« on: May 11, 2012, 10:55:14 AM »
It came as something of a surprise to Robute Guilliman that the Emperor had two sets of bodyguards. First were the Custodes; the second were something else entirely.
The Primarch was watching one now. He hid his observations, pretending to be busy studying the glowing reports of the myriad Crusade forces. The black-armoured Space Marine stepped over to an Adept in charge of Gene-allocation, and handed him a data slate. The Adept seemed concerned, but dutifully entered the information. Guilliman quietly checked over the new inputs himself. It was an order to allocate aspirants from the Emperor's Children to other Legionary barracks. A brief check through the logs revealed three more such orders. Guilliman cross-referenced this with the deployment details and casualty rates, and the result sent a chill down his spine. For almost a year, the Emperor's Children had been on constant front line combat. For almost a year, the Emperor's Children had been prevented from recruiting new forces.
Guilliman turned his mind to the Legion. For reasons unknown, many Legions had been afflicted with some kind of genetic abnormality... but then wasn't the same true of the Primarchs? The Emperor had embraced these elements, hadn't he? Yet the Emperor's Children, mutated into wyrd avian things, were being denied forces at the source and quietly annihilated in battle...
...elsewhere, in army groups and mustering stations across the newly forming Imperium, similar tales were being recounted. The Emperor's Children, now never seen with flesh exposed - it was believed their 'change' was far more pronounced in the younger Marines - told anyone who would listen of their plight.
"We're not even the Emperor's Children anymore," Eidolon, First Chapter Master recounted bitterly, "we've been renamed 'The Eagle Legion'. What did we do to anger the Emperor so that he would strip us of our title?"
The Emperor returned to Terra following his ministrations to the Khan's Legion. He gave a cursory examination to all reports that were offered, but it was clear to those who knew him that his mind was elsewhere. He seemed unusually distant, distracted even.
He found Guilliman and handed him a dataslate. On its screen was a report, seemingly unimportant, from a high-tier Administratum clerk praising the efforts of the Ultramarines Legion in 'bringing and maintaining order' to a world convinced to surrender by the Alpha Legion. The Emperor gave the slightest of nods, and allowed Guilliman to resume his work; there were messages to send.
Word spread that the Alpha Legion was to return to Terra. No-one was sure why, and a thousand uncertain theories bounced around the army groups: Alpharius was being honoured; Alpharius was being punished; Alpharius was to be made Warmaster... these and a thousand other explanations were all well and good, but only the Emperor knew for sure.
"They were requested to return to Terra," one astute commander pointed out. "There's no order here; the Emperor has asked them to come home. If they don't, someone else will be recalled instead."
"but why ask then? Why not order?" another replied.
Only the Emperor knew for sure, and he was unlikely to tell those who did not need to know...