So while I’m totally prepping a 40k combined Death Guard and Chaos Daemons force for Crusades, I also had a flash of wanting to play a slightly different army for a Crusade as well now that 9th edition is starting. And thus, thought it was time to return to my Tau.
I at least have some painted models to show off at the start for once–such as these two civilians (a doctor and a dock worker) that I painted up for story mission involvement. There was the real chance I’d lose the army amid the turbulence of the three years (they even were up for consignment at my local gaming store for a while), but like the patient hunting tactic of kauyon, the Tau have been waiting for their return even when away.
I’ll start with the force I built for Shadow War Armageddon, which was 3 years ago now when I did them. Just a team of Tau Pathfinders:
They have mohawks clearly because we were wishing for Necromunda at the time, saying Shadow War Armageddon felt similar. Hence the decision to do a squad with that motif.
The larger force they were added to is below, just a simple starter patrol that I had developed for some narrative games of 40k with my buddy Rico:
I still really am pleased with how smooth this look is. And I took notes on the paints I used then so I am back to replicating it today and looks the exact same.
These forces were featured in three of my favorite games of 40k I’ve ever played:
And dunno, something just feels good about returning to them. I’ve added a couple more pieces to this army which I’ll share in their own post (retouching and painting a few that were in half progress to being added to this set). And picked up some more, so I can run both the Chaos and the Tau Crusades to my interest.
[Summary of personal research notes. Malcolm Blackstone, Ordo Malleus Inquisitor]
At this point I am not sure if Qahr G’azab remembers his own name, let alone whether he understands the fragile tension he seems to represent in the machinations of the Immaterium. I record here what I know of his past and present, in hopes that it lends me strength in purging the galaxy of him and his ills.
From what I can tell, while Qahr G’azab walks among the cursed of the Death Guard, he is not of their Legion. At least not originally. I found records of a Qahr G’azab being elevated from initiate to Legionnaire for the World Eaters, recruited from the human settlement of a distant fringe planet shortly before the World Eaters were recalled to Warmaster Horus’ 63rd fleet for the engagement with the Auretian Technocracy. This was the time when the World Eaters were operating in the fringes. I cannot find out whether Qahr was subject to the technically-prohibited “butcher’s nails” procedure of his Legion at the time. I doubt so due to later moments.
The next time the name Qahr G’azab appears is amid two separate estimations of order of battle, both from Istvaan III. Our World Eaters Qahr G’azab is among those dispatched to the surface along with Angron when he defied Horus’ will and went to wipe out those in his Legion that remained loyal to the Emperor (long may their sacrifice be remembered). While records later in the Heresy get muddled, those early actions auto-scribes were still listing battle actions with care–and thus we know of Qahr’s landing on the planet.
Strangely, the other order of battle record is one of a battle brother of the Death Guard, named Gazab, recalled from the surface of Istvaan and listed as having sustained serious damage on the surface. He is listed by the admitting medicae on the Endurance (Mortarion’s flagship) as having been damaged by the detonation of a dud viral ordinance cluster that the Loyalists must have rigged for their side. That matches a story I extracted at no great difficulty from a captured member of the Death Guard, pried from their mind amid agonizing death throes as their body literally ate itself to prevent it from giving me the information I sought.
As best I can piece it together, this Gazab was a battle brother whose unit had been entirely wiped out, and found by other Death Guard forces–his armor steaming and nearly melted away by the converted ordinance blast. At the time, they had thought that the viral agents were defective in the cluster, so he was only exposed to the acidic vapors designed to eat thru armor to allow infection. All that was left of the armor was an insignia of him being a part of the First Company. This Gazab was delirious and insensate from the damage, and thus was put into a medical coma upon arrival at the Endurance, earmarked for return to the First Company. However, that must have been delayed as Typhon led the chase for the Eisenstein.
Records get much more spotty after this, and I was reliant upon again those imperfect captured memories from the corrupted. By arrival for the Battle of Terra, I get an account of a Gazab getting refit on Typhus’ (Typhon in his newly-daemonic form) ship and joining the assault on the surface–and distinguishing himself amid his Legion. Remember, at this point the Legion had spent their time becalmed in the Warp and fully given over to Nurgle.
Was this Gazab the same Qahr G’azab who had been a World Eater? I believe so. The white of the World Eaters, melted away, would be close to the neutral of the Death Guard. And without the Butcher’s Nails applied, the medical scans would have shown him as no different than any Legionnaire on the Endurance. He was perhaps still even in medical coma when the diseased factors of the warp infiltrated the Endurance and changed the Legion. And finally as horrid and repulsive as the powers of Nurgle are, his notion of “Grandfather” makes an odd room for family. Could he have awakened burdened with plague, and simply not remembered nor cared to remember his past? At the point of corruption, did the Plague Marines of the Death Guard even care about their record keeping amid a Legion so numerous? Everything I have suggests to me that this warrior started as a World Eater, but due to circumstance found a space amid the Death Guard.
Accounts of him amid the Death Guard that I extracted were of a soldier of the line who preferred using two plague knives shaped almost like butchers’ cleavers in lieu of his bolter for many of the battles. The memories are hazy (again extracted at much difficulty from an untrustworthy source), but they are of a taciturn fighter who waded into combat almost instinctually. Proving his capability with Typhus’ Company, he served amid those gifted with Cataphractii Terminator Armor.
At some point Gazab rose in ability to the point he was elevated to leadership himself in Typhus’ twisted hierarchy of post-Heresy operation. Clearly given his own raiding ship to command, we start to see scattered incursions where he was operating on his own to further the First Company’s endeavors in regions. Notably, the attrition rate of his force was perpetually high due to his style of warfare: adding aggression to the stern methodology of the Death Guard’s implacable advances.
The memories I recovered ended with the most notable ones to our purposes, Gazab’s recent history. He had been working with his Putrifiers and Plague Surgeons to better improve the Poxwalkers that continually had to bolster his forces. While every member of the Death Guard now holds a variety of mixed diseases, the chattel infected by him had a tendency to arise with a particular sort of vigor and thirst for blood. Taking samples from his distended gut, they worked to refine and spread it amongst his command forces. This new sickness they called simply “Rage”.
And that’s where my own trail of Gazab starts. I was dispatched to a planet that I had been to once before, a little industrial world called Cetaro. When I had first been there it was because of a wave of Khornate cults that were using bloodsport rituals that appeased the masses in order to reach daemonic tributes. This second visit was because of reports of a blood pathogen disease that turned those exposed into frothing and gnashing ghoul-like remnants of themselves, bent on passing the disease on to others amid violent attack. Early on it had looked like local officials would be overwhelmed by the spread, but they did well to keep it in check (thanks to massive purges of the potentially infected).
Arriving on Cetaro, I found that it was Gazab (hitherto unknown to me) and his small warband behind these actions. More disturbingly, he was apparently utilizing a base that had missed my first sweep of the planet’s taint–some long-lost industrial workshop that had been one of these makeshift shrines to Khorne. In my forces’ assault on his base, they found Gazab at the heart of that foundry, and in a moment of heavy assault he reached for a weapon that apparently had been left on a dias from before. The combat-servitor scans confirmed that the weapon was an axe, branded with the symbol of Khorne. And once his strange tentacled hand clasped the haft of the axe, the rune started to glow with heat. More worrisome for my purposes, it seemed to trigger a warp event that led to a small number of twisted daemons emerging into the space to join the battle against my forces (all I could recover were servitor recordings and the active data logs). The daemons that poured thru were not just Nurgle daemons in their shambling ways, but also a small number of Khornate daemons with their burning weapons.
The puzzlement of this… this conjunction of rage within Gazab, and his positioning between Nurgle and Khorne, is why I worked to learn what I could of his history. The more I see of it, the more I worry. Gazab needs to be stopped. Whatever he is up to–supporting Typhus’ plans, spreading this viral Rage, and striking with the support of two Chaos Gods–seems destined to be a problem. My hope is that this conflict within him tears him apart and sunders his plans, as Khorne and Nurgle oft compete in their machinations. My dread is that his foundling status, the way that both Khorne and Nurgle are entwined within him, makes him a loci of power for broader daemonic power and cooperation. He must be stopped.