Aboard the Night Lord's ship...
Alarm klaxons were sounding aboard the enemy vessel. Volstag pulled himself up the open access ramp, having to jump up to reach its edge as the grounded ship was cocked backward on its damaged landing gear. He paused there in the doorway in a low crouch, chainsword across his back, guns on his belt. He could hear very little below the howling of the fire alarm, but he did smell someone nearby; the tang of mutation was in the air.
A thin figure appeared from around the corridor, robed in dark blue with shining orange eyes. The wolf pounced and dispatched him in an instant, easily snapping the mortal’s neck. Limp in his arms, he could see this was a serf worker, like those that crewed loyal Space Marine ships, though here they were more likely slaves. This one appeared to also be a plaything of the depraved apothecary, having several scars and surgical augmentations.
A memory flashed in Volstag’s mind: breaking free of his bindings and slaying two such slaves with a few brutal swipes of his clawed hands. He felt the sweaty humidity again, smelled the oil and burning flesh, heard the painful cries of those dying.
Volstag looked at his hands now. Had those really been his taloned paws? No time to consider that now. He tossed the slave’s body out the hatch, pulled his sword and bolt pistol, and proceeded into the shadowy labyrinth of the ship.
The hot, narrow corridors were strangely familiar to him. With his general knowledge of Imperial ship designs and flashes of his unconscious memory, it wouldn’t take him long to locate the radio tower. Along the way he saw only a couple more serf-slaves, who had gone about their regular maintenance duties without noticing the wolf scout creeping among the shadows. Most of the Night Lord warriors were no doubt scattered across several kilometers of tundra by now, searching for their lost prey. The rest of the ship’s company and crew would be fighting the fire in the rear engine compartments, though by now that situation was likely under control. But still the alarms were sounding, providing him some cover and reassurance.
Volstag finally located the radio tower on the third deck of the ship. Just as he was prepared to enter, the doors opened. A robed figure slouched through the threshold dragging a twisted appendage that may have once been a leg. The slave’s pale face flashed surprise as the chainsword swung in and tore out his throat. Volstag leaped inside.
This was a cylindrical chamber no more than a dozen meters in diameter with the ceiling lost in the antenna arrays several meters above, all lit an eerie green by blinking lights and waveform screens. Two mortal servants and a Chaos Marine stood inside. One slave yelped with surprise. The Night Lord turned from receiving the latest report on the hunt and smiled. One thick finger clicked a switch on the panel. “Nevermind, Squad Five. I have him here.” He clicked off the channel.
“Say again, control,” the speaker demanded. “Did you say he’s there?”
“You’ve led us on quiet a chase, little pup,” the Night Lord said. His face was an irregular grid of scars and the chest piece of his power armor almost matched it. He pulled a jagged combat blade from his belt. “But the game is over now.”
One mutant slave raised an arm and his robe sleeve fell back. The bionic arm beneath unfolded with a mechanical whir, extending into three thin metal limbs, two with claws of various size, one with a long drill that whined as it spun up. The other slave stood still, waiting to see what would happen next.
“Shall we?” the Chaos Marine said.
Volstag hesitated, listening to the alarm klaxon continuing overhead. He realized it could stop any second but would cover any noise until then. “I’d love to,” the wolf snarled, “but I don’t have much time, and you’re wasting it.” He dropped the chainsword to the deck with a loud clang. The renegade’s mouth twitched into an even broader smile, but only briefly. Volstag’s now free hand seized the boltgun that hung at his side, tugged it free from his shoulder, and opened fire. The weapon’s report echoed around the walls of the small chamber as its vicious bolts spattered tainted blood on the walls and instruments. After two seconds of bolter fire his ears were ringing, the room was choked with smoke, and three enemy bodies lay on the floor.
That was stupid, he told himself, moving forward to inspect the radio controls. One misplaced shot could have destroyed the very equipment he’d come to use. It was the wolf inside that made him so anxious to spill blood, so careless with his weaponry. The wolf. His teeth clenched tight, eager to bite, to feed. There was little doubt now; Volstag knew he was tainted by the wulfen. A sharp-toothed grin touched his lips as he fished the voice-corder from its belt compartment. He realized that he had no regrets about the darker side of Russ and would give himself willingly to the creature’s full fury, once his business was done. But not yet.
He quickly assessed the radio panel, tuned up the standard Imperial distress frequency, and plugged in the device. The fire alarms ceased at that moment, leaving only his own voice in the room: “...I shall do what damage I can, then see you in the mead halls of the afterlife.” Volstag set the device in a repeating loop and gathered up his weapons.
One more task, he told the beast within, leashing it with his will. The signal’s out, we’ve little else to live for now. But I have to be sure. Something the traitor PDFs had said under his tree resonated in his head, something about being rewarded with the gene-seed of Kurze, thus being remade as a Night Lords Space Marine. What if Abaenon had stolen the gene-seed of Russ from his tortured captives, that which made them all sons of their beloved Primarch? He had to find and destroy the apothecary’s lab. Then he’d unleash the beast. Then he could die in blind, furious combat with honor in his heart.
The wolf’s unconscious memory guided him easily to the place of its birth. He therefore knew where the laboratory could be found. But now that the fire had been squelched, the ship’s passageways were busier with robed slaves and servitors returning to their usual duties.
And that suited Volstag fine.
He heard mumbled conversation around a corner and sped his pace to meet it, his bare feet pounding hard on the steel grid of flooring. The Night Lord Space Marines and their servitor were not expecting a half-naked beastman to come bounding around the bend, chainsword growling in both hands. With two swings and a howl of bloodlust, Volstag beheaded one Marine and cut down the other two. Their bulky bodies would choke the passageway, slowing down any pursuers.
He climbed a ladder to the fourth deck and shot two slaves waiting there with his bolt pistol. Subtlety was falling away. Something in him was no longer being cautious.
Two more robed figures saw him coming down a long corridor; there was no way to hide himself now. One was a half-machine servitor. It leveled its inhuman limb at him and fire poured forth, filling the hallway with bright yellow flames. Volstag leapt through the wall of fire, bare skin singed, the hair on his face and chest burned off or smoking. His chain blade hacked off the offending limb and his massive body smashed the other man against the bulkhead. The servitor stared in shock as his severed arm’s promethium fuel squirted on the walls and deck plates.
“Another fire,” the Space Wolf said, himself alight with several tiny flames. “Just what we need.”
He lowered his pistol and shot the mutant he’d knocked to the floor. The exploding bolt scattered the slave’s brains and sparked the lost fuel. A new barrier of flame roared to life. Volstag’s chainsword gave the servitor its death.
#” �> oNormal style='text-indent:.3in'>The Space Wolf hauled himself back up to the open compartment on the dreadnought’s rear. After twelve seconds of trial and error, he had complete control of the twin autocannons. The creature entombed within complained with bestial noises but could do nothing to stop him. This should give me just the diversion I need to get aboard, Volstag thought, and triggered the firing mechanism. The heavy shells detonated against the hull just to the left of the primary engine cones.
“But a space ship’s hull is built to take more punishment than that,” Volstag said aloud. “Let’s try this instead.” He adjusted his aim and fired again. This time twin trails of fire shot right into the engine cones, followed by explosions deep inside. He fired another volley. Green-blue plasma belched out from deep within his target, indicating an engine breach.
“And while we’re at it...” The dreadnought’s weapon ground and clicked in an arc, then roared off several more rounds. The earth around one landing leg exploded, then the leg itself. Volstag directed the fire to a second leg and destroyed it, too. The whole ship listed backward, tilting it into further confusion.
“I know you’re wracked with guilt over this,” Volstag told the dreadnought, “but don’t worry, you won’t have long to live with it.” He set another krak grenade inside the beast’s hull, set it with a long fuse, then dropped back to the ground.
“In Femyr Longspear’s name.”
The wolf rushed back into the darkness. Thirty seconds later there was an explosion within the dreadnought’s body, followed by several more as his remaining munitions went up and finished him from the inside out.
* * *