The Space Wolves

The Space Wolves

Since the Imperium came into being, the Space Wolves have fought tooth and nail for the cause of the Emperor. Amongst the most famous of the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, their sagas are told from one end of the galaxy to the other. As headstrong as they are fierce, the Space Wolves excel at close-quarters fighting, their warriors vying keenly for glory on the field of battle. The Space Wolves live to fight, and death holds no fear for them.

Land of Fire and Ice

Fenris, the home world of the Space Wolves Chapter, is a world of pain and hardship, swathed forever in freezing ice or unforgiving fire. It drifts in the far northwest quadrant of the galaxy, perilously close to the Eye of Terror, and yet its denizens remain pure. From space, it is apparent that the vast majority of Fenris is covered in ice-cold water, and what little land mass there is floats as small islands of frozen rock and snow. In the long, dark days of the Fenrisian winter, the oceans freeze over entirely, swathing the planet in a hard, white skin.

One small continent remains stable throughout the years: the land of Asaheim, which sits atop the crest of the world. Fenris orbits its sun in a pronounced ellipse; as a direct result,
the climate ranges from ice cold for most of the year to searing heat in the summer. Even at the time when Fenris reaches its perigee, the primary continent remains intact, although ravaged by blazing lava and rivers of magma. Tectonic plates grind, mountains are thrown up, and chasms rend deep gashes in the skin of the planet. Yet somehow, amongst the shifting ice floes and fierce tides, the men of Fenris thrive.

As the constant ravages of the cruel and ever-changing climate harden its people, so too does it harden the native species. The prey, such as the herds of giant Fenrisian elk with their majestic and razor-sharp antlers and the hulking mammoths that can crush a man’s body to a pulp, are dangerous indeed. The predators, however, are among the most ferocious in the galaxy. Ancient drakes and wyrms soar on the thermals above the shifting islands, thriving in caves heated by geothermal processes. Sea serpents and kraken haunt the deeps, terrifying leviathans that can grow thousands of metres in length. It has even been suggested that these kraken, one of which is said to have been caught by Leman Russ himself, are the remnants of an unsuccessful Tyranid invasion from the distant past.

Great white bears, raging beasts that weigh as much as an ice shark and are almost invisible in a blizzard, can be found prowling the frozen tundra, fully capable of smashing apart the strongest buildings to feed upon the unwary occupants. But most dangerous of all, a predator so terrible that it is known throughout the galaxy, is the Fenrisian wolf. These iron-furred monsters range from the mass of a small horse to that of an armoured personnel carrier, and are possessed of a singular cunning. Perhaps the most terrifying thing about these beasts is that they live in packs and, when they are hunting, their prey has little hope of escape.

Given that many Space Wolves wear the pelts of these vicious creatures, having killed the beasts with their bare hands, the warriors of Fenris can be reckoned mighty indeed. Born into a world of such omnipresent danger, only the toughest can thrive. Few worlds in the breadth of the galaxy hold any fear for the Space Wolves of Fenris.

Many Space Wolves have served in the Deathwatch, and some of the most celebrated Battle-Brothers are drawn from the Chapter. Their propensity to engage the foe head on has led to many great victories, even if none outside of the Deathwatch ever hear of them. Though many Space Wolves have been elevated to the rank of Watch-Captain in the Deathwatch, comparatively few have served as Watch Commanders. It is likely that this is due to the brothers’ natural gregariousness, and their desire to return to the great feasting halls of Fenris once their duty is done.

The Trials

The Space Wolves claim to be blessed with the most potent of all gene-seeds. The heritage of Leman Russ is as unique as it is deadly, and the fifirst stage of the aspirant’s transformation is often the last, for many are killed, or worse, transformed into slavering beasts. Before the transformation can begin, the aspirant must fifirst imbibe the Canis Helix. Unfortunately for many, the genetic coding of the helix contains a number of substances that are not synthesised by the human body, and they have a dramatic effect upon the potential Space Marine. The ravages of this unique gene first take effect during the aspirant’s indoctrination. Ultimately, he is cast out into the wilderness to make his own way back to the Fang—the Space Wolves’ mighty Fortress-Monastery. The gene works its hideous changes upon the warrior’s mind and body; he reverts to a primal state where his bones split and buckle, hair sprouts across his body, and his only desire is to gorge on fresh meat and blood. His body mass grows by almost eighty percent, many of his bones fuse, and vestigial fangs sprout from his gums as he undergoes the transformation. Whilst his body is wracked with pain, the warrior must overcome the gene, lest it overcomes him. The nights of Fenris are prowled by giant, feral creatures, known as the Wulfen, the vestiges of aspirants who have failed to overcome the curse. To become one of the Wulfen is to fail and truly become a monster.

If the aspirant finds his way back to the Fang across the chasms and glaciers populated by snarling predators and blasted by freezing winds, he is implanted with the remainder of the Space Wolves’ gene-seed, stabilising the Canis Helix and completing his genetic indoctrination into the ranks of the Sons of Russ. A minority of these warriors do not entirely conquer the gene-seed’s effects, however, and in times of great stress will revert to the hulking, bloodthirsty state that haunts their genetic structure. This is the Curse of the Wulfen, and it is rightly feared.

Combat Doctrine

The Space Wolves have a very different approach to martial strategy from many of their brother Space Marines. There are several distinct types of squad, or pack, unique to the Chapter. Due to the Canix Helix in the Space Wolf gene-seed, Space Wolves experience their canines continuing to grow throughout their life-span. As a SpaceWolf progresses through his life, he may rise through the ranks until he is old and his fangs are long. If his bravery and might are proven beyond question, he may be invited to join the Wolf Guard, or even become a mighty Wolf Lord and lead one of the Chapter’s Great Companies.

Most Space Wolves begin their careers as Blood Claws, hot- headed young warriors who cannot wait to prove themselves, charging in howling packs at the front lines of the enemy in their efforts to garner personal glory. The Blood Claws are the shock troops of the Space Wolves and spearhead the majority of assaults. If they survive to become mature and capable warriors, they will be elevated to the ranks of the Grey Hunters, tempered by battle but nonetheless ready to give their lives in the name of honour. When the Space Wolves are fully mature, their hair grey and their canines pronounced, they are likely to be inducted into the Long Fangs, veteran warriors who are disciplined and steady even in the heat of battle, and hence entrusted with the company’s heavy weapons.

The bravest and strongest of the Space Wolves, after proving themselves in a feat of exceptional valour or martial prowess, may become Wolf Guards. It is not by age or maturity that one attains such a coveted rank, but by deed, and so a newly raised Blood Claw has the same chance of joining the ranks of the Wolf Guard as does a veteran Long Fang. The Wolf Guard may lead less experienced packs into battle, or form a retinue for the mightiest warrior of the Great Company— the Wolf Lord himself. Few can stand before these heroic warriors, equipped as they are with the best wargear in the company’s armoury, making them virtually unstoppable in close combat.

The Space Wolves

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