Cabal Master Post
ALL CREDIT TO POST GOES TO U/Drexodthegunslinger
This document shall be a Master Post with regards to the Cabal Empire, their origins, motives, structure, and any other information found about them. Since there is very little in the game and in its lore about the Empire some points here will be based on speculation and deduction. These points will be explained and supported where possible. At all times, reader theories or ideas are welcome so please leave them as messages through Tumblr’s IM or in the submissions box of drexodthegunslinger.tumblr.com Thank you.
Firstly, let us look at the structure of the Cabal Empire. Whilst our understanding at the moment is minimal, we can safely deduce that they are based on the Roman Empire. We know this because of some of the names used. The standard infantry unit of the Cabal is the Legionary, and in the Roman Empire a Legionary was a Roman citizen. Each cohort in the Roman Empire was led by a Centurion, another troop we see in the Cabal’s ranks. Ten Cohorts alongside 120 cavalry troops made up a Legion in the Roman Empire.
As the Legionaries formed the backbone of the Roman Empire, Axillaries had to provide specialist roles such as archers or cavalry. Auxiliary troops were troops recruited throughout the Empire but were not Roman citizens. In the Cabal’s case this would apply to the Psion’s since we know they are a different race to the Cabal. This is evident from their appearance, both in size and abilities. To further support the idea that Psion’s are in fact a slave race or auxiliary troops, it is stated in Destiny’s Lore; “Psion’s are smaller than all other Cabal morphs, and may be an unrelated species.” (Grimoire Card: Psion)
The term Phalanx, with regards to military science, is seen as a tactical formation consisting of a block of heavily armed infantry standing shoulder to shoulder in files several ranks deep (Britannica.com). As Britannica.com goes on to explain the history behind the Phalanx formation we can see one main consistency; the front line of the formation all carried shields of some sort, whether the large, rectangular type used by the ancient Sumerian army, or the rounded shield used by the ancient Greek Hoplites.
The Roman Empire found the Phalanx formation useful at first when fighting in the plains of Latium, and remained in use until near the end of the 2nd Century BC where it was then replaced with the more flexible Legion structure.
It is no surprise that the Phalanx unit within the Cabal Empire then, is equipped with such a large and heavy shield. However, it is worth noting that they are depicted in the Grimoire as being more of a support unit by providing protection (Grimoire Card: Cabal 3, Cabal Shield, Crimson Days, The Taken Phalanx, Phalanx). As the Grimoire Cards imply, specifically in “Cabal 3” where it is stated that a maniple of Phalanx troops rushed to fill a gap in the Cabal’s defences, the Cabal’s use of Phalanx troops are for defensive purposes more than offensive use.
Looking back at the hierarchy in the Cabal Legions and in the Roman Empire, the similarities between the two deteriorate slightly. For example, the first Cohort of a Roman Legion would be twice the size of a regular Cohort, containing five double Centuries. The Centurions of these larger Centuries had the rank Primi Ordines, with the most senior Centurion having the rank Primus Pilus. The Primus Pilus would have been the Centurion of the First Century in the First Cohort, with the rank translating into English as “First File”.
However, in the Cabal’s hierarchy the rank Primus is seen twice, by Primus Sha’aul and Primus Ta’aun. Both of these Cabal are Commanders, with Sha’aul commanding the Blind Legion and Ta’aun commanding the Skyburners. It is also noted by Cayde-6 that the Primus is equivalent in rank to an Admiral (Destinypedia.com).
Looking back at the Roman hierarchy, the Primus Pilus is then outranked by the Praefectus Castrorum, the camp prefect who is in charge of the day-to-day running of the Legion. Seven men outrank the Praefectus Castrorum. Five of them are the Tribuni Angusticlavii, one being the Tribunus Laticlavius, and then finally the Legatus Legionis, the Commander of the entire Legion.
So, in the Roman Legion the hierarchy goes as follows: Legionary, Centurion (or Primi Ordines in the first Cohort), Primus Pilus, Praefectus Castrorum, Tribuni Angusticlavii, Tribunus Laticlavius, and Legatus Legionis.
As the Cabal Empire appears to have a similar Legion structure with Legionnaires being led by a Centurion, it would make sense for them to follow a similar hierarchy of command. From what we have seen in the Cabal Empire, the known ranks are; Bracus, Val, Valus, and Primus.
The term Bracus has no Latin meaning but it is a rank seen among Sand Eater Centurions, and therefore is possibly the equivalent of Primus Pilus or Primi Ordines. This is likely due to both ranks being Centurion based.
Val is a rank noted amongst Phalanx and Centurion Bodyguards. The Destinypedia claims it is likely a subordinate rank to the Valus which makes it viable to be a similar rank to the Roman’s Tribuni Angusticlavii.
The rank Valus is seen amongst elite Centurions and Colossi, Valus Ta’aurc for example. As it is thought to be a commanding rank whilst being beneath the Primus, it is possible for this rank to be similar in standing to the Tribunus Laticlavius.
This means that the rank Primus in the Cabal Empire is on par with the Roman Empire’s Legatus Legionis.
What we can deduce then is that the Cabal Military is based to a certain degree on the structure of the Roman Empire’s army. However, this model does not take into account the roles of the Colossus unit the Cabal deploy. Some named Colossi have ranks, such as Valus Ta’aurc, and the Bond Brothers Mau’ual and Tlu’urn.
As the Destinypedia also notes that Colossi were formerly known as Gladiators, another term closely linked with Roman History, it is possible that the Colossi earnt their role in the Cabal Empire through achieving victory in some sort of contest. This contest may be similar to Gladiatorial games held by the Roman Empire, but since there is no evidence in Destiny or in its Lore to support this idea it is purely hypothetical.
The Cabal’s arrival
Now we have looked over the Cabal military structure in comparison to the Roman Empire, let us look at their arrival in our Solar System.
At some point in the early 2100’s, approximately 2101 or 2012 to my best guess, humans establish a colony on Mars in the area known as Freehold in Meridian Bay. Here is where the Clovis Bray organisation or family is situated. It is not particularly clear from the Grimoire Card “Meridian Bay” as to who or what Clovis Bray is, but the Grimoire Card describes it as a “nursery” of science and engineering, where humanity's brightest and best are recruited by scientific organisations. The Card appears to be written as an advertisement so the accuracy of its contents is to be questioned with regards to exaggeration. Since this scientifically driven colony is established shortly after the discovery of Vex on Venus it is possible that one focus of Clovis Bray was to research the Vex and “unlock” their secrets. This is one of my theories as to why the Vex are on Mars at all.
Also, shortly after the establishment of Clovis Bray, a fourth state of matter was discovered or created. This fourth state was dubbed as “engram” and was believed to be the purest state of matter with enormous potential and application, it is then believed to be used as a method of storing and encrypting information (Grimoire Card: Master Ives, Cryptarch). Combined with the programmable material “Glimmer”, both infinitely transmutable substances were a key part in the Golden Age.
Between 2110 and 2400, the Exo were created, followed by the Warminds. Because of the timing of these events along with the Vex Simulation incident and the seeding of consciousness in all Exo’s it is believed that at some point the Vex and Exo’s were at war. The outcome of this though is unknown since there is no record of the Vex and Exo war ending.
Circa 2400, The Collapse begins. Humanity tries to flee Earth, however this was not effective. The event marked on the timeline as Yuga Sundown states that the AI Warmind Rasputin calculates a hard civilization kill event. As part of this, all military assets were ordered to retreat and abandon all civilian protection objectives. It is unknown where these assets were ordered to retreat to. But, it can be believed that this happened across all human colonies as well as on Earth. If this is the case, then in 2400 the Martian Colony was abandoned, and any civilians there died; this is assuming that the colony was not evacuated prior to Rasputin’s orders.
Since it is likely that the Vex were on Mars at the beginning of The Collapse as part of the research done by Clovis Bray, any civilians left unprotected on Mars would likely have been killed before the Cabal arrived.
In 2430 the Cabal arrived on Mars, possibly being chased or hunted by the Darkness. This idea is supported by the Grimoire Card Cabal 2 which ends with the Ghost the entry is from the perspective of saying that is suspects the Cabal are fleeing something.
Considering we are reminded on various occasions that the Cabal do not have a word for retreat it is possible that either our understanding of the Empire is wrong or the Cabal were not “fleeing”, not at least from their perspective. We are told by Cayde-6 as a line of dialogue during the Bond Brothers strike that the cabal supposedly have six words for advance but none for retreat, and the description for the Vanguard bounty “Armour Breaker” is a quote from Commander Zavalla, one who is not known for making jokes, stating that the Cabal language has no word for retreat.
If we look at this from the perspective of the Cabal Empire, perhaps their arrival in the system was not a “retreat” or them “fleeing”. Possibly, the Cabal were deployed when the Darkness first became a threat to them and they needed to find a place to rendezvous and regroup before tackling this threat or receiving further orders.
Possible Cabal motives
Interestingly enough, though we are told on our first mission to Mars the Cabal have blown up entire planets for being in their way, the Cabal presence in our system has shown no signs of this. Combined with the Cabal making no apparent attempts to enter the system deeper makes me think that the Cabal did not come here for invasive purposes, though this is my personal opinion and is not one I claim to be fact. However, I will show where my idea of the Cabal’s presence being one of refuge than of hostility below.
Looking at our Solar System and the order the planets are in, we know that Mars is further away from the Sun than Venus or Earth. This statement by itself means very little, but when we look at the Grimoire Card “The Cabal”, we see that they need their pressurised armour to replicate their home planet’s environment. Combined with the report Gameinformer.com made in 2013 about the enemies in Destiny, we know for certain that the Cabal come from a high gravity, humid planet; the opposite of Mars.
Aside from them being incredibly territorial creatures, why else would they fight to stay on a planet which is so far removed from their home world? Especially with Venus being a more humid planet. It would seem that when the Cabal first arrived, they encountered no resistance when setting up fortifications on Phobos and launched their invasion of Mars from there. At no point did they send ships out to Earth or Venus. In fact, the only documented excursion was to Mercury which the Vex had taken over. The teams sent vanished without a trace and their fully supplied Harvesters are still at Vertigo.
The Cabal architecture also follows an industrial, militaristic aesthetic; more practical than anything else. It is also worth noting that many of their structures seem to be partially buried or built into rocky cliff sides. This improves the security of their bases which often appear to be constructed for defensive purposes, thus reinforcing the idea that the Cabal are focused on defence more than offence.
Before the Taken King DLC was released, the Vanguard speculated that the Skyburners were assembling a fleet on Phobos with the intention of invading Earth. This would explain why the Vanguard were so eager to investigate why they broke radio silence. However, there is no indication that the Cabal had intentions on invading Earth.
Since the Cabal arrived on Mars they quickly set up the Exclusion Zone which they now defend and expand whilst fighting Vex, Guardians, and briefly the Eliksni. An Exclusion Zone is an area established to prohibit certain activities and with regards to the Cabal, the purpose of their Exclusion Zone could easily be to keep all enemies away from whatever is at the centre of this zone.
Since we know that the Cabal, whilst their technology is incredibly advanced, are not the most intelligent of creatures it is likely that they deigned that anything non-Cabal was a threat and therefore is not allowed in the Exclusion Zone.
So when the first Guardians arrive on Mars (Grimoire Card: Crimson Days) it is likely that they breached the Cabal’s Exclusion Zone. Since the Guardians are non-Cabal, they are automatically seen as enemies.
This explains why they attacked the Warlock and Hunter who both went to Mars because of a strange signal they picked up. The Grimoire Card “Crimson Days” is a story recounted of the Warlock and Hunter who fought a long battle against the Cabal, dying and reviving repeatedly until no more Cabal attacked.
Personally, I the writer, believe this is when the Cabal first started taking an interest in Guardians. Prior to this, there had been no indication that the Cabal were aware of Guardians and the attention Cabal have paid to them is a result from that first encounter.
In fact, looking throughout all the lore around the Cabal, I can find nothing to indicate that they aim to invade Earth. If anything, their interest around Guardians is more about how to protect themselves from the Guardians. The Grimoire Card “Cabal 4” is a series of reports from missions on Mars around Guardians.
The first four of the five reports all take place in the sector they refer to as “grid 071x145”. The first report states that a patrol unit was ambushed by a lone Guardian and there were no survivors, the second report was of a tactical infantry unit sent to the same location to “Reinforce 11/1/8/2 in disarray”. 11/1/8/2 is a reference to the unit in the first report where two troops of the eight maniple of the first century of the Sand Eaters Eleventh Cohort were killed by a Guardian.
In this second report, the units deployed were attacked by a Guardian, presumably the same that killed the first team, and Vex; there were no friendly survivors.
The third report was of a group of “Airmobile” sent in to destroy the Guardian and secure the area. As a Dropship was marked in the fourth report separate to “Airmobile” it can be assumed that “Airmobile” is a reference to Goliath Tanks or Harvesters since they are hovering vehicles. Regardless, this squad destroyed the Guardian but then engaged with Guardian reinforcements; as with all other reports, there were no surviving Cabal.
The fourth report is of a Harvester Dropship that was deployed to support IV/4/1/4, the airmobile squad. This report noted that the Guardians shot down the Harvester.
Overall, the Outcome Analysis of all five reports, the fifth has not been mentioned as that related to a separate incident, stated that this represents hundreds of failed operations. It is deduced that the Guardians’ individual counter-attrition capability is their biggest threat. The Cabal reported that Guardians can be rebuilt from disintegration by Dead Persons (Ghosts). While Dead Persons are not viable targets for direct fire, saturation attack by heavy artillery or orbital fire may be effective. However, since Guardians transmat frequently and do not gather in large groups it would be ineffective. They have used their Psion Flayers to identify areas which negate the Guardian's ability to rebuild, Darkness Zones, and have reason to believe that Hive have developed a way of countering Dead Person's abilities. This explains their new found interest in the Hive.
In fact, this Grimoire Card (Cabal 4) can be seen as a viable reason as to why they deployed Psion Flayers to the Warmind. They know from experience (Grimoire Card: Rasputin 2) that the Warminds are powerful and have strong orbital attack power. Not only would control over the Martian Warmind mean it cannot be used against them, it also allows them to have access to the resources needed to neutralise Dead Persons and Guardians.
The idea that the Cabal want to destroy Guardians and their Ghosts could mean one of two things; either the Cabal are preparing an offensive against Earth, or the Cabal want to stop Guardians breaching their Exclusion Zone.
If the second reason is their intention, this supports my personal theory that the Cabal currently have no intentions on invading other planets. This is because they would be using the Warmind to aid in defending their Exclusion Zone, an area which Guardians breach even though they know what an Exclusion Zone is.
This theory about the Cabal is based upon the idea that if the Cabal are being hunted by the Darkness they have arrived on Mars because they had no problem setting up a foothold on Phobos, whilst staying within reach of the Traveler's Light. At first, they would intend on securing one planet at a time, slowly expanding their influence. Also, this theory can explain why the Cabal have not arrived in much greater numbers. If the Cabal’s only intention was to invade then surely they would have sent a much larger invasion force with larger shipments of fresh troops and supplies? But as the Cabal are actually struggling, it would seem that the supplies and reinforcements were coming in at an insufficient rate; possibly due to Cabal fleets facing dangers in the Darkness.
However, it is also likely that the Cabal do intend on invading Earth soon, hence why they are eager to obtain anti-Ghost capabilities and Warmind control. Though there seems to be little evidence beside Vanguard speculation to support this.
Since the Taken King though, Cabal presence has dropped massively with Taken attack on Phobos, causing mass destruction.
Since we are led to believe the Cabal have no word for retreat we cannot say they fled Fleetbase Korus. Instead they merely evacuated it and, as it can be inferred from “Cabal 3”, the surviving Cabal regrouped on Mars before redeploying on the Dreadnaught.
Even then, this was an attempt by the Cabal to take over the Hive Flagship, take out Oryx, and obtain methods of destroying Ghosts. When their Primus was Taken, the Bond Brothers launch a mission to try and get their Commander back. Whether or not they knew Primus Ta’aun was dead is unclear and as a bargaining chip the Cabal threatened to detonate the Dreadnaughts core. Once again, it is unknown if they were aware of how big a blast radius the destruction would have.
In fact, it sounds like the only reason Guardians are sent to stop the Cabal detonating the core is that Earth would be destroyed in the blast. It is likely that the Vanguard would have made no attempt to stop the Cabal if Earth was not at risk of being destroyed since this would remove a large chunk of Hive presence as well as the source of the Taken and any Cabal on board.
Overall, the two theories that can be drawn with regards to the Cabal’s reasons for being here are either that: the Cabal are deployed and cut off from the main body of the Empire by the Darkness and are focussing on securing a position where they can gather supplies and await further orders, or the Cabal’s original intentions are and have been since arrival, to invade the whole system.
I will acknowledge that I am biased towards the first theory, partially as it is my own and partially because I can find more in the Lore to indicate they are seeking refuge in the Traveler's Light more than I can find evidence to suggest they came just to invade. However, I do accept that the second option is more likely; especially with the definition of Cabal.
A Cabal is a group of people closely united in secret over private views, interests or ideologies. Essentially a Cabal is a faction or a secret political clique, and the term often carries negative connotations. Again, since the Vanguard seem to have little understanding of the Cabal’s native language, it is possible that the Cabal Empire call themselves a different name and it was the Vanguard who called them the Cabal. This would make sense since the Vanguard can, and have, speculated at the Cabal’s intentions which have remained secret so far.
The Different Legions
Moving away from the Cabal as a whole, it is worth looking into the different Legions we see in the system since they all have differing jobs yet are rarely acknowledged by Guardians.
The Sand Eaters
Most importantly are the Sand Eaters Legion. The Sand Eaters are not a specialised Legion, in fact they are the largest known Legion and are general infantry troops for the most part. Although, the Legions seem to follow a similar structure to the Roman Empire, I am expecting Cabal Legions to be much, much larger. Prior to the Taken King DLC, the Sand Eaters were the most common detachment of Cabal found on Mars. As I mentioned in my first Cabal post, the Sand Eaters have weaker tactics and weaker moral than other Legions yet carry on fighting with fierce determination. This is because to the Cabal failure is worse than death. For example, Valus Trau’ug who, against the orders of Cabal Higher Command, massacred his officers that did not pledge fealty to him and lead the rest of his Legion to attack the Reef. His excursion failed and his Legion, marked as traitors to the Empire, were locked in the Prison of Elders.
As it is mentioned in the Grimoire Card “Cabal 3”, when it is suggested that Primus Tau’uan should mutiny rather than assault the Dreadnaught, duty is victory and mutiny is worse than death, even when death is certain. This doctrine belief can be seen throughout all Legions on Mars as they refuse to surrender even when losing the attrition war against Vex and Guardians.
Post Taken King, the first offensive Oryx launched against Cabal mining sites across Mars and Phobos took out 58% of the Sand Eaters in the system. This damage alone, not taking into account the loss of Fleetbase Korus or the losses of equipment in Oryx’s attacks, would have significantly crippled the Cabal’s capabilities. An already struggling Legion lost over half its strength and has to keep fighting. As a result, the Cabal’s front line is stretched thinner than usual and almost acts like a fuel to feed their need for anti-Ghost capabilities.
As I mentioned in my first Cabal post, the Sand Eaters Legion is vital to the Cabal war efforts since the loss of that Legion would severely weaken their position on Mars.
The Skyburners Legion, is another important Legion though their importance was only obtained through the Taken King DLC. The main role of the Skyburners is Celestial Demolitions and it was through the efforts of Ikora’s spy network, The Hidden, that the Vanguard learnt of the fleet gathering at Phobos. It was from Ghost scans of Cabal ships in Fleetbase Korus that a large Psion presence was detected (Grimoire Card “Skyburners”). Although, Dead Orbit remained insistent that the Skyburners were not an immediate threat, many Warlocks believe Psion Flayers have pulled Phobos out of its decaying orbit and are holding it in place as a weapon.
This is likely since Celestial Demolitions would imply the purpose of the Skyburners is to destroy planets and moons. Also, strategic dropping of Phobos onto Mars could cause a lot of damage to Vex or Guardian forces. However, since Phobos would be a one use weapon that would cause a lot of Cabal collateral it would not be an option used lightly. Also, since Phobos has most likely been abandoned since the Taken King, it is unsure whether or not Phobos is still in orbit naturally or if Flayer’s need to activate a mechanism of some sort that would cause it to drop. This is likely to be discussed later on when Cabal technology and tactics are discussed.
The Skyburners Legion also is now severely damaged, post Taken King DLC, with the Primus and the two Valus Bond Brothers dead. Their fleet was destroyed when Phobos got hit and it is unclear how many Cabal evacuated Phobos. We do know that Skyburners troops are still arriving in the System since Harvesters continue to supply reinforcements to the beachhead on the Dreadnaught. It is also noted that the Cabal’s usually robust military machine has become bogged down by the Hive on the Dreadnaught. Though this is not surprising considering the Cabal are outnumbered, surrounded, and are fighting a force that appears to feed on death.
The Ice Reapers
Whilst on the topic of Psion Flayers and the Skyburners, it is fitting to mention the Ice Reapers. Whether or not the Ice Reapers are a Legion themselves or an Auxiliary Cohort is still unknown, though it is likely to be the latter. Since the Ice Reapers do not have a Grimoire card, this information has been taken from the Destinypedia. As far as we are aware the Ice Reapers are an elite group of Psion’s, supporting the idea they are a Cohort not a Legion. The only known members are the three Flayers at the top of the Dust Palace, three Psion Operants that appear earlier in the Palace, and three more Flayers in the Challenge of Elders against Val Aru’un.
It is Valus Ta’aurc who gives the order to deploy the Flayers of the Ice Reapers against Rasputin, and the Skyburners send troops to accompany them. Valus Ta’aurc also used a detachment of Skyburners soldiers to support him in the Imperial Land Tank during the Cerberus Vae III strike. Valus Ta’aurc’s control over the Skyburners may have been because the advanced fleet had no other Commander in the system until shortly before the Taken King, and as being known for conquering more land on Mars than any other Cabal Commander he would have been a wise choice to temporarily command this fleet.
The Dust Giants
Valus Ta’aurc himself, is the commander of the Siege Dancers yet also a member of the Dust Giants. This is because the Dust Giants are a reserve Legion and are a veteran detachment of Sand Eaters. Their main role is a mobile shock and reserve force, helping both spear out to claim more land, and support weakened front lines and defences. It is also noted in the scan on Phobos that the Dust Giants lost 39% of their troops when Oryx first attacked to recruit his Taken.
Ther Siege Dancers
The Siege Dancers are a subdivision of the Dust Giants led by Valus Ta’aurc. Their main purpose is to enter new territory and establish fortifications, essentially working to expand Cabal boundaries and constructing fortifications needed to keep these areas secure. Due to the nature of the Siege Dancers, they have more operational freedom than other Legions. Whilst Valus Ta’aurc is most likely the second in command in the Dust Giants, they are in complete control of the Siege Dancers.
The Blind Legion
The Blind Legion, is another important Legion in the Cabal’s war efforts on Mars. Once again, there is little information on the Legion, but we do know that they are an elite detachment possible large enough to be a full Legion of some size since they have a Primus.
Their main objective is to capture and hold Vex artifacts, such as the Spire used to wake the Vex Gatelord’s Eye. The Grimoire Card “Blind Legion” describes the Legion as having one of the most thankless and gruelling assignments by entering buried ruins and catacombs to sweep for, and assumingly destroy, Vex presence. They are described as holding their ground with ‘fanatic zeal’ (Grimoire Card: Blind Legion), which shows how loyal they are to the Empire even in the struggle to keep the Cabal war machine working on Mars.
The Broken Legion
The two final Legions we have any reference of are the Broken Legion and the Bone Crushers.
Starting with the Broken Legion, we can see that their Grimoire Card was introduced during the House of Wolves.
At this point in the timeline the Reef Wars have ended and Mara Sov, the Queen of the Awoken appointed herself as the Kell of Wolves, essentially becoming the leader of the remains of the Fallen House intercepted on route to Earth to join other Houses for an attack against the Last City. Somewhere around 2715-2716, the Nine, who had Skolas gifted to them, ordered Xur to release the imprisoned Eliksni Kell and give him a Ketch. With the Skolas claiming to be first the Kell of Wolves, and then Kell of Kells, he launched a revolt in the Reef, leaving many Awoken and Eliksni dead. This is the premise for the House of Wolves DLC and it is during the events which result in Skolas being recaptured and sentenced to death through Arena combat in the Prison of Elders that the Broken Legion form.
Whether or not the name of has always been as it is or if that is its name now as a result of the mutiny is unknown. Once the Reef was weakened by Skolas’ actions, Valus Trau’ug pleaded with Cabal Higher Command to allow him to advance on the Reef. His pleas were ignored and the Valus took the inaction as a sign of weakness. The most loyal members of his Legion swore fealty to him and he killed his opposing officers before marching on the Reef. As his troops had to swear fealty to him this either meant they were breaking their oath to the Empire or breaking their oath to the Legions Primus. It is unclear as to whether or not the Legion had a Primus, and is in fact unclear if all Legions have a Primus.
Regardless, with new fealty sworn the officers against Trau’ug were killed, who these officers were is unknown so it is likely there was a Primus who was then killed in the mutiny. The mutinying Legion was then branded by the Cabal Empire as traitors, a fate that the Cabal usually fear worse than death (Grimoire Card: Cabal 3). The exact events of the mutiny are unknown as Variks avoids talking about the issue and the records are not publicly available, but it is known that the Legion failed and are now held within the Prison.
The Bone Crushers
The Bone Crushers are currently not in the game but were referenced in the Destinypedia and sourced as coming from the Destiny Official Strategy Guide. There is no available information on this Legion that I can find, so it is safe to assume that they will be introduced later on in the game's story.
Brief Summary of the Cabal post-The Taken King
Now we have looked at the different Legions deployed in our System, we shall look at their current situation as of Post Taken King and Pre Rise of Iron.
Their situation can be summarised as being awful. The Celestial Demolitions fleet have essentially been destroyed, the remains barely alive on the Dreadnaught, surviving with no Commanding officer higher than a Centurion, receiving few reinforcements, bogged down by the Hive.
Fleetbase Korus and most of Phobos has been lost to the Cabal, wiping out centuries of hard work and resources. Oryx’s attacks on mining stations across Mars and Phobos caused a drastic reduction in Cabal numbers, and Guardian activity has ensured that there are no high-ranking Cabal left in the System. This is promising grounds for a Cabal DLC with the possible arrival of the Bone Crushers, larger Cabal numbers, and possibly newer Cabal weaponry and tactics aimed at trying to destroy Ghosts and Guardians. Though what route if any Bungie will take with the Cabal is as unknown as the Cabal’s intentions.
Attempted Chronology of Cabal Events
Before we proceed, it might be worth looking at attempting to bring some order to the Cabal’s actions as to better see what factors have influenced them and what the causes and effects of their actions have been.
Firstly, the timeline used shows that the Cabal arrived in our Solar System around 2430 AD, though there is no evidence supporting that this is the exact year they arrived so there is a chance they arrived earlier. The first thing the Cabal did on arrival was take over Phobos. Here they built Fleetbase Korus and Firebase Thuria. The exact purpose of Firebase Thuria, also known as Black Shield, is unknown but it likely was an advanced base for the Cabal, possibly used for the storage of supplies and to hold troops before being deployed on Mars. The Firebase was abandoned before Korus and will be explained in due time.
After securing Phobos, the Cabal used the moon as a springboard to get to Mars. Once on the planet’s surface they quickly dug in fortifications and expanded their territory as quickly as possible. This is not stated anywhere but from the Cabal’s behaviour and the purpose of each Legion it is safe to say they would have expanded and fortified quickly. It is possible that the rate they were claiming territory was quicker than the rate of securing it, and contributing to their struggles to defend so much ground effectively. It is also likely that the Vex on Mars at the time remained dormant until the Cabal’s expansion reactivated them, thus initiating the Vex and Cabal conflicts.
At some point after the Tower’s created, the events of Crimson Day occur where a Warlock and a Hunter both pick up a strange signal from Mars (Grimoire Card: Crimson Days). The two both go, the Warlock in search for knowledge from lost archives and the Hunter for the renown she craved. The two Guardians in every way but serving the Light were rivals, but the two met on Mars, presumably near the source of the signal and they mocked each other out of anger at the other Guardian, and did not notice the danger. When they did realise the Cabal were there the enemies were already in range. The two Guardians put aside their differences to fight the Cabal since they both knew they would be destroyed otherwise. Supposedly they fought for a day and a night which, knowing the Cabal’s persistence is not unlikely. After the fight they both abandoned their original quests and returned to the Tower to warn the Vanguard of the Cabal. The Guardians supposedly became close companions afterwards, finding riches and renown together.
However, the Crimson Days is a story told of when the Guardians first encountered the Cabal, and as we can see from the Grimoire Card, a similar story has supposedly been told of two opposing Guardians joining together under a mutual threat on multiple occasions. This means we do not know for certain whether the story is historically accurate or if it is fictional. If it is a true story then it raises the question as to why the Vanguard never deigned to take action.
The next documented event related to the Cabal comes from around 2715-2716 AD. This takes place after the protagonist has been revived and is a direct result of the Guardian activating the Old Array Station on Earth and waking Rasputin, the AI Warmind.
Rasputin quickly takes over the Array and begins testing his strength. One such test of this strength occurs on Mars and is documented in the Grimoire Card “Rasputin 2”. The Card documents a Huntress tasked with the job of hunting down and assassinating Valus Ta’aurc. It picks up when she follows his Legion into Meridian Bay, her Ghost senses something is wrong and somehow, they are listening in on Cabal communications and understanding what is said.
Harvesters fly overhead as if they are looking for something, and a voice over the command network keeps saying “Stand by to fire. They are coming. Stand by to fire.” A short period later the Vex arrive out of nowhere, as they do, and attack the Cabal. The command network is filled with Cabal, and one Centurion is quoted to say that Firebase Thuria’s perimeter has been compromised and they request terminal protective fire. Whether or not the request is met or not is unknown and is not important. What is important is the Guardian senses something watching the fight. Suddenly, the sky opens up and “admits devastation, thrown down from orbit.”
This orbital attack hits the Cabal and vex alike, destroying Vex units and destroying Cabal ammunition bunkers. This ends the battle with surviving Vex winking out and Valus Ta’aurc ordering the Flayers to be roused to find the source of the attack.
Not long after this, the Guardian we play as is sent to Mars on the quest to find the Black Garden. This is when we first meet the Cabal ourselves, and it is theorised that Rasputin’s earlier orbital strike had weakened the Exclusion Zone, hence why heavy Cabal resistance is not encountered.
Whilst on Mars, Valus Ta’aurc is finally brought down but not before becoming infamous amongst the Cabal for capturing more land than any other Cabal Commander on Mars. However, by this point the Psion Flayers have found Rasputin at the top of the Dust Palace and are trying to assert control over the Warmind. Fearing that the Flayers may try to extract dangerous information from the Warmind, such as how to control orbital strikes and WARSATS, the Vanguard assign a fireteam to go in and stop the Cabal. The strike is a success but the Cabal have already gleaned information that the Hive have developed anti-Ghost capabilities.
At some point during all of this, the Cabal sent an excursion to Vertigo on Mercury, the exact reasons are unknown but when the site was visited by Lord Shaxx, there was no trace of the Cabal and the Harvesters were locked in orbit around the area, fully supplied, and waiting for the missing crews to return.
Also, at an undetermined point in time the Cabal launched an assault at Bastion. Bastion was one of the largest subterranean Vex structures on Mars and the Cabal launched a large air and ground assault to breach the perimeter. The assault was a success but the Cabal were all killed at some point in the catacombs. For some reason the Vex there vanished afterwards and the Cabal are reluctant to return. This likely occurred around the time the Vertigo team was sent, all before Rasputin was reactivated.
Very little seems to happen with the Cabal beside their struggle to defend the Exclusion Zone from Guardians and Vex, until after Skolas is given his own Ketch. At this point the Reef is thrown back into conflict with the Eliksni and whilst tracking down Skolas the self-proclaimed Kell of Kells, Valus Trau’ug and his mutinying Legion unsuccessfully attacked the Reef. His Broken Legion, as explained earlier, was denounced by the Empire as traitors and became an example to deployed Legions what would happen if they disobeyed orders.
It was also during the House of Wolves DLC that the remains of the Eliksni House of Wolves fled to Mars to regroup and rebuild their Prime Servitor. This lead to a brief clash between the Cabal and Eliksni who temporarily invaded the Cabal Stronghold around the same Spire that the Guardian used to active the eye of a Vex Gatelord. This dispute was ended when Guardians arrived and destroyed the Prime Servitor and killed the remaining Eliksni.
Aside from this there seems to be little Cabal activity of interest until the start of the Taken King DLC. At this point, Firebase Thuria has been abandoned, possibly as a result of Rasputin testing its strength, killing all Vex and Cabal at the base as well as the damage it caused on Mars. The Skyburners have been amassing a fleet with heavy Psion activity. It is also worth mentioning that over time since the Cabals arrival, the moon has been pulled out of orbit and has theoretically become a last resort weapon to the Cabal, ready to crash it into Mars.
Oryx and his Dreadnaught arrive in the system and either before or after fighting the Reef, he strikes out at Fleetbase Korus and Cabal mining centres across Mars, recruiting and killing large portions of Cabal infantry, severely weakening their already strained defences.
On Phobos, the Skyburners evacuate with “extreme prejudice” as the Taken blights rip through the station. Please note how it’s described as them evacuating and not fleeing. This is because as the Grimoire Card “Cabal 3” show, some, if not all, the evacuated Sky Burners regroup on Mars. We know this since Primus Ta’aun is alive on Mars talking to Valus Tlu’urn about their orders to board the Dreadnaught whilst repelling a Vex assault.
Shortly after the fight resulting in the Queen’s Guard’s near total destruction, Primus Ta’aun crashes his warship into the Dreadnaught. At least, we believe the Dantalion Exodus VI warship is his. I would personally have believed that the Primus would have had a Carrier rather than a Warship, and since there is supposedly a crashed carrier visible in the aerodrome during The Coming War mission (I personally have not seen this but it is mentioned in the Destinypedia) it is not unlikely that Primus Ta’aun once owned a Carrier.
Regardless of whether or not the ship was originally Ta’aun’s or not, he led the excursion to crash the ship and use it as a beachhead. We can deduce that the objectives he was given were to take out Oryx, capture the Dreadnaught and steal any Hive technology that would allow the Cabal to neutralise the Ghost’s ability to revive Guardians. However, since the Reef’s army failed to breach the Dreadnaughts Hull, the Breach was entirely caused by the ramming power of the warship. This shows the impressive force that it is able to exert without being destroyed.
This plan failed when Ta’aun was Taken by Oryx whilst leading a team to investigate the Rupture. Valus Tlu’urn and Valus Mau’ual, both Bond Brothers with each other and their Primus, then lead a mission to the Dreadnaughts core where they prepare explosives. Here, they make their demand of give us our Commander or we will destroy your ship. Whether the Bond Brothers know Ta’aun is dead is uncertain but shows the extent of their loyalty nonetheless.
The Vanguard, knowing somehow that the Primus is dead and the explosion caused by blowing up the Dreadnaught would wipe out half of the Solar System, send in a team to kill the Bond Brothers and disable the explosives. Personally, I believe that if Earth and the Reef were not in range of the Dreadnaught’s blast radius, no-one would have tried to stop the Cabal since the loss of the Dreadnaught would actually be beneficial since the source of the Taken would be removed. As things stand though, this is not the case.
This is a success and there end up being no high ranking Cabal in the Solar System. The remaining Cabal send out a message outside the Solar System and we are deployed to the Dreadnaught to cut the signal off. Even though we do this, the signal is already received by the recipients, who we can assume are someone high ranking in the Cabal Empire, if not directly to the Emperor themselves. Whatever the Cabal’s message was, it is likely that the Emperor knows about the lack of Command in our system. Either the Emperor will send in more troops, like the Bone Crushers, or they will expect the remaining soldiers to continue. Based on the Cabal’s military experience and how the latter route would see the Cabal’s presence on Mars being eradicated, we can safely assume that Bungie will make the Emperor deploy more forces, meaning everything so far has been building up to a Cabal based DLC.
Cabal Technology and Arsenal
Now we have some idea of what the Cabal have been through in a somewhat chronological order, it is time to move on to their technology.
For everything we associate the Cabal with, the one thing we don’t call them is intelligent. The Cabal are portrayed as sadistic, primitive, and violent, thug like war criminals, and it is easy to see why. But when you look into their technology is it hyper advanced.
Firstly, let us look at the Slug Rifle. These things do not fire bullets but instead fire small rockets that are individually linked back to both the gun and possibly to the Cabal Battle Network, so the information can be used live in the field (See sources for youtube video).
The Grimoire Card “Slug Rifle” also states that rounds are capable of efficient operation in varying gravitational and environmental conditions, this means that the standard ammunition used by Cabal weaponry is incredibly versatile as it is able to work effectively regardless of planetary conditions.
Looking at the structure of each micro-rocket, we can see that they are indeed versatile multi-purpose rounds. The Grimoire Card “Slug Rifle” also states that the standard issue round is a duplex explosive containing an armour-piercing penetrator as well as a shrapnel bus for shredding soft targets.
By combining the three elements we know about Cabal standard ammunition alone we can see that they have developed military technology far beyond what humanity seems to have made at any point in history. We can also assume that all other ammunition created by the Cabal works in a similar way of versatility and technological abilities, since this would explain why the Cabal have seemingly conquered other planets without the planet’s environment causing severe problems.
The Slug Rifle itself we can assume is technologically linked to the user’s armour allowing the Cabal to see feedback from the weapon. Also, we can assume the gun is also linked to the Cabal Battle Network.
Cabal Battle Network
The Cabal Battle Network is only referenced once throughout the Lore and the full extent of its complexity and purpose remains unclear. However, we can come to the conclusion that the Battle Network is an AI computer which receives and computes data received from deployed forces and uses this information to update and monitor Cabal battle progress. The Cabal Battle Network then probably relays information back to users to allow deployed forces to constantly be aware of their progress and what they need to do.
It is possible that the Battle Network is also used to generate plans of the Cabal’s next actions. This can be deduced because any computer system that is capable of processing and evaluating the information received from hundreds of thousands, if not millions of weapons, troops, vehicles, and other assets, is likely to be able to develop tactical plans based on this live information.
If this is the case, we can assume that the Cabal created this and has been in use for a long period of time. Any race to develop to the point of creating interstellar travel can be deemed as intelligent, but to create such an advanced AI and such advanced weaponry that are linked to this AI to the extent that even the standard issue ammunition is included, is an incredibly technological feat.
With regards to the Cabal Battle Network, it is mentioned once in the Lore when on the topic of the Cabal Shields. These shields are supposedly built to the same specifications as Hull Plating on their ships, and are supposedly near indestructible to conventional weaponry. This can be seen in game, specifically with Imperial Phalanx’s who are able to receive a Golden Gun shot from a Celestial Nighthawk Helmet on the shield and only stagger. This level of durability is not seen in general Phalanx’s though and is likely related to yellow bar enemies being harder than the red bar counterparts.
Still, it is notable that the most effective way of killing a Phalanx is to attack from the sides or rear as to negate the shield entirely, whilst the most effective way to attack from the front is to either shoot what is not protected or to use a Super, grenades, or a Rocket Launcher; but these methods often include high impact explosives.
This allows us to see that the Cabal have the means to produce a highly durable metal and have been for a long period of time. Not only are Cabal Shields highly durable but it has integrated sensors relaying information to the user and to the Cabal Battle Network, allowing nearby units to coordinate more effectively (Grimoire Card: Cabal Shield).
The other weapon often used by Cabal troops is the Projection Rifle, often used by Centurions. The Projection Rifle fires explosive rounds and each round is fed data by the weapon at the moment of launch allowing for maximum effect (Grimoire Card: Projection Rifle). It can be assumed that, like the other Cabal weapons, the gun and ammunition are both linked to each other and to the Battle Network. The reason we can make this assumption is that the Cabal, as militaristic as they are, would probably not rely on information from a bulk of their weaponry, and would probably want to receive feedback from all possible sources for the Battle Network to accurately identify and assess strategies and plans.
Heavy Slug Thrower
The Heavy Slug Thrower is so efficient in design and function that it does not seem to have been modified since it was first produced by the Cabal (Grimoire Card: Heavy Slug Thrower).
On first appearance, the weapon appears to be a large machine gun of some sort, possibly a Cabal Mini-Gun. Whilst unleashing rapid heavy fire like a machine gun, the Heavy Slug Thrower is in fact a more powerful version of the standard issue Slug Rifle. It is used by Colossi as a support weapon and uses similar, if not identical, ammunition to the Slug Rifle. The Slug Rifle is used in combination with the Rocket Launchers built into Colossus Armour and is incredibly effective, once again this is due to the velocity of the projectile and the design or each micro-rocket.
Colossi Armour Oversight
Whilst on the topic of the Colossi, a heavy infantry unit of the Cabal, I would like to point out what is most likely a developer oversight with regards to their armour. Since we are aware from many sources, the Cabal need their pressurised armour suits to survive, thus if their armour becomes depressurised the Cabal will die. However, the lower part of the Colossus helmet exposes the lower jaw of the Cabal. This should not be possible since this exposure would mean the suit is not fully sealed and therefore would not be able to keep the Cabal alive.
Colossi’s Rocket Launchers
With that over, let us carry on looking into the Cabal’s arsenal and military technology. The Rocket Launchers used by the Colossi are likely to be the same used as the Harvester Dropships and Interceptors. However, unlike the missiles on their vehicles, the Colossi’s missiles seem to have some degree of targeting abilities, possibly due to data being fed to each projectile on launch.
The Interceptors used by the Cabal are particularly interesting in design. Not only is the vehicle powered by a variant of the thruster found in infantry jump jets and is similar in design to the thrusters found on Goliath tanks, but the Harvester does not appear to be designed with Cabal use in mind. As we are aware, the Cabal are larger than Guardians and by looking at the design of the Interceptor’s seat we can tell that the Cabal are too large to use these vehicles. The only explanation for this is that they are built to be used by Psion’s, who are smaller than Cabal and are more in correlation with human proportions.
The Interceptor uses high explosive, anti-armour, anti-personnel missiles on articulated mounts (Grimoire Card: Interceptor), and these powerful weapons compensate for the vehicles lack of speed and mobility. It is possible that the weapons themselves are the reason for the Interceptors lack of agility. It is unclear whether or not the ammunition used and the vehicle itself are connected to the Battle Network, but it would make sense if they are.
Harvester Dropships are surprisingly mobile and fast for their design (Grimoire Card: Harvester), and are the only dropship in Destiny that does not have teleporting abilities. By this I mean that the Harvesters cannot arrive or depart from areas like Eliksni Skiffs or Hive Tombships. The Eliksni Skiffs seem to have some form of hyperspace ability which allows them to seemingly appear from nowhere, and Hive Tombships are able to open rifts allowing them to pass through dimensions.
Any Guardian will note that Harvesters remain in position for a short period after deploying troops to provide aerial fire. The weapons used by Harvesters are a front mounted rocket launcher similar in ability to the Interceptors, in that they seem to lack tracking abilities. As with all Cabal weapons of war, it is assumed that Harvesters and their ammunition are linked to the Cabal Battle Network.
The only other Cabal ships we are aware of are their warships, such as the Dantalion Exodus VI, and their Carriers. In fact, at the top of the Dust Palace strike, the ships seen in the sky are all Cabal Warships. We know that these ships are large in size and are capable of housing Goliath Tanks. I believe a Warship is approximately four-five times the size of a Harvester but that could be incorrect. Also, since the breach on the Dreadnaught was created by the sheer ramming speed of the Dantalion Exodus VI, we can come to the conclusions that these warships are fast as well as incredibly robust.
Cabal Carriers, are a ship unseen so far apart from in concept art and supposedly crashed in the background of the Aerodrome of Fleetbase Korus on Phobos. But what we do know from concept art is that these are huge (See image link in Sources). By comparison to Warships, the Carriers are massive, capable of carrying Land Tanks and entire Legions. The full capacity of a Carrier is unknown and nor is it unknown whether they are armed. The chances are, the Carrier has some form of weaponry but is mostly a large transport vessel.
This brings us to Land Tanks, although the only one in the game so far is an Imperial Land Tank. At first, I struggled to believe that the structure Valus Tau’urc was killed in was a vehicle, but by taking a closer look at it we can see that it is indeed a large vehicle possibly capable of carrying multiple Cohorts as well as supplies needed. It is possible that Land Tanks are primarily used as mobile bases more than weaponized vehicles since there is no indication of the Land Tank being weaponised. Plus, the Tank being owned by Valus Tau’urc supports this claim since him and his Siege Dancers specialise in capturing new territory for the Cabal.
Finally, the last part of the Cabals known arsenal is the Goliath Tank. These are heavily armed, dangerous and are used for massive area of denial (Grimoire Card: Goliath Tank). Whilst I cannot find evidence to support this, I believe that Goliath Tanks are remotely controlled by Psion’s. The reason I believe this is because the Tanks are heavily armed and there does not appear to be any access hatches to gain interior access. Plus, it would make sense for a group of Psion’s who are linked to the Tank and the Battle Network to be able to control all aspects of the vehicle simultaneously, though it is possible the Tanks are controlled directly by the Battle Network.
What Destinypedia notes about the Goliath Tank which I find most interesting is that its main cannon is a roughly estimated 110 mm energy cannon that deals solar damage, but it can potentially fire devices called “Planet Crackers” (Destinypedia.com). What is interesting about this is that the largest weaponised unit the Cabal have currently deployed has the potential to destroy planets.
The exact design of a Planet Cracker is unknown and it could be that they are a cluster of high explosives which, once sufficient quantities have been deposited across a planet’s surface, can be remotely detonated. I also assume that Planet Crackers are a specialised type of Cabal Missile that can be launched from their ships, either warships or carriers, to destroy planets and moons without having to waste time deploying forces.
Regardless of Planet Crackers and the Tank’s potential to use them, the main cannon, which I presume fires plasma which causes Solar damage, is noted in the Grimoire Card “Goliath Tank” to be ‘almost certainly capable of engaging spacecraft’. If this is the case then perhaps Planet Crackers could be fired whilst the Tank is on the underside of a Harvester. What we do know for absolute though, is that the main cannon has a considerable range, velocity, and a large blast radius, capable of killing a Guardian at full health in a direct hit.
Aside from the main cannon, the Goliath Tank is equipped with an assortment of other weapons which are: three machine gun turrets, missile swarms, flak turrets, and mine dispensers. The missile swarms are capable of homing in on a target similar to the system used by Colossi and it can be assumed the two systems are therefore identical. The other weapons are seemingly used at medium ranges and as deterrents to stop the machine being boarded.
The Goliath Tank is surprisingly mobile for its size because of the four independently firing thrusters, and can be relatively fast when ramming enemies. Because of its structural integrity the armour plating takes very little damage, whilst the thrusters are more vulnerable. Overall, the Goliath Tank is an impressive feat of engineering and supports the idea that the Cabal are not as unintelligent as first believed.
Also, as a final note, they are probably named Goliath Tanks by the Vanguard in testament to the ancient tale of David vs. Goliath, and the vehicles are likely called something else in the Cabal’s native language.
The Cabal and their Psions
To further look at the Cabal’s intelligence we must look at their Psion’s. The Psion’s are noted by the Ghost in Grimoire Card “Cabal” and “Cabal 2” which describes the Psion’s as being clever and ‘throwing their minds around like hammers’. We are aware of the Psion’s psionic abilities through the arc blast attack they occasionally deliver (Grimoire Card: Psion).
We are also given the impression that the Psion’s are also used to pilot ships and possibly other vehicles, which would support the idea of Psion’s being used to pilot Harvesters, Interceptors, and Goliath Tanks.
Psion’s possible conspiring against the Cabal
But it is also implied that the Psion’s may be plotting against the Cabal as in the Grimoire Card “The Taken: Psion” it reads ‘What hidden plan do you obey? What is your secret principle?’ This implies that the Psion’s are receiving orders that are not necessarily the Cabal’s and since we know they are an auxiliary force, ‘bolted onto the Cabal hierarchy’ it is possible that they are plotting against their commanders.
To support this idea we can look at what information the Psion’s have fed the Cabal. The Psion’s interacted with Rasputin at the top of the Dust Palace and they extracted the information that the Hive had developed anti-Ghost technology. Perhaps the reason they gave this information to the Cabal was that they knew the Cabal would then engage in conflict with the Hive, thus putting more pressure on an already strained force. Though it is possible that this is not part of a Psion conspiracy to weaken the Cabal might to the point of a coup being effective.
The Psion’s and Phobos’ orbit
Another interesting idea surrounding the Psion’s and the Cabal, is the utilisation of Phobos as a potential weapon of mass destruction. This idea stems from the Psion Flayers on Fleetbase Korus before the Taken King DLC and the Grimoire Card “Psion Flayers” which indicates that Warlocks believe that Flayers pulled Phobos from its orbit and are holding it in place as a weapon. If this is the case, then it gives an approximation as to how powerful the Psion’s are.
By turning Phobos into a weapon, it gives the Cabal the capacity to cause massive damage to either Vex or Guardian forces. However, given the potential damage it could create it would be a weapon used either out of desperation or as a last resort. Since Phobos has been key to the Cabal’s presence since their arrival they would likely be reluctant to destroy such an asset and key location unless it was either lost to them or no longer valuable. Also, the impact of Phobos hitting Mars would cause a lot of Cabal collateral damage, regardless of where the moon hits. As a result, we can safely assume that Phobos, if it has been turned into a weapon, would only be deployed in extreme emergencies. The fact that it has not been deployed yet considering the losses taken from Oryx’s initial strikes against Cabal mining stations indicates that either Phobos is still redeemable to them and important in some way, or the Cabal have not yet reached the point where such a destructive weapon has been needed.
Now we have looked at the Cabal’s arsenal and their Psion’s, it is time to look at their culture. This section is likely to be short since we have very little information pertaining to the Cabal’s cultures and is open to speculation
Cabal Culture (Very little is known)
Aside from their military structure we have almost no understanding of their culture. We do know that there is some disagreement within the ranks about the Empire. It is noted in the Grimoire Card “Cabal” that some soldiers pledge allegiance to the Empire and its ancient marching orders and some do not. However it is unknown as to whether this is because of moral levels of deployed troops on Mars since some troops are more moralised and fanatical than others.
Cabal arguing is described in the same Grimoire Card as bellowing and slamming into each other, which indicates a bestial nature to them. This is reinforced in the Gameinformer article about the enemies of Destiny where the Cabal are described as ‘big lumbering space rhinos’ which supports the idea that the Cabal’s society is possibly not as advanced as their technology.
Bond Brothers; what they might be
Something worth noting which may be linked to their culture are the three Bond Brothers, Primus Tau’urn, Valus Tlu’urn, and Valus Mau’ual. These three high ranking Cabal soldiers are the only case of ‘Bond Brothers’ we know of. What ‘Bond Brothers’ are is something we do not know, possibly the three are biologically related or possibly they have simply served alongside each other long enough for them to be ‘Brothers bound by war’. At this point though there is nothing to support any idea behind what ‘Bond Brothers’ really are or how they are formed. Any theories or ideas are encouraged and the writer shall incorporate these here if any are submitted.
The origin of the Colossus Unit: A theory
As I mentioned earlier when talking about the Colossi and how they fit in the Cabal Empire outside of commanding ranks and roles, I suggested that the Colossi were victors in some sort of Gladiatorial style events held by the Cabal Empire. Though, as with so much about their culture and home world this is again speculation and any ideas are openly welcomed and encouraged.
Ancient Cabal History and how their Empire formed: A theory
In the Grimoire Card “Cabal 2” the Ghost narrating events is looking at a three dimensional holograph of a planet the Ghost does not identify and wonders if that is the Cabal’s home planet. If this is the case then it may explain why the hologram shows noticeable fissures on the surface. We can probably assume that the Cabal Empire has not always been a constant civilisation in the universe and therefore must have originated at some point. Perhaps, in the early days of Cabal civilisation, the home planet was divided into tribes or countries, much like Earth is and has been in the real world. These tribes, countries, or factions, were all possibly warlike in nature and were often at war with each other. Such a history like this would also contribute to why their military technology seems more advanced that other aspects of their race.
Over time more advanced weapons would be produced as a result of the arms war surrounding all long term conflicts and battle strategies would become better developed, whether these strategies were technologically related or related to their structures, thus influencing Cabal architecture to as we see it.
One of three conclusions can be drawn from this planet wide war between Cabal factions; one faction succeeded in conquering all other factions or one faction eradicated all the other factions, possibly a combination of the two. Regardless, at some point a single Cabal faction must have taken control of the entire planet. This faction then, requiring more space or resources to satisfy the planet’s growth, developed space travel and started colonising other worlds. This may have led to the early models of Cabal armour used in combat being created so that Cabal could survive naturally hostile environments until it was safe for them to live.
The first planets the Cabal would have claimed would likely be any others in their solar system, and over time they would have expanded and developed into an Empire. As their influence spread, their military techniques and technology would have been finely tuned into what we see today, including the capture and integration of Psion’s into their Empire.
Looking back at the planet in the Grimoire Card “Cabal 2” it is possible, using this theory of the Cabal Empire’s origins, that the fissures seen were created by Cabal technology.
It is also possible that the Empire formed as theorised but the fissures were created by the Darkness or whatever force it is that the Cabal are suspected to be fleeing from in the Grimoire Card “Cabal 2”. It is also possible that the planet is not even their home world, though any other planets that would be important enough for them to keep displayed are currently unknown.
The Cabal number system: A possible oversight by Bungie?
Aside from their bulky size and appearance, it is notable that the Cabal have four digits on each hand, three fingers and a thumb; their thumbs like humans, are opposable. As a result of having four fingers, it is possible that the Cabal work on a number system that uses a base of eight. However, the mention of Sand Eater 11 Cohort in the Grimoire card “Cabal 4” suggests otherwise.
Cabal: Religionless or worshiping the Emperor? Two theories
Another point which separates the Cabal from other races in Destiny is that they do not appear to have an organised religion. One possible theory for this is that the Cabal are militarised and have this chain of command system, and as a result they may not have a comprehension of theology in any aspect, thus rendering them incapable of thinking of abstract concepts like religion.
A second theory to this is that since our interactions with the Cabal have been with their military, who for the most part have pledged allegiance to the Emperor, it is possible that the rest of the Cabal Empire have some sort of deity that is revered as a God. In fact, since Cabal have long lifespans which we do not know the natural average duration of, it is possible that the Cabal Emperor themselves is revered as a deity. This idea of the Emperor being the closest thing to a Cabal God or equivalent deity could be another reason why the Cabal occasionally argue over whether or not they should pledge allegiance to the Emperor.
Interesting points of mention
the-siva-plague.tumblr.com/ has brought it to my attention that there is a patrol mission which idicates that Cabal Psions obtain their powers from Scalpel Leech Symbiotes, which are also found in Hive Knights.
To this, I have pointed out that statistically, the probability of the Hive and Cabal developing identical things even though their races haven’t met until entering this solar system is incredibly low. But we do know from the Grimoire Card “Cabal 4″ that the Cabal are aware of the Hive’s ability to destroy Ghosts.
As a result, it is likely that the Cabal have taken Scalpel Leech Symbiotes from the Hive and have attempted to incorporate the Hive technology with the Psions.
With regards to whether Psions get power from these symbiotes is uncertain. As far as we are aware Hive Knights have none of the psionic abilities of the Psions, so we can be sure that the Psions did not obtain their abilities from the symbiotes. Whether or not the Psions have gained additional powers from these symbiotes though is unclear, and it is possible that they have gained some powers that Knights have.
As I appear to have failed to mention earlier, it is quoted from Cayde-6 during the Bond Brothers strike that when the Cabal are sent out to war they are only allowed to return when victorious. This would possibly explain why the concept of retreating does not exist in their culture. If retreat is not something that exists to the Cabal they have no reason to have a word for it. Also, the motivation that this provides would also explain the Cabal’s fierce determination and perseverance.
Master post. Found at : www.reddit.com/r/DestinyLore/comments/5947pu/cabal_masterpost/
Britannica.com. Phalanx Military Formation. Found at: www.britannica.com/topic/phalanx-military-formation
Vimeo.com. Roman Army Structure. Found at: vimeo.com/31781946
Youtube.com. Cabal Lore Video. Found at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsXFZ238j4w
Game Informer.com. The Enemies of Destiny. (2013). Found at: www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2013/12/16/the-enemies-of-destiny.aspx?PostPageIndex=1
Destiny Timeline. Found at: destinytimeline.com/
Destinypedia.com. House of Wolves. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/House_of_Wolves
Destinypedia.com. Cabal. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Cabal
Destinypedia.com. Colossus. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Colossus
Destinypedia.com. Sand Eaters. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Sand_Eaters
Destinypedia.com. Dust Giants. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Dust_Giants
Destinypedia.com. Siege Dancers. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Siege_Dancers
Destinypedia.com. Skyburners. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Skyburners
Destinypedia.com. Ice Reapers. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Ice_Reapers
Destinypedia.com. Blind Legion. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Blind_Legion
Destinypedia.com. Broken Legion. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Broken_Legion
Destinypedia.com. Goliath Tank. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Goliath_Tank
Destinypedia.com. Harvesters. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Harvester
Destinypedia.com. Warships. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Cabal_warship
Destinypedia.com. Land Tanks. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Imperial_Land_Tank
Destinypedia.com. Carriers. Found at: www.destinypedia.com/Cabal_carrier
Ishtar-collective.net. Valus Trau’ug. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/valus-trauug?highlight=broken+legion
Ishtar-collective.net. Cabal Champions. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/cabal-champions?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. The Cabal. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/the-cabal?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Cabal 3. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/ghost-fragment-cabal-3?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Black Shield. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/black-shield?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Cabal 2. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/ghost-fragment-cabal-2?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Cabal 4. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/ghost-fragment-cabal-4?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Rasputin 2. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/ghost-fragment-rasputin-2?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Bastion. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/bastion?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Crimson Days. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/crimson-days?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Interceptor. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/interceptor?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Colossus. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/colossus?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Cabal Losses Transcript. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/transcripts/ghost-scan-cabal-losses?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. The Garden’s Spire Transcript. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/transcripts/the-gardens-spire?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Ghost Scan: Primus Ta’aun Transcript. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/transcripts/the-gardens-spire?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. The Taken: Psion. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/the-taken-psion?highlight=taken+psion
Ishtar-collective.net. The Psion Flayers. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/the-psion-flayers?highlight=psion
Ishtar-collective.net. Cabal. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/ghost-fragment-cabal?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Goliath Tank. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/goliath-tank
Ishtar-collective.net. Heavy Slug Thrower. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/heavy-slug-thrower
Ishtar-collective.net. Slug Rifle. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/slug-rifle
Ishtar-collective.net. Projection Rifle. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/projection-rifle
Ishtar-collective.net. Cabal Shield. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/cabal-shield
Ishtar-collective.net. Harvester. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/harvester
Ishtar-collective.net. Phalanx. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/phalanx?highlight=phalanx
Ishtar-collective.net. The Taken: Phalanx. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/the-taken-phalanx
Ishtar-collective.net. Zavala quote on Cabal and the word “retreat”. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/items/armor-breaker-2?highlight=Cabal
Ishtar-collective.net. Glimmer. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/glimmer
Ishtar-collective.net. Master Ives, Cryptarch. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/master-ives-cryptarch
Ishtar-collective.net. Meridian Bay. Found at: www.ishtar-collective.net/cards/ghost-fragment-meridian-bay