- "The flames of hatred rage across the galaxy. Like a forest, humanity stands before it all but ready to be consumed. Despite the darkness that has cut our galaxy in twain, we must find unity in faith, and stand against those that would destroy us, our weapons roaring our defiance. We will cross the scar of Chaos and reunite humanity step by bloody step."
- — Commissar Konrad at the launch of the Indomitus Crusade
The Indomitus Crusade was the standard-century-long Imperial Crusade led by Lord Commander of the Imperium Roboute Guilliman from Terra during the period known as the Noctis Aeterna in the early 42nd Millennium. Its purpose was to defend and reclaim those regions of the Imperium of Man threatened by the surging Forces of Chaos and the threats of xenos such as the Orks, T'au, Drukhari and Tyranids in the wake of the 13th Black Crusade and the birth of the Great Rift in 999.M41.
The Crusade lasted into the early second century of the 42nd Millennium by the standards of the original Imperial Calendar, coming to an end at the Battle of Raukos. At its completion, Guilliman declared the Crusade over during a great triumphal review and dispersed its military elements across the Imperium, reinforcing many worlds with new Chapters of Primaris Space Marines.
In the wake of the Indomitus Crusade, the Imperium was stabilised from imminent collapse in the face of myriad threats, though there was no clear victory over those forces that still sought to exterminate Mankind's light from the galaxy. With the formal end of the Crusade, Guilliman finally returned home to the Realm of Ultramar with Imperial reinforcements.
He met his brother, the Daemon Primarch Mortarion, in battle to prevent him from adding Ultramar to those worlds already claimed by the servants of the Plague God Nurgle during the so-called Plague Wars.
The period of time in Imperial history when the Indomitus Crusade was ongoing was known as the "Era Indomitus."
- "I hear them, all of them, every time I close my eyes. The distress calls that went unanswered. The appeals for aid that we might have offered had necessity been less cruel. Every world, every army, every fleet and colony and platform and outpost from which their voices echoed in a chorus of the dying and the damned -- I know that to save them would have been to lose the Imperium entire, and yet I hear their voices still. I always will, carrying them with me like some ghastly reliquary until the day I meet my end. Perhaps that is only right. Perhaps that is my punishment."
In the later years of the 41st Millennium, a devastating cascade of Warp Storms ripped their way across the stars. It was as though the Dark Gods had dragged a ragged blade across the throat of the galaxy; the taut skin of realspace split again and again, and from the ineffable spaces beyond, the malevolent energies of the Warp spilled forth.
As the unnatural storm fronts spread, they multiplied and crashed together like ectoplasmic tidal waves. Countless worlds were engulfed in raging tempests of insanity. Armies were swallowed up by the darkness while starships in transit were smashed to haunted wreckage or hurled millions of light years off-course.
Amidst the death and mayhem, one band of heroes forged on against the odds. This was the Terran Crusade, a combined force of Space Marines from dozens of Chapters allied to Adepta Sororitas, Astra Militarum, Inquisitorial, and Adeptus Mechanicus forces.
Their ships were engaged in a desperate bid to reach Terra before the billowing storm fronts could consume them. At their head fought Roboute Guilliman, the awakened Primarch of the noble Ultramarines, the warrior demigod who had called this desperate crusade and would accept no end to it but victory.
Many heroic tales are told of the Terran Crusade. Legends claim that its warriors forged on despite the machinations of Heretics and xenos alike, that they defeated the cruel snares of daemons and despots to finally come by strange roads to the surface of Luna, Holy Terra's only moon.
On Luna the crusade army was forced to fight one last savage battle against Magnus the Red and his traitorous Thousand Sons. The Daemon Primarch sought to prevent his Loyalist brother from reaching the Throneworld. It was only by leading the combined strength of the crusade's survivors -- reinforced in their hour of need by military forces dispatched from the defences around Terra itself -- that Guilliman was able to prevail.
Battle of Lion's Gate
After the fall of the Noctis Aeterna and the birth of the Great Rift in the wake of Abaddon's successful 13th Black Crusade, the citizens of many Imperial worlds looked up with dread at that which pulsed unnaturally above them, fearing what might descend from the stars. Not all were cowed, however, and some endeavoured to leave their isolated planets and reconnect with the wider Imperium.
In the wake of the worst Warp Storms recorded in Imperial history, over a dozen expeditions were launched, amongst them the Aquila Crusade and the attempt to reclaim the Donlar Sector by the Revilers Spearhead. Few of these ventures fared well, and some, like the ill-fated Charon Crusade, proved disastrous. There was one undertaking, however, that did more than just succeed.
While the Blackness fell across whole segments of the galaxy, Roboute Guilliman refined his grand strategy upon Terra. After standing before the Golden Throne at the conclusion of his Terran Crusade, the Primarch had emerged with a renewed sense of purpose. Not long after the High Lords of Terra declared him Lord Commander of the Imperium, Guilliman called for action, ordering the mustering of a mighty armada.
Even as the forces of the Indomitus Crusade gathered, its numbers including Primaris Space Marines from the Ultima Founding, Guilliman's operation was interrupted by a daemonic incursion in service to the Blood God Khorne that erupted out of a sudden Warp Storm.
While many panicked over the breach in Terra's multi-spectrum shield defences, the Primarch led the counterattack himself in what became known as the Battle of Lion's Gate. None could stand before the ﬂame-wreathed Sword of the Emperor, and together the Adeptus Custodes, Sisters of Silence and many companies of Ultramarines dismantled the Khornate threat and banished it back to the Empyrean.
A New Crusade
Many believe it was the Battle of Luna during the Terran Crusade more than any other single engagement that inspired the nature of the Indomitus Crusade. Others cite the conflict that Guilliman was forced to lead only solar days later, he and Captain-General Trajann Valoris leading a mighty Imperial army in the Emperor's defence as the bow wave of the Noctis Aeterna drove a Khornate daemon army against the very gates of the Imperial Palace.
Either conflict might have impressed upon Roboute Guilliman the true efficacy of the Imperium's combined armies. Others suggest the Primarch was already well aware of the might of the present-day Imperial war machine after his battles in Ultramar and upon the road of the Terran Crusade.
Most likely all played their part, providing raw strategic data for Guilliman to process, enhancing his understanding of the capabilities of the Imperial war machine in the late 41st Millennium and planting the seeds of his plan for a combined-arms counteroffensive against the forces of the Dark Gods.
There are those amongst the High Lords who suggest none-too-subtly that Roboute Guilliman may already have harboured the plans for his own self-aggrandizing version of the ancient Great Crusade. They imply that the Primarch only made the journey to Terra so that he could launch his own galactic conquest from the Throneworld as his father did before him, hoping in this way to garner legitimacy for the undertaking.
Such notions are based on ten-thousand year-old legends and Ecclesiarchal apocrypha, of course, and likely motivated by jealousy and politicking among the High Lords, many of whom saw their power greatly diminished by the return of the Primarch. For all that, there were those who believed they held a ring of truth, and who resented the Primarch for what they perceived as an attempt to suborn the mantles of the High Lords, perhaps even the Emperor Himself.
Then there are those who claim the Indomitus Crusade was not a plan of Roboute Guilliman's devising at all. It is certainly true that the Avenging Son visited his father's throne room upon reaching Terra, though what if anything passed between them behind those gilded doors, none but Guilliman may ever know. It is also true that it was not until Guilliman departed the Emperor's throne room that he set his plans in motion.
Perhaps the Indomitus Crusade was indeed the manifest will of the Master of Mankind, a mighty undertaking to rival His own deeds ten thousand years earlier. If so, it was set against darkness and evils that rivalled those of Old Night, prosecuted not in the name of the Imperial Truth but instead undertaken with full and terrible knowledge of the enemies that humanity must overcome if it was to survive this darkest hour.
Whatever the case, one thing is certain. Even as the darkness of the Noctis Aeterna began to fade from the Sol System and the light of the Astronomican stretched forth to illuminate a much-changed galaxy, Roboute Guilliman had already begun to muster the greatest crusade fleets humanity had seen since the Imperium's dawning days.
The Grand Muster
Not since the Warmaster Horus' fleet darkened the heavens above Terra had the Imperium known such a time of crisis as it did in the days following the opening of the Great Rift. Half of the Emperor's realm was gone, vanished behind a veil of nightmares and -- for all those on the Throneworld knew -- annihilated at a stroke.
Those worlds in the newly-designated Imperium Sanctus on the Terran side of the Great Rift fared little better. Distress calls, desperate screams, and grim last transmissions all but drowned the minds of Terra's astropaths and drove many mad. There was not a world, it seemed, that was not beset by war.
Everywhere the High Lords of Terra turned their gaze the armies and fleets of the Imperium were scattered, besieged, and outnumbered. Untold trillions of Imperial citizens died with every solar day that passed. Worlds winked out like snuffed candle flames from the far reaches of Segmentum Pacificus to the storm-wracked tumult of the Charadon Sector. Time was desperately of the essence.
Despite his newfound appointment as Lord Commander of the Imperium, Roboute Guilliman knew that he could not respond immediately. Inquisitorial Vox-thief logs of the Primarch's private conversations during those dark days reveal that Guilliman wrestled with the impulse to draw his blade, rally what warriors were available to him, and take ship for the nearest war zone.
In his place many of his lost brothers would perhaps have done just that. But it was both Roboute Guilliman's blessing and curse to see always in terms of the bigger picture. He understood better than any that humanity faced a war not for territory but for survival, that every weapon in the Imperial arsenal must be wielded in concert and with a degree of skill that only he could achieve, and that losing perspective even for a moment might see him win a handful of battles only to lose the wider war for his father's realm.
Thus Guilliman took all his rage, all of his hatred of the Traitor foe and his dismay at what had been done to the Imperium, and he channelled it into the mustering of the Indomitus Crusade. He would forge not mere armies, nor even crusades in the traditional Imperial sense, but rather immense fleets of vengeance and reconquest that dwarfed all that had come before them. With these tools at his disposal, Guilliman would fight back against the lackeys of the Dark Gods.
He set out his plans to the High Lords with what could best be described as forceful determination, having set a dozen schemes and more in motion before he even secured their agreement. The moment astropathic communication could be re-established with the wider Sol System, the Primarch sent missives winging out to Mars, Titan, Jupiter, and dozens of other worlds and deep-space fortifications besides.
He spoke to Archmagos Belisarius Cawl, impressing upon his ancient ally the importance of speed in the undertaking of the Ultima Founding. He secured every space-faring asset he could lay his hands on and began the process of gathering one flotilla after another in deep space beyond Neptune.
Guilliman went in person to beseech the Abbess Sanctorum of the Adepta Sororitas and the Fabricator-General of Mars for aid in his undertaking; few know what promises or assurances Guilliman made to these two influential figures, but for whatever unknown price he secured their cooperation.
If Terra was to be his fortress and Sol his mustering ground, the Primarch could not afford to risk instability or insurrection endangering his efforts. He made overtures to the Inquisition, the Adeptus Custodes, the Adeptus Arbites, the Ecclesiarchy, and even the Officio Assassinorum to aid him. So began a time of brutal purges throughout Terra's sprawling macro hive cities that saw hundreds of petty cults uprooted and millions of alleged Heretics, mutants, and recidivists burned alive in the streets.
Few were safe from this campaign of terror, which soon became known as "The Primarch's Scourge" and saw a shocking number of corrupt officials, dilettante cult-magisters, and self-interested high acolytes culled from Terran high society. Horron Sch'est, the notoriously arrogant and conservative Consul Pre-eminus of the Navigator Houses, was publicly flogged to the widespread shock of all. He had attempted to hold the crusade muster to ransom by withholding the aid of the guilds pending promises of richly preferential treatment from the High Lords, but he soon found that Guilliman's patience for such manoeuvring was nil.
Within solar weeks of the ratification of Guilliman's plans by the High Lords, several all-out wars were raging through the Terran underhives as xenofile cults and Chaos worshippers fought desperately for their survival. Collateral damage spiralled. Voices of dissent murmured wherever they did not believe they could be heard. Yet as a result of the scourge the Primarch's muster went uninterrupted by sabotage, sedition, or politicking -- at least in the main.
For Guilliman himself, the most troubling aspect of the muster was the process of triage he was required to enact throughout the Segmentum Solar. The entire principle of the Indomitus Crusade required the amassing of immense military forces in and around the Sol System and its neighbouring star clusters; by this point, the Primarch had expressed a desire to gather as many as ten such almighty assemblages.
These fleets would muster one by one as sufficient forces became available before striking out on predetermined routes across the Emperor's realm. A great part of the materiel and manpower required for the Indomitus Crusade was slated to come from Mars in the form of both the Ultima Founding Primaris Space Marines and the red planet's own vast strength of Skitarii, Knight and Titan maniples, Ordinatus war engines, and the like.
More would be drawn from the Order of the Ebon Chalice and, to a lesser extent, the Order of Our Martyred Lady, from the ranks of the Adeptus Custodes and the Inquisition, and from the mighty warships of the magnificent Battlefleet Solar. However, substantial martial strength was also to be drawn from the systems within Terra’s wider orbit, and it was these embattled realms that Guilliman was forced to assess with a cold and logical eye.
Some worlds, it was clear, stood a fighting chance of survival on their own account; where reports spoke of determined warriors and blade-swift warships holding the line, of xenos and Heretic foes being pushed back and held at bay, there the Primarch allowed the armies of the Imperium to fight on.
For every star system that was fighting back against the encroaching darkness, however, there were many more whose defenders were on the verge of being overwhelmed and would never hold out without aid. It was these forces that Guilliman ordered to retreat, often leaving just enough of a rearguard behind to ensure that their withdrawal could be achieved without substantial further losses. Thousands of regiments of Astra Militarum and battle-damaged Imperial Navy warships fled from war zones that they had bled and suffered to protect.
Some refused their orders, fighting to the last against the terrors that beset their worlds. Guilliman could speak no word of censure against them. Yet equally he did not relent, for he understood as they could not how vital these recalled forces would be to the Indomitus Crusade as a whole.
Worlds could be retaken. Territory could be reclaimed and repopulated as the crusade fleets drove outward into the stars, but to squander the Imperium's armies in the hopeless defence of too many battlefronts at once would achieve little but to see the Emperor's realm bled to death.
So Guilliman asserted. So he told himself time and again as wounded and resentful armies wended their way back to the Sol System and outlying systems were overrun in their wake. It was a tragedy, but a necessary one. All would be paid back in blood when the Indomitus Crusade began.
Indomitus Crusade Fleet Organisation
Through all the tragedy, the suffering and the strife, the Indomitus Crusade took shape. Guilliman's logistical genius and unfaltering focus were turned to the codification and rapid assignment of viable Warp corridors and mustering points, and to absorbing, processing, and resolving a flood of challenges -- from resupply and ship repair to morale and provision of medicae personnel.
Despite the continued churning of the Warp that delayed or devoured some incoming warships, the crusade's forces gathered far faster than any but the Primarch himself would have believed possible. Mandeville Points around the perimeter of the Sol System, the Gehenna System, and several others flashed with eldritch light again and again as flotillas of spacecraft tore their way from Warpspace to join the muster.
Indeed, so great did the empyric disturbance of such constant translation become that the Ordo Malleus raised urgent concerns of empyric destabilisation and possible Warp breaches aboard the watch-stations that guarded Sol's deep space border. Out-system staging areas were established in the void. Squads of Grey Knights were deployed to the watch stations and naval anchorages. However, the pace of the muster was not permitted to slow.
Roboute Guilliman's genius showed again as manpower and materiel continued to flood into the Sol System and its surroundings. For every warship that reached the muster, Guilliman had commanded multiple supply barges, fuelling tenders, agri-haulers, and Mechanicus fabricator-barges to do likewise.
Bypassing the established bureaucracy entirely, Guilliman created his own elite cadre of facilitators whose role was to ensure proper supply and marshalling of every single crusade ship and soldier. Named as the Officio Logisticarum, known throughout the fleets as "Guilliman's Hand," this body was millions of souls strong, its members drawn from the best that Terra's Administratum and Departmento Munitorum bureaucracies had to offer, and still it was barely equal to the task. Perhaps the Logisticarum would have failed, were it not for the ironclad guidelines Guilliman had laid down for the disposition of the Crusade Fleets.
The Indomitus Crusade would not be one vast fleet ploughing across the stars like some crude battering ram. Rather, the Primarch's vision called for an initial mustering of ten mighty fleets. These would be known as Fleet Primus, Fleet Secundus, Fleet Tertius, and so on, and each would be ruled over by a supreme officer bestowed the almighty rank of Fleetmaster.
Each fleet was a unique mixed force, comprising elements of the various Imperial military factions in a balance dictated by Guilliman and intended to operate in a different fashion and to different grand strategic ends. The fleets varied tremendously in size and composition. Still, even the smallest numbered hundreds of sleek warships and twice that number of logistical supply craft, all gathered to facilitate the deployment of countless billions of fighting men and women.
Expecting fleets of such size to operate as singular and coherent forces was impractical, Guilliman knew, and wasteful. What sense was there in attempting to hold such vast agglomerations of martial might together through the vagaries of Warpspace only to strike each fresh system with preposterous overkill?
Even should the assembled Imperial forces not simply get in one another's way, they would undoubtedly crush a single enemy utterly in each instance only for myriad other threats to go unanswered. Rather than risk such heavy-handed foolishness, Guilliman commanded that each fleet be further broken down into a number of battlegroups that would be codified with High Gothic alphanumerics such as Battlegroup Alphus, Battlegroup Betaris, Battlegroup Cerastus, and so on. Each battlegroup would be a wholly self-sufficient formation with its own command ships and designated commanding Groupmaster to direct its course and actions.
The Groupmasters of each fleet would answer only to their Fleetmaster, and of course to Roboute Guilliman and the High Lords of Terra.
Battlegroups would each pursue their own course within the wider strategic movement of their fleet, investing their own war zones and fighting their own campaigns. Their grand strategic movements would be dictated by their Fleetmaster, and they would be able to request or supply reinforcement from and to the other battlegroups within their fleet.
In most other respects each battlegroup would function as its own self-contained force, and most would still possess the prodigious martial might to conquer entire star clusters, annihilate xenos empires, and make war across multiple star systems at once.
Thus, an Indomitus Crusade Fleet pushing into a sector of Imperial space would resemble not the thrust of some huge lance but rather the multiple blades of a legion of swordsmen, driven point first into the shroud of shadows that veiled the Emperor's realm.
A third, still-more-granular level of organisation was built into each battlegroup, that of the task force. These were not existing sub-formations in their own right, but rather specialised military groupings that could be assembled at the order of a Groupmaster. Task forces would be formed for the prosecution of a single task, after which their constituent elements would return to their battlegroup and fragment again.
Task forces were intended to achieve the conquest of specific worlds or defence platforms, the couriering of vital messages through the vastness of space, the destruction of specific enemies who had been marked for death, and whatever other important tasks had to be achieved in order to ensure the wider battlegroup's success.
No two task forces need ever be entirely the same in composition, for their purpose was to concentrate precisely the right balance of intermingled Imperial assets into a single force to complete a single task. But in practice, as the Indomitus Crusade Fleets pushed out into the Imperium, it quickly became the norm for especially successful task forces to remain together for the duration of extended campaigns, and for them to build ties of loyalty to one another that lasted lifetimes.
There was another duty that Guilliman had in mind for his task forces, and it was a crucial one. Even as the grand muster continued, he had the Fleetmasters select elite task forces from amongst the gathering ranks of their assigned warriors. Each of these task forces was joined by a complement of Sisters of Silence, at least one squad of Adeptus Custodes, and a conclave of Magos Biologis who brought with them sealed and warded canisters and many strange, arcane-looking machines.
The Sisters of Silence were there to drive back the Warp Storms that plagued realspace and aid the ships of their task forces in traversing the Imperium swiftly and comparatively safely. The Adeptus Custodes were envoys of Guilliman himself, speaking with the authority of both Primarch and Emperor to ensure the task forces met with no political resistance from any Imperial body, including the Adeptus Astartes. Finally, the Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-priests were there to deliver that which they brought with them, the gene-seed and technologies required for their assigned Space Marine Chapters to embrace Archmagos Cawl's Primaris Astartes miracle.
Often accompanied by awakened Primaris Battle-Brothers of the Ultima Founding destined to join the ranks of their target Chapters, these task forces sped out into the darkness even as the Crusade Fleets continued to muster in their wake.
They would be known as "Torchbearers" to the beleaguered Imperium, and they would bring the blessings of the Primaris Space Marines to the most far-flung, the most embattled, and -- in a few rare cases -- the most recalcitrant or dangerous Chapters.
For Vengeance and Reconquest
For all the efforts of Primarch Guilliman and his Officio Logisticarum, the first fully-fledged Indomitus Crusade Fleet departures took time to achieve. In the end it was Fleet Tertius that was first to rumble into action, its departure occurring several solar days premature due to the onset of a Khornate Crusade of Slaughter that was detected reaving its way through embattled Imperial space towards the Sol System.
Fleet Tertius Fleetmaster Cassandra VanLeskus sought and acquired Roboute Guilliman's express permission to mobilise at once against this fresh threat; VanLeskus vowed that the servants of the Dark Gods would be given an immediate and spectacular demonstration of the Imperial vengeance that was coming for them.
The details of the Battle of Machorta Sound are recorded elsewhere; it is enough to say that they served as a proof of concept of everything that Guilliman had intended his Crusade Fleets to be. Battlegroups Alphus, Betaris, Delphi, Haephestus, and Lambdax of Fleet Tertius drove headlong into a Heretic invasion that spanned several star systems. Despite initial differences and difficulties between several of the more disparate arms of the Imperial war machine, Lady VanLeskus led a crushing victory over the servants of the Blood God.
So it was that Fleet Tertius launched from its void-moorings and straight into the annals of Imperial glory. Following Guilliman's grand strategic plan, the battlegroups of Fleet Tertius pushed on into the darkness, aiming to drive first into the Segmentum Pacificus and then to arc around into the vast reaches of the Segmentum Tempestus.
Fleet Secundus set out next, its ranks spearheaded by the Battle Sisters of the Ebon Chalice and Our Martyred Lady alike, the prows of its warships aimed squarely towards the Eye of Terror. It would be the duty of Fleet Secundus to drive like a fist into the maw of the Segmentum Obscurus, its battlegroups aiming to retain a tight dispersal and a determined heading, and to allow nothing to slow the impetus of their counter-punch.
It was a dangerous assignment, swiftly gaining the moniker "The Road of Martyrs," but it was just the sort of daring and aggressive offensive that humanity had to launch if it was to buy time to stabilise the Imperium Sanctus and ensure it was not overrun entirely.
Only once Roboute Guilliman was sure that the machinations of muster and departure had gained their own unstoppable momentum, that the Officio Logisticarum were able to operate without his direct supervision, and that localised resistance to his plans had been utterly crushed, did he finally allow himself to take to the field in person.
So did Fleet Primus leave the Sol System muster third, taking with it the single largest complement of Ultima Founding warriors and so-called Greyshields as well as Archmagos Belisarius Cawl himself aboard his mighty macro-barge, the Zar-Quaesitor.
Fleet Primus comprised the most individual battlegroups of any Indomitus Crusade Fleet, and it set out not upon a single heading but instead diverged into several spearheads that further fractured as they spread out from Terra.
Wherever the battlegroups of Fleet Primus surged into the fight they drove back the hordes of Heretics and xenos that threatened to overrun Mankind, relighting the beacons of the Imperium and leaving trails of space-borne debris and mountains of enemy dead in their wake.
So it went on, fresh fleets mustering according to Roboute Guilliman's orders before departing into the darkness of the embattled Imperium. The Indomitus Crusade was not a force to conquer the galaxy as had been the Great Crusade before it.
Rather this was a desperate and determined endeavour that, if successful, might just ensure the survival of the Imperium beyond the dark days of the Great Rift.
So began the Era Indomitus, and with it Humanity's final furious attempt to outlast the hatred of the Dark Gods of Chaos.
Bringing the Emperor's Light
With the Astronomican still ﬂickering sporadically, the Indomitus Crusade's Fleet Primus risked only short jumps through the Warp. They clove a path through system after system. Where worlds could be saved, Guilliman unleashed the full might of his powerful armies.
Daemon hordes were driven back from Gathalamor, the Drogos System and the world of Tallarn. In the Lhorm Reaches, the Brass Tyrant was cast down. The entire population of Ophelia VII was freed from the enslavement of the Tyrant of Blueﬂame, although the Greater Daemon escaped the Emperor's justice.
The Befouled Beast that claimed Caster was met in battle by Guilliman himself. Although the monster towered over him, it was the Primarch who emerged unharmed from that duel. Word of the Crusade's approach alone was enough to quell the rebellion on Necromunda.
By the time the Imperial forces reached Catachan, all followers of the Dark Gods there had already been defeated by the local Astra Militarum regiments. The Crusade halted there all the same for reinforcement. Despite heavy losses, the Indomitus Crusade was larger when it departed Catachan than when it first left Terra.
As the fleets of the Indomitus Crusade worked its way outwards from Terra, the worst eﬀects of the Noctis Aeterna were already lifting across many sectors. Although Warp Storms still drifted out of the Great Rift, the Emperor's Light was slowly burning away the formless murk of the Warp throughout the galactic south.
Many citizens that survived the cruel oppressions of daemonic torturers saw divine correlation between the two events. Those that glimpsed the Primarch firsthand whispered that they had seen the Emperor Himself, as if legends from a golden age of myths once more strode amongst them. Vidfeeds and astropathic visions spread still further, allowing hope to rekindle even upon planets whose plight was desperate.
Not all was triumph and glory, however. The fleets of the Crusade came to many worlds that were beyond salvation. Where there was no hope, Guilliman sought instead to bring vengeance. There could be no saving the Hive World of Bhundar from the bubonic taint that covered it, but once cauterised with cleansing fire, the Warp disease spread no further. The daemonic rituals held atop the mouldering ruins of the Cardinal World Gloriphia were not just halted but annihilated, and there the daemonic ichor ran in rivers.
Not all could be avenged, however. The initial combat drop into Secundus Terra suﬀered ambushes and catastrophic malfunctions, having been lured into a terrible trap by the Alpha Legion. Although it pained him to do so, Guilliman made the difficult decision to pull back, skirting the whole Primagenesis System, as he could not aﬀord to become bogged down in a long war of attrition.
The Crusade's journey later saw it encounter dozens of star systems in which countless Imperial citizens were left in thrall to the Dark Powers. This was a bitter reality for Roboute Guilliman, and even if the Ultramarines Primarch was given to dwelling on the Imperium's misfortunes, there would be no time to do so.
Seeds of Hope
As the Indomitus Crusade penetrated deeper into the galaxy, Archmagos Cawl kept his automaton workers on overdrive, risking meltdowns with their accelerated speeds. Locked deep in the labyrinthine holds of Zar-Quaesitor, thousands of Primaris Space Marines -- some comprising entirely new Chapters and others designated as reinforcements for existing ones -- were awakened out of stasis and made ready to join the fray.
On battle-scarred Rynn's World, the arrival of the Indomitus Crusade broke the daemonic legions of the Daemon Prince Rhaxor. After the fighting was done, the Crimson Fists marvelled at the return of Roboute Guilliman, but were even more grateful for the arrival of Primaris Space Marines bearing their own heraldry. Here were warriors whose genetic composition was closer to their own Primarch, Rogal Dorn, than had ever before existed.
For his raw material, Cawl had selected warriors of Terra, and had taken them only a few generations after the original Imperial Fists had been created by the Emperor. Indeed, some had been held in stasis since the days of the Great Crusade; a few of the Primaris Space Marines could recall having seen Rogal Dorn himself.
Many Chapter Masters welcomed their Primaris brethren into their ranks, accepting the new reinforcements gladly. Others, though, viewed these new creations with suspicion or outright hostility, claiming that the Emperor's work should never have been meddled with by mere mortals.
Fortunately, the Emissaries Imperatus, a Shield Host of the Adeptus Custodes, the elite bodyguard of the Master of Mankind, stepped forward to intercede, stating that the gift that was the Primaris Marines was the will of the Emperor.
As "Heralds of the Golden Throne," they had accompanied Guilliman's Crusade, many of them taking to the air as Vertus Praetors, the quicker to deliver messages of reinforcement to the embattled Space Marines. The presence of the Adeptus Custodes also ensured that even the most traditional Chapters accepted the Primaris warriors into their ranks. One does not decline a gift from the Emperor's own hand, after all.
Again and again the Crusaders watched the same tale unfold. When those of the Ultima Founding were brought before their Chapters, it was like a meeting of brothers separated at birth. Arriving at a time of great darkness and upheaval, the new transhuman warriors' strength was welcomed.
Such unusual reunions were repeated on many Astartes worlds, including Chogoris, Ultramar and Baal, where the Crusade arrived even as the proud Sons of Sanguinius were making what they thought would be their last stand against the Tyranids of Hive Fleet Leviathan during what became known as the Devastation of Baal.
Despite cleaving a wide path through the darkness that beset the Imperium, the Indomitus Crusade began to break down. When the vast holds of the Zar-Quaesitor were at last emptied, Archmagos Cawl departed, for he had many more secret vaults to activate in order to complete the Ultima Founding.
Once deployed, the new Primaris Chapters -- such as the Rift Stalkers or the Umbral Knights -- remained after the initial conﬂicts were won, seeking to consolidate the Crusade's gains; in many cases, they did this by establishing their own new Chapter planets. In this way, the Crusade not only freed worlds from the tyranny of the Dark Gods, but also strengthened their defences against further attacks that were sure to come.
Finally, Roboute Guilliman could no longer delay responding to the distress signals coming from his Chapter's own home Realm of Ultramar, which was itself once more besieged. All the Crusade's triumphs were but a sliver of light piercing the ink-black void, their many campaigns unable to reach the vast number of imperilled planets -- yet it was a start. Later it was said that during the darkest hours the Imperium had endured since the Horus Heresy, it was the Indomitus Crusade that gave Mankind the hope to persevere.
The Indomitus Crusade would reach its final end over a standard century after its beginning at the dawn of the second decade of the 42nd Millennium at the Battle of Raukos. In the aftermath of the victory against the Forces of Chaos at the Pit of Raukos, Guilliman decided to disperse the Indomitus Crusade by holding a triumph much like the one the Emperor of Mankind had held in the wake of the Ullanor Crusade during the final days of the Great Crusade.
At the ceremony 20,000 Primaris Space Marines, 40,000 standard Space Marines, 3 Sisters of Battle convents, Skitarii Legions, Titans, Imperial Knights, Adeptus Custodes, Sisters of Silence, and two million male and female soldiers and voidsmen of the Astra Militarum and Imperial Navy were present.
Guilliman announced his decision to disperse the Crusade throughout the Imperium and that he would next turn his attention to helping his Realm of Ultramar defeat the forces of the Death Guard Traitor Legion and the servants of Nurgle in the Plague Wars.
Warp travel has always had a deleterious effect upon the linear flow of time as Humans perceive it. Even a single jump through the Warp has the potential to put those who make it out of synch with Terran sidereal time by a measure of solar days, months, or even standard years.
Tales abound of more extreme phenomena being experienced by voidcraft caught amidst the lashing energies of a Warp Storm, with Imperial starships being hurled centuries backward or forward in time.
An entire Ordo of the Inquisition exists, known as the Ordo Chronos, whose duty is to track and swiftly neutralise such dangerous temporal heresies lest they bring undue alarm or disruption to the wider operation of the Imperium.
Knowing that they would be venturing far across the galaxy, campaigning for many years, and performing Warp jump after Warp jump through an Immaterium whipped to fury by the Cicatrix Maledictum, the Indomitus Crusade fleets attempted to mitigate this effect by each establishing their own "Tempus Indomitus."
Each crusade fleet set its own self-contained chronology, fixed upon the temporal coordinates of its fleetmaster's command ship. Even should a battlegroup or task force discover that they had slipped Terran years out of reckoning with their command ship, upon learning where their fleet's Tempus Indomitus stood they would adjust their records and chronometres accordingly, stoically shrugging off the sanity-stretching implications of such arbitrary adjustments and soldiering on regardless.
Each Indomitus Crusade fleet was initially organised right down to a regimental level by Roboute Guilliman. However, the Primarch had to accept that his painstaking organisational work would not long survive contact with the war-torn galaxy.
He thus provided fleetmasters and groupmasters alike with powers of requisition to rival those of even the most domineering Inquisitor Lord.
Though attrition and the steady fragmentation of the crusade battlegroups took their toll, forces drawn from those worlds and star systems they had rescued sporadically reinforced the Imperial ranks.
It was to the credit of some fleet officers that they requisitioned only what they needed to keep their battlegroups moving forward. Others strayed into despotic territory and risked leaving the worlds they had "saved" in a more depleted and desperate state than when they had arrived.
In either case, this steady blending of the crusade ranks ensured that each battlegroup soon took on cultural quirks from the worlds it had rescued, while as many bonds of brotherhood as fierce rivalries grew up between the disparate martial elements that comprised each fleet.
Campaign badges, battlehonours, shared heraldry, tattoos and scarification; these and countless other unique flourishes spread through the ranks of each battlegroup and even task force as the Indomitus Crusade continued.
Here could be seen the language of human solidarity in the face of a hostile galaxy, scribed in painted metal, coloured cloth, and bloodied flesh.
Of all the Indomitus Crusade fleets, Fleet Septimus alone was commanded to gather far from the Sol System.
The exact location of its mustering point was kept a heavily guarded secret, known only to Roboute Guilliman himself and to the senior command officers assigned to its battlegroups.
How large or small those battlegroups were, what forces were assigned to them, and what Fleet Septimus' veiled purpose might be, none could be sure.
Those assigned to the seventh fleet simply vanished, leaving nothing behind them but dark speculation and persistent rumours of onyx-chased Servo-skulls that drifted through the shadows clutching vermillion-clearance data scrolls in their metallic claws.
Flights of Crows
The Black Ships were known and feared throughout the Imperium as harbingers of doom and deliverance both. To these ominous craft and the [[Sisters of Silence]] who garrisoned them after Guilliman's resurrection fell the duty of visiting the worlds of the Imperium each in turn and weeding out those with the dangerous potential to become psykers.
Harvesting such dangerous mutants without mercy, the Black Ships abducted ever more potential psychic humans until their null-shielded holds were packed with miserable human cargo.
They then turned their prows for home, returning their bounty to Terra where the assembled psykers would feed the Emperor's rapacious appetite to maintain the Astronomican or undergo the agonising soul binding ritual that allowed them to join choirs of astropaths or serve the Imperium in some fashion as a Sanctioned Psyker.
With the opening of the Great Rift it became nigh-impossible for the Black Ships to continue operating as they once had.
To say nothing of those that had been lost beyond the rift, the remaining craft found themselves forced to dare roiling war zones wherever they travelled, delving into planet-wide battles in order to extract their tithe.
The Sisters of Silence who often commanded the Black Ships after Guilliman's resurrection were formidable warriors, but they recognised that this situation could not continue forever.
The solution came in the form of the Indomitus Crusade fleets. While some Black Ships continued to ply the space lanes they always had, and to harvest in the conventional fashion, many more were deployed as so-called "Flights of Crows" that followed in the wake of the Indomitus battlegroups.
Like carrion birds picking over the trail of a campaigning army, the Black Ships fell upon recently reconquered Imperial systems and reaped a rich bounty from populations already battered into absolute compliance and so terrified that they would obey the Silent Sisters without question.
So did the Black Ships continue to function, throughout the reconquered systems of the Imperium Sanctus at least, and so did they keep the Golden Throne and the Astronomican from faltering in this desperate hour.
- Lord Commander of the Imperium Roboute Guilliman
- Archmagos Dominus Belisarius Cawl
- Ultramarines Captain Cato Sicarius
- Ultramarines Captain Decimus Felix
- Ultramarines Captain Acheran
- Aurora Chapter Codicier Donas Maxim
- Adeptus Custodes Tribune Maldovar Colquan
- Sisters of Silence Commander Aphone
- Sisters of Silence Commander Bellas
- Magos Dominus GiFellivo
- Magos Cordus-Rho
- Battle of Lion's Gate - Roboute Guilliman defeated a massive daemonic assault by the forces of Khorne upon the Imperial Palace. After the Battle of Lion's Gate, sometimes remembered informally as the "Second Battle of Terra," the High Lords of Terra realised that no place in the Imperium was now safe from an assault by the Archenemy.
- Battle of Vorlese - The Battle of Vorlese represented an attempt by the forces of Chaos to prevent Roboute Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade from leaving Terra by blocking all of the primary Warp routes from Terra into the wider galaxy using the shards of Cadian Pylons to make Warp travel impossible. The Imperium successfully defeated Abaddon the Despoiler's attempt to prevent the reinforcement of the Imperium's defenders across the galaxy.
- Devastation of Baal - With the arrival of Roboute Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade, the Blood Angels and their Successor Chapters were successful in fending off the great assault of Hive Fleet Leviathan upon their homeworld of Baal. The remainder of the Leviathan is largely consumed by a Warp Storm and a great assault of Khorne daemons led by the Blood Angels' ancient foe, the Bloodthirster Ka'bandha.
- Battle of Gathalamor - The Gathalamor System came under sustained attack from the Heretic Astartes of the Word Bearers Traitor Legion. As their Dark Apostles summoned creatures from beyond the veil, the fight turned viciously against the Imperial defenders. The Mordian 84th Regiment and the Sisters of the Order of the Argent Shroud dug in to stage their last stand in the grim ruins of Gathalamor Prime's macro-cathedrum, their prayers for salvation ringing out to the screaming skies above. Sure enough, even as hordes of Traitors and abominations mobilised to attack, the Emperor answered the cries of His followers. Teleport flares erupted through the Heretic lines, gold and silver lightning leaping as a combined force of Custodians and Grey Knights stormed into battle. Bolters roared and crackling blades tore through Heretic flesh, as Trajann Valoris and Grand Master Aldrik Voldus led an assault that saw the Traitor army shattered into battling warbands. Inspired by the sudden arrival of veritable demigods, the Mordians and Sisters of Battle advanced, hymnals rising from their ranks over the roar of Flamers and the scream of massed Lasgun fire. Blood slicked the streets around the macro-cathedrum, corpses piling in gory heaps as the Word Bearers and their daemonic allies fought back furiously. Yet after three solar days and nights of unremitting savagery, the Chaos host was broken in the Battle for the Statue Steps. With fresh Imperial reinforcements flooding in to the wider Gathalamor war zone, the Custodians set course for Terra, leaving the Grey Knights to deal as they saw fit with the unfortunates that they rescued from the macro-cathedrum.
- Cleansing of Pyros - The warband of Heretic Astartes known as the Revenants of Umidia invaded the Hive World of Pyros and began to slaughter its people and spread the corrupting touch of Chaos. As a result, the Hive World soon fell under the control of the Dark Gods. However Pyros' status as a hub of commerce for its surrounding sectors made it a vital artery for the Indomitus Crusade's supply lines. Its fall to the Archenemy led Lord Commander Guilliman to personally lead the Crusade's forces that moved to reclaim the strategically vital planet. With the aid of Primaris Space Marines drawn from the Ultramarines, Imperial Fists and Raven Guard Chapters, Guilliman was able to use his superior tactics to reclaim Pyros from the Revenants of Umidia. Soon only a small group of the Chaos Space Marines and their commanders remained, and these had retreated towards a local spaceport. Guilliman planned to steadily attack and defeat the Chaos remnants within the solar month. However this plan was changed when the Primarch received a plea for aid from the Crimson Fists' Chapter Master Pedro Kantor, who sent a message declaring that his Chapter was being attacked by a vast horde of daemons on Rynn's World and were being overwhelmed. With the fate of the Crimson Fists now hanging in the balance, Guillman was forced to order an immediate full-scale attack on the spaceport held by the Revenants of Umidia and, though the Crusade's forces suffered more causalities than expected, the Heretic Astartes were destroyed. With Pyros now safely in the Imperium's control, Guilliman immediately dispatched Primaris Captain Gauvian with reinforcements to aid the beleaguered Crimson Fists Chapter.
- War of Beasts - The War of Beasts was the great conflict fought over the world of Vigilus, a Sentinel World that represented the crucial terminus of the Nachmund Gauntlet through the Great Rift. As long as the Imperium held Vigilus it could continue to send astropathic messages, starships, troops and supplies into the Imperium Nihilus. Vigilus came under assault from multiple xenos forces and the troops of Abaddon the Despoiler who sought to claim the strategic world for Chaos.
- Battle of Raukos - The Battle of Raukos was a two-pronged assault upon the world of 108/Beta-Kalapus-9.2 and the Warp rift known as the Pit of Raukos in Wilderness Space. The Loyalist forces quickly overwhelmed the allied Traitor Legions -- including the Word Bearers, the Iron Warriors and the Black Legion -- using the strategic location of the Warp rift to carry out assaults upon the surrounding Imperial worlds. This victory marked the end of the Indomitus Crusade and the start of Guilliman's involvement in the Plague Wars.
- Roboute Guilliman
- 13th Black Crusade
- Ultramar Campaign
- Terran Crusade
- Noctis Aeterna
- Imperium Nihilus
- Plague Wars
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Space Marines (8th Edition), pp. 20-21
- Codex: Adeptus Custodes (8th Edition), pg. 27, 32-33, 48-49
- Dark Imperium (Novel) by Guy Haley
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (8th Edition), pp. 50-53
- Wrath & Glory: Core Rules (RPG), pg. 44 (Quote)
- Watchers of the Throne: The Emperor's Legion (Novel) by Chris Wraight
- White Dwarf 4 (September 2017), "Battle Report: The Blood of Heroes"
- White Dwarf 35 (July 2019), "Indomitus Crusade Fleets," pp. 40-45
- Warhammer Community - Grim Dark Corners: The Era Indomitus