Heresy is like a tree, its roots lie in the darkness whilst its leaves wave in the sun and to those who suspect nought, it has an attractive and pleasing appearance. Truly, you can prune away its branches, or even cut the tree to the ground, but it will grow up again ever the stronger and ever more comely. Yet all awhile the root grows thick and black, gnawing at the bitter soil, drawing its nourishment from the darkness, and growing even greater and more deeply entrenched.
Such is the nature of heresy, and this is why it is so hard to destroy, for it must be eradicated leaf, branch, trunk and root. It must be exorcised utterly or it will return all the stronger, time and time again, until it is too great to destroy. Then we are doomed.—Prelude to “The Abominatus”
++ INQUISITORIA 28315/54.34 ++
+ Information Clearance Ordo Hereticus Beta-Omicron +
+ Tainted Souls +
+Chaos Cult/Traitor Regiment +
++ Last Known Location: Dozaria, Covus Cluster ++
The Tainted Souls is a warrior Chaos Cult dedicated to the service of the Chaos God Nurgle. Since 778.M41, the cult reportedly has been operating as a military arm of the Death Guard on the war-torn world of Dozaria.
No accurate intelligence is available on the manpower available to the cult, but it is clear that the cult’s military arm numbers more than 10,000 members and is equipped with a mix of captured Imperial war material, including Chimeras, Sentinels, and ramshackle war machines built out of the wreckage of a hundred battlefields.
Although the Tainted Saints do not fight with the same competence as the average Imperial Guard regiment, they are superior to the vast majority of traitor regiments that usually dissolve into disorganized warbands. On Dozaria, for example, the Tainted Souls mauled the 27th Dozaria PDF Regiment in a battle on 3 162 739.M41 for control of the Aramanth Manufacturm Complex.
The origin of the cult is uncertain, but fragmentary evidence suggests the cult began more than half a century ago on the world of Pentos, a planet in the Burning Fronter from which communications with Imperial authorities were severed soon afterward.
What could turn Imperial citizens from the light of the Emperor—and bring them under the sway of a religion based on disease and rot—is inexplicable. But, outside of unknown atrocities in the Burning Frontier, the cult had no impact on Imperial rule until 731.M41.
Fall of Metaxas
In that year, the Tainted Souls landed on the lightly populated agri-world of Metaxas and began raiding the world’s isolated agricultural communes and sacrificing the populace to their foul gods.
The local PDF soon mobilized its forces and set out to bring the cultists to battle. More than 6,000 PDF troopers advanced on one cultist force, which engaged in a two-hour battle before falling back into a forested valley. Alas, the cultists apparent retreat was a feint.
Imperial forces became increasingly disorganized as they entered the forest in pursuit of their supposedly beaten foes when fresh cultists, lying in wait, charged into the flanks of the PDF troops. Not a single loyalist soldier survived the debacle.
An astropathic distress call was sent to Imperial authorities in the Belliose System, but, by the time Imperial reinforcements arrived, the Tainted Souls were gone, and the planet’s bountiful farm land was bespoiled by all manner of Warp-tainted blight. The planet now is under Imperial quarantine.
For the next two years, the cult was connected to a number of heretical acts of violence across three sectors before its depredations ceased with no explanation. No word of the cult’s activities was received until the cult’s arrival on Dozaria.
Warriors and War Gear
As is common for heretic military forces, the Tainted Souls have nothing resembling a standard uniform or war gear. Most cultists wear dirty and ragged civilian clothes or bits of Imperial uniforms stolen from the dead. Weapons range from shoddily manufactured autoguns and looted lasguns to converted civilian vehicles and repaired transports and tanks recovered from the battlefield.
A sizable number of cultists display signs of mutation, although it’s not clear if such disfigurement is a result of their exposure to Warp-tainted disease or is a sign of genetic deformities existing before the cultists recruitment to the cult. It is known that cultists are prone to kill genetically pure Imperial citizens while making some effort to recruit from the mutant slums of the planets they’ve attacked.
The military hierarchy of the Tainted Souls remains a mystery. Given the above-average discipline revealed on the battlefield, it is believed the cult has embraced a command structure somewhat similar to the Imperial Guard. Indeed, intelligence reports indicate that guardsmen have identified individuals acting in a leadership role on the battlefield.
The threat level assigned to the Tainted Souls was raised from Tritos Beta to Beta Omicron soon after the return of the cultists to the Corvus Cluser in 738.M41.
The threat is not higher as the cult appears to be heavily engaged on Dozaria. While its presence is a threat to Imperial rule on the war-torn planet, it is unlikely that the cult’s military forces can disengage and escape the world until the planet-wide war is completed. That is not foreseen in the near future.
Still, there is no evidence that the Tainted Souls have deployed their entire military might on Dozaria. The Ordo Hereticus is, at this time, seeking cultist prisoners to determine if there are smaller detachments of the cult operating elsewhere in the sector. The most worrisome prospect would be that small bands of cultists are establishing new cultist branches in the underhives of major industrial worlds in the region.
+ END REPORT +
TheGM: Uh, oh. What does this report portend? Even I don’t know.
I often write these tidbits simply to “flesh out” the Corvus Cluster. But there’s often a kernel of an idea in the back of my head. For instance, I just fought a small Shadow War: Armageddon skirmish with The Gaffer. He played Space Wolves. I played heretics holding a captured town on Dozaria. (Battle report to follow)
As I was playing the game, I was thinking about how this fight ties into the rest of the war on Dozaria. I’m currently writing (albeit slowly) a “history” of the ongoing war, and our skirmish action clearly was a small part of the larger fight. I began to wonder who these heretics were.
That led to the idea of the Tainted Souls.
So, from now on, the presence of heretics on Dozaria will mean much more than just a cheap unit for my tabletop battles. Will they help turn the tide of the war? Will small offshoots of this cultist force spread their tendrils across the Corvus Cluster, causing all kinds of mischief?
That’s one of the fun things about a narrative campaign. You really never know where it’s going to take you.
The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.