Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Great Crusade

The Emperor's Great Crusade launched to unite the scattered realms of mankind under one joint rule, that of the Imperium of Mankind. The Great Crusade would bring a thousand times a thousand worlds into the new Imperium. Most worlds willingly joined the newly forming empire. Many however resisted the attempt to be absorbed into this, the greatest of human empires. They were soon brought to heel for the good of all humanity. Willingly or forcibly humanity was being driven out of the superstitions of Old Night and into a new age of enlightenment and unity.
At the forefront of the Great Crusade were the Legiones Astartes. The Emperor's post human super soldiers. Who would over the course of the Great Crusade be reunited with, and then led by their lost Primarchs, warrior-leaders of God-like stature and ability. As great as the Primarchs and the Legiones Astartes were they were still prone to human failings.

The later years of the Great Crusade ground to a halt as less and less worlds fell into the hands of the Emperor's Legions. It is said that the Great Crusade had taken a quarter century longer to accomplish less than expected by tactical estimations. Many of the Primarchs and their Legions' had formed close bonds tying them closer together. The Salamanders and Dark Angels; Thousand Sons and Raven Guard; Death Guard and Night Lords are exemplars of the Legions drawing together and forming tight brotherhoods otherwise unrivaled amongst the Legions. Petty rivalries and outright hatred had also simmered amongst the Legions. Between the White Scars and Raven Guard; Thousand Sons and the Luna Wolves; between the World Eaters and the Salamanders and Dark Angels. Entire Expedition Fleets ground to a halt by a refusal of various Legions to work together or all independently trying to perform the same mission but without a single battle leader. In the worst situations various Legions took to warring each other. It was not uncommon for challenges or even small skirmishes to break out between the Legions, or their Primarchs, but when Legion made war on another Legion that was a serious matter.

The Secessionist Legions under the leadership of Warmaster Guilliman.

Image modified from Forge World.

Two of the best documented cases where the Legions seriously attacked each other during this time are refered to as the "Death of the Lion and Drake" and "The Raven's Judgement". The Death of the Lion and Drake recants the tail of how a sizable force of Dark Angels and Salamanders, which earned accolade after accolade for they were truly the Emperor's finest, came under a sudden and brutal attack at the hands of the Luna Wolves and World Eaters. The Dark Angels and Salamanders once they became aware of what had befallen their Legions retaliated in force until they believed their due in the blood of their enemies was paid. The Emperor publically shaming the World Eaters and Luna Wolves and lauding the Salamanders and Dark Angels simply added to the ill will between these Legions. The Raven's Judgement on the other hand follows the hubris of Corax and his Raven Guard. Simple animosity between the White Scars and Raven Guard led to frequent skirmishes. However the Raven guard undertook a secret war of censure upon the White Scars who they had deemed to be straying from the Emperor's grace into a path of mindless bloodshed and rage. The White Scars conquests had earned Jaghatai Khan great favour in the eyes of the Emperor. It was at this point, during the rising glory of the Vth Legion that disaster struck for the Raven Guard. The XIXth Legion's actions against the White Scars was discovered, and their chosen methods of war ever suspect, the Raven Guard were cast from the Emperor's Light and banished from the Imperium of Man. The Raven Guard were not the only Legion to lose their way. The IXth, Sanguinius' Blood Angels had developed a major flaw in their geneseed. They were quickly ordered to stop recruiting and hand themselves, Sanguinius included, over to the Emperor's genomancers to have their geneseed cleansed. Knowing that this would likely be a death knell for his Legion Sanguinius refused, and as a result he and the entirety of the IX Legion declared enemies of the Imperium.

During all this turmoil and unrest there was one Primarch who diligently followed the Emperor's vision. Who almost singularly amongst his brothers fought not with the others but turned back the tides of foul Xenos that beset the Imperium from all sides. Already the master of the Realm of Ultramar, Guilliman of the Ultramarines conquered world after world binging those that his Legion would protect and recruit from into the fold of Ultramar and the remainder to the fold of the Imperium. Although his accomplishments were initially overlooked in favour of the Khan, Magnus, Vulkan and El'Jonson; Guilliman's Realm of 5,000 worlds, Ultramar, and his endless accomplishments saw him elevated to the rank of Warmaster, first amongst the Primarchs. The Ultramarines were also renamed the Scions of Guilliman in his honour. It was tasked to Guilliman to rally his fellow Primarchs and continue the work of the Great Crusade whilst the emperor undertook his Great Work.

The Imperialist Legions followers God Emperor of the Dark Imperium.

Image Modified from Forge World.

For a time Guilliman managed to get the Great Crusade back on track.  It soon became apparent to the Warmaster that all was not well in the Imperium. A festering canker had taken hold at the heart of the Imperium. The Word Bearers began preaching the divinity of the Emperor. Despite Guilliman's scorn no censure came their way.  Guilliman came to view this as the beginning of the corruption the Imperium of Man.  More and more legions echoed the divinity of the Emperor, now openly hailed as the god Emperor. The spread was worse amongst the populace of the Imperium. Only on the worlds of Ultramar did reason hold out against faith. Few were the Legions that did not regard the Emperor as godlike, both amongst those in the Emperors favour and those who had fallen out of favour. It is said at this time Guilliman became disheartened, the Crusade had faltered once more. The chosen of the Emperor saw this as their time to take the title of Warmaster unjustly denied them. A mighty clash between the Warmaster's loyal Legions and the followers of the God-Emperor showed Guilliman what he must do. At the height of the clash he once more commanded the respect of his brothers ordering them to do their duty and give over their petty rivalries. Such spurring oration had rarely been borne witness to before. Ashamed of their actions the Legiones astartes once again resumed the Great Crusade. All the while no word was heard from the Emperor.

Guilliman now strengthened his Legion and Ultramar, now often referred to as the Imperium Secundus, which spanned over half of the Eastern Fringe uncontested. He gathered close his brothers that were spurned by the Emperor, and those already allied strongly with his Legion. He showed these Legions the canker at the heart of the Dark Imperium. How the Emperor had forsaken reason on what seemed a quest for Godhood. How more and more Legions slipped into baser forms of themselves. Upon the world of Isstvan III Guilliman gathered his most trusted allies.  On this isolated system 5 Legions assembled, The Scions of Guilliman; the Emperor's Children; the World Eaters; the Blood Angels and the Luna Wolves.  It would all begin in the Istvaan system, there they would cleanse the elements of their Legions whose loyalty lay with the Dark Imperium, and then Launch their secession from the Imperium of Man, to create the Empire of reason it was truely meant to be. The Imperium Secundus!

Largely unknown at this time the Emperor had released the Mechanicum form its pacts and sanctions on forbidden technologies. This caused growing dissent within the Martian Mechanicum, soon to spread through all the forge worlds. Two distinct factions formed within the Mechanicum. The Dark Mechanicum, favouring the use and exploitation of the previously forbidden technologies. The Sundered Mechanicum who held to the tenants that some technologies were by nature corrupt and twisted and as such should remain forbidden. These two halves of the Mechanicum would come to fight alongside the Dark imperium and the Empire of Ultramar respectively.

(summary with some added details)
-all the legions started infighting before the 'heresy'
-the great crusade took ~25 years longer than canon
-Guilliman is Warmaster, the Ultramarines are now the Scions of Guilliman
-Emperor retreats and starts his Great Work
-Blood Angels and Raven Guard declared enemies of the Imperium
-Word Bearers spread the word that the Emperor is a god and are never rebuked like in canon
-more of the Imperium worships the Emperor as a god, only Ultramar and a few other legion's don't follow suit.
-Word Bearers slowly reintroduce worship of their old gods alongside worship of the Emperor
-The Emperor removes the sanctions placed upon the Mechanicum allowing them to explore previously forbidden tech.
-The mechanicum slowly splits into two warring factions: the Dark Mechanicum loyal to the Emperor and the Sundered Mechanicum Loyal to Guilliman
-The Council of Nikaea bans the use of Psykers within the Imperium.
-a great battle between the nascent sides or the Seceession erupts only to be ended by the oratory of Guilliman
-Guilliman fortifies Ultramar into an autonomus Empire and gathers the Legions loyal to him at the Istvaan system to begin the first true steps of the Ultramar Secession!

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