CRUELTY AND DEATH
The Piratical Kabals of the Eldar
The twisted warriors of the Eldar Kahals are raiders beyond compare, striking without warning and killing or enslaving all who stand in their way. They are without doubt amongst the most evil and inhuman xenos abroad in the galaxy today.
To fully appreciate the threat posed by the Eldar race one must understand that it is divided into various sects, the largest of which are Craftworld-bound factions, such as the Swordwind and Ghost Warrior groups. Other factions, such as the near-mythical Harlequins, appear to roam the galaxy at will. More lawless still are the Eldar pirates, organising themselves into loose 'kabals' that have formed a splinter group so distinct that over the millennia it has even evolved its own, distinct physical features.
A typical Eldar Kabalite bears all the hallmarks of his race - they are humanoid, but taller and more slender than even the most sylph-like human. The Eldar have almost translucent, pale skin as a racial characteristic. In the case of the Eldar Kabalite, this facet of their physiognomy seems to be exaggerated even more than in their Craftworld-dwelling brethren. Many have skin that is almost alabaster white, although others have been reported with sallow complexions ranging from puce to sickly; green-grey. Their eyes are purest black; this-stems from extreme dilation of the pupil. It can be assumed that, given the Eldar weakness for sensation, this is a deliberate adaptation allowing the Eldar to absorb as much sensory information as possible, or to allow them to see their prey in almost pitch-dark conditions. From this, we can draw the conclusion that the realm inhabited by the Eldar Kabalites is full of darkness and shadows, possibly even largely subterranean.
The Eldar have sharp ears in a metaphorical as well as physical sense, in addition to extremely advanced senses of smell and taste. Imperial commanders would do well to bear this fact in mind as, for all their sophistication, species with such advanced senses are often incapacitated or blinded by stimuli such as focused beams of light. Indeed, these warriors very rarely strike in well-lit conditions and prefer to skulk in the shadows before attacking. For this reason alone, Imperial outposts would do well to keep their facilities well-lit at all times - the Hrud are far from the only xenos breed attracted to darkness.
Incredible as it may seem, the reaction time of the piratical Eldar is greater than that of the more common offshoots of the Eldar. The pict-captures of the Evolus massacre (ref.MGP.Xenos.Evolus.crit) show a band of five aliens moving with such speed and precision that it is necessary to play the recording at a quarter speed to make out the individual Eldar as they slaughtertheir way through no less than 63 terrified civilians. It is claimed by the more credulous of the Imperial Guardsmen who have faced these aliens that some are even swift enough to dodge las-rounds or kick incoming frag grenades back into the enemy ranks before detonation.Eldar Kabalites often adorn themselves with grisly trophies taken from those they have killed on the field of battle. These tend to be subtle in comparison to other xenos equivalents, such as the bulky skull-racks of the Orkoids. Affectations sported by Dark Eldar from corpses recovered from the field of battle include necklaces made from the fingers of human children, teeth inserted under the skin in concentric circles, dessicated hearts dangling from earlobes and bracelets made from polished vertebrae.
Over the last couple of centuries, few insights have been gleaned as to just where it is that the piratical Kabals of the Eldar use as a base of operations. Although there have been instances of Imperial forces capturing and interrogating single Eldar Kabalites, even the most talented Master Excruciator of the Ordo Xenos has been unable to extract more than the name of their headquarters -Commorragh, the Dark City.
Some Imperial scholars theorise that this realm may be located entirely within the Warp, much like the daemon worlds of the Eye of Terror. Many Imperial commanders believe the piratical raiders have no such base, but rather hole up in asteroid belts and worm-holes where the nature of their arrow-quick craft makes pursuit impossible.
The only individual to claim to have been to Commorragh and survived is the noted heretic Lasko Pyre, whose text the 'Annals of Terror' speaks of a spire-studded metropolis, permanently bathed in crimson half-light and haunted by clawed shadows that slice apart the unwary. Reading a single paragraph of this treatise is enough 'to convince a scholar that its author is at the very least mentally scarred, and it is far from a reliable source.
One thing is certain, however, should the whereabouts of Commorragh ever be ascertained, the Imperium would launch a punitive crusade upon it at the earliest possible opportunity.
Eldar Kabalites are horrifyingly efficient killers, without exception. Even an unarmed Kabalite is capable of killing several assailants before it is brought down and the baroque armour sported by most is fitted with blades and barbs the better to slash and impale their foes at close quarters. It is generally accepted that the Craftworld Eldar, few in number, utilise militia or indentured civilians even in the most intense theatres of war, hence their reliance upon superior ranged weaponry -not so the Eldar Kabalites. The speed with which their strike forces close quarters betrays the fact that, despite their considerable firepower, they would rather take on their enemies face-to-face and blade-to-blade. This reversal of accepted tactical doctrine indicates a preference - possibly even a need - for violent and bloody assaults. Certainly, every report logged that detaifs an encounter with the Eldar Kabalites involves intense close quarters fighting (cf. 332i.Xenos.Wychcult).
Eldar Kabals typically have the high technology base of all Eldar encountered to date, including a large number of anti-gravitic propulsion units. These range from bladed, one-man craft and jetbikes capable of covering ground at breathtaking speed to large skiff-like gunboats and transports. Almost all of these craft are as fragile as they are swift and even a single bolt round has a chance of destroying one. This is because the Kabalites rely on speed and manoeuvrability over armour or the hologrammatic shields of their Craftworld-based brethren.
The Kabalites also employ warp-tech – reports exist of bands of Kabalite troops pouring from a "shimmering portal that hung in the air". This peculiar method of delivering warriors to the battlefield seems unlikely until cross-referenced with other Eldar forces (cf.K41 i.Xenos.13th.Ulthwe). It would appear the Eldar can employ the shifting tides of the Warp with such precision that localised warp gates can be brought into being purely by the activation of some arcane xenos device. This is no doubt an extremely unsafe area of study but is intriguing nonetheless, if only that we might find ways to collapse these portals and strand their owners in their nightmarish realm.
Other technologies used by these xenos pirates include the manipulation of 'dark matter'; commonly utilising long-barrelled weapons that fire streams of pure darkness, capable of slicing through the thickest adamantium bulwark. Many of the Ordo Xenos who study Eldar xenotech,- including Inquisitor Delacoi, believe these operate by projecting beams of matter taken from celestial phenomena, such as black holes or warp storms. They employ plasma and melta weaponry (or their alien equivalent), acid-throwing rifles, monofilament projectors and lightweight close combat weapons with mono-molecular edges that are quite capable of shearing through ceramite armour. But the signature weapon of the Kabalite warrior is the firearm known to front line troops as the 'splinter rifle', a weapon designed to cause pain, rather than death. These weapons fire shards of crystal coated with poison so virulent that even the smallest surface wound can fester and rot, quickly incapacitating the target and allowing the firer to lead his writhing victim away with little effort. It is quite likely the Kabalites could devise a more lethal weapon for their standard troopers to use, but it is also likely they have deliberately not done so, for what use is total extermination to a race that thrives on slavery?
The social structure of the Kabalite appears to be based upon the primitive notion that only the strong survive. They organise themselves. into Kabals of a few hundred warriors, although several cults exist alongside this culture (qv.67Ka.Xenocult.Haemonculi) that also delight in taking to the battlefield in search of new captives. Infighting is common, unlike in the other Eldar sects where cooperation is prized, and more than one account exists of a Kabalite dispute being settled by a knife in the back of the neck or by single combat. The twisted and-inconsistent version of 'honour' touted in the-past by certain Eldar emissaries seems entirely absent in the Kabalites; perhaps they are more honest in their unadulterated. contempt and hatred for any species other than their own. They will raid agri-world settlements and unarmed villages with the same ferocity they unleash upon the battle brothers of the Adeptus Astartes. Little is known as to the various hierarchies of the Eldar Kabalites, but the transmissions and demands they occasionally send to Imperial dignitaries invariably come from one with the title Archon, Dracon or a derivative thereof. The content of such messages leaves no doubt that they share the arrogance and condescending self-satisfaction so evident in all of the Eldar race?
Although the Kabalites are a constant plague upon Imperial space, they are too few in number to seriously threaten the Imperium.
Their raids are sporadic and appear to have no pattern whatsoever. In fact, the effects the raids of these xenos pirates have on the infrastructure of the Imperium is negligible (losing several thousand personnel manning a research station is inconvenient in the extreme, whereas the same number taken from an Imperial Hive is of no real import). They exist to slaughter and enslave, and over the millennia have no doubt put to death several billion innocent Imperial citizens. However, this is the merest graze to an empire that covers the entire galaxy -manpower is never something the Imperium has lacked. Should the Kabals of these pirates ever act in concert, the existing threat index would need to be reviewed, but for the time being the Imperial military has more pressing matters at hand than the extermination of these raiders.
Should a settlement come under attack from the Kabalites, discipline and faith in the Emperor are amongst the surest defences against their methods of warfare. Many Imperial commanders believe that these aliens can be defeated with no more than steady nerves and a marksman's eye-shooting down their transports before they close quarters and then concentrating anti-infantry fire on the survivors generally secures a high kill-ratio. In practice, this policy is difficult to achieve - the sheer speed of their craft is a protection unto itself and the Kabalites excel at terror tactics, preferring to strike at frightened, ill-equipped foes under cover of darkness.
If ever a string of Kabalite raids reaches the ðrå-determined level of tolerance detailed in the Sectoris Stabilis Mandate (01.25967.M34), the forces of the Imperium will actively retaliate. There are exceptions to this practice, for instance it is believed that the Iron Hands are still engaged in a series of deadly and close fought battles on their feral homeworld of Medusa following the Kabalites constant raids there during the Thirteenth Black Crusade. But the usual practice is not to intercept such raids unless a formal request has been acknowledged from the Departmento Munitorum - until that point the cost in lives must be stoically endured.