40K Loremasters: The Luna Wolves
Today Loremasters we speak of the noble seed from which the darkness of the Horus’ treachery sprouted – the Luna Wolves.
Pre-Heresy Founding – The Emperor’s Wolves
The initial recruitment pool of the XVIth Legion was believed to made up of members of the ‘hunter clans’ of both the Jutrigan Bowl and Samsatian sub-plate slums of Terra. These areas were reckoned to be harsh places to live, with their inhabitants noted for their ruthless, independent character. Whether it was this nature, or the Emperor’s genetic design for the legion template, or a mixture of both, the nascent Terran XVIth soon became known for being exemplar shock troops during the initial Imperial expansion campaigns, used successfully to both quickly start and finish fights, either in an initial, fully successful blow, or in being deployed from reserve to enact the killing strike
One of their earliest campaigns proved important to the development and formation of the XVIth as a legion: the First Pacification of Luna. Playing the most important role in the action, the XVIth achieved both the critical objective and notoriety during the conflict, gaining the unofficial moniker of the Emperor’s Wolves. As a result, they were tithed the bulk of the output of the captured gene-labs for a time, allowing them to rapidly build their numbers. This, in turn, necessitated more recruiting stock
Thus, many of the original XVIth are believed to have had a separate, somewhat unusual origin; they were effectively kidnapped from the world of Cthonia by ‘recruitment squads’ sent from Terra charged with the task of rounding up thousands of individuals from the violent gangs that infested the ancient world. These ‘recruits’ were then taken to the geno-laboratories on Luna for the modification and indoctrination required to become Space Marines.
Upon the discovery of Horus, the Emperor officially renamed them the Luna Wolves in honor of their past victories and baptism of fire on Terra’s moon.
Despite this somewhat unusual beginning, the end results were reckoned to be exemplary loyal and ferociously motivated troops. By the time Horus was placed in charge of them, the Luna Wolves were ten thousand strong.
Horus, the Primarch of the Luna Wolves, was the first of the Primarchs to be recovered by the Emperor, having been cast much closer to Terra than the others. Horus was for many years the Emperor’s only discovered son, and there was a great affinity between them. The Emperor spent much time with his protege, teaching and encouraging him, and soon gave him command of the legion created from his own genetic code. With these warriors to lead, Horus accompanied the Emperor for the first thirty years of the Great Crusade, and together they forged the initial expansion of the young Imperium.
Unlike almost all other Legions, the Luna Wolves were led by their Primarch almost from inception. Not only that, they spent decades fighting under the direct supervision of the Emperor himself. This led to them thinking of themselves as the pre-eminent Legion, and led to a prideful and confident mentality. They strove to be the best; to conquer more than the other Legions, faster than them, and better than them. It is arguable that they succeeded in these aims, but equally arguable that their ‘successful’ combat records do not exactly stand up to close scrutiny.
As Horus and the Emperor spent much of the initial Great Crusade together, the Luna Wolves were present at all of the Emperor’s early victories, winning great glory for themselves. Incidents from these early campaigns that highlighted the bond between the ruler of the Imperium and their commander would become legend throughout the galaxy. At the Siege of Reillis, Horus was knocked senseless by a plasma blast that sent him sprawling to the floor; the Emperor stood over his downed son and slew all that came near until reinforcements arrived. Horus was able to repay this life-debt later, on the Ork world of Gorro, when the Emperor found himself being choked by a huge Ork warlord in hand-to-hand combat; Horus stepped in and struck the Ork’s arm from his body.
Eventually, however, the Emperor received word that another Primarch had been discovered, and left the side of Horus and the Luna Wolves to meet his newly found son. Horus was given temporary command of all the Imperial Legions during this time, an indicator of how highly he was esteemed. While Horus was pleased that one of his missing brothers had been found, the thirty years spent as the Emperor’s only child had made their mark; he determined that he would always make the Emperor proudest of his and his legion’s achievements.
As more and more primarchs were discovered, and other business of the growing Imperium required the Emperor’s direct attention, Horus found himself placed in in overall strategic command of large swathes of the Imperial Crusade forces on several occasions. His excellence in this role drew praise not only from his father, but from his brothers; Horus was apparently universally respected by the other Space Marine Legions and their Primarchs. One of the reasons for this was that Horus appeared able to use his forces in flexible ways; able to unleash his Luna Wolves if required, but also able to use them as diplomats. He developed a habit of partaking in local customs whenever bringing a new world into the Imperium, and the Luna Wolves were exposed to many such traditions as a result; the most important of these would be the practice of warrior-lodges. While a form of warrior-lodge had existed in the legion since it’s early days, after the compliance of a world known as Davin, it became more popular and even somewhat ritualised, something that would have serious implications in the legion’s future.
The Luna Wolves also acquired all the glory of being the greatest Primarch’s personal guard, and they shared Horus’ credo of fighting to be the best. Under his ambitious command, the Luna Wolves were always at the forefront of the latest campaign, energetically pushing the boundaries of the Imperium ever wider, driving further and further into the galaxy and striving to conquer and liberate more worlds than the other Legions, destroying all enemies of humanity in their way.
The Glory of Ullanor
Perhaps the greatest achievement of the Luna Wolves, the Ullanor Crusade became a feted military campaign of the Imperium and to many is seen as the high watermark of the Great Crusade itself. The Ullanor sector was the domain of the Ork Overlord Urlakk Urg, who ruled over dozens of human-founded worlds. Determined to exterminate the Orks, Horus distracted them by ordering secondary attacks on the outlying worlds by other Space Marine Legions and Imperial Army regiments. With the focus of the Orks on these invasions of their borders, the Luna Wolves dove straight for the throat, initiating a surprise orbital drop directly onto Urlakk Urg’s capital world. Horus led his 1st Company Terminator elite into a personal teleport attack on Urg’s palace. With the majority of the Terminators dealing with the Ork defenders, Horus led ten of the best into combat with Urg and his own forty-strong retinue. The fight was a hard one, but Horus eventually slew the Ork, casting his broken body out from the battlements of his tower, demoralising his Ork followers. Of the fight between the ten Terminators and the forty Orks, there was only one survivor: First Captain Ezekyle Abaddon.
At the successful conclusion of the Ullanor Crusade a year later, the Emperor declared it the greatest victory yet for his mighty Imperium and was said to bestow much praise upon the Luna Wolves and Horus for their part in the campaign. At the subsequent Triumph of Ullanor, the Emperor himself bestowed upon Horus the title of Warmaster, making him the supreme commander of the Emperor’s forces and effectively giving him complete military control of the Great Crusade. The Emperor also suggested, before he returned to Terra and left the rest of the Crusade to Horus, that Horus should rename his legion to cement his position as Warmaster. The suggested name was the Sons of Horus.
Luna Wolves Gene-seed
The gene-seed of the Luna Wolves was always considered reliably pure. One unique feature of the Luna Wolves pre-heresy was the high incidence of battle-brothers bearing a strong physical resemblance to Horus. These “Sons of Horus”, as they were so nicknamed, were prone to rising through the ranks faster than their brothers.
The overriding belief of the Legion prior to the death of Horus and their defeat at Terra was their complete superiority above all the other Legions, and indeed any and all enemies. In continually seeking to prove themselves as the greatest Legion, they did indeed achieve most in terms of sheer numbers of worlds brought into compliance prior to the outbreak of the Heresy; the Legion in its loyalist incarnation was a flexible fighting force that performed well and adapted quickly to almost any combat situation. It was trained to respond sharply and decisively to the tactical orders of its Warmaster and consequently the chain of command within the Legion was very efficient.
Each Company was commanded by a Captain, but not all Captains commanded a Company: The 1st Company was considered the elite unit in the legion and sported at least two renowned squads led by senior officers, the Justaerin Terminator Squad commanded by Captain Falkus Kibre and Catulan Reaver (Assault) Squad, commanded by Captain Kalus Ekaddon. These squads, and possibly all of 1st Company, wore black-painted armour, in contrast to the white and later pale green of the rest of the legion. Companies contained mixed squad-types, to ensure tactical flexibility. This included fielding Terminator Squads outside of the 1st Company.
The principle tactic of the legion – one illustrative of their overall attitude – was a decisive surgical assault aimed directly at the command element of the enemy. A compact but hard-hitting force of marines up to several companies strong would compose the initial (and ideally total) thrust of the effort; this battle philosophy was referred to as the Speartip.
With the Primarch as the apex of the legion’s order-of-battle, the next step downwards was filled by the Mournival. Although not an official institution, in practice it was this advisory council that helped the Warmaster finalise and execute his strategies. The four Mournival brothers were seen as the senior Captains of the legion.