'There is no greater war than a war against a soulless enemy, utterly without the right to exist. To die fighting such an enemy, spitting curses at them even at the brink of death, is the clay formed into legends.'
Varadon was doomed. It was not a question of how it would fall, when it would fall, or even if it would fall. The planet Varadon would be dead when its defenders fell, either to safety or death. For weeks the bio-fleets of the Tyranid Hives had assailed the world, its fleets were putting up a valiant stand and for every ship destroyed by the enemy, they paid with five of their disgusting organic ships, yet it was not enough. With the defending Imperial fleet holding its own ground the bio-ships were able to plant their foul spores into the atmosphere. The combined forces of the Black Templars Chapter and the Shadow Wolves Chapter awaited them there, for the Shadow Wolves this would likely be their last stand. Their chapter had been decimated fighting the Hive Fleets to prevent this very occurrence, the invasion of their homeworld, their recruitment grounds since birth. Only a few battle companies of the chapter remained, and although reinforced by nearly eight-hundred of the zealous Black Templars, nobody was sure it would be enough. The Tyranids outnumbered the defenders at least fifty to one, and that was only an estimate by men who had never seen true Tyranids, had never seen an unending tide of chitinous killers, never seen the skies turn green and raining death spores, had never known the terror that comes from facing the Hive Fleets. But they would know soon enough.
The sky on Varadon, which was normally a dim black, was brown and green in the light cast by the bio-ships in orbit. Only the faint hints of explosions beyond the veil, shifting gases, sudden sparks, proved that the Imperials were still there and still exacting punishment for every inch lost to the enemy. The snowy plains on Varadon were littered with corpses, both human with blood of the darkest red, and alien with green ichor that glew in the dark lighting. The situation was grim, the fortress-monastery of the Shadow Wolves had fallen a few weeks earlier, and only few companies of the wolves remained. The Black Templars had been fighting to reach them for weeks but the Tyranids were relentless, assaulting both forces in an attempt to keep them isolated. It was posited that the Tyranids could tell the Shadow Wolves were closer to breaking, and thus wanted them dead before it would focus its forces on the templars. The templar force, under a young Chaplain named Grimaldus, had vowed that they would reach the Shadow Wolves, for days the only contact they had with them was static-filled vox communications, and those were just grim reports of the dead and litanies of hate against the invading aliens.
For every Tyranid killed by the Black Templars another ten rose to take its place. Chaplain Grimaldus had been very clear on the directive, they were to reach the Shadow Wolves and aid them against directly against the xenos assaulting their positions, but that didn't mean getting there would be easy. The Tyranids were all around the Space Marines, slashing at them with their blades of bone and flesh and stinging blasts of venom, answered in bolt and blades of pure metal and faith. Litanies of hate and revilement were being screamed over the vox as the templars tore into their foes with unmatched rage.
'Kill the aliens brothers!, scour them from mankind's galaxy, their very existence is an affront to the Emperor and Dorn, we are their holy instruments and by our hands these disgusting xenos will be broken with bolter and blade, bloodied with their foul ichor and cast asunder into the blazing fires of purgation. Let none survive, let none escape. Destroy them all!'
The litanies that came from Chaplain Grimaldus were inspiring, devoted and zealous. Each word drove the templars to greater and greater acts of heroism. A single templar grabbed a Tyranid warrior by its throat and tore it out, wrenching the alien's head from its body only to beat another even larger warrior to death with the severed head. Another templar, wounded in a dozen places, managed to grab his killer by its squirming tail and drag it to the ground, stabbing it repeatedly until both died piercing each other's flesh. A Ravener serpent beast ruptured from the ground and wrapped itself around a templar, trying to drag him underground, with a cry of hate he grabbed its claws wrapped around his body and tore them from the beast, turning around to rip at its flesh with its own appendages. The heroism of the Black Templars was worthy of sagas, but the sight on the cliff ahead of them was something else entirely. It was the stuff of legends and myths.
The Shadow Wolves were dead. Only a handful remained standing, their bolters empty and their blades broken, they stood firm against the screeching killers driving them further back and back towards the razor edge. Yet for every single step back that the Wolves took they exacted heavy revenge on the screaming aliens. Ripping them apart with their bare hands, crushing their backs with their boot heels, smashing their skulls with closed fists. As each of these heroes fell they made sure that their deaths would be remembered. A battle-brother smashed a gaunt drone beneath his heel only to be impaled by the tusk of a giant Carnifex, rearing him up into the sky the dying battle-brother used the last of his strength to draw his falx and slash the Tyranid's face, carving a gaping hole in its head. The Carnifex screamed as it twisted, its serrated claws and spiked tail tearing apart entire groups of Tyranids that could not get away in time and collapsed, crushing the battle-brother beneath its twitching corpse.
Another Shadow Wolf, an Apothecary, reduced to using his narthecium as a blunt knife, jammed the device into a warrior's eye, the lethal toxins flooding the Tyranid's body and frying its brain. Ripping it from the flailing warrior he spun on his heel and slashed another warrior across its throat, thick green blood oozing from the wound as the stimulants forced the Tyranid's system into overdrive, it died spasming from a single wound. Suddenly a clawed hand punched through the Apothecary's chest, as a Lictor emerged from its hiding place in the snow it latched its large claws and began to tear at the Shadow Wolf's back. Roaring hate the Apothecary grabbed the Lictor's talons and tore them from the monster's back, spinning around and slamming his fist into the stunned beast's face, its skull cracked and gave way before the Space Marine's rage, the toxins that assailed his system finishing him as the Lictor flew from the impact, sprawled dead on the ground.
A large Pyrovore belched out a huge blast of searing fire, searing the armour of a Shadow Wolf that still charged. The second blast from the smoking beast set the charging marine on fire, his armour singed and blackened while the flames danced across his armour, the gaunts around lunging at him despite the flames that burnt their exoskeletons. His screams were not of pain but hate and even though the flames had breached his armour and charred his skin he summoned the strength to leap forward and grab the flame-creature's lower jaw, tearing it free before jamming a knife in the creature's exposed head, the serrated knife tearing the Pyrovore's head apart. The marine died cursing his opponent as the flames consumed him.
Only two more Shadow Wolves were still alive. One was a Captain, the laurels around his helmet making it clear of his status, he was the last officer amongst the Shadow Wolves. In his right hand he carried a relic, the standard of the chapter. A long black marble pole with a banner unfurled and floating in the wind, the banner was a black wolf howling at a white moon and carried the legacy of the chapter, its most heroic deeds inscribed for all of time and that the chapter's deeds, heroes and sagas may be known to all who see it. The banner would never have another accolade written onto it, another heroes name added to its roll of honour, but it would be there for the final stand of the Shadow Wolves. And as long as one of them still lived, it would not fall.
The gaunt hordes rushed the last two Wolves, the captain using the standard's poll as a wide-arcing lance, sending entire groups of the alien drones to their deaths at the cliffs edge. The last wolf, a young battle-brother, likely only recently promoted to a full battle-brother position, stood behind him, using only his fists to pummel bio-forms into broken corpses. The gaunts were unrelenting, assaulting the two wolves fearless of their own deaths. But the wolves were fearless as well, it was over for them and their chapter, all that mattered now was leaving a lasting legacy, and killing as many Tyranids as possible before they died. The captain swung the standard again, sending more and more xenos vermin to their graves, while the young battle-brother slammed his fists into any that survived, punching and kicking them into twisted parodies of their already disgusting forms. As the captain swung the standard again a gaunt leapt over it and tackled the veteran Shadow Wolf, knocking him back a step, it was enough of an opening for the chittering hordes to swarm the captain and hack him into pieces. His last action was to strike the banner outwards, freeing enough of it for the young battle-brother to grab. Slamming the standard into the tyranids and away from his captain, who was already dead, the young battle-brother stood alone, the last of his chapter against the hordes of inhuman abominations.
As the Tyranids descended upon him, hacking at him with their talons, claws and bladed teeth the last Shadow Wolf howled into the night and rose the banner upwards into the sky, glinting off the weak moonlight. He had no idea that below the Black Templars were fighting against the hordes and watching him with awe, the most zealous and pious of all chapters were being awestruck by a mere youth of a battle-brother in his last stand. As the xenos tore into him he felt no pain, only a sense of fulfilment and duty, as long as he lived the banner would not fall. Even as he fell to his knees he kept the standard high, where the Tyranids could not reach it, even if they were interested in it. The rumbling of rocks and snow was the only sign given as the cliff gave way, the last Shadow Wolf and all his killers falling into the crevasse below. He was already dead before he hit the ground, his very last thought was simply that his duty had been fulfilled.
The end of the Shadow Wolves had been witnessed by the Black Templars, in witnessing the last Shadow Wolf's heroic and mythic end the Sons of Dorn had been spurned on to victory. Taking up the banner of the Shadow Wolves the Black Templars led their crusade to victory against the Tyranids, scouring them from the surface of Varadon forever, destroying their Hive Fleets and breaking each bio-ship into flaming ballast. And in the crevasse where the last Shadow Wolf howled for the final time, where his body still lay still, the snow burying it and committing it to the earth forever, the Black Templars planted the standard of the fallen chapter, its final resting place for all time. And in the centre, in the white moon, new words had been sewn in the brightest silver by some of the finest artisans in the Imperium.