THE LOST AND THE DAMNED
The foul slaves of Chaos
The insidious lure of Chaos is pervasive and all-corrupting. Of those who become ensnared by it only the very strongest will reap the favour of the Gods. The rest are swept into the ranks of the Lost and the Damned - Traitors, mutants and spawn of Chaos doomed to fight and die in their thousands at the whim of their fickle and uncaring masters.
Those who fall under the sway of Chaos take many forms, they may be human or alien or some foul crossbreed of both. In many cases it is impossible to even tell what they once were. The stigmata of Chaos worship corrupts all creatures into hideous mockeries of their former selves with twisted limbs and warped bodies. Their flesh scored by weals, sores, buboes and tumours which are merely outward signs of the corruption within.
The fall may be gradual or literally occur overnight. In general those most recently lured into the paths of Chaos with the promise of rich rewards are the least marked. Their ranks are made up of warriors, pirates and renegades who have chosen to turn against their kind in exchange for the promise of power. Many times over the history of the Imperium entire regiments and whole worlds have been corrupted by Chaos and turned Traitor, becoming the most hated of all of its enemies.
Traitors may only evince minor stigmata such as markings of the skin or other disfigurements easily hidden. They often effect heavy garb of armour or robes, commonly replete with masks, helms or hoods to hide their shameful marks. They use blasphemous icons and forbidden runes to show their allegiance, as if their base betrayal can be set aside or removed at will, but the true followers of Chaos know they are already eternally damned. Entire legions can be made up of Traitors like these, like the feared warriors of the Blood Pact, or the infamous Traitor 9th. They are commonly heavily equipped and may have icon daubed tanks, walkers and armoured vehicles to support squads of well-armed infantry.
In time those Traitors who survive will devolve further and join the packs of mutants which form the bulk of the largest legions. Among mutants the Mark of Chaos is plain to see with horned heads vying with gross distensions and inversions to produce the most bestial of aspects. Mutants commonly bear their marks openly, showing their dedication to the gods of Chaos in the hopes of gaining attention for their deeds. Such armour and weaponry that they have will be mismatched and battle-scarred like its bearers.
Among mutants it may be possible to discern the influence of one or other of the Chaos gods. Mutants strongly dedicated to Khorne the Blood God are commonly thick-necked or otherwise burly, horned and/or shaggy-haired, bestial-looking creatures. Those of Slaanesh, the Prince of Pleasure, may be long limbed and brightly marked. The hideous mutants of Nurgle display all the foul bloating, weeping sores and bursting buboes to be anticipated from those dedicated to the Plague Lord. Tzeentchian mutants rapidly start to transgress physical description as they warp constantly in to shapes pleasing to the Changer of the Ways, but they are the most likely to lose their humanoid form to sprouting wings, tentacles and pseudopodia.
The most extreme mutants bear little resemblance to men at all, be they bipedal, quadrepedal or otherwise locomoted. Such mutants are often massive and bulky but it is not known whether these are humanoids warped beyond recognition, animals touched by Chaos or the fusing together of several once-distinct individuals into a roiling, unrecognisable mass.
The legions of the Lost and the Damned are composed of the most vicious mutants and depraved Traitors from an area of infernal space where Chaos rules. Most famously they swarm out from the Eye of Terror, where the Immaterium spills into the galaxy in a maelstrom of warp energy.
In this region of space, worlds exist where the laws of physics and nature do not apply and the landscape is constantly shifting at the whim of the Chaos power that rules the planet. As Abaddon’s Chaos Space Marines ready themselves for another raid or Black Crusade against the Imperium, the fiercest mortal slaves from the prayer gangs and cannibal packs of the daemon worlds battle night and day (or whatever passes for it in their perverted realm) to fight their way aboard the transports. They believe a place fighting for Chaos will be an opportunity to win the attention of the lords of Chaos, perhaps even a chance to gain the favour of the Gods themselves. More than anything it is a way to escape the eternal torments of the Eye of Terror and regain the mortal realm.
Other realms also spew forth their own legions of the Lost and the Damned. Any region of space riven by the power of Chaos will produce such hordes; be they the accursed pirate strongholds of the Maelstrom, the Traitor planets of the Sabbat cluster, or the benighted nether worlds of the Eastern Fringe. Any great Chaos incursion throws up its own legions as the most ambitious, warlike and amoral fighters flock to its banners to carve their reputations or to die trying. Heretics and Traitors join triumphant Chaos forces in the hopes of survival by serving a new master. These find themselves callously expended to prove their worthiness to serve Chaos, or to render up their souls if they have nothing more to offer.
The righteous forces of the Emperor first came into contact with the forces of Chaos in the legendary times of the Great Crusade. As the newly created legions of the Adeptus Astartes, the Emperor’s Space Marines, forged outward from Terra they liberated thousands of worlds. On the most corrupted by Chaos they found horribly debased mutants swarming like locusts, and possessed daemonhosts by the score.
Such befouled places were ruthlessly cleansed with fire and sword, temples and icons obliterated with melta bombs, monstrous living cities pounded by orbital strikes. In many cases they were razed utterly, as commanders became too horrified by the madness they saw and chose to blast whole planets to dead ruin in preference to letting it continue. On other planets the benighted denizens had fallen into many and varied forms of Chaos worship, subtler and more insidious. These Chaos-tainted were silver tongued and cunning and joined the Emperor’s crusade only to spread their poison further and betray their oaths at a time of their own choosing.
In those times the threat of the alien was perceived as the greatest of all, and the dangers of Warp entities and uncontrolled psykers poorly understood by most of the Emperor’s servants, despite his constant admonishments to the contrary. Across the widely spread legions of the Emperor’s crusade new allies were welcomed for the aid they could render in the great task of freeing Humanity. Even mutants of particular strains judged stable enough were permitted to prosper and fight in the ranks of the Imperial Guard. This is a practice which remains to this day, although under drastically tighter constraints of genetic purity than was once the case.
As the crusade reached ever outwards to the Eastern Fringe recidivism and treachery constantly flared in its wake. Rebellious armies of Traitors and mutants tyrannized worlds just recently liberated as power hungry commanders, governors and renegade Space Marines tried to carve out their own empires. Even after centuries of fighting such Traitors, Chaos resurged utterly during the cataclysmic Horus Heresy as the Imperium was torn asunder by civil war. In those dimly remembered times the Lost and the Damned trod upon the sacred soil of Terra itself, dying in their millions at the walls of the Emperor’s Palace.
From that far off day to this the Imperium has been continually plagued by the Lost and the Damned, from scrofulous hordes of mutants to Traitorous armies. In spite of the best efforts of Inquisitors and loyal forces everywhere, the lure of Chaos remains as pernicious as ever.
The combat capabilities of the Lost and the Damned are as variable as the myriad faces of Chaos. A force like the Traitor 9th, a full military unit recently turned to Chaos, will be the equivalent of a fully equipped Imperial Guard regiment with supporting Leman Russ battletanks, Basilisk mobile artillery pieces, Sentinel scouts and other armour. While formidably equipped, Traitors often lack the moral fibre of loyalist troops as their command structures, officers and commissars will have been ravaged when they mutiny. Such forces are most dangerous in a ranged battle where their heavy firepower can be brought to bear with little risk of hand-to-hand combat or close assaults.
The greater hordes of the Lost and the Damned are poorly equipped. They bear a bizarre array of weaponry forged on daemon worlds, everything from baroque lasrifles and autoguns to beast-muzzled heavy stubbers and flamers, but have little in the way of heavy weaponry. In contrast to Traitor units, mutants must rely on sheer weight of numbers to overcome superior opponents. Packs of mutants are driven forth to overrun their enemies regardless of casualties, dragging them down in bloody wave attacks. In these attacks it is the larger mutants and Chaos Spawn which pose the greatest danger, possessed as they are with the weight and strength to crush the most stalwart defenders.
Any force of the Lost and the Damned may be riven with the horrors of daemonic possession, its denizens freely opening themselves to Warp entities in rapturous bouts of self- destruction. Worse still the insane chants and tainted icons of the mortal followers of Chaos can open a path for daemons to enter the physical realm. The tumult of the battlefield, the psychic screams of the dying are meat and drink to these entities and even the smallest crack in reality can open a way for the infernal hosts to manifest, hunt and feed. The Lost and the Damned may be expended in their thousands by their unseen lords to achieve this single aim.
Most deadly of all are the insane daemon engines which can be found spearheading the most important attacks. Daemon engines are hellish fusions of forged metal and Warp- spawned magic, living beasts charged with infernal life and driven by the insane murder-lust of a bound daemonic entity. Such creations are heavily armed with cannon, flamers and missiles but still take a perverse pleasure in ripping apart their opponents with steel-shod claws.
If Chaos Space Marines are in the warzone they will usually be in direct control of the greater masses of the Lost and the Damned.
They provide an elite striking force and the prime elements of a merciless command structure. The presence of such veteran warriors of the Long War makes the Lost and the Damned immeasurably more dangerous, their war-craft and unrelenting hatred lending the hordes a frenzied determination and reckless bravery which is a terror to behold.
Of all the threats facing the Imperium of Mankind that of Chaos is the greatest. The corruption of Chaos can turn the very forces of the beneficent Emperor against themselves. The numberless hordes of the Lost and the Damned demoralise and pervert all they come into contact with. Of the Lost and the Damned none are more loathed than the Traitors. Traitor forces use their base betrayal as advantageously as possible, assailing vulnerable targets with surprise attacks before entrenching themselves against retribution in some ground of their choosing. Thus the later stages of a campaign against the Lost and the Damned are liable to take on the aspect of a series of close sieges. All too often the rise of Chaos will result in a series of costly, bloody fights through hives and fortresses as loyalists fight to purge the corruption and free those enslaved by it.
In the case of a populist uprising inspired by Chaos demagogues and heretics the force will be less militaristic but more numerous, with people from all walks of life pressed into service with whatever arms and armoured units they can build or loot. Mutants and the repressed dregs of society are all too easily swayed into rebellion against the rule of the Imperium, styling themselves as an underground resistance or self- rightoeus freedom fighters. The ultimate nightmare for the loyal servants of the Saviour of Mankind is the corruption of a hive or civilised world, where Traitorous forces can number in the millions.
In the face of Mankind’s retribution some Traitors and mutants try to escape into the hinterlands of whatever planet they are on to form smaller guerrilla forces to plague loyalist forces for months or years at a time with ambushes and raids. Wherever they can, Traitors will attempt to link up with other invading Chaos Legions. Revolts are timed to coincide with the arrival of Chaos warships in order to create havoc and confusion among the defenders.
Imperial policy towards all manifestations of Chaos is uncompromising, they are to be eliminated with all means possible, as quickly as possible. Even those who have witnessed the power of Chaos are treated with suspicion as the tiniest seed of corruption can blossom into the corruption of entire worlds.