The Webway Project, also known as the Imperial Webway and the Emperor's Great Work, was a highly secretive project by the Emperor of Mankind during the Great Crusade and likely long before. The project was to be the culmination of the Emperor's ambition and its completion was His greatest concern above all other.[1a]
The Webway Project was a revolutionary concept seeking to replace the primary means of interstellar transportation for humanity. In short, the project sought to replace Warp travel with access to the Webway. The Webway was a far more efficient means of travel, and most importantly bypassed the depredations of Chaos within the Warp.[1a] The ultimate objective of the Webway Project was for the Emperor to completely sever humanity from the Warp in its entirety, depriving Chaos of its power. This would come as the Emperor guided the species in its evolution into a fully psychic race, assuring its ascendancy on the galactic stage.[1d]
It is uncertain as to where the technology came from. In a psychic musing with Custodian Diocletian Coros, the Emperor explained that He either improved on technology from the Dark Age of Technology or possibly came up with the idea on His own, but He refused to give a definite answer.[1c] Using a Psyker of great power (likely originally intended to be Magnus the Red), a portal into the Webway could be created from the Golden Throne. The Emperor was able to create such a portal deep within the Imperial Palace on Terra, and it was here that He began His work to expand human access in the Webway. The Emperor created a new caste of Mechanicum Tech-Priest known as the Unifiers to construct new Webway tunnels for human use. However, unlike the original Webway tunnels, these were not made of psychically resistant material. Instead, the psychic will of the Emperor via the Golden Throne protected the tunnels from Daemonic intrusion.[1a]
After the Ullanor Crusade, the Emperor named Horus as Warmaster and returned to Terra in order to work on the Webway Project. The project was mired in the greatest secrecy. Not even the Primarchs knew why the Emperor returned to Terra and this created a degree of resentment among many, especially Horus. The Emperor's secrecy may have been motivated in part over fears of how the Navis Nobilite would respond if they felt their monopoly on interstellar travel was being threatened. Indeed, the Paternova of the Navigators dispatched an agent to destroy a prototype that would link with the Golden Throne, Dark Glass.
Ultimately, the Emperor's grand vision of human dominion over the Webway was doomed by Magnus the Red. Attempting to warn of the treachery of Horus and Erebus on Davin, Magnus used a forbidden psychic ritual to contact the Emperor personally deep within the Imperial Palace. The ritual created a massive psychic backlash, forming a chain reaction on the Emperor's carefully constructed wards across the Imperial Palace. The catastrophic event created multiple Warp Rifts known as Magnus' Folly within the Webway itself, through which countless Daemons poured. The Emperor was forced to try and contain the breach by permanently residing on the Golden Throne for much of the subsequent Horus Heresy while the Custodian Guard and Sisters of Silence battled hordes of Daemons to prevent them from entering the Imperial Palace and overrunning Terra itself.[1a]
In the end, the Emperor was forced to seal the Webway portal within the Imperial Palace to prevent Terra from destruction, effectively dooming the Webway Project. However, as long as the Daemonic hordes threatened to force themselves through the breach and reach Terra, the Golden Throne would be the Emperor's prison. The Emperor could use temporary solutions to leave the Throne for periods of time, such as sacrificing massive amounts of Psykers or a substitute of great power such as Malcador.
When the Emperor decided to confront Horus aboard the Vengeful Spirit, Malcador was left to maintain the Golden Throne and keep the portal closed in his place. After the injured body of the Emperor was brought back to the Golden Throne, the immense effort exerted by Malcador in keeping the portal shut had reduced him to mere dust. As the Emperor was placed back onto the Golden Throne, His body has allowed the portal to remain closed for the last 10,000 years. Should the Emperor die, the Imperial Palace would be breached and Terra itself would be overrun by Daemons.
- 1: Master of Mankind (Novel)
- 2: A Thousand Sons (Novel) Chapter 20
- 3: The Path of Heaven (Novel) Chapter 22
- 4: Collected Visions pg. 326–330, 350-351