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The Genestealer Cults are a faction of the Tyranids that consist of infected humans and Genestealers - who prepare humanoid worlds for the arrival of the main Tyranid Fleets and subsequent destruction, in this manner they can be seen as a fusion of a doomsday cult and a zombie-apocalypse as they spread across entire star-systems - infecting all they come across whilst their leaders send out psychic signals that attract the Tyranid Fleets to worlds rich in fresh bio-resources.

Just prior to the arrival of the hive fleet, the genestealer cult (by now in direct psychic contact with the hive fleet) will engage in widespread rebellion and sabotage to weaken any defense the world might undertake against the fleet. If this is successful, the genestealer cult ends up being consumed by the hive fleet along with all life on the planet.