Blood of Asaheim

IT IS THE 41ST MILLENNIUM. FOR MORE THAN A HUNDRED CENTURIES THE EMPEROR HAS SAT IMMOBILE ON THE GOLDEN THRONE OF EARTH. HE IS THE MASTER OF MANKIND BY THE WILL OF THE GODS, AND MASTER OF A MILLION WORLDS BY THE MIGHT OF HIS INEXHAUSTIBLE ARMIES. HE IS A ROTTING CARCASS WRITHING INVISIBLY WITH POWER FROM THE DARK AGE OF TECHNOLOGY. HE IS THE CARRION LORD OF THE IMPERIUM FOR WHOM A THOUSAND SOULS ARE SACRIFICED EVERY DAY, SO THAT HE MAY NEVER TRULY DIE.

YET EVEN IN HIS DEATHLESS STATE, THE EMPEROR CONTINUES HIS ETERNAL VIGILANCE. MIGHTY BATTLEFLEETS CROSS THE DAEMON-INFESTED MIASMA OF THE WARP, THE ONLY ROUTE BETWEEN DISTANT STARS, THEIR WAY LIT BY THE ASTRONOMICAN, THE PSYCHIC MANIFESTATION OF THE EMPEROR’S WILL. VAST ARMIES GIVE BATTLE IN HIS NAME ON UNCOUNTED WORLDS. GREATEST AMONGST HIS SOLDIERS ARE THE ADEPTUS ASTARTES, THE SPACE MARINES, BIO-ENGINEERED SUPER-WARRIORS. THEIR COMRADES IN ARMS ARE LEGION: THE IMPERIAL GUARD AND COUNTLESS PLANETARY DEFENCE FORCES, THE EVER-VIGILANT INQUISITION AND THE TECH-PRIESTS OF THE ADEPTUS MECHANICUS TO NAME ONLY A FEW. BUT FOR ALL THEIR MULTITUDES, THEY ARE BARELY ENOUGH TO HOLD OFF THE EVER PRESENT THREAT FROM ALIENS, HERETICS, MUTANTS - AND WORSE.

TO BE A MAN IN SUCH TIMES IS TO BE ONE AMONGST UNTOLD BILLIONS. IT IS TO LIVE IN THE CRUELLEST AND MOST BLOODY REGIME IMAGINABLE. THESE ARE THE TALES OF THOSE TIMES. FORGET THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE, FOR SO MUCH HAS BEEN FORGOTTEN, NEVER TO BE RE-LEARNED. FORGET THE PROMISE OF PROGRESS AND UNDERSTANDING, FOR IN THE GRIM DARK FUTURE THERE IS ONLY WAR. THERE IS NO PEACE AMONGST THE STARS, ONLY AN ETERNITY OF CARNAGE AND SLAUGHTER, AND THE LAUGHTER OF THIRSTING GODS.

‘You will be faster than they are, stronger, quicker to sense corruption and with full sanction to destroy it. You will be girded in the armour of gods and carry the blades of ruin. You will never age, never wither, never weary. And yet, in all of this, what remains your greatest gift?

‘Only this: while you are a brotherhood, you are unbreakable. While you form the shieldwall, guarding your pack-mates as if they were your own kin-blood, you cannot be resisted. Solely by treachery can this power be undone, as we have learned. We emerge from the lesson stronger, tempered by the knowledge of how low our species can sink. We now know what waits for us should we fail, and that is well, for it is better to know your enemy’s face than for it to remain hidden by shadow.

‘Never forget this. When night comes again, as it surely will, only your brotherhood will protect you. Preserve it, and you will endure. Let it fracture, let it fail, and I tell you truly: our time, humanity’s time, will be over.’

The primarch Leman Russ

Words recorded on Ialis III, c.170.M31

Incorporated into Liber Malan; source-data lost

‘The Wolves of Fenris? They will tire at the end. We will all tire at the end. What else is there, once war is eternal, but fatigue?’

Attributed to the primarch Mortarion

Quoted in Liber Infestus

Date and source unknown

Prologue

Blood rose in his gorge, foaming and flecked with bone, spilling from split lips and over cracked fangs. He stumbled down the walkway, feeling metal struts flex and snap under his limping tread. Gunfire, tinny and echoing, rang down from the airways above him. The noise was an irrelevance by then – a cluttered fury that signified nothing but the slow death of the drifting Arjute-class heavy troop conveyer. The Imperium would not miss it; it could spare a million of them and never notice.

He coughed up