As Keri and I discussed The First Heretic, I was reminded of a conversation in David Annandale’s Guilliman primarch book. Roboute talks about why he was sent to destroy Monarchia and not another of his brothers. It’s a conversation that’s always stuck in my head. You have 18 sons, and you have to pick ONE to castigate another.
Guilliman was the right choice, obviously. He’s measured, serious, and shows restraint when necessary. But it’s a fun thought experiment to imagine the Emperor choosing which of his sons was right for this job. I like to imagine a lot of thought went into it, which might be giving Papa E too much credit in the parenting department. Anyway. Here’s how I imagine the thought process going.
The Primarch Process
The Lion: Oh my god can you even imagine? Lion El’Jonson just appears on Monarchia. No warning, no forward messaging. He beats Malcador and Papa E there by a week at least. He and his boys just drop on the planet and start destroying buildings left and right. Lorgar demands an answer, and Lion offers none because he doesn’t need to explain himself to ANYONE. Clearly he has a reason, don’t ask! Fighting ensues. Scratch him off the list.
Fulgrim: I can’t imagine Fulgrim even making the shortlist. Not because he would do anything untoward, but that he wouldn’t be interested in such an action. The Nature Boy himself going and doing something that boils down to housekeeping? No. Perish the thought. Scratch him off the list.
Perturabo: Whooboy. My favorite primarch would probably spend a solid five minutes sighing audibly before making a passive aggressive remark about always being called upon to destroy things. He’d drop on Monarchia, try to explain rationally that he was sorry, but this needed to be done. Lorgar would make some comment and then Perturabo’s temper would be triggered and he’d be like, “You know what? FINE. DESTROY IT ALL.” Afterward he’d sulk for weeks. Papa E has way better things to do with his time. Nope.
Jaghatai Khan: Of all the primarchs, I imagine Jaghatai being the only one who would tell Dad “no.” This job plays to none of his legion’s strengths, and he’s never struck me as a guy who cares about pleasing Daddy. Another off the list.
Leman Russ: “Instructions unclear, killed all of the Word Bearers.” That makes the Horus Heresy a lot more interesting, doesn’t it? In seriousness, as much as I love Leman Russ, and as noble as he is as executioner for his father, he doesn’t mind being his father’s executioner. Which makes him just terrible for this particular job. Nooooooope.
Rogal Dorn: Strong candidate. I can’t imagine he’d handle it much different than Robby G. did. Perhaps a little more smugly? Less dispassionate? Also if Papa E chose Dorn and not Perturado that would become a big “thing,” and it’s probably best we just not even ask what he’s doing that day. Pass.
Konrad Curze: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha no.
Sanguinius: Can Daddy’s Perfect Son be seen chastising another? Sanguinius is space Jesus and much more of a “died for your sins” type’a dude and less of a “taught you a firm lesson” type’a dude. I seriously doubt the Emperor ever even pondered sending him. “Not my Sanguinius!”
Ferrus Manus: Honestly, I imagine Ferrus would be on Daddy’s “Not even going to consider” list. Ferrus was not super accepting of weakness, and wasn’t one to hold his tongue. I imagine Ferrus reminding Lorgar of that one, time, when he came and destroyed his world BECAUSE HE COULDN’T GET “NO RELIGION” THROUGH HIS THICK SKULL! His would not be censure, it would be straight up brow-beating, which, depending on how you view the whole Monarchia thing… he’s just not a strong candidate for this.
Angron: I think this one speaks for itself. Pass.
Mortarion: I think similar to Khan, Mortarion would have no time for this nonsense. You wanna chastise your son? Do it yourself, I got better things to do… in your name, natch.
Magnus: Riiiiiiiight. Use your son who’s dabbling in warpcraft, which you’ve forbidden, to censure the son dabbling in religion, which you’ve forbidden. I can just imagine Magnus’ boys dropping onto the surface and being like, “But consider this, Father,” and proceeding to use all kinds of psyker nonsense to destroy buildings. This just has “bad idea” written all over it. NEXT.
Horus Lupercal: OK maybe not next. Look, you can’t have your other favorite son, the man you’ll declare Warmaster, going and getting his hands dirty with this kind of thing. It would show even more favoritism, and even though Horus would have probably been as good at this as Guilliman was, it’s just a bad look.
Vulkan: Vulkan would sit with Lorgar and explain why Dad wants him to destroy the planet, and how does that make Lorgar feel? Let’s talk about those feelings. Two weeks later he’d call Dad back and explain that Lorgar will slowly but surely dismantle the religion thing at a pace that feels comfortable for him. When his headspace is right for it. The Emperor would sigh and call Leman Russ, which at that point, he should have just done in the first place.
Corvus Corax: Nope. What’s he going to do? Kill all the leadership to create panic and distract from his guerrilla tactics? Oh, wait, the leadership is his brother and his brother’s step-dad Kor Phaeron, and BFF Erebus, all of them space marines. This would have been a win, if we’re being honest, but they didn’t know that at the time. I don’t think he made the Emperor’s shortlist simply because this is not Corax’s style, or within his framework. You gotta know what your kids are good at, and Corax wouldn’t be great with this.
Alpharius: The Emperor would call up Alpharius only to discover that 10 of the Alpha Legion had already infiltrated the Word Bearer’s upper leadership. They’re slowly but surely gaining influence and working toward convincing Lorgar this is all a bad idea. “Check back in 20 years or so, Dad, when we’ve completely taken over the legion.” But as soon as Alpharius hangs up the phone he goes back to whatever he was doing, because he needs this Horus Heresy thing to happen so he’s not lifting a damn finger.