Early Third Edition Era
Note: In the early years of the Third Edition era, Games Workshop experimented with a new "mini-dex" format. The mini-dex for the Space Wolves was not intended to be a stand-alone product, and required that it be used in conjunction with the Codex Space Marines. The size of the Codex was cut by about 50 pages, so the vast majority of the background material was left out of the Codex, with the bulk of the publication comprising only the army list, rules, and equipment descriptions. All of the "fluff" was provided instead in three consecutive White Dwarf magazines, which coincided with the release of the Space Wolves mini-dex (White Dwarf issues 244-246, from the summer of 2000 CE).
Evidence concerning the existence of the so-called Space Wolves 'lost companies'. This report compiled by the Emperor's most humble servant, scribe Chambers, M41.
Honored brethren, in accordance with your request I have instigated an investigation into the matters raised by the Ecclesiarchy envoy, Balthasar Van Heppel. Thus far I have conducted a level six probe into the Libraris Omnia on Terra and made a regrettably brief visit to the Space Wolves home world of Fenris. The specific charges made by Van Heppel, of iconoclasm and heresy within the Chapter, were most directly addressed at Fenris where I sought audience with the current Great Wolf, Logan Grimnar. A giant of a man, even for a Space Marine, the Great Wolf presents himself as a simple, blunt and irreverent warrior - frequently using the basic psychological technique of deflection, laughing uproariously (and intimidatingly) in response to any question he does not wish to address. However my overwhelming impression was of a shrewd and quick-witted leader disguising himself as a barbarian.
Although the Great Wolf was suspicious of my motives for visiting Fenris, he seemed affable enough once I had joined him in consuming several kegs of locally made winter-ale (after taking a suitably strong dose of anti-toxicants naturally). My discussions with Logan Grimnar, the subsequent tour he provided of the more accessible areas of the Space Wolves Chapter-fortress, and my own nocturnal investigations of the less accessible areas sufficed to convince me of the following: the Space Wolves, like many of the Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes, honor the Emperor and their Primarch above all others. They worship the Emperor as the greatest man who ever lived, all-father to both the Imperium and themselves. This is significant because they do not invest Him with the divine attributes commonly espoused by the Ecclesiarchy.
While this could technically be termed a Heresy of the third degree, the fact remains that the Space Wolves' faith in the Emperor and Leman Russ remains stronger than in many of the hives and worlds across the Imperium. I found countless shrines, inspirational images and devotional offerings with The Fang (the Space Wolves' fortress), often of a somewhat barbaric nature it is true but nothing which would indicate anything other than an unswerving dedication to the Emperor of Mankind. I believe tht what rankles the Ecclesiarcy is the manner in which their devotion is expressed (i.e. outside their auspices).
Of greater interest than Van Heppel's accusations is certain information gained from the Libraris Omnia. The servitor-probe was programmed to retrieve all available data on the Space Wolves Chapter and turned up some unexpected fragments on the so-called 'lost companies' of the Space Wolves. To place things in context, the Space Wolves' lack of successor Chapters has often been noted as unusual given its status as a first founding legion with a history extending back to the legendary days of the Great Crusade.
As is well-known, after the Horus Heresy the great Space Marine Legions of that time were broken up into the smaller Chapters of today. In this way no single Chapter Master controlled the terrible power of an entire legion. However, despite this and the great size attributed to the Space Wolves Legion during the Crusades (Dionerius stated that the Space Wolves "stood 10,000 strong at the gates of Thranx") no successor Chapters are listed for the Space Wolves. This is a mystery I believe I can now shed some light onto. As may be observed from the accompanying fragments, each one tells the story of a group of Space Wolves who appear to have separated themselves from the Chapter. In some cases, as with the 'Sons of Russ', this could merely be artistic license on the writer's part but in each case no corroborating evidence could be found for the Space Wolves Chapter being involved. Amongst most Space Marine Chapters such behavior would be viewed as a fatal breach of discipline, those involved would be declared renegade and mercilessly hunted down. However, the Space Wolves Primarch, Leman Russ, was always renowned for his independence and impetuosity and I believe these traits remain predominant within the Chapter. The oaths of fealty undertaken by the Wolf Lords of the Space Wolves Great Companies declare their allegiance to Russ and the Emperor but do not stipulate servitude to the Great Wolf.
It appears that in some cases a Wolf Lord and his Great Company separate from the main body of the Chapter, undertaking their own quests and missions for a variety of reasons. The case of Jotun Bearclaw, for example, indicates that his men had elected not to return to Fenris because of the long journey time through warp space, and presumably the temporal displacement they would suffer on arrival (potentially several years over such a distance). I suspect that there is a more hidden motive behind the Company's actions, one which he chose not to share with the Kimmerians. This may be related to the Space Wolves' ancient quest to find their lost Primarch.
As to the long term viability of these 'lost companies' it is difficult to say. Given sufficient geneseed and technical competence it is entirely possible for such a company to maintain its strength over a protracted period, inducting and training new recruits in the same way as a normal Chapter. Less well-supplied companies might have to resort to training ordinary humans to fill their ranks or face the prospect of gradually dwindling in numbers until the company ceases to exist.
Speculation aside, this subject obviously requires further investigation. A Space Wolves Great Company is a substantial organization and the concept of having such groups wandering the galaxy without any kind of check or balance is somewhat worrying. I shall endeavor to uncover more information before contacting you again.
- Inquisitor Asmorales Harkenforth
The Sons of Russ
(Excerpted from the Pax Imperium: the road to gloria, M34)
"The overwhelming martial glory of our Space Marines has never been matched before or since as they carved a bloody swathe through the currupt worlds of the Kreel nebula. Nests of pirates and heretics fled before the storm of righteous fire and damnation rained upon them by the apocalypse-ships of the Adeptus Astartes. Whole planetary populations were purged of the taint of abomination with the flash of bolter fire and the cleansing kiss of the flamer. As the Kreel crusade reached its might fully three whole Chapters of the Emperor's chosen were poised to deal death to the forces of the Arch-Deviant Kabboki and lay siege to his impregnable fortress at Mo-Shan.
Kabboki had summoned all of his legions in fear of the approach of the righteous servants of the Emperor. The plain of Mo-Shan was covered by their numbers and the thunder of their artillery threatened to crack the world. It was the Sons of Russ who led the charge through the smoke and flame of the battlefield, their chilling howls spreading terror through the enemies' ranks. At such close quarters the enemies' numbers were meaningless, their artillery worthless. So it was that the Space Marines fought their foes face to face and hand to hand, hacking them down with screeching chanswords until the corpses were piled higher than their heads. Though the Sons of Russ wore armor of wolf-grey, at the end of the day's slaughter they were dyed crimson by the gore they had spilt on that vermillion plain. As the iron ring was closed about the Tyrant's fortress. The Sons of Russ lined its periphery with the heads of the fallen, their sightless eyes glaring accusingly back at the fortress which had brought their doom."
The Wolf Brothers
(excerpted from the calleria M37)
...And ranging 'cross Yahals plain
The Eldar turned at bay.
They stood and fought, shed blood
A thousand men that day.
Then Wolf Brothers came
To slay them all,
Bloody swords raised, howling,
Answering the warriors' call.
No alien could stand against
So fierce a foe,
No trick would turn them aside.
On they came, unstoppable
To strike a deadly blow.
Turning, fleeing the Eldar ran
Through their portal
Beyond the reach of man.
Undaunted Wolf Brothers
Pursued them unto realms immortal
Though aliens were defeated,
Their fury tamed,
The ill-fated Wolf Brothers
Were lost, mourned
Never seen again...
These fragmented pieces of text have been excerpted from Dionerius' Rise of Man, M31
...Among them were companies of savage creatures, their bestiality far outstripping even the barbaric Children of Russ. By the Space Wolves these were called the Wulfen, at times spoken of as the thirteenth company. They were feral of eye and febrile in nature, strong of limb and blanched by savage tattoos, able to tear a man asunder with their clawed hands and fangs. Eschewing weapons of distance they would stalk their foes as wild beasts, slinking in the shadows and hunting by night 'neath the light of the full moon. Variously, captains say the Wulfen were led by Hirkon Grail or Jorin Bloodfang, maybe when one was slain another took his place.
Now in the aftermath of the Siege of Terra there was a great confusion among the loyal followers of the Emperor, for they had lost their liege lord and were as knights without their king. [[Text lost]] Many voiced loud the thought in the hearts of all - give chase to the traitors and destroy them utterly for the woe they had wrought. The voice of Russ was raised loudest of all, [[Text lost]] but Guilliman and Dorn gainsaid his counsel. To enter the Occularis Terriblis would bring disorder on the surviving Legions, they said, leaving Man vulnerable to both the xenite and the apostate. It is said that Russ, as was so often the way, took his own counsel and sent forth the Wulfen to hunt down Abaddon and his followers. Others say that the thirteenth company pursued the heretics of their own accord, as hounds at the chase who heed not the calls of their huntsman. Others still maintain that the Wulfen had been tainted by the Dark Gods and were summoned by their call to join the traitor legions in the netherworld.
The Wulfen were never seen nor heard of again, passing into the void and becoming lost to the eye and ear of Man. It is said that upon the Space Wolves homeworld of Fenris the loss of the Wulfen was known by the wolves of Asaheim. The great packs gathered before the gates of the Space Wolves monastery in their thousands until every wolf in the world was there. That grey host howled of their loss for a hundred nights before returning to the hinterlands.