Sons of Corax Chapter 7

Hail, in the name of the True Emperor. Astinon and the others were stunned to hear the battle-cry of the New Imperium under Primarch Vulkan from the mouth of a renegade. This made no sense. How could the Carcharadons know it, isolated and cut-off as they were on Medan?

‘You have no right to speak those words, renegade,’ Astinon said through clenched teeth and balled up his gauntleted fists. ‘You will -’

Tyberos cut off the Corvian general before he could continue, moving forwards to stand face-to-face with Astinon as much as their difference in height would allow. ‘On the contrary, brother, I have every right to utter those words. Do you foolishly believe that we, the Carcharadon Astra, have given up on all our sworn oaths of ages past?’

Anger streaked Astinon’s face, a sudden rage boiling up within him at Tyberos’ question. He edged closer to the Terminator until there was barely any room for air between the two. ‘Then tell me Tyberos of the mighty Carcharadons, what the frakking, bloody hell have you and your brothers been doing in the last ten thousand years? The Imperium fell, the Adeptus Astartes were scattered like chaff all across the galaxy, a million abominations were spawned, the greatest heroes of Mankind were struck down and yet there was no word of your chapter!’ Moving with sudden speed, and with all his strength, Astinon struck Tyberos across the face with a resounding slap.

Behind the renegade lord, his warriors all stiffened and pointed their chain-weapons and guns at the Corvians, who did likewise in a tense stand-off. They all watched their leaders with concern, unsure what would happen next and unwilling to break the tense peace themselves.

Bleeding from a torn lip, Tyberos snarled and bared his sharpened incisors at the Corvian general. Belying his great bulk and his cumbersome armour, the Terminator seized Astinon’s neck in a vice-like grip and lifted him up a full four inches from the tunnel floor.

Never, ever do that again, Angel of Retribution, if you truly value your life,’ he bellowed and pushed Astinon’s head through the nearest wall and held him there. The Corvian general was desperately gasping for breath in Tyberos’ choking grip and bleeding heavily from a deep cut on his forehead.

‘You will let the Lord Commander go, renegade,’ warned a strong, clear voice behind Tyberos and the Carcharadon turned to see who dared to interfere. He found himself looking into the barrel of a plasma pistol levelled at him by Sergeant Manov, the gun’s brightly flaring blue-white energy coils evidence that Astinon’s champion would blast off the Carcharadon’s head without preamble and without so much as a second thought if his warning was not obeyed instantly.

Tyberos grinned savagely at Manov and let Astinon go, the Corvian general falling to the floor in a heap and short on breath. Leven and Rosto moved to assist Astinon while Manov kept Tyberos away from the Commander on gunpoint. The Carcharadon warlord kept his eyes squarely on the champion, his tongue smacking his lips in apparent relish.

‘Admit it Tyberos of the Red Wake,’ Astinon stammered, drawing in big gulps of air. ‘You and your chapter forswore your oaths to the Emperor and the Imperium long ago in order to descend into wanton anarchy and an orgy of slaughter and mindless carnage.’

‘We did no such thing!’ Tyberos rebutted hotly, almost frothing at the mouth in anger. ‘The Imperium abandoned us! Those bastards who call themselves the true heirs of the Imperium, the Theologian Union, they attacked our ships, our worlds. They left the remnants of my once-proud chapter to rot through the ages on this desolate rock, a fate worse than death!’

‘And what of it, traitor?’ asked Astinon, using the damning epithet for the first time. ‘The loyal sons of Lord Corax did all we could to stem the tide. We fought the New Devourer, the Silver Hordes, the damnable forces of the twin Chaos empires and the thousand other false Imperiums to keep the values of the Emperor and the Great Raven alive. Where were you? We sold our lives dearly because we truly believed in the Emperor, may His glory be everlasting. You,’ Astinon pointed an accusing finger at Tyberos. ‘You disappeared, never to return, while the entire galaxy slipped into damnation and heresy. Do not talk to me of abandonment.’

‘Enough!’ Tyberos roared. But Astinon went on regardless.

‘You think I do not know about the deals you made during the Second Strife, how you consorted with the most foul alien races in return for heretical technologies and knowledge you were never meant to have or know?’ The renegade lord glared furiously as Astinon said those words. There was no backing down now between them. ‘Tell me, Victor of Endymion, what was the price you and your brothers paid for such knowledge, for more power? Did you sell your souls to the warp?’

‘You know nothing of us, Angel of Retribution! Nothing!’

‘I know all I need to know, heretic,’ said Astinon calmly as he finally stood up and waved away his sergeants However, he purposely did not ask his champion to lower his plasma pistol. ‘My lord Vulkan, who now rules the New Imperium as its Regent, told me that I was to make every effort to redeem you and absolve you of your sins. He told me everything about your chapter’s despicable dealings and still he told me to bring you into the fold. But now I know that cannot be. You attacked my brothers without provocation, brutally killed warriors I have fought alongside in countless battles and you dare to say you are blameless in everything, a victim of circumstance?’ The Corvian general shook his head incredulously.

‘No. Redemption is not for the likes of you heretics. Your absolution will only come in a conflagration of death. When you lie dying on this very cold tunnel floor, and your life bleeds out of you, you will know the full cost of your uncountable sins, if that still be your fate. Pray the True Emperor have mercy on your soul Carcharadon, for I have none.’

Tyberos, in his turn to be surprised, stared at Astinon as if he was dumbstruck. ‘Lord Vulkan?’

Astinon’s anger and rage returned. ‘Do not dare to speak that name, Carcharadon! The Eighteenth Primarch’s name is too hallowed and pure to be uttered from your poisoned lips! Now prepare to meet your doom traitor!’

‘I know now what you came here to find, son of Corax, I can divine at least that much of your intentions now that you have mentioned the name of a Primarch,’ Tyberos responded, his soulless black eyes seemingly shot with a blazing anger. ‘My psykers had told me already that a son of the Emperor had returned but I had dared not put any trust in something so fantastical. Your confirmation shall have to suffice. I will deny you your prize, even if it costs me my life. You will not take our future from us! The Carcharadon Astra shall live again!’

Inconsolable grief marked Astinon’s face as he ordered his warriors to attack. ‘For the honour of Corax! Victorus aut Mortis!’ he chanted.

‘We bring retribution and death to our foe!’ was the reply of the Corvians, the battle-cry reverberating around the length and breadth of the tunnel, driving the Carcharadons into a fury.

As Astinon and Tyberos squared off once more, the Carcharadon warlord raised his power gauntlets high in the air and muttered two distinct words that the Corvian Commander just barely heard.

Hunger. Slake.’ As he uttered those two words, there was a short click and two thick slits opened up in his gauntlets. A loud, whirring sound followed and a small, revving chainblade extended out of each slit. His footfalls heavy, Tyberos charged at Astinon yelling an incoherent war-cry that was echoed by his warriors.

Astinon brought up the Stormblade to deflect the first swing of the murderous combi-fists. This was another unexpected development in the Medan mission and he wondered at it. What the damn frak is going on in this accursed galaxy? Is there no end to such random changes?

Again and again he parried Tyberos’ strikes, barely holding onto his own weapon. Enhanced by his Terminator armour, Tyberos’ strength was prodigious and Astinon was far out of his league here. He couldn’t even spare a glance around him to see how his brothers were faring, only fifteen of them left. The ident runes on his helmet’s heads-up-display winked out one by one as his strike team began to take casualties, but he was unable to spare even a thought to their defence.

Parrying yet again, he yelled into the comm-net on an open frequency. +Dheimmel, Salsax, Adrastos! I need backup now! My strike team is being slaughtered in the tunnels below the south-east manufactorum.+

He received an immediate reply. +This is Salsax, Commander Dras; I am on my way as we speak. I shall be there shortly.+

+You had better hurry, Raptor. There may not be any of us left alive to save if you are too late!+ The only reply Astinon got was a furious battle-cry before Salsax cut the audio-link. He knew he could trust the Raptor Captain, one of the most self-assured and dependable warriors he had ever met in his long years.

Facing off against thirty-nine Carcharadons, the remaining eight Corvians, including Astinon, slowly backed up into the large chamber from where they had entered the tunnel. Gigantic machinery rose all around them, the air stinking of corroded metal, freshly-spilled blood and the actinic tang of the discharge from the power weapons used by some of the warriors. Oppressiveness hung in the air of the fifty-foot high darkly gothic chamber, threatening to drown Astinon and his brothers in overwhelming desperation.

Each of his brothers that fell was a huge blow to Astinon, to his pride and to his combat record. Never before had he suffered such terrible casualties as he did now, and the number was only going to increase. As far as he knew, Adrastos and Dheimmel were still tied up in battle elsewhere, with only Salsax coming to support him. And this was not looking good.

‘Stop running away you coward and face me like the proud Space Marine you espouse yourself to be!’ yelled Tyberos in frustration at a retreating Astinon. Astinon however only smiled. The longer he kept the Carcharadon warlord at bay, the sooner Salsax would arrive with reinforcements.

One of Astinon’s warriors, Kasten, stepped in front of the Terminator to delay him, buying time for his Commander to retreat safely. Tyberos simply kicked the Space Marine in the knees and punched him in the face, his chain-blades making short work of Kasten’s head.

Astinon cursed at himself. He was simply delaying the inevitable it seemed. Only five of his strike team now remained, Manov his champion, Rosto and Leven his sergeants along with Barr and Lamik. Of the Carcharadons, thirty-one blood-crazed warriors still remained. The six Corvians stopped retreating and moved to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to each other, as if forming a firing line, still surrounded by towering data stacks and machinery they had no clue served what purpose.

‘This it brothers,’ said Astinon evenly, his voice hard as roughened adamantium. ‘We now sell our lives dearly. Pray the Emperor and the Great Raven judge us favourably in death.’

‘For the Imperium,’ they said in unison.

Tyberos was the first to reach them and the others left him to Astinon to deal with while they engaged the berserkers coming up behind the warlord. Tyberos thrust his lightning claws at Astinon, who ducked to avoid them, and then nimbly swerved behind the Terminator lord, bringing up the Stormblade in a flashing upward arc.

Tyberos screamed in pain, a scream that grated on Astinon’s ears like the howling of the Eldar warrior-maidens he had read of. Astinon’s blow had cut open the back of Tyberos’ armour, exposing the dense power cables and complex machinery within. Tyberos whirled around, swinging his fist around to smack away at Astinon. But the Commander once again brought up his power sword, uttering an oath to the Emperor as he did so.

The next sound that came from Tyberos’ throat was the most horrifying yet, and it brought the Corvians to their feet. Astinon had cut off the warlord’s left hand at the wrist, his sword having cut cleanly through the thick armour and bone underneath.

Twenty-five remaining Carcharadons gathered around the kneeling Corvians, chain-axes and chainswords trained forwards at their heads. Outright hate was written on their blood-shot and blood-drenched faces. Tyberos, clutching his severed hand, looked around at Astinon and his five warriors, his once-handsome though scarred features now twisted into a rictus of bestial savagery. The Victor of Endymion was truly dead. He got up and approached the captive Corvians.

‘You will pay for these affronts, you whoresons!’ he roared and motioned to his warriors. ‘Cut their heads from their bodies and be done with them! This has gone on long enough!’ The Carcharadons raised their weapons high, ready to bring them down and decapitate the proud Sons of Corax.

Astinon looked Tyberos straight in his eyes, helpless to give an outlet to his pent-up rage. ‘You are pure filth Tyberos, a warrior so unworthy of his genetic heritage that he should take the honourable way out and kill himself!’

‘Shut up, you frakking grox-shit!’ Tyberos roared again.

Astinon and the others laughed in response. ‘We are ready to meet our deaths, renegade, are you?’ asked Manov, grinning from ear-to-ear.

Tyberos looked on in confusion until he heard a chorus of echoing battle-cries behind him. Salsax had arrived with his reinforcements, and he was but twenty paces behind the warlord.

‘Kill them now!’ screamed Tyberos but it was in vain. A fusillade of bolter shells and plasma discharges riddled his warriors as Salsax’s strike-team unleashed their guns as one. The Raptor Captain himself jumped at Tyberos, his jump-pack providing a slight boost and his massive thunderhammer crackling with cerulean energies as he swung it at the warlord.

Astinon and his five warriors launched themselves at their guards, knocking them down and bent to pick up their own weapons. Just as Astinon’s right hand closed on the hilt of the Stormblade, Salsax’s thunderhammer came down on Tyberos’ head. The weapon’s power field, stronger than that of any normal power weapon, completely crushed the warlord’s head, which burst in an explosion of steaming blood, fried brain matter and chips of broken skull.

His now headless corpse simply collapsed unceremoniously, arms flailing about in uselessness. Astinon heaved a sigh of relief as he appraised his Third Captain. ‘A fine kill at the end, Salsax, good work.’

The Raptor bowed in response. ‘My apologies Commander, at not having made it here sooner, but we had to secure our prize first.’

Astinon’s face lit up with joy at that. ‘The primary objective, you have it, my friend?’ he asked with great excitement.

Salsax nodded solemnly. ‘Seven hundred and seventy-two perfectly stored stasis tubes, my lord. Apothecary Vex confirmed the contents are in prime condition.’

The Commander rested his hands on his Captain’s shoulders. ‘You have made me proud today, Salsax. Admirably done, my friend.’ His face then turned into an expression of concern and he asked. ‘What of Dheimmel and Adrastos though, are they alright?’

‘Captain Dheimmel is presently busy extracting his strike team to his warship, Commander. His team took the least casualties since they were never under any serious attack by the enemy. Captain Adrastos also succeeded in his battle in the north-east manufactorum and emerged victorious. It seemed the enemy strength was concentrated on you and me.’

‘Very well, brother,’ acknowledged Astinon. ‘Signal the Montisgarre and prepare to extract the entire force from this cursed planet.’

‘By your word, Commander,’ Salsax saluted and then left. Astinon took one last glance at the corpse of Tyberos of the Red Wake, the Victor of Endymion and then followed Salsax out of the manufactorum, muttering to himself.

‘Medan will be destroyed, Tyberos. A storm of fire and ash will sweep the entire planet and purge it of its heresy.’

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Posted on October 12, 2011, in Age of Dusk, Bolthole, Sons of Corax and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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