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Battle of the Fang

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The Battle of the Fang
The Fell Handed.jpg
Bjorn the Fell-Handed leads the Wolves of Fenris
Date M32
Location Fenris
Outcome Space Wolves victory
Combatants
Thousand Sons Cropped.jpg Thousand Sons SpaceWolves.png Space Wolves
Commanders
Magnus the Red
Ahmuz Temekh
Herume Aphael (d)
Vaer Greyloc (d)
Bjorn the Fell-Handed
Hrar Thraldir (d)
Strength
approx. 700 Legionaries
2 million Spireguard plus armour and artillery
Cataphract Robot Maniple
12th Great Company, plus 11 Dreadnoughts and 6 Rune Priests
Kaerl defence forces plus ad hoc armed units
Underfang beast packs
Losses/Survivors
Majority of all Spireguard units and Robots destroyed or abandoned.
Several Sorcerers and Rubric Marines slain.
Only 22 surviving Astartes; 3 surviving Dreadnoughts.
Huge numbers of losses amongst the Kaerls.
2drones.gif This article is about the battle, for the novel see Battle of the Fang (Novel)



The Battle of the Fang is the name given to the invasion of Fenris by the Thousand Sons Chaos Space Marines and the resultant victorious defence of their homeworld by the Space Wolves Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes. It is most well-known for the direct participation of (and eventual combat between) the Thousand Sons daemon-primarch Magnus the Red and the Space Wolves dreadnought Bjorn the Fell-Handed.[1]



Contents

Prelude

Ever since the Burning of Prospero, the Thousand Sons and the Space Wolves wished the other's destruction. During M32, the then-Great Wolf of the Space Wolves, Harek Ironhelm, grew particularly obsessed with finding and slaying Magnus the Red and his Thousand Sons[1a]. Magnus played on this obsession; under his direction, the Thousand Sons conducted destructive raids on several worlds neighboring Fenris, withdrawing just before reinforcements from the Space Wolves arrived. Magnus would often appear in visions to Ironhelm over the wreckage of destroyed cities, taunting the Great Wolf that Magnus was only just out of reach.[2]

Ironhelm ordered a great Hunt for the traitors and eventually located them on the world of Gangava, apparently in the midst of a build-up of their strength through mysterious means. Ironhelm ordered the immediate mobilisation of almost the entire Rout in response, intending to fall upon Gangava and finally eradicate the Thousand Sons. Left behind to ensure the safety of Fenris were one single Great Company - the Twelfth - and the staff, inhabitants and defence forces of the Fang itself.[1a]

However, Harek Ironhelm had been deceived. Magnus, aware of the Great Wolf's obsession, had played him for a fool. The situation on Gangava was a feint, with the bulk of the Thousand Sons prepared to descend upon Fenris and level the Fang itself, ostensibly in retaliation for the Burning of Prospero.

The real reason Magnus had conceived of this plan, however, was not to simply strike at the Space Wolves out of revenge - although most of his legion were lead to believe this - but to prevent the Space Wolves from creating Successor Chapters. At this time, the Space Wolves' Wolf Priest Thrar Hraldir had come closer than any other since the time of the Emperor himself at understanding the Canis Helix and how to reproduce the gene-seed of the Space Wolves without any of its inherent flaws.

The Space Wolves had shelved their plans to create Successor Chapters after the disastrous failure of their only previous attempt, the Wolf Brothers, but Hraldir believed he was close to a breakthrough. Hraldir and several other Wolves had dreams of emulating the Ultramarines, the Imperial Fists, and other Founding Chapters, and creating a host of Successors - to be called the Sons of Russ - numerous enough to encircle the Eye of Terror. Magnus the Red knew of this ambition and had a great deal of interest in preventing it.[1b]

Battle

The Void-War

Thanks to their sorcerous powers and influence over the Warp, the Thousand Sons fleet was able to drop out of warpspace far closer to a planetary body than had been previously thought possible. This allowed them to attack the orbital defences of Fenris almost immediately (in void-war terms). At much the same time, Magnus the Red launched a tremendous psychic attack from warpspace at the astropathic choir of the Fang, slaying them all.[1c]

The orbital stage of battle was overwhelmingly one-sided, with Fenris' orbital gun platforms reduced to 20% strength after less than an hour, and the main defence vessel, the Skraemar, effectively crippled. Jarl Vaer Greyloc, commander of the Twelfth and of the Fang, ordered the other surviving Space Wolf vessels to flee the system and make for Gangava, to ensure an urgent recall of the bulk of the Chapter's strength. The Ogmar and the Sleikre both perished in the attempt, but the fast scout ship Nauro (commanded by Haakon Gylfasson) was able to break the blockade and enter the warp...although the defenders of Fenris thought her to have been destroyed, and therefore believed themselves cut-off from all aid. Not long afterwards, the valiant Skraemar was finally destroyed. With her death, the Thousand Sons were able to establish an orbital blockade and begin the laborious process of landing their (mostly mortal) ground forces upon the death world of Fenris.[1d]

The Siege

With the blockade in place, around twelve hours after the death of the Skraemar two specially held-back Thousand Sons naval vessels moved into synchronised orbit over the Fang. These Planet Scourers were essentially gigantic plasma cannons built into and around a starship, designed with the express purpose of being able to keep up an intense and continuous bombardment of a surface target. They opened fire on the Fang itself...but were unable to penetrate the void shielding that surrounded the Space Wolves' fortress. The Thousand Sons had anticipated this however, and had deployed the ships in an effort to neutralise the Fang's surface-to-orbit defences, as well as hinder aircraft movement.[1e]

This tactic meant that the Thousand Sons ground forces could land relatively - but not completely - unopposed. The defenders of the Fang had reacted fast, and were able to scramble several packs of Space Wolves before the bombardment commenced. These roving groups attempted to interdict and prevent the traitors from landing. Despite some successes, the weight of numbers bore against the Space Wolves and the tactic was quickly given up before unnecessary casualties were taken. After an advance lasting four days, the Fang was besieged.[1f]

The attack on the Fang proper began on the eighth day; artillery and counter-artillery fire, followed up with demonstrations of psychic powers from both sides. The siege lasted for a short while before the Thousand Sons had knocked out enough of the Fang's guns to bring up their Gate-Breakers; specially constructed daemon-engines that poured concentrated eldritch firepower upon one of the main entrances to the Fang itself...and broke through. The Spireguard surged forward, but were met at the very threshold by a sally led by Jarl Greyloc, whose Astartes units proved superior to the mortals assaulting them. Eventually however, the Space Wolf forces had to retreat inside their walls (blowing the entrance behind them), pressed as they were by constant artillery barrages and the implacable advance of Rubric Marines. When they re-entered the Fang, they discovered that, in accordance with Greyloc's earlier request, a dozen Revered Fallen of the Chapter had awoken...among them, Bjorn the Fell-Handed.[1g]

The Stand

The Space Wolves - now down to 87 in number, not including the newly awoken Dreadnoughts - now had time to once more ready themselves for a bitter defence of their home. The defenders, upon Bjorn's recommendation, were split in two, each to guard one of the choke-points designed into the Fang; Greyloc, Bjorn and Odain Sturmhjart would command the force stationed at Borek's Seal, which protected the underground reactors, while Hraldir and Lauf Cloudbreaker would lead 47 Astartes, 6 Dreadnoughts and as many mortals as possible in the defence of the Fangthane, the entrance to the upper command areas.[1h]

The reason the Space Wolves had this time was twofold; the first was that the blown entrance was significantly blocked by rubble and debris that required careful removal and negotiation. The second was that, as the Fang was penetrated, the Thousand Sons began to come up against the Space Wolves' powerful anti-sorcerous wards, engraved and built into the very fabric of the mountain. Herume Aphael, commander of their forces on the ground, was forced to deploy the Thousand Sons' last remaining Legio Cybernetica cohort, of Cataphract Robots, in order to make progress.[1h]

Ten days after the collapse of the gate[1h], the Thousand Sons broke through. Spreading out into the fortress, they encountered the Space Wolves' chokepoints and engaged them in battle. While the Fangthane echoed with intense gunfire and psyker-exchanges, the tunnel-system surrounding Borek's Seal forced the combatants into closer-ranged combats.[1h]

These choke-point battles raged continuously for several days, eating into the troops and resources of both sides. During that time, however, Herume Aphael made sure the defensive wards of the Fang were continually located and destroyed, eventually weakening the anti-sorcery miasma enough that Magnus the Red himself could finally manifest...using the unwitting Aphael as his host.[1i]

The Crimson King

Magnus, having ordered Ahmuz Temekh to break orbit and lead the fleet away no matter what happened on the surface of Fenris, immediately made to execute his plan, his whole reason for instigating the invasion of Fenris in the first place; the destruction of Thrar Hraldir's Apothecarion, as well as all his research and protoypes. The daemon-primarch fought his way through the Fangthane, killing all his attention fell upon. Unable to conceive of a way to defeat the Crimson King, Hraldir was forced to order the retreat of his warriors to the Annulus, the command-and-control centre of the Fang itself. Morek Karekborn, a commander of the Space Wolves' human warriors, the Kaerls, volunteered his men to hold off the advancing Thousand Sons as long as possible to cover the retreat, whilst the Dreadnoughts could not be dissuaded from engaging Magnus in close-combat. Hraldir, 12 Astartes and a few hundred Kaerls pulled back... whilst Magnus and his Sons eventually overcame and slew the rearguard.[1j]

Magnus' arrival in the Fang had not gone unnoticed; down at Borek's Seal, Odain Sturmhjart had felt his manifestation and could detect his sickening presence in the levels above. Determined to engage the daemon-primarch, Greyloc transferred command of the Seal to Hrothgar of the Revered Fallen and led Sturmhjart, Bjorn the Fell-Handed and his own two surviving Wolf Guard in a desperate fighting race through the Fang, seeking Magnus the Red.[1j]

Thrar Hraldir set-up the defence of the Annulus, but immediately handed command over to the Blood Claw Ogrim Raegr Vrafsson, as he realised his gene-seed work was in danger. Arriving at his labs, Hraldir discovered both a scene of devastation...and the presence of Magnus himself. Everything related to Hraldir's project of creating viable Space Wolf successor gene-seed was destroyed. Hraldir threw himself at the daemon-primarch in a doomed close-combat, and with his death the knowledge of how to reproduce the Space Wolves was lost to the Imperium; Magnus' principal goal of the campaign was achieved.[1j]

Before Magnus could return to the body of his forces (who were still engaged at Borek's Seal and the Annulus) however, he was confronted by Greyloc, Sturmhjart, Bjorn and the Wolf Guard. The quintet of Astartes warriors eagerly engaged him in battle.[1j]

The Rout Arrives

Unknown to the defenders of Fenris, the Lone Wolf Haakon Gylfasson and his vessel, the Nauro, had managed to escape the initial naval attack. The Nauro entered the warp, despite being damaged, and continued at maximum speed with little heed paid to safely repairing the vessel (as this would have meant dropping out of the warp). His ship falling apart around him was not the only problem Gylfasson - also known as Blackwing - had to deal with; for during his escape a last-ditch teleport-assault was entertained by Auries Fuerzai of the Thousand Sons vessel The Illusion of Certainty. Attempting to board the Nauro with his squad of four Rubricae, Fuerzai found himself materialising with only one...as well as incurring injury himself. Despite this, Fuerzai began to sabotage the Nauro in an attempt to prevent it from reaching Gangava. He was ultimately unsuccessful, dying in the attempt...although the damage caused to the Nauro was so severe that it blew itself apart mere minutes after entering realspace. His ship may have been destroyed, but Blackwing survived and was able to communicate news of the Thousand Sons attack on Fenris to Ironwolf. While one squadron was left behind to complete the purge of Gangava, the rest of the Rout turned and headed back to Fenris.[1k]

They arrived to find the Thousand Sons' fleet forewarned of their approach and already breaking orbit. While brief skirmishes between the slower Thousand Sons troop-carriers and the arriving Space Wolves' fleet did break out, the majority of the Space Wolf vessels immediately took up orbit over their world and began a mass drop-pod dispersal.[1k]

The Fell Peak

The combat between the five Space Wolves and Magnus was intense, and moved from the ruins of Hrladir's laboratorium into an aircraft hangar near the peak of the Fang; but even with 5 against 1, and each being a hero of the Chapter, Magnus was still a daemon-primarch. One Wolf Guard was flung across the hangar, his head crushed. The other had his back broken by a single strike of Magnus' hand. Odain Sturmhjart, who had been using his powers to increase the deadliness of the others, found himself struck by witchfire and then telekinetically exploded. By this point Magnus himself had been wounded, having taken the most serious injury to any physical form he had worn since the Burning of Prospero, and was under constant plasma cannon fire from Bjorn. The sickening level of destruction visited upon his physcality was not enough to stop him, however, and he murdered Jarl Greyloc with his bare hands... before finally turning to face the Venerable Dreadnought.[1l]

Closing with the ancient warrior, the two briefly duelled at close range, battling on the cliff-edge at the end of the open hangar-bay. Bjorn injured Magnus with both fire and blade, before the dazed and burned primarch recovered and destroyed both of the Dreadnought's weapon-arms, incapacitating him with sorcery. Magnus paused, recognising the aura of Bjorn's soul as one he had sensed on Prospero, a thousand years before. As he prepared to cast the ancient Space Wolf out and into the abyss, the distracted Magnus was suddenly struck from above.[1l]

For Harek Ironhelm had arrived, his drop-pod purposefully impacting on the very peak of the Fang itself. Another followed such a dangerous manoeuvre, as Ironhelm saw the duel raging on the edge of the mountain below him. Leaping downwards, he smashed into the combatants just as Magnus was preparing to kill the Fell-Handed, knocking all three of them off of the cliff-edge. The impact wounded Ironhelm and took Bjorn out of the fight, but the most damage appeared to be suffered by Magnus the Red. The being that stood up before the Great Wolf on the hillside was no longer recognisable as the primarch of the Thousand Sons of old; now Magnus appeared as a man-shaped solid coalescing of warp-energy, the only clue to his identity being the single, baleful glow of an eye that glared out at Ironhelm. Much of his power expended, Magnus found it almost impossible to cling to physical form and teetered on the edge of banishment back to the Warp. It was at this point that Ironhelm assaulted him. Again, the daemon-primarch, seemingly dazed and heavily injured, duelled hand-to-hand with an opponent for a brief time before summoning his sorcerous powers; striking Ironhelm down with a multitude of attacks, Magnus finally slew the Great Wolf of the Space Wolves.[1l]

Magnus vanished immediately after the death of Ironhelm; his retirement from the field was a signal to the Sorcerors of the Thousand Sons to quit the battle, and most of them succeeded in teleporting or variously vanishing from the Fang, along with their Rubricae. The Thousand Sons fleet lingered for long enough to pick up some retreating Legion elements, before jumping to warp. The mortal Spireguard, along with most of their materiel, were simply abandoned to face the vengeance of the Vlka Fenryka. Despite being mere human soldiery, it still took the Space Wolves forty days to hunt down and exterminate all of them. With the burning of the last of their bodies, the Battle of the Fang was reckoned to be over.[1m]

Aftermath and Consequences

Jarl Arvek Kjarlskar became Great Wolf of the Chapter in the days that followed his first task the rebuilding of both the Fang and the 12th Great Company. Of the 12th itself, 22 Astartes survived the battle; 21 one of those belonging to the force defending Borek's Seal. The 22nd was Ogrim Raegr Vrafsson, the Blood Claw charged with holding the Annulus by the Wolf Priest, Hraldir. He alone survived where all others died, although the experience was such that he was expected to become a Lone Wolf.[1m]

Harek Ironhelm was interred with great honour in a tomb on the side of the Fang. His tomb became a regular pilgrimage site for the Chapter's Rune Priests, who are reminded not only of Ironhelm's valour, but also of the folly of trusting visions granted by Chaos[2].

Of Hraldir and his experiments, nothing was salvageable. Therefore, whilst the Battle of the Fang is reckoned to be a terrible defeat for the Thousand Sons, Magnus achieved his purpose. The Sons of Russ project would not rise again, and there would never be any successors born to the Space Wolves. The battle robbed the Rout of their possibility to reproduce, spread, grow in power and potentially strike a devastating blow against the forces of Chaos. However, it did not even come close to destroying them, and their recovery from it was assured.[1m]

For the Thousand Sons, it was another matter entirely. Their Legion had thrown almost everything at the battle, and lost almost as much. Apart from their fleet, their remaining non-Astartes Legion resources were used up and cast away. Several of the remaining senior figures in the Legion were lost, encouraging the breaking-down of the command-tree, and their retreat was scattered and piecemeal. As they are not known to have appeared in this strength ever again, it is after the Battle of the Fang that the Thousand Sons are thought to have lost organised coherence and become a group of warbands, predicted by the victorious Space Wolves of the time to be thought of as "...knowledge-thieves roaming the galaxy for hidden trinkets...their shame know[ing] no limit and their poverty...no equal."[1m]

Forces Involved[1]

Thousand Sons

The Thousand Sons committed almost all their surviving Legion resources to this campaign. Their Legion-strength at this time was down to less than 100 surviving Sorcerors, 600 Rubric Marines, their last Legio Cybernetica units and 2 million Spireguard.[1o]

HQ

Legiones Astartes

Mortal Soldiery

  • 2 million Spireguard with armour and artillery elements.

Fleet

  • 54 vessels, including:
    • Herumon - Flagship
    • Staff of Khomek - Destroyer; destroyed
    • Alexandretta - Planet Scourer
    • Phosis T'Kar - Planet Scourer
    • Achaeonical - destroyed
    • Fulcrumesque - destroyed
    • The Illusion of Certainty - destroyed
    • Numeratory - destroyed

Space Wolves

The Fang was defended by a single Great Company (numbers unrecorded, but a Great Company by definition numbers somewhat more than 100 Astartes), as well as staff and inhabitants. The Kaerls numbered in the "thousands"; the number of the other mortal inhabitants is not recorded. With the awakening of the Dreadnoughts, packs of strange wolf-like 'beasts' emerged from the Underfang to fight alongside them; exactly what these 'beasts' were and how many of them existed remains unknown.

HQ

Adeptus Astartes

Mortal Soldiery

  • Kaerl standing defence force
  • Ad-hoc armed units organised from the staff of the Fang

Other

  • Underfang beast packs.

Fleet

Sources

  • 1:Battle of the Fang
    • 1a: Prologue, p. 12 - Chapter One, p. 32
    • 1b: Chapter Nineteen, pp. 420-1, Chapter Twenty-One, p. 466
    • 1c: Chapter Three, pp. 62-70
    • 1d: Chapter Four, p. 82 - Chapter Five, p. 106
    • 1e: Chapter Six, pp. 121-3
    • 1f: Chapter Six, pp. 127-43; Chapter Seven, pp. 149-51
    • 1g: Chapter Nine, p. 194; Chapter Ten, pp. 222-25; Chapter Eleven, pp. 241-5, 250-1; Chapter Twelve, 270-4
    • 1h: Chapter Fourteen, pp. 301-3; Chapter Fifteen, p. 322; Chapter Seventeen, pp. 365-6, 369, 376-7
    • 1i: Chapter Eighteen, pp. 402-7; Chapter Twenty, pp. 438-40
    • 1j: Chapter Twenty, pp. 449-51, 444; Chapter Twenty-One, pp. 461-8
    • 1k: Chapter Seven, pp. 145-48; Chapter Eleven, pp. 237-41, 245-9; Chapter Sixteen, 347-9, 355-7; Chapter Twenty, p. 436; Chapter Twenty-One, pp. 469-71
    • 1l: Chapter Twenty-One, pp. 471-90
    • 1m: Chapter Twenty-Two, pp. 491-500
    • 1n: Chapter Three, p.63; Chapter Seven, p. 159
    • 1o: [Needs Citation]
  • 2: Codex: Space Wolves (2nd Edition), pg. 43

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