40K Lore: The Grey Knights Meet their Match
Today Loremasters we speak of “The Months of Shame” – A secret war where the Grey Knights bit off much more than they could chew.
The Months of Shame is a term to refer to the immediate aftermath of the First War for Armageddon. Beginning as a purge by the Ordo Malleus against survivors of the conflict for fear of the lingering taint of Chaos, it escalated into skirmishes and eventual full battle with the Space Wolves. The term itself is not an official one, and indeed few in the Imperium are aware of the incident’s existence. Rather, the name was coined by some within the Grey Knights, who saw the deaths of their Grand Master and Battle Brothers as a mark of shame and regret.
In the aftermath of the defeat of Angron on Armageddon, the Inquisition felt that the surviving Imperial Guard and civilian population could not be allowed to tell the tales of what they had seen to the larger Imperium, fearing the secrets of Chaos and the betrayal of the Primarchs would become known. Moreover, the Ordo Malleus was fearful that the taint of Chaos and corruption lingered within the surviving population. As a result, a general purge was organized by Lord Inquisitor Ghesmei Kysnaros. The surviving civilians would be herded into labor camps and sterilized, while the Armageddon Steel Legion survivors would be destroyed in their transports as they left for new missions. Space Wolves Great Wolf Logan Grimnar, familiar with Ordo Malleus policy, suspected this would be attempted but received assurances from both the Inquisition and Grey Knights that most of the survivors would not be harmed. Grimnar, fighting alongside the men and women of Armageddon, was adamant that these brave fighters and survivors be left unharmed. Nonetheless Grimnar was suspicious, and kept his large fleet in orbit over Armageddon.
The purges began on Armageddon itself, with Inquisitorial Stormtroopers telling the civilian population that they were to be relocated to camps temporarily while their homes were cleared of any lingering corruption. As they entered the camps, revealed to be little more then forced labor camps, they were sterilized by injections said to be inoculations. Meanwhile, the Grey Knights fleet begins to assault disembarking Imperial Guard troop transports, destroying many. However the Space Wolves fleet intervened, attempting to block the Grey Knights line of fire and even coming under fire themselves. The Wolves ships refused to return fire, not wanting to give the Inquisition the excuse it needed to declare them a renegade chapter. However when the Space Wolves Battle Barge Gylfarheim arrives over Armageddon, the Inquisition and Grey Knights are forced to stand down in the face of the Wolves overwhelming firepower. Multiple troop transports escaped under the Wolves aid, but Lord Inquisitor Kysnaros is still committed to containment and a wider purge commences.
Any world or outpost that came into contact with the survivors was subject to Exterminatus by Grey Knights ships, resulting the destruction of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica station Ralas Meridian, the worlds of Jendara Quintus and Tybuilt, and the Adeptus Mechanicus outpost of Priam Novus. The Inquisition meanwhile hunted down the troop transports themselves, destroying them in Warp transit. It seemed that the Space Wolves actions had only doomed even more worlds to destruction. As the months went by, some elements within the Inqisitorial side pragmatically realized that a complete purge was becoming increasingly unfeasible; combined with Lord Inquisitor Kysnaros’s handling of the Wolves and the aftermath of the war, dissension had taken root.
Cold War with the Wolves
The Space Wolves were still committed to defying the Inquisition and protect the survivors, resulting in a “Cold War” with the Wolves. The Space Wolves sent ships to escort and help survivor transport ships escape, or block the destruction of new worlds. They did not fire, even when fired upon by Inquisitorial and Grey Knights vessels. And while the Inquisition claimed many surviving transports and scoured new worlds, due to the Wolves aid many more escaped and containment had become all but impossible. After months of this back-and-forth, it was agreed by Inquisitor Kysnaros and Grey Knights Grand Master Joros to meet with Grimnar in neutral space and negotiate a settlement.
However as soon as the Space Wolves ships entered the rendezvous point to meet for negotiations, they were fired upon by Kysnaros’ fleet. The smaller and ill-equipped Space Wolves fleet lost four ships while a fifth, Grimnar’s flagship Gylfarheim, was crippled. At the behest of Kysnaros and Joros, Grimnar agreed to teleport on board their ship and “surrender” himself. However when the Great Wolf entered the ship with his escort of Terminators, he scolded the Inquisition for its violation of the laws of parlay and such underhanded tactics. Still defiant rather then submissive, Grimnar demanded to know who had ordered the attack on his fleet. When Joros confirmed he had given the order, Grimnar attacked and struck down the Grand Master with his Power Axe before beginning to teleport back to his ship. The Grey Knights, anticipating such a move, restrained the teleporters on the Wolves armor with their psychic powers, the wolves reacted by killing the Grey Knights Justicars with their Storm Bolters, throwing the Knights psychic concentration into chaos. A shaken Kysnaros, ill-experienced in dealing with the ferocity of the Wolves, stood down and allowed Grimnar to escape. The Wolves became much more hostile after the ambush, engaging and destroying any Grey Knights and Inquisition ships they encountered. Showing no mercy to the personnel on board
The Siege of Fenris
However the Inquisition was not yet done with the Wolves. Kysnaros gathered an entire Battlefleet of the Imperial Navy as well as the entirety of the Red Hunters Chapter with the intent to march on Fenris. Kysnaros asked the famed Grey Knight Hyperion (who commanded respect amongst the Space Wolves as the “Bladebreaker” for his role in defeating the Daemon Primarch Angron on Armageddon) and Inquisitor Jarlsdottyr to join him as representatives of the Grey Knights and the Inquisitorial Ordos. With these allies Kysnaros intended to send the rebellious chapter an ultimatum, to commit to a penitent Crusade for their defiance to the rosette, or have their world burn. Kysnaros was certain the Wolves would submit, and greatly dreaded any scenario involving full-scale war. When his fleet entered orbit above Fenris, they found the formidable defenses of The Fang intact but the world defended only by a single damaged Strike Cruiser. The Space Wolves fleet had been bled during the Cold War periods and other engagements, and Fenris seemed abandoned in space.
However after a brief negotiation on the ground with Bjorn, who had been awakened to deal with the crisis, it became clear that the Wolves would never submit to the Inquisition’s demands. At which point the entire Space Wolves chapter fleet under Grimnar entered orbit above Fenris, furious at Kysnaros’ actions. Kysnaros continued to try and contain the situation, but he had pushed the Wolves too far and a battle in space began between the two fleets. Ships rammed one another, boarding actions by Assault Boats were committed by both sides, and the orbital defenses of The Fang opened fire on the Inquisitorial fleet as the fortress itself came under fierce bombardment. The battle was costly for both sides, and much of the Wolves fleet was destroyed or crippled. Three Imperial Navy warships were destroyed in orbit, crashing into the Fang and causing it greater damage than it even sustained in the Thousand Sons invasion millennia earlier. Despite being outnumbered the Space Wolves managed to inflict heavy casualties on Grey Knight an Inquisition forces. When the Corel’s Hope lost its Void Shields, Grimnar and twenty Terminators teleported aboard the bridge of the flagship and massacred all Grey Knights and Stormtroopers they came across, even with the protection of the famed Hyperion and another Grey Knight Kysnaros would be brutally slain by Grimnar as he rushed the bridge.
As the battle played out into mutual destruction, Bjorn teleported aboard the Corel’s Hope and convinced Grimnar to stand down, telling him the battle had gone on long enough. With the death of Kysnaros, combined with the heavy losses their enemies had suffered, Grimnar accepted. Both sides agreed to stand down and the Inquisitorial fleet departed from Fenris while the Wolves reluctently halted their campaign against the Inquisition.
In the aftermath of the dispute between the Inquisition and Space Wolves, Grimnar has never forgiven nor forgotten the war, while the Space Wolves are viewed with great animosity by much of Segmentum Solar‘s Administratum and the Grey Knights. The Grey Knights specifically suffered serious casualties during the conflict, with several of the Chapter’s starships lost, as well as a Brotherhood-strength contingent of irreplaceable Astartes. The casualties came on the heels of the First War for Armageddon campaign which had already cost both sides dearly.
~ Guard your knowledge of this war with care – for both sides will kill to hide such shame.