"An ambition to save humanity is almost always a disguise for the desire to rule it."
- — Attributed to the Panpacific tyrant Narthan Dume, in the era of the Unification of Terra (M30)
The Imperium Secundus, known also as the Unremembered Empire, was the second stellar empire of Humanity created by the Ultramarines Primarch Roboute Guilliman in 009.M31 during the Horus Heresy following the horrific events of the Battle of Calth and the Drop Site Massacre of Istvaan V.
The Imperium Secundus was located on the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy in the Segmentum Ultima and at its peak in size it compromised roughly five hundred worlds and was centered on the Ultramarines' own Realm of Ultramar.
The light of the great navigational beacon of the Astronomican was extinguished across half the galaxy through the efforts of the Word Bearers Legion's maleficent summoning of the massive Warp Storm known as the Ruinstorm.
Cut off from the rest of the Imperium of Man and unable to firmly establish whether or not the Emperor of Mankind still lived, or if Terra and the Imperium had fallen to the Traitors, Guilliman instituted the ultimate contingency plan -- to create a second human Imperium in order to ensure the survival of the Emperor's dream of a united Mankind.
The Imperium Secundus was eventually folded back into the larger Imperium before the end of the Horus Heresy in 014.M31. It was later considered by Guilliman one of his greatest mistakes and an event that he was not eager for others to learn of once he was resurrected to serve as Lord Commander of the Imperium after the birth of the Great Rift in the late 41st Millennium.
"Heresy comes in many forms. It can be blatant, like the one which now tears down the stars, but it can be subtle too, accidental. To make example, the building of a new Imperium when the old one is not yet pronounced dead. -- I am not building my own Imperium, Gantulga. I am preserving what's left of the original."
Following the horrific events of the Battle of Calth, the XIIIth Legion had been badly crippled and no longer presented a viable threat to Horus' plan to drive on Terra. Erebus had managed to complete his blasphemous ritual on Calth's surface, which summoned a Ruinstorm to the galaxy's Eastern Fringe -- a monstrous Warp Storm larger and more destructive than anything spacefaring humanity had witnessed since the days of the Age of Strife.
It was intended to split the void asunder, dividing the galaxy in two and rendering vast tracts of the Imperium of Man impassable for many standard centuries. The Ruinstorm would also isolate and trap those Loyalist forces caught behind it like the Ultramarines, preventing them from coordinating their efforts and supporting one another as the Traitor Legions moved towards Terra. It would even prevent them from warning each other, for a time, of the Warmaster Horus' betrayal and the interstellar civil war that had begun to consume the Imperium. The Ruinstorm would leave Terra alone in the void, infinitely vulnerable to the approaching shadow of Horus.
Cut off from the Imperium, the Lord Macragge decided to secure the Five Hundred Worlds of the Realm of Ultramar. He decided to anchor what remained of the Imperium of Man on the Ultramarines' homeworld of Macragge. The XIIIth Legion had discovered the means to help navigate their voidships through the Warp without the beacon of the Astronomican through the use of the recently discovered xenos-technology on the world of Sotha known as the Pharos.
The Ultramarines had also managed to maintain some security of transit, and the possibility of proper recomposition of their voidships when transitioning from the Warp into realspace. For all intents and purposes, the Five Hundred Worlds were the Imperium for the people of the galaxy trapped behind the barrier of the Ruinstorm. Everything was theoretical at that particular moment -- the rest of the Imperium, the security of Terra, the survival of the Emperor. Macragge was the only practical thing in existence. It was the only thing Guilliman and his Ultramarines knew they had, and at such time of extremity, it was the only foundation the Primarch knew he could depend on.
Guilliman hesitated to declare the formation of the Imperium Secundus formally and publicly, having admitted his intention to his closest confidences only. He had strength in his conviction of its necessity, but would not shrink from the more unedifying aspects of the proposal. He wasn't bound by the fear that he was usurping the Emperor every bit as much as Horus. In truth, his hesitation was born of grief.
Grief that his father, the Emperor, Terra, and the grand dream of the Imperium itself were lost, and the only way for their civilisation to survive was to consolidate within the Five Hundred Worlds of Ultramar. It was a burden Guilliman had never sought to bear, and it was made heavier by his unmitigated sorrow.
The Avenging Son refused to declare himself the new Emperor, though his closest advisors suggested he at least declare himself as Regent of the Imperium Secundus. In truth, Guilliman hated the word, and the thought of ruling. Guilliman knew he could not both command and rule. He could not administer this new empire and be its figurehead.
Guilliman's closest advisors suggested that no one else could be head of state. No one else could possibly be regent, for he was the last known Loyalist Primarch. The last loyal son of the Emperor. The only loyal son. He was meant to become what he must, to invest himself as the rallying point of Imperium Secundus -- to be Imperial, and reveal his renewed strength, his resolve, his mettle and the glory, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
Despite their urgings, Guilliman was still reluctant. He could not build an empire and put himself on the throne, even if he were the only candidate. It smacked of hubris, of arrogance, of overweening pride and foul ambition. It smacked of the deeds of Horus Lupercal.
Guilliman felt that if he declared himself Imperium Secundus' new ruler, it would diminish him in the eyes of those who yet respected him, and it would simply confirm the doubts of all those who did not -- taking advantage of this crisis and naming himself their king. They would say that the Lord Macragge displayed unseemly eagerness, jumping in to take unwholesome advantage of the situation.
Guilliman would have taken any loyal Primarch left, even the barbaric Leman Russ, to serve as the acting ruler of the Imperium Secundus rather than himself. It was a burden Guilliman had no desire to take up, but ultimately he was left with no one else as a potential candidate, and it proved a burden he was finally willing to shoulder.
But soon the answer to Guilliman's prayers were answered, in the form of the arrival of an Imperial Expeditionary Fleet translating in-system, newly arrived from the Thramas Sector in the Eastern Fringes. This fleet was led by none other than his fellow Primarch, Lion El'Jonson, and belonged to El'Jonson's Dark Angels Legion.
Guilliman was overjoyed that one of his wayward brothers had arrived during his hour of need, but of all his brothers, he wondered why it had to be the Lion who had found his way through the storm. Though the Lord Macragge greatly admired the lord of the Ist Legion, he felt there had always been a shadow upon him.
The Lion dwelled in secrets, and played his cards too close, for he walked by himself when he pleased. There was too much of the wild forest in him. The Lion should have been as noble as any of Guilliman's brother Primarchs, but they had never been close, and there was too much about him that was sly. Yet, despite his personal misgivings, Guilliman welcomed the Lion with the formality and respect due his prestigious position.
The galaxy contained only eighteen Primarchs. The conjunction of even two of them was a singular moment when the balance of the cosmos was temporarily and specifically weighed, especially when those two were, perhaps, the most feted and respected war leaders of all. Guilliman offered his brother an honour guard of almost forty-seven thousand fighting souls, not to mention the million or more civilians crowded into the streets of Macragge for a glimpse of the Lion-lord and his famous warriors. The people of Macragge came out in force to celebrate the arrival of the Lion.
Following a formal inspection of the Ultramarines Legion's formidable Macragge Civitas, the capital city of the world, the two Primarchs retired to a private chamber to speak candidly to one another. It was here that Guilliman had created a meeting place for the Emperor and his twenty sons. A long table, carved from stone, dominated the length of the room. Around it were twenty-one chairs, all built for the giant scale of a Primarch. Each one was cut from the same mountain granite as the table.
The chair backs were draped with banners, each representing the personal symbol of one of the Primarchs and his Legion. The great seal, at the head of the long table, was draped with the Imperial pennant of Terra. Two of the other pennants were plain and made of bleached, un-dyed cloth, to mark a place of honour for the missing but never forgotten Lost Primarchs of the IInd and XIth Legions.
The other eighteen were the banners of the Legiones Astartes themselves. Guilliman had created this chamber in the greatest city of his homeworld in the hope that someday, after the Great Crusade was over, all of his brothers, all of them, could sit at a table with their father, as equals, and talk of the matters of empire.
It was within this private chamber that Guilliman revealed his plans to the Lion for the continuity of the Imperium. That it must endure, in one form or another. That they must make it endure. His brother had confirmed to the Lion that he was in the process of establishing a second Imperium upon the corpse of the first. Guilliman did not pretend to hide his motives, but he made clear that he was only establishing such an empire in order to keep the flame of their father's dream alive.
This was not about empire-building, or seeking to claim the throne for himself as Horus had done. The Avenging Son already had a stellar empire in his possession -- Ultramar -- the Five Hundred Worlds. Guilliman wanted his brother to know that his only intention was to ensure the survival of their father's dream. Terra might have fallen, and their father might already be dead.
Whatever the reality of the situation they faced, the Ruinstorm prevented them from knowing the truth. Guilliman intended to utilise the moment to move to his advantage, and not to use the crisis as an opportunity to usurp the rightful ruler of the Imperium. He needed The Lion to understand that he was not Horus. Guilliman explained to his brother Primarch that the difference between himself and Horus was that he did not want to be the new Emperor. The Lord Macragge proposed that the Lion take up the mantle as the new Regent of the Imperium Secundus rather than himself.
But in the end, with the arrival of their brother Sanguinius and his Blood Angels Legion in Macragge from the disastrous campaign in the Signus Cluster, Guilliman convinced his reluctant angelic brother-Primarch to rule as the Regent of Imperium Secundus, for he possessed more of the noble aspects of the Emperor within him.
Once Sanguinius had accepted the position of Imperator Regis, Regent of the Imperium Secundus, Guilliman accepted the position of Lord Warden, while Lion El'Jonson was named the Lord Protector of Imperium Secundus, a title similar in function to that of Warmaster.
The first major test for the Imperium Secundus came during the Battle of Sotha, where Loyalist forces attempted to defend the Pharos from a Traitor assault. Fortunately for Guilliman, his troops proved victorious, maintaining the Imperium Secundus' fleet's ability to navigate through the Warp turmoil produced by the Ruinstorm.
After the battle, Guilliman and Lion El'Jonson almost came to blows over what to do about Konrad Curze, the Primarch of the Night Lords Traitor Legion, who was still loose on Sotha. Curze was believed to have been responsible for organising a series of suicide bombings and rebellions that targeted Guilliman's authority on Macragge, which resulted in Lion El'Jonson in his role as Lord Protector using the Dark Angels to put Macragge under martial law and deploying the Dreadwing, one of the Dark Angels' six specialised Hexagrammaton formations or "Wings," which made use of weapons of mass destruction like Phosphex and Vortex Weapons, to devastate the rebellious areas of the planet. Curze was ultimately captured by The Lion in the Illyrium region and forced to stand trial.
Back on Terra, Malcador the Sigilite had suspected that Guilliman might try to build his own empire if cut off from the Throneworld, and the Regent of Terra was nervous that the Primarch might attempt to usurp the Emperor's power. Malcador even hoped that the Dark Angels would stop Guilliman if he tried to secede in a way that was similar to what Horus had done. He never knew that the Lion's forces had joined with Guilliman to support the Imperium Secundus project.
The End of Imperium Secundus
By 014.M31, the final year of the Horus Heresy, it had become clear to the Loyalists on the other side of the Ruinstorm that both the Emperor and His Imperium had survived the Horus Heresy intact. The Imperium Secundus' ruling Triumvirate then decided to abandon the project, which was now both unnecessary and seen as somewhat heretical and disloyal. The Imperium Secundus' territories were restored to their prior Imperial sectors or to the Realm of Ultramar under the Regency of Valentus Dolor.
Guilliman, Sanguinius, and Lion El'Jonson led the bulk of their respective Legions through the Ruinstorm in hopes of reaching Terra and aiding the Emperor in His final struggle against Horus, though ultimately only Sanguinius and the Blood Angels would make it through following the Second Battle of Davin to participate heroically in the Siege of Terra.