"Snakes that try to act and dress like men—how could anyone trust such a creature?"
- —Arch Militant Kestral Overmears
The Sslyth are a sentient xenos race of reptilian creatures with a snake-like lower body and vaguely humanoid torso, though they sport multiple arms and a head more serpentine than human.
These four-armed, serpentine monstrosities hail from a world long lost to the caress of She Who Thirsts, yet their short-sighted and self-indulgent nature makes them safe enough for the Drukhari to exploit.
All but inured to physical pain, and happy to be paid in slaves and sensory gratification, these alien warriors make excellent, if dull-witted bodyguards.
Sslyth in the Expanse
"Forget it, trooper. I can't tell you what that creature was. There are more horrors in this galaxy than anyone can explain. There are more terrors than anyone can imagine. Just focus on surviving the next battle. Don't let the monsters in your mind distract you from the ones in front of you."
- —Lieutenant Shaima Dreko to Private Kshir Ebb, last survivor of Squad Theta
The Sslyth are intelligent and most xenologists believe they can understand and even communicate in various languages. They have been known to work with other xenos species, especially the enigmatic Aeldari.
When questioned about the Sslyth, the Aeldari however do not discuss them or any bargains they have made with them. Some more infamous Imperial trader captains have been reported to be trying to hire Sslyth as mercenaries, but as far as anyone knows, none have as yet succeeded.
Given the nature of the Koronus Expanse, though, it is very possible these captains have kept the matters as private as possible, lest the actions of their xenos employees be traced back to them. The Sslyth would make excellent hired fighters if such a bargain could be struck, as they are tenacious in combat, seemingly able to disregard enemy distractions as they go about their duty.
Many explorers in the region hold that this could be the result of conditioning programs implanted by their masters, but others who have watched the creatures in action hold their behaviour more resembles that of debauched addicts, too fallen to their excesses to mark what happens around them.
The Sslyth have been found on several different planets and regions in the Expanse, usually in small packs of no more than six, but occasionally larger groups have been sighted as well. If they are seen with any technology, it is always of another species' make.
They seem to prefer the vicious shard weapons favoured by the Drukhari, but it is unknown if this indicates they are a subservient race to those cruel xenos or simply have greater access to their weapons. There are also no records of actual Sslyth voidcraft either, and many xenologists hold the Sslyth can only travel through the stars at the whim of their employers.
Storytellers in the Expanse tell that the Sslyth are an ancient xenos culture that fell to darkness long ago, but then that is a common way to speak of almost every xenos race in these unlawful regions. There are those who speak of the Sslyth in the same breath as the Rak'Gol and whisper their name alongside such foul things as the Yu'vath, but this would seem an overly aggressive assessment of the threat they pose.
Though there are few properly documented accounts, the Sslyth seem to function as dedicated fighters, well able to defend their employers in combat. Several pic-captures show them using multiple weapons at the same time and even reloading one weapon whilst firing another.
In close-quarters fighting, their extra limbs can wield several barbed swords in a whirling shield of blades that few can penetrate. Most importantly, they are either well-paid or extremely loyal; some accounts have them fiercely holding ground to allow their masters to safely escape a conflict.
There is little data concerning the race's origins, or how they came to be in the Koronus Expanse. To date they have not been sighted in the Calixis Sector, though it is very possible that none have survived such encounters to report them. Their presence in this area, like their motivations, remains yet another mystery of the Expanse.
Anatomy and Physiology
This xenos has two pairs of strong arms which work independently of one another, meaning a Sslyth has a great deal of dexterity and can even use multiple weapons at the same time. Sslyth are hairless and covered with thick, iridescent scales, and while the head is vaguely human there are no visible signs of ears outside of a small hole on each side of the Sslyth's head. The creature has large, wide-set eyes and instead of a nose, it has a pair of nasal pits.
The Sslyth's lipless mouth holds a set of huge fangs that protrude from the upper jaw, along with a host of smaller sharpened teeth. A thin forked tongue flickers from its mouth, constantly tasting the air for prey. The senses of the Sslyth are overall quite advanced, displaying a far better sense of smell than humans, but with less-developed hearing.
The Sslyth's lower body provides locomotion, with wide flat scales that allow the creature to grip the ground and pull itself along. They can move quickly and with good speed over most types of terrain, and their multiple arms along with their lengthy torso allow them to climb rapidly when needed. The scales are larger on its back and sides, and the roughly textured arms host strong hands able to easily crush a man.
- Codex: Dark Eldar (5th Edition), pg. 35
- Codex: Dark Eldar (7th Edition), pp. 44-45, 94, 143-145
- Codex: Drukhari (8th Edition), pg. 51
- Only War: Enemies of the Imperium (RPG), pp. 82-83
- Rogue Trader: Koronus Bestiary (RPG), pp. 91-92