A brief history of Imperium Secundus

INQUISITION SPOILER ALERT: This article contains plot points from various Horus Heresy stories, including: ‘The Lion’, ‘Vulkan Lives’, ‘The Unremembered Empire’, ‘Pharos’ and ‘Angels of Caliban’. Read on at your own risk…

Of all the revelations about the Age of Darkness that have come from Black Library’s Horus Heresy series, one of the greatest – and most shocking – is the existence of Imperium Secundus. As this dramatic storyline comes to an end with ‘Ruinstorm’, out on Saturday, we’re looking back at the story of Guilliman’s great project.

During the war, the Traitors conjured a mighty warp rift known as the Ruinstorm, which split the Imperium in two and cut off half the galaxy from the light of the Astronomican. In Ultramar, when the light went out, Roboute Guilliman feared the worst – that the Emperor was dead and Terra had fallen. So he put a plan into place and created a new empire to reunite the loyal elements of mankind. And so was Imperium Secundus born.

Guilliman knew that, taken alone, this act could be seen as base treachery and a power grab, so he gathered to himself other loyalist forces. First to arrive was Lion El’Jonson, along with a portion of his Dark Angels Legion, and Guilliman convinced him that Imperium Secundus was mankind’s last, best hope for peace. Yet neither of these brothers truly trusted the other – they needed a third figure who could unite them.

Vulkan’s arrival on Macragge brought hope, but he had been driven insane by torture at the hands of his brother Konrad Curze. The arrival of Sanguinius was the last piece of the puzzle, and he was anointed Emperor of Imperium Secundus, with the Lion as Lord Protector and Guilliman as Lord Warden. This triumvirate would rule in the best interests of all, supported by elements from all nine of the loyal Space Marine Legions, who had been brought together by the new beacon that lit the warp.

Although Guilliman had brought peace to Ultramar before founding this new empire, war soon followed. Alpha Legion infiltrators attempted to assassinate Guilliman in his private chambers, the traitor primarch Konrad Curze arrived in pursuit of Vulkan. He was stopped, but at the cost of the Salamanders primarch’s life. Meanwhile, elements of Curze’s Night Lords had also made their way to Imperium Secundus, having chosen the sparsely populated world of Sotha as a staging ground to recover after a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Dark Angels. But Sotha was much more than it seemed…

During the Great Crusade, the Ultramarines brought Sotha into the Five Hundred Worlds and discovered an ancient alien device on the planet. It was quarantined, with the 199th Company left there to guard it. Guilliman remembered the device when he established Imperium Secundus and sent his ally, the renegade Iron Warrior Barbaras Dantioch, to try to discover its secrets. With the aid of Imperial Fists Captain Alexis Pollux, Dantioch deciphered what they called the Pharos, and it became the beacon that drew loyalists to Ultramar, as well as a way to communicate instantaneously across Imperium Secundus.

The Night Lords saw this threat and fell upon Sotha. The battle was fierce and bloody, claiming many lives, including that of Dantioch, who sacrificed himself to overload the Pharos, taking a host of Night Lords with him. Ultramarines and Dark Angels relief forces dealt with the survivors and Sotha was reinforced, though the power of the Pharos was permanently reduced. Some suggest that the blazing beacon created by the overloading also drew the attention of something deep in the void between galaxies, a great devourer that would threaten the Imperium ten millennia later…

On Macragge, Konrad Curze – who had fled after being defeated by the Lion and Guilliman – soon resurfaced. He attacked Sanguinius in his throne room, though neither could best the other, as their visions gave them each foreknowledge of the other’s actions. He escaped again, and capturing him became an obsession for the Lion. The Dark Angels’ tactics became harsher and more authoritarian as they attempted to capture the Night Haunter. The town of Illyrium was devastated by the Dreadwing and the people of Macragge, used to liberty and equality, became uneasy, causing the Lion to go further still.

Eventually, Curze was captured, though at great cost, and put on trial. But even here, he was able to divide the Triumvirate, and before the trial was over, the Lion had been banished from Imperium Secundus, his sword broken. Before he left, however, he visited his fellow primarchs once more to witness Curze’s execution. But the sword never fell on the traitor’s neck, as he experienced a vision of his death at the hands of a Callidus Assassin… sent by the Emperor Himself. This, to the primarchs, was proof that their father lived, and that Imperium Secundus was built on a lie. It also told Sanguinius that his own tortured visions of his death at Horus’ hands were true.

The three agreed to end Imperium Secundus, imprison Curze with the Lion as his jailer, letting the truth of it be lost to history. They then prepared their fleets for the long and perilous journey through the Ruinstorm – for Terra, and the final battle of the war which awaited them.

And this is where ‘Ruinstorm’ begins. Guilliman, Sanguinius and the Lion each take to their fleets and start their journeys, but enemies stand before them. The Ruinstorm itself is nigh impossible to navigate, and their chances of making it safely to the Throneworld look bleak. How will they fare? You’ll be able to find out on Saturday.

And in the meantime, you can experience the rise and fall of Imperium Secundus for yourself in the snappily titled ‘Imperium Secundus’, a digital collection of 4 novels, 11 short stories and 3 audio dramas that tells the whole tale outlined above in much more detail, as well as exploring more characters and events from the period.

You can download it now, exclusively from the Black Library website.

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