In honour of Macharius’s recent encounter with the Wolves of Space I have decided to reprint yet another old post of mine from the Trollslayer.net website. (And yes, I admit it, because I am feeling lazy.) Once again, I would like to thank Jimmy Carmine for pointing me in the direction of the archive.org and allowing me to retrieve this post from oblivion. Once again, I would just like to make it clear that none of this stuff is an official part of the background save where it actually appears in the Space Wolf novels and has not been superceded by new developments. I would also like to state that it is entirely possible, indeed extremely likely, that Macharius will encounter some Wolfblades in The Fist of Demetrius.
An extract from the basic training lectures of Brother Guillame, Fabricator Scriptorum, Inquisition Library, Stalynheim.
Reference: Light of Knowledge
Clearance Level: Tertius
Unauthorised Viewing May Result In Termination of Library Privileges and Life.
Praise the Emperor.
Brothers, it is often said that there is not one Imperium but many. Putting aside for the moment the seemingly inherent heresy of that thought, we shall see that it reveals one facet of the truth. Many consider our Imperium to be a vast monolithic bloc with every arm of Imperial government and policy acting in one accord. Laudable as that thought is, it is simply not true. In some places our Imperium is more like a patchwork of alliances between many factions, all of whom believe it is in their best interests to ensure its continuance.
Nowhere is this better exemplified than by the Adeptus Astartes and the Navigator House. You will immediately notice some similarities. Both consist of a number of factions, each with its own culture, interests, policies and goals. Both predate the Imperium itself, and by virtue of their ancient histories lay claim to perquisites and privileges that make them exempt from many aspects of Imperial Law. Both can make superficially convincing claims that these exemptions are validated by the mandate of the Emperor himself. Within the Imperium they are allowed to act with a certain autonomy not granted to others. Even our own Inquisition grants them a latitude that would seem almost indulgent of heresy if it were allowed to anyone else.
In some cases these organisations have made pacts with each other, which had they not been mandated by the Emperor and did they not predate the foundation of the Ecclesiarchy, would be illegal. Probably the best known such pact is the one between the Space Wolves and the House of Belisarius, the so-called Wolfblade accord.
The origins of this pact are lost in legend, but the most commonly accepted version of the story dates it from the time of the Great Crusade and the friendship that existed between Leman Russ and Alexander Belisarius. Belisarius was a Navigator of genius who aided Russ on many of his adventures and is said to have disappeared with him on his last fatal voyage. On the day of the Feast of the Founding, they are said to have sworn a pact of eternal friendship. As a sign of this friendship, the Belisarians agreed to provide Navigators for the Chapter in perpetuam. In return they would enjoy the military protection of the Space Wolves themselves. The pledge of this would be that an entire pack of Wolves would accompany the Celestarch as his bodyguard. Given the fractious nature of the Navigator Houses, and a commercial rivalry which at that time could result in conflicts that can only be described as wars, this was an alliance of considerable importance.
I see some of you are shocked. When considering this you have to remember that the Imperium did not exist when the accord was made. There was no formal legal apparatus as such for resolving disputes, no strong central authority that could impose the rule of law upon malefactors and those who broke the peace. True, there was the Emperor and his allies, but at the time, they were too busy expanding the rule of mankind through the heavens to give their full attention to policing the worlds they brought into the fold of civilisation. In these essentially lawless times such an alliance was of great value to both parties.
Such archaisms should have been superseded with the founding of the Imperium, but they were not. Of course, as is the wont of such things, the nature of the relationship has changed over the millennia. The Wolfblades no longer act as simple bodyguards for the Celestarch of Belisarius. These days, that is but one of their duties. Nowadays they act as his confidential agents, the leaders of his house troops and upon occasion, it is said, his personal assassins.
It may be also that they perform another role. Because of their connection with Belisarius, the Space Wolves are one of the few Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes to have maintained a continuous presence on the surface of Terra since the time of the Great Heresy. It is a small presence to be sure, but it is one, in a part of our galaxy where the Astartes are by no means popular and are in some cases forbidden by law. Perhaps this goes some way to explaining the longevity of the relationship between the two factions. I do not think we should underestimate the importance of having eyes and ears, and occasionally blades, among the wealthy and influential elites of Terra.
We can take this line of reasoning one step further. The Navigator Houses extend their tentacles everywhere. They are vastly wealthy, hugely influential and extremely adroit at the collection of information. You can imagine the advantages to a Chapter based on the fringes of the Imperium, in having its own agents, at the very centre of this vast web. Of course this is speculation. Even if it were so, no Space Wolf would ever admit to it. They pride themselves on their primitive code of honour.
Lastly, it is worth bearing in mind that such bodyguards are a two-edged sword. Who can predict what would happen to a Celestarch who failed to honour his commitments to provide Navigators to the Wolves. In this one case, I don’t think any of us need be prescient to foresee the outcome.
The advantages to the Wolves are obvious but what do the Navigators get from this agreement. The answer by now should also be obvious. They have a visible symbol of an alliance with one of the oldest and most powerful Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes. A Chapter moreover famed for its disregard for the niceties of Imperial politics. No one doubts that if the Celestarch truly required their aid, they would come. There have been many examples in history of Space Wolf units coming to the aid of Belisarian traders. In the festering cesspit of rivalry, assassination and factional, commercial strife that is Navigator politics, this has been a huge advantage.
The alliance then is a very real one, and valuable to both sides. The question is for how much longer should it be allowed to exist?