- "The warrior who acts out of honour cannot fail. His duty is honour itself. Even his death - if it is honourable - is a reward and can be no failure, for it has come through duty. Seek honour as you act, therefore, and you will know no fear."
- — Primarch Roboute Guilliman
Roboute Guilliman, sometimes referred to as the Avenging Son, The Victorious, The Master of Ultramar and The Blade of Unity, is the Primarch of the Ultramarines Space Marine Legion and its myriad subsequent Second Founding Successor Chapters. Held by some as a paragon among the Emperor's sons, Roboute Guilliman was as much a patrician statesman as he was an indefatigable warrior. A being of preternatural intelligence, cold reason and indomitable will, Guilliman forged his Legion into a vast force of conquest and control, a weapon by which he made himself the master of a domain, the Realms of Ultramar, which spanned five hundred worlds. Guilliman is the Primarch who single-handedly reshaped the Imperium of Man after the Horus Heresy during the Reformation, taking the lead role in reforming the administrative and military apparatus of the Imperium following the internment of the Emperor of Mankind within the Golden Throne on Terra. Guilliman is perhaps best remembered for being the author of the Codex Astartes, a key volume that laid out the proper tactics and military organisation for the majority of Loyalist Space Marine Chapters now in existence. Roboute Guilliman is also one of the few Loyalist Primarchs still alive. Following the Horus Heresy, Guilliman and his Ultramarines met the Emperor's Children Traitor Legion and the Daemon Primarch Fulgrim upon the field of battle where Guilliman was poisoned by a wound to his neck made by his traitorous fellow Primarch's Chaos-tainted blades. The Primarch was put into temporal stasis on the verge of death and his body was placed upon the throne that lies in the Temple of Correction on the Ultramarines' homeworld of Macragge. Many pilgrims of the Imperial Cult travel across the galaxy every year to visit the temple and see the body of a Primarch, a blessed son of the God-Emperor himself. Some pilgrims claim that the grievous wound is slowly healing, though such an action should be physically impossible within an activated stasis field. Yet some believe that the Imperium and Mankind are entering the End Times and that the Emperor is using his divine will to enact a miracle and resurrect his son to serve as Mankind's champion in its most desperate hour.
The Son of Macragge
Thanks to the widely distributed efforts of numerous Imperial Iterators, the story of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman, his early life and his finding is widely known and well accounted for, in stark contrast to certain others of the Primarchs. Much of these accounts have of course served the role of edification for the masses and the demands of propaganda, but between the accounts, variously embellished, a number of consistent facts and themes emerge. According to Imperial legend, the Emperor of Mankind created the Primarchs from artificially-engineered genes using his own genome as a template, carefully imbuing each of them with unique superhuman powers. Imperial doctrine goes on to tell how the Ruinous Powers of Chaos spirited away the Primarchs within their gestation capsules, scattering them widely across the galaxy through the Warp. More than one of the capsules was breached whilst it drifted through Warpspace - the forces of the Immaterium leaked in, wreaking havoc on the gestating being inside the capsule. Undoubtedly damage was done and Chaotic corruption affected several of the Primarchs, although the nature of that corruption would not become apparent until the Horus Heresy.
After drifting for decades, or in some cases even hundreds of years, the twenty gestation capsules came to rest on human-settled worlds throughout the Milky Way Galaxy - distant planets inhabited by a variety of human cultures, and whether by fickle fate or cruel design, each world would provide a crucible which would temper the child into the Primarch they would become, be that hero or monster, tyrant or liberator. The capsule containing the developing form of one Primarch fell upon the world of Macragge in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy. Macragge was a bleak but no inhospitable world, part of a decayed star empire of ages past that Mankind had inhabited for many centuries since the time of the Dark Age of Technology. Its industries had survived intact, and its people had retained an authoritarian but cohesive society. It had remarkably preserved a number of antiquated short range Warp-capable craft which could be utilised for near-stellar transit -- conditions permitting -- and its people continued to build sub-light spacecraft even during the time of the most intense Warp Storms. This had allowed the people of Macragge to maintain contact with several neighbouring human-settled star systems, despite the storms' fury, and so retain a tenuous link to the rest of human space and the knowledge that it was not alone in the darkness.
So it was that when the Primarch's fallen capsule was discovered by a group of magnates who were on a hunt in a local forest, they knew it immediately for a device of advanced technology rather than a thing of superstition and magic. The magnates broke the capsule's seal and discovered a strikingly beautiful and perfectly formed child within it who was surrounded by a glowing nimbus of power. The child was brought before Konor Guilliman, one of a pair of nobles who bore the title "consul", whose authority governed the most civilised and powerful region of Macragge, and Konor adopted the infant as his own son in a manner not uncommon to his culture, naming him Roboute.
The young Primarch grew unnaturally quickly and as he did so, his unique physical and mental powers became obvious to all. It is recorded that by the time of his tenth birthday, Guilliman had mastered everything the wisest tutors of Macragge could teach him. His insight into matters of history, philosophy and science astonished his teachers, while his recall was absolute and his ability to extrapolate accurate conclusions from fragmentary information was said to border on the inexplicable. His greatest talent, however, lay in the art of war, which was itself treated as a high and lauded science in Macragge's culture. As soon as he had attended his legal majority, Roboute's foster-father Konor immediately granted him command over an expeditionary force sent to pacify the far northern lands of Macragge. Named Illyrium, it was a barbarous land of outcasts and petty, warring micro-states that had long harboured brigands and mercenaries who raided more civilised lands as often as they hired themselves as foot soldiers to fight their neighbours' wars. Roboute fought a brilliant campaign and won both the submission and the respect of the fierce Illyrium warrior bands, but when he returned to his home from the northern frontier, Roboute found the capital of Macragge Civitas in turmoil.
The Death of Konor
During Robout's absence, Konor Guilliman's co-consul, a man name Gallan, had unleashed a coup d'etat against Konor -- a development far from unknown historically, if in this instance a surprise. Gallan, it transpired, had long harboured designs on undiluted rulership and had conspired with those amongst the wealthy nobility of Macragge who were jealous of Konor's political power and popularity, and also increasingly afraid of his preternaturally precocious foster child's future. These malcontents represented Macragge's ancient regime, an aristocracy whose wealth was manifested by vast estates which were supported by the toiling of a multitude of impoverished vassals. Konor, backed by Macragge's industrial magnates -- rivals to the old regime -- had moved to challenge this balance of power, forcing the aristocracy of Macragge to provide their vassals with increased living standards and rights before the law, weakening the aristocracy's stranglehold on the polity. Konor had also passed legislation that obliged the nobility of Macragge to begin an ambitious programme of improving the long neglected infrastructure of their nation and enlarging the capital city at their own expense. These reforms made Konor Guilliman all but unassailable in the common people's eyes, but were highly unpopular among all but a few of the more far-sighted aristocrats.
As Roboute Guilliman and his triumphant army approached the city of Macragge Civitas, they saw the smoke form a multitude of fires and encountered citizens fleeing from the city in anarchy, and Roboute learned that Gallan's private army had attacked the senate house while Konor and his loyal bodyguard troops had been inside. The refugees each told the same story; that rebel soldiers had attacked the senate, whilst a drunken mob, instigated by Gallan but now out of anybody's control, roamed the city burning, looting and murdering. Roboute hurried to his foster father's rescue. Leaving his own troops to deal with the drunken rioters without quarter, Roboute personally fought his way towards the centre of the city, passing the bloody work of rebel firing squads everywhere in the government district, but at the senate house, found himself too late. All was a bullet-ridden and blasted ruin, and even the rebels it seemed had fled the scene to join the looting. There, in the half-collapsed shelters beneath the building, he found his father dying. For three days the wounded Counsul had directed the defence of the besieged senate house, even as surgeons fought for his life following a botched assassination attempt on the senate floor which had touched off the conspiracy's chaotic attack. It is apocryphally said that as he gasped out his last breath, Konor detailed the extent of Gallan's betrayal to his beloved foster son and named those whose hands were stained with his blood.
Roboute Guilliman's cold rage at his foster father's death was unstoppable. With the full backing of his army and the beleaguered citizens of Macragge Civitas, Roboute crushed the aristocratic rebels, scattering their hireling armies and lined the streets with the hanging bodies of the rioters, thereby quickly restoring order to the capital city and the surrounding lands. Thousands of citizens flocked to the senate house and amidst a wave of popular acclaim, Roboute assumed the mantle of the sole and now all-powerful Consul of Macragge. The new ruler broke the old, aristocratic order and stripped from them their lands and titles. Gallan and his fellow conspirators were seized, the ring leaders publicly executed and the rest sentenced to hard labour rebuilding the city they had ruined, stone by stone, by hand. It was not a sentence they would long survive. In the new order, loyal soldiers and hardworking settlers were granted rights where the oppressive aristocracy had once held sway. With super-human energy and the singularity of vision only a Primarch was capable of executing, the new Consul reorganised the social order of Macragge, creating a ruthlessly enforced meritocracy where the hardworking prospered and the honourable received positions of high office, and those who shirked the law or worked against the good of the whole faced draconian, but faultlessly even-handed punishment. The stagnated and uneven economy was re-ordered, technology disseminated rather than horded by the elite, and the armed forces were transformed into a powerful and well-equipped force. Macragge flourished as never before -- one people and one order, united under the people and one order, united under the unchallengeable rule of Roboute Guilliman.
Around the time that the young Roboute Guilliman waged war in Illyria, the Emperor's fleet had reached the planet of Espandor at the outer edge of the network of worlds with which Macragge had maintained tenebrous contact. From the Espandorians the Emperor learned of the existence of Macragge and the extraordinary son of the Consul Konor Guilliman, and from what he learned he knew that this child could be none other than a missing Primarch. There have been some who have suggested that the Emperor's arrival at Espandor and the isolated region so far from the frontline of the Great Crusade's main spur of progress was no accident, and that by some arts He had perceived or had foreknowledge of what He would find. Regardless, what followed was certainly not foreseen. As the Emperor's fleet quickly moved on to Macragge, it was almost immediately deflected by violent warp squalls which had risen up to separate Macragge and a handful of nearby systems from approach. Thwarted by a power even the Emperor could not readily ignore, it would be something in the region of five standard years before contact could be successfully attempted.
In the years that intervened, Macragge had undergone a striking transformation. It was now a world of uniformity and order, prosperous and productive. Its cities had been rebuilt in glittering marble and shining steel, and the serried ranks of its armies were well armed and well equipped, and outfitting themselves now for operations beyond their own world. For even before the Emperor's arrival, Roboute Guilliman, it is said, had dwelt much on the ancient histories contained from his world's deposed aristocracy, and the fragments he found there telling of the ancient domains of Mankind, and he had begun to dream of new horizons and new worlds to conquer, of a domain "beyond the seas of night" or to use the ancient scholarly form found in the text -- "Ultramar". By his will, he made it so and within their warp-sealed enclave, vessels from Macragge now plied regular and well-patrolled trade routes with local star systems, bringing raw materials and people to the flourishing world, while against some of its neighbours, short, victorious conflicts had already been waged to pacify the strife they had found there. It is said that when the Emperor saw what his lost son had wrought, He was indeed pleased, and that he met with Roboute Guilliman without the dissembling that had been needed with those Primarchs He had found of more savage timbre. It is further more recorded that once Guilliman learned the truth of his origins, he immediately swore his fealty to the Emperor, who he knew was his true father, for he had already theorised correctly the purpose for which he had not been born so much as deliberately created. It was immediately apparent to Imperial observers that Roboute Guilliman possessed a powerful analytical intelligence, even when compared to the superhuman cognitive abilities of his peers, as well as talent for statecraft and macro-organisation of staggering potential. Yet few could then guess what such talents harnessed to the Great Crusade would go on to achieve.
The Unification of Body and Soul
The XIIIth Legion of Space Mairnes was assigned to Guilliman in short order, for the Primarch needed little urging or aid in the assimilation of knowledge of the wider galaxy, the Great Crusade and the many technological wonders of the new-born Imperium of Man. It was a development greeted by the XIIIth with great rejoicing and pride in the honour that Roboute Guilliamn paid them in accepting their fealty. The oratory and vision with which their new-found Primarch expounded to them his designs for the future and the righteousness of the Great Crusade filled the Legiones Astartes with a renewed vigiour and dispelled any shadows of doubt in their minds, and made Guilliman's takeover, according to official records, all but seamless.
Roboute Guilliman did far more than merely take command of the XIIIth Legion, he set about transforming it. His vision was for a Legion that was more than simply one army among many, however exceptional, but a self-sustaining power for conquest, order and expansion; the strength of the body and blood of the Imperium made manifest by the will of the Emperor through His servant Roboute Guilliman. To him, a military force was more than the warriors who wielded arms -- it was their chain of supply, the ships which carried them between, the manufactora which supplied their munitions and the worlds which bred their recruits; they were indivisible and equally vital. To Guilliman's mind, all of these things made a Space Marine Legion, and he meant to control them all so that his own would prosper and the Emperor's will be done.
In accordance with his grand design, he planned to not merely take the world of his fosterage as his headquarters and recruiting ground as his peers had done and would continue to do, but from the start set it up as merely the fulcrum of a far larger network of provender and support. The basis of this network would be the worlds Macragge had long maintained links with, but they would merely be its first components, not its fullest extent. This would be the start of Robout Guilliman's "Ultramar" and it would be a project of decades, and continue to expand right up to the first treacherous blow of the Horus Heresy.
The Eagle of the East
As swiftly as he put his plans for Ultramar into action, he embarked on the root and branch reorganisation of his Legion. Adopting an extraordinarily detailed plan which drew from both the military doctrines and political philosophies of his surrogate home world, a detailed study of the history of the XIIIth and each and every other Legion and armed force under the Emperor's banner in their then current form, he remade the organisational structure and tactical doctrines of his Legion accordingly.
The result was an elegantly structured but elaborate and highly meritocratic force. It unsurprisingly built on much that had already been evident in the character of the XIIIth Legion, as their Primarch's gene-seed had already partly shaped them, however unconsciously, and through the application of analysis and reason sought to purge any weaknesses or deficiences to achieve the optimal military outcome. This, as with so much of the Legion's affairs, was considered by the Primarch an ongoing project, and it evolved quickly into a dual doctrine which embraced in parallel on one hand what were the ancient and deterministic values of the warrior: courage, discipline, skill and adaptability, defined as that which was "practical", and on the other: planning, precedent, analysis and assessment, defined as that which was "theoretical". Both were of equal weight and value, one complementing and informing the other, blending together as the metals which made a fine blade. This became the Legion's doctrine and creed. As with the society Roboute Guilliman had built on Macragge, the XIIIth Legion under his mastery would be as ruthlessly even-handed as it was efficient, with the needs of the individual sublimated to the greater whole, but the life of the individual never spent wantonly or without purpose; for the doctrine stated that each Legionary lost weakened those who remained. Within the Legion, the valour and the achievement of the individual were rewarded with honour and responsibility, but the obedience to hierarchy and order it demanded of its members was to be unquestioning and unchallenged. The outward signs of this transformation were striking, the livery of the XIIIth was altered to a deep blue, chased with gold, while the symbol of the ancient "Ultima" glyph found in the pre-isolation stellar charts of the region was adopted as its icon and seal to tie them to the newfound realm which they embodied, and with it the cognomen "Ultramarines", perhaps as one monography attributed to Remembrancer L. Amphidal suggested, "Roboute Guilliman and his Legion would vow to take the Great Crusade beyond the stars themselves if needed to see it completion."
With its forward base relocated to Macragge, Guilliman was granted independent Crusade command for the region, and quickly set about a series of fresh conquests. His 12th Expeditionary Fleet reformed under his command and supplied with warships of the latest designs from Mars as a boon of the Emperor. Fresh conquests were immediate, as the newly named Ultramarines rapidly expanded their range out from Macragge, identifying suitable targets for Compliance and singling out xenos holds for eradication. Interrupted only when called upon to join larger campaigns by the will of the Emperor, for nearly a century the 12th Expeditionary Fleet ranged as far to the galactic north as the dead expanse where the Dominion of Storms ended and as far to the galactic east and south as the point of Ultima Thule, where the stars paled and emptied out into the limitless darkness of the exo-galactic void.
During this period, the Ultramarines, by some records, succeeded in liberating more worlds than any other single Primarch's forces, and the planets Roboute Guilliman brought within the Imperium always benefitted from his intense passion for efficient and ordered government. Whenever Guilliman and the Ultramarines made a world Compliant, his forces spent as much effort in establishing it afresh, setting up self-supporting defences, and ensuring that in his wake, the agents of the Imperial Truth and industry would firmly seal the world's place in the fabric of the Imperium. This spread of cohesive civilisation in the Legion's path served both to solidify and expand supply lines for its advance, facilitating in no small part the great speed and range of the Ultramarines' conquests.
Within months of the Legion's establishment on Macragge, the first influx of new recruits had arrived at the Fortress of Hera, the Legion's fortress-monastery and new headquarters, and the process of renewal and increase in the XIIIth Legion's fighting strength had begun and never since had ceased. Wave after wave of recruits were taken in and processed, not simply from Macragge and the surrounding worlds of the slowly expanding Ultramar, as numerous as they were, but from scores of worlds and colony outposts where the conquering fleets of Roboute Guilliman had gone. By the time Horus was appointed Warmaster, the Ultramarines were by any official assessment the largest single Space Marine Legion by number of Legionaries with a considerable margin. Owing to this expansion, the now massive 12th Expeditionary Fleet was sub-divided into a score of smaller Expeditionary and Persecution fleets, allowing the Legion to range further, each still numbering scores of vessels and thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of Legionaries. The numeric strength of the Ultramarines Legion, in excess of 250,000 Astartes, would be an achievement that would not be surpassed, though in secrecy the late expansion of the Word Bearers, who originally numbered approximately 100,000 Astartes, would come to rival them by some assessments, while the wilder claims as to the strength of the Alpha Legion also have them run closer than official records would indicate.
This scale of military force and the near autonomous "empire within an empire" that maintained it, Ultramar having reached a dominion popularly ascribed as the Five Hundred Worlds before the outbreak of war, would have dire and unforeseen consequences for the Ultramarines and their Primarch. Separate and inviolate in the east, and a great power within their own right, the Legion's very existence made them a threat to the Traitor's conspiracy that could not be ignored, and on Calth would the Warmaster's plan and the Word Bearer's desire for revenge see that threat destroyed.
Triumph of Ullanor
In the latter years of the 30th Millennium, force of the Imperium undertook the Ullanor Crusade, a vast Imperial assault on the Ork empire of the Overlord Urrlak Urruk. The capital world of this Greenskin stellar empire, and the site of the final assault by the Space Marine Legions, lay in the central Ullanor System of the galaxy's Ullanor Sector. The Crusade included the deployment of 100,000 Space Marines, 8,000,000 Imperial Army troops, and thousands of Imperial starships and their support personnel. The Ullanor Crusade marked the high point of the Great Crusade's vast effort to reunite the scattered colony worlds of humanity. The Orks of Ullanor represented the largest concentration of Greenskins ever defeated by the military forces of the Imperium of Man before the Third War for Armageddon began during the late 41st Millennium. Following the defeat of the Orks of Ullanor, the Emperor of Mankind was to return to Terra to begin work on his vast project to open up the Eldar Webway for Mankind's use. In his place to command the vast forces of the Great Crusade he left Horus. In the aftermath of the Ullanor Crusade, Horus was granted the newly-created title of "Warmaster", the commander-in-chief of all the Emperor’s armies who possessed command authority over all of the other Primarchs and every Expeditionary Fleet of the Great Crusade. When the Emperor proclaimed Horus, Warmaster of the Imperium, Guilliman accepted the news without resentment, and Horus continued to seek his counsel. However, Horus believed that Guilliman felt that he had deserved the honour of being named Warmaster just as much, if not more. Before returning to Terra to oversee the next phase of the creation of his stellar empire, the Emperor suggested to Horus that he rename the XVIth Legion the "Sons of Horus", in honour of their Primarch and to show his preeminent place amongst the other Primarchs. Horus initially declined this honour, not wishing to be set above his brothers, and so his Legion continued as the Luna Wolves for a little while longer. But Horus and the other Primarchs never came to terms with the Emperor's absence. Their hurt feelings over his seeming abandonment of the Great Crusade to pursue a secret project whose purpose he chose not to reveal to his sons laid the seeds of jealousy and resentment that would ultimately blossom into the corruption that begat the Horus Heresy.
Battle of Calth
- "Space Marines excel at warfare because they were designed to excel at everything. Each of you will become a leader, a ruler, the master of your world and when there is no more fighting to be done, you will bend your talents to order, governance and culture so that the Imperium will stand eternal."
When the Warmaster Horus turned his back on the Imperium, swore his allegiance to the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, and began the Horus Heresy, his first act before making his break with the Emperor of Mankind open was to lure away as many Loyalist Legions from Terra as possible. Horus ordered Guilliman to lead an expeditionary force to the world of Calth in the Veridian System in the Realm of Ultramar to prepare for a campaign in the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy, where, Horus claimed, an Ork WAAAGH! was massing. Horus expected the Ultramarines to await the arrival of the Word Bearers who would join with the XIIIth Legion in prosecuting a campaign against the Ork menace. Unknown to Guilliman, the XVIIth Legion had long before turned Traitor in service to the Chaos Gods, and its Primarch, Lorgar, gleefully accepted Horus' orders to close the trap on his Legion's long-hated rivals. The Word Bearers' sudden attack decimated Guilliman's Legion fleet, and the Ultramarines' ground troops quickly found themselves impossibly outnumbered by their former allies as the infamous Battle of Calth erupted. The Word Bearers slew their Loyalist foes in droves in the early stages of their surprise attack and pushed them back over huge stretches of territory. The Traitors rejoiced at the terrible blows they were inflicting upon the Legion that had once aided the Emperor in humiliating them upon the world of Khur decades before the start of the Heresy when they had been taken to task for repeated violations of the atheistic philosophy known as the Imperial Truth. Unknown to them, Guilliman's flagship, which had survived the initial Word Bearers' attack on the Ultramarines fleet, effected emergency repairs and regrouped with the other surviving Ultramarine starships in space. Having taken stock of his remaining forces, Guilliman sent an immediate astropathic distress call to Macragge.
The Loyalist Marines on Calth, Ultramarines all, had been forced into a fighting retreat, but soon occupied fortified positions. Many Ultramarines had been born on Calth, and proved more resolute than the Word Bearers anticipated. In space, Guilliman's vessels began hit-and-run attacks on their over-confident enemy. Guilliman assessed his ground troops' positions and broadcast clear, concise orders to each pocket of defence, coordinating them into a cohesive force. One Ultramarine force led by Captain Ventanus led a breakout and retook Calth's Defence Laser silos, aiding the sorely-pressed Ultramarines fleet from the surface of Calth. Guilliman's depleted forces slowed the Word Bearers down long enough for the remainder of the Ultramarines Legion to arrive and rout the Traitor Marines from the system, though at a heavy cost. The Word Bearers turned Calth's own orbital defence platforms on the Veridian star, stripping away the outer layers of its photosphere and destabilising it, ultimately rendering the surface of Calth uninhabitable. At the same time, the Word Bearers had used the battle taking place on Calth to summon a massive Warp Storm called the Ruinstorm, that was intended to cut off Ultramar from the rest of the galaxy and prevent the Ultramarines from providing any reinforcements to Terra as Horus made his assault upon humanity's homeworld. The eruption of the Ruinstorm cut off Calth from the main body of the Ultramarines Legion and left the Astartes of the XIIIth Legion trapped on Calth locked in a brutal subterranean war with those Word Bearers units that had also been left behind when their Legion retreated from the Viridian System. Yet Roboute Guilliman and a large portion of his Legion had remained off-world as a result of the Word Bearers' devious assault upon the Ultramarines fleet. Bloodied but unbowed, the Ultramarines received the orders of Malcador the Sigillite, the Emperor's Regent, while he was indisposed pursuing the secret Imperial Webway Project, and prepared to meet the needs of the Imperium's defence against the Traitor Legions as best they could.
In his wrath, the Lord of Ultramar had gathered what vessels he could spare after Kor Phaeron's ambush, drawn additional numbers from the first Ultramarines relief fleet bound for Calth after the massacre above that world, and tracked Lorgar directly through the use of the XIIIth Legion’s own astropathic choirs. In the wake of the Battle of Calth, the Word Bearers Legion, led by Lorgar, linked up with Angron and his World Eaters Legion to launch a Shadow Crusade against the Realm of Ultramar's Five Hundred Worlds in an attempt to spread the massive Warp Storm known as the Ruinstorm that had been conjured by the Word Bearers' First Chaplain Erebus at Calth across the Eastern Fringe. This prodigious Warp Storm would effectively split the galaxy in half and deny needed reinforcements to the Loyalists as Horus drove on Terra in an attempt to overthrow the Emperor of Mankind.
The Shadow Crusade laid waste to 26 worlds until Guilliman's retribution fleet finally caught up to the Traitors upon Angron's homeworld of Nuceria, which the World Eaters Legion were preoccupied with wiping clean of all life in vengeance for the treatment the Nucerians had merited out a century before to Angron. The XIIIth Legion warship Courage Above All, Guilliman's temporary flagship, broke Warp at the system’s edge, at the head of a large void armada consisting of 41 vessels. The Ultramarines armada looked wounded, cobbled together from separate fleets. It was not a dedicated interdiction war-fleet, but clearly a ragtag strike force, a lance thrust to the enemy’s heart. Guilliman himself had done the best he could with limited resources. The XIIIth Legion's Cruisers and Battleships ran abeam of the enemy fleet for repeated exchange of broadsides, offering targets too big and powerful to ignore, while the rest of the Ultramarines fleet used calculated Lance strikes from safer range. The armada then divided its assault potential, doing its utmost to destroy Lorgar's flagship Fidelitas Lex, and attempted to take the World Eaters' flagship Conqueror in a boarding action.
But the Ultramarines' warships not only fought a void war, they also attempted to take the fight to the surface of Nuceria, for this attack was personal. The Ultramarines had come for revenge against Lorgar and the Word Bearers, just as they had pursued Kor Phaeron all the way to the Maelstrom on the other side of Ultramar. Several Ultramarines warships attempted to make a run on Nuceria, haemorrhaging Drop Pods, landers and gunships, forcing planetfall by any means necessary. The Ultramarines fleet swept over and against the Traitors like an insect horde. But the tenacious commander of the Conqueror, Lotara Sarrin, put up a difficult fight and destroyed a number of Ultramarines vessels that attempted to make a run for the surface. Though the World Eaters' flagship transformed a number of the smaller vessels into flaming wreckage, the Ultramarines eventually punched through her tenacious defence and managed to land troops on the surface of Nuceria.
Meanwhile, the Fidelitas Lex was already a ruin, its armour pitted and cracked, its shields a memory. The cathedrals and spinal fortresses barnacling along its back were gone, laid waste by the Ultramarines’ incendiary rage. The XIIIth Legion's armada attacked in strafing runs and protracted exchanges of broadsides, trading fire with the superior warship and accepting their own casualties as the cost of bleeding the bigger vessel dry. Each assault left the Lex weaker, firing fewer turrets and cannons, taking punishment on its increasingly fragile armour. But she fought on. Crawling with smaller ships, the Lex lashed back with its remaining Macro-cannons, rolling in the light of its own burning hull. Guilliman guided the battle from the command deck of Courage Above All, and had decided that the Lex would die first, killed in the death of a thousand cuts and swept from the game board, while the Conqueror would be boarded and killed from within. In the course of the battle in Nucerian orbit, the Conqueror could not rise to its sister-ship's defence. Both Traitor Legion flagships fought alone, starved of support and suffering the endless attacks of the XIIIth Legion’s ragged armada. Salvation Pods streamed from the Lex’s sides and underbelly, along with heavier Mechanicum craft and bulk landers. With the Legionaries of the Word Bearers already on the surface, the ship’s human population fled in the vessel’s final minutes. And still the great vessel fought -- rolling, turning, raging. The Ultramarines Cruisers that drifted past burned as badly as the warship they were killing. This void battle was a form of dirty fighting between warships, too close for the neat calculations of ranged battery fire. Instead, it was an up close and personal slugfest.
The Ultramarines Battle Barge Armsman intercepted the Conqueror and came abeam, launching Assault Carriers and Boarding Torpedoes. While the World Eaters flagship was busy repelling boarders, a number of smaller XIIIth Legion vessels slipped past her defences and launched Drop Pods, gunships and troop carriers. The first Drop Pods hammered home on the planet's surface. Sealed doors unlocked and the first Ultramarines poured forth, Bolters raised, moving in perfect and well-trained unity. But the World Eaters were waiting for them. Those not lost to the Butcher's Nails at once had the presence of mind to note that these Ultramarines were not the pristine cobalt-blue warriors they had previously faced on the War World of Armatura. These Legionaries of the XIIIth wore cracked Power Armour, still scarred and burnwashed from some horrendous battle weeks or months before. These were hardened veterans of the Calth Atrocity. They burned with a cold intensity to carry out the vengeance in their hearts, and were intent on getting to grips with the Word Bearers.
As was their way, the Ultramarines established footholds at defensible positions, clearing room for their reinforcements to land. For every position they held, another was overrun by the World Eaters in a storm of roaring axes, or lost to the Word Bearers' chanting, implacable advance. The XIIth Legion crashed against the XIIIth in rabid packs, showing why Imperial forces had feared to fight alongside them for decades. Uncontrolled, unbound, unrestrained, they butchered their way through Ultramarines strongpoints, enslaved to the joy of battle because of the Butcher's Nails cortical implants sandwiched within the meat of their minds. The XVIIth Legion also met their Loyalist cousins, replacing ferocity with spite and hate. The Ultramarines returned it in kind, hungry for vengeance against the vile Traitors who had defiled Calth and damaged its star. Word Bearers units marched, droning black hymns and chanting sermons from the Book of Lorgar, bearing corpse-strewn icons of befouled metal and bleached bones above their regiments.
As the fighting raged, the burning shell of the Fidelitas Lex cut through the clouds into the planet's atmosphere, shuddering on its way east, rolling ever downwards, achingly slow for something of such scale. The weight of the Lex's massive plasma engines dragged the stern down first, colliding with the Nucerian ocean's surface far from shore. In the meantime, the demigod in gold and blue had finally found the object of his obsession amidst the clamour of war. Guilliman confronted Lorgar, possessing the advantage of two weapons, but Lorgar's Crozius gave him a reach his brother lacked. When they first met, there was no furious trading of frantic blows, nor were there any melodramatic speeches of vengeance avowed. The two Primarchs came together once, Power Fist against War Maul, and backed away from the resulting flare of repelling energy fields. Their warriors killed each other around them both, and neither Primarch spared their sons a glance. Lorgar flicked the clinging lightning from the head of his Crozius, shaking his head in slow denial.
Both Primarchs fought without heeding their warriors, their godlike movements an inconceivable blur to the Space Marines fighting around them. None had ever imagined the heroes of this new age would take the field against each other, nor could they have predicted the wellsprings of spite between them. Guilliman confronted Lorgar for what his Legion had done across the Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar. In his righteous anger the Ultramarines Primarch struck Lorgar with one of his fists, battering the Word Bearers Primarch's sternum. Lorgar repulsed him with a projected burst of telekinesis, weak and wavering, but enough to send his brother staggering. The Crozius followed, its power field trailing lightning as Lorgar hammered it into the side of Guilliman’s head with the force of a cannonball. Both Primarchs faced each other beneath the grey sky, one bleeding internally, the other with half of his face lost to blood sheeting from a fractured skull.
As the two Primarchs were locked in their furious life-and-death struggle, they were oblivious to the destruction being wrought around them. Suddenly, Angron burst forth from the Ultramarines ranks, his armour a shattered wreck, and both of his Chainswords spat gobbets of ceramite armour plating and scarlet gore. Angron was plastered with the blood of the slain after hours in the crush of the front lines of intense combat. On his chest hung a bandolier of skulls taken from the mass grave at Desh'elika Ridge. Blood painted them as surely as it marked Angron. Even through the constant pain generated by the Butcher's Nails, that pleased him. He wanted his deceased brothers and sisters to taste blood once more. He had carried them with him across Nuceria, letting their empty eyes witness the razing of his former, hated homeworld. The World Eater launched himself at Guilliman with murderous hatred. The two Primarchs fell into a seamless, roaring duel where Lorgar and Guilliman had abandoned theirs. Guilliman was forced back by the storm of Angron's blows.
As the two Primarchs fought, Guilliman landed a glancing blow, his fist pounding across Angron's breastplate. One of the skulls of Angron's fallen kinsman that hung from the chain worn across his breastplate was partially shattered and scattered across the ground. Guilliman stepped back, his boot crushing a skull's remnants to powder. Angron saw it, and threw himself at his brother, his howl of wrath defying mortal origins, impossibly ripe in its anguish. Lorgar saw it, too. The moment Guilliman's boot broke the skull, he felt the Warp boil behind the veil. The Bearer of the Word started chanting in a language never before spoken by any living being, his words in faultless harmony with Angron's cry of torment. Lorgar enacted his dark plan to save his brother's life, summoning the Ruinstorm to the world of Nuceria, tearing the sky open and unleashing a crimson torrent, formed from the ghosts of a hundred murdered worlds, raining blood. Guilliman had been holding his own against both Traitor Primarchs, until Lorgar ceased his attack and started his achingly resonant chant. Angron and Roboute still fought, with the Lord of the Ultramarines giving ground each time Angron landed a blow. Angron plunged his Chainsword up under Guilliman’s breastplate -- a shallow stab, but a telling one. The Ultramarines Primarch crushed the impaling sword in one fist and staggered back, truly bleeding now.
Despite the maelstrom of combat and sorcery raging around them, Angron still fought Guilliman, standing above the kneeling Ultramarine Primarch. He had not even noticed the storm of blood streaming from the sky in a red torrent. Sparks sprayed from Roboute’s raised gauntlets as he struggled to ward off blow after blow. He was beaten and down. His wounds bled profusely, a palette of proud defeat. His warriors fought desperately to retrieve him. Fortunately they were granted a brief reprieve, as Lorgar's incantation locked up Angron's muscles, and began to transform the Red Angel into a new form as a Daemon Prince of Khorne. Guilliman took the opportunity to escape into his sons' defiant phalanxes, retreating in enviable unity. Lorgar saw the expression of disgusted awe on his brother's face as the wounded Ultramarine stared at Angron's metamorphosis atop the mound of dead sons from all three bloodlines of Space Marines. The XIIIth Legion continued to fire even in retreat, leaving the world of Nuceria battered and bloody. Their campaign against the two Traitor Legions was over..for now.
Roboute Guilliman escaped from Nuceria, unable to face or even fully comprehend what both of his brothers had become through their corruption by the Ruinous Powers. The World Eaters completed their purge of Nuceria until not one human life remained on the benighted world. Angron, now the very embodiment of the Blood God's Eight-Fold Path, shook the dust of the world from his feet and did not think of it again.
Battle of Terra
As the long and bloody years of the Horus Heresy passed, the Traitor Legions under the command of the Warmaster Horus finally closed on the homeworld of Mankind and launched their great assault against the Imperial Palace while they believed a good portion of the Loyalist Space Marine Legions remained occupied in other regions of the galaxy. While the Forces of Chaos came close to battering down the gates of the Palace, the Loyalists' stout defence managed to hold the line long enough for Loyalist reinforcements to drop from the Warp on the edges of the Sol System. Salvation was coming. In orbit of Terra, Horus' allies delivered the fateful news to the Warmaster while he sat directing the battle for the Imperial Palace. The Ultramarines, Dark Angels and Space Wolves Legions were only hours away from reinforcing the Emperor and his Loyalist defenders. Horus knew that his gamble had failed. What happened next is disputed, some believe Horus disabled his shields as he experienced one last moment of regret, and some believe it was a personal challenge to the Emperor. Nevertheless, Horus lowered the shields of his flagship Battle Barge Vengeful Spirit, allowing the Emperor, the Blood Angels' Primarch Sanguinius and a company of Imperial Fists to teleport aboard and slay him, ending the Horus Heresy. The Emperor was mortally wounded in the exchange and interred in the Golden Throne immediately afterwards by the Primarch Rogal Dorn, leaving a dangerous void of power and authority in the Imperium.
The Ultramarines did not arrive until after Horus' defeat, and they found Terra and the Imperium in ruins. Guilliman steadfastly refused to allow the Imperium to fall, and began dispatching elements of his Legion to all corners of the galaxy to stem the tide of invasion and unrest as the other Loyalist forces recovered and rearmed. After a decade of intense fighting, stability was restored. To prevent a single commander having as many superhuman Astartes at his command as Horus had, Guilliman reformulated the sizes of all of the Loyalist Space Marine Legions into thousand-man Chapters, breaking apart the 9 original Loyalist First Founding Legions into the much smaller Second Founding Chapters. Never again would one man, no matter how noble and unblemished his motives, wield the power of an entire Space Marine Legion. The rationale and proper organisation of Space Marine Chapters are the main topic in Guilliman's masterwork of strategy, the Codex Astartes.
Whilst the Horus Heresy plunged the Imperium into savagery and civil war, the Ultramarines were engaged on the southern edge of the galaxy. Their very success had carried them far from Terra and isolated them from the conquering Traitor Legions of the Warmaster Horus which had been concentrated in the galactic northeast. News of Horus' treachery did not reach the Ultramarines until the attack on Earth was underway. Thanks to the speed of Horus' attack there was little that Roboute Guilliman could do in support of his Emperor during the crucial Battle of Terra. None of the worlds already liberated by the Ultramarines were in serious danger from the Forces of Chaos. Consequently, the Ultramarines were poorly placed to contribute during the early stages of the Horus Heresy.
Post-Heresy Imperial Reformation
The Loyalist Space Marine Legions had lost tens of thousands of troops during the fighting of the Heresy, and half of the original 18 Legions had sided with Horus and been corrupted by Chaos. As a result, the number of Astartes left to the Imperium after the end of the Heresy was very few, yet never were they more needed.
The confusion and disorder following the Horus Heresy had left the Imperium weak and vulnerable. Everywhere the enemies of mankind prepared to attack. Many worlds remained in the grip of Chaos. Into this breach stepped Roboute Guilliman and the Ultramarines. Always the largest of the Astartes Legions, the Ultramarines found themselves divided and dispatched all over the Imperium in a desperate effort to stem the tide of invasion and unrest. The Ultramarines successfully held the Imperium together during a time of intense danger. Macragge was able to supply new recruits at such a rate that before long the Ultramarines alone accounted for more than half the total number of Space Marines, and few were the star systems where their heroism went unnoticed. Within a decade, order was restored to the Imperium. Even as the Ultramarines reconquered, a new theory of warfare was emerging. Under the guidance of the Ultramarines' Primarch, the Codex Astartes was taking shape. Its doctrines would reshape the future of all Space Marines and forevermore dictate the foundation for the Imperium's military strength and the ultimate survival of Mankind.
The Second Founding of the Space Marines was decreed seven years after the death of Horus and the end of his Heresy. Most of the old Loyalist Legions divided into fewer than 5 Successor Chapters, but the Ultramarines were divided many times. The exact number of Successor Chapters created from the Ultramarines is uncertain: the number listed in the oldest copy of the Codex Astartes gives the total as 23, but does not name them. With the Second Founding, the size of the Ultramarines force was much reduced. Most of the Space Marines left Macragge to establish new Chapters elsewhere. The Ultramarines' fortress-monastery was built to accommodate more than ten times as many Space Marines as now remained on their homeworld. As a result its arsenals and weapon shops were partially dismantled and taken by the new Chapters to found their own bases. The genetic banks of the Ultramarines, and the huge recruitment organisation, were similarly reduced. As a result of the Second Founding, the Ultramarines' gene-seed became pre-eminent across the Imperium. The new Chapters created from the Ultramarines during the Second Founding are often referred to as the Primogenitors, or "first-born". The lasting heritage of Guilliman was not only genetic, but spiritual. Even to this day, 10,000 standard years later, all the Primogenitor Chapters venerate Roboute Guilliman as their own founding father and patron, and hold the ruler of Ultramar, whoever he be, as the exemplar of all that it means to be a Space Marine. So did the Ultramarines rise to become preeminent amongst their brother Chapters.
Death of the Avenging Son
Roboute Guilliman continued to serve with the Ultramarines Chapter, leading them for a hundred years after the Second Founding. It was said that during those years, Guilliman led several incursions alongside his brother Primarchs against the remaining Chaos Space Marines. During one incursion, Guilliman faced his former brother Primarch Alpharius of the Alpha Legion, and slew him in single combat (though the precise details of this event remain in doubt, even to the Ultramarines). The Ultramarines, however, were forced to withdraw from the combat, as to their shock the Alpha Legion's Traitor Marines fought on despite the apparent loss of their Primarch. Guilliman would meet eventually his ultimate fate during the Battle of Thessala in 121.M31, when he encountered one of the Traitor Primarchs, Fulgrim of the Emperor's Children, who had become a Daemon Prince of Slaanesh. During this encounter with his former brother, Fulgrim managed to fatally injure Guilliman in the neck with a poisonous sword (which was remarkably similar to the Anathame sword that was used by Dark Apostle Erebus to fatally wound Horus on Davin's moon).
Fatally poisoned by his one-time brother, Roboute was transported back to Macragge in a stasis field, and has remained entombed in the field for 10,000 years, frozen in time. Although physically impossible within the null-time of a stasis field, it is believed by many pilgrims to his shrine that his wounds are healing, and that one day he will awaken again when the Imperium needs him most. The Shrine of Guilliman built to contain his body is one of the most holy places in the entire Imperium, and one which welcomes millions of pilgrims every year. It lies within the Temple of Correction, a vaulted sepulchre forming a small part of the Ultramarines' vast northern polar fortress on Macragge. The temple is a miracle of construction and typical of the attention to detail to which the Ultramarines apply themselves. Its proportions defy the human mind by the scope and grandeur of its design. The multi-coloured glass dome that forms the roof is the largest of its kind. Even the Techno-magi of the Adeptus Mechanicus come to marvel at the structure said to have been designed by Roboute Guilliman himself. According to the Ultramarines there is enough marble within the temple to build a mountain, and sufficient adamantium and shining plasteel to construct a sizable Imperial warfleet.
Within this edifice is the great marble throne of Roboute Guilliman, and upon that throne sits a regal corpse. Though the best part of 10,000 years have passed since his death, the Primarch's body is perfectly preserved. Even his death wounds from Fulgrim's blade are visible upon his throat. His mortal remains are preserved from the ravages of time by means of a stasis field that isolates the Primarch from the time-stream of normal four-dimensional space-time. Everything encompassed by the field is trapped in time and can neither change nor decay. There are some, however, who claim the Primarch's wounds do change. They say that Guilliman's body is slowly recovering and that his wounds show mysterious signs of healing. Others deny the phenomena, and point out the sheer scientific impossibility of change within the stasis field. Yet enough believe the stories to come and witness for themselves the miracle of the Primarch, generation after generation.
- Armour of Reason - Known in the legends of his Legion as the "ever-reforged" armour, it was said that Roboute Guilliman himself had this set of Artificer Armour remade and adapted countless times if ever a flaw or weakness was discovered in battle, and at various times the artisanship both of Mars and his fellow Primarchs Vulkan and Perturabo influenced its design in the days before the sundering of the Imperium.
- Gladius Incandor & the Hand of Dominion - As with many of his brother Primarchs, Roboute Guilliman possessed a vast selection of weapons and wargear, both to wield on the battlefield as desire and need dictated, and in Guilliman's case also to study and contemplate, so that his arts of war and that of his Legion could be continuously honed and improved. Perhaps the most iconic of these arms were the power gauntlet known as the Hand of Dominion and the glittering master-crafted blade known as the Gladius Incandor. These were not merely weapons of surpassing quality, but symbols for the Ultramarines Legions of their master's might and authority.
- The Arbitrator - One of Roboute Guilliman's favoured side arms when in open battle was a heavily customised Combi-Bolter which he was able to wield as deftly as one of is Legionaries might handle a pistol. Dubbed by him the "Arbitrator" for the matters it settled, it was tooled to tolerances beyond any but the archmagos of the Mechanicum to fathom, while its bolt shells were hand-crafted by the finest ordnancer-wrights of the Legion's forges and fitted with micro-atomantic compression warheads.
- Cognis Signum
- Frag Grenades
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 7-9, 12-15, 24, 84
- Codex: Space Marines (3rd Edition), pg. 36
- Codex: Ultramarines (2nd Edition), pp. 4, 7-9, 11-13, 15
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 53-54, 200
- Deathwatch: First Founding (RPG), pp. 67-73
- Horus Heresy – Volume II: Visions of Darkness
- Horus Heresy: Collected Visions
- Index Astartes III, "Warriors of Ultramar - The Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter"
- Insignium Astartes: The Uniforms and Regalia of the Space Marines
- The Horus Heresy - Book Five: Tempest by Alan Bligh, pp. 70-82, 96-99, 238-239
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (6th Edition), pp. 161, 187, 403
- Warhammer 40,000 Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 134
- White Dwarf 264 (AU), "Index Astartes – Ultramarines"
- White Dwarf 263 (US), "Index Astartes - First Founding: Warriors of Ultramar - The Ultramarines Space Marine Chapter", pp. 18-25
- White Dwarf 97 (US), "Index Astartes - Ultramarines" by David Wise & Rick Priestley, pp. 39-49
- Defenders of Ultramar (Graphic Novel) by Graham McNeill, Issue 1, pg. 5
- The First Hertic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Age of Darkness (Anthology) edited by Christian Dunn, 'Rules of Engagement' by Graham McNeill
- Know No Fear (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Betrayer (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- Roboute Guilliman: Lord of Ultramar (The Horus Heresy: Primarchs, Book 1) - David Annandale
- Forge World - Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines
|Horus • Leman Russ • Lost Primarchs • Ferrus Manus • Fulgrim • Vulkan • Rogal Dorn • Roboute Guilliman • Magnus the Red • Sanguinius • Lion El'Jonson • Perturabo • Mortarion • Lorgar • Jaghatai Khan • Konrad Curze • Angron • Corvus Corax • Alpharius Omegon|