Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mark of the Wulfen: "Hunted" (part 7 of 7)

The final fight and conclusion...


(Part 7)

A savage eagerness within him told Volstag that he’d reached his destination.  The laboratory doors slid open.  It was a large chamber with two metal medical slabs at center.  Still strapped to one was the cold corpse of the wolf scout Holm Blackfoot, left to decay in disgrace.  Each of the three walls were dedicated to profane equipment: one a bank of instrument cabinets; one displaying tanks of chemicals and vials of drugs; and the third alive with mechanical medic arms and warp-infested growths pulsing with white eyeballs and gibbering mouths.  Standing at that wall, feeding a monstrous mouth with a lump of flesh cut from Volstag’s lost pack mate, was the depraved apothecary Abaenon.  He was cloaked in black.  His face and exposed hand were more dark metal bionics and black tubing than pale flesh.  Two augmented slaves were also present in the room.  All three stared to see what had opened the door.
  The smoldering, wounded wolf stood in the threshold, highlighted from the right by the flickering wall of fire outside.  His body smoked, his chest heaved, his eyes shined, and he showed his teeth.
“Quickly,” Abaenon snapped, directing the nearest slave to grab the Claw of Agony from a pedestal in the corner. 
Volstag paid no attention.  His glare was locked on the bank of glass tanks and bubbling vials, a wall of multi-colored potions lit from behind.  Somewhere in one of those alchemical elixirs could be a captured Space Wolf gene-seed. 
The second attendant stood before of that chaotic aquarium, frozen in the wolf scout’s sights.
Volstag raised his boltgun and held down the trigger, spraying explosive bolt rounds in wide arcs until every bolt was spent and every tank was shattered.  The mutant slave that had stood between him and the tanks was now a warm heap lying atop broken glass.  There was the sound of heavy rain as a mix of alchemical soups and blood rushed through the steel grid floor to the decking below. 
The gun’s barrel smoked and its chamber clicked several times, empty.  Volstag dropped it.
The first slave retrieved Abaenon’s weapon and held it up in front of his master.  The Night Lord shoved his spindly metal hand into the bionic glove.  Its thin scalpel blades hummed to life and took on an azure glow. 
BOOM.  A single bolt pistol round exploded inside the slave’s forehead.  His remains slumped to the floor. 
Volstag dropped the pistol. 
Abaenon showed his own teeth now, some dark iron, others rotten bone.  His bladed fingers twitched playfully.
The Space Wolf paused to lock the laboratory door behind him.  He revved his chainsword a couple times, making slow sweeps with it through the air, then dropped it too. 
It’s time, he told himself.  The wolf within stirred and stretched, as if it’d been lying in its den after a nap, patiently waiting for its turn at the hunt.  Volstag flexed his fingers and felt a pleasant ache as they grew a full centimeter longer, the nails thickening and curling into claws.  His senses sharpen even further: he heard alarmed voices in the hallway outside; smelled the stinging chemical fumes dripping through the floor; saw more clearly the scars and bionics of Abaenon’s altered face, the single yellow eye flinching anxiously, a bead of nervous sweat rolling down his cheek. 
“You’ve met this side of me before, haven’t you?” Volstag growled.  “You remember better than I do, and you fear it.  Good, traitor.  Fear redemption.  By the time your servants cut through that blast door, I will have torn out your throat and spit it out.”
Abaenon side-stepped over his dead servant, never taking his eyes from the transforming Space Wolf.  His glowing, bladed fingers scratched at the air between them.  “You think you’ve destroyed my reserves, my samples,” the Night Lord said, “but I still have you.  And what a wonderful specimen you are.  The gene-seed I take from you will be far more valuable than everything I took from your brothers—”  
This was too much for Volstag to bear.  The beast within snapped its mental leash and the Space Wolf lunged forward.  He moved fast but had to dart around a steel table.  That obstacle allowed Abaenon the chance to react.  The Claw of Agony met Volstag as he pounced around the table, four humming blue blades slicing easily through the knotted muscles of his left shoulder.  Volstag threw himself to the right, smashing against a cabinet of medical instruments and torture toys but successfully avoiding the Claw’s follow-through, which certainly would have severed his entire arm.  Four deep cuts sizzled and smoldered, the smell of burnt flesh overwhelming all else.  Abaenon’s mechanical smile shined from beneath his hood.
  The apothecary then danced backward to a small arms locker in the corner.  He tore off the cabinet door with his Claw and seized a bolt pistol from within. 
But when the Night Lord turned to fire the Space Wolf was already there, centimeters from impact.  Both bodies slammed against the sundered locker and the bulkhead behind.  Savage instinct took hold and Volstag tore at the throat before him with elongated fangs.  Instead of flesh he found a mouthful of fragile tubes which now leaked their black fluids down his bearded chin.  The wulfen claws of his right hand dug deep into the flexible ribs of the Night Lord’s power armor and found a spring of red blood there.  But Volstag’s full-on charge had made him vulnerable as well; the four scalpel-like fingers of the Claw of Agony were now buried deep into his bare flank.  The searing heat of the blades pierced his vital organs. 
The Space Wolf pushed himself away, dragging some of Abaenon’s innards out as they parted.  Four streams of blood broke from the wounds left by the Claw of Agony, wounds that would not clot, despite his superior Astartes anatomy.  Just like the torture scars on his chest, the Claw’s power defied all healing.  And Volstag’s left arm now hung limp and nearly useless, vital muscles and tendons having been cut in the first attack.  But at least he was standing.
Abaenon’s dark form slumped to the floor.  The mechanical side of his face seems frozen now, as did the entire left side of his body; the hoses Volstag had bitten through must have provided his artificial parts with whatever they needed to function.  The black fluid mingled with red blood across his exposed intestines.  The pale, human side of his face seemed even whiter now.  With great effort, Abaenon raised his bolt pistol in an unsteady hand.  Volstag stepped forward again, paused.  The Night Lord’s hand shook, the pistol’s muzzle flashing wildly at and away from its target.  Volstag slapped the weapon away with his good arm and returned with claws to finish the job, ripping under the collar and hood and all but severing the dark apothecary’s head. 
Now three more bodies leaked blood and organs, the room stunk of death and chemical fumes, and broken glass littered the floor.  And despite the gory scene, Volstag felt a calmness come over him.  It was done.
There was pounding at the door and angry voices outside.  A few seconds later came a hissing sound, followed swiftly by green sparks spitting through the edge of the door.  A plasma cutter, Volstag realized. 
He looked around at the wrecked lab and ruined bodies, and drew a deep breath. 
“It doesn’t matter,” he told himself.  He had done all he could. That which he had denied himself hours before he could now succumb to: it was time to give himself fully over to the Wulfen.  Perhaps I’ll wake again in another tree, he thought.  The beast managed to escape before.  Though Volstag really didn’t care if he ever awoke from the rage again.  It wouldn’t matter now.  The traitors of Tundra Station would be found and dealt with by his coming Wolf brothers.  He’d destroyed any stolen gene-seed of Leman Russ and he’d had his vengeance.  All that remained was an honorable death.
He rolled his head about, feeling the muscles of his neck tighten and swell as his jaws bit down in anticipation.  The green sparks continued and the stink of burning metal added to the chemical bouquet of the room.  Pain flowed from each digit along the bones and into his wrists as the beast readied its claws.  His head started swimming.  Was it the fumes or was he simply losing domain over his own body?
The Space Wolf that was Volstag Dragonclaw faded back into the darkness of his mind, trusting the beast within to finish his legacy for him.


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  1. Great job!

    The visuals on this final chapter were well done. I really found myself draw in through that fight.

    1. Thanks, Thor. :) I like the story, mostly because you rarely see a Space Marine in a vulnerable position, so I'm glad to have done something different with them.

    2. Agreed. It wasn't your typical bolter porn where the "good guys" kick ass and take names. That gets old quick but, as you said, having the characters be vulnerable makes it far more interesting.