"Death is my meat; terror my wine."
- — Adrubael Vect, Supreme Lord of the Kabal of the Black Heart
Asdrubael Vect is the Dark Eldar Archon of the Kabal of the Black Heart and the current Supreme Overlord of the Dark City of Commorragh. Considered the most devious of a race legendary for deviousness, Vect is possibly older than the Fall of the Eldar. It was Vect who shaped Commorragh from a sprawling corsair port and collection of autonomous sub-realms into what it had become by the late 41st Millennium, a vast and incalculably powerful and evil galactic metropolis located deep within the Labyrinthine Dimension of the Webway. Among the murderous hierarchy of the Dark Eldar race, and from the lowest of beginnings, Vect gained and holds on to his position with both an unmatched intelligence, murderous ambition and a talent for cunning that is said by some to rival that of the Chaos God Tzeentch. Vect knows the primary weaknesses of all the major sentient races of the galaxy, and those of his own species most thoroughly of all. Quite simply, Asdrubael Vect is one of the oldest, most powerful, and most deadly beings to walk amongst the mortals of the 41st Millennium.
Asdrubael Vect was born as a low-class underling in Commorragh and sold into slavery as a child. According to Vect's own account, related to a human slave, in his youth he personally witnessed the Fall of the Eldar in the late 29th or early 30th Millennium. Never accepted by the privileged high-born "betters" of his race, Vect was forced to climb the murderous hierarchal structure of the Dark City from the bottom, rung by tortuous rung. This survival in the face of incalculable odds explains his razor-sharp mind and infinite talent for intrigue. It was during this time that Vect vowed to himself that he would one day rule the Dark City, even if it took an eternity. Vect's talent for subterfuge was exceptional. Vect's rivals had a propensity for being murdered in plots or for suffering apparent misfortunes, although never by Vect's hand personally. By the time his rivals realised the threat represented by this upstart, it was usually only an instant before their heads had been separated from their bodies by his agents.
Kabal of the Black Heart
Vect's power grew and in an unknown date in the 32nd Millennium, he founded the Kabal of the Black Heart, the first organisation to openly refer to themselves as "Eladrith Ynneas" or "Dark Eldar." Though the Black Heart began as a flickering flame, it has since been fanned into a searing firestorm. Thriving on being underestimated, Vect played a low profile as the Dark City fought a long civil war of its nobility against the Solar Cults who controlled the captured twin suns that powered the city, "The War of the Sun and Moon," in the 35th Millennium. The nobility were ultimately victorious. A Kabal like Vect's had almost no power compared to Commorragh's nobility, and Vect was opposed at every turn by the most influential of the Dark City's noble houses -- Xelian, Kraillach and Yllithian.
Commorragh in Flames
Over the millennia, Commorragh grew from its shrouded beginnings into a galactic nightmare, its expansion driven largely by the machinations of one being, Asdrubael Vect of the Kabal of the Black Heart, who rose from slavery to become the true Overlord of the Dark City.
Four thousand standard years after the Fall of the Eldar, in the time that Mankind calls the 35th Millennium, Commorragh underwent its greatest ordeal since its founding. The slave Asdrubael Vect had risen, through pure guile and murderous ambition, to become the Dracon of what he later named the Kabal of the Black Heart, when the elite forces of the Imperium of Man mounted a full-scale invasion of the Dark City. At that time Vect, the hidden architect of this time of strife intended to cement his own rule, was opposed at all turns by the most influential of the Dark City's noble factions, the Houses Xelian, Kraillach and Yllithian. By the time the human invaders had been repelled, the powerbases of these houses were in ruins, their Archons slain. It was not long before Vect and the more meritocratic Kabals had replaced them as the source of ultimate power in the Dark City, just as he had planned. The seeds of the Imperial invasion were sown in the region of the galaxy called the Desaderian Gulf. This area of wilderness space was well-known among the human starfarers of the Segmentum Tempestus for the number of spacecraft that had disappeared within its confines. General Imperial practice was to avoid it at all costs. Unknown to the Imperium, there existed a vast portal into a main arterial of the Webway within Desaderian space, shielded by holofields that made it appear to be nothing more than a shimmer in the starlight, perhaps a result of gravitational lensing. Behind this portal lurked the pirate fleets of Commorragh, waiting for unwary prey.
The Dark Eldar's noble houses preyed upon Imperial shipping lanes only rarely in order to escape retribution; hence the missing ships were always considered acceptable losses or written off as bureaucratic errors of the Administratum. Vect's first move was to increase the frequency of these piratical raids tenfold. He made it his Kabal's priority to capture every Imperial Navy warship and invade every human world within reach of the Desaderian portal. He tore apart the Imperial Guard Regiments garrisoning the planets of the Desaderian System, devastated their fortifications and disappeared with his living bounty into the depths of the Dark City, leaving nothing but utter ruin in his wake. This campaign saw the Kabal of the Black Heart grow rich in plunder and souls, though Vect's detractors thought him a fool for antagonising the massive Imperial war machine.
With its usual ponderous, bureaucratic slowness the Imperium eventually reacted to the disappearances in the Desaderian Gulf. A Strike Cruiser belonging to the Salamanders Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes was close enough to investigate. It was patrolling the edges of the Gulf in search of the sacred artefacts and relics of their Primarch Vulkan. Captain Phoecus of the Salamanders ordered his ship deeper into the Desaderian Gulf. After a short but violent exchange with Vect's Kabalite fleet, Phoecus' Strike Cruiser Forgehammer was crippled by Haywire Bombs and transported through the Desaderian portal into the heart of the Dark City. The furore that resulted from this audacious capture set the spires of High Commorragh aflame with new intrigue. A Space Marine Captain was a great prize indeed, for such an individual could withstand extreme and prolonged mental and physical torture before divulging his vital secrets about Imperial defence. Before long, Vect found his Kabal's fleet in the Desaderian Gulf dwarfed by the armada of the Archon Lord Xelian. The Forgehammer, still rendered impotent by Vect's Haywire field, was confiscated by Xelian, taken to High Commorragh and analysed by a long dissection process.
In his arrogance, Lord Xelian had not reckoned with the resourcefulness of the Space Marines trapped within the stricken Strike Cruiser. The ship's vox communications network had been shorted out by the Haywire field, but unknown to Xelian there remained a more pervasive method of communication available to the Astartes. Captain Phoecus' close friend, the gifted Librarian Hestion, had sent a psychic request for aid as soon as the starship's systems had been disabled. Hestion acted as a living beacon to the rest of the Salamanders Chapter, a beacon now trapped within the spires of Xelian's realm in the Dark City. When Lord Xelian sent the elite of his warrior court to bring the Space Marines to his torture chambers, they were met with far sterner resistance than anticipated. The Dark Eldar found it easy to carve through the hull of the strike cruiser and gain entrance to its dark corridors, but overpowering the Space Marines proved impossible. Lit only by the flashes of Boltgun fire, a desperate battle took place within the hull of the Forgehammer until Astartes and Dark Eldar blood had mingled upon its hull plates. Xelian was quick to realise that he had underestimated his victims. He returned the salvage rights for the Astartes starship to the Kabal of the Black Heart, appearing generous but actually intending to seize the Space Marines once the Black Heart had suffered the losses in taking them captive. Vect readily agreed, forming small strike forces of all those warriors in his Kabal whom he suspected of disloyalty and sent them to face the Strike Cruiser's defenders piecemeal. Vect's Kabalite Warriors, triumphant on dozens of worlds, marched into the Forgehammer without fear, but the battle lasted for days.
Xelian was happy to let Vect drive his so-called Kabal to destruction, believing the Kabal's Dracon to be a fool for not attacking with all the force at his disposal in a single, massive assault. Vect played a waiting game, feeding the disloyal elements of his Kabal to the guns of the Space Marines to buy time and even employing Commorrite mercenaries with well-known ties to Xelian's court, all of whom were soon swallowed by the violence within the human Strike Cruiser. On the sixteenth day of the siege, the skies above High Commorragh suddenly broke open. The Salamanders Chapter had received the coordinates that had led them to their beleaguered Battle-Brothers from the Librarian Hestion's psychic broadcasts. The Desaderian portal had mysteriously been left fully operational, its guards slain and its controls locked so that it could not be closed.
The full fury of the Imperium of Man thundered from the crackling jade-cloured Webway portal directly above Archon Xelian's personal spire. Through it came starships bearing the heraldry of not only the Salamanders but also the badges of the Howling Griffons and the Silver Skulls Chapters of Space Marines. Two dozen Strike Cruisers, each appearing like a chunk of Gothic architecture reshaped for war, hammered though the wide-open portal into the shadowy skies of the Dark City. At their heart was the great Battle Barge Vulkan's Wrath, an immense spacecraft with broadside batteries that could flatten whole cities. Its prow was a vast jutting ram that ploughed straight into the spire where Xelian stood, crushing it like a hammer driven into a priceless sculpture.
The Dark Eldar overcame their surprise quickly. From nearby Port Shard came hundreds of exotic craft, each a needle-like splinter next to the slab-like Imperial vessels, but no less deadly for that. Voidraven Bombers and Razorwing Jetfighters careened out of their towering hangars like bats from a cave, descending in swarms to attack each Astartes Strike Cruiser. Though many were destroyed by the Imperial cruisers' broadsides, others systematically targeted the larger ships' guns with focused Void Lance fire and sustained hits from their Disintegrator Cannons. The Vulkan's Wrath was struck by thick blasts of electromagnetic force produced by Port Shard's salvage spars, rendering the majority of its weapons systems useless. One by one, the Imperial ships' guns were silenced. But these were Space Marines, and they were nothing if not resourceful. Ejecting from each Strike Cruiser came Drop Pods, fired with such force that they were projectile weapons in their own right. The Drop Pods hurtled down, smashing through Dark Eldar fighter craft and Commorrite starscrapers alike, each containing a squad of Space Marines who deployed upon impact with their weapons blazing. They left pure ruin in their wake as priceless Eldar statues shattered and the spires of the Dark City fell.
The Astartes' counterattack robbed the Dark Eldar of the initiative. Within only moments of the Drop Pod assault, the Space Marines had established a perimeter in the obsidian-paved streets of the Kraillach Quarter. Though they took constant fire from Kabalite Warriors and Scourges that flew through the dark skies above, Astartes Power Armour proved to be an effective barrier to the Dark Eldar's splinter weaponry. Yet it was not long before more of the Dark City's denizens joined the fight, drawn to violence and death like sharks to blood. Massed swarms of skyboard-mounted Hellions and Reaver Jetbikers swooped down to rake and tear at the Space Marines, who returned fire, literally, with their Promethium-fueled Flamers. The half-daemon Mandrakes and Raider transports loaded with Dark Eldar Warriors assaulted the Space Marines with claws, knives and Splinter Pistols. Battle was joined from one side of High Commorragh to the other and the streets seethed with violence. Entire sections of High Commorragh burned as the invading Space Marines cut down or incinerated each new breed of horror that assaulted them. Word spread quickly through the Dark City of the human invasion and high up in the arenas, the gladiators of the Wych Cults mobilised for war.
The Space Marines within the city were 500 strong, almost half the size of a full Chapter, and they maintained a defensive perimeter throughout the Kraillach Quarter. High Archon Kraillach himself led a massed charge against the Astartes, intending to crush the invaders that were destroying his personal fiefdom. Yet Kraillach's rampage was ultimately halted by a "stray" blast from a Dark Lance that vapourised him where he stood.
As the Forgehammer lay shackled by electromagnetic force high in the spires, the battle in the skies of the Dark City intensified. Xelian's last command had been to destroy the captive human ship no matter the cost, for if mere humans recovered his prize, the Archon's authority and that of his fellow noble-born peers would be shattered forever. Flights of winged Scourges armed with Haywire Blasters and Heat Lances began to systematically destroy the captive ship while a fleet of Ravager gunships forced the Space Marines who sought to rescue the vessel's Battle-Brothers back into cover. Then, in a storm of light generated by their teleportation technology, Terminators from the Salamanders' 1st Company teleported directly onto the hull of the Forgehammer and returned fire. The Scourges were driven back and Captain Phoecus seized his chance. His men emerged from cover as a single force, sending a Krak Missile soaring into each of the nine towering spars that held his craft captive with their beams of electromagnetic force. Miraculously, each missile triggered a chain reaction of explosions, and the burning spars crashed down into the streets below. The Librarian Hestion summoned a psychic storm of his own, a raging inferno in the shape of a flaming drake that tore the Ravager gunships out of the sky one by one. The Forgehammer had been ravaged by the Dark Eldar assaults, but it was free at last from the Dark City's clutches. With a roar, the Strike Cruiser began to ascend into the sky and freedom.
Far below, the Space Marines fighting in the Xelian Quarter were completely encircled as the full weight of Commorragh was pressed against them and warriors from dozens of noble houses joined the defence of the city. Yet the Space Marines' objective had been achieved, for the Forgehammer was free. A single curt comm-signal was sent and within mere moments, the main bulk of the Space Marines in the Dark City teleported away in a brief burst of light. Those that had been cut off from the main assault gave their lives to buy their brethren time or else were paralyzed by Dark Eldar hypertoxins and taken away to later fight and die as warrior-slaves. Confusion reigned as the Haywire fields that had shackled the Imperial spacecraft were disengaged one by one. The Battle Barge Vulkan's Wrath, now joined by the badly damaged Forgehammer, fired its retros and disengaged itself from the ruins of what had been Archon Xelion's pride. The vast starship's engine blast flattened spires and starscrapers alike before the Space Marines made their escape. The entire Astartes fleet then passed through the still-yawning Webway portal above High Commorragh and escaped triumphantly into realspace.
In the aftermath of the Imperial invasion, Commorragh changed forever. The power vacuum left by the vanquished noble houses of High Commorragh was quickly filled by Asdrubael Vect and his jubilant Kabal of the Black Heart, who had proven their superiority to their rivals in the crucible of war. In the years that followed, Vect played politics like a true Machiavellian master of intrigue, forever asserting the meritocracy of the Kabals over the ancient aristocracy of the Eldar noble houses. So it was that the Kabal of the Black Heart rose to ascendancy over the Dark City in place of the old nobility and Archon Vect's new position as the Supreme Overlord of Commorragh and the Dark Eldar race was sealed.
Yet Vect's ambitions did not end there. He would never cease his scheming until he had the entire city and all of its realms within his steely grip. In 677.M36, Vect tricked Archon Kelithresh into opening a casket ostensibly presented as a bribe, and the black hole constrained within was unleashed to consume both him and his entire realm. In the 37th Millennium, Vect caused the hidden portals that linked each satellite realm of Commorragh to be revealed and built Great Gates around them guarded by elite Incubi and Kabalite Warriors. One by one, Vect forcibly united the sub-realms of Commoragh into his own powerbase, conquering each in turn over thousands of standard years of civil war and strife. Commoragh expanded into and throughout these once-autonomous regions until they became integral to the Dark City.
In 984.M37, the last independent sub-realm, Shaa-dom, had been growing steadily in influence to the point where Archon El'uriaq, the self-declared Emperor of Shaa-dom, declared himself more worthy of rule than Vect. Vect publicly vowed that Shaa-dom would feel his blade, but seemed in no position to make good such a threat against Shaa-Dom's well-funded and elite military forces. Three days later a Warp rift opened above Shaa-dom and a burning Imperial Battleship emerged and collided into the city before its Warp-Drive detonated, destroying El'uriaq's palace fortress. Daemons, exploiting the resulting Warp rift, invaded the sub-realm, destroying and consuming all in their wake. In the matter of weeks, Shaa-dom was reduced to haunted cinders. Vect is reported to have allowed himself a rare smile at the moment of its fall.
With the destruction of Shaa-dom, all of Commoragh's sub-realms became part of the Dark City -- and the newly unified city was now under Vect's complete control.
Vect, through plots more labyrinthine than most mortals could hope to comprehend, is still Supreme Overlord of Commoragh in 999.M41. This achievement is perhaps even more impressive than his becoming Supreme Overlord in the first place. As a result of his low-born status, he has never been accepted by the nobility of Commoragh. Though the noble houses he usurped power from were forced to reinvent themselves as Kabals, they still hate Vect and would gladly topple him and reassert themselves given the chance. Yet even other Kabals' Archons, unimaginably devious themselves, have never been able to outwit Asdrubael Vect. All who have tried have died in indescribably horrible ways.
And yet, as the 41st Millennium comes to a close, it is believed by some that Vect's hold upon the Dark City is beginning to loosen: he visits uncharacteristically blunt retribution on those who defy him with increasing frequency. His realspace raids have become increasingly frequent as well, leading some to speculate that he has finally passed beyond even the capability for rejuvenation that the agonised murder of thousands of slaves can bring. Typical of the Dark Eldar, theories abound that Vect may be tired of success, rulership, or even his long existence. Others say he may be gambling against himself as it is now the only challenge that he can find in a city that has never had his equal. More sensible Dark Eldar believe that he is only feigning weakness until his true enemies reveal themselves, at which point he will destroy them. Nothing is ever sure when it comes to Asdrubael Vect, except that if he falls, the Dark City will be torn apart by vicious civil war.
- Ghostplate Armour - Those Dark Eldar who desire a substantial amount of protection whilst retaining a high degree of mobility sport armour made of hardened resins and shot through with pockets of lighter-than-air gas. Ghostplate Armour also incorporates minor forcefield technology to better protect its wearer.
- Shadow Field - The Shadow Field surrounds its wearer in a dark miasma of energy that is almost impossible to penetrate. However, should a solid blow connect, the shadow field will short out, leaving its wearer vulnerable.
- Splinter Pistol - This side arm is a smaller version of the Splinter Rifle. Often carried as a sidearm by Dark Eldar assault and shock troops, it fires a hail of splinter-like shards of crystal at the enemy. The only disadvantage of its smaller size is its more limited effective range. Spinter Pistols are often fitted with vicious combat blades, which the Dark Eldar use to slash and stab opponents in close combat.
- Plasma Grenades - These grenades explode into a ball of super-heated plasma, negating the effect of cover in close combat.
- Haywire Grenades - Haywire Grenades are used for disabling or crippling enemy vehicles. They send out a powerful electromagnetic pulse that shorts out and destroys electrical circuits.
- Sceptre of the Dark City - This unique sceptre is the badge of office of the Supreme Overlord of Commoragh and is an advanced Power Weapon that contains sophisticated pain-inducing devices.
- Obsidian Orbs - Extremely advanced and rare Dark Eldar soul-technology. When an Obsidian Orb is used against living opponents, it can suck out their very souls and use their stolen life-energy to heal Vect's own wounds.
- The Dais of Destruction - When Vect deigns to lead a battle personally, he often does so upon the Dais of Destruction, a transport vehicle dedicated to his own use and armed with Dark Lances and force shields.
- Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pp. 13-15, 55
- Codex: Dark Eldar (3rd Edition), pg. 31
- Dawn of War - Soulstorm (PC Game)
- Games Workshop - Dark Eldar: The Torturer's Tale by Gav Thorpe