We’d say the Genestealer Cults are coming soon, except generally by the time you realize they’re coming, there are millions of them and they’ve overtaken your infrastructure… here are a few cases in point.
The Genestealer Cultists are one of the armies that we’re most looking forward to–they’re a fantastic villain/faction because they are so very self-aware. They understand that challenging the Imperium is a losing proposition, and that every world they take is one that won’t be won in pitched battles.
Reading through some of the lore in Vigilus and Tooth and Claw, you get the picture of a very canny enemy, but they’re forced to be since they don’t have an endless tide of expendable bodies and also genetic super soldiers to throw at problems until they get better. So they pick and choose their fights and make every victory a multiplier in their favor. A trend that we’ve seen throughout their history in the Imperium. Here are a few notable infestations across the Galaxy.
Thranx was a Hive World in the Segmentum Solar. It was liberated by the Imperium during the Great Crusade. It suffered a planet-wide rebellion in M36. At some point afterwards, it was the subject of Exterminatus.
Thranx was a thriving Hive World when the Imperium brought it into the fold during the Great Crusade. Described as a world completely encased in steel where the citizenry never saw the sky, Thranx was a prosperous planet up until around M36, when Thranx suffered a planet-wide rebellion. It is believed that the rebels were inspired by an unrecorded alien influence. The rebels captured numerous equatorial heat sinks and heat exchanging ziggurats required to maintain life on the planet. The rebels increased the heat of the planets atmosphere causing millions of citizens to die of heat related maladies.
The Planetary Governor, Count Momery attempted to utilize the loyal garrison units to suppress the rebellion. It is noted that up to 10,000 Leman Russ tanks were deployed to regain control of the planet, however these efforts failed with a loss of 70% of the deployed force. As the situation continued to deteriorate, A request was made for reinforcements.
When these reinforcements arrived they found Genestealers had completely taken over, and Exterminatus is believed to have wiped the planet free of their influence.
Ruled by the Trysst Dynasty for several centuries, in 680.M41 a major Genestealer Cult infestation was discovered by Inquisitor Chaegryn upon the world. It was discovered that the Trysst Dynasty had come under the control of a Genestealer Patriarch, and the family was purged by a Deathwatch Kill-Team led by Ortan Cassius in the first major Imperial encounter with Genestealers.
Investigating what appeared to be a perversion of the Imperial Creed, Inquisitor Chaegryn led a team of Tempestus Scions to Ghosar Quintus and ventured into the depths of the Great Pit. The deeper Chaegryn ventured, the more evidence of deviance he found. Strangely, his last communique stated that all was well, and that the Trysst Dynasty should be left to its own devices. It was a full year before Chaegryn’s fellows noticed that something was deeply wrong. A five-man Kill Team of Deathwatch Space Marines (Kill Team Excis) was sent on a follow-up mission of lethal investigation, yet they too were swallowed by the mysteries of the Great Pit and hadn’t survived the initial ambush.
Having wiped out both an Inquisitor and his Tempestus retinue AND a Deathwatch Kill Team, the Genestealer Cultists were a terrifying opponent–and one that, as a Chaplain of the Death Watch would later discover–had spread beyond Ghosar’s system and into the entire sector.
The Gravalax Incident is a prime example of Genestealer Cultist cunning… set on a world where the Tau and Imperium had been making tentative steps towards an uneasy peace, a Genestealer Patriarch and his brood attempted to draw both of the powers into open war with each other to make the planet an easy target for an approaching Hive Fleet…
As of 931.M41, Gravalax was a minor agri-world on the border with the Tau Empire. Recent expansion by the Tau had left it with only a tenuous connection to the Imperium via a series of jumps through Imperial outposts. It was, in fact, deep within the Tau sphere of influence. The Tau had placed a trade mission on the world and over the course of a few decades, the human population had begun to support the ideals of the Greater Good, rather than the worship of the Emperor.
Imperial forces arrived in a show of force, but no sooner had they arrived then a gang of local agitators, both pro- and anti-Imperial, began stirring up unrest. At a diplomatic reception to welcome the newly arrived Guard units, the Tau ambassador was murdered inside the Governor‘s mansion. The Tau were convinced, through the intervention of Commissar Ciaphas Cain, to restrain themselves from acts of revenge, but this did not stop the local Gravalax PDF from slipping into fraternal bloodshed.
A joint investigation by Inquisitor Amberley Vail and the Tau, eventually exposed Governor Grice as a Genestealer Patriarch, who had assassinated the Tau ambassador and whose genestealer infiltrators were attempting to provoke war between the Imperium and the Tau, to make the planet an easy target for an approaching Tyranid Hive Fleet.
During the final stages of the fighting, the Tau and the Imperial Guard actually allied to suppress the final rebellious elements, and Grice was killed by Inquisitor Vail. The genestealer presence on the world was carefully kept secret, and officially the Governor had been removed by the Inquisition for gross incompetence.
Radnar lay in the path of Hive Fleet Kraken, during its rampage across the Ultima Segmentum. The planet had been plagued by Genestealer cult uprisings for several years before the arrival of the Hive Fleet. Before Kraken’s invasion, the Scythes of the Emperor arrived to aid the Hive World. Like they had done on so many other worlds before, since the loss of their Homeworld, the Scythes built up the defenses of Radnar; and trained its population in warfare to aid in its defense. It was not enough however and despite Radnar’s defenders best efforts, the Tyranids soon engulfed the Hive World. Before Radnar was consumed, the Scythes fled the doomed world; taking with them many of its young that showed promise as Aspirants, in order to help rebuild the numbers of their devastated Chapter.
At the beginning of the Second Tyrannic War, it was infested with Genestealers. A genestealer cult, operating under the name, “the Brotherhood,” instigated a rebellion on the planet that caught the attention of Inquisitor Agmar. The Brotherhood had control of the planet by the time Agmar arrived in the system. The inquisitor petitioned the Space Marine chapter, the Ultramarines, to help put down the rebellion. Marneus Calgar, chapter master of the Ultramarines, arrived 39 days later aboard the space marine battle barge, Octavius. Eventually, with the combined support of the Ultramarines, PDF forces and the Imperial Guard, the inquisition successfully destroyed the invasion and cleansed the planet of all Genestealers.
And of course there’s Vigilus, where the Pauper Princes have taken hold and refused to let go. It all starts with a clutch of Genestealers landing on the world–only one of the brood survived, but just one is enough to create a dire threat. From this single Patriarch, known as Grandsire Wurm, the Cult of the Pauper Princes grew. Staging their uprising early thanks to the intervention of the Orks.
Using their pet officers and Guardsmen the Cult then manipulated 4,000 soldiers into marching into the wastes before some 15,000 Orks, assuring them they would be withdrawn once the force fields were back up. Simultaneously, the Cultists staged an uprising in Dirksden’s primary Hive and defenseless the government easily fell. They subsequently raised the force fields suddenly, trapping the Guardsmen outside to meet their end at the hands of the Orks. Many of the untainted managed to flee Dirksden as it fell, unwittingly bringing many hidden Genestealer Cultists with them to nearby Hivesprawls. Meanwhile, at Oteck Hivesprawl, the Pauper Princes struck hard as the Cult desired its plentiful water. Despite bitter fighting, the Pauper Princes were able to seize control of Oteck’s water supply and corrupted it with their genetic taint.
And there they remain.
This resilience, even in the face of overwhelming opposition is what makes the Genestealer cults such a great villain–they’re everywhere. For every one you see, there are millions more you don’t.
So be ready folks, the Cultists are coming…