This article, Kaeriolian Ice-Bear, was written by Algrim Whitefang. Please do not edit or 'acquire' this fiction without the writer's permission.
The massive Kaeriolian Ice-Bear (Ursus glacies kaeriolii) is a fearsome semi-sentient, carnivorous predator and an enduring symbol of the Wolf Brothers Space Marine Legion's frozen homeworld of Kaeriol. Wolf Brothers Legionaries, in the ancient tradition of their Primarch Leman Russ, often befriend and train the feral and dangerous animals of their world, but in this case, they train giant ice-bears rather than wolves (in so much as such a feral being can truly be trained). Kaeriolian Ice-Bears will fight ferociously beside their master against his foes and certain breeds of these beasts can even be ridden as a form of cavalry into combat.
Following the disastrous Horus Heresy, the High Lords of Terra decreed that they would rebuild the shattered Legiones Astartes. Once these Legions were restored to full-strength, they were to be split in half, so that a new generation of Space Marine Legions would replace those corrupted by the Ruinous Powers and followed Warmaster Horus Lupercal into damnation. During this time, one of the Legions that were first chosen as Progenitor Legion was the feral Space Wolves Legion. It took many decades for the Imperium's most brilliant gene-wrights and fleshcrafters to decode the mysteries of the Canis Helix within the Space Wolves' gene-seed in order to create a new generation of Space Wolves successors. During that time, many of the Space Wolves' Wolf Priests and Iron Priests scoured the galaxy in order to find a comparable world for their successors that would mirror their own deadly world of Fenris. On the outskirts of the galactic north of the Segmentum Obscurus, they finally discovered such a world, which they named Kaeriol. This world was identical to Fenris, as it was also dominated by extremes of climate, and was a deadly and turbulent world inhabited by mankind. The extreme geography of Kaeriol had resulted in the human population of this world in becoming one composed largely of primitive, nomadic, pre-industrial barbarian tribes. The tribes constantly sought to secure territory, and as a result skirmishes and feuds over land between rival tribes were common. The Kaeriolian people were hardened to the changes in temperature and environmental extremes, and so was the fauna.
When the newly created Wolf Brothers Legion was stood up during the Second Founding in 091.M31, they were gifted with their new homeworld of Kaeriol, a world of fire and ice, and given half of the Space Wolves' Legion fleet, half their armouries and half their Priests. The Wolf Brothers also imported all matter of Fenrisian fauna, including - drakes, elk, and great white bears to their new Legion homeworld. Like all fauna on this notorious death world, the great white bears of Fenris are some of its most vicious predators. Accounts tell of how these massive creatures are known to attack villages and are capable of destroying buildings. Very few know the sheer diversity of the Ice-Bear species that exist upon Fenris, but they range from the common but nonetheless deadly jǫkull bjǫrn ('glacier bears'), to the hulking blóðbjǫrn ('bloodbear'), all the way up to the infamous great white bears that prowls the northernmost ice caps. Legends tell of creatures larger still, whose jaws are capable of crushing steel and whose teeth are as large as tree trunks.
Upon their arrival, the great white bears were released back into the wild. These fearsome creatures took to their new surroundings surprisingly well, and within a few generation of interbreeding with the formidable brúnn bjǫrn ('brown bear'), their population swelled. The Kaeriolian ice-bears primarily roam within the vast tracts of Niflheim, the inhospitable tundras and hinterlands that surrounded the foot of the mountains of Helgard, upon whose peaks the Wolf Brothers' built their mighty fortress-monastery of Útgarðar. Like their Fenrisian ursine forebears, the Kaeriolian Ice-Bears vary in colouration from the common white to dark brown or even rarer, black. They have wild, course fur and possess powerful shoulders and overdeveloped, iron-hard teeth. Kaeriolian Ice-Bears are usually solitary creatures, but have been known to group into a sleuth, obeying the natural order of certain mammalian predators, hunting in groups and instinctively obeying the largest and most ferocious of their kind who functions as the sleuth's alpha male. It is these alpha males that lead the Kaeriolian Ice-Bear sleuths; making decisions, facing down external threats and challenges to his position and enjoying the benefit of getting first pickings of the sleuth's kill and primary mating rights with the female sleuth members. The savage menfolk of the Kaeriolian human tribes respect the position of the alpha male, striving to emulate these creatures in their own social groupings.
Hunting down a sleuth of these supernaturally ferocious beasts and slaying one of these legendary creatures armed with nothing but their wits, is considered a great feat by the Battle-Brothers of the Wolf Brothers Legion. This ritual is known as a Lone Hunt. Should the Battle-Brother somehow kill the alpha male of a sleuth, the rest of the ice-bears will instinctively treat the Astartes as their new alpha male. When this Battle-Brother returns to Útgarðar, it will be in the company of a sleuth of Kaeriolian Ice-Bears. Many of these sleuthmates form a lasting bond, and from that moment on they will fight at their master's side until one or both of them die in battle. Such is the bond between Astartes and Kaeriolian Ice-Bear, that should the beast be critically injured in battle the Legion's Iron Priests will cybernetically augment it with bionics so that it may live to fight another day.
Kaeriolian Ice-Bears are simple, brutal beasts, loyal only to their master and remorseless against their enemies. As a follower, ice-bears will trail behind the Battle-Brother wherever he goes, growling if forced to stay behind, and attack his enemies with a gesture or a word. Kaeriolian Ice-Bears aid Wolf Brothers in numerous ways during battle. Their speed makes them a great flanking unit with which to harry the Wolf Brothers' enemies and pick off smaller units. Despite their formidable size, they are also used as a fast moving distraction to the main battle line, leaving the Wolf Brothers' opponents guessing at their next move. They will also stay by the side of the Battle-Brother if he falls, protecting his body and maybe even pulling him to safety. Kaeriolian Ice-Bears are also quintessentially linked to the Wolf Brothers Legion and will often be a point of contention and friction with Battle-Brothers of other Legions, especially if they are the ones which have to squeeze into a rhino with it or suffer it growling through a tactical briefing.
Ursine Cavalry units are a sub-group of the elite Wolf Guard of the Wolf Brothers Legion. According to official Imperial records, the Ursine Cavalry doesn't exist and the Wolf Brothers keep them as a closely guarded secret. Kaerlolian Ice-Bears stand about the height of over fifteen feet, and are used as mounts by the most elite members of the Hearth Guard. These ice-bears are often augmented with adamantium jaws, Imperial bionics, and back-jointed metal limbs that end in razor-sharp blades. The havoc that these creatures are capable of wreaking is said to be startling to even a hardened Veteran Wolf Brother. The taming of an Ice-Bear is often used as a ritual trial for a Wolf Brothers Astartes who wishes to rise into the ranks of the Hearth Guards.