For the past few years I have been finding 'one-liners' on 'other' alien races from all of the 40K codices & books and developing them into their own Index Xenos articles (and then modeling them into 40K 'alternate' armies - with extensive modeling blogs). I thought that they would make good material for 'alternate aliens' for Rogue Traders and decided to share them here. Most of the work is mine - and where I have copied stuff from GW it is meant as a tribute only. I hope I put this in the right place? The first aliens were the K'Nib - and they're still my favourite.
By Lachlan Abrahams
“What makes these bipedal monkeys so afraid of us?”
Alcayde Silthvrene, Moon 898
The K’Nib are the most vile of Xenos to behold – tall, arachnid-like beings with scything fangs dripping with acidic Venom. Their carapace or chitin is incredibly hard, able to withstand substantial damage. Their limbs end in spear-tip points which are able to punch the hardest armour with ease. Due to their metabolism and use of their spear-like limbs, they are capable of scaling the most precarious of surfaces. Of their eight limbs, four are used for mobility whilst the upper four are usually used for fine manipulation, but are also used in vertical movement. They possess incredibly hardy physiologies, capable of processing atmospheres with very little oxygen and other toxic substances, the K’Nib are even capable of surviving in the void of space for several hours. The K’Nib make no use of clothing, often fixing necessary equipment to their carapace though adhesive spittle.
As the K’Nib age they loose much of their preternatural speed, but grow steadily stronger and tougher. The K’Nib have several other arachnid-like qualities also producing acidic venom through their mouth parts which, whilst generally not fatal in small amounts, they spit at opponents as they charge. They also have spinnerets at the bottom of their abdomen which produce a fine silk – Silk farming by the Imperium using lobotomised K’Nib has however proved unsuccessful.
The K’Nib do not reproduce sexually, instead breeding ‘females’ known as Alcaydes exchange genetic information by producing a waxy globule which they sometimes share in a communion like fashion. Alcaydes frequently greet another Alcayde by exchanging these waxy morsels – in fact delegates from one K’Nib planet have been known to travel to other K’Nib planets to exchange this wax in order to preserve their genetic diversity. Radical Xenos researchers suggest that this wax is also able to transmit messages that can only be accessed by the Alcaydes – though such ridiculous rumour mongering has been harshly dealt with.
This reliance on a few breeding individuals would seem to present a perfect opportunity for culling the Xenos numbers considerably. Unfortunately however, the K’Nib are still capable of breeding in absence (or destruction) of all their Alcaydes – any non-breeding K’Nib can transmute themselves into a breeding Alcayde in the absence of an Alcayde.
Ordo Xenos researchers have identified over the past few millennia that broods of K’Nib appear to be developing ‘skull-like’ markings on their bodies – these markings are believed to be ‘threat/warnings’ against Humans who have become the major ‘predator’ of the species.
Often know as the festering K’Nib, they are indeed a loathsome species. Despite existing in a universe of loathsome Xenos, the K’Nib are universally hated by all races. Research shows that K’Nib cause a similar reaction of revulsion in almost all know species. Whether this ability is a minor psychic manifestation of perhaps the festering K’Nib trigger some ancestral memory is unknown. Other research indicates that it is perhaps the universal urge to ‘crush the arachnid’ that may be the cause.
This ‘ability’ is rather unfortunate – If one could suppress all their senses to fight back the revulsion that the K’Nib install in every being, that being would find that there is truth behind the cliché of ‘the friendly monster’. The K’Nib are an industrious and calm species, more than happy to share the universe with other species. Their fleets will often go out of their way to come to the aid of stricken ships – only to have those same ships open fire on them in fear. The foul Xenos will exhaust all avenues of diplomacy before going to war, but once committed to that course of action are grim and unfailing in its execution – firm in the knowledge that they have done everything possible to avoid the conflict.
A brood has a number of dominant beings, called Alcaydes who lay their larvae in spawning pools. Remarkably prolific, a single Alcayde is able to spawn several thousand larvae in a single year if necessary. The non-breeding K’Nib will then heap the spawning pools with rotting corpses and offal. Surprisingly even K’Nib corpses are also respectfully placed into the spawning pools to raise the next generation of K’Nib. In K’Nib settlements the stink of death is inescapable and to human eyes resembles a butcher’s yard left to the crows – hence the title, the ‘Festering K’Nib’. As they mature the larvae then sprout legs and leave the spawning pools as swarms of “K’Niblets’. These K’Niblets regularly return to the spawning pools for nutrition but are now able to function as an active part of the K’Nib society.
The original home world of the K’Nib has yet to be discovered by the Imperium. Its location, or the history of its location, has either been long forgotten by the K’Nib or is a closely guarded secret kept by the highest leaders of their race. Many K’Nib specimens interrogated by Adeptus Mechanicus have referred to the whole of the galaxy as their birthright - though apparently they are more than content to live peacefully beside all other alien species (however, of all the vile races in existence, none have been found that can stomach the K’Nib’s appearance or behaviour).
First official contact with the K’Nib was reported in M24 by Rogue Trader Xerxes Varl who was returning to a remote human ‘non-imperialised’ outpost. The K’Nib had just colonised the planet and were in dispute with the local humans about desecration of burial sites. Rogue Trader Xerxes Varl was able to request support from a nearby expansion crusade – the world was pacified and all tainted beings on the planet exterminated.
The Adeptus Mechanicus were able to match the specimens taken from the expedition with several other samples from various points around the galaxy taken in the previous millennia – and so ordered the investigation of the potentially galaxy spanning species. It was also noted during this time that many K’Nib had been identified on pacified worlds, but were thought only be local wildlife – scavengers feasting upon the bodies of the fallen on the massive battlefields. Radical Xenos researchers have theorised that the expansion of the Imperium provided the K’Nib with the bodies and salvaged materials to exponentially increase their colonisation of the stars.
The K’Nib are masters of acidic venom which they use in most of their weaponry. Settlements are often defended by system-wide clouds of acidic mines. However they are also known to make use of dark technologies that harness the unstable power of the Warp to power their alien technology.
Their technology is believed to be less advanced than that used by the Imperium – In fact many of their technological advancements seem to have been gained by the sacrilegious act of reverse engineering Imperial Technology. It is suspected that this technology has been acquired by the K’Nib through heretical Rogue Traders and Imperial settlements. Certainly their protection of their colony ships by swarms of space fighters, closely resembling the Imperial Thunderbolt fighter, is highly disturbing. These space fighters have been further modified into warp capable messenger boats!
The K’Nib colony ships are vast modular ships used to transport a brood of Alcayde and retinue to a new world to set up a new colony. The first priority of the Alcaydes will be to set up a manufacturing base when they will disassemble the colony ship and then replicate each module several times. By the time the settlement has reached a large enough size the Alcaydes will each spawn several Alcayde Larvae – these larvae will take their place on the new colony ships to start their own colony. This ‘planet-hopping’ colonisation process has been remarkably effective! Xenos researchers indicate this spawning period can take as little as five to ten years depending upon the manufacturing capability of the newly colonised planet and the supply of corpses for the spawning pools.
In war the K’Nib are typically led by an Alcayde with a retinue of young Cidae. The Cidae are in their first decade of adulthood and rely on their natural stealth as hunters and their species’ natural strength. An Alcayde and their retinue of Cidae avoid the use of ranged weapons preferring to close with the enemy. It was this reliance on stealth and close combat that first made Imperial researchers believe that the species was much less advanced as is now believed to be the case.
The K’Nib seem to loose much of their speed and combat effectiveness as they age. These older and more experienced K’Nib form units of Mordax. Mordax wield heavy projectile weapons known by Imperial Troops as Multi-Launchers and Acid Launchers which are able to fire a fusillade of acidic rounds into the foe. Even the elderly K’Nib (known as Ordgarius) have a place in war, crewing Acid Mine Launchers, larger mortar like weapons which launch hovering acid mines into the foe from a distance.
Whilst the vast majority of K’Nib train to defend their broods, two subspecies of the K’Nib appear to have also been specifically genetically engineered for war - the Misgolas and the Apocrita.
The Misgolas are martially superior to other K’Nib and are also augmented with alien bionics, enhancing their terrifying abilities. Though they have a lighter carapace than other K’Nib, their chameleon like qualities enhancing their hunting ability, allowing them to range far ahead of the K’Nib brood, disrupting the foe and reaping a harvest of corpses for the Larvae. It is theorised that only the Misgolas are incapable of become a breeding Alcayde – a sacrifice that is greatly honoured and feared by the K’Nib.
Another second aberration amongst the K’Nib, the Apocrita are said to be the shaman/technicians of the K’Nib. These are thought to be the psychers of the race, infusing their bodies with dark technologies to wield the power of the Warp. It is hypothesised by radical researchers that the K’Nib’s ability to the Warp is much more limited, and therefore stable, than the techniques of the Imperium. The vast majority of sanctioned Xenos researchers suggest that the K’Nib’s utilization of the warp is proof of an ultimately more sinister agenda. The powers of the Apocrita are primarily to steer the race’s colony ships through the warp, but also have practical battlefield capabilities – shielding the Apocrita and allowing it to send bolts of the warp into the foe. The Apocrita are surrounded by a disturbing warp ‘ion’ field which confuses and disrupts the senses. Battlefield observations have also reported Apocrita crewing their race’s work-harness or ‘Tholus’ in battle, armed with ranged weaponry.
Whilst the adult K’Nib are fearful opponents in war, the K’Nib also use swarms of their young K’Niblets – a sight which causes revulsion amongst most other alien races. It has been observed that K’Niblets are able to regenerate massive damage to their new bodies and throw themselves into any situation with reckless abandon. In this way the K’Niblets are able to learn the art of war and yet survive the experience (and those that don’t; participate in the natural selection process). Still relatively clumsy, not having achieved their martial height as Cidae, the K’Niblets are capable of great leaps despite their diminutive size – this leap surprises many foes who see the ‘carpet’ of spiders as a slow moving threat! Such a tactic however is only ever used in dire circumstances.
Threat Index and Imperial Policy
The noisome K’Nib are unfortunately common throughout the Imperium, Imperial Xenos have recently concluded a detailed logistic study of their numbers in the Donorian Sector (a small cross section of Segmentum Ultima), having declared the sector ‘in plague’ and petitioned for a crusade to cull the K'Nib numbers.
Fortunately, all alien species view the K’Nib as repulsive – even the Tau, it is reported, having recently come in contact with the species, are having extraordinary difficulty setting up diplomatic relationships. The water caster refusing a second meeting. Original estimate cogitations cautioned against K’Nib and Ork alliances, however it was discovered the Orks take special glee in attacking K’Nib colonies, whilst the K’Nib seem quite adept at harvesting Ork spore to compost in their spawning pools. Other minor species such as the Clawed Fiends of the Donorian Sector have been recorded fighting besides the K’Nib – however this cooperation may have been forced due to the Imperial anti-Xenos Cull in this sector.
It is interesting that whilst many estimate cogitations have suggested that the K’Nib have spawning practices similar to the Tyranid menace – the K’Nib maintain a special loathing for the Tyranids. Settlements of K’Nib have been known to detonate fusion devices to incinerate themselves rather than be absorbed by the voracious Tyranids.
Whilst Imperial policy on all Xenos is that they are anathema, the only species that seems capable of dealing with them is in fact humans. Despite several cleansings of collaborators, many pirates continue to trade with the noisome species. Commonly known as ‘Corpse-runners’, many human freighter captains continue to trade shiploads of human dead with the K’Nib every year.
The last recorded major battle between the Imperium and the K’Nib was on the Imperial world of Assumptus V which had been ‘squatted’ on by an entire over-brood lead by one of the foul races most repulsive leaders, a High Alcayde. Several Imperial Guard Regiments commanded by Brother Artemis leading elements of the Adeptus Astartes ‘Deathwatch’ routed the K’Nib armies and purged the Xenos taint from the world. The Kaslon Regiment was recommended several times (varying from valour, bravery, diligence & fervour in pursuing the Emperor’s edicts) in dispatches from the commander – a consignment of over two thousand various awards await their emergence from a five year quarantine period.
A K’Nib Settlement
A typical scene in a K’Nib settlement would contain a central marketplace inhabited by the giant spider-like beings discussing in their whispering tongue the latest production achievement in the latest colony ship construction, strengths of various acids and venoms as well as the capricious nature of the swarms of K’Niblets these days. Here and there K’Nib at rest will idle away the time by skilfully carving body art into the chitin of another. At a medical tent a K’Nib has a crack in their exoskeleton sealed and smoothed by a special combination of ceramics and K’Nib spittle. Swarms of K’Niblets scurry underfoot or crawl overhead, eager to be included in the adult’s culture.
Over by the spawning pools some K’Nib carers sing to the spawning pools of larvae. Other K’Nib carers scatter swarms of persistent K’Niblets returning to feed. An Alcayde patiently sits in a new spawning pool laying a new batch of Larvae as her attendants bring her a gift of genetic wax from a recently docked messenger boat from an Alcayde several hundred light years away. As she chews on the waxy morsel she catches up on the gossip of the distant settlement though the meal – learning to her surprise that another species called the Tau have recently approached the settlement with messages of peaceful co-existence. Unfortunately the waxy message continues saying that only the first meeting was held and then the Tau withdrew.
Nearby, tents of earthen coloured silk hide the settlement’s work trenches. In one trench a vast production line of K’Niblets work, under the watchful eye of an Apocrita – the races’ strange mechanical adepts and psychers. A K’Nib instructor plays an eerie tune on pan-pipes made from K’Nib leg exoskeleton, teaching the working K’Niblets with the whispering song.
At a field nearby another Alcayde instructs a retinue of young ‘Cidae’ K’Nib in close combat techniques, and congratulates one of her students on a six meter venom spit. Older Mordax, fix weapons to their carapace with adhesive spittle before practicing with their multi-launchers and acid launchers at a range nearby. Elderly Ordgarius, watch the martial display commenting on the lack of accuracy of the Mordax these days, spinning silk from their spinnerets to be used in insulation of their colony ships, manufacturing solar sails and a thousand other uses.
In the distance an Alcayde dickers with a human trader, suited in a fully enclosed ship’s suit despite the warm summer air. They negotiate over a shipload of salvage from a recent imperial purge – the human, despite being obviously uncomfortable near the K’Nib is eager to trade for the K’Nib silk. An Apocrita crewing a massive work-harness or ‘Tholus’ watches the transaction with disinterest. Ordgarius diligently crew a battery of Acid Mine Launchers near the landing field – their caution a product of frequent human treachery.
In the mountains above the settlement a squadron of K’Nib space fighters stand by in hidden hangers. Outside a squadron of ‘Portia’ on flat hovering platforms fly past on patrol. Surrounding the secret installation, several swarms of K’Niblets squat in the bushes – eager for battle, despite their lesson being one of protection. Watching over the young and foolish K’Niblets from cover is a terrifying, ghostly Misgolas. Ever wary in defence of the Brood, the Misgolas scythes its mouthparts together as it samples the air.
During our sweep of Moons 698 to 898 we discovered a large K’Nib settlement and immediately engaged them with our forward units. These were beaten back with heavy losses. The K’Nib offered to send emissaries which were ignored. They even sent a messenger boat which was promptly destroyed. Despite the K’Nib suggesting a 20 hour ceasefire our second assault went in – and was soundly beaten back. Their counter assault was overwhelming. Despite the loss of three Imperial Guard regiments, I believe it is important to continue the assault against this hideous foe. Please find attached to this message an urgent request for reinforcements.
Prefect Marlain, Moon 898, Gideon Sector, Segmentum Pacificus
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