Three Virtues

To behold sclerosis plaguing an an entire civilization, look skyward and gaze into the grim darkness of the far future. Gaze into the dark cosmos beyond the march of aeons, and behold the destiny of our species, namely that fortified prison and inescapable death trap of man which the Emperor and His all-conquering Legions once built unwittingly in shining days of yore. By the fortyfirst millennium, the God-Emperor is a rotting corpse since ten thousand years back, and so is His dominion.

The decrepit star realm known as the Imperium of Man has long since ceased to remove obstacles to its internal flows of people and goods. Travelling within this atavistic colossus on feet of clay is characterized at every turn by a myriad of internal toll barriers and tight restrictions on movement. The act of moving from one district to another on an Imperial world, voidholm or hive city will more often than not require multiple permits, seals of blessing and expensive bribes, aside from standard quarantine measures, mandatory confession and purification rituals. This state of affairs is coincidentally a strong reason as to why hardly any private motoring exists within the Imperium of Man: Human history shows that to possess your own family vehicle is a great material liberty, and why would the Adeptus Terra ever wish to grant His kowtowing subjects any ounce of dangerous freedom? No, better keep the rabble locked to their birthplaces, than allow them to mill about in disorder and deviancy.

Naturally, the wall of red tape to control movement and its companion phenomenon of corruption grows taller still once a traveller seeks to leave her planet or voidholm and travel across the starspangled void to other locales within the galaxy-spanning domains of the Terran Imperator. Yet the principles of endless bureaucratic hinders, the dreary ennui of waiting and the blood-curdling dread at the sight and sounds of glaring Enforcers and Securitate personnel remain much the same experience everywhere, whether an Imperial subject wish to travel offworld or to the neighbouring hive district.

At every turn, suspicious officials will question his motives and monitor the subject's movement in the form of documented data. At every turn, power mauls and plasteel boots will threaten to knock the frustrated and impatient Imperial subject to the floor in case he ever flares up in anger or cease his humiliating displays of reverence. At every turn, the Imperium of Man and its loyal Governors will strive to limit and direct their subjects, even as urbane hints for bribes to grease the gears of administration will be dropped again and again by knowing men of the world in positions of petty power.

As with everything Imperial, the absolute grand majority of internal travel restrictions are both needless and act contrary to the long-term interests of Imperial development, yet these strangling inner barriers provide revenue and fruitful activity for billion-headed hordes of Administratum clerks, and moreover internal checkpoints offer plenty of opportunity for the Emperor's dutiful servants to receive underhanded private fund donations. All unregistered, of course.

They got to eat, after all.

One everyday example of such an ordinary internal toll station experience can be glimpsed on the great Imperial voidholm of Boiorum Theta, in the tribuneship of Uliaris Sextus in 110.M39. At this time, it cost 5 Boiorian siglos for a draft animal to pass any district line, 7 siglos for merchants, and 20 siglos for prostitutes to enter another area. The saintly holy man known as Gaius Anthemius sought to gain access to the southwestern lower protrusion of the giant spacestation to do the Emperor's work among the poor.

At this, the customs officer asked: "What have you got with you?"

To which the holy man said: "Nothing, but Temperance, Righteousness and Charity."

And so the custom officer wanted to charge him 60 siglos, because he thought they were three whores.