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These armadas were designed to serve both as a source of deep-range patrols and rapid-reaction forces to respond to sudden threats, be they civil disturbance, rebellion or outside attack, both from within the Imperium and from beyond its borders.
But beyond these practical needs, each fleet favoured the nature of its Legion, from the sable black marauders of the Raven Guard to the baroque crimson and gold battlecruisers of the Blood Angels to the brute functionality and unadorned steel of the Iron Warriors' siege-barques.The origins of the Imperial Navy lay in the campaigns of the Great Crusade that began in ca. As mighty and valiant as the hosts of the Emperor were, this epic undertaking would have been entirely impossible without the countless thousands of Warp-capable vessels that transported hundreds of thousands of the superhuman warriors of the Space Marine Legions and many millions of Imperial Army soldiers from one star's light to the next.The Great Crusade saw a staggering array of vessels constructed, reclaimed or pressed into service.They were offered a stark choice--bend their knee before the Emperor and swear service to the Great Crusade, or die by His hand.Though many set pride before what they regarded as slavery, others chose service and took up the Emperor's Warrant of Trade. The Rogue Traders Militant were expected to scout ahead of the leading edge of the Great Crusade, accompanied by their own armies as well as whatever assets had been ceded them by the Emperor.
Beyond these were innumerable classes of transports, arks, conveyers and supply ships, the forge vessels of the Mechanicum and their own strange space-going engines of war.