For ten millennia, the Imperium of Mankind has stood on the brink of destruction. Enemies abound, threats from within and without that could bring about the end of all the Emperor strove to build. But which of these deadly menaces is most likely to tip Mankind over the edge into extinction? Today, we’re looking at six ways the end could come… not that’s it going to. Repeat after us – “The Emperor Protects”.
A Psychic Awakening Overload
It’s long been whispered that psychic individuals are the next evolution of Man, and that one of the Emperor’s long-term goals was to awaken the psychic potential in all His people.* The Psychic Awakening seems to be a step towards just that – but what if it went tragically wrong? The Emperor’s last plan didn’t exactly pan out the way he intended…
Psychic power comes with massive risks. The unwary soul tapping into the warp is a beacon for Daemons and other vile creatures. If huge numbers of humans all started using powers at once, the effects could be truly catastrophic – let’s just say that the resulting tear in the warp would make the Great Rift look like a daemonic paddling pool.
Even if a mass psychic awakening somehow didn’t tear apart the entire fabric of space and time, the Imperium would not cope well with trillions of humans all manifesting psychic powers. It’d get messy, and not even the Silent Sisterhood would be able to dampen that much power. Let’s just hope Mankind’s awakening is an evolution, not a revolution.
A Galactic Buffet
For a few centuries now, the Tyranid Hive Fleets have been arriving from outside the galaxy and snacking on whatever tasty planets they come across. Countless systems have fallen to their voracious appetite, and billions of lives have been spent destroying these extragalactic invaders. And that’s just the vanguard.
If the rest of the Tyranids arrive, Mankind will be little more than a very long lunch for them. Picture a galactic buffet, each planet a table laid out with delectable morsels – that’s how the Imperium looks to the Hive Mind. Mmm. Tasty.
The Beast Arises v2.0
Back in the 32nd Millennium, something kinda bad happened – the Orks got Orkanised! Sorry, organised. Across the galaxy, they united under the banner of the Great Beast and formed an empire, bent not on destruction but on conquering and ruling – and using Mankind as slaves (as well as food). They were defeated, but it took a lot.
Could this happen again? Let’s hope not, but then… that Ghazghkull Thraka keeps getting bigger and harder, and even killing him doesn’t seem to stop his rise. More and more Ork tribes fall under his sway, and his Waaagh! gains strength and momentum. There’s also the little matter of his repeated attempts to conquer Armageddon, which used to have another name, and another role… the Ork home world.
Uh-oh. Maybe someone should try to finish Ghazghkull for good, while that might still be possible…
The Necrons aren’t much of a problem, are they? Long dead xenos race, coming back occasionally as their tomb worlds wake up… whatever. Sure they’re made of self-repairing living metal, have war engines of inconceivable power and might utterly devastate a planet here or there, but the Imperium has a million worlds – a few won’t be missed. And yet… there seem to be more and more of them all the time. And they’ve got a whole lot of that Blackstone stuff, which is a bit of a problem when Mankind relies on psychic power for communication and travel.
There’s also the fact that the Necrons have been linked to a strange malady affecting entire worlds that leaves them defenceless against attack. That can’t be good. An Imperium that can’t traverse the warp or communicate between worlds would be easy prey for the Necrons… silenced and alone, Mankind could fall.
Abaddon Comes Home
Ten thousand years ago, Abaddon was there when his father laid siege to Terra and tried to kill the Emperor. Horus failed, but Abaddon has never given up on finishing the job – a Warmaster’s work is never done, after all. He’s already blown up Cadia and unleashed Chaos across the Imperium. He’s laid waste to Vigilus and shown one of the Imperium’s greatest heroes that he’s no slouch in a fight. It’s not a stretch to suggest that “Conquer Terra” and “Kill Granddad” are high on his to-do list.
Another Siege of Terra would be truly devastating. If Abaddon really could succeed where Horus failed and deliver the finishing blow to the Emperor, it’s fair to say that’d be an end to the Imperium and the beginning of an unimaginable dark age where Chaos reigns supreme and the only truth is that you’re gonna die alone, scared and probably in multiple pieces.
A Not-Very-Civil War
The Imperium is riven with infighting – corrupt Ecclesiarchy priests, rival Inquisitorial Ordos, grudge-holding Space Marine Chapters, rebellious planetary governors and many more all fight for their own ends. Not everyone’s terribly happy about Lord Commander Guilliman changing everything up, either – the Imperium is notoriously fearful of change. A civil war wouldn’t be anything new – we’ve already had the Horus Heresy, the Nova Terra Interregnum and the Age of Apostasy, and that’s just off the top of our heads. All the many factions just need to fight among themselves until war breaks out, the Imperium collapses and the remnants are picked off by the many foes waiting in the wings. Goodnight Imperium.
What scenarios do you think are most likely to bring about the Imperium’s end? Or are you an optimist – do you reckon Mankind will survive all its trials and a golden age will begin for the Emperor’s domain? Let us know on the Warhammer 40,000 Facebook page.
* No one knows for sure if this is true or not – the Emperor was famously not big on sharing information – but entire factions of the Inquisition exist based on this belief.