NoName1 here again! And right off the bat, may I give a giant shout-out to Majestic Chicken from DeviantArt for setting the picture mood on this one? Links to his site are below the pictures he's touched-up.
A caveat here too, I know a lot of the lore, but there are definitely gaps I don't know about. Fill 'em in if anything really glaring jumps out!
So! The End Times!
What this shows is that GW is wading into evolving story lines. If it goes well in Fantasy (and all indications are that it already has), then once all of our 40k Codices are updated to 7th (by the end of this year, more than likely!) we could be looking at an equally World-Shattering Fluffpocalypse in 40k as well!
Granted, a big reason for the Fantasy End Times being so dramatic is that Fantasy is in dire straights. 40k is the success story for GW, and WFB needed a pretty intense shot to the arm to catch up, even a little. With 40k, there's more incentive to keep it stable. But you never know.
I'm all for the speculation train, and Larry Vela put up a great Bell of Lost Souls open thread on the subject, but forum comments are short and often a cross between sarcastic and unreadable. So I figured I would put together my own crackpot vision, and at least provide somewhere to start.
Without further ado, 40k, The End Times-
The light of the Astronomicon flickers for the first time, and for just a moment, the Emperor's light fades. Fleets are thrown into disarray as Navigators lose their guiding star. Psykers across the Imperium suffer spasms of wracking illness. The Grey Knights find themselves suddenly open to the whispers from the void...
In the sudden darkness, the Eye of Terror bursts outward, huge Warp Storms spew forth untold hordes of Daemons, Heretics and Traitors - a terrifying force of disorder larger and more united than ever before. Entire sectors are swallowed instantly, whole planets, Imperial and Xenos alike, vanish in an eyeblink.
Worst of all, dark rumors filter back from the front lines. Garbled messages and blurts of static from a thousand worlds, hundreds of thousands of voices crying out, all with the same message: the Daemon Primarchs have returned.
The Imperial Guard, scattered and caught on their back footing, nevertheless rally and brace themselves against the oncoming storm. Even as worlds, entire systems even, are swallowed instantly by the Warp Storms, the stolid Guard of the Astra Militarium, first line of the Emperor's Legions, stand firm, and push back against the tide.
Chapter Master Dante of the Blood Angels, having received visions from Sanguinius himself, is first to the front lines. The Emperor's Angels have mustered their full strength - and shoulder to shoulder with their brethren, Gabriel Seth and his Flesh Tearers, they dive into the fray. A climactic battle for redemption, and holy vengeance!
The Dark Angels find themselves beset on all sides by the Fallen, pulled back from their scattered hiding places throughout space and time, their dark secret open for all the galaxy to see. Besieged, even unto their Fortress Monastery on the Rock, the Dark Angels rally to defend themselves against their former Brothers.
The enigmatic Cypher returns to the heart of the Dark Angels stronghold, risking everything on a mission know only to him. However, after centuries of pursuit, the dark interrogator Asmodai confronts Cypher for the first time.
Deep beneath the Rock, warded chambers buckle, and two secret cells open wide. A prisoner's body (though not his maddened mind) is set free, while a sleeping Champion wakes, and takes his first steps in a millennium...
The Ultramarines muster for war, their battle lines immaculate, their Commanders already detailing a Grand Strategy for victory. Just as their fleets are about to make for the Eye, a Tyranid Hive Fleet of terrible proportions - larger, faster and more vicious than any encountered before - enters the system and drives straight for Macragge itself.
Just as it looks as if it can't get any worse, a Warp Storm opens up on the other side of the system, spewing out a force of Chaos Daemons led by the cursed Word Bearers, and the Daemon Primarch Lorgar himself.
As Marneus Calgar stands at the forefront of his forces, faced with an endless tide of Tyranid warrior-bioforms, even his famed tenacity begins to fade. Calgar falls, tearing down dozens of the Hive Mind's most terrifying monstrous constructs with him. At the heart of Macragge, a stasis field breaks, and a warrior long wounded rises, restored.
The Space Wolves prepare to enter the fray, only to find it on their own doorstep, as a rampaging horde of Tzeentch, led by Ahriman at the side of his former master, Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons, rain down on them. The Wolves eagerly rise to fight, both sides equally thirsty for vengeance.
Just as the battle is joined, yet another spitting Warp Storm opens up, and a scarred battle fleet explodes outward, howling into the void, and dives straight into the Daemonic lines. The lead ship bears the mark of Leman Russ himself, and much of the fleet has a battered, tribal "XIII" emblazoned among the snarling wolf heraldry on their hulls.
The Imperial Fists and Crimson Fists rally together, only to march into an ambush carefully laid by Perturabo, his Iron Warriors Chaos Space Marines, and their Daemonic allies.
Darnath Lysander leads a daring raid into the heart of the lead ship, where Perturabo the Daemon Prince waits eagerly for battle. Just as Lysander and his terminators engage the hated foe, an unstoppable giant wades into the fight at their side - his armor gleaming yellow, his massive chainsword wielded in only one hand...
The vile Night Lords, taking advantage of the rampant Warp Portals opening across the Galaxy, jump in and out of the Immaterium, sowing terror with lightning strikes on undefended targets.
The Grey Knights, Adeptas Sororitas, and Black Templars each launch into the void, their fleets divided into strike forces, each hitting hard and fast where the fighting is thickest, angling towards the center of the breached Eye. The White Scars flank around the edges of the battle, attempting to cut off disparate forces, and prevent the tides of Chaos from reaching deeper into the Galaxy unhindered.
As the White Scars wage their war, a lone figure emerges from his imprisonment within the Webway. Piloting a small strike craft, he races out to join his long-lost sons...
The Raven Guard, Salamanders, and Iron Hands - the scars of Isstvan still fresh on their Chapters - band together into one great fleet, and aim for the Chaos forces head-on...
With the opening on the Eye, a battered strike force emerges, still flying the Imperial Eagle in somber black and white, and fights its way through Chaos forces, angling for Imperial lines.
Forgefather Vulkan He'Stan diverts the Salamanders just slightly to a Deamon World, only just spat from the warp. On it, the Chapter fights a terrible battle, and recovers the last of Vulkan's relics. As the Daemons begin to turn the tide, pushing the Salamanders back, a lone giant in green armor appears to aid them, wielding a massive forge-hammer and unleashing holy flame upon the hapless Daemon hordes...
The Ork Hordes feel the flood of energy from the Immaterium as a madness shot through their shared Psychic link. Weirdboys charge out of control, and the entire race is filled with a dark blood lust. While it doesn't overwhelm their senses, their love for a good scrap sees the Orks galaxy-wide eagerly launch into Waugh after Waugh after Waugh, laying into any and all enemies within reach.
The dreaded Ghazghkull Mag Uruk Thraka races to the surface of Armageddon one final time, bellowing with rage. He and his old foe, the Old Man Commissar Yarrick, throw caution to the winds and charge each other in single combat. As the Galaxy falls apart around them, the two old foes of endless wars each land a single lethal blow, and both fall side by side on the field...
The Tau, well-protected within their borders, seize on the chance to begin another Sphere of Expansion, while they wait for the Galaxy to burn itself down.
Just as their preparations near completion, a force from the Farsight Enclaves strikes at the heart of the Empire, Commander Farsight himself declaring a war of liberation, to free the T'au from the control of the Ethereal Caste. In the very first wave of the assault, the Tau are caught off guard, Commander Farsight strikes down Aun'Va with his cursed blade, and the entirety of the Tau Empire plunges into chaos...
The Necrons, at first content to defend themselves against the raging tides, suddenly fall to infighting as the Warp Storms cataclysmic changes to the fabric of reality restores Nemessor Zandrekh's fractured mind. Seeing the once great Necron Civilization fallen so far sends the great general into a cold fury, and he immediately begins re-taking the worlds of his once great Dynasty, re-uniting the Necrons one unwilling world at a time.
Sensing the rising tide of the Necrons, the great beast on Mars at long last rises from its slumber. The Dragon, one of the most powerful of the C'Tan Star Gods, awakens - bringing with it legions of the Necrons most powerful constructs directly onto the surface of Mars. The Mechanicum, torn between the Emperor and their ancient Omnissiah, is once again torn into Civil War, in the darkest days on Mars since the Heresy...
At the height of the battle, Autarch Prince Yriel of Iyanden challenges the dark champion Lucius the Eternal. Although Lucius is a terrible master of combat, he allows himself to be defeated, and uses his Deamonic curse to begin taking over Yriel's body. However, Yriel grins a wolfish grin, and succumbs deliberately to his cursed Spear of Twilight, giving his soul to destroy the tainted Champion of Slaanesh forever.
Just as all seems lost, the Astronomicon, the Emperor's light, flares back to brilliant life - and all across the Imperium, sleeping giants stir, and lost sons reappear to lead their armies in battle once more...
That's that! What do you think? I'm sure I missed some of the major grudge matches in the 40k-verse, fill in the gaps as you will!