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The Cabal was a secret organisation dedicated to the eradication of Chaos whose operatives were drawn from more than a thousand different intelligent xenos races, including the Aeldari and humanity. The Cabal claimed to have battled the forces of the "Primordial Annihilator" (Chaos) for a time longer than the existence of Mankind as a thinking species.

The Cabal was a hidden organisation, covertly predicting the future and steering the intelligent races of the galaxy towards their ultimate goal of wiping Chaos from existence within the Empyrean. They are chiefly known for involving themselves in the Horus Heresy by using their foreknowledge of the Warmaster Horus' actions to seemingly suborn the Primarch Alpharius Omegon and his XX Legion of Space Marines, the Alpha Legion, to their cause before the Great Betrayal took place in the early 31st Millennium.

The Cabal itself eventually came to be seen as a threat to the Eldar species' ability to defeat Chaos as foreseen by its greatest Farseer, Eldrad Ulthran of Craftworld Ulthwe. To prevent the Cabal from carrying out its plans during the Heresy to see the Imperium of Man lose the war to Chaos, the Farseer and his agents arranged to eliminate much of the Cabal's leadership and its most important agents. By the middle of the 32nd Millennium AD, Ulthran would report that the Cabal had been destroyed.

Organisation and Abilities

The Cabal was a collection of disparate alien species not readily identifiable to Imperial authorities. They were known to include mechanical life-forms as well as those that are energy-based and non-corporeal. Other member species variously resembled insectoid, avian or reptilian creatures.

One species definitively identified as having a member in the Cabal is the Craftworld Eldar. The Cabal is also known to have made use of a number of human agents, with at least one, John Grammaticus, active at the time of the Horus Heresy, although the individual in question appeared to act as more of a subordinate of the organisation's Inner Circle than an equal.

The Cabal was a nomadic organisation that constantly travelled all over the galaxy. There is very little information about their starships or other modes of transport -- the only known Cabal starship type was a huge, hive city-sized flat disk that was capable of atmospheric operations, including planetary landings and take-offs. It had a stealth or cloaking mode that was undetectable using Imperial auspexes, and the ability to interrupt and jam all communications, both physical and psychic. This vessel also possessed the abiliy to unleash an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could temporarily disable the systems of any other spacecraft in its vicinity.

The Cabal was known to have "halting-sites" in particular star systems, on planets where they maintained a secret presence. These worlds had their topography altered to suit the needs of the Cabal, who constructed identical landing-zones on every world that interested them. Planets that the Cabal had used as a base of operations were therefore always identifiable if an observer knew how to look at the terrain.

Two such worlds used by the Cabal were Nurth and Eolith, both of which had played host to the Cabal for a time. Apart from their advanced terraforming abilities, the Cabal possessed atmospheric alteration technology and the ability to extend or renew life, even in dead tissue. This was used to create functionally immortal individuals that were referred to as "Perpetuals."

But the Cabal's most important ability was an enhanced form of psychic farseeing called the Acuity, through which they attempted to foresee the course of events across thousands of Terran years of galactic history. The Acuity is far more potent than the more limited and uncertain precognitive abilities available to Eldar Farseers and could be accessed while ship-borne.

An "Inner Circle" of Cabal members existed that acted as its governing body and that controlled and shaped the Acuity. The only member positively identified by Imperial sources was a being named Gahet, a xenos from a race that was ancient before even the Eldar had come into existence, and who may have been related to the Old Ones, as John Grammaticus referred to him as one of the "Old Kind."

The Cabal and the Emperor

The Cabal knew something of the Emperor's true nature, and also knew that He was, like themselves, a primary foe of Chaos. It was even believed by high-ranking Cabal members that the Emperor could have been, in other circumstances, a member of their Inner Circle. However, unlike the Emperor after the Age of Strife who chose to act openly and aggressively against the Dark Gods, regardless of the moral consequences that would ensue from His launch of the Great Crusade, the Cabal always acted in a covert manner, never showing its hand unless absolutely necessary.

The Cabal and the Horus Heresy

Thanks to the Acuity and their advanced, almost god-like technological abilities, the Cabal was able to foresee the corruption of the Warmaster Horus and the advent of the terrible interstellar civil war that was the Horus Heresy. They claimed that unless proper action was taken, this could become a catastrophic event that could doom the galaxy and all of its intelligent races to the eternal servitude of Chaos. Using the Acuity the Cabal's Inner Circle eventually distilled all possible eventualities into two outcomes.

Outcome One: Victory for Horus

The Cabal believed that, after the Heresy, a scintilla of the honourable being that Horus once was would remain within the Warmaster, eating at him over what he had done and fuelling a self-destructive sense of self-hatred and loathing that would see Horus fall on his own subjects in an acceleration of the violence of the Heresy, creating civil strife amongst the Forces of Chaos that would culminate in the final extinction of Mankind.

The end result of Horus' rebellion and conquest of the Imperium would be the total extermination of the human species within two or three generations. However, if humanity were to disappear from the galaxy, the Ruinous Powers of Chaos, whose own existence within the Empyrean depended upon the baser collective psychic emantions of humanity, would be extinguished with it.

Outcome Two: Victory for the Emperor

If the Imperium defeated Horus and his Traitor Legions, the Cabal foresaw the Emperor giving His life to kill Horus, but then becoming a howling, undead rictus trapped within the cybernetic life-support coffin of the Golden Throne, his soul fighting an endless but ultimately losing battle against the influence of the Chaos Gods as His power steadily waned across the millennia.

The Cabal's Inner Circle believed that this path would lead to technological and cultural stagnation for the Imperium of Man, and this stagnation would ultimately conclude in irreversible decay. This decay would accelerate and enhance the human misery that contributed to the power of Chaos, allowing the Dark Gods to grow in power and spread their influence across the galaxy, until after ten or twenty thousand Terran years of increasing misery, the entire galaxy and all of its sentient species would be consumed by the unrelenting hunger of Chaos.

The Cabal and the Alpha Legion

Having studied the development of the human Primarchs over some solar decades, the Cabal was able to determine that the most important of them in the determination of galactic events were the "oldest" (Horus) and the "youngest" (Alpharius Omegon). They foresaw that the Chaos Gods would ignite a galactic-level civil war within the Imperium of Man by corrupting and using Horus, and claimed that what "Horus would do, Alpharius would undo."

They also claimed that, while the outbreak of the Horus Heresy was inevitable and could not be altered, the Alpha Legion was perfectly placed to control and direct it to one of the two possible outcomes the Acuity had foreseen for humanity and the galaxy.

The Cabal's Inner Circle tasked John Grammaticus, a human Perpetual agent of the Cabal, to arrange a meeting with the Alpha Legion's Primarch, which eventually took place on the planet Eolith about a standard year-and-a-half before the start of the Heresy at the Battle of Istvaan III.

The Decision

The Cabal, operating with its knowledge of the extreme long view through the power of the Acuity, sought to bring about Horus' victory by convincing Alpharius Omegon of the truth of their predictions. They asked the twin Primarchs to place themselves and the forces of the XX Legion under the banner of Horus and Chaos Undivided, despite their sworn loyalty to the Emperor, and do all they could to ensure the Warmaster's victory over the Emperor, thus sacrificing humanity to destroy the Chaos Gods once and for all.

The Primarch of the Alpha Legion appears to have acceded to this request, believing that such a sacrifice is what the Emperor would have Himself wanted if He had been presented with a similar choice. As the Heresy ended with the victory of the Emperor's Loyalist forces and the second outcome foreseen by the Acuity, it appears that the Cabal's machinations failed and that, if they are to be believed, the galaxy is ultimately doomed to be consumed by Chaos not long after the end of the 41st Millennium.

The Raven Guard Mission

With the power of the Acuity, the Cabal was able to inform Alpharius Omegon that the Raven Guard was going to come into possession of a highly valuable secret asset of the Imperium that needed to be destroyed if Horus' rebellion was to prove successful. The Alpha Legion then made sure that some Raven Guard Astartes, including their Primarch Corax, survived the Drop Site Massacre on Istvaan V in order to obtain the asset: samples of the original, undifferentiated Primarch gene-stock engineered by the Emperor for the original Primarch Project, and related information about its use and function.

The Alpha Legion had no intention of destroying the sample, and after stealing it from the Raven Guard they kept it for themselves for later use. They then unceremoniously eliminated the Cabal's representative who was supervising the mission. What the Alpha Legion chose to do with this extraordinary genetic material remains currently unknown to the Imperium.

Assassination Attempt on Vulkan

The Cabal continued its attempts to try and influence the outcome of the Heresy. It sent John Grammaticus equipped with Fulgurite to try and kill the Primarch Vulkan on the world of Macragge soon after the founding of Imperium Secundus.

This was done in accordance with the Cabal's continued belief that a Chaos victory in the Heresy would eventually result in the destruction of humanity and thus severely weaken the emotions that fed the Chaos Gods. The death of Vulkan would materially contribute to the defeat of the Imperium.

During a brief period when he was alone on Macragge, John was contacted by the Eldar Farseer Eldrad Ulthran of Craftworld Ulthwe. Ulthran revealed to John that he opposed the Cabal's aims and that their belief that Horus's victory would usher in Chaos' ultimate demise was not set in stone. He believed that humanity was meant to be the firebreak againt which Chaos broke, and that without them the Eldar would eventually fall and the galaxy shortly afterwards. He offered Grammaticus a way to leave the Cabal and a chance to stop being a traitor to his own race, as Grammaticus had begun to consider himself.

Grammaticus and his allies eventually interrupted the fight between Konrad Curze and Vulkan on Macragge with the intent of killing the Salamanders' Primarch as they had been ordered. But Grammaticus decided at the last moment to side with his own people and used the Fulgurite to heal Vulkan of the madness that had consumed him. This treatment left the Primarch in a death-like coma and reduced stole away Grammaticus' status as an immortal Perpetual and reduced him to an ordinary mortal whose next death would be final.

Fall of the Cabal

Eldrad Ulthran eventually came to view the Cabal itself as a threat to the galaxy. As he had told John Grammaticus, he believed that their chosen path of destroying Mankind to purge the galaxy of Chaos was little more than a hopeless ritual sacrifice of an entire species.

Eldrad saw a new path to victory against Chaos beyond that foreseen by the Acuity, one that ultimately involved allying the Aeldari with the Imperium of Man in the millennia to come. To this end, he sought to aid the Loyalists in winning thw Horus Heresy through actions such as helping Vulkan reach Terra.

However the Cabal refused to relent in pursuing its chosen path, and Eldrad thus recruited the Word Bearers Heretic Astartes Barthusa Narek in a bid to eliminate the Cabal's members. Eldrad and Narek killed most of the Cabal's leadership and agents, including Gahet, Slau Dha, Cartur Umenedies, and Damon Prytanis.

This seems to have drastically affected the Cabal's ability to function. By the middle centuries of the 32nd Millennium, Eldrad Ulthran would report that the Cabal no longer existed and that its chosen path to destroy Chaos had proven a failure.

Notable Members of the Cabal

  • Slau Dha - Slau Dha was an Eldar Autarch who served as a member of the Cabal's Inner Circle and offered John Grammaticus the chance to become an agent of the Cabal. Despite this, Slau Dha held humanity in low regard and commonly referred to them with the derisive term "mon-keigh" in the Eldar Lexicon. He was also one of the organizations most violent and militant members, but was extremely loyal to its cause. This loyalty made the Autarch sneak members of the Cabal into the Black Library, where they learned of the coming of the Horus Heresy. This knowledge allowed them to begin trying to shape the Imperium's impending civil war to their advantage. When Eldrad Ulthran began eliminating members of the Cabal over fears their plans would actually destroy the galaxy rather than save it from Chaos, Slau Dha was among the last of its members to be targeted. Eldrad and his agent Barthusa Narek infiltrated Slau Dha's palace on an unknown world, and ambused him when he was alone. Slau Dha condemned Eldrad as a traitor to the Eldar race before summoning a force of Harlequins. After a vicious battle, Slau Dha was slain, though Eldrad was wounded as well.
  • Gahet - Gahet was a reptilian xenos and a powerful psyker who was a member of the Inner Circle of the Cabal and a member of a species whose origins predated even that of the Eldar. Gahet's species was known as the "Old Kind" and he may have been a Slann. A member of the inner circle of the Cabal, Gahet frequently acted as the organization's handler for its agent John Grammaticus. When Eldrad Ulthran decided to eliminate the Cabal in order to save humanity and find a new way to defeat Chaos in an alliance with Mankind, Gahet was one of the first members of the organisation he targeted for elimination. On an unknown world Eldrad attempted to reach Gahet, enduring a vicious psychic probe in the process as the alien tried to discover the Farseer's plan. However Gahet was stabbed from behind by the real Eldrad, with his previous target revealed to be Barthusa Narek. Gahet's dying body was then reduced to ash by Eldrad's telekinetic lightning.
  • G'Lattro - G'Lattro was an unknown xenos who was a member of the Cabal's Inner Circle. An insectoid xenos, G'Lattro served as the Cabal's spokesperson and interpreter. He was the primary voice of the Cabal during their initial meeting with the Alpha Legion.
  • John Grammaticus - Human psyker who served as a Perpetual, a being genetically engineered by the Cabal to possess the ability to reincarnate whenever death occurred, granting him functional immortality.
  • Athithirtir - Athithirtir was a xenos and a Cabal representative to the Alpha Legion who informed the XX Legion that the Raven Guard was to come into possession of the undifferentiated Primarch gene-stock. He was slain after the Alpha Legion stole the genetic material from the Raven Guard.
  • Damon Prytanis - Damon Prytanis is a human Perpetual, though this is not his true name as he had lived for so long he had forgotten it. Unlike his fellow human Cabal agent John Grammaticus, Damon held humanity in little regard and was known to remain loyal to the Cabal. He was even known to use the demeaning Eldar Lexicon expression mon-keigh for his fellow humans. Prytanis had been alive for untold lifetimes. Shortly after the ancient Battle of Iwo Jima in 945.M2, he was recruited by the Cabal and worked as an assassin throughout the rest of human history. Prytanis was later responsible for rescuing his fellow Perpetual Cyrene Valantion from Word Bearers custody and bringing her into the Cabal. He was forced to die and regenerate several times before Cyrene believed his story about the existence of Perpetuals. Later Damon accompanied Grammaticus to Macragge on his mission to kill Vulkan with Fulgurite. During the mission to kill Vulkan, Damon was badly mauled by the Night Lords Primarch Konrad Curze, though he used a flask holding a captured daemon to banish the Primarch into the Warp. Following the events on Macragge, Prytanis was charged to serve alongside the Eldar Slau Dha with looking after Grammaticus in a Cabal outpost. However this was infiltrated by Eldrad Ulthran and his assassin Barthusa Narek. The Ulthwe Farseer was determined to eliminate the Cabal due to his growing fears that their agenda would actually lead to the extinction of the Eldar if humanity was swallowed by Chaos. Prytanis was the latest target of their assassinations, but the human put up a vicious defence and summoned a team of mercenary guards. Eventually Eldrad and Narek were able to overwhelm Prytanis, and his neck was broken by the Word Bearers. As he was regenerating, Narek shot him with a shard of Fulgurite, finally killing the immortal assassin permanently.
  • Cartur Umenedies - Cartur Umenedies was a Judge of the Adeptus Arbites during the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy era. In truth, Umenedies was also an agent of the Cabal and was given functional immortality by the xenos organisation. However he was not a true Perpetual, and thus could be killed by conventional means despite his immortality and he would not reincarnate following death. During Eldrad Ulthran's campaign to destroy the Cabal, Cartur was among the first of its agents to be eliminated.
  • Cyrene Valantion - Cyrene Valantion, known as the Blessed Lady by the Word Bearers Legion and the inhabitants of Colchis, was an early Confessor. She was the sole survivor of the destruction of the Word Bearer's "perfect city" of Monarchia on the world of Khur by the Ultramarines, losing her sight due to being exposed to the blinding light of Lance orbital bombardment when the Ultramarines razed the city. Thereafter she was venerated by many of those who followed the Word Bearers religious ideals, and was made a Confessor by Lorgar himself. Cyrene became very close and trusted friends to Argel Tal and Xaphen, who came to her with their troubles. One of the three Abyss-class Battleships was named in her honour as Blessed Lady. Cyrene was killed by the Legio Custodes for being in their way at the start of the Drop Site Massacre, and spent the next Terran year having her soul torn apart by daemons in the Warp. Later she was resurrected by Erebus as part of his scheme to better control Argel Tal. However she was apparently killed again during the Shadow Crusade when the starship Fidelitas Lex was heavily damaged. In truth she had reached an escape pod and met Cabal agents led by Damon Prytanis, who revealed that she had been transformed into a Perpetual following her resurrection. Prytanis asked her to come with them.

Sources

  • Legion (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
  • The First Heretic (Novel) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • Betrayer (Novel) Aaron Dembski-Bowden
  • The Unremembered Empire (Novel) by Dan Abnett
  • The Beheading by Guy Haley, "Epilogue"
  • Old Earth (Novel) by Nick Kyme