Navar Hef was a well-known warrior and officer of the Raven Guard Legion during the early 31st Millennium. Born and raised on Deliverance, Hef had already been selected as one of the XIXth Legion's Aspirants before Corvus Corax shipped out to confront his traitorous brother, Horus Lupercal, in the distant Istvaan System. Following the terrible losses sustained in the Drop Site Massacre and the ninety solar day struggle for survival of the remnants of the Raven Guard, their Primarch placed high expectations in Hef and his fellow Aspirants.
They, and others like him, were to form a new breed of Legiones Astartes, a distinct command known as the Raptor contingent. Unfortunately, unknown to the Legion's highest authorities and Apothecarion, the new and improved genetic material that had been implanted into Hef had been tampered with by agents of the Alpha Legion, which caused Hef to suffer from severe mutations.
As one of the first to suffer from this genetic deviation -- which would quickly become the hallmark of the Raptors -- Hef became a figurehead for those of his brothers afflicted in the same way as he. This led Hef to act as second-in-command of the Raptor contingent under the esteemed Commander Branne Nev.
Little is known about Navar Hef before his induction as one of the Legion's many Aspirants, except for the fact that he was born on Deliverance, the Raven Guard's home-moon orbiting the Forge World of Kiavahr. Although the exact date remains unknown, Hef's career was bound to have begun a few short years before the dramatic events of the Dropsite Massacre, as he had not yet been granted all of the necessary augmentations to fully turn him into a Space Marine by the time the surviving Legionaries returned from Istvaan V. Having lost more than 75,000 Legionaries in the Drop Site Massacre, the XIXth Legion's might had effectively been broken. Upon leaving the black sands of Istvaan V, the Raven Guard's Primarch, Corvus Corax, had forever after, turned his gaze upon rebuilding his shattered Legion. One of his first orders was to immediately begin the implantation progress for the current generation of aspirants and turn them into fully fledged Legiones Astartes. Hef's fate however was quite different.
When Corvus Corax finally returned to Deliverance, it was not directly from Istvaan, but from sacred Terra, where he had been granted by the Emperor the keys to quickly rebuilding the Raven Guard Legion -- the genetic knowledge of the Primarch-project. Thanks to these secrets, the Raven Guard's Chief Apothecary, Vincente Sixx, and a high representative of the Mechanicum engineered an improved version of the XIXth Legion's gene-seed, one that would allow the Raven Guard to turn nearly every young male, however physically weak, into one of the Emperor's Angels of Death. Where this process had previously taken many years of surgical improvements and nearly a decade of training, this transformation would now take mere days. This could potentially change the entire balance of the conflict ahead, and Hef's brothers and himself had been selected to become the first generation of the new-founded Raptors.
In stark contrast to previous generations of Raven Guards, the foundation of the Raptors contingent was a venture of utmost secrecy. Most notoriously the Raptors were not created within the high walls of the Ravenspire, but within the underground bunkers of the isolated Ravendelve complex, a training facility of the XIXth Legion in the inhospitable rad-wastes of Kiavahr. As the gene-seed gradually was declared safe for implementation, the first recruits became Legionaries. With only a limited amount of the improved gene-seed available, a first human test was conducted on ten randomly chosen Aspirants. Unfortunately, Hef was not to be amongst them. In every aspects, the Raptors were superior to the Legiones Astartes -- several of the vital organs that had to be surgically implanted in previous generations of Space Marines would now grow naturally -- the only element still needing surgery being the Black Carapace. One of the greatest benefits of the improved gene-seed was the accelerated growth of the subject, which turned an Aspirant into a Legionary in about a hundred hours, Terran standard, where the previous process had taken many years.
Even the precious Progenoid Glands which held the Legion's future benefitted from this accelerated growth, but this was only of secondary importance as the Primarch-data allowed Sixx and Orlandriaz to grow progenoid glands from scratch. This would then allow for the Raven Guard to fully bypass the Raptors' training as Scouts and directly field them as fully battle-ready Legionaries. However, all these boons also came with a price. The accelerated growth put the aspirants bodies under enormous stress -- while physical weakness posed no more problems -- the effects of the gene-seed and the accelerated cell-gestation emphasized naturally-present conditions and malformations. The Raven Guard lost one of its earliest Raptors to a microscopic heart defect, causing his immediate death. The nine surviving Legionaries quickly became known as the First Nine and they marked a new step in the evolution of the Legiones Astartes.
With the gene-seed now deemed safe enough to begin mass-implantation, the creation of the Raptors could begin in earnest. However the medical facilities of Ravendelve limited each new generation of Raptors to only 100 warriors. The Raven Guard's Master of Apothecaries Vicente Sixx and his acolyte Magos Orlandriaz vainly tried to convince Corax to transfer the gene-seed to the Ravenspire, but the Lord of Ravens flatly refused them. Rebuilding the fighting strength of his Legion was still his highest objective, yet the Raptors were still a little-understood and untested weapon. Corax required a test of the Raptors' mettle before allowing production of both gene-seed and Legionaries to be stepped up, and so, these first hundreds would do. To ensure that selection was entirely random, the Raven Guard -- as on many previous cases -- reverted to luck. Each of the Aspirants would draw a token, a hexagonal nut to determine their future. White meant that they would not be selected for the current generation of Raptors, whilst a black nut would mean that the recruit would undergo gene-seed implantation.
Commander Branne and Sergeant Nestil were put in charge of the selection program and ordered the recruits to assemble in Ravendelve's training hall and to form a line. Hef was unlucky though as he only earned himself a place at the end of the line. By the time the line had advanced so far as to allow him to see the little box were the nuts would be drawn, all 100 black nuts had been drawn, leaving Hef with nothing but excitement and frustration; an additional energy he used to fuel his efforts in training. Both already augmented Raptors and Aspirants trained in the confined space of Ravendelve, interaction was inevitable. Hef burned to become like his former comrades, longed to train with Bolter and heavy weapons -- the weapons of a true warrior of the Astartes -- rather than the simple machine guns he and his yet-human comrades were issued with. As the first three hundred Raptors soon departed Ravendelve for a training mission, the elimination of a listening station of the Word Bearers Legion, Hef still awaited his turn for implantation, but his long wait was soon to be over.
A few weeks later, Navar Hef and his remaining comrades were finally taken to the Apothecarium to begin their transcendence into warriors of the Legiones Astartes. With his patience and efforts finally being rewarded, it was an eager Navar Hef that subjected himself to the treatment devised by Sixx and Orlandriaz. In a few short days, the youth had been replaced by a towering, muscular super-human, a warrior even deadlier than the regular Legionary. Much to Hef's pleasure, he and his squad brothers saw almost immediate action as Ravendelve was attacked by unknown elements. Stepping virtually from the Apothecarium onto a battlefield, Hef relished in his new abilities: strength, speed and discipline, firing a Bolter at the enemies of the Raven Guard and finally wearing the much coveted Mark VI "Corvus" pattern Power Armour that had become the new standard equipment for the Raptors.
Under Sergeant Cald, Hef's squad was assigned a Rhino APC and formed Ravendelve's rapid respond force which soon found itself tasked with pursuing the illusive enemy, whose main assault had been thrown back thanks to Ravendelve's static defenses. In truth, the attack posed no true threat, whatsoever, to Ravendelve, but the enemy still needed to be eradicated. Retreating in the ever thickening noxious fog clouds, harried by the Raptors-squads in Rhinos, the enemy was as good as dead when the unthinkable happened: in the confusion of battle, one of the Raptors was brought down. Not by enemy fire, although that enemy, now identified as Kiavahrian guilders, indeed possessed weapons capable of slaying Legionaries, but by an unknown pain. Hef could only look on in horror as his fellow Raptor's body, now laying on the ground, was shaken by violent spasms, sending his bolter flying, and obviously in a great amount of pain. Hef remarked that the squad's vox was now filled with painful grunts and moans, and at that moment he saw his neighbour falling down on his knees when he too felt it -- a tightness in the chest and a flaming agony that locked his limbs in place which brought him to his knees -- and a burning pain that quickly crept up his spine. Hef's squad was not the only one concerned, for all over the battlefield most of the Raptor-squads had been simultaneously brought low. Faced with this unforeseeable turn of event, Sergeant Cald did the only sensible thing to do -- he ordered a retreat. Hefting the fallen Hef personally onto his shoulders, he brought the stricken Raptor back into the Rhino, but the ever-stubborn Hef insisted on walking the last few metres, stumbling more than walking and letting himself fall into the Rhino's passenger compartment. Those members that still were able to stand, gathered the Raptors and brought them back to the armoured personnel carrier, which quickly departed.
Confused and disorientated, Hef could only stare on as his brothers transformed before his very eyes. One of his closest brothers, Devallia, was frantically trying to take off his helmet, but it refused to disengage properly. As the seals finally broke down, Hef stared into inhuman, blood-shot eyes. The pupils had retracted in little black pinpricks and his skin was quickly blackening, though veins and arteries still dimly pulsed beneath it. Devallia cried out in agony, his mouth ravaged by a second row of sharpened teeth that were now ravaging his gums, blood mixed with corrosive saliva uncontrollably dripping from his mouth onto his armour and the Rhino's deck. As Hef turned to his petrified sergeant he remarked that his own hand had also changed, long claws having broken from the fingertips of his gauntlets. Gripping the hand of his sergeant, Hef endured the ride home as best as he could, his body wracked by transformation.
It quickly became very obvious that apart from the first 500 recruits, every Raptor had suffered from this genetic deviation. Those concerned were now assembled in Ravendelve's subterranean levels. Those too far gone, required incarceration. Fortunately, Ravendelve's deepest levels contained cages where prior tests of the Primarch-gene-seed had been conducted on animals. Despite their new condition, most of the Raptors were still masters of themselves and thus needed no special precautions, yet the Raven Guard insisted on keeping the Raptors in seclusion. Officially, every effort was made to revert the changes, and despite Corvus Corax personal involvement, most Raptors realized it was but an empty promise. Sixx and Orlandriaz suspected a sudden manifestation of non-human genes that had laid dormant in the gene-seed, and thus far no one suspected that the gene-seed had been tampered with. Despite Hef's claws, his mutations were far less severe than those of others, even the vestigial tail that had grown from his spine and that had been surgically removed by Vincente Sixx had been somewhat common amongst this new gallery of monsters the later generations of Raptors had become.
With more than a thousand Raptors now unoperational, Legionaries from the Talons were ferried down from Ravenspire to secure and guard the compound. This proved to be a wise decision as within the week Ravendelve was attacked by secessionist elements.
Attack on Ravendelve
The first sign of enemy activity was a long-ranged bombardment of the Magnus Casei, an Imperator-class Titan of the Legio Vindictus which had been standing guard over Kiavahr for several centuries. As Ravendelve’s macro-cannons towers engaged in the artillery duel with their gigantic foe, an armoured column of Guildsmen, escorted by four Warhound-class Scout Titan approached the curtain wall of the facility and began blasting at it. Divided between the need to repel the Magnus Casei and scare off the more agile Scout Titans, the defence turrets were soon overwhelmed. The curtain wall still held when the enemy struck from within: a Thunderhawk bearing the colours of the Raven Guard which had just deivered its complement of reinforcements veered off his course and attacked Ravendelve’s gatehouse, killing many Legionaries and allowing infiltrated Alpha Legion Legionaries that had been masquerading as Raven Guards since Istvaan V to take the gatehouse and open it. With the complex effectively breached, the Alpha Legion and their allies could now make their move for their true objective: the Primarch-gene-seed and data they had previously corrupted.
Despite the dire situation the Raptors were not called upon to aid in the defense of Ravendelve. Disciplined, they remained within their cells, knowing that some kind of fighting was going on from the sounds that penetrated into their quarters, but with no one to turn to or in charge they simply sat idle. Despite the presence of both Commander Solaro and Agapito, none of them had taken charge of Ravendelve’s defence, it came down to Chief Apothecary Vincente Sixx to organise the defence of the gene-seed vault. Acting upon direct orders from Corax, Sixx began the lock-down procedure of the Apothecarion and gene-seed vault but with no one to turn to resolved himself to personally make the short trip to the next armoury to fetch the necessary demolition charges should circumstances dictate him to ensure the destruction of the gene-seed. Sixx was immensely relieved when upon reaching the elevator that would take him directly to the armoury he encountered Commander Solaro, flanked by a squad of Raven Guard Legionaries, a relief that quickly turned to shock when the Commander stabbed him through the chest with his Power Sword.
This would then mark the beginning of the Raptor’s involvement, as the grievously wounded Vincente Sixx - left unguarded by the Traitors - managed to crawl to the next cell, Hef’s cell and tasked the Raptors to protect the gene-seed. To help them in their task, the Chief Apothecary relinquished his personal sidearm, a simple Bolt Pistol, but most importantly his own gene-imprinted masterkey that would allow the Raptors to arm themselves. Quickly releasing their comrades and splitting up into squads, the Raptors joined the fight for Ravendelve. Unarmoured they were not quite so resistant as a true Legiones Astartes, but their mutations had imbued many of them with superior pain thresholds and regenerative abilities which meant that even unarmoured the mutated Raptors could survive a direct hit form a Bolt, as the Alpha Legion was soon to find out. Outnumbering the enemy, the Raptors stormed the Apothecarion, where the Alpha Legionnaires in disguise were planting demolition charges in order to destroy the XIXth Legion gene-seed. A furious firefight erupted in the subterranean levels of Ravendelve, but eventually the leader of the Alpha Legion, the infiltrator masquerading as Commander Solaro sacrificed his troops in an attempt to reach the landing pads.
Having already brought down more than half a dozen Traitors, the Raptors charged the two survivors and butchered them, thus securing the Apothecarion. Several of the Raptors had died in the fighting and Hef himself had taken a Bolt to the chest and been severely wounded. As Corax himself arrived with reinforcements from Deliverance and a relief column of Mechanicum troops attacked the Guilders that were still laying siege to Ravendelve, the battle definitely turned into the Raven Guard’s favour. Realizing his Legion had been infiltrated, Corax put his trust into those whose loyalty could not be questioned: the warriors of the Adeptus Custodes and the Raptors. Ordering his own Legionaries to stand down and submit to full genetical testing, the security of Ravendelve fell to the Raptors - both mutated and pure - which uncovered and even had to slay several of the Alpha Legion’s infiltrators that tried to escape now that their discovery was assured. Nef however did not participate in this effort as his wounds were being treated in the Apothecarion. Corax himself came to visit him and lauded the Raptor’s sense of duty and quick reaction-time. The Ravenlord further confirmed that even in their present condition, the Raptors were of the Raven Guard and that they would be inducted into the Legion and counted amongst its battle-brothers. The Raptors, both those genetically pure and those heavily mutated, would take to the field as warriors of the Legiones Astartes of the XIXth Legion; they would be Raven Guard.
Leader of Monsters
Given his bravado and successful actions in the defense of Ravendelve, Navar Hef was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and placed in charge of one of the new Raptors’ squad. Their superior regenerative abilities allowed Nef and all those wounded on Kiavahr to have regained their strength and thus to participate in the Siege of the Perfect Fortress against the Emperor’s Children on Narsis. Hef and his squad were part of the drop-pod counter-assault which hit the IIIrd Legion’s counter-attack which had pushed back the Raven Guard’s allies from the Therion Cohorts under Sub-Caesari Valerius. Nef and his squad where at the tip of the assault, fighting within eyesight of their Primarch. It is known that during this first engagement, Navar Hef’s mutation still permitted him to carry and use a Bolter, an ability he would eventually loose as his claws continued to grow.
With the Raven Guard assaulting Traitor-held worlds, the Raptors and Nef saw much action in the following years. The XIXth Legion took to their old motto "strike, fade away and strike again" to harass those that were loyal to the Warmaster, leaving local forces or their allies to garrison the reconquered worlds before moving on. Nef quickly rose to prominence amongst the Raptors, his command necessitating that he refrain from the Raptors' natural aggression, which made him a far more competent leader that his brutish and bestial physique might suggest.
Such was Hef's value to the Legion that he quickly rose to become Commander Branne's second-in-command. By the time the Legion fought the so-called Day of Vengeance campaign, as the liberation of the prison-world of Carandiru would be known, Navar Hef was known as Commander Branne's right hand and had been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
During this particular campaign, Branne and his Raptors were tasked with the capture of a heavily fortified enclave named Nazdrexes, a peculiar complex where half the fortifications were not directed outwards to repel attackers, but inwards to keep whatever or whomever was imprisoned there secured. Correctly assuming that these high value prisoners might make powerful additions to the civilian uprisings manifesting themselves all over the planet, the Raptors led the assault and were successful in overwhelming the complex defences without casualties, yet they were unprepared for what awaited them.
Nazdrexes was not only a prison-compound, but also a diabolic laboratory of the well-known Traitor Apothecary Fabius Bile from the IIIrd Legion. Locked in underground holding cells, vile experiments had been conducted on captured loyalist Legionaries or those Traitors that had fallen in disgrace: towering monstrosities of flesh, muscle and bones, claws and fangs or other stranger and more exotic appendages. Hef and Branne personally led the Raptors into the complex. To the heavily mutated Raptors it must have seemed as looking into a mirror or a possible future that may still await them. The similarities between the Raptors and these aberrations were indeed so many that those Loyalists test subjects that had thus far survived unharmed mistook their liberators for these degenerated monsters and opened fire on them.
These survivors were being led by one of the XIXth Legion own missing warriors, namely Techmarine Napenna who had been captured in the Dropsite Massacre. Having been absent from the Legion since then he could have no knowledge of the Raptors and their condition. Infuriated by being referred and mistaken for a ’subhuman’, Hef nearly started a duel with one of the survivors, but held his temper in check. With the complex secured and Carandiru liberated, Corax ordered the Raptors to purge the facilities of theses failed experiments, requesting the task be done by those Raptors similarly afflicted. Despite Commander Branne’s protests, the orders were carried out, the clear-limbed Raptors watching in dire intent as their brothers descended into the subterranean levels to kill the monsters created there. Officially there was no favoritism within the Raven Guard, and as Nazdrexes had been the Raptor’s assigned target, it was only right that this task should be done by those committed to do it - and yet the Primarch’s judgement seemed excessively harsh on the Raptors.
Whereas the Raven Guard had operated almost at one, never striking more than two or three targets simultaneously, Corax decided to send out isolated vessels on deep-patrol and sabotage runs, tasked with striking at targets of opportunity. This reduced deployments, often numbering a lone ship and its complement of Legionaries were the pure expression of the Raven Guard’s way of warfare: small units, operating in the shadows and striking where the enemy least expected them. Lieutenant Navar Hef was charged with the command of just such a task-force. Embarking upon the Fearless, a Light Cruiser, Hef and his warriors were despatched into an isolated region of space. With the Raven Guard having discovered - and destroyed - several hidden facilities dedicated in the creation of new weapons for the Traitors, it has been suggested that the Fearless may have been despatched to investigate upon several isolated segments of space to discover if indeed the enemy was conducting similar experiments in other locations.
More by luck than by intent, the Fearless encountered a drifting ship which soon revealed itself as a Legiones Astartes Strike Cruiser. The hull indicated no damage and the ship seemed in prime condition, merely powered down and drifting in some abandoned quadrant of space. Puzzled by this encounter, Hef decided to approach the vessel and resolve its mystery. If possible, the ship could be salvaged and added to the Raven Guard’s fleet. As the Fearless closed in on its target, its crew was able to ascertain the vessel’s origin: the Strike Cruiser belonged to the Emperor’s VIth Legion, it belonged to the Space Wolves. Acting with caution, Navar Hef decided to personally lead his full-complement of warriors onboard the Strike Cruiser, wary of any possible enemy presence aboard the ship. To their surprise they found no sign of carnage. The ship’s logs indicated that none of its weapon had been fired in a long time, that no ship had been encountered and that both generatoria and propulsion systems were fully operational, so why abandon a fully combat-ready ship out there in the void? One of the search-parties then reported their findings: three bodies, obviously Space Marines in stature and of Space Wolf-origin, but with no squad or rank insignia and their faces disfigured. The three bodies had been found outside of one of the ship’s armouries, having seemingly been forced to blow their way out from it with Melta Bombs. Hef’s first guess was that they had been imprisoned there, but by whom? And where had these mysterious captors vanished to? As further mysteries were unveiled, one answer presented itself to Hef and his Raptors: the ship’s last point of origin, an uninhabited moon in an otherwise desert system. Adamant upon resolving this mystery, Navar Hef ordered his men to reembark upon the Fearless and to set course for the coordinates retrieved from the Strike Cruiser’s logs.
Running silently thanks to the Kiavahrian Reflex Shield Technology, the Fearless approached the retrieved coordinates only to encounter the enemy: a vessel of the Sons of Horus. As the use of the Reflex Shields necessitates vast quantities of energy, the Fearless could not properly identify its target, having to gauge the enemy only by their energy signature which either indicated a Battle Barge on silent running or a Strike Cruiser at half-power. Obviously outgunned, Nef congratulated himself for his caution for ’the Warmaster’s own scum’ - as he had referred to them - seemed not to have noticed the Raven Guard-vessel entering the system. Picking up on the enemy ship’s vox-traffic, it became quickly evident that much of the Sons of Horus had been sent to the surface, no doubt confronting or hunting down the remaining Space Wolves. Unwilling to lose the element of surprise by turning the Fearless’ sensoria to full power, Navar Hef decided to personally lead a recon mission on the moon’s surface with the Fearless to remain hidden and ready to strike at its prey once the situation on the ground had been properly established. Power and heat signatures also showed the Sons of Horus surrounding some kind of unknown facility which was obviously powered by its own Plasma Generator.
Having landed some distance from the heat signatures as to avoid detection, the Raptors around Hef advanced on foot, quickly establishing that the Sons of Horus had built earthworks and were truly laying siege to the facility. With the enemy’s attention focused on the fortified compound, it was easy for Hef and his men to infiltrate the Traitors’ position and dispose of those sentinels that stood in their path. Hef theorized that the Space Wolves were likely holed up within the compound and doing their best to repel the Sons of Horus but were too few to be able to win this battle in a conventional way. Their ship had been a message in a bottle, a call for help let loose amongst the infinity of the universe. Resolute to come to the aid of their Loyalist brethren, Hef decided to go on, traversing the enemy lines and if possible make contact with the beleaguered Space Wolves. The Raven Guard’s innate talents for stealth served them well as Hef and his companions reached the compounds outer reaches unnoticed and unopposed.
Hef successfully raised the Space Wolves commander on the vox, which at first thought of an enemy trick and bluntly requested of Hef to go away. It was only when Hef had declined his identity and to what Legion he belonged that the officer’s tone and attitude changed, sounding pleased at this sudden change of events. The conversation was still ongoing when Hef’s spotters reported enemy armour and troop carriers closing in on the Lieutenant’s position: having broadcasted on an unsecured frequency, the Sons of Horus had picked up the exchange and despatched troops accordingly. Cursing at the Space Wolves’ negligence, Hef readied himself for combat as a Rhino APC came around and closed in on the Raptors. Using his abilities and the low gravity of the moon, Hef jumped on the troop carrier and killed its gunners before throwing grenades down the hatch to deal with its complement of Sons of Horus. As the first threat was dealt with, a second one emerged closely behind in the form of a Predator Tank. With no heavy weapons to return fire, the Raptors had no other choice than to cover behind the burning wreckage of the previously destroyed Rhino and to wait for their inevitable death. Fortunately for Hef and his men, the Space Wolves had acted promptly and led a sortie to help their new-found allies. As the Predator exploded under a precise shot of a Lascannon, both Raptors and Space Wolves quickly returned to the security of the compound’s walls.
The Luck of the Raven Guard
Trapped alongside the Space Wolves inside their defended compound, Navar Hef and his men found themselves in dire circumstances - having no idea of the Raptors-affliction, the Space Wolves immediately pointed their Bolters at their allies when, distracted, Hef had mechanically taken of his helmet. A tedious stand-off issued, with Raven Guard and Space Wolves aiming their weapons at each other before the situation was resolved peacefully by a member of the Space Wolves similarly afflicted by the degenerations of the Canis Helix and which saw simlarly-afflicted warriors in Hef and his companions. With the matter put to rest for the time being, both commanders could present themselves. The Space Wolves’ leader presented himself as Pack Master Arvan Woundweaver, entrusted by the dual authority of Leman Russ and the Regent of Terra -- Malcador the Sigilite -- to protect Corvus Corax from possible harm and act as his honour guard. For five long years he and his pack had travelled the galaxy in search of the XIXth Legion, having been unable to retrace the Ravenlord’s steps after the dire events of the Dropsite Massacre and the false news of his death. Perceiving the lie for what it was, Hef did not press the matter any further as tactical efficiency required him to work with the Space Wolves if he ever wanted to get out alive from the trap he was now ensnared in.
Letting Woundweaver tell his tale, Hef learned how the situation had evolved, how while resupplying at this very facility the Space Wolves had been surprised by the Sons of Horus and intended to protect their secret base by luring the Traitors onboard their own vessel and then detonate its Plasma drives. It was this ill-fated moment that three of his pack had chosen to succumb to the curse of the Wulfen, the existence of which Woundweaver only reluctantly admitted. With the need to subdue their feral comrades and lock them safely inside one of the armouries, time was running short when the Wulfen used Melta Bombs to blow through the armoury’s blast-door and assail their former brothers. With no other means than to kill them, the Space Wolves brought the three Wulfen down, but the fight had been so time-consuming that the original plan could not be enacted. Fleeing onboard a gunship, the Space Wolves sent their ship outwards in the slim hope that someone may stumble upon it and trace its steps back to them; the siege had however been going on for some time and the Space Wolves had devised a new plan to eliminate the Sons of Horus: lure them within the facility’s walls and detonate the generators, killing hundreds of Sons of Horus in the process. Either way, it seemed that the Space Wolves were hell-bound and intended to sacrifice themselves in order to take as much as the Sons of Horus with them into the grave.
Resolute not to give his life away in such a pointless act, Navar Hef convinced Woundweaver of another course of action: use the Raven Guard’s presence - of which the enemy was most likely still unaware - to attack the Sons of Horus from an unexpected quarter. The Fearless could probably eliminate the undermanned Strike Cruiser with ease and then bombard the position of the Sons of Horus from orbit, thus forcing the landing troops to rush the defendants and try to shield themselves from the bombardment by taking the facility. Woundweaver and his Space Wolves merely needed to hold the line long enough for the Sons of Horus to think themselves victorious before sabotaging the reactor and thus consign the Warmaster’s Legionaries to an explosive and all-consuming death. Rallying a pre-ordained extraction point, both Space Wolves and Raptors would then leave the moon and rendezvous with the Fearless which would take them back to the XIXth Legion.
After his initial skepticism had been vanquished, Woundweaver accepted the plan - on the condition that the Raven Guard Lieutenant would swear on his honor to carry out that which he had promised. The Space Wolves would prepare accordingly, gathering what supplies and weapons they may need before mounting a diversionary attack which would allow the Raptors to cross back through enemy lines and contact the Fearless. This let Hef ample time to explore the facility; although he had done his best to conceal his true feelings from his ally, the matter set ill at ease with Hef: a lone unit of Space Wolves despatched to reinforce the Legion and watch over Corax, a secret base in an isolated system, an armoury hiding enough weapons and explosives to bring down everything short of a Battle Titan... All this led Hef to distrust Woundweaver and to secretly consider other options available to him. True to their word, the Space Wolves would cause such a commotion that all eyes would be drawn to them, letting the Raptors slip through the enemy’s earthwork. The plan was not without risk for the Space Wolves. The Sons of Horus might kill them. The bombardment might. Even the plasma reactor’s detonation might engulf them in fire. Perhaps he would not have to betray the Space Wolves at all.
Reaching their gunship without further problem, Hef used the Raven Guard’s coded transmissions protocols to order the Fearless to conduct a stealth attack on the Sons of Horus Cruiser which was only manned by a skeleton crew, most fighters being already on the ground. With the enemy’s orbital support eliminated, the Fearless would then assume position over the facility and conduct an orbital bombardment of the Traitor’s earthwork, forcing them to mount an all-out assault on the Space Wolves to seek shelter within the compound’s reinforced walls. True to his word, Hef ordered the Fearless to leave an extraction corridor for the Space Wolves to leave their doomed armoury, secretly hoping that the sons of Russ would fail to meet them at the rendezvous point. As the horizon was illuminated by an enormous explosion, these hopes were crushed when Woundweaver contacted Hef on the vox network, exulting at the carnage they had wrought on the Sons of Horus. With a heavy heart, Hef and his men embarked on their gunship and went to meet with their brothers of the VIth Legion.
Only three Space Wolves remained, one of them being Woundweaver. The others had all given their lives to lure the Sons of Horus in and thus seal their fate. As the gunship landed and the Raptors stepped out, Hef addressed Woundweaver, asking if he had been true to his word. As Woundweaver confirmed this, Hef said "For the record, I am sorry it has to come to this.", and ordered his men to open fire. Woundweaver’s two companions were cut down by Bolters before they could reach their weapons, but Woundweaver himself as quicker, rushing Hef and engaging him in single combat. Fighting honorably, Hef ordered his men to stand down: he would face Woundweaver alone. Hef parried the first blows of Woundweaver’s Power Axe with his Chainsword, and soon the weapon was not functioning anymore, but it still made for an effective bludgeon.
As both warriors lost their weapons, their fight devolved into a brawl, the two Space Marines hammering at each other with fists, elbows and knees, their figures hovering, entwined, a few centimetres over the moon's surface thanks to its low gravity. Both were wounded, but they could not have been more different in composure. Woundweaver was fighting with savage abandon, ranting and cursing all the time at Hef's lack of honor and the deception of the Raven Guard whilst Hef remained utterly silent. But Woundweaver spoke the truth of it, that the Raptors and the Wulfen were not so different in essence, both cursed warriors, useful to the fight but in the end mere tools to be discarded and buried once their usefulness was at an end.
As Woundweaver retrieved his axe and quickly gained the upper hand, Hef finally let go of his composure and used his claws to fight of Woundweaver. The thus far concealed mutation took Woundweaver by surprise, and now the situation was reversed, Hef attacking furiously with Woundweaver on the defensive. As Hef landed a blow on Woundweaver's face, his fate was sealed: having lost an eye, Woundweaver was thrown onto ground before Hef finished him with his claws.
Still panting from his exertion, Hef explained his decision to his fellow Raptor: Corax's obstination was all that was keeping the Raven Guard in the fight. While the Primarch burned with righteous anger, the XIX Legion was a force to be reckoned with. But if doubts assailed him, if the Space Wolves' presence even could have raised doubt to Corax's true loyalties, even if the slimmest chance remained that the Ravenlord's efforts were not rewarded with the full support of Terra, then the Raven Guard would surely fail. This was a risk Hef could not take. Corax would have welcomed the Space Wolves with open arms, he had done so for every Loyalist they had encountered, but welcoming the Space Wolves would have caused the Raven Guard's demise. With his final order to all Legionaries present never to tell the truth about Woundweaver's fate, Hef and the Raptors silently departed.
- Deliverance Lost (Novel) by Gav Thorpe
- Corax: Soulforge (Novella) by Gav Thorpe
- Ravenlord (Novella) by Gav Thorpe
- Raptor (Audio Book) by Gav Thorpe