Here, without delay, is the second mini-chapter of my Space Wolf fan fiction story, Hunted:
Another gust of wind. His ears perked and nostrils flared. Snow was not all that the wind carried.
Whiny mortal voices complained of the cold and their duty. He could smell them before he saw them, their collective breaths stinking of smoked fish and their bodies ripe with fear: five traitorous Planetary Defense Troopers, clutching wooly grox skins over their uniforms, fumbling predictably down the well-worn trail and plowing deep ravines through the fresh snow. Beneath their long-haired cloaks Volstag’s keen eyes could see irregular paintjobs applied to their flak armor, the standard grey colors of Tundra Station hastily sprayed with the dark blues and tarnished golds of their Night Lord masters. One even had hand-drawn white lightning zig-zagging around his now blue helmet. They clutched lasrifles fixed with bayonets in their gloved hands. Two men pulled their wooly hoods so far over their heads that they could barely see the man in front of them. But even that hindrance wouldn’t matter; the one in the lightning-helmet talked too much for the rest to notice anything about their surroundings anyway.
“I don’t see why I got stuck with you lot,” he complained.
“You said that already,” another said.
“I should be on patrol with some real Chaos Marines.” He slashed at the air with his bayonet, even imagining combat in a sloppy manner. “Bringing down the rogue wolf for some important folks to see, not in front of the lot of you.”
“Well, Bleakman, maybe if you stop thinking about yourself so damned much we can all get this wolf together, and all get the prize.”
“The gene-seed of Lord Curze,” one said in awe.
“Yeah, right,” grumbled another furry hood.
The lightning-helmeted trooper, Bleakman, shoved the grumbler from behind. “‘Yeah, right,’” he mocked. “See, that’s my point exactly! That attitude is why you bums will never really join the ranks of the Night Lords. You’ll still be tending grox for the All Mighty Silent-One, Emperor Don’t-Give-A-Damn, while I’ll be waging war across the stars and pulling men’s hearts out through their puckered arses and such. After I bring in the stray wolf, Abaenon will make me a full-blooded Night Lord! And I plan to have that prize one way or another, even if I have to crack every one of you weaklings in face to do it.” He pretended to hit a fellow trooper with the butt of his lasgun.
The squad leader, a man who looked only a few years senior to his young charges, finally stopped in his tracks and turned around. “Bleakman, shut-up! I’m sick of hearing your mouth. Mosely, Ryker, pull your damned hoods down, how could you see a herd of grox going by much less a Space Marine on the run like that? And Meyer... Meyer, stop encouraging Bleakman’s blathering. Ain’t a damn one of you worthy of a gene-seed, Chaos or otherwise. From here out you better keep your traps shut and your eyes open!”
If only their leader had taken his own advice. The established trail took the squad right under Volstag’s tree. His thick bough creaked as the Space Wolf swung one leg around, prompting the traitor sergeant to look up, but it was too late. Even without armor, Volstag’s stout, heavily-muscled frame easily weighed one-hundred thirty kilos in this gravity. The trooper sergeant, maybe eighty.
The wolf landed on the traitor sergeant with a sickening crunch of bones, then sprang back to his feet while the other four were still looking on. They were all stunned by the sudden appearance of this monster of a man: a creature impervious to the biting cold, his face heavy with a snow-encrusted beard, hairy chest a map of red and white scars, and intense eyes burning with a fury of injustice their simple lives had never known. One fist struck a trooper in the face like a hammer, knocking teeth down his gullet and blowing the man instantly unconscious. His other huge hand snatched the lasrifle away from a second man and knocked him to the ground with the back swing. The trooper Bleakman jerked so suddenly that his painted helmet nearly fell off backwards, but he did manage to raise his weapon and pull the trigger. Two lasbolts sizzled wildly past the Space Wolf, panic throwing them off the mark. Volstag twirled his new lasgun around in his fingers and cast it like a spear, burying the rifle’s bayonet into Bleakman’s sternum. The last trooper gathered enough sense to run but tripped over his heavy groxhide cloak. The fumble cost him his life. Volstag leapt on top of him, pulled the man’s own knife from his belt, and eviscerated him. His gory contents spilled into the snow, turning the cold white carpet to a steaming red.
A flight of sparrows scattered. Scavenger birds cawed. A small deer was running away somewhere in the brush. There were no other sounds.
Though it gave him no pleasure to kill injured men, Volstag knew that leaving them alive was a liability. If found, they’d give away anything they knew. He gave them quick deaths at least, certainly more merciful than just leaving the crushed sergeant alive in the snow or the trooper whose jaw and neck were likely broken. The last traitor who’d given up his rifle to serve as a spear woke up with crimson speckling his swollen lips and bruises welling under his eyes.
“Praise the Emperor,” he whispered. “Praise the Emperor you’re still alive, sir. I didn’t want to do it. Please believe me, my lord, I’m not a traitor.”
This angered the lone wolf more than the betrayal itself. “First you renounce your loyalty and your Emperor,” Volstag snarled, “then you ambush and kill my packmates. And now, lying bloody in the snow, your cowardice undermines even your own conviction as a traitor. You can’t even die clutching at your heresy? Beg for mercy when you’re kneeling before the Emperor in the afterlife, coward, because you’ll get none from me.”
With a final stroke of bayonet, the wolf delivered a quick and silent death.
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Part 3 tomorrow...