40K: The Emperor is Dead, The Imperium has Fallen Part 1

Did the Imperium of Mankind suffer a coup during the events of Gathering Storm?

Gathering Storm was something of a big experiment for Games Workshop. This series of three books was the first time the Warhammer 40,000 background has significantly progressed in sometime. The books chronicle a number of galaxy shaping events.  These include the death of a number of important figures, the destruction of worlds, the galaxy being torn asunder by the forces of chaos and the return of a Primarch, events that not only serve to advance the timeline but set the stage for the grand conflicts to be played out in the upcoming 8th Edition.

But what if, among all those portentous events another, greater, occurrence went unmarked by most. What if, despite outward appearances, the Imperium of Man fell. Is it possible that after enduring for 10,000 years the Imperium as we know it was destroyed, not by the hordes of the Ruinous Powers,  but from within by treachery. In order to contemplate this astounding possibility let’s first take a quick look a few key events that took place during Gathering Storm.

What’s Past is Prologue

Here, in short are a few of the Important events of the recent past.

-Abbadon’s 13th Black Crusade unveils it’s true might and moves once more to attack Cadia.

-A previously unknown (to us) Archmagos Belisarius Cawl arrears at the height of the crusade. Though he first shows up a dig site on an abandoned world he has, it turns out, in fact spent the last 10,000 building two artifacts. These are later reveled to a suit of armor that bring a the Primarch Guilliman back from near death and the Primaris Space Marines. Supposedly Guilliman asked Cawl to work on both these projects. Cawl however notes that his memory banks are fuzzy that far back.

-The Eldar Shadowseer Sylandri Veilwalker shows up to help and guide Cawl. It is shown that she can not only manipulate Cawl’s memory but can compel him to take certain actions.

-The Necron lord Trazyn the Infinite decides to take a part in the upcoming events, on the Imperial side, and unleashes Inquisitor Katarinya Greyfax to help Cadia. Later he personally aids Cawl.

– A number of other Imperial Heroes join the defense of Cadia, including Celestine, the Living Saint.

-Trayzn and Cawl join forces to try and active the Cadian Pylons to their full potential.

-Cadia falls and the Galaxy is ripped apart.

-The survivors flee hoping to get to Macraggge and awaken Gulliman.

-Pursued by the Forces of Chaos the Imperials are again aided by the Elder, both Veilwalker and the newly awaken Yvraine, prophet of the new Eldar God of the dead.

-After much toil and death Guiilliman is awakened by the efforts of Yvraine and Cawl.

-Guilliman retakes the Realm of Ultramar and eventually makes his way to Holy Terra.

-Guilliman meets with the Emperor and takes on the Mantle of Lord Commander of the Imperium, declaring a new Crusade to drive back Chaos. Soon after he reveals the Primaris Marines.

Before the Master of All Mankind


In many ways the most important event is the last one. It is also the most mysterious. The meeting, for the first time in 10,000 years, of the Emperor and his son Guilliman is a momentous occasion. And yet of this meeting, a turning point for the galaxy we know only two things. One that Guilliman and his father met alone for an entire day. And two, that after the meeting all the Primarch would say was “that he had received all the enlightenment that he required“. In the aftermath of this meeting Guilliman takes effective control of the Imperium, going so far to reorganize the High Lords of Terra.

Eternity Gate of the Inner Palace

The return and rise of Guilliman is a turning point for the Galaxy. There are however, as a review of the past events shows, a number of suspicious things about the events leading up to his return and meeting with his father. The meeting itself is also suspicious as we know nothing about it other than it took place. So, what really happened during that meeting? And is Guilliman, the Avenging Son, really carrying out the will of his father? Well lets take a look at a few of the options.

Rule the Galaxy as Father and Son

Warhammer 40,000 is not always the most subtle setting. Often what appears to be happening  is what is really happening. Given that its possible that the simplest option is also the most possible. We are presented with a number of events that seem coincidental, or divine, in nature. Ultimately these lead to an alliance between humans and Eldar, with some Necron help, to bring Guilliman back to lead to mankind in this darkest hour. It is presented as if Guilliman then met his father, caught up with him, heard his will and has now gone out to enforce it.

Maybe this is exactly what has happened. The Emperor is still in charge, or in change as much as he has been for the past 10,000 years, and Gulliiman is now his strong and loyal right hand. The Eldar aided all these to build the Imperium as a bulwark against Chaos and had no further plans or schemes. Guilliman and his father now stand before the tide of darkness united. This is a strong possibility for what happened. I however find it doubtful. It is overall too obvious and too simple. So lets look at some of the options – what if an Imperial coup took place?

I Was There the Day Guilliman Slew the Emperor

Guilliman is not happy with the way things played out since he went into stasis. A great deal of his inner thoughts after awakening deal with how unhappy he is with how the Imperium turned out. Gone is the beacon of light and reason, replaced instead with superstition and darkness. Moreover he is supremely unhappy with the worship of the Emperor as divine. A few of this thoughts illustrate this:

– “Idolatry. Ignorance. Suffering and squalor, in the name of a god who never desired the title.”

-“You failed your sons, and we, in our turn, failed you. And now, to compound our arrogance and vainglory, we have failed all of them too. Did Horus not say that you sought godhood? He built a rebellion upon that claim.”

At one point Guilliman even thinks “Better that we had all burned int he fires of Horus’ ambition than live to see this.” Though he does at least repent of those last thoughts. Later, upon reaching Terra Guilliman is dismayed and unnerved by all he sees there. The religious idolatry and baroque horrors of the Imperial bureaucracy are anathema to him.

There used to be a nice little Korean place over there…

Then Guilliman is comes before the Golden Throne. What he finds there is unknown. Much debate and mystery surrounds the status of the Master of Mankind. How alive, how awake is he? How does he rule his domain? Some argue that he is effectively dead already, that the Golden Throne itself does all the work of powering the Astronomicon and keeping the Webway Portals on Terra closed. Some say the Emperor is trapped between this half life and rebirth by the Throne. It’s not really known if he can, “talk” with people at all, thought this seems unlikely. So what “enlightenment” did Guilliman receive from his day long vigil? Maybe they did talk, or commune, and all was worked out. More likely Guilliman found the Emperor incapable of communication.

In this case Guilliman has decided to preserve the fiction that the Emperor is ruling, while in reality Guilliman is in charge. 

All this has happened before…


There is another possibility however. It is not inconceivable that Guilliman slew the Emperor. Maybe he did so out of mercy. Either to end his fathers suffering or to allow for his rebirth, it could be conceived as a last loyal act. Or maybe he killed his father out of sorrow or even rage. Or a sense of betrayal. Guilliman may have wanted to set the Imperium back on it’s original path. One from which it had, at the Emperor’s guidance diverged. Horus, greatest of the Emperor’s sons, was brought to Rebellion by the mere vision of the future Imperium. Could not Guilliman be brought to the same act by seeing that dark future first hand? Maybe in that moment standing before the abomination on the Golden Throne Guilliman understood Horus at last.

Guilliman in Charge

It does seem that the Emperor’s death would have had a more immediate physical and psychic effect, unless he was already dead, than the nothing we are presented with in Gathering Storm. There is the possibly that the Throne now works without him. After all he is not the only who can make it work, Malcador the Sigillite was able to operate it for a time during the Hersey, though it cost him his life. It is also possible that Archmagos Cawl was able to come up with some new device to operate it.

Still it does seem that the Emperor’s death would have been showy, something like: “All of them were alone, bereft of even the guiding beacon of the Astronomican as the Emperor’s Light Blinked – and then vanished.” That’s right, as the 8th Edition rule books revels, sometime after Guilliman’s return the Astronomican did in fact go down. In addition 88 Khorne daemon legions were able to attack the Imperial Palace, something that was impossible before. While the Astronomican is now back, it is weaker then before and flickers, almost as someone else is sitting on the Throne. While the timeline for all this is a bit fuzzy, it does all happen after Guilliman reaches Terra. Was it the coming of the Great Rift, or Guilliman who caused all this?

Out with the old

It is equally possible that if Guilliman took control it was with a silent coup, while leaving the Emperor still “alive”. I would even go so far as to say that Guilliman’s coup is established fact. His firing of several High Lords of Terra and assuming supreme command are a fundamental reordering of the Imperium. These acts are taken on his own authority and with the assumed blessing of the Emperor. But really they are all Guilliman. With no one to stop him, he siezed control, it is now Guilliman’s will, not the Emperor’s that matter.

A Deeper Truth

So there you have it. A number of suspicious events lead us to asking some big questions. Did Guilliman supplant the Emperor as  the Master of Mankind? Is the Emperor even still alive. . All of these possibilities loom before, its up to you to decide what you believe. Of course, as with all good secrets, there is another, dark layer to this conspiracy.

If Guilliman did overthrow the Emperor, is he truly in command himself? 

We will explore this possibility next time, in part 2.


Who really rules the Imperium? Find out tomorrow in part 2. 


  • UnpluggedBeta


    Seriously though, it didn’t really feel like anything moved forward. A major non-chaos rebellion by the Inquisition over robutt girlyman’s many transgressions would not harm people’s armies while still being the real kind of change the setting needed.

    Now we just get more of the same with a random smurf running the show. If he doesn’t turn out to be a daemon prince or something along those lines, it will be a huge let down.

    • wibbling

      Nothing wrong with that, you have to remember the intent was to promote the new models and.. giving Workshop credit, they have moved the story on a fraction, what with bringing back the primarchs, the great rift and so on.

      It isn’t ‘Emperor wakes up, has a jolly then carries on’ but perhaps thought of as a ‘reboot’?

    • ZeeLobby

      man, if he was a DP that’d be awesome. His armor looks Chaotic enough.

      • LeroyJenkinss

        It ends just like lost…. They were all dead the whole time.

        • Steven Hyche

          Thats not how lost ended.

          • georgelabour

            Yeah. It ended with a preview for two and a half men rolling just under the credits.


    • Red_Five_Standing_By

      That is coming. There is a reason why Guilliman is taking back Ultramar. He’s going to be the Emperor of his own little empire.

  • euansmith

    Coming home and seeing his old Dad in that state must have been a shock for the lad.

    • wibbling

      I think the first thing the Emperor said was “Thank goods Robbie. Now, would you *please* get me some ruddy loo roll!”

      • euansmith

        “Ah, at last, I’ve been waiting 10,000 years for this foot massage, and my toe nails need clipping.”

        • Rafał Pytlak

          “Kitten, have you switched off Roboutte life support as i ordered…ohhh. Uhm… Hi son…”

          • AircoolUK

            When I saw that picture, the first thing that popped into my head was that voice 🙂

        • palaeomerus

          The emperor is genetically so advanced he has toe screws instead of toe nails. Philips head.

          • euansmith

            😀 😀 😀 I guess that Toe-Allen Keys would be more a Tau thing.

      • Sonic tooth

        Gold leaf paper

      • palaeomerus

        The emperor’s feces being those of an immortal ultra-psyker future-man do not stink and are hygienic so he need not wipe.

  • Jonathan Ellsworth

    … It’s probably Sigmar.

  • dante13

    I hope so.. It was pretty stale before, almost as stale as the Emperors body.

    Girlyman will fix everything, you wait and see.

    • ZeeLobby

      i hope he trips, skins his knee, and dies from gangrene honestly…

      • LeroyJenkinss

        Nothing wrong with that

      • dante13

        He can’t skin his knee he has sexy armor to protect it 😀

  • Ironchestnut

    So this is what I was told happened in Guillimans meeting with the emperor. Its essentially “farther I have failed you” and the emperors reply it something along the line of “F&*% you, you are not my son, you are a weapon. I created to concur the galaxy. Now get you sh*$ together, get out there and go take it back for me”.

    And that people is Guillimans “enlightenment” make of it what you will.

    • Tomoyuki Tanaka

      This is from the Dark Imperium, right?

      • Ironchestnut

        I’m not 100% sure, but If you’re referring to the Dark Imperium book then I would imagine so. Once again this is I have been told.

        • Tomoyuki Tanaka

          I meant the novel, yes.

    • bobrunnicles

      I conquer with your analysis 😉

      • euansmith


  • Byungwook Kim

    I wish they actually did hide such depth inside their books. But you know, they don’t.

  • Seienchin

    I actually really enjoy 90% of the writing and new ideas. Why oh why did they introduce the new bigger marines and made chaos so “unfocussed” again…

    • Trey

      hy would chaos be focused, 4 if not 5 (malal)chaos “gods” that each hate one another.
      Khorn only wants war, be it against the Imperium or the other chaos factions matters little.
      Nurgle only wants to spread disease and despair.. to whom he does not care.
      Tzeentch plans an plots to plan and plot.. winning would only end the game.
      Slanesh is hedonism incarnate if chaos wins whom would she corrupt ? and there is ynneed to think about.
      Malal (still possibley extant) hates the the other just to hate them.

    • Shawn

      I mean, it IS chaos. Chaos being focused, wouldn’t that like be an oxymoron?

  • Thomson

    The Emperor is rather like the beast from Revelations 13 than anything else. He is not the saviour of humanity. He murdered millions because they did not agree with his world view and where ignorant fools in his eyes.

    Then his actions lead to even more ignorance than before.

    It can’t be more obvious than that the chapter number of the Grey Knights, the “gift” of the Emperor to mankind is 666…

  • sephseph

    Looking forward to part 2 and seeing this fleshed out a bit!

    The lore behind the imperium has always put me off playing as them, if there has been some sort of power change at the top it could be really interesting

    • georgelabour

      Oh there’s been a bit of a power shift. Sadly this article eaves out the tidbits from Dark Imperium.

      Some high lords got ‘replaced’, the inquisition was slapped about, Custodes are now marching out from Terra in small squads, and a new bureau of Historographers are trying to piece together the past.

      Guilliman is even refounding the 500 worlds of Ultramar complete with astartes governors for major sectors. Something he says will become a model for a new imperium.

      Things still suck, and people are still often as not just numbers on a tally sheet but there’s been a slight ray of hope.

      But then we all know what hope is the first step towards don’t we?

  • Rafał Pytlak

    I like to think that while the astronomican went out, Cawl and the Eldar finnaly and permanently closed the webway rift on Terra – no more daemons so Custodes are free to hunt “those that wish to see the master of mankind dead”. After they restarted the device it is weaker but Terra is safe

    • euansmith

      “Cawl, have you tried switching it off and on again?”

      • kloosterboer

        Power cycle. Make sure you unplug it.

      • Evil Otto

        “Is the Golden Throne plugged in?”

      • EnTyme

        Check TCP/IP settings?

      • djoyce

        “What Operating System is it running?”

        “Windows Vista!”

        “We’re going to die!”

      • palaeomerus

        ” I have updated the firmware driver spirits and installed the latest patch-rite. I have read the support scroll. I don’t understand what’s wrong…”

        • euansmith

          “Administer the Rite of Slapping It Firmly On The Side And Shaking Your Head While Tutting.”

  • TDog

    “It’s” is not the possessive form of “it.” Please learn this – it’s basic English.

    “Than”, not “then” when talking about “…it was weaker then [sic] before…”

  • Ben Todd

    One thing you forgot about was that cypher is still on Terra trying to complete his mission

    • Spacefrisian

      What if Cypher has a vital part to the golden throne, the part that actually restores the Emperor.

    • euansmith

      “Your mission is important to us, please hold; you are currently 3,734,912th in our queue.”

      • kloosterboer

        Now serving #2. #2, please have your ticket ready.

        • #2? Do you copy? We’re waiting for you and cannot process until your serving is completed. #2 please.

          • Rafał Pytlak

            “Well i guess i’m #2 now…”

  • Koen Diepen Van

    Obviusly the Emperor is not dead. In the main part of the imperium they still navigate by the Astronomican. Dead Emperor no Astronomican. Also of course Rowboat is in charge. The Emperor has been a zombie for milenia.

    • ZeeLobby

      eh, prepare for some stupid plot twist. Like Crawl has found that by licking neon cats you can recreate the light of the Astronomican.

      • euansmith

        “Take one Psycat and rub vigorously with a party balloon…”

        • Subexarch

          Well done! You made me spit cereal all over my keyboard!!

          • vlad78

            Don’t eat cereal over your keyboard or prepare to suffer the consequences.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        Cawl is the greatest Mechanicus ever! He made magic plot armour for Rowboat, who never knew he was going to need it… He made super marines and armour for them annnnd weapons annnnnd vehicles. So much that this adept did and people say that the Mechanicus is a doddering force that never makes new things and just worships old science. This guy is the Macgyver of Mars, give him a couple of minutes and he’ll have the warp rift on Terra sorted out using a rubber band, a paper clip and a popsicle stick or two.

        • Rafał Pytlak

          Who needs the mechanicum when you have Cawl? Clone him a hundered times and Chaos is in deep…nurgle sauce 😉

          • georgelabour

            Funny that you bring up copies of Cawl…

            As he’s actually downloaded his knowledge into at least one machine that he uses to communicate with guilliman via psychic punch cards.

            Which is probably my favorite chapter of Dark Imperium.

          • Rafał Pytlak

            “Totally not an A.I, Lord Guilleman, Not-man-of-iron at all…”

          • georgelabour

            Pretty much what it tells Guilliman. From all 12 of the severed heads that make ups its ‘user interface’.

          • Rafał Pytlak

            Yeah, not suspicious at all 😉

        • Keith Wilson

          Cawl … you mean Arkhan Land 😛

          • georgelabour

            Honestly. I’m kind of hoping that’s who he turns out to be. Complete with a scooby-doo villain reveal where Ragnar, Cypher, Celestine, Marbo, and Nork unmask him. With special guest star Mogrok lending a hand.

            Or let’s at least see a ‘Young Cawl adventures’ story in the Horus Heresy. This way we can see him back when he was young, not insane, and likely had some very killer abs.

      • LeroyJenkinss

        I’d buy that model.

      • Mike

        But in all seriousness, wasn’t there a a second astronomicon looks device on ultramar in forgotten empire?

        • georgelabour

          THat’d be the phobos beacon which was being guarded by the Scythes of The Emperor.

          It’s presumed eaten by the Tyrannids at this point.

          • euansmith

            That’s the Pharos Device on Sotha.

          • georgelabour

            Gonna blame auto correckt on that one.


          • euansmith

            😀 😀 😀

        • ZeeLobby

          As george said. Also it was like a weird teleporter and bright bug light at the same time.

          • georgelabour

            A bug zapper for red neck old ones perhaps?

            Just imagine these god like beings building a ‘galaxy eating horror’ magnet that lures them right into a black hole or something.

            Now add space beer.

      • Shawn

        They would actually have to be astro-cats to be effective, I think.

    • Havik110

      Ultramar has an astronomican like beacon…They don’t have a dead emperor on it. The emperor was powering the throne only to keep the away portal shut. He could control the astronomican on his own but we don’t know how. May not actually be good brain doing it.

      • Different beacon, and far brighter than the Astronomican. It also was damaged and supposedly mostly dismantled. Oberdeii, later Chapter Master of the Scythes of the Emperor, held vigil there long after the Heresy and Sotha itself is now done for.

        Yes, they had a strong beacon, no they did not understand how it worked, no they can’t replicate its technology and yes it attracted the Tyranids to the galaxy. I’d say Guilliman won’t repeat that mistake.

        • Havik110

          I was under the impression it was weaker as it didnt cover nearly as much of the galaxy as the astronomican. (i thought it only covered the Ultrimar empire)

          I knew the Nids were drawn to it the same way they are drawn to the Astronomican, but i did not know it was turned off.

          • Well, it *did* pierce through the Ruinstorm. The Imperial Fists that left Phall got attracted to it across the storms, for example. A straight comparison isn’t really something I’d encourage, though. Both work differently after all.

            Most notably, beyond all the empathy business, is that the Pharos had to be pointed at a target. It was more like a lighthouse focusing its spotlight on a harbor. Guilliman had it targeted at Macragge, so that’s what people got drawn to.

            Sotha and the Pharos was invaded by Night Lords in the Pharos novel by Guy Haley and together with Laurie Goulding’s The Dark Between the Stars (now known as The Light of the Pharos iirc) makes it clear that some had bad dreams of futures to come while inside the mountain. Oberdeii himself was probably most affected by it which contributed to him holding the vigil.
            Either way, the Pharos somehow announced the Tyranids, and the epilogue of the novel even directly points to the Great Devourer stirring and setting its sight on the galaxy for the first time. The Astronomican is attractive now, of course, but the Pharos was the initial draw.

  • Evil Otto

    ” It is not inconceivable that Guilliman slew the Emperor.”

    Pretty sure the Adeptus Custodes would have something to say about that. While someone as powerful as Guilliman might have been able to fight off the most elite warriors in the Imperium he would have shown signs of battle upon leaving, and the remaining Custodes would have told everyone that he had done it. Primarchs are powerful, but they aren’t invincible, and there would be nowhere in the Imperium for Guilliman to hide.

    Sorry, this is silly speculation. Guilliman didn’t kill the Emperor.

    • Seienchin

      It is modern GW writing… Everything is possible. If HE and DE can be friends again then Guiliman can kill the emperor without the custodes interfering. So dont be too sure…

      • euansmith

        Guilliman, “Look, a C’thellean Cudbear!”

        Custodes Guard, “Where!?”

        Emperor, “Urrrrk…”

        • Evil Otto

          (four hours later)

          Custodian Guard: “Hey… there’s no cudbear.”

          • vlad78

            In fact Guilliman was Omegon in disguise all along. (10000 years)

          • Evil Otto

            Woah, man.

            Mind… blown.

      • Just that nothing of the sort has been even just implied even in Dark Imperium which is set over a hundred years later.

        • vlad78

          Indeed absolutely nothing.

    • euansmith
      • Evil Otto

        You keep using that word…

        • Richard Palmer

          I do not think it means what you think it means.

          • euansmith

            “Never get involved in a land war on Cadia!”

  • Demonhunt

    No part 2 needed, the Dark Imperium novel (which came out ages ago on eBook so no excuses!) completely invalidates your theory – Robbi goes to speak to a very aware emperor ascende in power, in fact Robbi wanders if EMP has actually become a god

  • Braden_Campbell

    IF the Emperor is dead, then how is it that the Sisters of Battle are able to manifest their various “faith” powers?

    • Fergie0044

      chaos gods happily giving them warp based powers to further the false belief that big E is a god with the goal of causing a religious civil war?

    • Rafał Pytlak

      Tzeentch is all about them faith powers. I bet good ol’ Slaanesh would get his/hers claws around some curvy sisters as well…

    • georgelabour

      Easy answer. They’re George Micheals fans and take his lyrics very very seriously.

      Also if Faith transcends reason, and the warp makes unreasonable things manifest….

      Case in point. Most ork tekorkology works more by the beleif of its makers than because it’s actually well engineered.

      Just don’t tell the sisters I just compared them to a bunch of greenskins. -.-

    • dante13

      They aren’t manifesting their powers from the Emperor its most likely from one of the Chaos gods, or all of them.

  • AircoolUK

    I’ll stick by my original theory in that the Starchild possessed Guillimans body when he was ‘killed’ before he could be resurrected. Maybe they even traded places, who knows?

    Still, come Saturday I’ve got a whole new set of nuMarines to paint, and the best thing…?

    …not a single bloody rivet on their armour 😀

  • miniwar monger

    The Guilli Heresy

    40ks fluff quite often is making no sense and is set up quite poorly. The fact that there is simply tons of fluff cant mask the fact of it not being put together smartly.

    I just something one shouldnt think too hard about since it falls apart pretty fast.

    • georgelabour

      So which part of the Dark Imperium novel do you feel was written in the way you describe?

      • miniwar monger

        I was talking about the 40k waste in general. From the Heresy novels and all the meaningless 40k crap.

        Its just glorified fanfiction.

        • georgelabour

          So…you basically hate the setting in general. But are here commenting on it.

          Welp, at least you’re not out robbing banks and kidnapping puppies.

  • BloodAngel


  • Dennis J. Pechavar

    Papa Smurf finally gets that Imperium he always wanted…I’m waiting to see if the retcon the Dark Angels and Space Wolves from reaching Terra at all, after the Death of Horus. Also if they change it so that the Ultramarines show up at all. Probably so we don’t hear more about the heroism of the White Scars or Blood Angels.

    • No retcon coming there. Leman Russ: The Great Wolf even shows the Lion and Russ on Terra. The Lion’s so furious, he stabs the Wolf King almost into another coma, right in the Palace.

      • Dennis J. Pechavar

        This makes me happy.

        • The scene is pretty damn grim, too! The Lion almost went for mutually assured destruction had Russ acted differently.

          “The Lion’s face contorted in a fury, driven by his unspeakable grief. ‘You never learned!’ he cried. ‘You should have been faster! It was your pride that kept you in the void!’
          Still Russ made no move, though the Lion’s eyes were wild and dangerous.
          ‘And I am guilty, just as you are,’ the Lion urged again, his grip on the sword tight. ‘So fight me, and we will pass sentence on each other, the guilty slaying the guilty. I will not ask you again.’”

  • Thanks for the article I enjoyed it.

  • Chuck

    I think it was a bloodless coup. Guilliman probably walked in, saw that his father was in a permanent vegetative state, and decided in that moment that turning the Imperium around rested on his shoulders alone.

    Now, it’s possible that the Emperor died after that. It’s even possible that the Emperor saw his son awakened and in charge, and finally decided to give up the ghost and slip into death (whatever that means for the Immortal Emperor).

    But had Guilliman actually killed him, or even “pulled the plug” on the Golden Throne right at that moment, the Astronomican surely would have died right then, and everyone would’ve known it. And I doubt the Custodians would have failed to notice, or would have simply let it happen.

    I think Guilliman is full of doubt and misgivings, but he is still the Son of the Emperor he always was. He’s a tragic character because he is doing a job he probably never wanted, saving an Imperium he barely recognizes and probably loathes. Making him some sort of Sekrit Evil Daemon or something would be a very lame twist – it would just be a twist for the sake of a twist, which is way more unsatisfying than people seem to estimate.

    On the other hand, Roboute finding a lifeless, non-responsive Emperor and deciding that he would just take over the Imperium, I think that works well with the whole “grim determination” thing that so well defines Guilliman.

    • Chuck

      Additional note: The interference of the Eldar is interesting, but the Veilwalker only cared about Guilliman because he figured directly into the destiny of the Eldar…. uh, Aeldari. In fact, I’d wager the Veilwalker foresaw that, without awakening the Primarch and revitalizing the Imperium, the coming storm of Chaos would crush the galaxy, Aeldari included. So I think that’s why she manipulated Cawl.

      The Aeldari have to face facts – without the Imperium, they will lose the war against Chaos. There’s no way the Aeldari could hold back their ancient enemy without Guilliman and his mon-keigh.

      The Necron are confusing. I have to think they don’t want Chaos to win, but they don’t seem to be worried about it… which is weird. But regardless of the consensus of the Necrons writ large, Trazyn the Infinite is a weird semi-renegade Necron who has his own agenda, so his involvement probably doesn’t speak to the agenda of the Necron as a whole.

      • Gorsameth

        The Necrons have time, perhaps even moreso then Chaos itself. They can afford to help the Imperium defeat/contain chaos and then wait for their moment to strike, be it tomorrow or a billion years from now.

        • euansmith

          If Chaos brings destruction, then it could accidentally wipe out all life in the Galaxy, effectively staving itself to death. This would leave the Necrons are the final tenants of the abandoned property.

          • Randy Randalman

            The Necrons don’t want that, however, as they have been looking for a way to become mortal again. They need a host to complete the Biotransference; which is also why they don’t want the Tyranids to eat everything.

    • Gorsameth

      Indeed, if Guilliman killed the Emperor then the Custodus would find out in short order and every single one of them would be running to avenge him.

      The exact state of the Emperor doesn’t matter (dead, dying, just peachy), Guilliman is the closest thing the Imperium is going to get to a successor and you will be hard pressed to find someone more capable of overseeing a revival. He did oversee the creation of the 500 worlds of Ultramar after all.

      • Trey

        but… so may people do not like Guillman due to Ultra Marines seem to have been a tiny bit less grim-dark than the rest of the IoM.

        Though they will not and really can not do it , If R.G. really wants mankind to flourish and defeat chaos an alliance with the Eldar and Tau

  • Sleatertr

    Well. For the “Coup” part, Guilliman was ruling the place before the high lords did. And he is the only son of the Emperor, and probably the one who was intended to organize it after him. So, technically I would say he has more right than the High Lords to rule the show.

    • Chuck

      You sound like a person who’s justifying a coup. 😉

      Not that I disagree!

    • Rafał Pytlak

      “According to the Codex Astartes I’m the rightflI successor. I know because i wrote it. 10 millenia ago.,

  • bubba9000

    Tin foil hat imo.

  • EnTyme

    We still haven’t figured out that there never was an “Emperor”. It’s just some poor psyker who got strapped to the Astronomican. When his body gets too damaged or decayed, he’s replace with another. The Emperor of Mankind is just a legend the High Lords of Terra use to control the Imperium, and the Primarchs are in on it. Hell, the “traitors” have been warning us about the False Emperor for millennia!

  • Bellumvinco

    Have we all forgot Roboute basically ruled the Empire for a 1000 years after the HE suffered a mortal wound at the hands of Horus? It’s not the 1st time he’s seen HIS corpse sitting on the throne. It’s not the 1st time he has re-ordered things. Somebody has watched to much Game of Thrones. Or maybe we’d like to think Roboute is Commodus from Gladiator.

    • georgelabour

      Well. We do want to be entertained after all.

  • Rajak

    One idea that was glossed over is that when Guilliman met with the Emperor the Emperor may have begged his son to kill him. To release him from the burden. To let him be reborn. Then as a final command instructed Guilliman to take back the Imperium.

    • He didn’t. See: Dark Imperium by Guy Haley.

  • Reticently

    What if Guilliman used his new armor to revive a much weakened Emperor, and they switched places? Guilliman on the Throne would explain the weakened Astronomicon, and the Emperor would have much greater freedom to act under the guise of a Primarch while biding his time until he returns to his full strength.

    • Didn’t happen. See: Dark Imperium by Guy Haley.

    • Aura1

      Guilliman isn’t a psyker either, which was why the Emperor bred Magnus in the first place.

  • James Regan

    I highly doubt a hostile coup on Guilimans’s part, just because the custodes wouldn’t be that stupid. They don’t trust primachs, and they don’t answer to guiliman. Plus, given they haven’t left the palace since 30k I don’t think even guiliman could keep a secret war with the full ranks of the ten thousand covered up. now, the emperor wanting guiliman to kill him is another matter…

  • El Boyo del Reko

    Here’s the story – according to me. So the Emperor is long dead. However, during his reign the Emperor studied psychohistory – an art or science of in broad strokes predicting the future with uncanny precision.

    So when Roboute arrives at the Golden Throne there is a stark contrast between the withered old carcass of the dead Emperor and the Emperor in the prime of his life of the recorded hologram.

    The Emperor has made several recordings. The rules, enforced by the Custodes, of who and when the recordings are allowed to be viewed are very strict. Some recordings are released as far apart as ten thousand years. In the recordings the Emperor leaves detailed accounts of what has taken place and future plans for the viewer to execute.

    Belisarius Cawl might have witnessed one recording ten millennia ago. Roboute sees the latest, and is expected to do the Emperors bidding. The Emperor reveals that this is his penultimate recording and soon the recorded psychohistory will come to an end. The last record of the God-Emperor of Earth is still kept hidden but will be released sooner than anyone might imagine.

    After that, Lord Commander, you are on your own.

    • euansmith

      “This Psychohistorical recording will self-destruct in five seconds.”

  • The author really should pick up and read Dark Imperium…

  • Breaker

    Did girlyman not show up after the battle of Terra and use his huge, well-rested army to force Rogal Dorn to do his bidding?

    The Emperor laid out plans for how the Imperium should be run after he was put on the Golden Throne. Rogal Dorn was set to follow those plans to the letter, but a giant blue army showed up and girlyman said

    No, I have an army you couldn’t hope to defeat, so I rule the Imperium now.

    He then proceeded to set up the High Lords of Terra(that turned out sooo well)

    Seems to me that rowboat is the Emperor’s biggest enemy since Horus.

  • Aura1

    I presume this was written long before the Dark Imperium novel which answers all of these points and is set 100 years further on?

  • Jay Burchell

    I’m just gonna call it right now and say there’s an Eldar Farseer on the Golden Throne, after all where’d Ulthran go? 😛

  • dante13

    At least in 10000 years Girlyman finally got a better hair cut… because that early picture looks exactly like a girlyman with a perm.

  • Tothe

    The Custodes had recently installed a text-to-speech device, and Emps told Rowboat off for being a lazy slacker for just sitting in stasis for all those millennia while he himself was holding Chaos at bay single-handedly.

  • MechBattler

    If the Emperor is dead, where did the all the Legion of the Damned that appeared come from? They are supposedly manifestations of his will, and WAY too many of them popped up in too many places for them to be just what’s left of the Firehawks dropping out of the warp for a visit.

  • Lord Crabby