+ inload: Origin of an Empire: The Nova Terran Imperium +

+ Origin of an Empire: The Nova Terran Imperium +

'Admiration? Certainly. We look to Ancient Terra as one might look to an aged parent. Respected; beloved – but still failing. Better for it to assume its ritual place as the seat of the Golden Throne and Him-on-Earth; and leave the burden of government to better, more vigorous souls.'

Extract from All Human History – Inquisitrix Barbari Kills, Ordo Xenos


+ Road to Interregnum +

Those loyal to Ancient Terra portrayed the Nova Terra Interregnum as a betrayal by rebellious elements; treachery of seismic proportions. The truth, as is usually the case, was considerably more complex. 

The earliest days of Imperium had demonstrated that centralised Imperial Government had always been laughably impractical. The Imperium itself is built on the knowledge of a lost empire. The Age of Strife had demonstrated the ease with which intergalactic – or even intersystem – communication could be silenced. Similarly, the largest stumbling blocks to the Great Crusade's progress had not been military, but logistical. The Imperial Council; and later the Adeptus Munitorum, had struggled manfully with the challenge, but the bald fact is that galactic distances make communication all but impossible. That Ancient Terra was able to maintain tenuous links to any systems at all is impressive.

Astropathic communiques allow only the broadest of meanings to be transmitted; and even those for from reliably.
Those systems which enjoyed high traffic and relatively open interstellar communication naturally became important hubs; astropathic choirs operating as links in a chain to pass on information to more distant worlds. Beyond this, communication is reduced to the physical; relying on transmitted light signals, shuttling voidcraft or awkward nodal webs of signal servitors seeded in the void. As a result, as the Imperium expanded, Ancient Terra's role became less one of direct leadership, and instead became more symbolically valuable, with each world standing largely alone; themselves only vaguely connected to Old Terra via tenuous and largely symbolic connections to principal systems in the local Sector and Segmentum: worlds such as Kar Duniash and Constantium are excellent examples.

In the wake of existential threats such as the Horus Heresy and the War of the Beast, it became clear that the 'problem' of lack of direct leadership was largely irrelevant. Such is the scale of the Imperium that no orders from Terra could realistically be enacted; with paradigmatic shifts in power between the Administratum and growing Ecclesiarchy, individual Imperial Commanders found Terra less and less responsive. By the close of M33, it had become accepted that Imperial worlds all but stood alone; and that any mutual support came not from a unified Imperial oversight, but from regional protection.


+ Death, the God-Emperor and taxes +

Of course, even this overview is misleading, suggesting a consciousness of galactic scales for individual planetary governors or Imperial Commanders. To most, their duty was simple: protection of their fief in order to supply the Tithe. Few chafed at taxation – such is the scale of planetary production that no Imperial Commander need suffer genuine deprivation; and in any case, even the ruinous tithes demanded by the Imperium were insufficient to provide surplus: most planetary tithes were, to all intents and purposes, immediately used to provide stopgaps for inevitable regional shortfalls.

The effect was that by the closing years of the thirty-fourth Millennium, the majority of Planetary Governors across the Imperium took a pragmatic view of themselves as overlapping autonomies; with the concept of Imperium a lofty ideal, and the Emperor as a figurehead.

Scene from Port Thrace, two decades after the Eve of Secession. 
As the long centuries ground on, and the Adeptus Ministorum gradually inveigled its way into silent conflict with an ossifying and inward-looking Adeptus Munitorum, Ancient Terra became sidelined; remaining a place of importance and pilgrimage, certainly, but not a position of temporal power. 


+ Secession +

The potential for a region of the Imperium to secede has always been a potential risk –  indeed, rebellious governors and armed uprisings are the meat and drink of the Imperial Navy and Imperial Guard. That it lasted as a broadly stable whole for five millennia is testament to the stabilising effect of the Emperor as figurehead, and the brutal suppression of rebellion. The Nova Terra Interregnum was less a dramatic shearing away – whatever later dramatists recorded – and more a gradual recognition that Ancient Terra's gaze was simply irrelevant to many regions.

The Nova Terra Interregnum can be briefly summarised:
The Nova Terra Interregnum, also known as the 'Time of Twin Empires', was a troubled period in Imperial history when the Imperium of Man fractured for a time into warring factions for over nine centuries during the mid-34th through the late-35th Millennium. During this period, the Ur-Council of Nova Terra dismissed the authority of the High Lords of Terra and claimed separate rule over the Imperium's Segmentum Pacificus.
...and while this paints the broad strokes adequately, as with anything of galactic scale, it leaves much out; and warring histories have meant that much is muddy that may once have been known. Some regard Friar Decimus Pyne's bold move in nailing a list of revisionist demands to the gates of the Mendicant's Palace as the spark that ignited the tinder of rebellion; while others see a dustier, drier narrative. Nova Terra itself recorded the date of secession as 470.M34 – some fifteen years later – in order to commemorate the first fully physical gathering of the Ur-Council as the start of a new age; though since some elements attempted to create a new dating system stemming from this date, it is sometimes recorded as 001.1.This datum is a tiny example of the myriad conflicting philosophies and directions that gathered under Nova Terra's banner, and followed it into secession.


+ Seed of Imperium +

This is not to say that the Nova Terran faction was necessarily disunited. What was to become the Ur-Council was made up of the hereditary heirs of empire, and their ambitions had been fostered for centuries. Wise enough to understand that their ambitions would become little more than a series of quickly-suppressed and isolated rebellions, these highly-placed individuals sought a rallying concept. It was in philosophy and religion that their long-harboured ambitions were to find root.

The Ecclesiarchy had moved to Ophelia VII in 200.M35 – exactly three millennia after being established s the Imperial Cult – and this momentous event had caused ripples and unrest across the Imperium, as some amongst the populace began to harbour doubts of the Adeptus Ministorum. The Ur-Council's agents tacitly supported populist movements, millennial cults and starry-eyed idealists across the Segementum Pacificus for many decades to create the fertile soil into which the new empire was to be born. The Ur-Council's power, huge as it later became, could not hope to extend its will over the populace of the Segmentum, and there is much to suggest that they did not intend to do so. By and large, their ambitions were more concerned with Temporal power – indeed, many were devoutly religious and devoted to the God-Emperor. They were also frighteningly pragmatic.

Lex Bigal's Inquisitor Theodora
Whispers of the fabled 'Imperial Truth' had long circulated amongst the aristocracy of mankind; with many amongst the Munitorum –  particularly those most at loggerheads with the Ecclesiarchy – regarding it as a secular 'holy grail'; a demonstration of the Emperor's Will that – while the details were unknown – would doubtless loosen the ascendant strength of the Ministorum. Strong adherents amongst the Inquisition had ensured that those searchers after truth were protected; though those foolish enough to promulgate it or openly introduce the concept to the populace at large were reluctantly removed. The Truth, after all, was little more than a legend; with any evidence for it long-buried in the ever-increasing annals of history. Even as Munitorum forces sought it, they created more bureaucracy to hide the signal in the noise. Such is the irony of the Nova Terran Imperium.


+ The Ur-Council of Nova Terra +

The Emperor's deification some centuries earlier – still in living memory of the oldest members of Imperial society – had taken root amongst the masses, but was far from secure across the galaxy for many of influence. The Nova Terrans had found their seed in the Truth – though such a concept could never be openly espoused. Far from open rebellion and denial of the Emperor's divinity, the Ur-Council's initial statement of intent was couched in placatory, even friendly terms. The Segmentum would part ways for purely practical reasons; rejecting the High Lords' authority in favour of localised Government.

The thirty-three members of the Ur-council formed a mirror of the distant High Lords – establishing mirror structures to the Greater Imperium, such as the Adeptus Mechanicus Minor; the Reformed Ophelian Church of Nova Terra; and the New Terran Army, a hybrid of the established Imperial Guard and PDF – and began to gather their forces openly. This was not, the Council were at pains to make clear, an armed revolt, but an orderly and non-threatening statement of intent. The Nova Terran Imperium – made up of the former Segmentum Pacificus and a number of allied enclaves across the galaxy – remained an ally; but no longer a vassal.

Rebellion on such a scale had simply not occurred since the distant ages when the Emperor walked amongst them, and the High Lords were – openly at least – at a loss; mired in internal arguments and unable or unwilling to take action against them. There was certainly no ill-will from the bulk of the Imperium – most Governors, if they heard of the rebellion at all, saw it as a distant semantic argument, of little interest. The Nova Terrans had not openly declared war – indeed, they seemed to be taking pains to openly increase trade and service with the Greater Imperium – and the Naval and Guard forces who would have taken action had already made clear their allegiance to the Ur-Council, whose seats included many prominent military figures.

For many – indeed, for most serfs, citizens and denizens of the Nova Terran Imperium –  the change had little effect; their world still turning in the heavens, and the seasons passing as before. Nevertheless, the vision of the Ur-Council settled many discontents, and allowed long-standing rivalries and simmering grudges to be set aside in favour of the dawning of a new age.

For some crucial years, nothing outwardly happened, though behind the scenes, a cold shadow war had already begun to wage... a war that would cancerously come to consume the forces of mankind from within, until by the middle years of the millennium, the increasingly straitened forces of both Imperial contenders meant that forces were withdrawn from frontier worlds and isolated systems, allowing the resurgence of myriad xenos across the galaxy, and prompting the Blood Angels, under the ill-fated Chapter Master Formosus, to launch the Alien Wars.

+ Post Script +

Thought for the day: An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and undefended.

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.

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