The Lost Hive Fleet Colossus may have been the earliest Tyranid Fleet to invade the Grim-Dark Galaxy. But was it an invasion or an escape attempt?
Hive Fleet Colossus was a Tyranid Hive Fleet comprised of centaur-like creatures that entered the Galaxy from the Eastern Fringe, and in late M28 was sighted in the Ultima Segmentum and as far into the galaxy as the Segmentum Tempestus. Colossus was destroyed in 226.M39 at the end of the Zorastra-Attilla Wars or during the Helican Crusade, depending on the source.
Colossus consisted of several large nomadic fleets that displayed many similarities to other Tyranid Hive Fleets. Their vessels were conch-like crafts apparently grown from stone. The centauroid creatures of Colossus were able to make use of Tyranid weapon-symbiotes, although it appeared to be a painful process for them to equip themselves with the bio-weapons. The creatures of Colossus had the ability to communicate telepathically and were known to communicate with other races. The creatures claimed they were slaves escaping from an unnamed oppressor.
Colossus’s frequent contact with other alien races and attempts to settle in Imperial controlled space resulted in the Imperium declaring Colossus Xenos Horrificus in early M39. The Zorastra-Attilla Wars started as the entirety of Colossus attacked the Imperium with terrifying ferocity. After fifty years, the wars ended with the full destruction of Hive Fleet Colossus. The last known Colossus vessel was destroyed by orbital defences above Zorastra in 226.M39 – its remains fell to the planet and rendered the entire northern hemisphere uninhabitable until late M41.
At the close of M41, there are thriving rumours that Hive Fleet Colossus has arisen, despite its apparent destruction during the Helican Crusade.
Indeed it is known that in 897.M41, Colossus invaded the civilised world of Thressiax. Imperial forces on the planet were unable to stop the constant influx of invaders and Imperial Command issued a high ruling for all forces to withdraw so they can exterminate the Tyranids from space, and in the process leave the settlers of Thressiax to their own fates. However, Space Wolf Bran Redmaw, resupplying upon Thressiax at the time, objected fiercely to the command. He sent two full squads of Grey Hunters to reinforce the spaceport of Montberg to give the settlers a chance to evacuate. On the spaceport the Grey Hunters set about training the men in anti-Tyranid drill. And when Colossus attacked, they managed to hold the walls of the spaceport long enough for the settler families to escape safely. Six Grey Hunters survived and Imperial High Command ordered them to be stripped of all honours for disobeying a direct command, but Bran Redmaw instead promoted all of them into his personal Wolf Guard.
The Zoat Conspiracy
Zoats were a centauroid alien race, introduced in the original Warhammer 40,000 Rogue Trader rulebook as a slave race of the Tyranids, and were available as mercenaries in Eldar pirate groups. They appeared only in First Edition.
In 3rd edition’s background, the Zoats were revisited, if only in a background story about their extinction.
Once the most common of the Tyranids‘ many specially engineered slave races, Zoats were unlike most of the Tyranids’ assimilated worker-creatures, having independent thinking, and were therefore often used by Tyranids as a type of ambassador. Hence it was Zoats that were the first members of the Tyranid race to make contact with the Imperium of Man. Retrospective accounts talk of a race, assumed to be Zoats, having first made contact with the Imperium as early as M38 as their fleet of semi-organic spacecraft attempted to enter Imperial Space, claiming they were escaping slavish oppression. It is clear that via their initial contact the Zoats did not declare their true intentions, nor the true intentions of their masters.
Alternatively, it is possible that as the Hive Fleets evolved more, the Zoats became a less useful tool, their free thoughts an undesired quality. Many of the Zoats, sensing that they were soon to reach the end of their helpfulness to their brutal masters, staged a rebellion. It quickly was crushed, and the rebel Zoats were soon purged from the Hive Mind‘s forces. Those who survived fled ahead of the main Hive Fleets, and made up that first fleet, and were soon trapped between their former masters and their new aggressors who saw them as an invading force. Being warlike by nature, they typically reacted in kind, and so ultimately allied themselves against the Imperium regardless.
Eventually, as Tyranids became a more common sight in the galaxy after the invasion of Hive Fleet Behemoth, Zoats were no longer seen outside the ranks of the Tyranids. Their sightings became less and less frequent, and they appear to have been entirely absent from Hive Fleet Leviathan. If the only Zoats to have entered the Galaxy were those of the initial fleet, known as Colossus, then their absence can be explained, as the last known vessel of that fleet was destroyed above Zorastra in 226.M39, after the fleet provoked the Zorastra-Attila war.
Note: The centaur-like description of the creatures of Colossus and the claim they were slaves has lead many fans to speculate the creatures of Colossus are actually Zoats, although this has never been officially stated.
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Was it a plea for help or a rebellious scouting force? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!