40K Lore: What Happened to the T’au 4th Sphere Expansion?

One of the very cool aspects of the new T’au Codex is that the book talks about the ill fated 4th Sphere expansion that seemed to be lost. What do you think hapenned to them?

The 4th sphere expansion of the T’au empire had utilized a new technology that allowed them to move at Faster Than Light speeds utilizing the AL-38 Slipstream module, which was built off of studying Imperial technology and Kroot Warspheres. After testing the tech, they found that they could travel in days what would have taken months previously. Upon outfitting an entire fleet with the Slipstream modules, they prepared to bypass the fires of the Damocles Gulf (caused by the Imperium after their recent and costly battle with the T’au) but when they triggered their modules, they tore a rift in realspace and were swallowed by it, seemingly lost.

Many years later, the T’au made contact with an old drone belonging to the 4th Spehere expedition and discovered a wormhole where the 4th Sphere expansion force had been lost. They soon realized that their comrades had indeed not been destroyed but somehow survived. The T’au quickly reestablished contact and worked to send another fleet through. Upon reuniting with the 4th Sphere fleet, it was noted that the survivors of that ill fated expedition were changed. They seemed to find no spiritual contentment from the Ethereals, no longer trusted their alien auxiliaries (and in some cases may have killed them!)  and were extremely aggressive to the point of being censured by their fellow T’au. While the 5th sphere expansion is meeting with great success as they capitalize on the weakness and disorganization of the Imperium following the Great Rift, what hapenned to the 4th sphere?

To me it seems pretty dang obvious that they entered into the warp and had an Event Horizon style experience. Beyond that being an awesome and scary movie, the scenes it depicts are well and truly hellish (and fun fact, borrow much of the lore of the movie from the 40k universe as I understand it!). And as the T’au slipstream tech was based on Imperium warp drives, it seems that they were exposing themselves to the threat the warp represents.

While lost in warp space, the T’au describe being hunted by strange creatures that didn’t obey natural law, seemed to feed on their fear and stalked them mercilessly. As the T’au don’t seem to have access to any type of Gellar Fields it would be quite likely that they suffered Daemonic incursion. They were ultimately saved by what is described as a being possessing hideous sentience which forever altered the T’au which experienced it, and which created the wormhole through which they could now travel.

What do you all think hapenned to them? What entity saved them? Was it a Chaos god? Did the T’au create a god of their own in the warp due to the suffering they experienced while being tormented by Daemons? Is that even possible? What will happen to the survivors of the 4th sphere expansion which no longer have a spiritual connection to the Ethereals? It leaves a lot of fun and interesting questions to be answered. What do you all think? I could see the story going in a number of different directions with opportunities for splinter forces of the T’au, or perhaps Chaos tainted T’au somehow? Or perhaps this mysterious entity that saves them was an Old One, or something even more mysterious?

We also have the new gateway to the heart of the T’au empire that has been formed in the process leaving T’au open to all kinds of craziness such as Dark Eldar raids, Ork incursions, counter attacks by the Imperium, etc. It really brings the T’au more into the center stage of the galactic action.

What do you hope to see come of this?


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11 Responses to “40K Lore: What Happened to the T’au 4th Sphere Expansion?”

  1. AngryPanda March 14, 2018 2:27 am #

    If this was an imperial event Id expect some mini Codex or white dwarf list at some point. This being Xenos I expect it will either be forgotten or mentioned again in a few years with something like “yeah they never take their helmets off, spiky” like Althansar.

  2. Ishagu March 14, 2018 3:45 am #

    Wow, this is great stuff. I hope they expand on it more in future. More divisions and conflict within the Tau empire is very interesting.

    In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future, the philosophy of the Greater Good might be a little naive. Just as Humanity and Eldar fell from grace, maybe the Tau will too. They have advanced so quickly – but we should remember that the brightest flame burns quickest.

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 14, 2018 10:28 am #

      That’s what I was thinking. For one, cool to have T’au have a wider sphere of influence. (Pun intended, yuck, yuck!).

      Also, would be rad if there were some form of evil, corrupted T’au! Time will tell but I really enjoyed the story so far.

  3. Jural March 14, 2018 3:25 pm #

    There are persistent rumors of Chaos ‘Nids and Chaos Orks too… never heard of Chaos Tau…

    Pretty awesome idea, I’m betting they are setting something up for a few years down the line (which they may never get to, of course…)

    • Reecius
      Reecius March 15, 2018 7:57 pm #

      Yeah, it will be interesting to see what they do with these tainted T’au. Maybe they just have PTSD or something but this is 40k, expect the worst! =P

  4. GeekmasterK March 14, 2018 3:56 pm #

    Tau finally figure out Warp travel, ship goes through, crew come out traumatized and possibly altered in some way. I like it! I’d like to see this further developed down the road. Unlike the Imperium, Tau have no frame of reference for the Warp. It’s not like that Imperial ship that went through for the first time, and then the admiral on the other end says, “First time in the Warp? Yeah, I remember my first time. You get used to it. If you need therapy after that, I get it, but we need you in the fight! You can work out your mental trauma when you’re dead!” Tau on the other hand? I imagine it went something like, “HOLY SHIT! WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE GREATER GOOD IS THAT?!”

    • WestRider March 14, 2018 8:49 pm #

      Also, as mentioned in the article, the Imperium has Gellar* Shields. Those make a big difference.

      *Even tho they far predate the show, that name always makes me think of Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I sometimes like to think of it as her just riding on the outside of a ship and stabbing all the Daemons 😀

      • GeekmasterK March 15, 2018 7:07 am #

        Right. Forgot to mention the Gellar Shields. For as advanced as Tau technology is, the Warp is still mostly a mystery to them. It would be interesting to see a “Chaos Tau” faction, if the ship crew that went through the Warp ended up being corrupted, in addition to being traumatized.

        • Reecius
          Reecius March 15, 2018 7:58 pm #

          Yeah, it was cool to see the way they described what was hapenning from their perspective. They didn’t understand what was going on as it is new to them.

  5. ANevskyUSA March 16, 2018 5:00 am #

    Please let it be daemonic possession. I really hope it is Khorne…for the irony. But this whole “greater good” will to power stuff screams Tzeentch.

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