The Zoat are an ancient, reptilian and centauroid alien species that was enslaved or specially engineered as bioconstructs by the Tyranids and incorporated into the multitudes of subservient bioforms that serve the Hive Mind.
They were used as Tyranid "diplomats" since they were more capable of the intelligent thought, logic, linguistics and diplomacy that the other, more animalistic Tyranid species did not engage in.
The use of such alien ambassadors was seen as a good way for the Hive Mind to scout out new species and determine how useful their incorporation into the Tyranid genome would be for the Tyranids' never-ending quest to further their own evolution.
Despite their creation by the Tyranids, Zoats who were able to escape the psychic influence of the Hive Mind could pursue their own, independent agendas, unlike other, non-sentient Tyranid bioforms.
Eventually, the Zoat ceased to be of use to the Hive Mind, and the species was eventually no longer created within the Tyranid fleets by the late 41st Millennium, vanishing from Imperial records for generations.
Though the aliens have been observed in groups on a handful of occasions, most sightings concern single, nomadic individuals, and no evidence of a Zoat homeworld or population centre yet exists.
If the Zoats are working to some inscrutable common agenda, the actions of each specimen keep any such plan a mystery; each appears to serve only their own ends. All that seems to link their current actions is a recurrent interest in obtaining rare technological artefacts.
Zoats were an ancient alien species that were most likely enslaved by the Tyranids and incorporated into their ranks or may have been engineered by the Hive Mind to serve a specific function, similar to other bioconstructs like the Genestealers.
The Tyranids adapted the Zoat's natural abilities and used them primarily to understand and communicate with various other intelligent species encountered by the Tyranid swarms that were not a part of the Hive Mind.
The Zoat were capable of assimilating information about other species' languages and psychology with stunning speed, making rapid and accurate leaps in their comprehension of alien creatures.
Due to this innate capability for understanding the subtlest nuances of facial and body language, the Zoat were remarkably charismatic and enigmatic creatures who were able to convey more meaning in a look or gesture than a native of the same culture could manage in a sentence.
Although they were a slave race, the Zoat were useful to the Tyranid hive fleets and were often used to subvert members of other alien races to bring them under the control of the Hive Mind, leading them against those who tried to resist the Tyranids. In keeping with this role, the Zoat were bio-engineered to be tremendously strong warriors with thick, horned hides.
Driven forward by their four powerful legs, a charging Zoat was like an organic battering ram of hide and muscle, their sheer speed and momentum keeping them moving forward even when mortally wounded. In hand-to-hand combat a Zoat could crush most opponents in seconds, proving to other races the awesome power of the Tyranids.
Although they are a slave race, Zoats often occupy important positions within the hive fleets, with certain individuals gaining great power over the other bioforms.
Rebellion by Zoat from Tyranid control was extemely rare but not unknown, due to the Tyranids' naturally secreting a special "slave-hormone" which suppressed the Zoats' natural sense of independence and kept them docile servants under the Hive Mind's psychic control. This same hormone also suppresses the psychic talent that approximately half of Zoats may develop when they are uncontrolled.
However, renegade Zoats did exist throughout the universe, where they had broken away from the hive fleets or had become lost during scouting or exploration missions.
Without the inhibiting influence of the Tyranid slave-hormone, the Zoat were able to develop strong psychic abilities. The range of these independent Zoat communities was incredibly diverse, with small groups isolated from each other on widely scattered planets across the galaxy.
Other independent Zoats may find themselves employed as mercenaries, however rare. Aeldari corsairs favour Zoat mercenaries, due to their antipathy to Orks and due to the general Aeldari disdain for Humans. These Zoats, whether abandoned by the Hive Mind or escaped from their Tyranid masters, have little choice but to fight for whoever pays best and complains the least.
Once the most common of the Tyranids' many specially-engineered bioconstruct slave races, Zoats were unlike most of the Tyranids' assimilated worker-creatures since they maintained their mental independence of the Hive Mind and were therefore often used by the Tyranids as a type of ambassador. Hence it was Zoats that were the first members of the Tyranid species to make contact with the Imperium of Man.
Retrospective accounts speak of a species, assumed to be Zoats, having first made contact with the Imperium as early as the late 38th Millennium.
A Tyranid hive fleet of centauroid aliens travelling aboard semi-organic spacecraft, now designated Hive Fleet Colossus as these aliens called themselves the "Colossi," attempted to enter Imperial space from the Eastern Fringe and were sighted in the Ultima Segmentum and as deep into Imperial space as the Segmentum Tempestus.
When contacted by Imperial forces, they claimed they were escaping oppression by an unknown xenos race.
It is clear now that the Zoats may not have declared their true intentions, nor the intentions of their real masters.
Alternatively, it is possible that the Colossi spoke the truth, and that as the hive fleets evolved, the Zoats became a less useful tool, their free thought no longer of much utility.
Many of the Zoats, sensing that they were soon to reach the end of their use to the Hive Mind, staged a rebellion. It quickly was crushed, and the rebel Zoats were purged from the Hive Mind's forces.
Those who survived fled ahead of the main hive fleets, and made up that first hive fleet to reach the Imperium. They were soon trapped between their former masters and their new aggressors who saw them as an invading alien force. Being warlike by nature, they typically reacted in kind, and so ultimately set themselves against the Imperium regardless.
These Colossi were unique in their ability to communicate telepathically and arm themselves with what is now recognised as Tyranid biomorph weaponry, albeit doing so caused them great pain. Due to their frequent contact with other alien races and their attempts to settle in Imperial space, the Colossi were declared Xenos Horribilis by the Senatorum Imperialis in the early 39th Millennium.
The Colossi eventually turned upon Imperial forces and were supposedly destroyed in 226.M39 above the world of Zorastra after the fleet provoked the Zorastra-Attila War or during the Helican Crusade, but there are rumours that it has risen once more.
Eventually, as the Tyranids became a more common sight in the Milky Way Galaxy after the invasion of Hive Fleet Behemoth in the late 41st Millennium, the Zoats were no longer seen outside the ranks of the Tyranids.
Their sightings became less and less frequent, and they appear to have been entirely absent from the assault by Hive Fleet Leviathan in 997.M41.
The Zoat attempted to persuade the Space Marines of the virtues of the Hive Mind and to impede their progress into the Hive Ship.
When its attempt at subterfuge failed, it immediately charged the Imperial Fists squad before being killed by their bolter fire.
By the dawn of the Era Indomitus in the early 42nd Millennium, the Zoats had been all but absent from the galaxy for generations.
However, a Zoat known as The Archivist appeared to Imperial agents aboard the ramshackle void station called Precipice, which existed to serve as a base for expeditions sent to explore and plunder the nearby Seventh Blackstone Fortress.
Presenting itself as a data trader, the Archivist offered to help quell a region of the Blackstone Fortress known as "the Seethe" that was comprised of constantly shifting matter.
Within that region of the fortress, the Archivist identified an ancient Zoat spacecraft and a relic within it known as the Grayl Intulia -- which would give its bearer a measure of control over the Seethe's riotous turbulence and grant access to areas otherwise impassable.
Once it collected a large personal cache of archeotech artefacts, the Archivist abandoned its fellow explorers, which trapped them in the heart of the Seventh Blackstone Fortress.
The Archivist now roams the galaxy as a free agent, salvaging other technological relics amidst the anarchy that has consumed the Milky Way since the opening of the Great Rift.
Anatomy and Physiology
The Zoat shared the same six-limbed structure as those of the Tyranid Warrior bioform and most other Tyranid species, probably an evolved bioconstruct created using the Tyranid's own genetic material.
Their form is likely derived from the native creatures of the lost Tyranid homeworld in whatever remote galaxy they originated.
Physically, the Zoats are centauroid, appearing similar to the centaurs of ancient Human myth with two muscular arms and no visible mouths, though they were clearly reptilian in nature.
The two manipulative and strong frontal limbs provide Zoats the means to wield a variety of weapons. Zoats may subsist on anything, but their largely subsist on a daily diet of three reconstituted proteins based on woven biscuits called Zoatibix.
Only their upper arms are used to carry or manipulate objects; the lower two limbs are used only for locomotion and have horny toes like those of a Terran rhino.
When cut off from the Hive Mind and granted mental independence, approximately half of Zoats developed psychic abilities.
They had thick, scaly hides that could be used as armour plating by other species and tremendous strength which made them deadly in melee combat.
Zoats make use of all manners of bio-technology to survive in diverse environments throughout the galaxy, including genetically-engineered augmentations to their metabolic and musculoskeletal systems. Atomospheric breather masks and synthetic organs are also used to enable digestion of alien proteins.
It may be that the Hive Mind found these creatures' usefulness to be less than it had imagined, for the Zoat have been rarely seen by the Imperium or the other intelligent races of the Milky Way Galaxy since the early years of the Tyranid invasion almost 300 Terran years ago.
In recent times, the hive fleets have sought only to absorb more bio-mass, not conduct diplomacy.
Zoats are a highly intelligent and technologically advanced alien species. They are capable of manipulating other life forms through the use of arcane devices and diplomatic subterfuge.
While the agenda and true nature of the Zoats remains inscrutable, the common link between their actions is their recurrent interest in obtaining advanced technological artefacts. Besides the technology they may acquire or craft, Zoats are also capable of interfacing with standard Tyranid biomorphs.
The Zoats rely on bio-technology to survive in diverse environments across the galaxy, using all manner of augmentations to support their metabolic and musculoskeletal systems. From atmospheric breather masks to synthetic organs that enable the digestion of alien proteins, these diverse enhancements are added to and upgraded throughout a Zoat's long lifespan.
The most terrifying of these technologies are the psychic resonators through which the Zoats communicate, allowing them to implant messages telepathically, directly into the minds of others.
Combined with their naturally manipulative and diplomatic talents, these devices enable Zoats to install themselves as ambassadors, power brokers and data traders on the lawless frontiers of Imperial space, such as at the void station of Precipice near the Seventh Blackstone Fortress.
Even in places where Imperial authority is stronger, Zoats have been known to spread their influence by proxy, weaving webs of coercion until they have given themselves considerable power.
- The Archivist - The Zoat known as the Archivist first crossed paths with Imperial agents on the space station Precipice, where species of many kinds gather and plan expeditions into the Seventh Blackstone Fortress that looms nearby. Even amongst the diverse populace of Precipice, the creature stood out, its large reptilian body and bio-technological augmentations unlike anything else seen on the station. Presenting itself as a data trader, the Archivist approached a group of explorers, offering an opportunity to quell the roiling chaos in an area of the Blackstone Fortress known as "the Seethe" -- a barely navigable region of constantly shifting matter. There the Archivist had identified fragments of an ancient Zoat spacecraft and, ever driven by the desire for precious archeotech, had resolved to salvage the remnants of the vessel before they were lost to the churning maelstrom. Crucial to its plan was another Zoat relic, the Grayl Intulia, which would give its bearer a measure of control over the Seethe's riotous turbulence and grant access to areas otherwise impassable. Once the remains of the Zoat ship had been reclaimed with the explorers' aid, the Archivist pledged that it would calm the upheaval of the Seethe permanently. In truth, the Archivist's proposals were just one facet of a much wider manipulation that affected many different exploring parties on Precipice and prompted several ventures into the Blackstone Fortress - some successful, others disastrous. Once the duplicitous Zoat had stockpiled a large personal cache of artefacts, it disappeared, leaving many promises unfulfilled and many hapless allies trapped in the maddening depths of the fortress. The Archivist now roams as a free agent, capitalising on the laxity of regional authorities and salvaging relics amidst the anarchy that has proliferated in the age of the Cicatrix Maledictum. Wherever it encounters the operatives of other intelligent species, the Zoat draws upon all of its technology and intellect to disrupt their activities or mould them to its purposes, particularly when rare archeotech is at stake. Those the Archivist cannot coerce in this way soon find themselves facing much more hostile methods, as the creature will not hesitate to engage its formidable Atomic Disassembler or Eradicator Glove to destroy all who resist its manipulations.
- The Forerunner - The Forerunner is the Zoat whose spacecraft was discovered aboard the Seventh Blackstone Fortress. Another Zoat named the Archivist later duped a group of explorers into recovering the spacecraft's remains and the archeotech within for it, but what became of the Forerunner is not known.
The Zorastra-Attilla Wars between the Colossi and the Imperium is likely alluding to the Zoats, as the name of the war can be abbreviated to ZOAT Wars.
The protein-rich biscuits that constitute the Zoat diet are known as Zoatibix according to the 1st Edition Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader rulebook, which is likely a pun on the protein-rich British breakfast cereal known as Weetabix.
- Advanced Space Crusade (Board Game), pp. 57-59
- Blackstone Fortress: Deadly Alliance (Specialty Game) (Cover Image)
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 19
- Codex: Tyranids (4th Edition), pg. 25
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pg. 31
- Space Marine (Novel) by Ian Watson, Ch. 20
- Tyranid Attack (Board Game), pp. 18-20
- Warhammer 40,000 Chapter Approved - The Book of the Astronomican (1st Edition), pg. 101
- Warhammer 40,000: Gladius, Relics of War (PC Game), "Zoat Hide Jerkin" (In-game item)
- Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader (1st Edition), pp. 202-203
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 166
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 198
- White Dwarf 145 (US), "Tyranids" by Andy Chambers and Jervis Johnson, pp. 36-52
- White Dwarf 452 (March 2020), pp. 46-48
- Warhammer Community - From Aelves to Zoats - Previews from the Las Vegas Open 2020 (Miniature Image)
- Warhammer Community - Blackstone Fortress: Return of the Zoat
- Wayback Machine web archive: Games Workshop website, Forgotten Fleets, Xenos of Hive Fleet Colossus