbitrary cruelty needs to be taken for granted by the populace from a very early age, and this Imperial reality of oppressive oligarchy and despotic power has for fivehundred generations been cemented by children naturally gravitating toward similar solutions in their everyday interactions with each other. As below, so above. Might is right.
To openly challenge those above you is an alarming, nay, abominable tendency within the rigid astral dominions of Holy Terra and Mars, and innumerable death sentences and much worse have been inflicted upon suspected apostates and traitors for such sinful crimes against the Terran Imperator's sacred hierarchy in the world of adults. Among children, those worthless wretches who would dare to protest or challenge the juvenile status quo will find themselves beset with the full fury of the pack, who will be indignant that any pale brat could even dream of disobeying the order of things. And so the many will furiously kick, punch and bite any humiliated weakling who dare to stand up to their tormentors. They must know their place, after all. Nevertheless, succesful violence by someone formerly despised as weak and sorry may be an exceedingly rare solution to torment by peers, for everyone respects strength. Clever words may on rare occasions suffice for counter-raids, yet only deeds may conquer. Such unusual climbing of the ladder by might and main among children is akin to a murderous usurper of a throne being hailed as righteously justified by the God-Emperor, for how else could they have attained success in that enterprise without divine blessing?
Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Instead, do unto others as you would not have them do unto you, for that way lies power and glory in a zero sum game of dog eats dog. Who ever became mighty by turning the other cheek? Such meekness is fit only for born slaves, and if the shackled ones tell themselves that they are innocent and what is being done unto them is unjust, then all the better. Know that lack of guilt is immaterial, indeed the concepts of justice and guilt are largely without any weight in the affairs of man, as are the polar opposites of good and evil meaningless for determining human behaviour. A superior determinant for the conduct of man can be found in his animalistic instinct and gut feeling, and nowhere is this more true than for child. Most humans are driven by a need to fit in and not stick out, born out of self-preservation and fear. They have something to lose, and are at all times surrounded by people willing and able to hurt them greatly. The world of man is not truly ruled by an ephemeral duality of good and evil. A far better compass for understanding the dynamic of human nature is one revolving around cowardice, bestial aggression, group belonging, protection of kin and a hunger for more. In such a scope, phenomena such as self-sacrifice, helpfulness and respect seamlessly rub shoulders with selfish greed, cruelty and scorn.
During the misty depths of the ancient Age of Terra, a gadfly of a philosopher was once condemned to death by his homecity's public assembly after a great war had been lost. The Imperium of Man would laud the city's decision to purge such a deviant and freethinker for impiety and corrupting the youth, but the Imperium would have thought it silly and spineless for there to have been two rounds of voting on the question, and a lot of obvious hints for the guilty philosopher to please just run away and leave the city well ahead in time of his scheduled execution. Imperials are not afraid to slay, in the holy name of the Emperor. It is well that those capable of new thought are hunted down, for they represent a risk of undermining the legitimate, sacred order upheld by the powers that be. An order emanating from the Imperator, seating in radiant splendour upon Golden Throne on Holy Terra.
As such, the mockery and maltreatment visited upon chinless losers and loners by the mob act as a form of communal self-defence against dangerous thought of self by rooting out any potential future loose cannons and silencing them by preventive counter-barrage while they are still small and defenceless. Get your retaliation in first, before they sharpen their tongues. Overwhelm them with arbitrary bluntness and spite. Suppress the strange ones. Heckle malcontents and give them hell. Tolerate no deviancy! If a man in any way would break the tight mould we all ought to be cast in, then point at him and laugh. Bestow upon the unworthy ones not honours, but malreputation and horrid associations. Likewise, ruthlessly cast out anyone born with abhuman mutations from the baseline human pureblood community, for their abomination in the flesh must be categorically rejected, and eventually cleansed in flames. Let them all know they are unwanted and unloved, fit only for base slavery and destruction. We will purge, but first we will scoff.
There is an old Terran proverb which claims that the only true form of joy is that of gloating, of finding malicious delight in the suffering and misfortune of others. Man's purpose in life is after all to suffer from hardship so that he can breed, and what better confirmation of your own bestowed blessings can there be found than the curses laid upon others? Thus it is pleasant, when the sea is high and the winds are dashing the waves about, to watch from the shores the struggles of another. Likewise, it is better to kick than be kicked.
And so, very quickly, common cruelties become second nature to those children who count themselves lucky to be part of the mob, and not its prey. This is the inherent order of things, ancient beyond the memory of written history and etched into the animal spirit known as the human soul. By far most of the pack will find entertainment in causing the suffering of others, for such is the nature of man. Even many of those children who seem to be of a gentle and unassuming character may be turned into barking jackals in order to not themselves become the next obvious mob target, and thus they learn what is good by conforming to what is proper.
As proof of the virtue inherent in shunning abnormals and human insects, consider the following: Among children, a meek and kind behaviour will be interpreted as a sign of weakness, and weakness will be severely punished by other children. Thus even a bairn understands that weakness and deviancy stem from moral corruption and spiritual rot. For is it not better to be strong and self-sufficient, than weak and helpless? And so waggling tongues and sharp elbows await the runt of the litter, and the grinding woes of social ostracism will ensnare the communal vermin. A thousand little everyday predations will be visited upon social outcasts forced to live in the midst of a mob that despise them. The hopes of their lives will be undone in tender years, as is just punishment for liberi worms that do not meet our standards.
A lonely child in internal exile will not only be shunned by their own community and heckled for their clothing and other accoutrements, they will be ripped apart socially by the fangs of the pack and its sharp verbal claws. In such a spirit of iniquity, the maggots and rats in human form will turn asocial from constant peer harrowing. They will have entered life full of wonder, hope and excitement, only to quickly slam into a solid wall and find themselves locked in a dead end, with stalking predators closing in fast and no possible way to escape. Their lot is inevitable, ordained from on high, indeed it is a just punishment for their moral defects and character flaws. As such it is nothing short of the protecting Emperor's will made manifest, when packs of children act accordingly to their gut feeling that leaves no doubt this lowly member of the same species and tribe must be rejected and trodden upon. This puer, this worthless offspring of man and woman will be made to suffer. How else are we to foster hardy and dutiful folks, if not by a torrent of wicked pettiness to keep us all in line, either out of fear for falling into the evil stream, or because they are already drowning in it?
And so the life of the little forsaken one is turned into a waking nightmare, their abyssal status taken for granted, their every day filled with shoving, beatings, heckling songs, slanderous gossip, rhymes of character assassination and mischievous whispers. Feet will suddenly be stretched out, ever eager to trip up the innocent. They will be subject to the pointing fingers, scoffing laughter and fixated eyes of the unyielding crowd. Their life experience will be a vale of tears, standing as the thankless receiver of the unholy conduct of others, ever the subject of other children's crooked grins and mocking derision. Their days are filled with ridicule and scorn, and their nights with unheard sobbing. Just look at them in their full wretchedness. How pathetic! How weak! How unbecoming! No wonder they are constantly thrown down into the dirt and left to crawl home with bruises and bleeding wounds. They had it coming all along. They truly do deserve it.
Why would anyone want to even pick those ostracized deviators for ballgame teams? Why would we not lock them into cramped spaces and forget about them? Why would we not take their stuff away from their ludicrous possession? Why would we not fling trash and filth into their food? Why would we not threaten a beating and force them to eat sand or yellow snow? Why would we not urinate on them in showers and press their heads into lavatories, privies and dungstacks? Why would we show them any kindness? Why would we not keep kicking while they are down in the dirt? Be strong and ruthless, and spurn the unworthy. We are better off without them.
And so the pack will seek out their prey, as they sin against fellow children, adorned with impish grins and wolfish eyes that twinkle with burgeoning sadism. Listen to their songs, those teasing tirades of humiliation. See them at play, those practical jokes which the target kid will not find funny, but all others will laugh at the victim. The pack is mighty and strong, and the bugs they corner are not. Of course the bullies will wallow in spite and experiment with immorality. Of course they will try out a plethora of ruthless little tricks and conduct everyday petty sabotage. It is the same mischievous spirit that make the most crooked among them pull wings and legs off insects, and torment small animals. Why not trample the sissies and sicklings? Are not the predators of the scholam yard and scrumball pitch the kings and queens of the hill? Should not the thrall bow to the master and kiss the dirt on their lord's feet? Adults clearly do this in the Imperium, so why not the children?
Maybe some of these child devils will later on in life find a sore conscience gnawing at their memories of early ills done toward others, yet by then any damage will already have been done beyond repair, and there is always booze and yet worse means to silence that whiny part of their stirring mind, an aspect of themselves they barely knew existed back when they committed all their youthful sins and childhood mean deeds. Thinking too much was what their victims usually did, that's why they were belittled subjects to ordinary little cruelties in the first place. That's why they were weak.
Those who speak of the general innocence of children are, as a rule, either stunningly forgetful, or willfully blind to what they themselves have seen with their own eyes, or else they inwardly deny their very own actions during their small years and wish to remember a false, rosy record. The voices of playing children may often be pleasant to hear from a distance, so long as you cannot make out the spoken words.
There is no innocence lost in the darkest of futures. In a regressed time beyond hope, man has constructed for himself hell, and man himself dwell there as its devil.
Naturally, childhood malice may grow into youthful cruelty and mature ruthlessness. Such is the hardy way of man. On hundreds of thousands of worlds and uncountable voidholms, Imperial youth organizations aim to refine juves in their ranks by further developing their innate worship of strength and lack of mercy, since such cruel power in loyal service to the God-Emperor is a blessed virtue, and most certainly not some character flaw. The evil that men do is on full display in tender childhood, an omen of what dark fruits and terrors that may ever ripen in adulthood, a testament to the depravity of man.
The juvenile precursor to adult atrocities can be seen everywhere we turn, no matter the state of primitive barbarism or advanced civilization prevailing there. Bantlings in large packs will heap endless petty malice upon despised liberi of their own age, making their victims every waking day a foretaste of hell itself. There will be open taunting in front of everyone, slinging fell words at those turned defenceless by being shunned by the pack, and then made the unwilling mummer by the spiteful laughter of their peers. The gleeful hunters of other children will not only embrace gang violence against lone victims, but they will also equip themselves with the sneaky weapons of dishonesty by lying and spreading false rumours, by talking behind the backs of outcasts and having nothing good to say about them around grown-ups. Indeed, many parents will soon conclude that this particular local wean in the neighbourhood is a real rotten apple, for why else would everyone dislike that kid? Such is the infant potential of future greater malevolence.
It is very rare for shunned insects to find support in the home, and most scorned children know better than to ever raise the subject in front of mum or dad. Indeed these bairns more often than not tend to face parental violence in the household if their predicament would become known to their elders. After all, what mother or father would not be disappointed with their loser whimps, when they wanted real boys and real girls for offspring instead of bad weaklings? Of course parents will be disappointed with their horrid little children, those weeping cravens who seem destined to die a virgin. There must be a good reason as to why all the other children hate them. Children do have a nose for sniffing out weird people. Perhaps my child will become a future prostitute, unbeliever or even a wyrd? God-Emperor forbid that such a blot of shame came from my loins! Such a harrowing thought! That must be sternly countermanded by strict discipline and arbitrary violence, effective immediately. Spurn the rod and spoil the child.
And so knowing parents of tormented spawn will pray to His Divine Majesty upon the Golden Throne for deliverance from this curse. For surely their socially outcast offspring are the celestial Imperator's punishment for the sins of the mother and father? Or perhaps they are possessed by malicious djinns or daemons? Maybe a moderately expensive ritual of exorcism with the local holy man or tribal shaman can force the evil spirit out of the child's body? After all, the fell animus should flee from its fleshly vessel if it is tortured enough, should it not? Thus children heckled, beaten and scorned by other children would do best to keep their plight a secret among their own kinsfolk. And what sound siblings would not show their disapproval of the runt's shameful straits by continuing the harrasment at home?
It is likewise with teachers, masters and adult overseers of all kinds, for why should they deny the Emperor-ordained order of things and attempt to stop water from running downstream? Why should they try to shield those who cannot even defend themselves? No, far better to go with the flow, and trust in the instincts of the herd. Is it not a part of good upbringing to make an example out of any deviants in the local community? It takes a whole village to raise a child, and it is best to prune that village from its unwanted elements. Why support the hopeless? Indeed, shunned younglings and adults alike will often be treated as usual suspects along with local criminals when planetary or voidholm law enforcement investigate crime, for their informants will have noted the outcasts' bad reputation and potentially festering resentment. Society has found these pecked chickens wanting, their value close to nil. They better know their proper place.
Speaking of vigilant informants serving the best interests of their species and lord, such a phenomenon can also be seen at work during witch hunts and paranoid great purges of suspected saboteurs and traitors, both of which are occasions when suspicions run high everywhere. Indeed such fevered times are perfect moments for juve informants to up their game by reporting their shunned victims as witches or wreckers or malcontents. And so they will turn their victims and their entire families in for bloody torture by the secular authorities or temple, never to be seen again unless the torture be made in view of the public eye to better warn would-be transgressors to toe the line, or else.
Social outcasts of all sorts are particularly easy prey during waves of purges and witch hunts. After all, the entire quarter or village or corridor can vouch for the maggot's worthless character, so the filed testimonies tend to be uniformally damning, leading to a quick and final verdict by triads of low-level officials overseeing the purge. Such penalties often take the form of collective punishment, true to the primitive nature of Imperial justice. As such the suspect and their family and clan may be condemned to penal labour, corporal punishment, death or much worse for imaginary crimes and sins never committed. Coincidentally, the hab unit thus made empty may fall into the hands of close kin to the dutiful informer who turned in the heretic or apostate in the first place, which is always a great boon in the overcrowded hive cities and squalid voidholms of the Imperium of Man.
To be shunned by your stout, Emperor-fearing peers is a damning sign, and proof in itself of hidden devilry. Those particular purges that is carried out by His Divine Majesty's Holy Inquisition will promiscuously use a great many informants to slaughter all manner of potentially subversive elements by sacrificing thousands, millions or even billions of inhabitants to root out small sects and rebel cells. In these sweeps of deviants and suspects, informants will routinely mark down on death lists those individuals who were shunned by their community, since they are assumed to harbour resentment that could lead to thought of self and even worse heresies. Thus is preventive justice done within the parochial realm of the Master of Mankind, that moribund interstellar civilization where the greatest of atrocities will all be lost in the labyrinth of oblivion.
It takes a whole village to raise a child, and part of that village are other children. They can be relied upon to dutifully prey upon deviants, with righteous spirits guiding their tongues and fists. They can be trusted to assail suspect kids with poison for the soul, and guard the community against abnormals of all kind. These little guardians will watch for shirkers and cowards with a ravenous appetite for nastiness. Among the spawn of man, those who turn another's life into misery is not a rare few, but a large part of any gathering. Indeed often a majority. Never forget that it behooves us to hate, for it is well within our nature to do so.
The same juves and infants that piously pray to the Imperator for salvation and attend regular templum services, are the very same little creatures that beset choice prey children with all manner of dull or inventive funny insults and acts of malice. And so the falsehoods of adults are shadowed by the dissembling of children. And how could it be otherwise?
After all, it is a sweet and seemly thing to reap the allied laughter of a crowd when slighting another to their face. Of course, the victims of such unfriendly conduct will only be further humiliated if ever their outrage boils over into furious attempts at futile vengeance, for their lot is a pit of sadness, and nothing more. They must know their proper place, and wince at the heckling and pain. They must endure their daily trials in silence, lest these social outcasts will end their own lives in desperation. They must become stoic and deaden their senses, or they will succumb to blackest despair.
Let us dwell upon the shunned children held in public scorn, those damned bairns and cursed offspring rejected by their own tribe. Humans who, for whatever reason, prove a bad ingredient in personal chemistry will always be easy targets of the pack, their very existence making them the inevitable butt end of jokes. Many of them walk home alone, shivering and sobbing, or else they flee as fast as they can from their hounding tormentors. These victims of the mob will often offer up prayers to the God-Emperor of Holy Terra to lift His shield and protect them from public scorn, to preserve them from the cuts of sharpened tongues and to save them from common ridicule. Their earnest prayers will, as a rule, never be answered.
These low-rung losers may carry scars on the mind that will never truly heal no matter how old they may grow, for a consequence of all the ceaseless violence and mocking scorn is to break the self-confidence of weaklings and poltroons for life. Should we not drive out the deviant without mercy? Their weakness must be punished and rectified by pushing them beyond the limit of human endurance, over the precipice of suicide if the Emperor wills it so. It is their harrowing trial, not ours.
Consider these unsung martyrs of private, selfish suffering. Any inane phrasing and personality quirk of theirs will be ripped apart by clawed words from their gaggle of ambushing verbal torturers. These collectively spurned misfits have learnt firsthand that it is a terrible thing to be loathed by your own tribe. They are downtrodden by their own community, subject to a thousand forms of little everyday suppression from their fellow children. They are loathed eaters who every day are force-fed the rotten fruits of disgust by disapproving peers. They are nothing.
Those wretched folks are riven by everyday sorrow and doubt of self, as well they should be. Such willingly forgotten wretches of communal scorn can do little else than squeak as they are stomped into the dirt, trampled by normal humans driven by the same inner gleeful intoxication that make men butcher other men like cattle without hesitation. They are not only trampled by strangers, but trampled by those who could have been their kith. These friendless wastrels will squirm and cry out in pain as vitriol is poured down the throat of such an unwilling drinker of bitter life. Such humiliated souls are not seen as real people by their disdainful tormentors, for why should they be held in anything but contempt? Has not the omniscient God-Emperor Himself decreed that we must not suffer the deviant to remain among us?
The banality of evil may be seen every day on regular scholam yards and workhouse floors, as juvenile predators of common upbringing move with baleful intentions, heaping profanity, ad hoc missiles and strikes of fists and elbows upon the lonely forsaken ones. Some are willfully blind to the lifelong anguish they inflict upon others, while some indeed relish the opportunity to brand someone other than themselves with longlasting woe. They will not only mince the inner life of their victim, but they will get away with it, too. They are all judge, jury and executioner in the court of odium and opprobium. It is in truth like a slow lynching, a withering away of a weakling's inner spirit. Bear witness to the endless petty malice of ordinary children, and never once again be surprised at the monstrous bloodshed of adult humans. Through little evils can be glimpsed great evils.
Folks in the midst of neverending petty suffering are beset by sadists in learning and impressionable sheep alike. They all live their life as a smörgåsbord laid out for psychopaths to dine on, and the common people will join in as well. All this amounts to a worldly meatgrinder of hopes and ambitions, this killer of the light that is the falsehood and wickedness of sinful man, this swallowing of one's own kindred, this butchery of ugly ducklings.
To those communally shunned lambs of sorrow, there is no way out at any moment from experiencing life in the Age of Imperium for what it really is: After all, they fear not only the rulers, taskmasters, gangers and crazed sect members like ordinary people do, but they also live in terror of their fellow men and women. To them there is no relief from the peculiar mixture of boredom and dread that marks one's life as an Imperial subject. Likewise, to them there is truly no escape from the ever-present sense of inevitable, mechanistic cruelty that permeates this entire epoch. Despised and crushed at every turn by all they come into contact with, they must have a will of iron simply to survive the heavy grind of everyday life.
Witness the sons and daughters of man and woman approach their prey, akin to a grinning pack of salivating hyenas. They will surround it, grip ahold of it, pound it and bite it with infected words. To heap mockery unto others as part of a band is in two aspects similar to going into battle: First, always fight from a position of strength and exploit any advantage over the enemy which you can find. Second, to increase your chances of survival, you must kill with a will, and never hesitate. The heckling should not be half-hearted, but must sting and burn for hours and days after you landed your verbal blow. Put in your best effort, and witness your prey crumble away under your onslaught. Press the attack and strike through chinks in their armour. Hit them where it hurts the most, with lies and truths and twisted disinformation. Only by establishing dominance can you ever hope to prevent your mirthful companions from suddenly turning on you at a bad moment. It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
Most of the kid gang will watch with merciless eyes and lying lips the last rites are enacted over a fallen prey who chose to end the suffering of self like an apostate and coward. And if the true nature of the youngling suicide is revealed to Imperial authorities, a terrible revenge by the lawful powers that be may be visited upon the irresponsible family of the deceased human production unit. Siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces may be carried away to various forms of slavery, split up and never to see their family again. Likewise, public electro-flogging, unpayable fines, penal camp labour or servitorization without anaesthetics may see adults disappear from the household. Needless to say, many child devils feel a perversely electrifying sense of power, akin to that sensed by bairns during witch hunts, who lie away the lives of fully grown men or women. Or akin to juves turned informants for the joy of secret control over the fates of adult people. What might those tiny hands may carry! Such power over others! It is truly a delicious experience to savour and lust for, a dark aphrodisiac for the soul, a secret passion.
The Imperium of Man understands that an ingrained habit of hurting others since an early age may make it easier for some fresh soldiers to kill, both upon the battlefield and in massacres of civilians. It is in every way preferable to raise Imperial subjects who are inured to cruelty and do not flinch from inflicting it on others. Thus we shall see human nature for what it really is, without sinking into a morass of misanthropic cynicism. We ought to recognize its vibrancy, its colourful brilliance and pulsating strength, yet we should also ken its bottomless depravity. For man carries within him great promise and the potential to climb to soaring heights, yet he is also a bestial slave to his own failures and downfall.
It is common for scrawny victims of human whelp packs to blame themselves for their inescapable plight, as well they should. Like beasts of prey will children gang up on target pups to consume them little by little with biting words and violence of the many against the lonely. And is the tiny torment not a just punishment visited upon such shunned wretches? After all, do they not fill the mouths of those who behold their filthy deviancy with distaste and physical revulsion? How could we not strike out against the repugnant and insultingly weak? How could we not drag their names in the mud? How could we not trip them up and pour foul liquid into their shoes? How could we not tear at their hair and clothes and spit right into their puny faces? Learning to scorn is important for learning to hate, and humanity can only be kept pure by hating that which is ugly in man.
And so, on a million worlds and voidholms without number across a vast cosmic empire that has lasted tenthousand years, we shall find that human children everywhere participate in energetic wrongdoing, each day, each rotation, each lights-on. They will single out vulnerable cubs of their species, and they will send a cold shiver down the puny targets' spines whenever the meek mice see their tormentors approach. These capricious predators will set upon their shunned victim with unkindly spite and lips flashing smiles that lie. These average bairns are well versed in the use of their acidic tongues for sprouting barbed lingo and toxic speech, for they have long since discovered that scorning others is a pleasant way to spend one's limited lifetime.
And these common kids, these naughty children of a default human mindset, will pursue the glory of laughter and popular reputation by gripping their lonely victim with many hands, and dunk their head underwater to watch the abandoned weakling flounce in wild panic. Usually they pull up the lad or lass before it is too late, since sparking the fear of drowning again and again is far more entertaining than actually drowning the runt, though sometimes the forsaken one's head is kept in too long while air bubbles stop popping on the surface, and the social outcast dies a horrible drowning death in the hands of its tormentors. This could potentially have dire complications, yet the pack of banes usually manage to make any little witnesses shut up by threatening to drown them too, while the murderous children themselves will not say a word about the event, denying any accusations wholesale and questioning if not the accuser themself is in actuality the murderer. If incidents like that can be faked as accidents caused by the clumsy idiot's many own faults, then all the better. And early honing of the ability to kill for the Emperor later on in life is not to sneer at. At any rate, child mortality is so high and commonplace on all Imperial worlds and voidholms, that there is little use making a fuss over some spilt milk. Just sell the earthly remains to the Corpse Guild's grinders for a pittance, then forget it and move on. The grieving parents can always breed new children if they really care so much.
Naturally, the ever-present threat of everyday little torture spilling over into juvenile crime as an accomplished fact on the playing field, will take its mental toll on the pecked chickens. Terror and despair will become second nature to them, and they will wince at any unexpected sound or movement, and glance about with wide-eyed paranoia in their eyes. Their pulse will gallop like that of a rabbit all too often, and the stress may leave them drained. Everyone will treat them worse than they do other kids, to their constant chagrin. These ostracized small ones will be forced to endure a hellish prison that is the company of spiteful and vicious peers eager to see them suffer and keep kicking them while they are down on the ground, writhing in agony.
Such wolfpacks of deceivers and ravenous monsters will not only scourge the waking hours of their victims, but will haunt their very dreams. For the memory of those ordinary juves will make the victim wake up in cold sweat at night, gasping from nightmares that merely resumed their daytime life experience in sleep. If these dark dreams and psychic trauma would turn bad enough to cause the son or daughter to shriek regularly at night, then suspicions of wyrdhood and emergent witchcraft will be swiftly afoot, possibly seeing the worrisome screamer disappear without a trace, or being lynched in the street by unnerved adult neighbours who wish to throttle the threat in the cradle, so to speak, after having heard gutsy folk tales of latent witches breaking into their heinous true nature during puberty. Be the first to strike.
The same impulses that drive ordinary children to callous acts against youngsters of their own age, may sometimes feed mischievous frolics against adults, and especially against those grown-ups who are held in contempt by the whole community. Parents and other severe adults in the close-knit local community will often try to beat it out of the unruly children, since it technically constitutes an unacceptable rebellion against mature authority, even if the target is a despised human they themselves have spat on many times. Such ill treatment of the bold whelps may reap the desired effect, yet such punitive violence may also harden the punished child into growing up ruthless and cruel, thereby fostering a hardy cycle of violence and drained empathy through the generations which is much praised by the Imperium of Man. And while we are on the topic of the chastising of children, take note of how the status of parents' progeny change within the family, as they come into adolescence and also grow taller, stronger and more capable of resisting the violence of their elders. This must be nothing else than pure coincidence, since human nature is surely too elevated and high-minded to base its actions and rearing of offspring upon beastly assessment of muscular strength like some kind of barbarous Ork.
As to primitive modes of behaviour, a fair number of mankind's colonies during the heyday of the Dark Age of Technology were founded by people who scorned the material bliss, rotten spiritual gentleness and tampering with the fabric of creation itself that poisoned the unbelieving mainstream cultures of the Human Federation. There were settled a great many retro-technological human colonies who deliberately shunned the most advanced tech, for in that age there existed a liberty of choice completely unknown to the degenerate descendants of that long-lost golden era. Most of those colonies that became the Knight worlds were of such deliberately techno-primitive character, relying on a Standard Template Constructor at the disassembled colony ship to provide the settlers with choice pieces of crucial medicine and rugged, unsophisticated hardware, while the colonists otherwise mostly lived simple lives of subsistence farming, gathering, herding, hunting and fishing, with homecrafts and rudimentary manufacturing supplementing a lowly local economy with little to no contact with the outside world's decadent hustle and bustle.
In those distant times, such techno-primitivism was a matter of choice. In the Age of Imperium, it has instead become an inescapable fact of life for untold billions of Imperial subjects. One such example of regressed human civilization beneath alien stars can be found on Myrmekion III, one of thirty moons of the ochre red gas giant Skythikon VII. A hot volcanic belt exist around the equator of Myrmekion III, heating the celestial body greatly and providing self-renewing bursts of mineral wealth to extract. Several giant hive clusters are scattered about the heavily industrialized equator, but temperatures drop off quickly once you go northward or southward of the moon's rotund waist. Here in the backwoods, vast frigid forests stretch for enormous distances, pockmarked by hunting lodges and peasant villages eking out a poor living on marginal soils. Schmoliupiai is one such village of timber cottages, located seventeenhundred Terran miles south from Hive Melgonuv of Tansk Hive Cluster. Here, in the village of Schmoliupiai, the cycle of juvenile violence and scorning of the unwanted went full circle one day in early winter during the year of 357.M41. A crime most foul was committed that cold day, standing as further proof that all shunned outcasts secretly are the scum of our human species, standing as stark confirmation that we do well to harrow such deviants and ought not to mourn their passing for even a heartbeat.
It all revolved around a simple well pole on the eastern outskirt of Schmoliupiai village, a rudimentary creation of wood that is also known as a counterpoise lift. Schmoliupiai leached a little juice off hanging power lines that ran through the village from fusion plants on the southern pole on their way to Tansk Hive Cluster, yet the backwater settlement lacked both pumps, piped water and sewage. As such, water carriers with shoulder paddings had to lift up water from wells by hand and carry the buckets on yokes laden across their shoulders, running to and fro the well pole many times in a day. It was arduous work, preferably left to poor day labourers, children and farmhands. One of these water carriers was a bearded man named Ananiy Balchunas, more commonly known as Snoweater Balchunas after several repeated incidents in his tender childhood years when he had been forced by other children to eat muddy thaw snow and worse, in front of half the village. No one had come to his defence, but plenty had laughed. The moniker of Snoweater had stuck, and still stung decades later.
Naturally, mischievous village imps would from time to time play a cruel trick upon the burdened water carriers during winter. It was not unusual for water carriers to leave their buckets by the well poles in the evening, to have less of a burden to carry to the well in the morning. As darkness fell, there was always a risk for small rascals darting out and filling the buckets by the well pole, to let them freeze solid overnight, thus forcing the angry water carriers to spend much time and energy in the morning to hack out the ice from their buckets before they could start filling them.
Sometime a kindly old herbess would walk out late in the evening to the eastern well pole and pour out any water from the buckets, yet this only happened when she found a little vigour and time left over late in a day full of family chores. As she grew older and the grandchildren and grandgrandchildren grew more numerous, this happened less and less, and so the iced buckets grew more frequent.
One frigid winter morning, the despised male water carrier Ananiy discovered the juvenile sabotage of his buckets that he had left at the well pole the day before out of sheer exhaustion, offering a quick prayer to the warming hands of His Divine Majesty on Holy Terra to protect the buckets from malignant crotchlings and sprogs before collapsing in his bed made out of straw and moss. Yet the nippers had been at it anyway, once again!
And so Snoweater Balchunas yet again kneeled in the crisp, shallow snow and hacked away with his ice pick in silent fury. The guilty anklebiters had found an opportunity to slip out and watch. This time however, the crumb crunchers did not only catch a glimpse and let out distant laughter from afar, but dared one another to go closer and closer behind the back of the toiling water carrier. Ananiy ignored them with a patience stronger than most people could muster, yet this lack of attention did not dissuade the slips from inching nearer and nearer to the well pole. At last they were so close to the bearded man that they could see ice chippings flying out of the copper bucket's tinned inside.
The children stood quietly and watched, until suddenly one strike with the ice pick hit at a bad angle and slid across the ice, harvesting swearwords out of the clenched teeth of Ananiy Balchunas. At this display of anger at the consequences of their clever little fell deed, the bairns all burst out laughing and pointing at the freezing water carrier, who attempted to ignore them all, yet their scoffing laughter only went on and on with tears of malicious joy running down their rosy cheeks. The infectious mirth kept the laughter flowing in a juvenile feedback loop. All of a sudden, things went full circle, and the stoic water carrier unexpectedly snapped. It all came back to him in full force, kneeling as he did by the well pole.
Born a calm boy, little Ananiy had been the shunned butt of all jokes in the village of Schmoliupiai through all his early years, constantly the target of ridicule and contempt, and he never could retort to their cruel japes or gain their respect, no matter how hard he tried. Snoweater Balchunas had eventually developed a stoic self-control and learnt to somewhat roll with the punches, yet the bite of the other village youngsters' scorn could at best only be dampened, not negated. The most efficient medicine was to ignore his surroundings as best as he could, eyes locked in front of him and uncleaned ears attempting to filter out the surrounding people's nasty noise. Amaliya Petkus, a lanky girl two years older than him, had endured much the same communal scorn. She had drowned herself by the marriable age of fifteen, though her bloodkin had hushed it up in case an Imperial bailif ever found out. There had been a lot of false sad faces among her peers at the templum last rites as the peddling Corpse Guild trucker ceremoniously bowed to the priest and handed over useless scrip to the parents for Amaliya's swollen but recyclable biomass. The eyes of the juves had mainly been unperturbed, cold and wolflike. Of course prey could die. What of it?
As Snoweater Balchunas grew into a tall, strong man, villagers of the same age at long last seemed to roll back their endless petty malice, but mostly because adult age had dampened their childlike mirth and brought expectations to behave more maturely when sober. The gibes and insults still were flung from time to time, but the onrushing torrent of yesterday's childhood and adolescence had dwindled to a dripping flow, leaving some peace of mind to partially soothe Ananiy's bruised ego and wounded self-confidence. Life had been hard enough, for he was on the bottom rung of his village as a day labourer and had to make a living out of the cheapest and hardest rural jobs he could find. He was inured to cold and aching body parts, yet the old stigma died hard, and none of the village women of an age with him wished to marry Snoweater Balchunas, both for the disdain they carried toward his person, and for his present state of abject poverty. Clearly, the guiding hand of the celestial Imperator on Earth did not wish any virtuous lass to take such a doubtful man for her husband, and all manner of observed superstitious omens agreed with this religious insight.
At any rate Ananiy Balchunas had been turned too asocial, too awkward and too shy of people from his peer-plagued upbringing, so he did not even dare to think about asking any lass out without having drunk himself out of his mind on greysap vodka or oily kramshki. And so Ananiy aged alone in a cot half dug into the earth, silently enduring the labour tasks and rheumatic limbs without any complaining. He had endured for years and years, and faced a horrible old age in the future, but at least the worst flood of heckling and violence was behind him, a remembered torment rather than an inescapable nightmare reality to wake up to every day. Yet now the wicked boys and their rollicking laughter at his expense as Snoweater Balchunas angrily hacked away at the iced bucket, now that was just too much. Too much. And all too familiar. The spiteful laughter of children throughout the years rang in his ears, rang in his head, rang in all his painful memories, throttling him to his core. Once more he found himself on the ground, surrounded by taunting children and fingers pointing foul at him. Once more he was become the village ass. Once more the odd one out.
Not. Bloody. Again.
As he fumed and glared into the distance, Ananiy made a silent vow among the scoffing laughter of village children. He would not go out like the girl Amaliya Petkus did. Snoweater Balchunas would take some of the bastards with him to the corpsegrinder, and damn them all! His soul was already forfeit. The deed only had to be done. It was a thought of total wrath, yet it was also a liberating thought. He would die a free avenger.
A long reined-in temper tore its ropes, stampeding in wild furor after so many years kept in check. The wrath of the water carrier suddenly boiled over with a vengeance, and he belted the water pick as he sprang to his feet in one swift motion and grabbed ahold of two of the lads before they could even react with more than a stunned gasp. The rest of the child gang scattered, running and yelling for home. Had Ananiy had more than two arms, he would have chased down and caught more of the brats. The two children screamed and cried and squirmed in the water carrier's gloved hands, but his calloused grip was like iron, and Snoweater Balchunas did not say a word as he forcefully dragged both of the boys through the snow, snorting like a bull through his nostrils. In a village where everyone knew everyone else, he did not need to ask who their parents were. He knew the parents all too well. They were of an age with water carrier Ananiy Balchunas.
Thus an infuriated neighbour knocked on the wooden doors of first one timber cottage, then another. In both homes he curtly asked to see the father of the boy, with eyes glaring dark from hatred. As the man in the house appeared at the door with scorn in his eyes, the water carrier buried his ice pick in the head of his old tormentor, then smashed the screaming son's skull to gory bits against the timber logs. Manslayer Ananiy hardly said a word at any of the two cottages, but made a spontaneous attempt to head for the hills and escape to foreign landscapes on foot without tools or provisions, before Schmoliupiai huntsmen on skis pursued him to the edge of a ravine, and shot the murderer dead with hotshot lasrifles, sending the body tumbling into the thin ice below, which cracked and swallowed the corpse into the Chernayavoda creek. Incidentally, the strapping huntsmen were of an age with Snoweater Balchunas, and were long since used to slinging mockery and projectiles at him.
And all over the backwater county and beyond on Myrmekion III, folks would sing a sad song about the heinous crime for centuries to come, preferably set to string and pipe instruments or bone drums, cursing the name of the water carrier in death out of hatred, much as they had cursed him in life out of scorn.
Thus the petty malevolence of children overflowed to hit a shunned adult with fell cunning, to reap the hilarity of succesful sabotage. Yet the harvested fruits of anger were far more than any of the scoffing bairns could have imagined, and the social outcast died a hated bane of fathers and sons alike, a terrible man that should not have been born in the first place. And so we reinforce our conviction that deviants of all sorts should be ruthlessly harrowed and humiliated, for clearly our revulsion towards their very being is a godly sign to mistrust their hidden rot and secret sins. Trust in your instincts, for it is right to hate, and just to scorn.
In the mocking laughter and jabs of children can be seen the seeds of strength and cruelty necessary for man to survive in this harsh galaxy. As a child, man learns to employ his might and test his aptitude for combat and hardship, or else he learns to endure evil without end. And so human nature is revealed in the small deeds and words of little children, an echo of the great deeds and atrocities they may commit as adults. And the sole ruler and deity of our species sees this with His wise eyes from upon the Golden Throne of Holy Terra, and He judges it fairly, and He know it to be good.
Be ruthless. Be strong. Be cruel. Or else see the worlds and voidholms of man will burn to ashes. Abandon strength, and your kin will abandon life. Be hardy, and doubt not!
Thus in hovels of squalor and palaces of luxury, the same timeless story plays out again and again across the Milky Way galaxy, namely that of the shunned outcast, who caught the evil eye of his own community and was endlessly hounded throughout his mortal life. This tragedy will never stop repeating as long as humanity persists, nay, until there is no more sentient life left in all the universe.
And so no man of the world will be surprised to find predatorial children devouring those held in contempt by others, sometimes literally so among feral cannibal cultures. Such vigilant guarding of the purity of one's community against deviants, weaklings and freethinkers constitute fundamental building blocks in the parochial, fanatical and aggressively myopic fortress prison that is the Imperium of Man. For man will not deny by deeds his savagery and primal instincts, and so fivehundred generations of blood and carnage and hatred have passed by since the founding of the Imperium. Fivehundred generations of stagnant rot. Fivehundred generations of the worsening of man, in an ever downward spiral.
It is an eon bereft of mercy, a demented time, a doomed era of hellish depravity. As above, so below. And so petty bullying have never been more cruel and unrelenting than it is in the Age of Imperium, in the darkest of futures.
Such is child, the father of man.
Such is earthly man, between heaven and hell.
Such is the evil that men do.
It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only malice.