Battle of the Lone Wolf

Background

At the Battle of First Contact, Space Wolves fought Chaos Daemons, Necrons, Space Marines and Tyranids. Arjac Rockfist– who had made planetfall shortly after the detonation of the moon Abfall by the Rubicon Necrons– watched in anger as his troops sold their lives dearly on the shattered rock of the battlefield. Nearing exhaustion and suffering from terrible wounds, Arjac was felled by shots from Rubicon Necrons. Moments later, the Sautekh Necrons left the battle, taking with them a prize of unknown capabilities.

The Dreadnought Murderfang– its metal bulk dripping with the gore of shattered Tyranid Warriors– stood watch over its felled leader. A moment later through the smoke emerged two Blood Klaws, each the lone survivor from their units. The two men rigged a sled from the bay door of a silent Drop Pod and respectfully laid their leader upon it. The two Blood Klaws then ran, dragging their leader on the makeshift sled across the uneven ground while all around them in deep gloom and heavy smoke the Battle of First Contact was winding down. The Blood Klaws’ hope was to leave this place of death and join with another force of Space Wolves they knew had been deployed south of their current position.

That force was under the leadership of Harald Deathwolf. The renown Wolf Lord had lead the charge against a horde of Tyranids around the same time Arjac was facing his own enemies in the north. The initial onslaught of Tyranids was destroyed but wave after wave kept coming. A veteran of numerous campaigns, Harald had met Tyranids on the field of battle on other planets and knew Tervigons must lay somewhere beyond the ridges. Those monstrous creatures were spawning Termagants at an alarming rate. Standing in the stirrups of his loyal Thunder Wolf, Ice Fang, Harald Deathwolf signaled his vanguard to fall back to the fortifications his rearguard had been tasked to establish around the shattered skeleton of what was once one of thousands of Imperium factories that covered this sector before Hive Fleet Leviathan had laid waste to Adrilles.

Not long after Harald Deathwolf had ordered his vanguard to take up position in the fortified trenches, a signalman standing at the highest peak of the former factory reported that a small party was approaching quickly from the northwest. The Dreadnought Murderfang was easily recognizable. A ripple of alarm ran through Harald Deathwolf’s seasoned troops when the prone form laying on the makeshift sled was recognized as none other than Arjac Rockfist.

The Wolf Lord was quick to act. Orders were barked and Space Wolves quickly enacted their leader’s commands. Evac was ordered. Troops snapped to the ready in the trenches while a squad of Wolf Guard Terminators left the defenses and arrayed themselves on open ground to the south of the defenses. Harald Deathwolf had ordered them to be the spearhead that would drive deep into the Tyranids now coming from the south. The Wolf Lord himself would lead the northern assault. With two loyal wolves racing behind Ice Fang, Harald Deathwolf would personally lead the attack that would ensure the safety of their leader, Arjac Rockfist. Evac was only minutes away but the Tyranids were now mere moments away.

The Battle

The two Blood Klaws and Muderfang were running from the northwest. Angling in toward them from the northeast was a monstrous Carnifex, a brood of formidable Tyranid Warriors, and a scuttling, hunched brood of Termagants recently spewed out of the belly of a nearby yet hidden Tervigon. A squad of Grey Hunters arrayed in the fortified trench aimed their weapons across what would become the killing field. Harald Deathwolf upon Ice Fang tore past the fortified position. Swinging a mighty frost axe above his head, the Wolf Lord was intent on charging the Carnifex. The Dreadnought Murderfang had protected its fallen leader during the race across the blasted landscape and would continue to do so now. It pivoted and began to run toward the approaching Tyranids. The two Blood Klaws kept running toward the ruins of the factory, keeping the Dreadnought between themselves and the Tyranids.

The first shots fired in the Battle of the Lone Wolf were from the northern Grey Hunters. They fired into the unit of Tyranid Warriors and though shots struck home no beast went down. The Warriors and the Termagants continued their quick approach across the landscape, the horde of Termagants swinging toward a large impact crater. It was at that moment the Carnifex planted its bulk firmly and aimed its heavy venom cannon. For a moment it appeared as if it was going to fire toward Murderfang and Harald gritted his teeth thinking that Arjac might be lost with one giant belch from the massive bio-weapon. But then the barrel swung ever so slightly and the salvo of corrosive crystals ripped through the air around him. The Wolf Lord was aware that the two wolves at his heels had been shredded in that attack but the majority of his focus was on the hulk of the Carnifex. Harald Deathwolf dug his heels into Ice Fang’s side, readied his axe, and activated his force shield with an outward snap of his left arm.

When Ice Fang slammed into the Carnifex the concussive force kicked up a cloud of dust that  washed over the Grey Hunters in their trench more than fifty meters away. Harald Deathwolf turned away the monstrous creature’s scything talons with his force shield. The frost axe bit home three times, splintering carapace and finding the meat underneath. Ice Fang dug its claws into the Carnifex’s face and popped one of its eyes as the wounded beast toppled and gurgled its last breath into the uncaring rock of Adrilles.

The Tyranid Warriors and Termagants were unaffected by the Carnifex’s demise. Both packs hurried on. The Warriors’ devourer weapons spewed but the parasitic worms could not chew their way through the Grey Hunter armour. The Termagants descended into the impact crater.

To the south, approaching Tyranid Warriors had killed two Blood Klaws holding their ground in the fortified trench. A Carnifex was stomping toward their position, too. When its venom cannon erupted, the corrosive crystals exploded across the trench facing. One Blood Klaw was cut to ribbons, but the remaining soldiers knew their losses could have been much worse.

Even though they were bloodied, the Blood Klaws roared approval as Wolf Guard Terminators ran forward and fired into a large pack of Termagants that were running along the edges of a large impact crater. Reports on the number of Tyranids slain in that initial salvo vary. By the time those bodies had completed their tumble, the Terminators had closed with the remaining Termagants. Less than a minute later, the only thing alive on the crater’s edge was Terminators.

Back on the north side of the former factory, the Grey Hunters lit up three Termagants as they climbed back out of the crater. Harald Deathwolf pulled hard on Ice Fang’s reins to draw the Thunder Wolf from the Carnifex’s body. The Wolf Lord and his mount charged the Tyranid Warriors from the rear as Murderfang charged in from the front. The Warriors fought fearlessly but died quickly between such a crush.

The Wolf Guard Terminators readied themselves to face another Termagant horde that was even now racing toward their position. The squad’s leader wanted to close with the Tyranid Warriors or the Carnifex that were threatening the Blood Klaws position in the trench. If that position fell, the Tyranid Warriors and Carnifex could approach the northern troops from behind. Arjac would surely be lost if that happened.

As the Terminators scrambled down the outer slope of the crater, the Carnifex shifted its bulk and fired its devastating weapon. The soldier at the front of the assault caught the brunt of the blast. Shattered bits of his breastplate rattled off the armour of the men behind him. The explosive crystals of that attack were still churning the ground beneath their feet when the Termagants opened up. The fleshborer beetles were so thick that every Terminator was smeared in the gore.

The Terminator Leader gathered his men at the base of the crater and ordered them to charge the Termagants. One Terminator’s face was covered in little bloody holes– fleshborer beetles burrowing through flesh and bone even as the soldier took his orders. That Terminator ran alongside his fellow soldiers but dropped dead before the troops reached the Termagants. In that melee, it was the Terminators who once again emerged victorious. Clear of the Termagants, the Terminators formed up and tried to rush the Tyranid Warriors; but, they could not close the distance fast enough.

The Blood Klaws held their position in the trench despite constant fire from the Carnifex, the Warriors, and now from another rushing Termagant horde. The Blood Klaw numbers were thinning and now the Carnifex broke into a charge. The creature slammed into the fortified trench. The fortification buckled but held. No Blood Klaws were killed in that charge but their very bones were shaken from the force of the impact.

The Terminator Leader found himself standing amid a pile of dead Termagants. Even more Termagants lie dead behind him. Only one other soldier from his squad remained. More Termagants were pouring in from the not-so-distant gloom. Behind him and to the east, the Carnifex was trying to tear through the fortified position. The Warriors had run past the trench, ignoring the Blood Klaws and making for the western side of the old factory. Without a word, the Leader pointed to the Carnifex and then the Tyranid Warriors. His remaining soldier nodded his bare head and with that the two soldiers ran a gauntlet of Termagant fire. Their eyes were locked on the towering, broad back of the Carnifex.

Only the Terminator Leader reached the Carnifex.

With a howl that rivaled that of Ice Fang, the Terminator Leader leaped and ran up the back of the Carnifex. His claws shimmered the air as they cut through the carapace of the Carnifex. The great beast roared and bucked and for a moment the Blood Klaws were forgotten. The Terminator Leader leaped off the creature’s back but as he turned and rose to his feet a great shadow fell across him. The Carnifex had spun and now all of its girth was coming down on him.

When the dust settled, the battle weary Blood Klaws poked their heads up over the trench edge and saw the prone body of the Carnifex. The Terminator Leader was already running toward his next target– the Tyranid Warriors.

At the northern edge of the battle, Murderfang was closing the distance between itself and the streaming pack of Termagants that had emerged from the crater and were now threatening the flank of the Grey Hunters. Those Grey Hunters had left the trench moments earlier to move west to provide cover for the Blood Klaws with Arjac Rockfist who had now reached the relative safety of the Space Wolves’ position. The Dreadnought’s heavy flamer cooked Termagant flesh into a gruel while its Storm Bolter blasted the head off another.

Sensing the danger approaching from the south, Harald Deathwolf fell back toward the Grey Hunter position. Once there, he could see the Tyranid Warriors coming in from the south. Their way was uncontested. He ordered the Grey Hunters to turn and take up a defensive position at that very spot. Even though there was no cover, this is where the line would be held. No Tyranid would get through the Grey Hunters and Harald Deathwolf because if some did then Arjac Rockfist would be lost.

With the Carnifex dead, the Blood Klaws left the trench and ran almost parallel to the Tyranid Warriors. The fleet-footed Blood Klaws quickly caught up to the Tyranids. This tactic stopped the Warrior advance north, but it came at a tremendous cost. The already battered Blood Klaws fought to the death. One last soldier found himself facing the Warriors as they swept forward. He had no fight left in him.

A mighty howl of loss and anger answered from behind the Tyranid Warriors as they turned their attention once again to a northern advance. One Warrior– this one taller and quicker than the others in the brood– spared a glance at the Terminator Leader as he emerged from the gloom. That Leader was aware that another Termagant brood was hot on his heels. He could hear them clattering across the rock. He could hear the wetness of the fleshborer beetles spraying past him like some horrific rainfall. He was aware of the burning at the base of his neck where the beetles had wriggled through the cracks of his power armour and were now hungrily burrowing toward the base of his brain. He knew he would be dead in a matter of seconds and yet he also knew he wanted to reach those bastard Tyranids and feel his claws crack carapace and tear flesh. If there was another life beyond this one let it be one where he could fight Tyranids for eternity.

While all this fighting was occurring on the west side of the ruined factory, a mass of Termagants was running undetected along the eastern edge.

As Harald Deathwolf readied Ice Fang for a charge into the advancing Tyranid Warriors, he noticed one Warrior that stood taller than the rest. This beast caught the Wolf Lord’s eye at that very second and Harald Deathwolf knew this was a leader among the Tyranids. He dug his heels into Ice Fang. The powerful Thunderwolf snarled, lowered its wide head and tore across the landscape toward this Tyranid Prime.

But even as he did so, Harald saw the Warriors fire their weapons. The shots came nowhere close to him. He turned his head to see where the shots had fallen and was stunned momentarily when he saw one of the lone Blood Klaws fall to his knees. The Warriors had scored a hit from extreme range. With that one lucky shot, the Tyranids had killed a hero.

The Grey Hunters fired in response and two of the Warriors stumbled in their advance. Murderfang’s flamer roared to life once again and one of the wounded Warriors buckled and stayed down. Ice Fang leaped over the still burning Tyranid and collided with the Tyranid Prime. Somewhere behind the Wolf Lord, a Grey Hunter toppled.

The Lone Wolf– as he would come to be known in the following days– looked down at his fallen comrade and felt nothing. His own body had been pushed to the limit. Combat earlier that day had been bloody and costly. He was the last of his squad. So too had this dead body at his feet been the last of another squad. He looked now at the prone form of Arjac Rockfist. He had pulled him to this place where other Space Wolves were now dying to ensure that his own efforts were not in vain. Arjac Rockfist would live to fight another day. The Lone Wolf looked to where Harald Deathwolf had just killed the Tyranid Prime. Another great victory for the Wolf Lord.

Now the Lone Wolf felt the eyes of many on him. A swarm of Termagants was arcing into view from around the corner of the factory. There was no one and nothing between them and him. Behind him was Arjac. The rest of the Space Wolves would not get here in time if he fell. They were too busy with the remaining Tyranid Warriors. It was up to him. He was the Lone Wolf.

The Termagants came at a run. They made no sound. Their weapons bucked but the Lone Wolf stood his ground.

He would not die because he would not let the Tyranids have Arjac.

“You shall not have him,” said the Lone Wolf. The words were quiet, but his voice was firm.

A split second later, fire rained down from the sky. When the smoke cleared there was an impact crater where the Termagants had been.

The evac had arrived.

“You shall not have him,” said the Lone Wolf once more.

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About caperaway

I’m a publisher writer of graphic novels and short fiction. Published works include Acts of Violence: An Anthology of Crime Comics, The Grim Collection, Black Salt, and Psychosis. View all posts by caperaway

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