My latest post is another venture into the Skolarii sector, with a look at The Hooded, a Chaos cult. They are, of course, inspired by the new Forgeworld Chaos Militia. The article is presented as an Inquisitorial report and is in an Index Malleus format.
To: Supreme Protector Von Aschausen, Jalein
From: lone pilgrim, Clearance Omicron
Subject: The Hooded, the Faceless, the Cult of the Unmet Eye, the Unseen Chaos Cult
Message Format: Telepathic
Astropathic Duct: Skolarii
Thought for the Day: In the service of the Emperor, sacrifices must be made
The Hooded derive their name from their dominant physical characteristic; they hide their faces from their victims. This has led them to be called the Faceless, the Cult of the Unmet Eye, the Unseen and countless other names across many worlds. The cult uses shapeless hoods and masks almost exclusively. These are usually fitted with goggles, or sight augmenters which are sealed into the hood. This sealed, contained, breathing apparatus is not just filled with oxygen - the Hooded often alter them to feed in Kalma, ‘slaught and other combat drugs. As the Hooded use forbidden chemical and biological weapons in their attacks, these rebreathers are integral to their combat doctrine.
Imperial scholars have conjectured that a secondary, but no less important, function of the masks is to make the cult more terrifying. The hoods give them a distant, unknowable, inhuman air which can demoralise and frighten their opponents.
Although the Hooded follow Chaos, they sport very few visible mutations compared to other cults. Perhaps this is because their originate from a disciplined Imperial Guard regiment. They still resemble a Guard regiment, though shabby and debased. Their original battle dress has been adapted and modified extensively since their first campaigns. Birastaxian body armour has been added to their brown camouflage fatigues, while much field kit has been looted from the corpses of the Cadian 271st. Leather or fabric tabards are also popular and their shock troops often utilise overlapping metal plating. As much of their uniform is battlefield salvage or improvised the Hooded have an irregular air and no two troopers are identical.
The cult often take grisly trophies from their enemies. Eyes are particularly sought after, but ears fingers and other organs are often worn around the body. Severed heads are often planted around a battle site, a warning to all those who oppose the Hooded.
The Hooded stalk the battlefield in eerie silence. This is partly due to their thorough battlefield training and drill ground precision but is also due to their capture of Imperial micro beads and other vox network technology on Birastax. Communication is uniformly excellent throughout the cult and this allows them to co-ordinate and execute engagement strategies and tactics with extraordinary adroitness.
The true origins of the Hooded’s homeworld is likely lost in myth and legend, however I have a transcript of the confessions of Margrave Soren (taken upon his capture and interrogation by Inquisitor Lord Danett). His account does seem to tally with the scant factual evidence we have.
General Soren, as he was in 437.M41, hailed from the otherwise insignificant agriworld of Blackwater in the Kjalter sector. It was a dour world full of foggy glens and vast, deep lakes and raised many Imperial Guard regiments. Soren led the Blackwater 77th Foot. He victoriously prosecuted a campaign against the Deathguard traitor marines on Plantaff and was subsequently awarded the world as a home to garrison and govern. It was a hilly, humid stink-hole, but Soren was relieved. After seven successful campaigns over his thirty year career, he could finally settle down with his family.
At first his governership was productive and enlightened. He began to reconstruct the shattered cities, plant crops, introduce sanitation and rebuild the economy. He also won the indigent population over with his surprisingly liberal views - allowing artistic and philosophical societies to flourish. Within ten years the populace were rising up against him. While the Grey Ague swept the world, killing two out of every three citizens, Soren was locked away in his private villa. Eventually the plague reached even his own family and his wife succumbed. At his lowest point, numb with despair and raging at an Emperor who could betray him after all his efforts, Soren listened to his delinquent son’s new philosophies.
When the Grey Ague receded, Governor Soren once again began his rebuilding and finally won over the survivors. He founded numerous charitable organisations and artistic and philosophical movements. He encouraged his workers to join agricultural and manufacturing unions and he introduced warrior cults with the help of members of his old regiment, the Planetary Defence Force and other contacts in the Departmento Munitorum and Imperial Navy.
All seemed well for many years until Ecclesiarchy Witchfinder De Santiis secretly arrived on Plantaff. He had traced the taint of chaos back to the governor’s son and after further investigations he charged him with heresy. This forced Soren’s hand. He rescued his son, killing De Santiis in the process, effectively declaring war against the Imperium. Many of his follower’s declared for him, and Soren moved quickly to destroy the loyalists on Plantaff. Galvanised by this early success, Soren looked further afield.
Soren was a master strategist, and had a massive following, and soon took many systems and worlds in the Kjalter sector under his control. By the time the Imperium rallied to meet the threat, Soren had conquered two sub sectors and had a firm foothold in a third. The rebels began to change as Soren plundered more weapons and changed and refined his tactics. They adopted hoods and masks with rebreathers as protection against the biological and chemical weapons Soren employed. Soren’s rebels seemed unstoppable and were scissoring in on Bistarax, a massive Hive world and an essential source of weapons, munitions and armour for the growing army.
Lord Governor Koine along with his Inquisitorial aide Danett, sacrificed two agriworlds in the hope that Soren would over extend his attack. The plan worked and Soren launched a lightning assault on the Hive World, spearheaded by his own Blackwater 77th shock troops and utilising ancient pathogens and toxins. Koine met them head on with his PDF and the Bistarax 12th Grenadiers and the Bistarax 91st Armoured. A ferocious engagement ensued on and around Jentilak spire, and against the odds Soren looked to have carried the day. Lord Governor Koine had one last ploy. He unleashed a company of Absolution Angel Space Marines upon the rebels. Isolated, outgunned and out numbered the invasion forces were shattered and Soren was captured by Inquisitor Lord Danett. Koine was confident that with its leader gone the cult would fall apart like so many before it.
Lord Governor Koine was wrong. A mysterious figure call the Adorator quickly gained control of the rebels, elevated it seems from the position of Margrave, one of the seven army group commanders below Soren. He kept the militaristic structure of the cult but added his own brand of savagery and terror tactics. He began and encouraged the practice of beheading the enemy and sporting the heads as trophies. He would sometimes let captured prisoners loose after gouging out their eyes. His face has never been seen or picted and his identity remains a complete mystery to the present day.
In a series of brilliant engagements he outmanoeuvred and destroyed several imperial battle groups and began to capitalise on Soren’s gains. He quickly remounted a successful attack upon Bistarax and its court was removed to the Skolarii sector. The Adorator went on to seal fourteen separate pacts with other Chaos cults in the sector and turned several Imperial Guard Regiments to his cause (including notably the Cairn 49th, Skolarii sector).
The rest of the Kjalter sector fell over the following century.
The Hooded are surprisingly well organised for a Chaos cult. Originally led by Imperial Guard General Soren, it is now ruled by an unknown individual called variously the Adorator, the Dominator, the Defier or the Superus. He commands a coven of seven Margraves who in turn lead seven Ascendants each. Ascendants command 10,000 troops, while Colonels lead 1000 men, Captains 100 and Corporals 10. Imperial Field Notaries therefore estimate that the Hooded can field up to half a million frontline troops, with up to two million supporting.
The Hooded are well drilled, with new recruits put through a punishing training regime derived from Imperial Guard methods. This prepares them for battle well; they are not a raving, bloodthirsty rabble like most cults. Leaders rule with iron discipline and command is devolved effectively throughout the cult. Even Captains are allowed to operate freely based upon battlefield intelligence and as a result of this the forces of the Imperium have been outwitted by the Hooded on several occasions. Soldiers are taught to think for themselves, to be independent and be decisive.
The ranks of the Hooded have been swollen by traitorous Imperial Guardsmen, PDF troopers and Navy personnel in the Kjalter sector who are attracted by the relative freedoms offered by the cult.
Standard Hooded combat doctrine involves an initial chemical bombardment delivered from orbit, by atmospheric craft or occasionally long range artillery. Mobile forces are then employed to break through the enemy line, striking at logistic, supply and communication weak points. When the enemy are isolated, confused and terrified, the Hooded infantry can encircle and destroy them. Veterans of the Blackwater 77th are often deployed as shock troops in the initial assault phase.
Firearms used by the Hooded are largely solid shell, with autoguns and shotguns particularly common. Autopistols are used extensively as sidearms, while auto cannons, heavy bolters and missile launchers are employed at range. Plasma weapons are occasionally seen but meltaguns are more common. Flamers are heavily favoured.
Since the sacking of the hive world of Birastax, the Hooded have had an excellent supply of armour. They often deploy in fully mechanised columns, which suits their lightning warfare methods perfectly. Chimeras (mk IV), Hellhounds (mk III), Griffons (pattern III mortar) and Leman Russes are common sights in the Hooded’s armies. They even have a number of super heavy vehicles; famously deploying a trio of Baneblades in the attack on Jodra.
Shock assaults are standard tactics of the cult, led by veterans equipped with stick grenades, demolition charges and punching daggers for brutal close combat.
Threat Index and Imperial Policy
The forces of Chaos have already conquered the Kjalter sector and now have their sights set on the Skolarii sector. The Hooded are the controlling cult of the arch enemies forces and have proved themselves to be more than a match for equivalent Imperial Guard formations. If the Hooded lead a full scale invasion of the sector we will be hard pressed to repel them.
In my opinion we have fight them in four ways. The first is to increase discipline and morale in our forces. It is vital that we do not flinch in the face of the cult. For that reason I recommend maximum Commissar and Priesthood deployment to the frontline.
My second recommendation is to allow junior commanders more latitude than the norm. If we remain inflexible and static we run the risk of being isolated, encircled and destroyed piecemeal as per the Hooded combat doctrine.
Third, I believe air superiority is the main countermeasure to Hooded attacks. If we can prevent their main source of pathogen bombardment, and the first phase of their strikes, we can minimise the disruption in our own ranks. That means we will be able to meet the Hooded’s mechanised columns head on. We must utilise our air assets.
Finally, the cult has a history of over extending it’s supply chain. I think we should target Bistarax in the Kjalter sector, the source of much of the Hooded’s armour and weaponry. Even if it proves to be impossible to recapture or destroy, the cult will be forced to meet the new threat and will lose impetus.
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