"They hide their faces in snarling iron, but the cruelty in their hearts is manifest in their brutal deeds. We are lost and we are done. May the God-Emperor forgive our failure and protect our souls."
- — Last transmission of General DeLestt, Urdesh
The Blood Pact is a warrior Chaos Cult dedicated to the service of the Chaos God Khorne that is engaged in trying to maintain the grip of the Forces of Chaos on the Sabbat Worlds. They are sworn to the service of the Archon Urlock Gaur, the leading Chaotic warlord of the Sabbat Worlds Sector, and are named the Blood Pact after the Chaos ritual in which they are sworn into the Archon's service.
The ritual requires the Blood Pact initiate to slice the palms of his hands on the jagged edges of the Archon's Power Armour. In rare cases, such as for snipers whose hands are essential to their trade, another part of the body may be cut to seal the pact.
The Blood Pact is highly unusual among Khornate Chaos Cults in that it fights as a highly-disciplined army rather than the disorganized warbands of berserkers that normally characterise Khornate devotees. Comprised of both highly-trained human troops and xenos mercenaries, the forces of the Blood Pact were instrumental in Chaos' victory in overrunning the Sabbat Worlds and are equally important in defending the Forces of Chaos' gains from the ongoing Imperial Sabbat Worlds Crusade. The Blood Pact is easily the equal of standard Astra Militarum regiments in its discipline and effectiveness.
The exact origin of the Blood Pact remains unknown to Imperial historians, but fragmentary evidence and the legends of the Sabbat Worlds themselves indicate that the Pact originated approximately 3,000 standard years ago on the world of Ghourra at the edge of the sector. At that time, Ghourra was a feral planet whose tribesmen were ruled by a feudal overlord called the Gaur. The Gaur led a priesthood dedicated to the Chaos God Khorne. This priesthood eventually became a martial force that served as the Gaur's elite bodyguard and transformed its savage sacrificial rites into a highly effective tradition of martial discipline. Over time, the Gaur's people gained access to spaceflight technology and began to spread his influence across other planets in the Sabbat Worlds. As the Gaur's rule spread it became a mark of nobility to have entered into the "blood pact" with the Gaur and become part of his elite troops. Eventually, this group of Khornate warriors grew until it had achieved the size of an army in its own right and became known as the Blood Pact. Imperial intelligence now estimates that there may be as many as 750,000 warriors currently in the Blood Pact, an unprecedented size for a Khornate Cult and every member has been inducted into the Pact personally by the current Gaur. Imperial forces first learned of the Blood Pact's existence when the Sabbat Worlds Crusade was launched in 755.M41 to retake control of that sector from the Forces of Chaos. The Sabbat Worlds were a relatively new acquisition of the Imperium of Man, having only been colonised in the 35th Millennium when the Forces of Chaos had first been driven from the sector by an Imperial Crusade led by Saint Sabbat, a woman said to have been blessed by the Emperor and for whom the sector was later named. Around 600.M41, a large Chaotic army commanded by the warlord known as Archon Nadzybar had conquered the Sabbat Worlds. Nadzybar's forces were not a single army, but an alliance of many different Chaotic warbands drawn from across the sector, each led by its own warlord who was known as a Magister. These Magisters served as Nadzybar's lieutenants and their names still ring in the ears of those who suffered at the hands of Chaos in the Sabbat Worlds, including Anakwanar Sek, Enok Innokenti, Sholen Skara, Heritor Asphodel, Nokad the Blighted and Urlock Gaur, the Gaur of the Blood Pact.
In 755.M41, the High Lords of Terra granted the Lord Militant Slaydo the rank of Warmaster and ordered him to raise an army of the Imperial Guard to undertake a new Imperial Crusade to liberate the Sabbat Worlds Sector from the control of Chaos. Slaydo went about the task diligently and eventually his massive and well-equipped Imperial army faced the Forces of Chaos on the world of Balhaut. Though the battle cost Slaydo his life, he went to meet the Emperor with the knowledge that the Chaotic troops had been routed from the field and Archon Nadzybar had been slain. After protracted and bloody infighting among the surviving Chaotic Magisters, a new Archon emerged from the ranks of the various warlords to lead the Forces of Chaos in the Sabbat Worlds, Urlock Gaur of the Blood Pact. As the new Archon, the Blood Pact soon became the heart of the Chaotic forces, greatly enlarging its numbers and expanding its capabilities as many smaller Chaos warbands chose to undertake the pact with Gaur to garner his favour and share in his spoils. Only a few years after the Battle of Balhaut, Imperial intelligence recognised the Blood Pact as the most elite of the Chaotic formations they faced in the sector as the Crusade ground on.
The Blood Pact demonstrated its unusual effectiveness as a disciplined military unit for a Khornate Cult during its victory at the Battle of the Akkorite Peninsula on the world of Belshiir Binary in 771.M41. Belshiir was a vital world for both sides in the Sabbat Worlds Crusade because of its status as the primary source and refiner of promethium fuel in the stellar neighbourhood. A force composed of 200 Blood Pact warriors, supported by 4 stalk-tanks and 2 of the Loxatl xenos' brood groups, succeeded at cutting off and destroying a much larger force of 3,000 Imperial Guardsmen. Led by the Pact officer named Vesh Etogaur (Etogaur was his rank, equivalent to Colonel), the Chaotics had lain in stifling heat for three full days without breaking their cover until the Imperial Guardsmen had moved into the optimal position for their ambush to succeed. The resulting slaughter of the Imperials had taken only 22 minutes. As a result of this Blood Pact victory, the crucial promethium refineries of the Akkorite Peninsula remained under the control of the Forces of Chaos for a further fifteen standard months.
The Blood Pact, originally formed from warriors drawn from all the worlds around Ghourra, is now a highly-diverse military unit. The officers of the Pact encourage the integration of other Chaos Cults and warbands into the pact, especially Traitor Imperial Guard units. The Blood Pact also counts among its troops various xenos mercenaries like the quadrupedal reptilian Loxatl.
When Urlock Gaur prepared his Blood Pact to face the Imperium, he extensively studied the Imperial Guard Regiments that were fighting as part of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade to retake the sector, and modeled his Khornate soldiers after them. The Blood Pact warriors are trained every bit as rigourously as any soldier of the Imperial Guard, and learn the same skills of shooting, melee combat, and basic survival. They are also indoctrinated to obey their superiors in all things, without question. These things, combined with their fanatical loyalty to the Archon and their Chaos God, mean that they will often fight to the very last man, giving and expecting no quarter. Where a Regiment of Guardsmen would turn tail and run, an equal number of Blood Pact warriors will grind on grimly until they or their enemies are all dead, or their objectives are complete. They do not fear death, but rather are afraid of dying with their mission incomplete, thus failing both Khorne and the Gaur.
The most elite units of the Blood Pact are known as the Death Brigades. Though few in number, the Death Brigades often serve at the vanguard of Blood Pact assaults, as the private company of the most senior Pact officers or are deployed to carry out various missions as the Forces of Chaos' equivalent of the Imperial Guard Storm Troopers. They are the most skilled, and the most feared, of all Blood Pact units.
The Blood Pact ranking system is completely different from that of the armed forces of the Imperium. The rank of a soldier, unlike in the Imperial armed forces, is stated after the individual's name. For example, the warrior Mabbon Etogaur is a soldier named Mabbon and Etogaur is his rank in the Blood Pact. Higher ranks use the Archon's traditional Blood Pact rank, Gaur, as the base, to symbolize the rank-holder's increasing closeness to the Pact's master. Known ranks, and their rough Imperial equivalents, includes:
- Etogaur (Colonel)
- Damogaur (Major)
- High Sirdar (Captain)
- Sirdar (Lieutenant)
Blood Pact warriors often resemble a particularly ragged and ill-kempt Imperial Guard Regiment due to their reliance on Imperial pattern weapons manufactured on captured Forge Worlds. They wear the same types of uniforms, either looted from dead Imperial Guardsmen or manufactured according to the basic Imperial pattern and then adapted for the Pact's particular needs and Chaotic allegiance. They wear the usual type of infantry kit, including the standard steel helmet. Because their uniforms are essentially the result of plunder, manufacture and customisation, no two Blood Pact troopers ever appear the same.
The Carapace Armour, Flak Armour and cloth uniforms of the Pact are all dyed a faded red, the colour of dried blood. One of the Pact's most sacred Khornate rituals is the dying of their clothing with the spilled blood of their enemies after a successful battle. Because of this, most Blood Pact warriors exude the smell of drying and decaying blood at all times. Their armoured vehicles also tend to be painted in this dried blood as well and to be marked with various heretical Chaotic icons, such as the Chaos Star and the Mark of Khorne. A Blood Pact warrior's hands are never covered in order that they may display the many ritual scars they carry across their palms and knuckles, which were made at the time they swore their oath to serve Khorne and the Gaur. They often continue to ritually scar themselves until a Blood Pact warrior's body and face are scarred beyond all recognition. The deeper and more severe the wounds made with the ritual combat knife every Blood Pact member carries, the more devoted to Khorne and the Blood Pact's cause a warrior is believed to be by his comrades. While Blood Pact equipment is largely similar to that of the Imperial Guard, there are some noticeable differences. Unlike many Chaos Cultist forces, who use decrepit weapons, the Blood Pact are armed with freshly manufactured weapons of Imperial design constructed on Chaos-held Forge Worlds, as well as a number of pieces looted from battlefield dead. The majority of standard Blood Pact infantry warriors are equipped with a standard Imperial Lasrifle, a Laspistol or Autopistol sidearm, and a belt of stick grenades. Officers may use a Bolt Pistol or Plasma Pistol as a substitute. Along with the typical bayonet, a trench axe, pike, or sabre-knife will serve a warrior in melee combat, while high-ranking officers will usually be equipped with a Chainsword, Chainaxe or Power Weapon. In addition to this, every Blood Pact warrior is issued a ritual combat knife: while this may be used as a last resort, most often this rusty, jagged knife is used for the performing of arcane blood rituals dedicated to Khorne.
Blood Pact armour is normally fashioned from iron plates, rivetted to rough cloth that has been dyed with blood, as mentioned above. In other cases, some Blood Pact warriors will have access to the same patterns of Carapace Armour and Flak Armour used by the Imperial Guard. This is accompanied by mixed-and-matched pieces looted from dead Imperial Guardsmen, as well as a spiked bowl helmet for head protection. Lastly, the Blood Pact's signature trademark is the metal Grotesque (a facemask with a grimacing or leering face accompanied by an oversized hook nose and chin) that is issued to each and every human Blood Pact member. While Grotesques issued to the standard grunts are fashioned from iron, they can also be made in higher-grade metals such as copper, bronze, silver and gold for the Pact's officers. Masks made from different metals are used to identify rank, with gold signifying the highest-ranking Etogaurs. In some cases, often the case of common troopers, the Grotesque will be welded or otherwise affixed to the spiked helmet.
Unlike most Khornate Chaos Cults, the Blood Pact is a highly-disciplined military force that routinely makes use of standard military tactics and strategies rather than simply rushing head-long onto the battlefield to engage the enemy as rage-fueled berserkers until either they or the foe have fallen. As a result, the standard Blood Pact trooper is armed with a ranged weapon like a Lasgun or an Autogun and relies on melee weapons like combat knives, billhooks, clubs and grenades only when they are engaged in close hand-to-hand combat in trenchworks or in cluttered urban environments that interfere with a clear field of fire.
As a result of the Blood Pact's conquest of Imperial Forge Worlds in the Sabbat Worlds Sector like Urdesh and Neffethyl, the Pact's warriors have access to a wide variety of Imperial patterns of infantry weaponry, artillery and armoured vehicles. This allows the Blood Pact to fight using the Imperial Guard's own sophisticated combined-arms tactics. Blood Pact armoured squadrons are generally inferior to those of the Imperial Guard, however, as they often have access only to the Urdeshi pattern STeG4 and AT70 Reaver light tanks, though they also possess a smaller number of the AT83 Brigand main battle tanks and even a handful of Baneblade super-heavy tanks which provide an unusually strong counterpunch for a Chaos Cult. The Blood Pact can also field a lighter variant of the Chaos Space Marines' Daemon Engine known as the Defiler that the Pact refers to as a Stalk-tank. Like their larger counterparts, Stalk-tanks move around on six piston-powered arachnid legs and are armed with mini-turrets containing twin-linked pulse lasers. Blood Pact armoured vehicles are ritualistically painted dull red using the spilled blood of their enemies and are inscribed with numerous heretical sigils and icons, including the Chaos Star and the Mark of Khorne. Blood Pact vehicles are often inscribed with savage Khornate slogans and festooned with human skulls and the bodies or flayed skins of dead Imperial soldiers.
In addition to their infantry and armour, the Blood Pact can also deploy psykers known as Gore Mages to face the forces of the Emperor. These Chaos Sorcerers can transform ordinary Blood Pact warriors into Daemonhosts, after which they metamorphose into the ferocious Lesser Daemons of the Blood God that are called Blood Wolves in the Sabbat Worlds. All Gore Mages radiate a constant aura of fear that affects even other Blood Pact members and all of their sorcerous powers require a certain amount of blood to be shed before they can be activated. The use of sorcery among a Khornate Chaos Cult is almost unprecedented in Imperial history and the Gore Mages' presence may be an indicator that Khorne is willing to overlook even some of his most sacred precepts to secure a victory for Chaos in the Sabbat Worlds.
Threat Index and Imperial Policy
The Blood Pact is a direct and grave military threat to Imperial security in the Segmentum Pacificus. Its disciplined and trained nature means that it represents the elite branch of the archenemy's host. Furthermore, concern must be expressed as to its increasing size. Urlock Gaur is a charismatic leader, and the Blood Pact is an aspirational order for many young warriors. The Blood Pact is also a painful object lesson as to how the primary skills and strengths of the noble Imperial Guard may be turned against the Imperium itself. Imperial military leaders are urged to suppress Blood Pact activity wherever it is found. The appearance of Blood Pact forces must be communicated at all costs to Fleet or sub-sector command, as it indicates a preplanned, tactical enemy action as opposed to a random uprising or raid.
The vile and heretical legions of Chaos are ordinarily a supreme menace to the Imperium of Man because of their bludgeoning ferocity and near numberless strengths. The Blood Pact is a rare example of a more precise and deliberate destructive force. Records also show that though the Pact show little quarter, they are more likely to attempt to turn and recruit Imperial soldiers (by force if necessary) than other Chaos forces.
A marked trait of the Blood Pact is its willingness to collaborate with xenos breeds and alien mercenaries from the outworlds and marches to achieve military objectives. Most notably, the Blood Pact often operates alongside non-human mercenaries called the Loxatl, using them as shock troops. The Loxatl are sinuous, non-humanoid quadrupeds evolved from amphibian forms. Slighter larger than a human, they are extremely swift and dexterous, and use large dew-claws to give them purchase on any surface, allowing them to run up walls and across ceilings. Out of water, the vision, hearing and smell of these grey-skinned aliens is dull, and they rely on powerful taste and vibration sensing to hunt and corner prey. The Loxatl use a weapon of alien design known as a flechette blaster. They carry these powerful weapons -- along with ammunition bandoliers -- on their torsos, mounted on mechanical armatures that fire the weapons via some unknown mind impulse device. This leaves a Loxatl's limbs free for climbing. The blasters fire deadly shot-bursts filled with millions of razor-sharp filaments that shred armour and cause grievous wounds in their target's flesh. Loxatl are believed to operate in small, brood group units of biological kin, communicating by vibration, subsonic calls and - when in close proximity - iridescent patterns that they are able to flash and move across their skins. Imperial Guardsmen have reported that nearby Loxatl activity can often be detected by a nauseating smell, a mix of rancid milk and crushed mint.
Notable Blood Pact Members
- Urlock Gaur - To the Blood Pact, the only personality of note is Urlock Gaur himself, for not only is he their warlord and commander-in-chief, but it is to him personally that they pledge themselves forever in blood. Gaur sometimes leads the massed Pact forces himself, but so tight is its discipline, and so great his faith in it, he is happy to charge divisions to the command of senior officers or other warlords.
- Anakwanar Sek - Anakwanar Sek was a formidable and notorious Magister of the Forces of Chaos who served under both Archon Nadzybar and Archon Urlock Gaur during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade. Anakwanar Sek was responsible for the creation of the elite Chaotic warband known as the Sons of Sek.
- Enok Innokenti - Enok served as one of Gaur's trusted demagogue lieutenants.
- Vesh Etogaur - Vesh Etogaur (the second word possibly indicative of rank, as in "demi-gaur" or colonel). Under his strict command, his forces demonstrated brutal efficiency during the battle of the Akkorite Peninsula on Belshiir Binary in 771.M41, when they lay in baking heat for three days without faltering or breaking line until the Imperial Guard unit had moved into the cone of their ambush. Not one Guardsman survived the brutal slaughter.
Sons of Sek
Magister Anakwanar Sek, one of the Archon Urlock Gaur's closest subordinates, forged his own Chaos warband and based it on the model of the Blood Pact, and they are known as the Sons of Sek. While still relatively new to the war for the Sabbat Worlds, initial reports indicate that the Sons of Sek may, in fact, be superior in combat to their Blood Pact cousins. In addition to being of larger, stockier build, the Sons are also equipped with higher-quality gear and weapons. The Sons are also better motivated and led, and even include an officer similar to an Imperial Commissar, known as a "Scourger", to maintain discipline and morale. This is something that even the unusually-disciplined Blood Pact lacks. The Sons of Sek were created not only to fight against the Imperium, but also to serve as Magister Sek's vanguard for when he eventually attempts to overthrow the Gaur and assume the position of Archon over all the Forces of Chaos in the Sabbat Worlds Sector.
Most, if not all of the Sons of Sek's initial training took place on the Chaos-occupied world of Gereon, and they were first encountered by the Gereon Resistance. They later played a major role in defending that world from the Imperial liberation force. The Sons were trained and equipped, in large part, due to the intelligence provided by the ex-Blood Pact officer Mabbon Etogaur, and the captured Imperial Lord Militant General Noches Sturm, who eventually defected to the service of Chaos in general and the Sons of Sek in particular. Sturm later repented his actions and, in lieu of being executed by Ibram Gaunt, chose to take his own life to regain his honour.
- Sabbat Worlds Crusade (Background Book) by Dan Abnett, pp. 80-81
- White Dwarf Magazine 293 (UK), "Index Malleus - The Blood Pact," by Dan Abnett, pp. 96-99
- Traitor General (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- The Guns of Tanith (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Blood Pact (Novel) by Dan Abnett
- Blood Pact (Wayback Machine Capture)