In the Grim Dark, Silver still means you’re 2nd place. Loremasters, let’s look at “Elite” of the Emperor – the Grey Knights!
While they aren’t the most elite army ever thanks to the impending arrival of the Adeptus Custodes, the Grey Knights are still an fighting force to be reckoned with. Today we’re looking at the Grey Knights in the Big Picture and their illustrious history.
The Grey Knights are the legendary Chapter 666 – and although nominally a Chapter of the Astartes, they are in the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition. Each member of the chapter undergoes a gruelling and torturous selection process, and even once inducted, their harsh training regime is without equal. In battle, they move as an army of silver ghosts, surrounded by awe, and equipped to the teeth to deal with the worst foes that Chaos can raise to meet them.
Ever since the Chapter’s founding, only the Inquisition and Chapter Masters have been allowed to know of the Grey Knight’s existence. Many chapters believe the Grey Knights to be a myth, if they have even heard of them at all. Space Marines who encounter them are telepathically scoured, while Imperial Guard regiments they fight beside are simply executed. The Space Wolves know of their existence however, after slaughtering Grey Knights, Red Hunters and Inquisition Forces, during what the Grey Knights call the Months of Shame.
To battle such enemies as Daemons, creatures that are not of this realm but formed of sorcery and madness, a Grey Knight must embrace the power of the Warp to battle a Daemon with its own weapons. Each Grey Knight is an accomplished, powerful psyker whose psychic presence is anathema to creatures of the Warp. They are trained to channel their psychic energies into a halo of protective wards known as The Aegis. Thusly armoured, a Grey Knight’s presence becomes unpalatable to Daemons, making him immune to corruption, able to wield forbidden black magic, harness tainted artefacts and scour blasphemous tomes all without risk of being overwhelmed by the cursed power of Chaos.
The Grey Knights hold a unique honour among the chapters of the Adeptus Astartes – in over ten thousand years of service, not a single one of their number has ever defected to Chaos.
Their armour is left unpainted, leaving the silver-grey of the ceramite exposed. This tradition is thought to have originated from their desire to lead lives of absolute purity. Acid-etched into their left gauntlet, as well as tattooed upon the flesh beneath, is the sigil of Malcador the Sigilite. Upon achieving the rank of Justicar one may display their personal heraldry on a shield on their shoulder. In contrast to this their armour is highly decorated, encrusted with protective symbols and engraved litanies.
Much of the Grey Knights history remains in mystery and secrecy or has been purposefully removed from archives. However according to legend, the Grey Knights began as a project during the final days of the Horus Heresy. The Emperor foresaw that the Heresy would likely end at such a great personal cost to himself that he would be prevented from actively defending mankind from the great threat of Chaos and its Daemons. So the Emperor set in motion a plan to form a defence against such evil. Malcador the Sigilite, closest of the Emperor’s servants, was sent to search across the Imperium for men suitable to rise to such a burden.
Malcador found twelve worthy champions; four were lords and administrators, and eight were Space Marines from both loyalist and traitor legions. These included survivors of the Eisenstein incident, Nathaniel Garro, Amendera Kendel, Lemuel Gaumon, and Kyril Sindermann. During the founding of the organisation others would join them including Tylos Rubio, Macer Varren, Janus, Epimetheus, Khyron, and Garviel Loken. Many of the Space Marines that joined the cause hailed from Legions that had turned traitor, though they themselves had remained loyal to the Emperor. Once they had been gathered, the Emperor surveyed the chosen recruits and granted both his approval and consent to proceed with the project. So the recruits split ways to go off towards separate tasks; the four lords ventured off to lay the framework of the Inquisition, whilst the Space Marines and Malcador travelled to Saturn‘s moon of Titan.
Titan, through Malcador’s mystical means, had been hidden away from the ravages of the Horus Heresy. When they arrived they found a Fortress-monastery already fully prepared and stocked with everything necessary to create a new army of Space Marines including supplies of gene-seed, which is suspected to have been taken from the Emperor directly, and all the necessary armaments. The fortress was also already populated with hundreds upon hundreds of suitable recruits from across the Galaxy. Some were raw and untrained, whilst others were selected in secret from among the ranks of loyalist Legions. This new army would be a Chapter – a smaller, tighter brotherhood of Space Marines than a Legion. Malcador could no longer remain and thus he appointed Janus, one of the eight original Space Marines, to be the Grey Knights leader and take the title of Supreme Grand Master. Before leaving, Malcador cast his greatest enchantment yet; he hid Titan away from Horus in the most unlikely of places, inside the Warp itself. Titan was protected by Macro-Geller fields and sigilic rites whilst the final battles of the Heresy took place in Real Space.
When Titan eventually returned, the Second Founding was taking place. Whilst in the Warp, time had passed at a greater rate for Titan and so it had emerged not with the original eight Space Marines and their raw recruits, but with a full Chapter of one thousand fully trained Battle-Brothers. The Second Founding was being directed by the newly formed Inquisition under the control of the same lords who Malcador had selected years before. So they secretly included the Grey Knights amongst the growing list of new Chapters, designating them Chapter 666, despite there being barely 400 Chapters commissioned at the time. The Grey Knights, different from all the other new Chapters, were embedded within the Inquisition to serve as the Chamber Militant of the Ordo Malleus to fight against all things Daemonic.
Want to learn more about the 2nd Most Elite of the Emperor? Check out the Lexicanum for More!
Hey, at least you have psykers and Daemons are kind of afraid of you.