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Pius Kowle

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Pius Kowle was an Imperial Commissar during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade.

History

Spoiler!
This page contains spoilers for: Necropolis (Novel)

Once an upwardly mobile officer, Kowle drew the enmity of fellow Commissar Ibram Gaunt, who felt that Kowle's bravery and resolve were beyond reproach, but were not tempered with the ordinary humility and concern for his troops that Gaunt himself had learned from his mentor, Delane Oktar. After Kowle had one of his soldiers flogged to death for wearing the wrong badge on his cap, Gaunt reported this to Warmaster Slaydo, who transferred Kowle to a different theatre, shortly before the climactic Battle of Balhaut. Kowle fought on the southwest continent of the planet, while Slaydo's force, including the Hyrkan 8th and Gaunt, confronted the main body of Archon Nadzybar's forces. Kowle felt cheated of glory and never forgave Gaunt.[1a]

Vervunhive

Kowle was assigned to the Vervun Primary on Verghast, at once the liaison between the Imperial Guard and the Hive City of Vervunhive, and the senior Commissariat officer of that city's own defence forces. Kowle did little to hide his resentment for his post, and his eagerness to seize any opportunity to rejoin the Crusade.[1b]

While many of Vervunhive's armed forces and politicians were paralyzed with shock when the city came under attack by its rival, Ferrozoica, Kowle seized command of an armoured column and led a hasty sortie from the city walls.[1b] His force was quickly overwhelmed by the Zoican forces, but he managed to lead the survivors back to the city gates, which were jammed with refugees from the surrounding countryside.[1c] Deciding that these refugees were of no account, Kowle ordered his tanks to plough through the gates, crushing hundreds of civilians to death.[1d]

Because he was one of the few men seen to be taking action, Kowle was quickly hailed as a hero by the common people of Vervunhive. The city's ruling houses promoted him as a symbol of hope and resistance, glossing over his ruthless actions.[1e]

During the defence of the city, Kowle clashed repeatedly with Gaunt, whose regiment were part of the reinforcements deployed to Vervunhive. Kowle saw victory in the war as a way of climbing back to real prominence in the Crusade, and so did his best to keep the favor of the ruling houses and the general staff.[1f] This led him to support several of their short-sighted actions, such as bringing charges against General Grizmund for supposedly disobeying an order during the battle. Gaunt, whose only concern was winning the war, was forced to break Grizmund out of jail in time to let him take command of the city's remaining armoured forces.[1g] Gaunt placed Kowle under arrest, relieving the Commissar of his weapon and his rank pins.[1a]

Kowle accompanied the small party that Gaunt led to confront Salvador Sondar and reactivate Vervunhive's defence shield. In a fight with a Chaos-corrupted servitor-beast in Sondar's chambers, Kowle killed it by thrusting a cluster of grenades down its jaws, losing both his arms. As he bled to death, he sneered that he had proven his point: that Gaunt was a weakling who didn't have the resolve needed to win. He cursed Gaunt for ruining his career and "robbing" the Crusade of a great leader. As a valediction, Gaunt returned Kowle's rank pins to him in the final moments of his life, and saluted him for "giving his best."[1h]

When Gaunt first arrived on Vervunhive, people mistook him for Kowle, because of their similar uniforms, and hailed him as the "People's Hero."[1i] Ironically, at the end of the campaign, when he was being addressed as the "People's Hero", he thought he was being mistaken for Kowle again, but the people were quite sure about who Gaunt was and which of the two Commissars deserved their thanks.[1j]

Sources