The story of the founding of the Grey Knights is a unique and confusing one. Most Chapters of Space Marines were created by the Emperor in his laboratory on Luna for the Great Crusade to reconquer the galaxy. Each Chapter had a Pirmarch to lead it and the Space Marines of the Chapter were the genetic descendents of that Primatch. Psykers (or Librarians) are uncommon in the Chapter and most Battle Brothers have no psychic ability at all. Most Chapters only recruit their aspirants from a single world, or at most, just a few and those recruits start their service to the Emperor and mankind as Space Marine Scouts. when the Scouts are ready to be promoted to Astartes, they are folded into the chapter structure outlined in the Codex Astartes.
They Grey Knights break all of these rules.
|"I hear you have a ghost problem."|
After being personally approved by The Emperor, the Marines were taken to Titan, a moon of Saturn. The moon was outfitted as a fortress with everything the Marines would need to create a Chapter. Weapons, forges, banks of genetic material, armor, etc. There, Malcador used his super-special powers to create a hole in reality big enough to slip the entire moon into. The moon and the Marines remained hidden from Horus and the forces of Chaos through the entire Heresy only to emerge during the reorganizing of the Second Founding.
The Grey Knights had no Primarch. There are some vague allusions to the GK being the gene-descendants of the emperor himself. The 5th Edition Codex on p.7third paragraph, second sentence says that their gene-seed was of the Emperor's own flesh and soul. While far from concrete, that's clear enough for me.
Time passed more slowly in the Warp for the Marines on Titan. While they went in with just a handful of Marines, they emerged with a complete Chapter. This is when we get the first hint that there is something fishy about the super-Boy Scouts. During the Second Founding, each Legion was being broken down to Chapters of 1,000 Marines. Each chapter was given a number (I assume because no other SF Chapters have numbers associated with them). Despite being the first assigned a Chapter and there being barely 400 Chapters qued to be founded, the Grey Knights demanded to be designated as Chapter 666. I make a note of this because every source about the GK brings this up. They simultaneously point to it as an oddity and refuse to talk about the significance.
|Get your kicks...|
The number 666 has some special meaning, and I ain't talking about how it is the sum of the first 36 natural numbers. It has the nasty reputation as the number of The Beast. This comes from the christian book of Revelation and it has a variety of meanings. Some think that it is a numerical code for Emperor Nero used so the author (known for his symbolism) could talk garbage about the head honcho without getting in trouble. Some think that if you flip it upside down and add a one to the beginning, you get an awful movie with Arnold that combines vague religious overtones with Millennium hysteria. No matter how you slice it, 666 = evil in the minds of the common man. I can't tell what this means, but it seems significant. The Grey Knights seem almost too good and pure, and that should make anyone suspicious.
The Grey Knights are not organized into the typical structure of Space Marine Chapters dictated in the Codex Astartes.They walk another path. For starters, there is no chapter Master. Rather there are eight Grand Masters (just as in the days of Malcador) that are subject to the Chapter Lord or Supreme Grand Master. Each of these Grand Masters is in nominal control over a body of Marines though rarely in physical command. The Chapter is spread out across the Galaxy in small numbers and most cadre of Grey Knights are headed by a Brother Captain (equivalent of a Captain in a Space Marine Chapter), Librarian, Champion or Inquisitor. Only when the Conclave Diabolus (the 101 most powerful and feared Daemons) rears its ugly head, does the leadership take to the field.
How many Marines doe s a Brother-captain lead? As many as he wants to and as many as it takes. When Grey Knights are unavailable, they are able to commandeer the forces of the Imperial guard and even the Adeptus Astartes under the authority of the Inquisition. This conscription is not without its price. Guardsmen that serve with Grey Knights against the forces of evil are most often killed to prevent the knowledge of Chaos to spread. Whole planets have been eradicated to prevent the spread of this deadly knowledge. Space Marines are far too valuable to be slaughtered wholesale, and are thus voluntarily mindwiped. When they refuse mind wiping, Grey Knights are forced to cull them. Yanno, for their own good.
Grey Knights also include Techmarines and Dreadnoughts but that is all they share in common with their Astartes Bretheren. Grey Knights fill the various roles needed in battle in other ways. Rather than Assault Squads using jump packs to move quickly through the battlefield, the Grey Knights use Intercept Squads with personal teleporters. Rather than heavily armed Devastator Squads, Grey Knights use Purgation Squads laden with physic weapons. The Grey Knights have access to all the same vehicles as space Marines, but each is piloted by a psycher that is able to bolster the defenses of his vehicle. They also have access to unique vehicles such as the towering Dreadknight, an armored walker that is capable of standing toe-to-toe with a Daemon Prince.
That is it for the overview I think. I've hit all the main Points that I want to. I'll need come back and insert links to future posts in this article. It also needs some revision. Up next are Strike and Intercept Squads. I'll also detail the selection and training process at that time.