I know, I know, I should get out more. But when you’re stripping wallpaper you have a lot of time to think and, because I’m so inclined, I found my thoughts wandering to, once more, the Horus Heresy.
This set of ramblings is more about what the Emperor had planned for the Imperium after the Crusade had ended, specifically with what to do with tens of thousands of post-human immortal super soldiers. Obviously we will never know for certain but the thought of creating 20 Legions of super soldiers needs to have machinations beyond the unification of the galaxy. That’s not to say it isn’t a tremendous task but let’s, for argument sake, say that the Emperor succeeded and all the worlds of humanity were all living all cosy and snug beneath the banner of the Imperium and humanity never experienced the betrayal at the hands of the Emperor’s favoured son.
Peace time would see a lot of very bored Astartes. Without Chaos seeping into the Universe, and the Necron and Tyranid threat 10,000ish years away it’s debatable whether or not the Eldar and Orks would have been a significant challenge for a force as powerful as 18 full legions of Space Marines. Arguably it would have taken time for the Space Marines to eradicate those forces completely, but it would have happened. And, if the 6th edition 40k rumours are to be believed, Roboute Guilliman would have ensured the protection of the Tau, as ordered, most likely never truly understanding why.
I have no doubt that the Emperor was aware of the Necrons. Having a C’Tan asleep on Mars (unless they’ve removed that bit from the background) would have made sure of that, so there’s a chance he would have, eventually, let his sons in on the secret and sent them to Necron Tomb Worlds to deal with the problem before it started.
Whatever distractions I can think of for the Astartes I keep coming back to the same thought. Would have the Space Marines turned on each other eventually? Perhaps not had the Primarchs not been scattered across the galaxy. Allowed to be nurtured and developed under the Emperor’s tutelage it is unlikely that the more maladjusted Primarchs such as Angron and Curz would have turned out the way they did. However, because the Ruinous Power interfered and the Primarchs grew up on their respective homeworlds I struggle to see how a schism could been avoided in a post unification Imperium.
Each Primarch would have been given duties or dominions to govern over undoubtedly. However I can see the dysfunctional nature of certain Primarchs created problems down the road. Horus’ ego alone would have seen him bored and looking for great victories to be won. But what of the likes of Angron? Would could be done with a butcher in peace time? Slaughter can be justified in war but not so much when everyone’s on your side. Equally what of Magnus the Red? Even assuming he’d been sanctioned on Nikaea, he would have still most likely been allowed to sit upon the Golden Throne for its original purpose. However, what of his sons? Their genetic degeneration would have eventually come out.
Lorgar’s fanaticism, Perturabo’s callousness, Curz’s psychosis. All would eventually manifest themselves and eventually lead to war and sanction as they would either mistreated the worlds under their protection, display excessive force against the inevitable secessionists colonies, or transgress in some other more serious fashion.
The conclusion I come to is that the Imperium was doomed to its death by a thousand cuts the moment the Primarchs were taken from the Emperor. From that moment he was adapting his plan. The truth is he probably didn’t need his sons as he had sufficient genetic material to build the legions regardless. However, and this is what it all boils down to, the Emperor loved his sons and moved the heavens to find them. Once reunited with them, and so determined to bring his plans back on track he turned a blind eye to the transgressions of his sons, for the most part. Had Horus not fallen to the lures of Chaos and the Imperium had endured in the form the Emperor had in mind, I’m not sure much would be different.
In a post unification Imperium, as his sons would have grown bored. Horus would lust for power and greatness. Curz and Mortarion would irrationally pursue injustice and punish it absolutely. Angron would unleash his legion on worlds for the slightest of crimes. All the doomed Primarchs would have, sooner or later, displayed ill behaviour, and I can see the Emperor being just as slow to act as he was in the events leading up to the Heresy. For the love of a father is a powerful thing to break and to do so comes at a terrible cost. It may have come about by different means and even taken another 100 years to happen but the betrayal was inevitable the moment the Emperor’s children were taken from him.
Either way, the galaxy would burn.