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Location  Imperium of Man

In the grim darkness of the far future, compassion has by and large been purged from man's heart for anyone who isn't close kin. On Shexia, for instance, those too old or injured to toil in the foundries will seek shelter in human waste sinks, in an attempt to elude the Urban Purity Patrols which chase unproductive citizens out into the sewage marches to die. Another widespread phenomenon sprung from this general draining of human mercy and kindness, is that of the customary peasant-hunt. Known by tens of thousands of different names in an uncatalogued babel of dialects and languages throughout the Imperium, the essentials of the peasant-hunt remain much the same across this vast galactic realm of humanity: That of society's betters and nobler people hunting the rabble down in the slums for sport.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- - -

Tribute in general to the marvellous character Pi-Braine from the parodic RPG show WarHams, and in particular to his golden minute in episode 4 (16:45-17:45), where this Skitarius' shipboard activities since the latest planetary mission were revealed:

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

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

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

The best part is that this bonkers information isn't even a parody on official Warhammer 40'000 background: Peasant hunts have been prevalent ever since the earliest years of the setting, as evident in Ian Watson's crazy novel Space Marine (1993). The reference to Lexandro D'Arquebus stems from this book, while the reference to Shexia's Urban Purity Patrols stem from Matthew Farrer's excellently immersive novel Legacy, the second book of the Shira Calpurnia trilogy (available from Black Library as the Enforcer omnibus). Both works of litterature should be sought out by anyone interested in the background of Warhammer 40'000.
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''the imperium are the good guys''

*meanwhile the imperium*

OGYungLilBig's avatar

Chaos is actually the closest to good guys. Well...they used to be.

KarakNornClansman's avatar

Warhammer 40'000 is all about making the evil empire our human protagonist, in a galaxy of horrors. And boy is the Imperium evil! :)

athel228's avatar

Is it weird I read the lore text in Remleiz of 40k Theories voice?

BlackGearCompany's avatar

"The fuck, dude? Don't you see that I'm only person here who is cleaning?"