All credit to Goonbandito over on B&C for this lenghty plot summary of Rise of the Primarch. Enjoy!
Rise of the Primarch
Previously, on the Gathering Storm... Cadia Falls as the 13th Black Crusade launches in full. Ynnead, Eldar God of the Dead, awakes in the ruins of Biel-Tan, and his Emmsiary, Yvraine, gathers a host of various Eldar together to form the Ynnarri. Archmagos Belisarius Cawl has an ancient pact to keep with the Lord of Ultramar (as well as a super-secret package to deliver) and must get to Macragge. Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax can’t stop thinking about Saint Celestine…
Part One – Ultramar Defiant
High in the mountains of Laphis (Shrine World, Macragge System), Black Legionaries prowl the aftermath of a bloody battle against some Ultramar Defense Auxilia. War has come to Realm of Ultramar. Not all is quiet though – the Chaos Marines have detected a build-up of aetheric energy but before they can make sense of it, a massive blast of energy hurls them about. A Webway Gate reveals itself and Ynnari and Celestinian forces burst forth, quickly cutting down the surprised Black Legion marines. Despite their alliance, the Eldar and Imperial forces remain uneasy of each other, Marshal Amalrich and Inquisitor Greyfax most of all. Saint Celestine smooths things over as debate over their next move gets a bit twitchy and it becomes apparent they will need the assistance of the Ultramarines to get to Macragge itself.
Vox intercepts have picked up indicate a massive Chaos invasion – reports of Black Legion, Alpha Legion, Iron Warriors, Emperor’s Children and more are heard. The Eldar/Imperial force sets off towards a nearby Ultramarine fortress, only to see it come under assault from Heldrake hunting packs. The Knights of House Taranis shoot them down and, recognising the authority of both an Inquisitor and the Living Saint herself, the Ultramarine defenders let them in. Celestine explains their mission – Cawl must be given an audience with the Lord of Ultramar, and smiles expectantly as a flight of Stormravens arrive. They were meant to be the air-support for the fortress, but now they’ll take the Ynnari and Celestinian ‘pilgrims’ to a waiting Strike Cruiser. But Not everyone though – of the Eldar only Yvraine and the Visarch will go to Macragge, with the rest of the Ynnari heading back into the Webway to spread word of Ynnead. The bulk of the Battle Sisters, as well as the House Taranis Knights, stay behind on Laphis to help its defence too.
The Ultramarines are cautious. The travellers are kept under guard as the Strike Cruiser makes the journey to Macragge and a meeting with Marneus Calgar, Lord of Ultramar. Amalrich and the Eldar aren’t too keen on being essentially locked up with nothing and The Visarch eventually takes to sparring abit with the Black Templar Marshal. Cawl purges Greyfax of the mindshackle scarabs that Trazyn had used to keep her captive and she endures the agonising process by keeping a close eye on Celestine. She was beginning to see that Celestine’s “divinity” was the real deal, that the light of her faith shines righteous. But Greyfax is still an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor – she is well aware of tricks and 'miracles' of foul nature. While she hopes Celestine is indeed uncorrupted, she is alert of the slightest hint of duplicity. Meanwhile, Yvraine and Cawl have a lengthy and circumspect conversation about upcoming events…
The Strike Cruiser reaches Macragge, only to find itself amidst a pitched space battle between the Ultramar Defence Fleet and the attacking Chaos Fleet. Macragge is under a full scale Chaos Invasion. Braving the firepower of ships from the Black Legion, Iron Warriors, the Purge and the Night Lords, the Ynnari and the Celestinians ride Stormravens down to the planet. Marneus Calgar has been informed of their arrival, along with their urgent request to meet with the Lord of Ultramar, and he awaits with interest. The battle rages around the Fortress of Hera, as the Ultramarines escort them to the strategium. Waiting them there are Chapter Master Calgar, First Captain Agemman, Chief Librarian Tigurius and Grand Master Voldus of the Grey Knight 3rd Brotherhood. Amalrich, Greyfax and Celestine bow before Calgar while the Eldar and Cawl stand impassively. Calgar reveals that he has no knowledge of who Cawl is and that he certainly hasn’t made any pact with an Archmagos. The Celestinians, bar Celestine herself who suddenly realises what’s going on, turn to Cawl in shock as he says he has no business with Calgar. He’s come to see the real Lord of Ultramar - Roboute Guilliman himself.
This raises an immediate outcry amongst the Ultramarines and weapons are raised in warning, as Cawl speaks basically of sacrilege. Celestine tries to explain - “would it help if I said we’re on a mission from God?” – but finds muzzles aimed her way too. Yvraine and the Visarch ready themselves for battle, but Chief Librarian Tigurius speaks up for Cawl. He has been having ominous visions of troubling times, visions that had helped prepare Macragge for defence against the Chaos Invasion, and he believes that these travellers have an important role to play. Calgar, who is still overseeing the defence of Macragge in the background as the standoff/discussion takes place, makes his decision: they will be allowed to enter the Shrine of Guilliman, but under heavy Ultramarine guard. Greyfax shared a glance with Amalrich – the Ultramarines would not be the only ones to exact swift vengeance if Cawl or the Ynnari stepped out of line with any more unexpected revelations.
Agemman stays behind to oversee the defences, while Calgar, Tigurius, Voldus, a smattering of 1st and 3rd Company Battle-Brothers and Honour Guard escort the Cawl and his compatriots to the Shrine. Guilliman lies before them, on a Throne of marble, gold and adamantium surrounded by the workings of his stasis field, the wounds on his armour from his final duel with Fulgrim still visible. Pausing to bow respect before the Primarch, Calgar again demands Cawl to tell him what his purpose is. Cawl explains that 10 millennia ago, before Guilliman was mortally wounded, the Primarch came to him and charged him with two great labours and that he was here to deliver on the first of those promises. Cawl had brought with him a new suit of armour fit for the Primarch, one that’s life-support systems could heal his wounds. The Ultramarines are stunned into silence – their Primarch, living and breathing again… could it be possible? Yvraine speaks up, explaining that the power she wields as the Emissary of Ynnead will be key to restoring Guilliman. But such power is not wielded without sacrifice – for Guilliman to live again, he must first die. This raises the immediate ire of the Ultramarines again, Calgar declaring that no witch will ever lay hands on the Primarch. Voldus, Greyfax and Marshal Amalrich stand with Calgar. Tigurius moves to stand with Cawl and the Ynnari. Celestine implores everyone to have faith; that this is the will of the Emperor. Weapons are raised yet again, and tensions are about to boil over…
Calgar receives a priority vox, and he’s barely able to shout a warning as an Ultramarine Thunderhawk comes crashing down in the cavernous shrine. Spilling out from its holds come a host of Chaos Raptors, wearing the colours of the Black Legion. They fan out quickly, attaching spiked icons to the floor. Teleportation flares thunder out, and Black Legion Terminators warp in and start laying fire into the Ultramarines. Calgar is aghast – Chaos, in the Primarch’s Shrine??? It’s more likely than you think! Forced to put aside his distrust of Cawl and the Ynnari for the moment, he charges into the Chaos forces - Celestine, Amalrich and Voldus with him - as pitched battle breaks out. Greyfax meanwhile copped a glancing hit in the opening salvo that knocked the wind out of her, and she’s forced to take cover. While she’s hanging back, she’s assessing the battlefield and can’t help but notice Celestine cutting a swathe through the Chaos marines – she may not fully trust the Saint, but she could not fault the woman’s selflessness or skill. Eyes on the prize Katarinya…
Greyfax’s psyocculum starts picking up on weird readings. Following the psyocculum’s needle, she notices Cawl, Tigurius and the Ynnari standing next to Guilliman’s stasis-pod. She watches as Tigurius blasts some charging Bezerkers and the realises that the weird readings she’s getting are of the psyocculum picking up a life energy transfer from the dead Bezerkers to Yvraine. She’s tries to dash out of cover, intending to go stop whatever unholy ritual is about to be performed, but she’s pinned in place by autocannon fire. Calgar notices the commotion too, and watches in horror as Yvraine raises her sword above Guilliman. He shouts a command to Tigurius, ordering him to stop the xenos witch, but Tigurius shakes his head in response as Yvraine cuts through the power cables sustaining the stasis field. The auto-reliquary that Cawl had been transporting then unfurls, and engulfs Guilliman.
The Black Legion forces, as if sensing the immensity of what’s about to happen, redouble their attacks and start to push the Ultramarine defenders back. A Chaos Sorcerer uses the new Heretic Astartes Geomortis Psychic Powers (pick up your datacards today kids!) to try and collapse the very foundations of the shrine itself – Tigurius desperately trying to make his Deny the Witch roll to prevent it – as Grey Knight Paladins teleport in shore up the defence. The battle hangs in the balance…. But a new wave of Dreadclaws smash down – 10 of the them! – and disgorge nearly a hundred new chaos marines into the fray. Calgar tries to rally to the Primarch’s Throne, but he’s tarpitted and brought to the ground by pile of Chaos Marines. Celestine is injured, an arm hanging uselessly at her side, and Amalarich finds himself bogged down too. Things look done for the Imperials as the Black Legion forces are mere meters from the throne… when the lights on the auto-reliquary blink from red to green. With a hiss, the arms of the auto-reliquary fold back and stepping out with a breathtaking splendour strides Roboute Guilliman.
(There’s a quick aside here, to briefly refresh our knowledge of the Primarchs and Guilliman in particular. It matches up with the fluff from the Horus Heresy series, alluding to Imperium Secundus amongst other things)
A stunned silence sweeps over the battlefield for a few moments as the presence of a Primarch seems to fill the massive room. It’s broken by the crazed charge of a lone Bezerker, who rushes Guilliman. But, with a speed that even the Ynnari would struggle to match, Guilliman neatly swings the Emperor’s Sword and cleaves the Bezerker in two. The moment is broken, and with a hateful cry the Black Legion forces charge at the Primarch. Guilliman strides directly to meet them. Celestine was not immune to the presence of the Primarch either – she sees it as straight up vindication of everything she has ever fought for, the Emperor’s Will made manifest. She sheds a single golden tear as she offers up prayers of thanks to the Emperor. A Black Legionnaire tries to strike at her while she’s distracted, except Celestine is anything but – she feels her injuries heal, and she drives the Ardent Blade through the traitor. She takes to the air, jumping across the battlefield to land next to Greyfax, who’s blasting away at Heretics with her boltgun.
“I erred,” Greyfax admits, “and I will do Penance. You truly are the instrument of the Emperor’s Will.”
“Vigilance is not a sin, Katarinya,” Celestine replies, “You serve Him as surely as I”.
“Indeed. Let us serve him together, as true warriors of Faith.” Together, Celestine and Greyfax launch themselves into the battle. Way better love story than Twilight.
Guilliman is utterly wrecking the Black Legion forces. None of his foes can even come close to matching the preternatural speed and skill of a Primarch. Every swing of his sword, every shot from his gauntlet sends traitor marines crumbling. His expression is grave – his last memory was of a desperate battle against a hateful brother, yet now he suddenly finds himself in a strange place surrounded by twisted and warped Astartes. Even the boys in blue are unfamiliar to him, but at least he can recognise them as allies. He eventually pushes to the downed form of Marneus Calgar. Calgar is badly injured, armour cracked and broken, but he’s alive and he looks up into the face of his Primarch in disbelief as Guilliman checks he still lives before moving on to continue his route of the Chaos Marines. The Black Legion morale is broken at this point, and they begin to flee – but not one of the will escape the Fortress of Hera alive.
Reinforcements arrive as the battle winds down, every one of the newly arriving Ultramarines dropping to their knees before the Primarch. Guilliman quickly takes charge of the scene, his strategic acumen taking over. He makes no reference to his miraculous rebirth, and none of the Ultramarines dare ask. News of the Primarch’s Rise spread through the fortress like wildfire, proclamations blaring from every vox speaker on every rampart. The Ultramarine and Ultramar Defense Auxilia manning the battlements are at first confused before finding new strength in the words they hear. In contrast, the Chaos forces arrayed against them begin to feel doubt and unease at the thought of a Primarch meeting them in battle.
Guilliman makes for the strategium, with a wounded Calgar at his side, where he formally requests command of the battle from First Captain Agemman. With Guilliman now in charge, the defense of the Fortress of Hera quickly turns in the Ultramarines favour. In short order, the fortress is swept of the Chaos presence and the Ultramarine’s stronghold on Macragge is secured. A ceremony is held in the Chapter Master’s sanctum, now to become the throne-room of the Primarch, as Guilliman is formally invested as a Lord of Ultramar and Master of the Ultramarines in front of the top command personnel and representatives of every Company of the Chapter. Saint Celestine ceremoniously gives him her blessings, and even Yvrainne and the Visarch are lurking in the background watching. The ceremony concludes, with Guilliman requesting to know everything that happened while he was gone…
Part Two – War Storm
The Warp roils with the energies of emotion and passion from the rebirth of Roboute Guilliman, as the champions of the Dark Gods become aware of the momentous event that has taken place on Macragge. Fulgrim pouts in displeasure, vowing to Slaanesh that he will put Guilliman down this time. Various Greater Demons of Tzeentch watch the weaves of fate and begin to plot the downfall of the Ultramarine Primarch. In Nurgle’s Garden, a conclave of Great Unclean Ones throw a party as they imagine all the fun times they could have together with Roboute – maybe they could even get him and Mortarion back together again! Fun for the whole family! Champions of Khorne burn 88 worlds, battling each other for the one to earn the right to answer their God – Khorne cares not for the silly plans of the other gods. He just wants Guilliman’s skull.
Abaddon has been foretold by his sorcerers of this occasion too, hence the massive forces he’d thrown at Macragge to try to prevent it from happening. Annoyed that this attack had failed, he summons and binds Kairos Fateweaver and sets him loose to stop Guilliman. Mortarion senses the reawakening too, and his rage coalesces into 7 new forms of disease and plague that run rampant across Imperial Worlds. He’s too busy with his own plans to act right at this moment, but he’s got something up his sleeve… Magnus the Red laughs in delight as he learns of the news, and the strands of fate twist before to reveal new insight. He’s already beaten the Space Wolves bloody and got his revenge, and now he sees the chance to strike at another hated foe…
Whole sections of the galaxy erupt into fierce new Warp Storms, the scale of which not seen since the dark times of Old Night, as the Primordial Annihilator turns its full attention on realspace. Legions of Demons are sent forth into the galaxy, intent on laying low the reborn Primarch. But the Great Game is ever eternal – ambitious servants of the gods take this opportunity, while the gods themselves are distracted, to launch new assaults on their rivals. Blood Legions of Khorne throw themselves at the Crystal Labyrinthes of Tzeentch’s domain, while cavalcades of Slaaneshi demons hack their way into the Garden of Nurgle…
Guilliman for his part is busy catching up on the affairs of the last 10,000 years. He’s not particularly impressed by what he learns of what the Imperium has become. Idolatry, Ignorance, Suffering, Squalor – all in the name of a god who never wanted the title. He yearns for one of his brothers to speak to, someone who could understand his heartache. Its not all mental either – whatever was done to bring him back has left him with a constant, gnawing ache in his body that he suspects will never go away. He looks up at a tapestry depicting the Emperor hanging in his sanctum.
“We failed, father,” he sighs with sorrow. “You failed us, and we in turn failed you. And worse, we failed all of them too. Did Horus not say that you sought godhood? How he would laugh to see the Imperium now.” A wave of anger washes over him which he struggles to keep in check – the last thing he needs is for Calgar and Tigurius and the rest to see him lose it.
“Why do I live? What do you want from me? I put everything into our dream, and look what they’ve done!” He snarls at the tapestry. “An empire of fear, hate and ignorance – better we had all burned in the fires of Horus’ ambition than live to see this.” But as soon as he says this, he knows he’s just talking his own fears. The Ultramarines of this age had never seen the hope of triumph of the Imperium at its peak glory during the Great Crusade, yet they are march forward unbowed. How can he show anything less? He knows of Cawl’s labours, his second promise, back on Mars – there’s hope for a better future for the Imperium. “Too long have the pawns of Chaos meddled with our species fate. That must end,” he declares.
Guilliman emerges from his chambers, 4 days later. He brings close his counsel – Calgar and Tigurius, but also Voldus, Cawl, Celestine and Greyfax. He would use every arm of the Imperium. Strength in Unity. And now its time to take back Ultramar. Macragge itself is reclaimed in a month, the scattered and disparate Chaos forces proving no match for his strategies. Imperial Reinforcements also arrive, including a number of Ultramarine Successor chapters (Novamarines, Sons of Orara and the Genesis Chapter are mentioned). The Arch-Consul of Magna Civitas organises a huge parade to restore morale to the citizens of Macragge. Guilliman reluctantly agrees, recognising the need for symbolism, and during the procession the Arch-Consul presents Guilliman with a gilded crown. But as Guilliman dons the crown, he’s struck by visions and thoughts of future glories – his armies countless beyond number, willing to die for him gladly. Planets, sectors and whole segmentums renamed in his honor and eventually the Golden Throne itself his to claim. He deserved nothing less after all…. And Guilliman rips the crown off with a gasp. The Arch-Consul dissolves into a mutant spawn, hissing and spitting, and Guilliman hears a voice echo through his mind that he had not heard since Thessala. Fulgrim mockingly welcomes Guilliman back to Ultramar and, while disappointed he resisted the temptations of the Crown of Glories, promises him that this is but the first of many temptations. Fulgrim’s voice laughs as he promises Guilliman that he will never be able to trust the feeling of self-satisfaction again. Disgusted, Guilliman slays the mutant creature, but he can’t seem to erase Fulgrim’s words from his mind…
More Imperial forces arrive at Macragge, having heard word of Guilliman’s resurrection. Delegations of Raven Guard, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, White Scars and Black Templars all hastening to the Primarch’s side. The Black Templars need only one look at the zealous look in Marshal Amalrich’s eyes, he alone of his crusade who has survived, to declare him touched by the hand of the Emperor. He’s given the armour and Black Blade of the Emperor’s Champion. Still more forces arrive – Imperial Navy and Adeptus Mechanicus fleets, Imperial Knight households, Titan Legions, Administratum officials - the list goes on. A delegation of Adeptus Ministorum priests arrive, intent on confirming and then proclaiming Guilliman’s Divinity. Guilliman is not at all keen on this, and only relents when Celestine and Greyfax point out just how powerful the Ecclesiarchy is. Better to have the Ecclesiarchy on his side, than against him. One last thing that Guilliman orders before setting out to reclaim the wider Ultramar system – he orders the Library of Ptolemy barred shut to all visitors. This is an age of Wrath and War – learning and lore must be set aside.
The War for Ultramar rages on as the Imperial Forces begin to reclaim the Five Hundred Worlds. It’s a long process though. Seven months in saw the spread of a mysterious new sickness through-out the conquest forces, causing endless streams of viscous stinking tears that eventually infect the eyeballs of its victims and leave them in agonising blindness. It becomes known as the Weeping Plague. It’s eventually traced to swarms of mites that find their way into food supplies, ammunition packs, bundles of clothing and even amongst the pages of Imperial Primers. Nothing seems to halt its spread, as it begins to cripple the human elements of the Imperial Forces. The Astartes were un-affected, but curiously the Adepta Sororitas proved strongly resistant despite them being humans also. But then something amazing – when Guilliman came to inspect the sick, his mere presence seemed to drive back the disease. Auxilia soldiers rose from their hospital beds, the sight restored and their sickness vanished. No-one could explain the cause, but wherever Guilliman walked the sick were cured. The Ecclesiarchy were quick to declare a Miracle, and their sermons rang loud with proclamations of his divinity. Guilliman couldn’t explain it either, but he could not just let the soldiers under his command die while he could do something about it. So he travelled everywhere the sick were found, days and weeks on end curing them. His absence from the war efforts began to show though, as Chaos Forces were able to regroup and launch effective counter-assaults. Worse still, the Plague begin to pop back up in places Guilliman had already cured. He was running around in circles trying to cure everyone. Grand Master Voldus eventually confronts him with the what he sees as the truth – this plague bears the mark of Nurgle. Guilliman was not curing anyone, but rather it was an insidious plan to keep Guilliman distracted and contained inside Ultramar.
Guilliman realised he had been played by Nurgle. In his desire to reclaim Ultramar and turn it into a bastion of order, he was making mistakes he’d made in the distant past. There was only one real course of action – he had to make for Terra. The fact that both Slaanesh and Nurgle had attempted to keep him trapped in Ultramar proved that he was needed elsewhere. So, and not without reluctance, he left the reconquest of Ultramar in the hands of Calgar, Tigurius and Agemman. With him would travel elements of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Ultramarine Companies with Captain Cato Sicarius in command, as well as the 3rd Brotherhood of Grey Knights led by Grand Master Voldus. The various Ultramarine successor chapters present also gave their support, as did Emperor’s Champion Amalrich and his Black Templars. Inquistor Greyfax, Saint Celestine and Archmagos Cawl would also accompany Guilliman. It was at this point that Yvraine and the Visarch bade their farewell, with a promise that they would fight together again in the future (so long as it suited their needs Guilliman remarks to himself).
The Celestinian Crusade that had set out from Cadia to Macragge was over. So began the Terran Crusade. It would be an arduous journey. The Warp churned with chaotic turbulence, and the Navigators could only manage short jumps through the warp. Even then, a number of Imperial Ships suffered Gellar Field breaches and swarms of Demons would sweep through their decks before they could be cleansed with holy fire. Guilliman travelled upon his ancient flagship, Macragge’s Honour, its familiar hallways a welcome haven. He had hoped that the storms would abate the further he travelled from Ultramar, but there seemed no end in sight to the storms. And everytime the fleet dropped back into realspace, the Astropaths would pick up garbled messages of a galaxy in chaos. Morale dropped across the fleet as the weeks dragged on… until eventually the fleet came suddenly on the edge of the Maelstrom, which had swelled with power, catching everyone by surprise. Fearing the worst, the fleet performed an emergency translation back into realspace….
…right into the devastating broadsides of an ambush. Numerous ships were lost before the Imperial’s were even aware of their ambushers – a vast fleet of Thousand Sons warships. Just As Planned™. At the centre of the ambush fleet was an immense craft that Guilliman recognised as vast facsimile of the Great Pyramid of Tizca. From its observation gallery, Magnus watched his ambush play out with amusement, the chanting of his sorcerers ringing out around him. He had no desire to kill his brother just yet and, judging when his ambush had wrought enough devastation on the Imperial fleet, he completed the incantation that was being weaved. Giant Empyric Tendrils of the Maelstrom whipped out, wrapped around the Imperial ships and flung them deep into the heart of the Maelstrom.
The effect on the ships of the Terran Crusade were devastating. Unprepared for a sudden entry into the Warp, many ships failed to raise their Gellar Fields in time and were consumed by demons. The ones that did get their Gellar Fields up found themselves drifting in the tides of unnatural energy. 112 Space Marine, Mechanicus and Imperial Navy ships had set out from Macragge, and barely half that number remained. Belisarius Cawl led repairs as best he could, as the leaders of the Crusade convened to determine their next move. They were utterly lost – the navigators had no fix on the Astronomican. Faint transmissions were heard from a nearby crystal moon, and Guilliman ordered a full attack with specific instructions to capture anything that would help them navigate the Maelstrom. A band of renegades were encountered holed up on the moon – Red Corsairs – who were quickly eliminated, but when their last survivor was captured for interrogation he became possessed. A diabolical presence, speaking in two voices, mocked Guilliman - telling him that Ultramar was burning and that he would be cursed to wander the Maelstrom forever – before ending the Red Corsair prisoner. Guilliman vowed to end whatever this Demon was that had vexed him.
With their only lead dead, the fleet wandered the Maelstrom aimlessly, picking a direction and hoping for the best. How long they travelled like this, they had no idea, for time had no meaning in this place of madness. Patrols of Emperor’s Children craft were encountered and seized, but any navigational tools they possessed were blank but for the mocking words the demon had uttered back on the moon. The Crusade pressed on as supplies dwindled amongst constant skirmishes with Chaos raiding parties. Guilliman himself was further wracked by dark visions haunting his mind, of Ultramar, Mars and Terra burning. A voice promised him that these visions would come to truth, but only if he tried to leave – if he stayed in the Maelstrom, the Imperium would be spared. It was on yet another aid on yet another cursed world to find intelligence that Kairos Fateweaver revealed himself as the demon haunting Guilliman’s actions, in an ambush by scores of Tzeentch Demons. The Imperials were forced to retreat, Fateweaver mocking Guilliman all the while…
Things were getting really desperate, as the fleets numbers waned further still, ships too badly damaged to continue on scuttled in their wake. A hard, fast strike against a Red Corsair stronghold brought some measure of sanity back and it was amongst the hallways of this stronghold that Guilliman had another vision. This time it was of a mysterious Eldar figure and it spoke of a path out of the Maelstrom. Alert for yet more trickery from Fateweaver, but sensing no taint of chaos, Guilliman felt hope returning…
The fleet made for the directions the Eldar had spoke of. A promised navigational marker was reached, and then another and soon enough they had reached the final stretch of their journey out. But before them lay a massive graveyard of derelict ships from untold number of factions – all linked together in a massive web of chains. There was no way around – the graveyard seemed to stretch to infinity in all directions, which meant the only way was to go through. Progress was slow, and unnerving, as wreckage was pushed away to make room. But eventually the Navigators began to see the light of the Astronomican seeping through – they were almost out! Guilliman was extra cautious though, for this was the most vulnerable leg of the journey and his caution proved right when Red Corsair ships blazed out of hiding spots in the wreckage to attack. The Imperial Fleet was outflanked, and the Red Corsair ships were aiming to disable their targets in order to seize and salvage. Guilliman ordered his ships to prepare for boarders, even wishing the Emperor’s Blessings upon the defenders (much to his own distate).
The chaos pirates struck the Macragges Honour hard, aiming to swiftly overrun the defenders positions on the bridge. The defense of the bridge held at first, but began to give. As Red Corsair Terminators pushed through, waves of Horrors and Flamers poured in behind them, along with Kairos Fateweaver himself, wrecking havoc through the Imperial defences. Guilliman roared a challenged, and charged at Fateweaver with Sicarius, Greyfax and Celestine covering his flanks, but this was the moment Kairos had planned for. Nine Heralds of Tzeentch suddenly revealed themselves in the battle, and began chanting an incantation. Sicarius attempted to direct fire on the spellcasters, but waves of expendable horrors jumped infront of the boltgun fire to provide a flesh shield for their masters. Kairos raised his staff for the final part of the spell – ever since Guilliman had entered the Maelstrom, Kairos had been implanting subtle traps in his mind. It wasn’t easy, for the mind of a Primarch has formidable defences and the intervention of the Eldar had forced his hand earlier than Kairos would have liked, but the spell completed and suddenly Guilliman stumbled. Streams of incandescent energy poured from Guilliman’s mouth and eyes, and forced him to his knees. All the negative emotions, doubts and madness that Kairos had been seeding in Guilliman’s mind burst out and wrapped around him in a heavy crystal chain, paralysing him. Fateweaver then commanded the Imperials to surrender, lest they watch their Primarch be crushed before their eyes. With no other choice, the Imperial’s lowered their weapons. Kairos stood gloating before them, victorious…
Part Three – Rise of the Primarch
Guilliman was captured. The Imperials that didn’t surrender were either killed, or forced to submit. Emperor’s Champion Amalrich was one of the latter, wrestled and beaten down by a mob of Red Corsairs as he single-handledly held the Enginarium. The prisoners were brought to the stronghold of the Red Corsairs – a freakin Blackstone Fortress! Turns out Abaddon had been pleased with Huron Blackheart’s rebellion, and given a kingly gift to the Tyrant of Badab proving both Abaddon’s sheer power (I mean, who gives away Blackstone Fortresses as participation prizes?!) and ensuring the loyalty of the Red Corsairs to Abaddon.
The Imperials were thrown into cells inside the massive space fortress, Guilliman held fast in the chains Kairos had forged from Guilliman’s own mind. He would rot in the prison for a time – Kairos didn’t want to simply kill Guilliman, for a chained Primarch was far too good of a source of power to simple throw away, and already Kairos was plotting in ways to make use of him. The Red Corsairs would act as gaolers, content with the boons that Fateweaver could grant them. But perhaps Kairos was distracted and failed to see the future somehow, for he missed the massive horde that was descending on the fortress… Skarbrand had come for the skull of Guilliman.
The hordes of Khorne fell on the Blackstone Fortress. The Red Corsairs rallied quickly, forming firing ranks and pouring fire into the charging Khornate forces. Kairos howled in dismay at the unforeseen events, summoning masses of Tzeentch Demons to fight back as more and more Khorne demons joined the slaughter. Guilliman, still trapped in his gaol, listened to the distant sounds of battle and prepared himself for any potential opportunities to escape…
Deep within the fortress’ core, a portal that had long lay dormant flickered to life. A band of shadowed figures, accompanied by a larger robed figure, slipped unseen into the Blackstone. Through the twisting maze of hallways they went, long-dormant systems coming to life to allow them access as they passed. Eventually they reached the cells that Guilliman and the Ultramarines were being held in, guarded by a full squad of Red Corsairs with guns trained at the only door into the gaol. At least the only door the Red Corsairs knew about. Silently and unseen, a door slid open at the back of the room and the Harlequins of the Veiled Path, and the larger robed figure, moved soundlessly up behind the Red Corsairs and cut them down before they could even react. The robed figure grabbed the key to the cells off one of the guards as Sylandri Veilwalker pointed him in the direction of a specific cell.
Guilliman watched as the robed figure approached his cell. He didn’t recognise the Astarte, but he did recognise the colours of the 1st Legiones Astartes.
“Who are you?” Guilliman asked.
“I can free you,” the mysterious figure replied, ignoring the question.
“Can. Not will. What do you want?” Guilliman frowned in return.
“Take me to Terra, to the Throne, and I will free you,” said the hooded figure. Guilliman, trapped in his chains, could only glare. He didn’t have much of a choice.
“Very well,” the Primarch replied, “but know this Dark Angel. If you seek to trick or manipulate me, nothing in this galaxy can save you.” One side of Cypher’s mouth lifts in a bitter smile.
“As you say,” Cypher mutters as he unlocks all the cells.
Sylandri Veilwalker steps forward at this point, and Guilliman’s eyes widen as he recognises her as the mysterious Eldar that guided them through the Maelstrom. But was she guiding them to freedom or had she deliberately sent them into a trap? Hmmmmmmmmmm. Veilwalker begins a dance as she focuses her energy on the chains around Guilliman, unbinding them. Guilliman, Sicarius and the rest of the Ultramarines, several hundred strong, were free. They still had their armour, but no weapons. Veilwalker revealed the location of their weapons and vehicles that been salvaged by the Red Corsairs. Guilliman was highly suspicious of the Eldar and the mysterious Dark Angel, but resolved to at least let them lead him to his weapons and allies. They moved quickly, for their escape would not go un-noticed for long. On the way they find and free Celestine and her Geminae, Cawl and his Mechanicus forces, Greyfax and finally Voldus and his Grey Knights as well as the rest of the successor chapter Marines and their Dreadnaughts and Tanks that had been taken off the ships. Sicarius suggest they strike fast to their ships to escape, but Veilwalker informs them that the docks are thick with fighting. At any rate, the human crews of the ships are all dead and their navigators have been taken away. The only way off is through the Webway Portal the Harlequins and Cypher came in on.
(btw I guess this means the Macragge’s Honour is left behind in the hands of the Red Corsairs….).
Driving their vehicles through the huge passageways, the Imperials and their guides make for the Webway, but its not long before they are noticed and eventually their advance slows to a crawl as they get pinned down by both Red Corsair and Demons sent out to intercept them. Finding themselves surrounding and pinned in from both sides, things are looking grim until the timely arrival of the Legion of the Dammed. Their spectral forms sweep in and clear the Chaos forces from their flanks, allowing Guilliman’s force to move forward. Eventually they reach the heart of the Blackstone, a huge chamber a hundred miles across with bridges cutting across it, connecting various doorways. The Webway Portal is at the far side, but from the doorways stream endless waves of enemies – Khrone Demons from oneside, Tzeentch Demons from the other. As the Imperials cross the bridges towards the Webway Portal, three-way fights break out between the Khorne, Tzeentch and Imperial forces. Guilliman catches sight of Kairos lurking way in the back, clearly not keen on getting up in Guilliman’s face now that the Lord of Change’s plans are in ruins. Skarbrand is a different story though.
The massive Bloodthirster charges forth, his rage influencing everyone around him. Amalrich and his Black Templars find themselves filling with rage and throw themselves furiously into the oncoming demons, the Emperor’s Champion going straight for Skarbrand himself. Guilliman considers diverting assistance to them, but knows he has to concentrate on maintaining cohesion amongst the rest of the Imperials lest they lose themselves to Skarbrand’s rage too. Voldus and the Grey Knights lead the advance, with the Legion of the Dammed bringing up the rear, as they close in on the webway portal. Cawl and his Skitarri are mowing down demons, Novamarine Vindicators are blasting away bridges to stop the demons flanking and Celestine and Greyfax are fighting side by side as they hack their way through demons (what a great date!)
But then Skarbrand lets loose a deafening roar, and leaps across the gap towards the Imperials. Guilliman’s eyes go wide as he see’s Amalrich’s Black Blade buried in the chest of Skarbrand, the only remaining sign of Amalrich himself (“a bloody atonement for his failings on Cadia”). Skarbrand lands amongst the Legion of the Dammed, sending them tumbling down the chasm into the darkness. The rearmost of the Imperial forces begin to turn back, already succumbing to Skarbrand’s madness, and Guilliman realises he’s about to lose control. He orders all Imperials to make fast across the last bridge to the Webway Portal and he turns back to confront Skarbrand, holding at the head of the bridge in his very best Gandalf impression. All the Imperials, and the Harlequins, are through the portal by now with just Sicarius and Celestine remaining outside. But Skarbrand is bearing down on Guilliman. That skull belongs to Khorne and by golly is Skarbrand going to take it!
Guilliman feels the hellish fires rise in his mind, as he begins to lose himself to the rage and unable to stop himself he charges at Skarbrand. The Emperor’s Sword meets Slaughter, as Guilliman ducks under Carnage. With every blow, Guilliman feels his rage rising even more, and a small part of his mind realises he’s about to be lost to it. He fights a second battle, in his mind, stamping his iron will back down on the rage until its under control. Glancing back he sees Sicarius and Celestine yelling at him to get his arse through the portal, and he steps backwards towards it, blasting away with the Hand of Dominion. Skarbrand is slowly being driven back, but Guilliman is down to his last shell – he aims it at Amalrich’s Black Blade still buried in Skarbrand’s chest, and blows it apart, shredding through Skarbrand and knocking him off the platform. With Skarbrand dealt with, but more demons pressing in, he sprints for the portal and dives through after Sicarius and Celestine as it the portal seals shut behind him.
Guilliman finds himself standing amongst the survivors of the Terran Crusade. About two thirds of the warriors who escaped the cells remain alive, and Voldus and his Grey Knights have remained relatively unscathed. He notices Cypher standing with a group of similar armoured marines, and realises they must have been waiting for Cypher in the webway. Sylandri Veilwalker shares a loaded glance with Belisarius Cawl, before speaking to Guilliman – they have to move quickly. She has Skyweaver Jetbikes scouting this area of the webway, and they are reporting Chaos Marines in blue and gold on the way. It dawns on Guilliman that, through sheer luck or patented Just As Planned shenanigans, Magnus knew that Guilliman would end up here and was lying in wait. But why…? It’s Voldus who comes up with an answer, dredging up knowledge from the libraries of Titan. Isn’t there a Webway Gate in the Imperial Palace? Of course! Guilliman deduces that Magnus already knows of this gate (there were rumours that the Crimson King had already passed through it once after all) and he was now simply waiting for the defences to be deactivated to allow Guilliman’s passage. Curse you Magnus! A masterful plan! Guilliman despairs at being so close to his destination, but unwilling to risk letting Magnus get a foot through. Veilwalker offers an alternative – if he can’t go to Terra, why not go to Luna? Oh yeah, btw, there’s a long dormant Webway Gate on Terra’s moon.
To Luna it is. The Terran Crusade sets off, with Cypher and his Fallen in tow, led by the Harlequin’s of the Veiled Path. Its not long before they come under attack by the Thousand Sons though, Rubricae and Tzaangors hounding them at every turn. But Celestine cuts a way through, and the Imperials continue a fighting advance until eventually the reach the portal. Donning helms and rebreathers, they step through the portal onto the surface of Luna. It’s a harsh transition, from the relatively comfortable environment of the Webway to the harsh vacuum of space. The crusade emerges into a deep crater and, with rays of Sol itself spilling over the lip, bound their way up the sides of the pit. Veilwalker begins to incant a ritual to seal the gate, but before she can finish the gate explodes outwards with a rush of blue energy as Rubric Marines step out of the gate. They being pouring salvoes of firing into the exposed Marines clambering up out of the crater. Guilliman halts the retreat at the top of the crater, standing amongst a graveyard of old decommissioned and junked starships. Above them, Terra shines in the sky and Guilliman is at last in sight of his destination. But its not ever yet – the Thousand Sons are on Luna. Guilliman knows that all the psychic activity will have undoubtedly tripped all the alarms so he just needs to hold off until help arrives.
The Thousand Sons are pouring out of the portal now, and Guilliman orders his forces to positions at the top of the crater, laying fire down into the Traitors. The Thousand Sons are getting hammered by the fire from the crater, but pulse of dark power swirls at the gate as a wave of dread sweeps over the loyalists. Magnus the Red had arrived. He throws out a huge shield of warp energy, and the Thousand Sons forces advance quickly up the slopes of the crater unharmed behind its protection. Seeing his position at the top of the crater about to be overrun, Guilliman orders his forces to pull back to the wrecks of the spaceships for cover. The Thousand Sons rise over the lip and begin advancing again, Magnus floating up behind them, wreaking havoc with his Psychic Powers. Guilliman realises Magnus will tear through his army if left free, and launches into a charge, jumping off the edge of the crater to strike at him in the air. Magnus just manages to parry, and they both go flying into the wreckage of the ships. Behind them, the Battle of Luna rages on.
Guilliman rises from amongst the wreckage and looks around for Magnus, challenging the Demon Primarch to face him. There’s pretty cool duel that takes place, but tl;dr - Magnus has the edge until the entire battlefield lights up in fire. The Terran Defense Fleet has arrived. Aided by telemetry uploaded by Archmagos Cawl, the Imperial Ships rain orbital fire down on the Chaos forces as teleportation flares light up – the Adeptus Custodes have also arrived, and they promptly get into wrecking face amongst the Thousand Sons. Yellow Drop Pods also thunder-down to the surface, as the Imperial Fists make an entrance. And amongst all the reinforcements, a trio of Valkyries bearing the sigil of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica beeline for the duel between Magnus and Guilliman. Sisters of Silence drop out to aid Guilliman and suddenly Magnus finds his psychic edge over Guilliman completely nullified.
Meanwhile, Sylandri Veilwalker sees Guilliman and Magnus locked in their challenge and realises the moment of the Final Act has arrived. Their drama had been played out, and the “brother’s enmity burned anew”. Signalling her Death Jester to communicate with Guilliman of her plan, she sprints for the webway portal and takes out the Sorcerers guarding it. She hastily prepares a ritual as Guilliman, informed of the plan, and the Sisters of Silence drive Magnus back down the crater towards the gate. Guilliman manages to drive his sword under Magnus guard, wounding him solidly, and Magnus lets out an uncontrolled blast of sorcery that blast them apart – and Magnus through the gate. Veilwalker triggers her runestone and the gate severs completely from the Webway, cutting Magnus off from Luna. With their Primarch gone, the rest of the Thousand Sons are mopped up. Sylandri, and the rest of her Harlequin Troupe, have vanished as well… The battle is over.
Guilliman stands amongst the gathered Imperial forces. Tech Priests are swarming over the deactivated webway gate, but most of them (save the Custodes) are staring at the Primarch in awe. He allows the senior Imperial Fist apothecary to treat his wounds, as an enormous gold Imperial Lander touches down with more Custodes onboard, led by Shield-Captain Ty Andronitus. He explains that the High Lords have organised Guilliman and his warriors would be brought to Terra in all haste, to travel as part of a glorious parade to the Emperor’s Palace. After some nice descriptions of the orbital defences and Terra itself, they land at the Eternity Well spaceport. Guilliman steps out infront of a massive crowd, and is shocked at the sights around him. Terra looks very different from when he last saw it – where once had been industrious glory, now was buried in grotesque layers of gothic over-construction and macabre religious ornamentation. Some more pretty cool descriptions of Terra as Guilliman and co eventually reach one of the many entrances to the Emperor’s Throne Room.
This one is a massive doorway that stands at the end of a towering cathedral, its space filled with millions of pilgrims who cry out in awe as not only Guilliman passes through them but the Living Saint herself. Sicarius, Grand Master Voldus, Shield-Captain Adronitus, Cypher and his Fallen, Belisarius Cawl and Katarinya Greyfax are also accompanying Guilliman and Celestine, followed by the Battle Brothers of the Terran Crusade. At least Guilliman reaches the foot of the stairs leading up to the doorway, where a 20 strong contingent of Custodes stood at guard. Their leader steps forward, introduces himself as Aquila Commander Kalim Varanor, and formally asks who comes before the throne room of the Emperor. Shield-Captain Adronitus formally announces each of the leaders of the Terran Crusade as ancient formalities played out, befitting the gravitas of the arrival of a Primarch. The millions strong crowd hold their breath as the Aquila Commander makes his judgement. Varanor looks to a Hooded Tech Priest that had been waiting with the Custodes, and the Tech Priest nods his head…
…the Primarch would pass, alone, into the throne room. Everyone else will remain outside. Cypher went for his pistols – he’d upheld his end of the bargain and he’d been promised entrance! But Guilliman was not fool enough to trust the mysterious Dark Angel blindly. He might not recognise his person but he did recognise the blade Cypher carried on his back, the sight of which made him shudder with dread. There was no way he was allowing that near his father. Guilliman commands the Custodian Guard to apprehend Cypher and his compatriots. Cypher hesitates for a moment, caught between attempting escape or making a futile lunge for the doorway, before the Custodes surround him and arrest him. They take him to a cell that, not for thousands of years, had anyone escaped from but Cypher would do just that. But for the moment, Guilliman turns and ascends the steps to the Throne Room. The Custodes part way for him, but the hooded Tech Priest bows before him, blurting out in binary. Belisarius Cawl hurries up the steps to exchange binharic blurts with the other Tech-Priest before turning to Guilliman to speak of secret pacts on Mars and works nearing completion. Cawl then turns and heads down the stairs, and into the crowd, important work on Mars requiring his attention…
Guilliman stands alone before the door to the throne room. A single chime booms through the cathedral, and the sigh of million worshippers rings out as the doorway opens to reveal darkness. Guilliman takes a breath, and steps through. The doors close behind him. Hours pass, the warriors of the Terran Crusade standing to attention before the throne room. The murmurs of the crowd turn to fervent prayer, and some even step forward to offer thanks and meagre offerings to Captain Sicarius and Grand Master Voldus. Celestine and Greyfax bail at this point, to “spread her blessings” and to “report to her Ordo Hereticus superiors”. Ah, that’s what they’re calling it these days
Artificial Day turns to Artificial Night and Artificial Day again before the doors open once more, and Roboute Guilliman steps out, expression unreadable. He demands an immediate assembly of the High Lords of Terra, and that he will be resuming his seat on that council as well as forcibly removing several High Lords from office. He would, once again, become Lord Commander of the Imperium of Mankind. Of his meeting with the Emperor, all Guilliman would say is that he received all the enlighten he required. He warns the High Lords of an encroaching darkness, a terrible Warp phenomena that was manifesting over the galaxy as the war against Chaos enters a terrible new phase. Cadia was only the beginning – from Fenris to Armageddon to Attila and Balor, all were feeling the claws of Chaos. But hope was not lost. New Armies would be raised, in numbers not seen since the days of the Great Crusade. From Cawl’s forges on Mars would come new and terrible weapons whose fury the worshippers of Chaos would be unable to stand.
The Imperium would not drown in the tide of warfare, but instead ride upon the crest of a bloody wave to triumph against darkness.