The Tau and the Imperium

It occurred to me the other day that the Tau Empire is following a surprising parallel with the early Imperium of man.

No I’m not mad.

Anyone that’s read the Horus Heresy novels and/or the background in 6th Edition Warhammer 40,000 will know that the Imperium was supposed to be a place of enlightenment free of institutions that would divide it. During the Great Crusade the fleets would arrive at a system, give the inhabitants the opportunity to embrace the Imperium and accept the Imperial truth or face the consequences.

Am I mad or do the Tau, more of less, do the same thing? Obviously they’re a bit more huggy about the whole thing but that’s essentially what they’re doing. And when you consider that the Tau lack any real ranged warp travel but are an ever-growing Empire it begs the question what the Universe has in store for these grey skinned hippies.

Through my various shady sources I’ve found out that the Emperor had a plan for the Tau and instructed Guilliman to defend the embryonic civilisation from harm. The order got lost in the galactic postal service and has only recently come to light – in time for the 6th edition Tau & Space Marine codices funnily enough – hence why Space Marines and the Tau are bum chums.

It strikes me that the Tau, ironically, will be the saviours of humanity. According to the new fluff the Emperor is projecting a lovely cuddly duvet of protective psychic energy over the Imperium. Which I’m sure is fucking knackering. Not to mention gets in the way of the whole ascension thing.

The important details are that the Emperor was trying to create a society free of the lure of Chaos and Tau are impervious to the lure of Chaos which makes them the perfect choice to face the inevitable onslaught of Chaos. So the ideal situation would be to lace Tau units across the Imperium as well as give the Tau Astropaths and Telepaths to allow them to move more effectively across the galaxy responding to threats.

This, however, rather flies in the face of the Imperial mandate of manging all aliens in the face. As there’s no way that it would happen with the Imperium at war with itself. The Tau would also need some assurances. I suspect their protection from the rest of the galaxy would be a part of it, and I would trust Marneus Calgar to be greasing those particular wheels following the discovery of Guilliman’s missive to the rest of the Space Marine legions.

Perhaps humanities inability to trust in anything beyond what the High Lords tell them to, or the fact that the High Lords would never relinquish an ounce of power unless the Emperor himself rose from the Golden Throne, will mean that they will never use the Tau for what they were intended.  Instead maybe the Tau will become the inheritors of the galaxy. As humanity and the denizens of the warp burn themselves out in the great Second Heresy the warp will be becalmed and the Tau will be able to expand across known space.

Which brings us to two possible timelines. The first is that the Tau continue to expand, human worlds gladly embracing their new masters as salvation from the coming darkness until it reaches such a mass that the Tau can begin their own great crusade and claim the galaxy as their own. The second is the return of the Primarchs and the rebirth of the Emperor which would decree the Tau are brought into the fold. And, because the Emperor isn’t stupid, it would also completely hamstring any future expansion by the Tau.

Fighting alongside the Imperium would exhaust their military might to the point where, at best, the Tau will be reliant on the Imperium for protection whilst it recovers, or at worst, they are consigned to second class citizen status like Ratlings and Ogryns and kept as a military assest, mustered when the threat of Chaos or a Chaos cult looms. An extension, I suppose, of the Inquisition.

More Musings on a Heresy

Following on from my last post about the Horus Heresy I’ve been doing some thinking about the events immediately after the Emperor defeated Horus. Actually, about the events just prior the Emperor teleporting aboard Horus’ ship and then the events after.

First let’s make some assumptions.

1. The Emperor was fully aware of how widespread the Imperial Cult had spread and how high it reached within Imperial politics.

2. The Emperor knew that he was going to his death/near death when he teleported aboard Horus’ ship.

3. The Emperor fully understood that a presence in the warp is only as powerful as its believers.

4. The Emperor was more than capable of influencing the minds of his subjects both before and after he was mortally wounded and interred in the Golden Throne either through careful manipulation or psychically.

With those assumptions in mind it strikes me that, seeing his dream of a galaxy at peace crumbling down around him the Emperor would have set events in motion that would have actively encouraged and sped up the spread what would become the Imperial Creed. We’ve seen evidence of the Emperor making such plans in the past. We know that Emperor engineered events thousands of years in advance so that the Machine Cult of Mars would come into being and that he would present himself as the Omnissiah simultaneously ensuring a steady stream of warmachines for his Crusade whilst making sure that no one arm of his military was powerful enough to either stage a coup or withhold materiel without severe consequences. Or so he thought…

The reasoning is this; the Emperor tried to create a secular society in an attempt to starve the Chaos Gods of the source of their power – worshippers. Thanks to Erebus and Kor Phaeron that plan failed. Because the Emperor knew that the Ruinous Powers are only as powerful as the believers that offer sacrifices and worship them. As such by weaving the Imperial Creed into every facet of the Imperium and every aspect of an Imperial citizens life; making it a legal part of every day life to worship the Emperor, it starves Chaos of their meat forcing them to expend time and energy luring followers to their cause. Granted, for the Chaos Gods time is no object but they still clamour for adoration and sacrifices and had the Emperor fallen at Terra their power would be near limitless until humanity burned itself out. The Emperor’s ascension to God-hood gave a broken people focus.

Some would argue that the Emperor isn’t much different. A Chaos God is a sentient being of extraordinary power existing within warp space. So is, technically, the Emperor in the form of the Astronomican. The pious men and women of the Imperium fuel the Emperor’s soul as thousands of psykers give up their lives daily to power the life-sustaining Golden Throne. In many ways the Emperor’s ascension to the Golden Throne and elevation to God-hood, by design or not, was the final insult to the Ruinous Powers as the Heresy blew itself out as for 10,000 years the Emperor has been a shining beacon of purity in the swirling mass of evil that is the Warp. A constant reminder to them that despite turning his children against him, the Emperor endures. As does humanity.

Regardless of his motives and the ethics surrounding such sacrifices, those sacrifices are made because they are necessary. Although to the High Lords of Terra the sacrifices are made to a God, the Emperor and the scions of the Primarchs know that they are done so because the alternative would be damnation and ruin. Worlds are wiped out so the foulness of Chaos do not gain a foothold in the material universe because it is necessary. The armies of the Imperium grind the demon and the heretic beneath their boots because for every heretic burned and demon banished, Chaos’ grip on the galaxy loosens. It is almost imperceptible but the Emperor knows of the sacrifices and the gains made. He exists in the warp and he sees the steady flow of human souls cast into the Immaterium and understands that it is necessary.

There are those that believe the Golden Throne’s failing is the start of the Emperor’s rebirth, just as there are those that believe Roboute Guilliman’s wounds are slowly healing. In a Universe of Gods and daemons and where mortal souls are as kindling to the flames of war, both are entirely possible. But the question still remains, did the Emperor engineer, or at the very least inflame, the spread of the Imperial Cult towards the end of the Heresy as a means of steeling his people against the lure of Chaos and to lend him strength for this 10,000 year internment in the Golden Throne?