"Honour the Chapter unto your last breath, and make of this day a day of legend that will echo down the eons! Go forth boldly, knowing the prayers of your Battle-Brothers are with you and their eye is upon your every deed. Let there be a reckoning that shall be remembered in the annals of the Chapter when we have all become dust. We are the First Company, the very finest of the Emperor’s Angels of Death. Though the foe may be deadly we are deadlier still. The enemy trembles before our coming and knows that his doom is at hand."
A Deathwatch 1st Company Veteran is one of the most heroic, brave and trusted Battle-Brothers in the entirety of the Deathwatch, having proved his mettle in hundreds of conflicts from squad-level raids to full-blown Imperial Crusades. Entrusted with many precious mysteries hidden from other Battle-Brothers, and holy artefacts of incomparable value, these Veteran warriors bear the honour of the Deathwatch before all others, guiding their junior Battle-Brothers in times of doubt and confusion. Chapter legends are littered with examples of a handful of 1st Company Veterans expunging a stain on the Chapter's honour despite the risks, or selflessly sacrificing themselves in the cause of victory. Most importantly, only 1st Company Veterans can take on the role of serving as Terminators.
The Deathwatch is not formally divided into separate companies as are Space Marine Chapters. The basic tactical unit of the Kill-team is the only set organisation used and individual Kill-teams can often change their composition from mission to mission as ordered by the Watch Captain in command of them. Nonetheless, there are 1st Company Veterans to be found in the ranks of the Deathwatch, expert warriors who have come to perform their Vigil and bring their considerable prowess to the service of the Long Watch. More rarely a Space Marine will win such renown within the Deathwatch that he is accorded the rank and privileges of a 1st Company Veteran in recognition for his zeal and purity during his Vigil. When the Battle-Brother returns to his Chapter, it is rare for his Chapter Master not to acknowledge this honour, inducting him into the 1st Company, or that Chapter's equivalent, at the first opportunity.
The Chapter Master and his senior officers will carefully consider each candidate and their acts of valour before granting elevation to this elite status. Most of the 1st Company is made up of Space Marine warriors that have already achieved the rank of Veteran Sergeant in their own company, but exceptional acts of courage can occasionally lead to younger recruits being inducted into the 1st Company to honour them. Such younglings must be driven indeed to match the deeds of the 1st Company Veterans, and will have to prove themselves many more times before they become fully accepted into their ranks.
1st Company Veterans have the honour of being assigned the most difficult missions against the toughest opponents and as such, the 1st Company is always the most powerful company in a given Chapter. In the Deathwatch, 1st Company Veterans are given access to the finest weapons available: masterfully-crafted Plasma weaponry and Power Blades, relic armour of great renown, protective shields and rare grenades. Most notably its members are trained to make use of Tactical Dreadnought Armour, or Terminator Armour as it is more commonly known. All of the Veteran warriors of the 1st Company bear the Crux Terminatus -- an honour signifying that they have undergone the rigorous training necessary to use Terminator Armour. Only Space Marines so honoured are permitted to don the revered Terminator Armour at times of special need. Terminator Armour is so rare and precious that it is only deployed in the most difficult and exceptional circumstances. Those so equipped know their mission is a vital one and that the eyes of the whole Chapter will be upon them.
Each Space Marine Chapter possesses just a handful of the highly-prized suits of Terminator Armour, and each is greatly revered and rightfully feared by the Emperor's foes. The armour is of an incredibly ancient design, and the secrets of its manufacture have long since been lost. The few suits that have survived to more recent times are reverently maintained by the Chapter's Techmarines and carefully restored after every battle. Between battles Terminator Armour is stored with great sanctity surrounded by trophies and testaments detailing its histories and the deeds of past occupants. The Machine Spirits within Terminator Armour are treated with great deference for their tremendous age and war-wisdom, often being feted for a victory as much as their occupant.
Some First Founding Chapters are still capable of fielding a full company in Terminator Armour, but most Successor Chapters are limited to using no more than a few squads at a time. It is impossible to say just how many suits of Terminator Armour the Deathwatch has in the Armouries of its Watch Fortresses across the galaxy. A Watch Commander always seems able to access a few suits when needed, but larger numbers must be begged from other Chapters, something the Deathwatch is loathe to do. Terminator Armour is particularly useful for combat-heavy Kill-team missions and the addition of one or two suits to a team can tip the odds decisively in their favour. Weaponry for Terminator Armour is designed for close quarters combat. By default a Terminator wields the Storm Bolter with its murderous rate of fire in one hand, and an all-destroying Power Fist encases the other, a potent close combat weapon capable of crushing the strongest armour or alien carapace. Other specialised weapons used by Terminators include Assault Cannon, Heavy Flamers, Thunder Hammers and Storm Shields, Lightning Claws and Chainfists. Although a few long-range weapons like the carapace-mounted Cyclone Missile Launcher exist for use with Terminator Armour, these weapons are rarities, for the armour is designed for savage engagements at point-blank range.
Space Marines Terminators excel at urban assaults, ship-to-ship boarding actions or any other kind of engagement where the fighting is close and vicious. The superb protection afforded by Terminator Armour mated with its devastating close-range capability enables 1st Company Veterans to wade into the battle with irresistible force. When they are protected by Tactical Dreadnought Armour, Deathwatch Space Marines can fight toe-to-toe with the deadliest Tyranid creatures or the most monstrous Orks. No matter how heavily armoured or numerous the foe, Deathwatch Terminators can vanquish them with the devastating weaponry at their disposal.
- Artificer Power Armour
- Terminator Armour, optional
- Bolter or Bolt Pistol
- Storm Bolter
- Frag Grenades and Krak Grenades
- Close Combat Weapon (Power Fist, Power Sword, Thunder Hammer, Storm Shield, Lightning Claws or Chainfist)
Optional Deathwatch 1st Company Veteran Wargear
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pp. 130-132