Astra Mili-what? You’re in the Guard, son…– Lt. Gen. Marco Rainov, 3rd Lyubov Expeditionary Forces
War is the fire in which Imperium of Man was forged. On billions of worlds across thousands of light years of space, mankind fights endlessly for survival against aliens, heretics, and Daemons. From the blood-drenched mud of frontier worlds to the cold depths of space, humanity wages constant war across the galaxy, fighting threats from without, from within, and from beyond. Numbering untold billions of souls, the Imperium of Man sprawls across the stars under the watchful eye of the God-Emperor.
Powerful alien empires strike at the Imperium from all sides, those that would claim the galaxy as their own, or merely seek mankind’s annihilation. No place in humanity’s realm exists for such races, and mankind must count the alien as an enemy and merely another foe the Imperium of Man must destroy.
Within the Imperium, thousands of civil wars rage constantly, as the armies of the God-Emperor work endlessly to stamp out sedition and heresy from within its own worlds. Yet still men and women turn against the Imperium, either through discontentment and rebellion against oppressive overlords or they have the taint of impure ideas and vile alien philosophies.
Beyond the Imperium lurks the Warp, the otherworldly realm of madness and Chaos that ships must cross to bridge the vast distances of space and from which psykers draw power for their unholy gifts. From this eldritch realm, monsters and Daemons emerge, forcing themselves through rents in the fabric of reality to bring ruin and death to the living inhabitants of whole worlds. Only by endless war, brutal struggle, and the sacrifice of the lives of countless soldiers does the Imperium of Man endure at all. Such is the blood price for an empire ten millennia old, created at a time when man’s light waned, humanity teetered on the edge of the abyss and nearly fell to the eternal darkness of the void.
Never in its existence has the Imperium known peace. From the dark days of its inception, when entire sectors of space made war upon each other, to its grim and dark present, the always has Imperium burned with conflict. While individual worlds and systems may often know times of relative safety and stability, they do so only at the cost of thousands more teetering on the brink of oblivion, their populations sacrificed to preserve the greater domain of mankind and the rule of the God-Emperor.
With such danger and so many terrible foes besetting mankind, only the most brutal and disciplined of empires could hope to survive. The God-Emperor sits at the apex of such a realm, His teeming hordes of servants and His vast armies enforcing His will upon the inhabitants of the Imperium, ensuring their obedience and their loyalty.
This is what holds the Imperium together and keeps it alive when more open minds and weaker souls invite utter destruction from enemies that live only to feast on the bones of men. Only its size and ancient power prevent the Imperium’s complete destruction. Even when it may lose a hundred systems or a world of a billion faithful citizens, the Imperium continues to fight on.
Even so, the Imperium slowly dies — the God-Emperor’s armies cling desperately to what remains, as systems crumble around its edges and the slow rot of sedition and heresy eat away at it from inside. Though it may be ten thousand more years before its death, the Imperium falls into decline and every battle its armies win, every enemy it vanquishes or wipes from existence forms, but a single sandbag placed in front of a rising flood of death and decay.
Those that live in such times must live with the knowledge that the galaxy is a dangerous and unwelcoming place. They look up to the stars and see only the darkness between them that hides hungry alien raiders and warp-spawned monsters eager for the souls of men. For most, this means keeping their eyes fixed firmly on the ground beneath their feet and going about their lives not daring to think about anything beyond their devotion to the God-Emperor and the endless toil of their lives, content in the belief that prayer and hard work keeps them safe.
Some, though, make the defense of the Imperium their personal duty. Either through choice or chance, these men and women find themselves inducted into the God-Emperor’s armies, trained to fight and sent off to far-flung stars and systems to hold the line against the coming night.
Though they come from a million different worlds, each with its own unique beliefs, and cultures, the men and women of the Imperial Guard stand united against the enemies of mankind; devoted to a far-off monarch they can never meet and a duty to an Imperium of which only a tiny fraction they may ever see. Still though they fight; they fight for the honor of their world, they fight for their sense of duty to the cause or even humanity itself, they fight simply because they like to, or they fight because they have no choice and killing the enemies of man means another day of life for them. Whatever their origins, whatever their reasons or training, they form the thin line which protects the Imperium from complete and utter destruction. They are the Imperial Guard.