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!

Ave Imperator.

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.