The Golden Throne is failing, the Emperor’s body a long-dormant husk, Abaddon is coming. Should GW kill off the Master of Mankind?
The clock is always 5 minutes till midnight in the Grimdark, but then again the Warhammer Fantasy world was trapped in amber for decades – until it wasn’t. GW says that 2017 will be THE SHAKEUP YEAR for 40K that will reset the board for the foreseeable future.
The big question is just HOW MUCH GW wants to shake up the Grimdark.
The Narrative Options
GW will no doubt weave a circuitous and winding path for Abaddon’s Black Crusade. Just look at the thousand pages of pure lore they produced for the 5 volumes WFB’s End Times books. Whatever GW’s not-end times has in store, you can bet every race and character you forgot about will get their five minutes. Still in the grand narrative sense, Warhammer 40,000 revolves around the Emperor and for him you can really boil it down to three options:
Status-Quo: The least bold option. GW winds things up with an even more extra super duper dire situation – say “5 seconds to midnight”. Something along these lines:
The last of the Custodians were gone, the Sisters of Silence with them. The doors to the throne room thundered with the blows of Abaddons’s legions. The knot of primarchs fight back to back surrounded their father preparing to sell their souls at this, the end of the dream for mankind. With a wry smile, the Lion turned to his brothers, hair matted with blood: “Activate the Ultima Protocol”
Emperor Lives: A bold choice. All the wheels lock in place and plans long forgotten come to pass. Something like this:
Cypher stands alone before the Throne, the dead and dying piled so deep he can hardly move. Here and there surviving Primarchs duel to the end. He unsheathes the Lion Sword. Over thousands of transhuman cries plunges it into the heart of the Master of Mankind. Empty sockets flare open with the light of a thousand suns: “AT LAST”
Emperor Dies: The boldest choice and the most grim. GW jumps over the cliff on faith alone and shows us what happens to the galaxy post Emperor.
Abaddon stands alone before the Throne, the dead and dying piled so deep he can hardly move. Here and there surviving Primarchs duel to the end. He unsheaths Drach’yhen. Over thousands of transhuman cries plunges it into the heart of the Master of Mankind. The body crumbles to dust with an eymperic death rattle heard for thousands of light years: “THE WORK BEGINS ANEW”
Remember that there are many beliefs of what happens after the Emperor dies (aside the obvious politics and fragmentation of the Imperium by the Primarchs, Ecclesiarcy, Chaos, etc)…
The Star Child
A controversial belief amongst Imperial scholars, the Star Child Theory has two aspects: the first is that the Emperor’s soul is currently forming as a new entity (the Star Child) in the Warp and that he will be reborn – a theory not dissimilar to the belief surrounding the potential Eldar god Ynnead– and the second is that the Emperor had children.
After the defeat of Horus, most of the Emperor’s soul is said to have dispersed from his body, merging into the warp in much the same way as that of the shamans, so many millenia before. It is believed that the Emperor – while apparently designed and empowered by the shamans to live forever – also possesses their ability to reincarnate, and that this would be his eventual goal. Avoiding discovery by the Chaos powers, it is believed that the Emperor was able to plant the seed of his reincarnation, a potential new soul awaiting birth: The Star Child. However, it is also believed that this new soul cannot be born while the Emperor is still tied to the Golden Throne, no matter how tenuously.
Along with this, the Emperor is said to have had children. Although a man of unparalleled, god-like powers, the Emperor was still a man, and throughout the many millennia of his life on Terra had fathered many children. A few of their descendants had inherited some of the Emperor’s power, including agelessness, and survive into the Age of the Imperium. They are known as Sensei. Sensei have a unique nature and relationship with the Warp which makes them invisible to psychic senses – even to those of the Emperor. The ultimate goal of the Sensei is to attain Apotheosis with the Star Child.
There is a another possibility given for the Emperor’s resurrection/rebirth. A hidden group that call themselves the Illuminati have learned from the Eldar’s Black Library many truths of Chaos, as well as about the Sensei and the Fall of the Eldar. They realise the Emperor cannot survive in his current state forever, and eventually he will fail, and without the Emperor, Mankind will fall to Chaos like the Eldar. Such an event would create a fifth God of Chaos and create another Eye of Terror, one which would span the entire Imperium. They seek to prevent this by bringing about the rebirth of the Emperor.
This involves gathering together the Sensei, protecting them from the Inquisition, preparing them for what they claim is “the final war with Chaos.” In truth they ultimately plan to sacrifice the Sensei to the Emperor, in the same way so many psykers have been consumed by the Emperor. The Emperor will be renewed, reborn as the Sensei-Emperor to again lead his race in person.
The God Incarnate
The God Incarnate is a philosophy closely connected to Thorianism that maintains that the Emperor’s essence in the Warp may be transferred to a physical vessel, one deemed a Divine Avatar.
Those who advocate the God Incarnate believe that the Emperor is a god, and like the other gods He exists within the Warp. They believe that just as a man such as the Emperor could become a god, it stands to reason that a god could become a man. This is the central idea of the God-Incarnate, the physical vessel for a God in the material world. These physical vessels, referred to by Thorians as Divine Avatars, would be special individuals who would become a host for the Emperor’s consciousness in the Warp.
The myths and legends surrounding the God-Incarnate tell of the coming of the Divine Avatar(s) amid a time of great upheaval and war. Moreover, the Divine Avatar will possess unique traits such as phenomenal psychic power, an “altered” form, and the ability to talk to animals. Some within the Inquisition believe that the End Times represent this final period where the God Incarnate will finally be made manifest.
The principles of the God Incarnate are outlawed by the Inquisition, for they fear that if the Emperor were to be reborn, the Astronomican might fail, the Divine Avatar might be corrupted by Chaos, and civil war between believers and unbelievers would erupt. Moreover, the Emperor could be killed again, potentially taking the Emperor’s essence with it. Thus some within the Inquisition have made it their duty to seek out possible Divine Avatars and either kill them or study them.