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Should the Emperor have taken command?

4913 Views 31 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Bakunin
Let's see...
The Great Crusade is in its 203rd year. The Emperor has retired to Terra to work. Day-to-day-running of the Empire is managed by his Lieutenant Malcalor, while the military forces are lead by his most beloved and most capable son and general, the Warmaster Horus.
Now a psionic information reaches the Emperor from Magnus, that Horus has rebelled on Istvaan. Big-E is angry, for this kind of message has been forbidden by him, and the message damaged the psionic defences of the Imperial Palace. So Leman Russ is send to Prospero to attack Magnus.
Unfortunately, the information received was true... So within 6 Months, a large force of all available SM-Legions is mobilized (8 Legions including the Imperial Fists, who will be late and ambushed enroute to Istvaan).

Horus was the most capable of all the Emperor's Generals...
Should the Emperor have expected any kind of a trap?
Should he have taken command himself instead of leaving command to one of the Primarchs?
Did he really expect Horus waiting unprepared for the unavoidable attack by the loyalist forces?
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One of the big assumptions is that the Emperor viewed the primarchs as his sons not as simply his tools to achieve somehting. Most fluff writes that the Primarchs view the Emperor as a father, the other primarchs as brothers and that the Imperium portrays them as his children and the heresy was a betrayal of a father by his son.

But the big unwritten part is what does the Emperor have to say about this? The Emperor is largely left out of Black Library fiction, with him and his character being talked about, but never really being present. There are of course exceptions. for example, 'The last church' where he is portrayed as a self righteous Richard Dawkins character, pushing his way and crushing opposition. Although he works through logic, he cannot accept any difference and is willing to do anything to achieve his way. Ian Watsons Inquisition wars novels also feature the Emperor. All the years of being on the throne have destoyed his mind, subdividing it into many multiple personalitys with no idea of what the other is doing. But that is old fluff.

What does seem to be becoming apparent to me, with the heresy novels, is that the Emperor has his own agenda and is pushing it. The Primarchs and marines see him as a father figure and are loyal to him. The Emperor sees them (and mankind as a whole) as tools to achieve his goal (or goals). Not everyone who has met the Emperor is as full of praise for him as his ultra loyal subjects. Some of his subjects are even beginning to question his motives.

With this in mind, it explains why he created the primarchs. It wasn't because he wanted sons or to create heirs to his empire. It was because he needed generals and powerful ones at that. He did not have the same loyalty for his primarchs as they had for him. But he was perfectly willing to use their loyaltys.

When the emperor created the primarchs, it is strongly hinted ne used chaos as part of the creation process. It is also hinted he knew exactly how they would be and then used their personalitys to get the most out of them.

Magnus thinks the Emperor is acting like a father and friend, but instead is betrayed. He discovers the Emperoro keeps secrets from him and also sets up a show trial and stabs him in the back. The Emperor reveals that his big plan was to keep Magnus imprisioned on the golden throne and that was the reason he created a priumarch as psychically powerful as Magnus.

The reason the Emperor ignored Magnus warning is because he had always viewed him as a thing of chaos and when Magnus warned him, presumed he was acting as a chaos entity. So he did not react to the warning but gave up on Magnus and decided to move forward his plan of enslaveing him on the Golden throne.

One of the reasons the Custodes were so willing to wipe out a primarch was that they had seen the Emperor create them and knew that in reality they were chaos creations so had no trust for them.

Of course it is also possible that the Heresy featured in the Emperors grand plan. There are multiple reasons for this, but I think one of the most prominent is that the Emperoro emerged from the Heresy as basically a god.

If the Emperor had acted differently, rather than telling everyone he had to concentrate on his project in the basement, he would of crushed the heresy, but would not of let the chaos in his primarchs run amock as he planned and iun turn would of lost his chance to achieve god like status.
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It also states that Magnus became aware of everything the Emperor planned for humanity (him on the Golden Throne being part of it), and he didn't seem furious or betrayed by anything the Emperor was planning, he welcomed his planned stationing on the Golden Throne (even though he knew it would never happen) as a great honour. So if Magnus was aware of everything the Emperor was planning and didn't seem distressed by it at all, we can assume that the Emperor really was acting in the best interest (from one viewpoint at least) of humanity as a species.
It's true that Magnus didn't turn on the Emperor when he learned of his plan. However that is just another tragic aspect of Magnus. He never betrays the Emperoro even and is always simply striveing to serve him. Yet the more he does this, the more he deepens his doom. Even as his legion and home planet is being destoyed, Magnus remains loyal, but as a result makes his defeat by Russ all the more inevitable.

With this in mind, his accepting of the Emperors plan is, as you say, just one view point. But it is the view point of someone who was always trying to be loyal to the Emperor and also full of remorse for how he percieved he had betrayed the Emperor. He would of, at that point, followed the Emperors plan no matter what it was, believeing he had failed his father and not seeing how the Emperor had in fact used and betrayed him and his brother primarchs.

I see it as a delibrate irony that all the 'crimes' of Magnus are simply reflections of what the Emperor himself does. For example, the acts of sorcery that finally condemns Magnus cost the lives of 1000 psykers, Very soon after this, the Emperoro is useing 1000 psykers each day to power the astronomican. Likewise, the Emperor uses power he gains from chaos gods to make his primarchs and build his Imperium. Magnus makes a deal with Tzeentch in order to save his legion and take part in building the Emperors Imperium.

Of course it is argueable that the Emperor is also undone by his deals with chaos and the resultant primarchs. Although I personally feel that the Emperor had predicted the Horus Heresy and saw it as the action that would make him a god. This is why the cult of the Emperor as a liveing god is shown to be rapidly growing in the series first three books. What I think the Emperor did not predict, was that it would also make him a liveing corpse with no say over the future direction of his Imperium.
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Its not really the Emperors ability to foretell the future, but his ability to plan the future and then set events in motion that will fulfill his plans. The problem is that even the best made plans can go a bit wrong.

If the crusade had continued to go to plan then it is true that people would of worshipped him as a god. However, the majority wouldn't. He would of been seen as a great man, but not a god and his empire built upon logic would of easily crushed arguements that he was a god. The fluff says that some SM chapters don't teach thed Emperor is a god, but follow the pre-heresy teachings that he is just the greatest man who ever lived.

What the Emperor needed was a clean slate where all previous gods and religions were dismissed as superstitious nonsense. Logic would be the new power in the universe. On top of this, the dictatorship of the Emperor was required, where his word and commands were not questioned.

Once this was in place, the Emperor was in a position to seem like a god, but to get the people worshiping him, he needed to be seen to guide them through an event of massive turmoil and also to defeat a supernatural evil. The Horus Heresy served this purpose, unfortunately it didn't end how he planned it and instead of being a god, his warp presence remained bound to his corpse on the golden throne, but constantly manintianed by the individuals who worship him in the organised religion of the Imperium.

But I accept there is another possibility. The Emperor truely never intended to be a god, but people started believeing this is how he was. Belief caused the release of his psychic energy through some individuals, which of cause was interpreted as miracles. The Heresy and subsequent turmoil then sealed his fate of being regarded as a god. The fact that he is worshipped allows his warp presence to be fed by energy and maintained, makeing him a god, but trapping him, since he is still tied to the golden throne and the corpse on it (in a similair way that a daemon is bound to a daemon host.)
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Indeed. But what I was trying to say was that if the Emperor ultimately planned to ascend himself to godhood, or had some other bleak and selfish plan for humanity, Magnus would have been aware of it in the moment their minds connected. Even given the circumstances of Magnus' warning, I would still presume that his faith and loyalty in the Emperor would have been shaken if this was the case. But it wasn't, he grimly accepted his fate to be administered by the Emperor's Wolves. Thus it can be assumed (by this admittedly weak argument, with no other concrete basis or evidence) that the Emperor wasn't planning to ascend to godhood, or any other selfish goal, what he intended was indeed for the good of the species (from one viewpoint obviously).
I see what your saying, but I'd argue that this is wrong on a number of areas. Firstly, the Emperor was a more powerful psyker than Magnus. When Magnus attempted to warn him and his mind connected with the Emperors, the Emperor took control. What he saw was not only form the Emperors perspective but the Emperor controlled whatr he saw. He revealed to Magnus how he was truely a thing of chaos because of his dabblings with sorcery, his anger at how Magnus had undone his work, protrayed life on the Golden throne as wonderful and so on.

If it had been a true exchange, the Emperor might of taken more notice of the warning that Magnus was attempting to bring. He might of also seen flaws in his own plans and how his arrogance was leading to millenia of war. But instead the Emperor was in control and he was controlling what Magnus was being shown and also how it was presented to Magnus. Perhaps his ultimate aim of becomeing a God and (as has been hinted at) he learnt this from chaos while attempting to use the powers of chaos for other projects, remained hidden from Magnus. Perhaps it was presented as the ultimate glory for humanity.

Wether Magnus learnt all the Emperors plans or not, he already truely believed in everything the Emperor was doing, was blind to the fact that like the other primarchs, he was the simply a tool to be used by the Emperor and the first thing that was revealed to him when he tried to warn the Emperor was how he was a thing of chaos, a betrayer and how he had just jepordised what the Emperor saw as his greatest plan.

The second thing to remember is that Magnus had a very open mind to useing the warp and its teachings. He might not of recoiled from learning the Emperoro had doscovered a way of becoming a God and a way of rivalling the chaos powers. He might of seen it as the ultimate way of taming the warp and useing for the good of mankind. Just as he saw nothing wrong with his legion haveing Daemon familiars, it is possible he saw the Emperor becomeing a powerful warp entity as outwaying any possible badside. He loved the Emperor, despite the facts, despite him already punishing him for what he saw as doing no wrong. Why question him now?

Of course it does raise the question of why the Emperor was being so secretive. Why he had not previously discussed the warp gate with Magnus while Magnus, by contrast, proudly told him of his discovery of one and showed his understanding of the potential importance of it. But I guess the Emperor moves in mysterious ways.

The final thing worth bearing in mind with Magnus is the fact that he was already a creature of chaos. Although he was not aware of it, like the other primarchs, he had been created with chaos power. He had already done a bargain with Tzeentch and he was slowly being corrupted by the over use of forbidden power. As such, his views and ideas were not necessarily rational ones, but those of a servant of chaos and one that was being actively played by Tzeentch. His continued use of magic and his encourageing its use amongst his Legion post Nikea is a good example of this.

With this in mind, he might of welcomed everything the Emperor showed him, including the idea of becomeing a god (if that was shown to him) because he thought it was for the good of the species, but truely because he was already thinking as a creature of chaos.

Of course, Magnus ultimately represents the defeat of the Emperor and his plans by Tzeentch, while Magnus was the unknowing tool. The Emperor delibrately created Magnus to be a powerful psyker (probably useing power from chaos). he thought he could control him and use him as his tool. Yet this tool inevitably drifts towards chaos. The Emperor is prepared for this and possibly factors this into his long term plans. Yet Tzeentch manipulates Magnus, so that each action he does to prevent his downfall, makes it more inevitable. The Emperors hamfisted attempts to control Magnus means that an event that could of let the Emperor have control over his future and the events of the Heresy, means that Magnus is forced to attemtpt a warning that not only plunges the palace into chaos, but basically seals the fate of the Emperor as a powerless god on the golden throne. In many ways, the story of Magnus is not about him being claimed by Tzeentch and being undone for dealings with chaos, but the story of the Emperors downfall for thinking he could deal with chaos and not be brought down by the chaos gods.

The issue though is that the Emperor's existence has, for the last ten thousand years been one of pure agony and depridation. His consciousness has been shattered, he endures terrible burdens and every thought process and ability is focussed solely on allowing Mankind to endure as a species and stave of the worst depridations of Chaos. Not exactly an existence I would plan for.
I believe that the Emperor did not plan the Horus Heresy but always thought his primarchs would do such a thing. He would lead mankind to victory and this would lead to his godhood. (I am also open to the idea that he never intended to be a god, but thats the way things turned out.)

The problem is that he ended up on the Golden Throne and now his conciousness is bound to this. He has no choice to stave off chaos and help mankind endure as a species. He needs the worshippers souls to feed his conciousness, otherwise it will be absorbed by the warp. He also needs his twisted religion to remain as it is, otherwise no one would worship him and so by default, he would have no souls to feed on.

The Emperor did not plan to end up like this, but by achieveing partial godhood, has no choice about doing anything else. In fact, like chaos gods, the longer he exsists this way, the more he reflects his worshippers and thirsts for them to continue their actions of war and repression, thus dooming mankind to continue in eternal war and be stuck in decline. The huge irony is that this is all that saves humanity from chaos.

Of course the above is very open to debate, but fluff on Thorians provides other interesting ideas on the nature of the emperors warp presence and how its tied to the corpse on the golden throne.
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