"We are the Ultramarines, the sons of Guilliman. Whilst we draw breath, we stand. Whilst we stand, we fight. Whilst we fight, we prevail. Nothing shall stay our wrath." - Attributed to Marneus Calgar, Chapter Master of the 2nd Chapter
The Ultramarines are considered one of the strongest and most honoured of all the Space Marine Legions in the Imperium of Man. Highly disciplined and courageous warriors, the Ultramarines adhere to the teachings of their Primarch Roboute Guilliman. The Ultramarines are the XIIIth Space Marine Legion.
The culture of the Ultramarines is loosely themed upon the culture of Old Earth's ancient Roman Empire, as exemplified in their Astartes' pseudo-Latin names and their strict adherence to the Codex Astartes, as well as the society of their homeworld of Macragge and the Legion's method of recruitment. The Ultramarines directly rule the sector of space in the Eastern Fringe known as Ultramar as a fief of the Imperium.
The XIIIth Legion's origin lay, as with their fellows, on Terra and the closing years of the Unification Wars. Extant records from this time show the XIIIth Legion's "Alpha" intake -- the test bed raising of several thousand warriors by which its gene-seed's stability and adaptability was judged -- was passed firmly within acceptable parameters and with no singular or notable physical mutation beyond the expected pattern, with fully functionality of implanted organs to projected specifications. Psycho-organically, initiates were noted to display increased aggression, as was expected, but also a marked tendency towards cohesion and the adoption of hierarchy, alongside an almost pathological dedication to the achievement of an assigned goal, particularly when compared against the psychological profiles of certain other alpha samples such as those of the XIIth and Vth (later known as the World Eaters and White Scars respectively) groups, who demonstrated more markedly heightened individualistic and fractious tendencies post-implantation. Although much of what would then transpire for the XIIIth Legion's very early expansion past its test stage has been occluded by layers of the unbreachable secrecy inherent in much of the Emperor's gene-work, and records lost in the destruction caused on Terra during the great siege during the Battle of Terra, certain facts can still be pieced together and a hypothesis formed.
In terms of recruitment, evidence is apparent for a net being cast across Terra for initiates for the XIIIth, with intake from areas as diverse as the sub-equatorial maglev clans of Panpocro, the war families of the Saragon Enclave, the proud Midafrik Hive Oligarchy and, most latterly, the anthropophagic tribes of the Caucasus Wastes. As varied in culture and origin as these groups were, they all had one factor in common; their violent and often bitter resistance to the later stages of Unification, a resistance broken ultimately in each case not by negotiated surrender but near annihilation, with, in some situations, little remaining save interned refugees and orphaned populations left by the savage conflicts which had brought these peoples to heel. It was this which led to the first informal cognomen by which the XIIIth Legion was known by the forces alongside which they served -- "the War-born". It may then be theorised that the particular psychological effects of the XIIIth Legion's gene-seed may have been used deliberately as a final weapon of the Unification to bleed away potential rebellion on Terra, and also further absorb the strength of the savage tribes of Old Night into the fledging Imperium. Further evidence for this can be perhaps inferred by the fact that no evidence remains of the XIIIth Legion seeing active deployment on Terra itself during the Unification Wars' bitter dregs -- as both the VIIth and VIIIth (later known as the Imperial Fists and Night Lords Legions) early incarnations were, for example -- with their first full battle honours recorded as being for the First Pacification of Luna, and the brutal Sedna Campaign at the edge of the Sol System.
As the earliest phase of the Great Crusade, the liberation of the Segmentum Solar, progressed, it was discovered that this ancient and most heavily settled region of the first stellar domains of humanity held many survivors from the Dark Age of Technology. Of these there were some who openly welcomed the Imperium as patron and protector, but there were also many worlds who resisted Compliance, either through ignorance or prideful assurance in their own strength, just as there were others who were enslaved under the yoke of xenos oppression. The tide of conquest however, with the Emperor at the head of the war effort, quickly gained rapid momentum, and the fledging Space Marine Legions undergoing their first great expansion were a key part of this. During this period the XIIIth, then around 8,000 strong, began to make its mark by taking part alongside other Legions under the Emepror's direct generalship, gaining renown in notable campaigns such as the Liberation of Diurnus and the destruction of the Scorvidian xeno-empire, as well as amassing a string of successful Compliance actions in solo operations on planets such as Lorin Sigma, Sekel's Landing and Ne'deble. From each of these conquered human worlds, the most militant factions provided additional intakes of recruits tithed for the XIIIth, much as the war-born sons of Terra had infused their first intake.
It was during this early period of the Great Crusade that the genius of the Emperor's grand design for His Space Marine Legions became increasingly apparent. While each of his superhuman cadres proved itself able to fight on any battlefield and achieve victory, the Emperor had clearly patterned in the alchemical mix of His sons a diversity of tempers and abilities that had given each Legion a strength or suitability to a theatre of war of its own beyond that of its peers. In some cases these talents were atavistic and visible, be they the near preternatural fury already being displayed by the IXth Legion (Blood Angels) or the uncanny resilience of the XIVth (Death Guard). In others they were subtle and bred in the bone, such as the oppressive darkness which consumed the souls of the VIIIth, and they could manifest in word and deed to the ruin of their foes, or they unyielding, cold passion and technological aptitude of what was already becoming known as the "Iron Tenth" (Iron Hands). It was into this latter category which the XIIIth fell.
In them was found a mixture of aggression and restraint, discipline and determination which rendered them supremely suited for joint taskforce operations and cross-theatre warfare. The Legion also gained significant success in independence operations where it took direct command of secondary support forces of the Imperialis Auxilia, whether the professional and elite regiments of the Solar Auxilia and the regiments of the "Old One Hundred", or the often resentful and fractious hosts of Imperialis Militia auxiliary recently forced into Compliance. In the latter case, the XIIIth Legion often detached cadres of its own warriors to act as provosts and disciplinarians if needed, handing out final justice to the recalcitrant and inspiring bravery from the front lines; duties at which many other Legions balked at as beneath their honour or as a poor use of Legiones Astartes in battle.
In their adaptability and range of operations, they were said to be reminiscent of the vaunted Ist Legion (Dark Angels) and the prominent Luna Wolves on whose glory and accomplishments, since that Legion's early restoration of its Primarch, much has already been made. The key to their fighting style was imitation and adaptation. Their own arts of war had evolved quickly from the tenets laid out during their indoctrination and training, becoming combined with influences drawn from the host of martial cultures from which they were founded and the other Legions alongside which they served, from the knife-craft of the Opaki gangs of Hive Kôr to the armoured warfare tactics of the Xth Legion.
By the third decade of the Great Crusade, the XIIIth Legion had begun to develop a distinct character of their own. They were recorded as having a practical and and forthright mien, with little time given to the esoteric arts of warfare or conjectural strategising, preferring a direct approach of swift engagement. In warfare, they relied upon the rapid attainment of quickly defined tactical objectives and strategies born of tried and tested battlefield experience and determined by the situation at hand. They also had their pride, and while they were accorded as being unwaveringly loyal to the Imperium's cause, they developed a tendency to guard their honour well and engaged in an open rivalry of achievement with the other Legions alongside which they served, particularly those few whose Primarchs had already been recovered. The warrior brotherhood of the XIIIth had also, in recent years, begun to display its achievement visually. But rather than take on a particular livery and iconography as whole as the IIIrd (Emperor's Children) or the XIVth Legion (at that time still the Dusk Raiders) had, indiviual companies who had come to prominence in a particularly important Compliance operation or campaign took on additions to their core Legion livery -- which maintained the post-Unification storm grey and gunmetal they had worn since Sedna -- to commemorate their greatest achievements. Those companies who had fought alongside the VIIIth in the purgation of the abhuman corsairs of the Cancerai Nebula afterwards bore black gauntlets, midnight blue helms and the ancient weighing scales and death's head icon of judgement in heraldic opposition of their Legion numeral, and took the name of "Nemesis" as their own. Conversely, the principally armoured formations of the XIIIth who had halted the Ork advance on the ash plains of Cypra Mundi, and in doing so had saved a city of millions from a savage death, afterwards commemorated the battle by mirroring on their right pauldron the emerald light of the blazing armour borealis that had riven the skies under which they had fought. Such honours were claimed as the Legion's strength made visible, but for them no formal name for the Legion as a whole was desired save for its number, as their first Lord Commander Gren Vosotho is recorded to have said, "...I am told that once the numeral thirteenth was taken as an ill omen by the weak minded and those enslaved by the lies of superstition, but in the Emperor's service we shall make it a byword for redemption and glory." The sorest test of the XIIIth's resolve and their arts of war was yet to come however.
By the year 833.M30, the XIIIth Legion had increased in number to an active force of around 33,000 Space Marines, whose primary battlegroup now consisted of the autonomous 12th Expeditionary Fleet. This expansion of their number in a relatively short space of time had been due to two principal factors. The first was that their particular practical style of warfare had a tendency to avoid casualties where possible compared to the tactics employed by certain other Legions. The XIIIth avoided battles of attrition and prided themselves on achieving strategic goals with the minimum expenditure of life -- and where salvageable human worlds were involved, this desire was also extended to the minimisation of collateral damage. The second was a latterly revealed aspect of their gene-seed. While the rates of gene-seed implantation success for the XIIIth Legion's zygote type were very close to the median level, it had proved to be in the highest resistance band during extensive replication -- a meridian matched only by the Ist Legion's own core sample - suffering relatively little mutation or deviation in subsequent generation of harvested organs. This allowed the Legion to steadily expand its numbers, even without the stabilisation brought by a Primarch's own mature gene-code.
Such was the size, self-sufficiency and stability of the XIIIth Legion that while the Emperor, in command of the might of the Principia Imperialis war fleet, Ferrus Manus and his Iron Tenth, and Horus and his Luna Wolves respectively led the three main thrusts of the Great Crusade at this time, pushing on into the outer void far beyond the Segmentum Solar, the 12th Expeditionary Fleet was entrusted with the task of exploring the extent of the inner galactic disc and its densely packed star systems coreward of Terra. This was why when a secession crisis unexpectedly flared up close to the capitoline systems of the Segmentum Solar itself, the XIIIth Legion was the closest available Legion and the swiftest to respond.
The Osiris Cluster, a grouping of eleven star systems making up the inner portion of the Segmentum Solar's second quadrant, had suddenly and without warning declared secession from the Imperium. Chartist merchant vessels had been seized, Imperialis Armada naval patrol squadrons fired upon and driven off by system defence ships, and agents of Imperial authority rendered silent and assumed dead. The inhabited worlds of the Osiris Cluster, many technologically advanced at contact, had originally come into Compliance during the Great Crusade's eighth year in relatively bloodless order. It had been viewed as a highly successful campaign in which the XIIIth itself had a hand. That the Osiris Cluster had now fallen into open rebellion was deemed an affront to the Legion's honour by its Lord Commander, Gren Vosotho, and the master of the XIIIth had vowed to bring the matter to a resolution as swiftly and emphatically as possible. Vosotho, acting on initial intelligence reports, ordered the warships of 12th Expeditionary Flee to proceed directly to the halo world of Septus XII, leaving behind the fleet's support elements, lumbering transports and forge ships guarded by its slower combat vessels. The target of this rapid strike force was to be the atmospherically-sealed city of Cabasset, located on the night-side of Septus XII, and the economic and political capital of the Osiris Cluster. A strike there before the rebels had time to consolidate their forces, Vosotho reasoned, might end the rebellion in a single, bloody stroke. Breaking into realspace in the outer system, the power of the 12th Expeditionary Fleet's two score of capital warships, led by the Legion's flagship, the Goliath-class macro-battleship Sethaln's Thunder, easily swept aside the system defence monitors and fireships sent out to intercept them. Immediately after the short firefight, in which the Space Marine ships sustained no losses, they engaged in a brief and equally successful long-range precision bombardment to defang Septus XIII's orbital defences, before moving to attack the planet itself. Vosotho had formulated a plan of attack based around a decapitation assault against the governmental and environmental control complexes on which all life in the hive city was dependant for survival. The strategy was a variation of a tried and proven tactic in part developed from close observation of the Luna Wolves' mastery of such attack forms, and which promised a quick resolution with the minimum of damage to the hive world's infrastructure and an object lesson in the futility of rebellion. The plan itself was predicated on detailed prior knowledge of the world as an Imperial holding and a military assessment of the potential numbers and capabilities of the rebellious militia forces the Legion was projected to encounter. Unfortunately, every assumption Vosotho and his command staff had made about what awaited the Legion was wrong.
The attack began well enough, with the close support fire of the Sethaln's Thunder opening up great rents in Hive Cabasset's protective outer shell into which Vosotho personally led his Legion's Stormbirds to the attack. Resistance was immediately far heavier than expected as the landing force became swiftly bogged down in human waves made up of at first hundreds and soon thousands of dead-eyed civilians crudely stitched into makeshift pressure suits and armed with improvised weapons of every sort, not least among them explosive mining charges converted to suicide devices. The XIIIth quickly modified their tactics to inflict maximum attrition but, heedless of casualties, the tide of bodies pressed on in cold silence and it was quickly apparent that this was no mere rebellion and no ordinary enemy. Unwilling to allow his attack to be stalled and his invasion force surrounded, Vosotho called down reinforcements and ordered his attacking squads to press on, relying on speed and co-ordination, as well as the superiority of his Space Marines in close quarters, to carry the battle. Slowly and with steadily growing losses, the Legiones Astartes forced their way deeper into the hive city and one by one began to claim their tactical objectives, crushing better armed but equally vacant-minded opposition formed of what had once clearly been the bodyguard cadres of the hive's nobility. It was, when the XIIIth Legion was heavily committed and kilometres deep into the hive, that the trap was sprung. A xenos fleet of unknown type and origin, comprising five vast hourglass-shaped vessels whose structures turned and rotated ceaselessly like clockworks, appeared with great speed from within the fiery corona of Septus' giant star. Realising the disaster that was about to unfold, Vosotho called a general retreat from the surface, but as his forces battled to return to their gunships and transports, the assault on the Space Marines intensified as the nature of the attacks began to change.
While the waiting Stormbirds fell under concerted all-out attack in an attempt to cripple or destroy them, fresh mobs of grasping civilians poured from side-junctures and corridors, their intention not to kill but to overwhelm and pinion individual Legiones Astartes, drowning them in their mass of bodies, heedless of the cost of life. Above them in the void, the two fleets clashed. The great hourglass craft, each easily out-massing the gargantuan Sethaln's Thunder, lashed out with blazing whips of elemental particles, scorching and burning the Imperial warships and engulfing any fighter squadrons or torpedo salvos that came close in collapsing gravitational singularities, annihilating them utterly. The 12th Expeditionary Fleet was overmatched but fought on valiantly, causing one of the titanic xenos craft to fall back, strangely-coloured vapours bleeding luminously from its rent hull, but at the cost of a dozen of its own number, while the Sethaln's Thunder, at that point a burning wreck, tumbled out of control through the line of battle.
It was then that fearful figures, aglow from within with sickly light, began to materialise among the attackers both on the surface and directly onto the warring Imperial vessels. Armoured in some form of baroque bio-mechanical containment suits, the creatures within were barely corporal; ghoulish shapes of glowing mists whose gauntlets spat ethereal fire and whose alien wills reached out to crush the minds of those who resisted them. Vosotho's final command was for the fleet to withdraw with as many of the XIIIth Legion that could be recovered, but withdraw it must. A new enemy of the Imperium had been met, and word of it must reach Terra at any cost. Vosotho committed his life to the command of the rearguard on the surface, taking penance for his error, and his last act was to transfer Legion command to the most senior surviving commander present in orbit, Marius Gage. It was a testament to Gage's swift thinking and tactical acumen that he was able to hold off the enemy vessels until every surviving Stormbird from the ground assault had departed the planet, fighting a swirling three-dimensional battle of thrust, counter-thrust and retreat which held the enemy titan-ships at bay until the 12th Expeditionary Fleet had fought its way clear.
Ultimately, what could have been a disaster had been fought into a mere defeat, and when all was afterwards measured, the XIIIth Legion had suffered a little over 6,500 Space Marines lost, the largest tally of any single battle in the XIIIth's history. Although this was approximately a fifth of its fighting strength in terms of Astartes, the lost counted among them much of the elite of the Legion, many of them Terran veterans from its founding and its Lord Commander Gren Vosotho with them. Its fleet had also suffered heavily, with a quarter of its warships lost or irrevocably damaged, not least of all its flagship. Just as bitter a blow was to the Legion's pride and honour at the defeat to which their overconfidence had led them. They hungered for vengeance but even this was denied them.
When the XIIIth Legion returned to the now quarantined and blockaded Osirin Cluster a little under a standard year later with a force heavily augmented from the Solar Armada, elements of the XVIIIth Legion (Salamanders) and specialist anti-psyker cadres from Terra, of the xenoforms the Officio Biologis had designated with the cognomen of "Osiran Psybrid", they instead found worlds either left as wastelands of the unburied dead or locked in turmoil and civil strife. But of the architects of these atrocities they found no sign. Piecing together fragmentary records from planetary dataspheres and human minds alike all but purged clean, it was impossible to know from where the xenos had come or where they had gone, only that they had operated covertly at first, insidiously claiming worlds outright; burning out the wills of their populations, stealing away some bodily into the void, and leaving the others to simply mindlessly perish by starvation or inaction in their abscence. Other worlds they had sent first into rebellion and then strife through covert psychic domination of their rulers and manipulation of their population's fears. The revelation was of a foe perhaps not numerous, but both insidious and frighteningly powerful, a clear threat now marked for extermination by the Emperor's own writ.
In the wake of the short campaign, empty of glory, which brought the remains of the Osiris Cluster back into the Imperium's control for repopulation, the XIIIth swore a blood oath of vengeance against the xenos wherever and whenever they might appear again. The Legion, now under Marius Gage's stewardship, reorganised and sought to quickly replenish its numbers and supplies, and afterwards redoubled its effort in the Great Crusade's service, as if trying with each fresh victory to prove that the defeat at Septus had been an aberration never to be repeated, and the name of its lost master and indeed the battle in which he fell became a thing no longer spoken of but which dwelled as a shadow at their shoulders.
There existed within the Legion now a brooding sense of loss and a canker of doubt in its won abilities, and in the hearts of its Legionaries grew the desire, always present but now lent keen impetus, to reunite with their Primarch as a balm to all their ills, to become -- as they saw it -- whole. The dark irony was that more than two years previously, unknown and withheld from the Legion's knowledge and before the events at Septus, their Primarch had been located by the Emperor, but owing to the vagaries of the Warp, contact would not prove possible for several more years. During this period, brief as it was and yet seeming an eternity to the sons of the XIIIth, the Legion fought on with a relentless but joyless hunger for battle, taking world after world for the Great Crusade in rapid succession, but shunning now both the laurels of victory it once courted and the respect of its peers it once craved, until the hour of its salvation came at last.
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. Name 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.
During Robout's absence, Konor Guilliman's co-consul, a man named 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 from 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 looking. 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 XIIIth Legion of Space Marines 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 Guilliman 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 Roboute 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 EastEdit
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 its 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.
As inexorably as its tally of victories multiplied, the Ultramarines Legion's numbers began also to grow. Even before its reunification with its Primarch, the XIIIth Legion had been mindful of its losses and demonstrated its ability to expand steadily thanks to the resilience of its gene-seed during multi-generational replication. But with its Primarch's vision to guide it, his organisational skill and his own genetic material available to further strengthen the Legion's gene-stocks, the resultant expansion was meteoric, perhaps beyond anyone's -- even the Emperor's -- expectations. 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. The process was meritocratic and exacting; only the strongest and most able candidates were selected, chosen for both desired physical and mental attributes, but the net was flung so wide that the intake dwarfed that of any other single Legion. This, coupled with the Ultramrines' resistance to what they saw as the "waste" of attrition warfare, created a kind of amplification effect in practice where the larger the Legion used in a single Compliance action, the more force was brought to bear and the fewer the casualties taken. Where this was not the case -- and there remained many hard battles fought by the Ultramarines against hideously powerful foes such as savage Ork empires, the Tanaril and other nightmarish xenoforms -- and heavy losses were inevitably suffered, the Legion's sheer size and its huge capacity to renew itself with more recruits offered it formidable resilience, and such losses were almost invariably replaced within a few years.
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.
Since his takeover of the Legion in the fourth decade of the Great Crusade, Roboute Guilliman had succeeded in transforming the XIIIth into an intricate and highly functioning weapon of war, and in doing so had built upon a track records of success in battle which held very few stains of defeat. Fore more than half a century the Legion had gone from strength to strength, waging Compliance actions and liberating worlds for the Imperium across the eastern reaches of the galaxy, and forging the realm of Ultramar in the process. Though not yet having reached the decisive numerical superiority of the other Legions, it would manifest by the time of the Horus Heresy, yet the Ultramarines of 899.M30 were perhaps on the cusp of becoming so, as their ranks, then at around approximately 166,000 Legionaries, stood them in the forefront of their peers. The Dark Angels, who in the previous decade to this had been undoubtedly the most powerful single Legion, had fallen in number and evened this figure, having suffered massive casualties holding the line during the famed Third Rangdan Xenocide, the blood 50,000 Space Marines spent in preventing the destruction of perhaps the entire northern Imperium by the menace from the outer darkness. The Ultramarines in contrast had spent decades in building up their forces and expanding the frontiers in the east, having had the advantage of their excellent network of supply and recruitment, and their Primarch's formidable generalship was at a zenith of its strength thus far.
Yet for all this, Roboute Guilliman knew that a shadow of doubt afflicted his Legion's soul. That doubt had its origins in its darkly storied defeat in the Osiris Cluster Rebllion a few short years before the Primarch's reunion with his Legion. Marius Gage's tenure in command had commenced with this disaster, and it became a baleful influence in the psyche of the Legion, a thing which while left unspoken nevertheless had power, and that even seemed to cast a pall over the Legion's recruits unborn when the battle was lost. The Primarch knew that the only way to purge his Legion of this shadow of the mind was to find once more the xenos known as the Osirian Psybrids, and with the Ultramarines at his back, destroy them utterly. To this end, ever since he had first reviewed reports of the action when he took over his Legion, Roboute Guilliman had begun planning the Psybrids' destruction, analysing and re-analysing every facet of the Legion's battle-logs, gun-picter footage and even the deep auspex data gathered from the aetheric cogitators of the warships that had survived for microscopic fluctuations. In the decades as his Legion had gone from Compliance to Compliance, war zone to war zone, the Primarch had never stopped running continued theoretical battle scenarios against the macabre and powerful xenos, knowing that one day they would make their reappearance and that he and his Legion would be waiting. But decades passed and they did not return.
There had been rumours of course, unsubstantiated accounts passed on from frontier Rogue Traders, intermittent reports of inexplicable massacres and mass disappearances, but the galaxy, even within the fold of the growing Imperium, was a strange and dangerous place, and the evidence was seldom conclusive as to the culprit, or pointed to the more commonplace is no less deadly privations of several known xenos species. Only at Maxilla Veritas near the Maelstrom, twenty-six standard years after the Osiris Rebellion, was the evidence for the Psybrids involvement considered viable. But by the time fast cruisers from the Ultramarines fleet arrived, the trail was already long cold and the planet's death bore silent witness to the Psybrids' passing. It was in the closing segments of 899.M30 that conclusive word finally reached the Ultramarines Primarch that the Psybrids had not only been encountered, but met in battle. Relayed from the central Astrotelepathic chamber of Terra, the strange report had come from a sub-fleet of the XIIth Legion, then in its last days as the War Hounds before its own Primarch, Angron, was found.
The fleet, under the command of Praetor Erad Krüg, was fighting on the south-western extreme of the Great Crusade's frontier near Eurydice Terminal. Here the War Hounds had been engaged in repelling an attack on the frontier outpost world by Ork void raiders from the self-styled Glortian Empire from the untracked abysses beyond. The War Hounds, though severely outnumbered, had held off the repeated Ork attacks through a series of savage boarding actions in close orbit and high intensity assaults on their landing zones, preventing the xenos from gaining a foothold on the ground. It had been during the latest of these assaults, the largest yet attempted by the Orks, that a mysterious third party had attacked both sides.
When the Ultramarines retribution fleet arrived, not even the intellect of the Ultramarines Primarch could have predicted what his Legion would find there. The entire system had been sundered into a battleground littered with burning debris and the radioactive echo of heavy weapons fire. The Ultramarines found the last surviving few hundred Legionaries of the XIIth, the remnants of a force that had once been ten times its number, led by the terribly wounded but still commanding Erad Krüg. He detailed to Guilliman the story of a strange and terrible battle in which the Psybrids had managed through their mental powers to enslave a vast feral population of Orks to do battle for them against their own kind, and had sought to do the same to the Imperial defenders of Eurydice. Only the War Hounds had proved able to resist the creatures' baleful influence, but massively outnumbered they had paid for their resistance in blood, and would have been overwhelmed regardless if huge numbers of enraged Orks, seemingly the massed forces of the entire Glortian Empire, had not swarmed into the system.
During the ensuing battle, the Orks fought with unbelievable fury even given their warlike species' mien, compelled by their baleful masters to exterminate their enemies. More of the gargantuan hourglass ships in turn had appeared to reinforce their fellows, and with them thousands of enslaved xenos warriors and ships, few of which were known even to the lexicanic datacores of the Imperial ships. Eurydice Terminal had become a killing star; a vortex of destruction that was even now calling more armies to their deaths, and here the Ultramarines had come to restart the battle afresh. Guilliman, having apprised himself of the tactical situation, modified his battle plans accordingly and without pause put his strategy of attack into operation. Despite Erad Krüg's request for his surviving Legionaries to be lifted from their wrecked vessel and given a place in the line of battle, the War Hounds were denied; this would be a battle for the Ultramarines alone. It was to be a tactical operation more traditionally the specialty of other Space Marine Legions than his, but at which his own warriors were still well versed -- a full assault-strike boarding assault.
The Primarch's plan of attack was a shockingly direct one. His fleet didn't pause for a long range bombardment or present a broadside and pound the enemy at close quarters, instead, he ordered his Legion to conduct a full boarding strike without prelude. Guilliman drove the core of his fleet and with it nearly 100,000 Ultramarines into the heart of the enemy. It was not without irony that Roboute Guilliman records in his own testimony about the assault that he and his Legion were adverse to strategies which resulted in a heavy cost of Ultramarines' lives; this single action would dispel that myth and illustrate the truth that such tactics were often wasteful and unneeded by a skilled general, but when such sacrifice was the most efficient and indeed perhaps the only path to victory, he and his Legion would pay that price with fervour and unbreakable determination. The Ultramarines at last unleashed their wrath as they closed with the enemy vessels, hundreds of gunships and assault rams roaring from their flight bays to the attack as the Ultramarines fleet unleashed a cannonade of a thousand lance batteries and macro cannon. The Psybrid nomad-vessels lashed about them with frenzied whips of elemental energy, and all around them hulls burst and ships burned, but it was too little against the unstoppable tide of ire which crashed against them.
Through the maze-like networks of turning corridors like the innards of a great machine, the Ultramarines stormed with deadly intent, destroying as they went. Soon they encountered ghoulish, half-solid vapour forms, lean and gaunt without their exo-armour, who fought with the savagery of caged animals, burning bright with psychokinetic energy and striking out with mind-burning blasts of power, but for every Legionary who fell, a dozen pressed forward in their place and, one by one, the Psybrids began to be corralled, cornered and killed. Led by axe-and-shield-wielding Invictarii and moving bulwarks of Terminator Armour-clad veterans, the Ultramarines pressed into the heart of the great vessels, mining the corridors and power junctions with melta-bombs and atomantic implosion charges as they went. For the warriors of the XIIIth Legion were implacable, and in them had been woken a rarely displayed drive for vengeance that could not be diverted nor denied.
It was Roboute Guilliman himself who breached the innermost chamber of the largest of the hourglass ships to find the master of the Psybrids. It was a towering, multi-limbed gestalt-thing, thrice the Primarch's own height, whose long, almost equine head screamed out shockwaves of ceramite-breaking force as its inner sanctum was invaded. But even as his own Terminator armoured bodyguard staggered and fell under the psychokinetic onslaught, the Primarch, with his Chief Battle Psyker Aaroth Ptolemy beside him, charged. The Psybrid-King reared up above them, its clawed arms bearing strange weapons like the image of some forgotten devil-god of Old Night, but Guilliman with the strength and speed born of the Emperor's unmatched arts struck, cleaving the creature limb from vaporous limb as Ptolemy fought it on the psychic plane with every ounce of power in his possession, sacrificing his life so that Guilliman would be defended from the nightmarishly powerful creature's psychic assault. The monster fell and the Primarch of the Ultramarines enacted his Legion's vengeance, ripping the thing's glowing brain from its skull and crushing it under his heel.
One by one the towering hourglass vessels of the Osiran Psybrids fell, either torn apart by explosive charges from within, or rent to flinders in the crossfire of the waiting Ultramarines' echelons as they tried to break free. There was no escape. As the Psybrids died, so too did their slave armies still warring on the ground, and soon only the Glortian Orks, already mauled and all but exhausted, remained, and the Ultramarines made short work of driving them away once more into the outer darkness. The blood price of the battle had been high enough, several thousand Legionary casualties, and many among them veterans of his Legion's Terran roots, eager to be the first in battle in order to expunge the failing of the past. But it had been a price willingly paid for vengeance, and it would be a price and more that the Ultramarines Legion would willingly pay again in the future.
In the latter years of the 30th Millennium, forces 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.