- "Awake now, oh Dreadknight! Lend me your strength and fortitude, and I shall reward thee with righteous purpose."
- — from the Rites of Awakening
The Nemesis Dreadknight is a humanoid combat walker deployed by the Grey Knights Space Marine Chapter for the express purpose of battling the Greater Daemons of Chaos. A marvel of Imperial technology, these adamantium-alloyed exoskeletons are layered with bonded-ceramite plates and armoured control linkages, and allow a single Grey Knight to stand on an equal footing with the infernal children of the Dark Gods while also enhancing his natural psychic abilities. In many ways, Dreadknights are a more powerful and advanced version of the standard Space Marine Dreadnought. However, Dreadknights are not true cybernetic combat walkers but advanced exoskeletons intended to be used by any Astartes trained in their use to enhance his physical strength and firepower beyond even the superhuman norm of the Space Marines. These warmachines are currently exclusive to the Grey Knights. Dreadknight exoskeletons were designed and built for the purpose of allowing a single Grey Knights Astartes to combat powerful Greater Daemons and Daemon Princes who are physically far stronger than even the oldest and most experienced Space Marine. In appearance, Dreadknights are quite different from standard Dreadnoughts. They are taller, bulkier and appear as a humanoid-shaped exoskeleton.
The Nemesis Dreadknight was created by the Grey Knights Chapter to be the ultimate weapon in the fight against Chaos, specifically against the dire threat presented by Greater Daemons. A Dreadknight is taller, stronger and more heavily armoured than even a Space Marine in Terminator Armour. The epitome of technology, at the heart of the Nemesis Dreadknight is an adamantium-alloy exoskeleton, whose limbs are given life by a compact but powerful plasma reactor. Over this are layered a series of bonded-ceramite plates and armoured control linkages. The pilot controls his Dreadknight using synaptic implants in a way similar to how Tau Fire Warriors control their Battlesuits. This system provides the pilot with complete control of the machine's limbs and weapon systems. It is not known if the neural impulse technology that drives this formidable weapons system is a fragment of Mankind's lost inheritance preserved from the Dark Age of Technology or if its origins lie with recovered xenos technology. Either way, the Grey Knights are silent on the subject, determined never to share their arcane secrets with outsiders. Since the Grey Knights stand apart from other Imperial forces and answer only to the Inquisition, they can afford to withhold such secrets, though such a policy violates the edicts of the Adeptus Mechanicus which requires that all recovered technology be turned over to the Tech-priests of Mars.
To develop the mental and physical reflexes needed to pilot a Nemesis Dreadknight, a Grey Knight Astartes must train for many years. Unfortunately, not all Grey Knights possess the strength of mind and subtlety of reaction required to master the exoskeleton's many combat stances. Only a very few Battle-Brothers display enough aptitude to begin the training, let alone control such a weapon in the heat of battle. As such, Nemesis Dreadknight pilots are amongst the Grey Knights' most honoured warriors, for they have mastered skills that are the envy of their brethren.
To become a Grand Master of the Grey Knights is a rare honour, and one that only the strongest-willed of warriors earn. It is no surprise that many such lordly heroes possess the mental fortitude required to enter battle clad in the raiment of the Nemesis Dreadknight. Deep within the Grey Knights' fastness on Titan lies the Hall of Giants, an echoing cloister lined with candle-lit alcoves. Within these loom ancient and revered Dreadknight suits, reserved for the use of the Chapter's Grand Masters. Whether teleporting into battle at the head of an elite strike force, striding out to duel the greatest daemon lords, or embarking upon some doom-laden personal quest, when Grand Masters combine their exceptional might with that of the Nemesis Dreadknight, no malefic entity can stand against them
A Nemesis Dreadknight is optimised for close combat and is normally armed with one or two Nemesis Force Weapons for melee combat, such as one or two Nemesis Doomfists, a Nemesis Greatsword or a Nemesis Daemonhammer, each of which can focus and enhance the innate psychic abilities of the walker's Grey Knight pilot. Dreadknights are also often equipped with ranged weapons such as a Heavy Incinerator, a Gatling Psilencer or a Heavy Psycannon. Many Dreadknights also make use of integrated personal teleporter technology to unleash near-instantaneous assaults against a daemonic enemy that rarely knows fear.
When strapped into the command harness of the Dreadknights' pilot compartment, the exoskeleton's synaptic implants grant the operator complete control over its movement and weapons fire. When matched with the Nemesis Dreadknight's devastating weapon systems and the all-but-impenetrable gravitic forcefield that protects the otherwise exposed pilot, this combination serves to elevate the Grey Knight's combat abilities to a point where he can withstand the blows of even the mightiest denizen of the Warp and unleash a fearsome counterattack in reply.
The Nemesis Dreadknight is a form of archeotech that was forged for the express purpose of facing the most dire daemonic threats faced by the elite Grey Knights. Nemesis Dreadknights are only deployed for the most dangerous of the Chapter's missions. Whilst other warriors would perhaps shirk such a brutal path, Nemesis Dreadknight pilots embrace it, knowing that each trial furnishes them with new knowledge and skills. Thus is the Dreadknight honed until it is one of the sharpest blades in the Emperor's hand. For a Grey Knight, there can be no greater honour than to pilot one of these arcane war engines.
- Dreadknight Brethren Formation - While the Dreadknight was originally devised for those times when a single Grey Knight must face a Greater Daemon in battle, the Dreadknight Brethren are fielded in times of even greater peril: when a single squad of Dreadknights must confront an entire horde of daemonic creatures. These formations can cut ichor-stained swathes through the daemonic legions, and will even make Greater Daemons think twice about attacking their allies. A Dreadknight Brethren Formation consists of between three and five Dreadknights.
- Extermination Force - An Extermination Force focuses on swiftly eliminating important targets within a daemon horde. A single Nemesis Dreadknight forms the unit's vanguard and is outfitted with a modified armament that has been subtly altered to fire specifically crafted tracker rounds. Once the Dreadknight finds its target it fires the tracker rounds. The shrapnel laces the victim with a fine layer of psychic spoor. Once marked, a squadron of up to five Stormraven gunships armed with Psybolt ammunition will descend upon the foe and destroy it with overwhelming firepower.
- Codex Adeptus Astartes - Grey Knights (8th Edition), pp. 46, 84
- Codex: Grey Knights (7th Edition), pp. 108, 180-181
- Codex: Grey Knights (5th Edition), pg. 34
- Warhammer 40,000: Apocalypse (6th Edition) (Digital Edition), pp. 41, 175-176