Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k section20

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Section 20: The Hammer Shattered: What Happened to the Imperial Guard?[edit]

As mentioned before, the Imperium fell, and with it fell the Munitorum, the Navy, and countless other galactic organisations. They all tumbled into the void and the horror like everyone else. Administratum clerks continued their mindless tasks, filing reports and signing document that no one would ever see besides them. As worlds were cut off from one another, communication was also cut, like a blade across a vox wire. Fleet dispositions and ship manifests were lost, misfiled, or sent to other accounting facilities, on other worlds, and lost forever in the sea of souls.

Central authority took a sharp decline, until any hope of contacting superiors became pointless. Vast Crusade fleets of soldiers and vessels gradually lost contact with any other authorities. Without logistical support from forge worlds and agri-planets, crusades ground to a halt, or carried on regardless, their soldiers and troopers starving as the grueling crusades wore on. The foes grew more numerous, and the natives of planets more hostile. Some Crusades, like the Nihilus Crusade, utterly collapsed, as the Imperial Guard and much of the naval staff began to mutiny across every ship in the fleet, rioting over food rationing, which had reached sickening levels. The Lord general, Admiral, and even the chief Cardinal, were butchered, and the various ships of the crusade fleet, each taken over by rival factions, fought with each other, in a violent and pointless naval battle, over the planet of Kioto, the wreckage from this colossal battle raining upon the planet with fiery contrails of shattered ships.

Often, crusades would find that the various Imperial worlds they encountered did not recognise their authority, and would attempt to resist the landing and respelling of crusade ships. More often than not these crusade fleets would end up battering the worlds into submission, and taking what they needed, often sending the Imperial Guard forces down to conquer the planets personally. The enemies of the crusade thus became more and more. Not only were heretics and xenos enemies, but also the various petty Imperiums that the crusade fleets inevitably trespassed within, causing yet more wars. Crusades, who had precious few resources to begin with, swiftly ran low, and were often defeated. By M46, most major Imperial Crusades, depleted and battered, were no longer effective, and fell apart.

However, they were the lucky few. The majority of Imperial Crusades and forces were utterly scattered, as they tried to navigate the tumultuous warp. Sometimes only single vessels emerged from the ether, their crews either mad or utterly broken.

The Countless thousands of Imperial Guard regiments were scattered across the entire Imperium. Often shattered into brigades or single regiments, these few remaining Imperial Guard often numbered in the thousands or even, in some extreme cases, millions. Some were left stranded on previously conquered war zones. These men either tried to found colonies, hired themselves out as mercenaries for local tribal warfare, or were massacred by the human and non-human natives. Other, more fortunate dispossessed Imperial Guard units and squads had access to troopships or had seized a naval vessel by force. In various states of disrepair, these Imperial Guard 'irregulars' and rogues traveled through the galaxy, using short warp jumps to avoid too much danger to their decrepit vessels. Some, like the remnants of the 343rd Terrax Guard, led by Colonel Harsterbeck, managed to find employment by joining one of the Petty Imperiums they came across. In the case of the 343rd, it was the Ophelian Imperium. These Guardsmen and professional soldiers were used as garrison forces for these Post-Imperial settlements, and also were used to train and drill the new armies of the Petty Imperiums, instilling some measure of expertise and experience into these previously merely PDF groups.

Some, like the Harakoni Warhawks and Elysian Drop Troops, refused to compromise their integrity, and remained in their own uniforms and maintained their own traditions. Nevertheless, in a hostile galaxy, even these elites were forced to join other local-level power groups. It is claimed that somewhere within the Segmentum Pacificus a group of soldiers, from various different Imperial Guard regiments, have been gathering around an abandoned and ruined Star Fort, and are organising a resistance. Against who, even they do not know. They raid various Petty Imperiums, in the hope that one day, the 'real' Imperium will come and relieve them. Unfortunately, they have no idea the real Imperium, no longer exists. Thus, they are little more than organised terrorists, waging a war against an imaginary enemy, and slaughtering citizens of countless Petty Imperiums, without realising these very Imperiums are the Imperium.

Around the systems near to Armageddon, the Savlar Chem Dogs, who were fighting on many worlds, managed to not only survive the misery of the loss of the Imperium, but in fact flourished and festered, as lice and other such vermin such as them have a special skill for. They formed an unofficial black market, dealing in vile narcotics and other illicit substances, cooperating with the equally devious and immoral Ratlings. The Savlars had no real interest in defending the worlds of humanity. Instead, as worlds desperately fought off foes and became poverty-stricken and vulnerable, Savlar drug cartels and protection rackets sprang up on underhive streets and slum-zones across hundreds of worlds, muscling in onto other criminal businesses, using their military training to beat the competition in many cases. They were also notorious gun runners and arms dealers, selling weapons to both sides in wars, profiting from others' misery.

Though Savlar, their home world, was caught up in the terrible effects of the Ophilim Kiasoz, the Savlar Chem Dogs managed to continue on their horrid little lives.

Of the worlds which spawned the various Imperial Guard Regiments, they faced a problem. Many of the best Imperial Guard worlds, like Catachan and Krieg, were focused around providing soldiers for the Imperium. With nowhere to export these soldiers, their populations grew enormously. Their soldiers needed to be utilised, and used to help keep their planets safe.

Each took a different approach to this. The Governor-General of Catachan wisely formed a close alliance with Ryza. In exchange for ships and weapons, Catachan gave Ryza large numbers of quality fighters to supplement its Skittari, who were few in numbers, comparatively. This alliance allowed them to secure a wide area, and defend it from all comers, even mighty Huron's Chaos Imperium.

Krieg, as mentioned before, turned its soldiers into commodities, and exported them across the galaxy. Some Guard worlds joined Petty Imperiums, and used their unused soldier tithe to boost the defences of these post-Imperial empires.

In some rare cases, Imperial Guard home worlds had mini Empires of their own to begin with, before the Second Age of Strife, such as Tallarn. Tallarn used its wealth and massive armies to expand their lands, and formed a petty Imperium of their own.

Of the Steel Legions… their story links closely with the ballad of Armageddon, and thus shall be explained there, not here…

In the Period of Woe, this Second Age of Strife, where war and domination is currency, the Imperial Guard, the second best fighting force in all the old Imperium, were incredibly valuable. Whoever had the most guns, had the power. Whoever had the power would survive. This was the depressing, torturous creed of the 51st Millennium.

The Shape of the Nightmare to Come: Section Navigation[edit]

  • The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 20: The Hammer Shattered: What Happened to the Imperial Guard?

Continued in Warhammer 60K: Age of Dusk