Foreword: I am not the author of this story only the distributor. This is a short story from a project that has been running now for around 2 years. Its design was to create an alternate universe from 40K, starting with the Heresy itself with aims to eventually go further. We designers in this time have created many shorts and novellas for this in the 2 years, this is but a taster of the realm we created.
The Sanguinian Schism
It is an age of blood and glory.
Though the Emperor has retired to Terra, the Great Crusade continues apace. Led by the Primarchs, the Space Marine Legions are mankind's champions- conquering the galaxy in the name of Imperial Truth.
Greatest amongst these immortal demi-gods is Sanguinius, named Warmaster not by the Emperor's will but by Horus Lupercal's refusal of the role.
As war engulfs the galaxy and mankind faces down alien hordes and rebellious human civilisations, Sanguinius must contend with the unruly squabbles of his brothers.
Yet even these internecine rifts will pale in comparison to the shattered future that awaits them all.
Worlds shall burn and the galaxy shall bleed.
Rogal took in the fruits of his labour and it took his breath away, never before he had he seen the likes of this. Nor was he sure he would again.
A shadow fell to his left and the sweet scent of perfume and pomenade gave away who it was even before he heard the lilting voice of his brother. 'It is beautiful is it not Fulgrim?'
'These things are more to your taste Rogal but I certainly appreciate the majesty of the occasion.' Fulgrim could not speak without his mouth curling into a broad grin, Dorn rubbed his temple, it seemed his brother was incapable of not smiling.
Fulgrim could see he was not in the mood for pleasantries but could not resist needling him. 'You have done well, I'm sure even Perturabo would be jealous.'
Dorn simply ignored him even as he slapped him on the back. 'I'll be sure to tell Father he should be proud of you.'
Dorn knew it was good natured but his anger threatened to spill over. 'I have done my best Pheonician, I can only hope our Father is happy with the results.' But Fulgrim was already distracted by the arrival of Mortrarion and seeing an even more dour figure to have sport with he was already wandering off in his direction.
Dorn returned to his thoughts. He sighed as he noticed one of the mighty earth machines was slightly misaligned in its path. It cause a minute irregularity in the Triumph road. It was an almost invisible mistake but it would bother him for the rest of the day. Sighing, he signalled to a passing Magos and moved off to confront him about the lack of precision.
Horus gripped the hand rail before him tightly, the Triumph was finally complete and even now thousands of war machines bustled with millions troops and men while great guns were manoeuvred forward in precise rotation. Horus actually sighed at the sight of it. Here was the majesty of men, the power of his Father's dream and it took his breath away. Still though, other things darkened his thoughts, his mood was not light and he berated himself once more for arriving late.
He had arrived only to see his Father nearly crushed by an Ork, an Ork he should have been there to kill.
'There he is! The hero of the Ullanor campaign and what's this? He's sulking by himself? Come now, this I will not have!' The Khan laughed uproariously as he grabbed his brother's shoulder. 'Didn't I say he was modest?'
Lorgar grinned as he nodded his head. 'That you did.'
'I am not the hero.' He sighed keeping his back to his brothers, 'that honour goes only to Sanguinius.'
'It seems you are right Jaghatai, he is modest. Too modest. You deserve the title Horus, you broke the back of the Warlord's vanguard.'
Jaghatai nodded in agreement. 'And had you not done so, this Triumph would have been delayed indefinitely.'
'And had Sanguinius not been were I should have been our Father would be dead and this would have been a funeral march.' Horus stated grimly.
'Do not play the fool Horus,' Lorgar said, his face turning serious. 'It does not become you. It does not do to dwell on what could have been. Father knows why you were not at his back and he was glad you were not. Sanguinius was there because he knew you had a greater task. No one blames you. Father certainly doesn't. In fact I have heard a rumour that he is to name you first among equals.'
Horus grunted. 'Hearsay, and what good is first among equals, we are equal for a reason, Father leads the crusade and we follow. Ever it has been so and ever it will be.'
Lorgar simply held his hands up. 'You are right as always of course.'
Jaghatai looked at them both grimly, he was unhappy with his Brother's mood and also Lorgar's words.
Horus it seemed was even more unhappy. 'Return to the festivities Brothers, I did not mean to darken your moods, I promise not to dwell on my sour mood and will join you shortly.'
Jaghatai seemed happy enough and made his way to find Dorn seeking to see where his sons would fit in the procession. Lorgar began to join him but stopped and turned back to his Brother. 'You are the best of us Horus, none of us are ashamed of that fact, and all of us are proud.'
He held his hand out and Horus gripped it. 'Thank you Aurelian, but I know your words would be better suited for another.'
Lorgar made to argue the point but the look on Horus face brooked no argument. Instead he nodded as though accepting something to himself and turned to join the Khan.
Horus looked out once more as the greatest military force ever assembled spread out before him.
Something drew his eyes and he looked down to see Sanguinius looking up at him. Their Father was talking to him but Sanguinius held up his fist, for once ignoring his Father's words to signal the Brother he loved dearly. Horus felt the love he felt for his Brother burn more prouder than it had ever done. He returned the gesture and smiled as Sanguinius laughed finally causing his Father to notice that his attention was elsewhere.
'Yes, there was the true hero. There was the best of them.'
This was the greatest spectacle of an age, a gathering of might unsurpaassed in the history of man.
War machines and Titans, thousand strong lined the great avenues, their weapon mounts covered by pennants and mighty banners detailing their victories. Their war horns blared at different times detailing a compound symphony that was a credit to the skills of their Princeps and moderati's.
Below them rank upon precise rank of astartes stood shoulder to shoulder as unmoving as statues, their brightly coloured armour, their stances identical and the faces of their captains tight even in this time of celebration.
Surrounding them in their millions were the proud soldiers of the crusade, thousands of colours and styles matched and clashed in the dazzling sunlight, each man resplendent in their dress uniform. Their captains and sergeants calling out their songs of war and victory leading their men in cacophony of triumph.
In great contrast the silence of the skitarii and mechanicum ranks was equally defeaning. The men moved as silently as their machine components would allow and the singing of war songs was replaced by times bursts of machine code and digital cant.
Large screens had been erected all around to convey the images of the imperial tower, stationed in the middle of the sea of men and mountains of machines that had replaced the natural features of this world.
If the wider scene was bewildering in its military might then the scene on the Imperial tower was a purer, more distilled form.
No fewer than nine Primarchs stood upon the serried walkways. Each one was a powerful example of the heights mankind had reached. Here the wind swept up Fulgrim's frost white hair, as he pulled his cloak tighter. There the stern, gaunt figure of Mortrarion stood side by side with the squat figure of Angron who glowered at the assembled troops from beneath a furrowed brow, this pomp and ceremony did not suit him.
The Khan stood proudly, his bleached white armour glinting in the sun light, matching the golden caste of Lorgar, whose shoulder his hand rested upon. Lorgar grinned as though thinking of a joke that no one else knew but anyone looking closer would see the slight awkward stance he afforded his Brothers, brethren he was unsure he was fit to be amongst.
Magnus stood by himself his red mane flowing wildly in the wind. His lips were moving almost imperceptibly but they moved quickly as though he was reciting a mantra.
To his left stood the coldly silent Dorn, the Primarch of the Imperial fists ran a hand over his close cropped hair, his mien distracted. His thoughts elsewhere. No one could mistake the glances he aimed at both Horus and the Emperor as anything but pride.
Finally at the centre stood the trio of Horus, Sanguinius and the golden figure of the Emperor. Sanguinius reverently held his Father's helmet as Horus stood proudly beside them. His shoulders were dipped slightly though and his stance was not as proud as it was normally and it was clear the events of the previous battle were still plaguing him.
Sanguinius was in stark contrast, he stood taller and brighter than any and a great smile played across his face. He took time to nod to each of his Brothers in turn before returning his attention to his Father, who was now ascending the steps towards the great pulpit before him.
The fanfare and sound that was up until now fell silent. Men openly wept at the sight of the majestic being before them and all stood in open awe. Even the astartes who had fought beside him had awe writ upon their faces. As one the assembled warriors knelt. It was an unbelievable site millions of men and astartes moving as one. Only the skitarii and Mechanicus remained standing.
The Emperor bid them rise as he looked out upon them.
'My children, you have made me proud this day.' They roared in approval at his words but he silenced them once more. 'Though this day is to celebrate an important victory I also have something else to say. Horus?' He turned to face the Primarch and Horus stepped forward.
'You who are my son, together we have all but conquered the galaxy. Now the time has come for me to retire to Terra. My work as a soldier is done and now passes to you for I have great tasks to perform in my earthly sanctum. I name you Warmaster and from this day forth all of my armies and generals shall take orders from you as if the words came from mine own mouth. But words of caution I have for you for your brother Primarchs are strong of will, of though and of action. Do not seek to change them, but use their particular strengths well. You have much work to do for there are still many words to liberate, many peoples to rescue. My trust is with you. Hail Horus! Hail the Warmaster!"
The murmurs ran through the crowd, fear that the Emperor was leaving them was palpable though optimism that Horus was chosen as Warmaster began to take hold.
Behind him Horus heard Angron growl at the announcement.
He stepped forward and placed a hand on his Father's shoulder and nodded, then raising his hand to once more silence the crowds.
'I love my Father and would never dare to question his judgement but I fear it may be clouded on this decision by his love for me.' He began. 'I am unsuited for such a role. With my Father's absence the Crusade will need a hero to lead them. That hero is Sanguinius, I ask the Emperor to choose him instead.'
This time pandemonium ensued as the assembled warriors cried out for Horus to take back what he had said while others still saluted his choice in Sanguinius. Abaddon and Torgadden even went as far as to break rank to assail their Father to change his mind.
Sanguinius was stunned. The Emperor however simply nodded.
'Very well Sanguinius do you accept this?' He held his hand out and Sanguinius reached forward to grip it.
'I do.' He nodded his thanks to Horus and ascended the stairs as his Father placed the laurel of command upon his head.
'This is not our greatest Triumph, this is only our latest triumph!
Each time we strive to bring my Father's message to a new world we are victorious. Each time we raise a blade and use to fight back against Xenos oppressors we are victorious! When we are re united with those lost to us we are victorious!'
The sound of thousands of voices saying the words 'we are victorious.' Was bone chilling, even for a Primarch.
'and when each time the candle of humanity holds back the dark? We ARE VICTORIOUS!'
The roar was deafening, a million throats roaring in unison, overplayed by hundreds of war horns from battle machines.
Somehow Sanguinius' voice broke through clearly amidst all the tumult.
'My Father has asked my Brothers and I to lead you, we will lead you, lead you to greater triumphs as humanity strives to retake what is rightfully ours. All we ask is that you fight for us and in my Father's name.
Horus gave a slight grin at that, Sanguinius had them eating out of his hand. He knew then that he had made the right choice.