This one is mostly about me griping!
The Grey Knights, we’re told, never fall to the temptations of Chaos. Not rarely, or once in a blue moon, but never ever, not a single one in the last ten thousand years. I take this from the previous edition of the Grey Knight codex by the way – I’ll admit I’ve never read the current edition. Anyway, as a Chaos worshipping heretic myself this pisses me right off. Obviously this is intended as Imperial propaganda, wrapped up in the legendary – even semi-mythical – nature of this secret chapter, but I still find it pretty aggravating. It may just be a fairly minor bit of the background but it comes across as smugly condescending both to us Chaos fans and followers of the Imperium in all its other factions, most of which can’t get out of bed in the morning without falling to the worship of the Ruinous Powers. Rather than letting it bother me however I decided to take the narrative bull by the horns. If the Grey Knights wanted to thumb their nose at me by smugly resisting the dark powers I would thumb my nose right back.
Allow me to introduce Grey Yekub; the Fallen Knight.
At this point some of you may be thinking ‘But… but… you can’t have a Chaos Grey Knight..!’ Let me assure you that you most certainly can and that I had great fun creating him. And yes, I’m aware that I’m a huge fan of the ‘lore’ of 40k, and tend not to do things that radically contradict it. However in this case I felt compelled to simply because this particular piece of lore is so restrictive, so utterly anathema to interesting story-writing, to model making and to the creation of compelling game scenarios. In short it makes the galaxy of the far future less exciting to be in, not more, and as such I feel obligated to struggle against it.
For a while I considered giving him the standard issue ‘evil guy red eyes’ (because as you know all evil characters in miniatures games either work in very windy conditions or are massive hung-over all the time). Anyway, in the end I decided against it because I thought the ‘dead eyed killer’ look was more appropriate to this ruthless traitor.
Here’s a close up of his shoulder. This bit was definitely saved for a ‘steady hands day’ – and even then the writing is a little wonky.
Anyway, as well as the Knight himself I wanted to create some of the esoteric wargear they have access to. Clearly my imagination took a very literal turn when I read the words “Empyrean Brain Mines” as it wasn’t until I found the description in the codex that I discovered these mines affect the brain – rather than being made of brains. By then it was much too late and I’d started to make him some.
Regular readers will know that with any new addition to the Beasts of Ruin I like to create a little bit of accompanying background, not a story exactly but a little sketch describing who they are, what motivates them, where they came from, etc. With this model however that’s almost impossible. With the arrogant claim that no Grey Knight has ever fallen to Chaos one is faced with something too insurmountable to easily explain. What events could I describe leading to this man’s corruption without seeming utterly overblown and preposterous? What could he have seen or experienced that his brothers have not, or have resisted for ten millennia? It would seem as tacky or improbable as writing in the missing Primarchs whilst I’m about it.
Anyway, for those who don’t mind a brief fan-fiction moment, this is what I came up with in the end:
Who knows what horrors or hidden desires caused the Knight who would become known as Grey Yekub to turn his back on the Emperor where for ten thousand years his brothers had remained stalwart? Perhaps Kell alone has discovered the secret but if he has he holds it close, for knowledge is power and power over one such as Yekub is a commodity to be jealously guarded. With merely a word, or the touch of his hand upon the hilt of his sword – a weapon, like its bearer, both blessed and damned in its time – the knight can quell even the most powerful and fractious of daemons. Thus the legions of the gods remains subservient to Kell, though he courts the power of all four yet bows to none with an arrogance to rival Abaddon alone. Often the daemons hunger to see him torn down for his hubris yet whilst Yekub stalks in his master’s shadow they dare not.
In this way the fallen knight serves also as a more subtle weapon, controlling the squabbling mortal servants of each god amongst Kell’s own ranks. Many powerful warlords would like to take his place in command of the Beasts and claim Princehood as reward for binding their warriors to one god alone but whilst Yekub lives they know such rebellion would be short-lived, whilst their punishment within a Hellbrute sarcophagus would last forever.
Thus they scheme instead to see Kell’s bodyguard destroyed first. Those who attempt it however soon learn that in treachery he has lost none of the fabled might of the Grey Knights and remains an adversary that all who worship the ruinous powers are right to fear.
Oh… one final point, Grey Knights. Primarchs fell to Chaos. Who the hell do you guys think you are?