This morning my local Games Workshop put up this picture with the rather sombre phrase below it.
Guilliman has returned after 10,000 years to find the Imperium nothing like he left it - massive bureaucracy sends millions to die every day and has forgotten the people it was there to free and enlighten, a religion built around a figure who never wanted to be deified now persecutes people for it's own ends, and war, famine and neglect are now the main traits of the Imperium. No wonder people are so eager to join the Tau in their "Greater Good" - and that is happening all over the Imperial fringes.
So what does this picture tell us of the future of Guilliman?
Will he bring back the original vision of the Emperor's Imperium? A new Golden Age where all this will be wiped away? Remember it has happened before a few times in the long centuries or will Guilliman fall foul of internal enemies and the Imperium follow it's same path?
Guilliman faces powerful enemies - from the Mechanicum to the Inquisition to the Chaos and untold Xenos who would not want to see a new strengthened and united Imperium.. Maybe Guilliman will be killed by internal forces. - potentially causing those who follow him to turn on the Imperium itself.
Personally I like the idea of two Imperiums - Guilliman's Imperium of light centred around his Ultramar Empire and then there would be a second Imperium, the old Imperium centred around Terra and going on with it's old ways over the bones of a long dead Emperor. You know he's not really alive, right? It's just something the Imperium make up so they can rule in his name. It's old fluff I know, but true!
You could see Space Marine Chapters siding with either of these Imperiums and a new Horus Heresy beginning. This has historical precedent too. When the Roman Empire split there was the Western Empire in Rome and the Eastern Empire in Constantinople. The Western one fell into ruin and the Eastern one flourished with science and learned people bringing a new age.
So what do you think will happen?
Does Guilliman lead a new Imperium or does he split it and potentially fall foul of the High Lords of Terra?