Let’s take a look into the history and actions of the Emperor’s first genetically and psychologically altered warriors, the Adeptus Custodes!
Via our good friends at Lexicanum
The Adeptus Custodes were known originally as the Legio Custodes or Custodian Guard. The original Custodians were the first genetically and psychologically altered warriors to appear in the Emperor’s armies during the Terran Unification Wars, where they served as the Emperor’s personal bodyguard. The first known appearance of the Custodes was early in the Unification Wars during the fall of Techno-Barbarian fortress at Nas’sau. However the origins of the Custodian Guard are shrouded in myth and legend. Some say that the Custodian Guard are to the Emperor what the Space Marines are to the primarchs; that the Emperor’s own genetic matrix was used in their Gene-seed creation and through this, their loyalty to him is assured. Others argue that the Custodians are not like the Emperor in the way that a Space Marine is like his primarch, and that some other source was used as a template for their physical and psychological form, a source that was lost during the anarchy of the Age of Strife. The truth will likely never be known.
The genetic enhancement that forms the Custodes is different from and predates that developed to create the Space Marines. Each Custodian is a unique work of art, the product of genetic lore collected over many lifetimes. During the Great Crusade, the Custodes always kept a contingent with the Emperor for his protection, but also traveled individually as envoys. The Emperor valued the Custodians above all his other warriors, and while he was willingly to expend countless of his servants he was always hesitant to bleed his Praetorian’s. Since the Emperor’s internment in the Golden Throne, the Adeptus Custodes have taken a more limited role as protectors of the Imperial Palace.
Originally, they were equipped with the best power armour of the age, and had access to the same type of equipment and weapons as had the Space Marine Legions. Equipment which was characteristic of the Custodes would influence the equipment of the later Grey Knights. After the confinement of the Emperor within the Golden Throne, the Custodes abandoned, among other things, the use of their armour, and their traditional colour of red was changed to black.
During the Age of Apostasy, the Adeptus Custodes reemerged briefly during the siege of the Ecclesiarchal Palace of Terra in the reign of Goge Vandire. During this time, the Custodes attempted to make their way towards Vandire, halted only by the Brides of the Emperor whom Vandire had convinced into becoming his personal bodyguards. After a long and fruitless discussion, the Custodes convinced the leader of the Brides, Alicia Dominica, to return with them to the presence of the Emperor. What happened during that moment is unknown, but the effects resulted in the Brides of the Emperor rebelling against Vandire, ending his reign once and for all.