Thanks a lot, @James
! Haha, spot on!
Thank you kindly, @pawl
! Yes, I do post them as I finish them.
The first and second posts in this thread was all catching up with what I had done prior to joining the Warp Storm, but everything since then is posted as soon as I've finished drawing and writing it. I managed to draw two human bomb images yesterday, but do note that the second, kamikaze one is really small and quick work.
I've been slowly regaining energy and health after working myself to a burnout last year, and the overall lack of work due to resting priorities mean I have more time than I would usually have. And, as a good health indicator, I've recently got energy back to draw a lot again, so with any luck I'll be able to work again later in the year. This happens in the sweet spot before.
In a desperate time of suffering and insanity, age is no excuse to shirk from your duty.
The harsh rule of the Imperium of Man strive to leave none free of its grasping talons. Even though real control over society is limited on most human worlds, Imperial ambitions are nonetheless total and all-encompassing in scope. Ideally, no subject of the God-Emperor should be left outside the power of their rightful masters. In reality, vast swathes of planetary and voidborne populations alike live their entire lives while barely registering the existence of the Imperium of Man.
Many such people outside direct Imperial control are too poor, or too rich, or too many, or live in too remote locations for the reach of the Emperor-appointed powers that be. For instance, the innumerable billions, or even trillions of humans dwelling in hellish Underhives across a million worlds, will rarely (if ever) see Imperial officials or soldiers in their short, brutish and nasty lives. Oftentimes, the failure of the Imperium to impose its cruel control over the entire population of planets and voidholms comes down to its screeching inefficiency, rotten bureaucracy, rampant corruption and sheer incompetence. Another age-old limit to the effective power of Imperial organizations are their corpse-like rigidity of order, where individual initiatives, innovations and the bypassing of hierarchies for swifter or better results may result in draconic punishments ranging from death, torture, burning at the stake or lobotimization and transformation into a cyborg thrall known as a Servitor.
Crude colossus with feet of clay though it may be, the Imperium will nevertheless try to impose total control over those sectors of society that its powers may reach. To live under the heavy hand of Imperial rule is to lead an utterly regimented life of endless indoctrination into a rabidly loyal subject of the Imperium, ever eager to report on deviants and malcontents, ever willing to lynch heretics and mutants, and ever ready to sacrifice yourself for the higher cause. To come to age under Imperial purview is to grow up into a blind fanatic and ritually obsessed practicer of the Cult Imperialis, your mind filled with litanies of hate, psalms of vindiction, mantras of purging, hymns of martyrdom and prayers of penitence. Such is the saturation of Imperial dogma in these juvenile Imperial subjects' lives, that many of them end up monomaniacally incapable of doubting the Imperium for even a second, no matter what atrocities their eyes and ears may bear witness to. Thus are fine subjects to the Emperor moulded at a tender age, and thus is the future of the Imperium secured. Blessed be the children.
The Imperium of Man harbour no softness in its heart of stone, for weakness is the bane of the whole species. Only the ruthless may attain dominion, and only the cruel may uphold supremacy. The law of power is written into the stars: A hard life breeds hardy people, and all is well when the weak are culled. Thus Imperial authorities approve of the abominable hardships that plague the lives of most humanity, for misery makes people grow up fast, as it were, and desperation is the mother of ability. Many children in the Imperium of Man will learn to survive, fight and kill in their everyday lives, or else succumb to a harsh reality that brooks no pacific timidity.
Orphans in the Schola Progenium learn to handle weapons long before the age of ten, and the situation is not much different on the streets of hive cities or in the wildlands of tribes. Many Imperial subjects will have slayed someone before they reach adulthood, and almost all will have been regularly beaten bloody by grown-ups and participated in nasty kid fights, some losing eyes, fingers and other body parts in the process. A great many will also join gangs at an early age, for it is better to be in the pack of ravenous predators, than to be ravaged by it.
When rampant violence is such an inseparable part of the human condition, how could there ever be anything wrong with recruiting adolescents and children into the ranks of militias and more organized militaries? Most cultures on the worlds and voidholms of the Imperium will count its members as adults by the age of fifteen, yet few indeed will have any scruples about arming those they consider children. Many times, Imperials will choose to fill gaps in the ranks of armed forces with properly indoctrinated children, rather than turning to adults from population sections with unreliable schooling in Imperial loyalty. The phenomenon of child soldiers has been a fact of life since time immemorial, and few humans indeed will ever stop and think about it.
Thus it is that juve soldiers can be found all across the galaxy, serving alongside their elders in a myriad of Astra Militarum regiments, Planetary Defence Forces (PDF), noble House Guards, tribal warbands, authorized street gangs and local militias. Here, the children will reach adulthood and face their rites of passage among the rough warriors, or die trying. Many juves will be fired up with tales of martial exploits and dreams of glory, and will volunteer for service, often lying about their age and pass themselves off as older than they really are. Others will be forcefully inducted into military units, a custom that is particularly common in times of crisis and massive casualties. After all, even a child can fire a lasgun.
Picking up large weapons and donning boots and uniforms that leave a lot of space for growing in, these often malnourished boys and girls at arms will not seldom march into slaughterfests of dark trauma and gain scars both physical and mental in nature. A glorious death is theirs, and the chance to fulfill their dreams has been given them by the Divine Majesty. Many juve soldiers will be picked out of various Imperial, planetary and voidholms' youth organizations, who all prepare the children and adolescents for arms, combat and the rigours of a soldier's life.
An endless flora of legends about juve soldiers thrive across the Imperium of Man, telling of gallantry, self-sacrifice, duty and piety in the face of horrors and monstrous foes. Who cannot remember stories of plucky little boys and girls who destroyed great tanks and killed rampaging behemoths against all odds? Who cannot recount tales of brave children in arms throwing themselves bodily before the blasting mouths of enemy guns in order to allow their comrades to cleanse bunkers? Who have not heard of captive juves who died with the Emperor's name on their lips while being torn to shreds under sadistic torture? Rejoice, for the Imperium's youth under arms will uphold these proud traditions and fight for their species and lord! Rejoice, for glory is theirs to win in battle! Rejoice, for a childhood well spent!
Such are the lives of uncounted billions of juve soldiers serving across the vast expanse of the God-Emperor's sacred domains. Such are the deaths of those who fall fighting for the cause of Holy Terra. Such is the will of the Emperor.
Truly, mankind is blessed with a fighting spirit that burn brightly from cradle to grave. For parents will not only give up their sons and daughters, but juves will offer themselves willingly to the armies of the Imperium. Is this not a sign of the chosen status of humanity? Is this not proof of the righteousness of our cause? Is this not a banner to rally around? And so the word goes out: The Emperor of mankind want you in arms! For what force in the universe could ever stop the might of man truly united, subservient to the Emperor and flocking to sacrifice himself, no matter his age?
Thus a grand tragedy of suffering, death and stolen innocence replays itself over and over again as centuries grind on, and the decaying Age of Imperium grows older with yet another millennium, yet another year of mass graves and unheard grief, yet another day of carnage and blood. For the Imperium of Man will baulk at nothing to preserve its overlordship of power and hate, and it will not hesitate to feed the meatgrinder with an ever larger number of soldiers for increased input in a broken calculation. Aye, the survival of the human species itself is at stake, but more pressing matter for its masters is the need to preserve Imperial rule and Imperial strength for their very own sake.
Forget the shining Knights and proudly painted power armour for a moment. If you want to imagine the reality of war in the Imperium of Man, then imagine children in uniform beside adult soldiers, weapons in hand as they charge into no man's land, letting out a fervent battlecry as a firestorm engulf them: "For the Emperor!"
Such is the demented state of man, in the darkest of futures. Such is the depravity that awaits our species.
It is the fortyfirst millennium, and there is only war.