An Obliterator is a former Chaos Space Marine, often a former Techmarine, who is believed to have been affected by the so-called "Obliterator Virus", a daemonic virus that transformed these once-loyal servants of the Imperium into bloodthirsty mutant weapons of Chaos. They are monstrous hybrids of human, daemon and machine. An Obliterator is able to absorb any weapon into its body that is held for too long. These unfortunates can spawn these weapons from their very flesh, and also grow ammunition for them. Chaos Obliterators are biologically fused to their suits of Power Armour. As a result of their mutation, Obliterators are no longer even remotely sane. This insanity could be caused by the constant mental and physical trauma of absorbing weapons into the Obliterator's body or being biologically welded by his own body to his armour. This insanity is also possibly caused by the Machine Spirits of his weapons and armour fusing into a destructive daemonic entity after infection by the virus. Obliterators are never part of an existing Traitor Legion or Renegade Chapter of Chaos Space Marines; they prefer to sell their services to the highest bidder amongst the Forces of Chaos in return for access to the Archeotech that they crave.
Perhaps one of the most strange, and certainly amongst the most powerful foes of the Imperium, the Obliterators are shrouded in mystery. Walking armouries that are even larger than Chaos Space Marines encased in Terminator Armour, Obliterators are masses of twisted flesh melded with weaponry, who look as if their flesh is in a state of constant flux. Obliterators are inhuman, grotesque arcano-cyborgs whose very flesh and blood can transform into white-hot plasma, titanium-fused bones, or internal organs that generate lethal amounts of electricity. Their brains are as much machine as living flesh. Obliterators are unique amongst the Forces of Chaos as they have no allegiance to any particular Chaos Space Marine warband. Entire planets have been laid to waste, whole civilisations perished just to provide a handful of these monsters with the Archeotech they so desire, in an effort to gain the promise of their future support. Yet, for all their power, the origins of the Obliterators remain open to much speculation and debate among Imperial scholars.
The first Obliterators are often thought to once have been Techmarines of the Emperor’s elite Adeptus Astartes during the Horus Heresy. Obliterators are known to be obsessed with the merging of the material and the immaterial, the organic and inorganic. Using knowledge gleaned from their pact with the Ruinous Powers, and with the techno-arcane methods of the Dark Mechanicus, Obliterators have managed to blur the line between man and machine, and mortal and daemon.
There is talk within the ranks of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Inquisition that Obliterators are the result of centuries of cybernetic research -- something the Tech-priests strive for in their own existence. It is their belief that someone within the ranks of the Mechanicus succeeded in the ultimate convergence of man and machine through the application of the reality-warping power of Chaos. However, some (a minority) scholars dismiss such claims. Instead they believe that Obliterators have contracted some form of daemonic virus that puts their flesh into a permanent state of flux and mutation. It is their belief that many who contract this virus simply perish as their bodies eventually rebel against the changes wrought upon it. They think that the Obliterators are those few humans who have managed to exercise a manner of genetic control over the flux -- they are able to fashion weapons and armour from within their very bodies by tapping into the transmuting power of the virus. Thankfully, this view is much dismissed as there are many flaws with its application -- the least of which is that the abilities exhibited by Obliterators in no way act the way any known pathogen should behave.
Aside from their abilities, there is much speculation about the nature of the pact between Obliterators and the Chaos Gods. Obliterators do not sport any obvious marks of allegiance to any particular Chaos God. They also do not bear the colours of any Traitor Legion or one of the myriad Renegade warbands. Many Chaos Lords will go to extreme lengths to secure the fickle aid of even a single Obliterator. Obliterators are exceedingly rare, and while their exact numbers can only be guessed at, it is apparent that they are among the least numerous of assets employed by the Forces of Chaos. They exist outside the structure of the warbands and Traitor Legions, and move about from one to the next, exchanging their expertise and power for the chance to claim ancient Archeotech or exotic and esoteric wargear from their foes.
One of the key abilities that Obliterators possess is to manifest a variety of heavy ranged and melee weapons from within their own bodies. As they stalk across the battlefield, they morph their weaponry from Lascannons, to Plasma Cannons and Multi-meltas, to more specialised weaponry such as the exceedingly rare Combi-weapons. Additionally, they can form spikes and blades and even chain weapons from the flesh of their bodies to engage the foe in melee combat. The only limitation seems to be that an Obliterator is unable to create an explosive item that seprates from their body, like a grenade. Those who study these creatures believe that their weapons are inherently part of their physiology -- they could no more create a thrown explosive any more than a mortal man could eject his own heart from his chest. On the battlefield, an Obliterator will march towards his objective ponderously, firing his array of heavy weapons with pinpoint accuracy as he moves. Obliterators prefer to avoid close quarters combat, as they are slow and not particularly mobile, but their ability to create Power Fist-like weapons from their bodies combined with their unholy resilience makes them more than capable of tearing anything that dares attack them to pieces. If more than one Obliterator is in a particular area, they tend to congregate together. Forming an “Obliterator Cult,” these creatures gather together to unearth some arcane knowledge or lost technology cache. The motives of these Obliterator Cults are often as mysterious as the true nature of their members.
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), p. 35
- Daemon World (Novel) by Ben Counter
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), p. 119