Story:The Shape Of The Nightmare To Come 50k section13

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Section 13: The Wolf Lords[edit]

"You think we're finished. We are the hounds! The very hounds of the Emperor! Of Russ! You think you've won? I disagree."
Reputed vox message from the Wolf Lord Ethelred, from the battle barge 'Fenritch',
before the boarding of the daemon vessel Horriblix.

The Second Age of Strife effected every chapter of the Angels of Death differently. Some descended into despair-driven barbarity, others broke up into warring factions. Some, like the Imperial Fists, decided to wait out the abomination (as we shall see later on). Some lost themselves in their own madness.

The Wolves were different. During the unfathomable genocide of the New Devourer, the Space Wolves divided up into their respective companies, and were scattered to every corner of the Imperium, for each great company was self-sufficient, and thus could function in this fractured state. Logan Grimnar, the Great Wolf during the early period, gave his wolves a simple message.

"Good hunting! Make our deeds legendary and glorious. Die well, my brothers. Die well!"

Thus, when the Devourer vanished, and the Emperor died, plunging the Imperium into utter chaos, the Space Wolves made good on their instructions.

Each Wolf Lord of the twelve Great Company's deeds were legendary. Yet, space is limited, and thus only some of the Wolf Lords' exploits can be properly detailed here. The others are documented elsewhere (hint!)

Ethelred (known as 'the Breaker'), feasting upon Fenris upon the death of the Emperor. Thus, he was the Wolf lord tasked with defending the realm against collapse. He sallied forth from Fenris, flanked by his fleet of warships, and travelled to every world within reach of Fenris. Where worlds descended into anarchy, his wolves would quell the rebellion. Where xenos reared their foul faces, Ethelred would smash them. Often, when a world fell, the Wolf Lord would challenge their leaders to an honour duel, marching forwards, alone, wielding only his vast mace. Often, a world would surrender, rather than risk dying at his hand.

This desperate defence of the suddenly powerless Imperium continued on for many centuries. Daemons, monsters and aliens constantly assailed the wolves, from every direction. Supplies often became scarce, and many times, the wolf lord would order a munitions-producing world ransacked for supplies, though, unfortunately, this often ended in butchery, due to the heavy-handedness of the Wolves.

Yet, even though many millions died in the endless wars of this time, the Wolves managed to rally the scant few Imperial troops in the sector directly surrounding the Space Wolf homeworld, urging them on to fight for their honour. For the briefest instant, hope flickered anew.

Of course, then the western Chaos Imperium began to advance eastwards, like a vile plague. Two titanic armies surged from the Chaos Imperium. One was led by Abaddon himself, while a second force, led by the daemon prince Lothar, and the Wolf Brother traitor Tosdak.

With no astropathic communication, Ethelred could not determine which force would attack first, and from where. He dared not split his forces, for even all 150 of his wolves, backed up by their supporting hundred thousand human soldiers, would be horrendously outnumbered, by even one of the titanic armies of chaos.

200.M43, the daemon prince attacked. The beast led his forces across the northern planets of the fragile Fenrisian Imperium, murdering and butchering countless millions, as they ravaged whole systems. When informed of this by his rune priests, Ethelred ordered is forces north, to combat the daemonic menace. His fleet surged north, and it was on the world of Stinling, that Ethelred engaged the evil chaos monsters. The forces had not expected the wolves to arrive so swiftly, and the wolf Lord made a surprise assault upon the daemon infested capital. Battle was joined, and fierce. Fallen Wolf Brothers, Despoiled Dark Cadians, and black Legionnaires, battled the frenzied wolves, and their allied human warriors. Blood mixed with the grey ash, and grimy muck of the planet, as limbs were hacked, veins were pierced, and man murdered man with reckless abandon. Many were the legends associated with the battle.

On the bridge into the city, a frenzied Khorne Berserker blocked all from crossing the bridge. His twin chain glaives were a whirling maelstrom of saw-toothed death. Eventually, he was slain by a cunning Blood Claw, who clambered underneath the bridge. Scuttling like a beetle, the blood claw managed to plunge his chainsword upwards, hacking through both the Berserker's Achilles tendons. As he dropped, the Wolf Priest Jalmere charged forwards, and dashed the monster's head from his shoulders in one sweep of his blade.

Eventually, Ethelred engaged Lothar himself. The vile beast was three times the height of a man, and had grown a vast, twisted wolf's face, in mockery of the Space Wolves. Ethelred and his Long Fangs engaged the fiend. As he swept his mace as the beast, the Long Fangs would pump fire from their heavy weapons, preventing the daemon from striking back at the Wolf Lord. Eventually, Ethelred managed to duck beneath the prince's swinging claws, and swung his mace directly into the foul monster's spine, shattering it. The foul thing fought on, wrestling with Ethelred, and nearly savaging his throat with its daemonic fangs. Ethelred floundered, and the fight seem to go from his eyes.

Tosdak watched, and he watched, as his gene brother struggled with the devil-wolf prince. He looked upon his former comrade in blood, as his armour was rent and his body was being slashed by ethereal talons. He could watch no more.

With a mighty bestial howl, Tosdak charged into the fray, and plunged his ether lance directly through the corrupt daemon prince's black heart. As it roared in agony, Lothar swept a monstrous paw at the Wolf Brother, decapitating the traitorous Astartes. However, Tosdak had slain the daemon prince, and both sides knew this. Ethelred took up his mace, and drew his bolter, and he blasted the foul beast apart, all the while, pulverising its stagnant flesh with his wolf-headed mace.

However, even as it dissolved into warp stuff, Lothar chuckled heinously. He was only the distraction, and Ethelred realised this too late. Fenris was the real target. It had always been the real target.

He made all speed back to Fenris. However, Abaddon was already there. Mighty Bjorn had fallen, slain by the coward Abaddon, who had pulverised him from orbit, along with most of the defence force. Ethelred, howling curses, immediately assaulted the chaos force. Another brutal, bloody battle took place, upon the rubble of Fenris herself. The stricken and depleted Wolves fought like gods of legend, and hacked their way through the great sea of chaotic filth, towards Abaddon. Murder was in the old Wolf's eyes.

An obliterator scorched his armour with fire and melta beam, but he pushed on, hacking it down with his mace and his frost blade. Daemonically corrupted Callidus lunged forth, hurdling poisonous darts into his flesh, and hacking at his limbs with perfectly murderous strikes. Though his blood was boiling with venom, and his limbs were mangled, he still fought through them, hacking them down in turn. Voltan the bull-prince, a vast chaos lord, charged him, and was butchered in the wild fury of the Space Wolf, who tore out his throat with his long fangs.

Eventually, he reached Abaddon himself, and battle was joined. He threw himself onto the Lord of the Chaos Imperium. Bestial frenzy fought daemon-enhanced might, and the two forces paused momentarily, as the battle was joined between the two combatants. However, Abbadon reached out with his Talon, and closed it around the Wolf Lord's throat. Abaddon grinned with evil delight, as he imitated his gene father's murder of his own brother, and the memory filled him with glee. Ethelred sank to his knees, choking and spluttering for air which wouldn't come. In one last, defiant strike, he swung his frost blade at his opponent, striking him in the face. The gnashing fangs of the blade tore through skin and flesh, ripping half of Abaddon's face from his corrupt skull. He howled in agony, hacking off the Wolf Lord's arm with his daemon sword, before plunging it deep into his body. Then, and only then, did Ethelred die, his soul roasted by infernal energies.

Yet, inspired by his example, the Wolves threw themselves upon the chaos forces, reaping a horrendous toll on the Chaos Imperium's forces. Though they died to a man, the Space Wolves of Ethelred's great Company took down over twelve million enemy soldiers. So depleted was the chaos force, that Abaddon had to return to his own lands, to replenish his numbers.

Thus, the sacrifice of the Wolves of Ethelred bought the survival of Fenris, and the last survivor, the cunning Blood Claw who helped slay the berserker, kept the demoralised human population of the Fenrisian Imperium alive, by moving between each world, telling tales of the ancient Space Wolves. Their sacrifice would save the Fenrisian Imperium from collapse.

Grimnar, upon the death of the Emperor, was already leading his Great Company against the New Devourer, and had only just survived the foul horde. Though the New Devourer was vanquished, the Space Wolves of his company were depleted to only fifty marines. He determined, nevertheless, that he would perform great deeds, worthy of the grandest of songs. Thus, his fleet went off on another great hunt. As their fleet prowled the void, it became apparent they were far from the Imperium. Their navigator was lost, claiming the Emperor's light was gone (Grimnar nearly killing him for even suggesting it), and thus no maps could be made. Every world they encountered, as they short warp jumped between systems, were filled with daemons and monsters, ruled by hideous alien beasts, or were completely barren, picked clean by the New Devourer. Those forces he could combat, he slew with great fury. Those too powerful for his fleet, were left alone, but Grimnar promised he would find them each in turn, another day, and there he would slay them.

However, one world could not be left alone. The Foul Library of Coine. Terrified merchants and cowering human vessels, captured by the Wolves, claimed that foul, forbidden knowledge was being researched upon the world, and that the world was building vast libraries across its entire surface. A silver-tongued man, calling himself Mephet, even told the wolves he knew the way to the planet, and he led them there. Grimnar knew who ruled Coine, even before he entered the system, six months later. The glass spires, the vast libraries. The cold blue and gold sentinels, guarding each temple library. The Thousand Sons yet lived. The Great Wolf could not spare these ancient Traitors.

Thus, the space wolves, following a bombardment of the glass cities of Coine, made planet fall in great fury. When they landed, they realised something terrible. Beneath the shattered glass towers, vast metal ones reared, glimmering with internal verities flame. The very ground of Coine was silver and hard, covered n complex glyphs and symbols.

In orbit, Mephet's mocking laugh echoed across every vox link. For Coine was not the domain of the Thousand Sons, but had an altogether more powerful patron. Coine was a trap, to ensnare the Space Wolves. As the Deceiver destroyed the orbiting Battlebarges and strike cruisers, using his powerful silver vessels, which entered the system instantaneously, the Deceiver offered his terms. He wanted Grimnar and his marines alive. Legend does not tell us what the Star God desired. Some claim he wanted Morkai, the axe, for some evil ritual. Others said there was something in the blood of the Space Wolves that the golden abomination craved. Some theories, rather more far fetched and outlandish, claim that the Deceiver wished to use the Wolves as bait, to ensnare the sorcerer Ahriman, in order for the C'tan to gain access to the Webway, and hence engage Cegorach directly. Who knows? All we know is that Grimnar, honourable as he was, refused, spitting in defiance, and planting his banner in the metal soil of Coine. He would not yield.

For months, the Necrons assailed the Wolves, and each time they were pushed back, at a dreadful cost. By the fourth month of the war, only twenty marines still lived, led by the bedraggled, and increasingly insane Grimnar. Each death came as a personal blow to the Old Wolf, and each time, he lost a little of his own mind. After every battle, the Deceiver would speak psychically to him, and offer him release, if he would only give into the Deceiver's demands. Every time, bleary-eyed and sorrowful, he would curse the Star god, and refuse.

At the height of the final month, the Wolves, holed up in one of the tall silver tomb towers, desperately fought off waves of immortal death machines. Every time the beasts died, they would rise up and knit back together. Only the plasma weapons remaining permanently took down the silver sentinels, causing them to vanish from sight. It seemed as though the five remaining Space Wolves would be utterly exterminated by the Deceiver's hordes, when help came from a most unwelcome place.

Within the cold dark chamber, a great fiery rent ruptured the air, and from the blazing chaos, stepped three marines. Two were clad in grey, unmarked power armour, with every chapter affiliation carefully filed off. They stood silent, bolters across their chests. The third marine was different, and the hairs on the Space Wolves' necks raised, and they snarled fiercely at the newcomer. For, standing before them, was a marine clad in the colours of the Dark Angels, the ancient rivals of the Wolves of Russ. The marine's twin pistols were sheathed, and his hands were raised in a placating manner. Grimnar snarled, decrying the Dark Angel. He responded calmly, by offering the Wolves passage from the world. All they had to do was go through the portal. After much deliberation, they reluctantly agreed. However, before they could leave, Necrons began to shimmer into existence from thin air, azure weapons crackling with infernal energies. Heroically, Grimanr ordered his Wolves to go through the portal, while he held the Necrons off. As they fled, Grimnar tossed Morkai to his second in command, Long Fang Brynisson, and the long fang tossed his leader his own frost blade in exchange.

"I'll be wanting that back later," were the last known words of Logan Grimnar, before he charged, alone, into the silver horde, bellowing curses and oaths.

No one knows what happened to him, as he was never seen again. All the Space Wolves know is that he no doubt reaped a great toll amongst his unloving foes. Some claim he fought the Deceiver itself, but no one can ever be certain. Nevertheless, his ballad is sung by the various beleaguered little pockets of Space Wolf resistance across the galaxy to this day. 

Of course, these are but a few of the tales of the Great Companies. The exploits of Ragnar the black-maned one, the final charge of Wolf Lord Vostor, the dread 13th Company, and all the other Companies, have their own tales of honour and sacrifice, each force desperately fighting in the last dying hope of an already festering corpse. The Space Wolves, scattered across the entire galaxy, knew they would likely die. However, they would not go quietly into oblivion. They would fight, for they were the hounds of the Emperor! Of Russ! Then the returned great wolf came for the wolf time, Russ surged forward to the head of the Deceiver........

The Shape of the Nightmare to Come: Section Navigation[edit]

  • The Shape of the Nightmare To Come: Section 13: The Wolf Lords

Continued in Warhammer 60K: Age of Dusk