A Gargoyle (Gaunti avius), also sometimes called a "Hellbat," is a vicious winged Tyranid bioform that is often the first species of Tyranid seen in battle.
Their prime purpose seems to be seeking out the enemy and sowing terror and confusion amongst them. Thus, fire and the flap of the Gargoyles' membranous wings precede the Tyranid hordes, driving the enemy out into the open to be absorbed by the swarm, spitting death from their Fleshborers.
Adding to the terror is the high-pitched scream emitted before they release a ball of bio-plasma from their mouth.
Though they have six limbs, the lower pair have atrophied to little more than stumps. Due to their small stature, a Gargoyle can only fly so far and relies on the Harridan Bio-Titan for especially long flights.
Physically, Gargoyles strongly resemble the Termagants from which they are genetically derived, with compact but lithe bodies encased in a lightly armoured exoskeleton.
They have wide, leathery wings, raking claws and barbed tails. They also display the same animal cunning as their ground-dwelling counterparts, and instinctively assail the foe from an unexpected quarter whenever the situation allows.
Winged manoeuvrability gives the Gargoyles a distinct advantage over the majority of opponents, who for the most part rely on technological assistance to fly. As a result Gargoyles have earned a dread reputation, a legend that, in truth, far outstrips their physical threat.
Wherever Gargoyles are abroad, defenders look fearfully to the skies, for they know that every sky-borne shadow could be a flock of Gargoyles about to attack.
Those that face Gargoyles believe them to be skittish in nature, creatures that flee in the face of combat and instead prefer to fight at range. Indeed, a Gargoyle's leathery wings are easily damaged in close-quarters fighting, an unnecessary waste when the creatures are perfectly adapted to kill their prey from a distance whilst avoiding retaliation.
On occasions when the Gargoyles' natural instincts are suppressed, they fight with all the desperate savagery of cornered beasts, entering a frenzied state that more than compensates for any perceived fragility.
While they are built for ranged combat, Gargoyles are not helpless in melee. They are capable of spitting a toxic fluid, which they instinctively aim at the eyes of their opponents in order to blind them. Then they tear into the foe with barbed tails and talons until either they or their prey are slain, or the Hive Mind relinquishes its control.
Additionally, a quirk in Gargoyle behaviour drives them to seek out ventilation shafts and other small entrances to any structures or other habitations that their swarm is assaulting.
Despite their wings, they have little trouble crawling into these spaces and entering a fortress, where they wildly lash out with their claws and barbed tails as they attempt to escape; many Imperial Guardsmen have found out just how dangerous a Gargoyle can be in an enclosed space in this way.
- Codex: Tyranids (3rd Edition), pg. 14
- Codex: Tyranids (5th Edition), pg. 42
- Codex: Tyranids (8th Edition), pg. 46
- Deathwatch: Mark of the Xenos (RPG), pg. 36
- Imperial Armour Volume Four - The Anphelion Project