Children of the Night
The Space Wolves 13th Company
With Abaddon's 13th Black Crusade reaching its bloody climax, a new force has joined the war. Small warbands of elite warriors have been sighted, falling upon the servants of Chaos with a feral savagery matched only by their bestial appearance. Beleaguered Imperial forces have been relieved by these bands on numerous occasions, though every attempt to contact them has resulted in the threat of further bloodshed.
Legend states that many centuries ago, the Space Wolves numbered thirteen Great Companies. To this day, a place is reserved at the feasts held in the Hall of the Great Wolf for a Lord who has not attended his liege since the time Russ himself led his sons into battle. Tales of this Company are vague and often contradictory, but one fact is known: the men of the 13th Great Company were marked apart from the rest of their Chapter, for every one of them bore the Curse of the Wulfen.
The origins of the 13th Great Company lie in the dawn of the Age of the Imperium, when the Primarchs were reunited with the Emperor and their legions. The Space Wolves, the 6th Legion were the genetic progeny of Russ. and carried within them a unique gift: the Canis Helix, the Mark of the Wolf that sets the Space Wolves apart from the Space Marines of other Chapters. The Canis Helix invests the Space Wolves with the acute predatory senses of the wolves native to their homeworld of Fenris, but this gift comes at a price: the Curse of the Wulfen. Those brothers who succumb to the curse degenerate into savage, malformed parodies of their brethren, in most cases during their training, but in others many years later in the heat of battle. The Space Wolves' harsh induction regime generally ensures that these individuals perish at an early stage in the process. However, at the time of the Great Crusade, when the Emperor and his Legions were conquering vast swathes of the galaxy in the name of Mankind, those brothers touched by the curse were banded together into the 13th Company, where their feral ferocity could be brought to bear en masse, as well as contained for the safety of the whole legion.
That the 13th Company accompanied Russ on the Great Crusade is known, although the details of the campaigns in which they fought are lost to antiquity. Only the names of actions, long since forgotten appear in the archives, battles such as the First Siege of Methrix and the Battle of the Plains of Mo-Shan, the Fall of the Paramours of the Morpheus Rift, and the Crossing of Hangman's Void.
The fate of the 13th Company is a subject of numerous myths, and the Space Wolves themselves will not be drawn as to which holds the true account. In truth, it is, probable that an element of veracity exists within each, and that none are wholly inaccurate.
There are some sagas which outsiders are never permitted to hear, ones told by the Rune Priests on only the most sacred of occasions. Though some sagas have been set to record by strangers, and the Space Wolves have spoken, some would say bragged, at length regarding certain aspects of their long and glorious history, there are certain passages that mean death should outsiders overhear them.
The saga known as The War of the Giants' purports to be a record of the fall of Prospero: one of the opening conflicts of the Horus Heresy. The Space Wolves were ordered to assault their brother legion, the Thousand Sons, and to call them to account for the sorcerous actions of their Primarch, Magnus the Red. The saga states that the 13th Company were at the head of the assault on the Thousand Sons' homeworld, and that the sheer ferocity of their attack smashed a hole in the traitor lines through which the remainder of the Space Wolves could penetrate. At the height of the battle, it is told that Magnus opened a portal, a means of escaping the destruction wrought by the Space Wolves. Magnus and the remnants of his legion fled, but it is said that Russ ordered the 13th Company to give chase, and in so doing they left the realm of Man, never to return.
Fragments of other records suggest that the disappearance of the 13th Company did not occur until after the Siege of the Emperor's Palace, which saw the rebel Warmaster Horus finally defeated and the Traitor Legions routed to the Eye of Terror. It is stated that in the wake of the galaxy-spanning civil war, which saw the Imperium brought to its knees by Horus's treachery, the Ultramarines' Primarch Roboute Guilliman sought to consolidate the forces of Mankind. But Leman Russ, headstrong and proud as he was, demanded that the Traitors not be allowed to establish a foothold within the Eye of Terror, and that the Imperium should strike immediately. Though Guilliman and Dorn overrode him, it is suggested that Russ may have despatched the 13th Company with orders to hunt down Abaddon, the Warmaster's Lieutenant, and bring his head as a trophy to set before the Emperor. Other, less charitable theories suggest the Wulfen gave chase o( their own accord, and some even whisper that they were tainted by Chaos all along, and were seeking to join the ranks of the Traitors.
This legend bears up well to the little evidence that exists to support it, and that the Wulfen have embarked upon some form of pursuit is given credence by the timing of their emergence from the Eye.
A further legend speaks of the disappearance of a Space Wolves force through an Eldar webway portal, though in this particular case the story relates to the so-called 'Wolf Brothers'. Little information as to the true identity of this group survives, though what scraps of data have been recovered suggest that the Wolf Brothers were in fact a successor Chapter of the Space Wolves that was disbanded due to some form of genetic instability. A passage in The Calleria cites the Wolf Brothers as pursuing an Eldar force through a mystical portal, from which they never returned. The similarity between this and other legends suggests that a kerne! of truth lies at the heart of the matter, though the exact details will likely never be known.
Little needs to be said of Fenris, the inhospitable, ice-bound world from which the Space Wolves come, but whether the 13th Company have found a home within the Eye of Terror is unknown. Certainly, the Canis Helix would prove a vital factor in survival within the Eye, for it is known that the Curse of the Wulfen is want to surface as a defence against the influence of Chaos- No doubt the Wulfen-kind have walked upon daemon worlds the like of which would drive a Space Marine of any other Chapter beyond the point of sanity. Whether they have ever paused in their hunt long enough to establish any sort of permanent base of operations seems unlikely, and against their nature.
To date, only a handful of reports have been logged regarding actions in which the newly emerged 13th Company have taken a hand. In each of these battles, the company has attacked without warning, penetrating deep into enemy lines before launching a devastating close range assault. It has been observed that 13th Company warbands prefer to attack during the hours of darkness, where the element of surprise can be used to greatest effect, but even in the daylight hours, its ambushes and infiltrations have proven decisive in a number of early engagements in Abaddon's latest Black Crusade.
In terms of equipment, the warriors of a 13th Company warband fight, and travel, light. They have never been observed to use transports of any type. It is of course entirely possible that the 13th Company were never issued with any vehicles in the first place, as their superior infiltration skills would make the use of front line vehicles undesirable and unnecessary.
The equipment carried by the Company appears basic, and even debased compared to a conventional Space Wolves force. Each Space Marine carries a variety of weapons, from bolter to primitive blade, and many of these weapons appear to have been scavenged from Chaos forces, or have been adorned in such a manner as to appear that way. There is no doubt that some of the men of the Company wear power armour stripped from the bodies of fallen Traitors, and this is a matter that the Ordo Malleus will no doubt wish to pursue when the current crisis has been resolved. Indeed, a number of Inquisitors have already expressed a desire to call them to account: amongst them radicals who see the Company as successfully having turned the weapons of Chaos upon itself, and puritans for the very same reason.
A conventional Space Wolves Great Company is formed around a core of Grey Hunters - experienced warriors capable in a number of battlefield roles. Supporting these are the Long Fangs, who provide heavy firepower, and alongside fight the Blood Claws, packs of eager young aspirants who throw themselves into battle in an effort to prove themselves to their superiors. Leading the Great Company is a Wolf Lord and his retinue of Wolf Guard: highly accomplished warriors who provide an officer cadre within the company. The force can call on support from any number of armoured vehicles, Dreadnoughts, transports, bikes and Land Speeders.
A 13th Company warband differs from a Space Wolves Great Company in a number of respects, most of which can be explained by the circumstances of the Company's disappearance.
At the core of the army are the Grey Slayer packs. These squads fulfil a similar role 10 Grey Hunters in a Space Wolves Great Company, but each Slayer is far and away a superior fighter to his Grey Hunter equivalent. This is no surprise to Imperial observers, as the normal flow of new recruits into a Great Company has been cut off, making the progression from Grey Hunter to Wolf Guard impossible. The Company has adopted an ad hoc structure, often separating men into specialised units that support one another, in the manner of a pack of wolves on the hunt. The core of this force remains the equal of the elite elements of many other armies.
As the Grey Hunters are unable to advance to the traditional post of Wolf Guard, so it can be noted that there are no Blood Claws within the Company. It can be expected that any Blood Claws that disappeared with the Company would have either died in action, or long since progressed up the ranks, and that no replacements would have been forthcoming within the Eye of Terror with which to replenish them.
Some of the senior ranks found within the Space Wolves are also absent from the 13th Company. Other than the Wolf Lord himself, the only leaders to be found operating outside of the packs are the Rune Priests and Wolf Priests. It is assumed that this is due to the fact that casualties amongst the other ranks could not be replaced due to the lack of specialised training and resources. This poses some interesting questions regarding the Rune Priests, as the Company appears to have had no trouble maintaining a cadre of these psychically gifted individuals. Evidently, the Eye of Terror has had some effect on the men of the Company, apparently unlocking previously untapped psychic ability within its ranks.
The formation that represents the most drastic departure from the Space Wolves organisation is the Wulfen packs. The Wulfen are consummate predators, who throw themselves at their foe as soon as he is scented. Whether the Wulfen packs are standing formations, or are formed on a temporary basis as men succumb to the Curse of the Wulfen is, at this stage, unknown.
The first reported instance of direct contact between Imperial forces and a 13th Company warband was during the raid on the Ormantep Listening Post. One of only a handful of survivors, a Sanctioned Psyker stationed with the post's Kasrkin defenders reported that she was almost decapitated by a Wulfen with whom she tried to communicate, and it was only on the orders of another 13th Company leader that the beast spared her That the Wulfen are highly effective in close quarters combat is evident, but it is also clear that they are potentially as dangerous to Imperial troops as they are to the enemy.
It has been noted by Inquisitor Asmorales that the numbers of the Wulfen-kind that disappeared 10,000 years ago must have been equivalent to a contemporary Space Marine Chapter, based on the far larger size of the First Founding Legions. To date, only a handful of men of the 13th Company have been observed, and so the Inquisitor believes that the majority of the Company remains within the Eye of Terror, slain, or engaged upon a mission only they know the nature of. It is also likely that a number of separate contingents of Wulfen-kind are at large, each harrying the forces of Chaos and each led by a Lord who is vassal to an individual yet to reveal his hand in the conflict.
The 13th Company has reappeared at a time of great peril for the Imperium, and is mercilessly hounding Abaddon in a campaign of ambushes and infiltrations. That they are engaged upon a pursuit is evident, and is entirely consistent with the legend that Russ despatched the Wulfen-kind to hunt down the Despoiler. That they must have been engaged upon their hunt for 10,000 years is testament to their persistence, though none can tell how many years have passed for them within the warped dimensions of the Eye of Terror.
One question that remains to be answered is just how the Space Wolves Great Wolf Logan Grimnar will receive the returned Wulfen-kind. Will they disappear once more when some unknown short-term goal is met, or will they seek to return to their Chapter? Some say that the Wulfen have spent too long within the Realm of Chaos, expressly against Inquisitorial dictate, and this alone should preclude their return to the Imperium. Of course, the Space Wolves, known for their strident independence from the institutions of the Imperium, may welt oppose any and all censure of their erstwhile brothers. With Abaddon's invasion at full height the Imperium can ill-afford internecine conflict.
That the Canis Helix is responsible for the condition of the Wulfen is known, and it has been suggested that it is this savage force of nature that resides within each Space Wolt that has allowed the 13th Company to survive the long millennia of corruption by the power of Chaos.
What is not known, and remains to be seen, is whether their presence within the Eye of Terror has tainted the gene-seed of the 13th Company in any way. Many simply point to the bestial appearance of the Wulfen-kind, and their use of scavenged Traitor wargear as all the evidence needed to condemn them, but others defend their methods as pure necessity.
Wulfen packs are often led into battle by Wolf Priests, and it is theorised that these individuals play a vital rote in controlling the excesses of the Wulfens' curse. Wolf Priests of the Space Wolves are the keepers of the genetic lore passed down to them in a direct line from Russ, and appear to be the only men able to control a Space Wolf when the Were is upon him. The Wolf Priests are obviously acting as guardians, leading packs of Wulten in combat, and ministering to their charges between conflicts.
The Adeptus Mechanicus undoubtedly wish to analyse the gene-seed of slain 13th Company Space Wolves, though to date they have not succeeded in doing so. Should they find any impurities then the scale of the Imperium's response, and what side the Space Wolves take, could only be imagined.
Legends tell of the howl of the Wulfen: mortal ears have now heard it for the first time in 10,000 years. Eyewitnesses report that the effect is devastating to enemy morale, and often equally unnerving for friendly troops.