A Prize Worth Having
Hey all. Another fanfic from Lord of the Night is here. This one is a short story about the Red Corsairs, I was inspired to write something about them after seeing the cover art for The Gildar Rift. Enjoy.
The supply and storage station Fidelas Imperator or Station AJRT-0192/987 had enjoyed a very quiet existence on the eastern fringe, hidden behind the dark side of a small moon nobody save its Inquisitorial masters knew that it existed or what treasures it contained within its dark halls that were hidden away from the light and the loyal servants of the God-Emperor. If those who wandered the station ever found out what lay beneath their feet their minds would break from terror, but none could ever know of its secrets, not even the Imperium itself could ever find out what was hidden within the station.
A brief flicker on the auspex aerials was nothing out of the ordinary, merely a small asteroid or space debris was the consensus among the station's residents - little did they know but they had made the mistake that would cost them all their lives. Only one aboard saw the truth as he stared from a tiny observation port that nobody used, he saw the ship approaching with its guns bared, a small gunship of human creation, apart from the device attached to its hull. It was an eight-pointed star melted into the hull using the finest gold, but the one who saw it could never have figured that out.
The cleaner-servitor RTA-041 stared without thought or comment as doom approached the station - it would soon die along with everyone else on board, the station would be destroyed. But that thought just couldn't manifest within its mind as it swept the floors of the station that would soon be nothing more then debris.
An explosion rocked the sterile halls as an errant missile smashed into the cargo containers, the stations defenders stumbled as the shock ruined their sure-footing for only a second - it was all that the invaders needed. Two giants stormed from cover, their bolters making a mockery of the defenders armor and their entrenchments. They laughed as they slaughtered their way through the erstwhile protectors of the supply station, to imagine that they could be defeated by such weaklings, such mortals was pathetically funny. The Red Corsairs had come for this station and all its loot - they would not be denied.
As the last defender fell, his head a smoking ruin of bone and flesh, the remaining giants emerged from cover. Several bore the signs of combat, smoking pock-marks on their armour or a chip in their paint which was random among each man. Each wore a mix of black, blood red, shining gold and bone white, each style different from his brothers. Only their former iconography gave away their pasts as Astartes, one bearing the head of a dragon on his pauldron - Salamander. Another who bore an silver skull - Silver Skulls. Two who bore an eye across a star with eight-points - Black Legion. Only two members bore the symbol that united them all, a clawed gauntlet closed in readiness - Astral Claws.
'Imperial maggots, I doubt they even knew what they defended so poorly,' the former Black Legionnaire Malzra's voice was like a daemon screeching, his attitude not that dis-similar. The squad silently agreed, this station belonged to the Inquisition which was not known for being trusting of its subordinates, this scum likely had no clue what treasures lay within these sealed walls. And now they never would.
'But such wealth will greatly aid the cause, and ensure us glory,' the deadpan Shen-hal stated the obvious, the former Silver Skull had a habit of doing such even though it sounded like he was reciteing a verse he had sung all his life and lost passion for. Only a fool would think that he had lost passion for battle though, he was a juggernaut in the crunch of close-combat, his power mace had more kills to it then two members of the squad combined. His helmet, like many of his chapter, was carved to resemble a skull and the blood-stained dreadlocks that fell from the interior of his helmet only made him look more ferocious.
'Not if we don't find it before a ship arrives, this station receives regular visits and I don't want to be here when the Inquisition comes,' the squad's leader Semrail's bitterness over the mission parameters was clear to the squad. Semrail was the oldest of them all, he had been at Badab when the Tyrant had declared it free and had personally killed thirty loyalist Astartes. Some whispered that he had killed two marines of each chapter sent to fight them but those more aware of Badab would know the impossibility of that as some loyalist chapters had only fought a single battle. But Semrail had never done anything to quelch those rumours, they only added to his fearsome reputation.
His sentiments were shared among the squad from oldest to youngest. When the Inquisition came it would come in force, this sector of space was dangerous and only fools travelled without an escort - the corsairs own escort was waiting in the warp, ready to collect them once their task was finished. None wanted to still be here when the agents of the Emperor, not out of fear but pragmatism, they were not equipped to take on a full Inquisitorial battle-detatchment and their ship was definitely not equipped to take on a cruiser, particularly not one of the Ordo's. As the Red Corsairs marched through the station the air almost seemed to agree with them, nobody wanted to be here when that happened.
The command centre of the station was a smouldering ruin as the Red Corsairs stalked through it, consoles smeared with charred gore and severed limbs. They had landed close to it in the fight and Nal'ku's artificer flamer had made short work of it - the former Salamander was an artist when it came to heat weaponry like all his chapter. Semrail ran his gauntlet across the consoles on the command dais which flared into life, the virus they had deployed into the network upon their arrival recognized him as the control user and deferred to his instruction.
'Began full scan, I want access to the lower decks.' His order went through as the virus searched through the entirerty of the station for an access point into the secondary tiers. He turned to view his squad, all awaiting command. 'And scan for life-forms, if any defenders remain then I want them dead. Malzra take Nal'ku and Raldor, purge any remaining on-board.'
The console beeped as it detected several life-forms hiding in a dormitory section, Malzra snarled and ran from the room, motioning for his fellow former Black Legionnaire Raldor and Nal'ku to follow him. The only sound, now that Malzra's constant chattering was gone, was the beeping of the command console. Shen-hal contented himself with cleaning his power mace - he was obsessive when it came to his treasured weapon. Semrail continued observing the console - he unconsciously ran his clawed gauntlet down his arm in impatience - as it worked to discover the entrance to the treasures they sought.
The youngest of the squad, young Venerus, paced through the command centre - he had never seen an Inquisitorial station before - observing the equipment and making estimations in his head. Venerus was not only the youngest marine here but he had a unique past - he was the only one here who had been born a traitor marine. He had only been a Chaos Space Marine for fourty years - and at only fifty years old he was considered very young when compared to veterans like Semrail who remembered when Lord Blackheart first became the master of the Astral Claws or Malzra and Raldor who had both been at Terra so many thousands of years ago - and had been born in the Maelstrom. He had never known the Imperium of Man or its God-Emperor apart from the litanies of hatred against them both he had memorized when first swearing himself to the Dark Gods of Chaos. He was an original Red Corsair, having never known anything else.
As the console beeped the three marines turned to it, the holographic map appearing above the flickering dashboard casting the room in a bluish glow. Semrail beckoned Venerus sto study the holo-map, the complex was large but due to the nature of what lay beneath very few people crewed it, the less chance that someone may discover the secrets below. Shen-hal spared them a glance before returning to cleaning his weapon, while Venerus ran his eyes over the map, learning every single part of its structure - he was blessed with a quick mind and could recall details perfectly - discovering the access point very quickly.
'I've found it lord, its near the hangar bay on the primary tier.'
Good work Venerus. You and Shen-hal, with me now!' Semrail leapt down from the console dais and ran back into the corridor. Shen-hal rose quickly, his dreadlocks spilling from his helmet whipped in the wind, and followed with his power mace at the ready. Venerus trailed behind him, readying his bolter for the likelyhood of combat very soon. The three Red Corsairs ran through the corridors, the lights were beginning to flicker bathing the station in brief periods of darkness, the sound of gunfire from Malzra and Raldor could be heard in echoes.
As one the Astartes reached a section of station that seemed empty, apart from the hidden door that had been opened by the virus. It was as if a section of wall had just collapsed, exposing a pitch black chamber that plunged into the deepest depths of the station. Such a place would cause mere men to quake and back away, but the Astartes - those who knew no fear - marched onwards into the darkness, unfearing of what lay below. Indeed, why would 'they' fear it.
The bowels of the station were much more impressive then its more people-unfriendly appearing first tier. The entire section was black - not just paint but made from the darkest metals and marble - and the walls were laced with tracking weaponry that hung still. Servitors decked with heavy bolters and meltaguns keep watch over the new arrivals as they marched forward, the virus scrambling the targeting sensors of the station's defence systems was the only thing keeping them safe. The corsairs marched through a corridor wide and large enough to admit a full Space Marine company through with vehicle support.
Ahead a huge door barred entry. It was immense, at least four times the size of a Space Marine and it was forged from adamantium - the same metal that comprised the Astartes own power armour - and two of the largest servitors possible stood sentry over it, each one carried two heavy bolters in its arms and two plasma guns strapped to their shoulders. Any who saw all this would come to the conclusion that whatever inside was so valuable that it warranted more protection then some field command posts, but a keen eye could spot the key fact that changed everything here. These servitors, alarms and all the other defences were not meant to keep gold-starved looters from getting inside, they were meant to keep something from getting out.
'Its got to be in here,' Shen-hal spoke up, obvious as ever. Venerus chuckled at the sheer obviousness of his statement, Semrail simply grunted.
'Of course its in here, what else could they be guarding so fervently.' His assessment was correct of course. The servitors had all been facing the door before they were cut down, the alarms were keyed to go off if something got past the servitors, not if something came in the entrance. Whatever was locked behind those doors must be dangerous enough that the Inquisition would lock it away on a backwater space station with enough servitor guards to bring down even a Red Corsair.
Semrail punched in a code on the small pad hidden behind a slit in the wall. A creak echoed through the entire corridor as the door began to open for the first time in years, the servitor guards could do nothing to prevent their charge from being taken. The Red Corsairs marched in as the door continued to open, revealing its contents to the galaxy. In the only spot of light in the revealed room sat a figure in rags - his arms and legs were shackled to the wall - who looked up and uttered a single sentence.
'It took you long enough, brothers.'
Captain Tykial looked at the three fellow corsairs who had entered his cell. Two bore the symbol of his original chapter - the Astral Claws - and the other who stood at least two heads above them carried a silver skull as his icon. It mattered little to Tykial though, they were all brothers in the cause of Lord Blackheart.
'Captain Tykial, also known as the Fist of Blackheart amongst the chapter and the commander of the cruiser Treacherous Star. It is good to see you again brother.' the first spoke, his voice had an air of respect to it. Tykial snarled at the memory of his ship, it had been destroyed in the ambush that had seen him and ten of his best men captured by the Emperor's hounds and stashed away in this dank station like trophies.
'You know my reputation brother, now cut me free to vent my rage and I will show you why I am known as the Fist of Blackheart,' Tykial's words brought laughter from the younger Red Corsair on his rescuer's right - he lacked trophies and ornamentation which was an easy way to tell how long one had fought.
'Everyone here is already dead Lord Tykial, we have been sent to rescue you and whatever remains of your crew.' Tykial felt cheated at hearing that, many were the dreams he had spent tearing through the miserable wretches that crewed this hole, drinking their blood and offering their souls to the Chaos Gods.
'My crew are locked in the adjacent cells, only six of us remain. Get us our armour and weapons back, we long to return to the Maelstrom.'
The first Red Corsair came closer and began undoing Tykial's chains, while the other two moved into the adjacent cells and began freeing the other corsairs. As Tykial stood up for the first time in years he roared, the other corsairs of his crew joining him in cheering their freedom to the heavens. It had been over five years but they were finally free, and the galaxy would bear the brunt of their rage.
Their armor and weapons were relatively easy to locate with the cell doors jamned open, the virus was more then helpful in finding the stored power armour and bolters. Tykial's power axe and plasma pistol were still safe, only a layer of dust obscuring the honour marks he had earned with them during the Badab War fighting against the Novamarines and Star Phantoms. The whole reason for this rescue dated back to those days, a debt of honour owed to Tykial by none other then Huron Blackheart himself - Tykial had been one of the marines who carried Blackheart's charred body from the Palace of Thorns and had earned Blackheart's favour that day - this rescue was a personal favour from the Tyrant when most others would have been left to die.
Now the mission was complete, all that was left was to exfil and return to the Maelstrom.
The collected Red Corsairs watched in the hangar as their ship broke from the warp. The Lone Warrior - a Dauntless-class Light Cruiser - entered real-space and drifted towards the station. The scouting vessel had been chosen for its speed and ability to escape threats quickly. It had been taken by the corsairs ten years ago during a raid on the patrol lines of the Endarmale cluster and renamed to suit its role amongst its new masters. As it moved closer and closer to the station, ready to collect its crew - some of the corsairs felt close to home again for the first time in years - and return to the Maelstrom.
Suddenly a burst of energy struck the Lone Warrior from above, its armor buckling under the pressure of an attack built to kill ships much larger then its own frame. The ship's death was near instantaneous, over a hundred years of service to the Imperium and ten years of liberation with the Red Corsairs cut short in a single moment.
'What the!' Malzra cried out, his confusion shared amongst all the Chaos Space Marines. Another ship began to drift into view, one that they were all very familiar with. A Strike Cruiser, a class originally built for the Space Marines, but bearing the symbol that nobody here had wanted to see. A stylized I with a skull in its centre.
'Its them,' Shen-hal said, a twinge of worry entering his voice. The other Red Corsairs began to chatter amongst themselves, some cursing the Imperium and others privately relishing the chance to exact revenge on their captors.
The Inquisition had arrived.
'We can't fight them, that ship could be carrying thousands of soldiers.' Semrail's argument fell on deaf ears as Tykial and his own corsairs began to put themselves in place for an ambush - they wanted revenge and they would get it even if their rescuers would die in the attempt - amongst the doors and gantries.
'Are you listening to me?!' Semrail's anger finally overtook his normally calm leadership, reaching to grab Tykial's shoulder only to have his hand grabbed first.
'Yes brother I hear you, and I choose to ignore you. That ship is a prize that even Lord Blackheart will applaud.' Tykial's words were correct, strike cruisers were dangerous ships and even one could bring down a fleet of lesser ships with the right captain at her helm.
'Its a fool's prize.' Semrail said, he bit back his next sentence. His choice of words had been unfortunate to say the least. Tykial turned and regarded him coldly.
'You think me a fool, brother?' Semrail's next answer would determine whether he would live to fight, or die here by Tykial's axe.
'No milord. I merely believe this ship is not worth the trouble, we should take the boarder and flee into the warp. We can ride the currents back to the Maelstrom.' Tykial snorted at Semrail's plan which even his own men did not really care for. True it was pragmatic but cowardly, this ship could be a massive boon to their chapter and the artefacts on board presented as a token of conquest to Lord Blackheart. And of course there was the unspoken issue at hand. Though Tykial and his men had been rescued their honour had taken a massive hit, being captured by the Inquisition and the loss of a powerful cruiser - only Blackheart's previous debt to Tykial had ensured this rescue operation - only made it even worse. But capturing this even stronger vessel and its contents would ensure Tykial's honour restored and properly exact revenge upon those who thought themselves the masters of man.
'Sergeant Semrail, I am taking over this operation. The rescue is complete, now a mission of capture is in order. That Strike cruiser will soon fly our colours and be my new vessel.' The tone of Tykial's voice made it clear that rank had taken over this debate, a sergeant had no right to refuse a captain's orders. They would attack the Strike cruiser and take it for the chapter, but as to how would be difficult. With only thirteen Red Corsairs against a ship that could be carrying thousands of stormtroopers or possibly even their weakling loyalist brethren it would not be an easy task, but the Red Corsairs lived for impossible odds and the thrill of piracy. They were the masters of the Maelstrom, feared by the Imperium and honoured by the Traitor Legions.
That ship would fall, or they would die in the attempt.
Sergeant Hawke checked his hellgun again, making sure that the heat-sink was lowered and the ammo clip was full. His platoon of fifty men were doing the same, readying themselves for hostile contact. When their cruiser Ave Deus Imperator had exited the warp it had come across a small vessel, marked with the sigils of the Great Enemy. A quick burst from the lance had destroyed it but the possibility of the station being compromised was too great to ignore, the Inquisitor had ordered his platoon to investigate the station and make sure the contents of the vault had not been taken. Hawke did not know what was in there but he did not need to know, there was only the mission.
As the gunship docked within the station Hawke marshalled his men with the ease that only decades of experience can muster. The stormtroopers rushed out of the gunship and assumed combat positions, checking every possible point-of-contact. Hawke thumbed the activation rune on his power sword and moved towards the primary exit, it would lead them to the command centre where a field command could be established.
As the door opened the last thing Hawke saw was a muzzle shaped like a roaring dragon. The flames that spewed out from it ended his life before he could even scream.
'Death to the Imperials!'
As Nal'ku's flamer eradicated the first group of stormtroopers at the door the Red Corsairs emerged from their positions. Each door opened up revealing two of them, their bolters blasting indiscriminately into the mass of stormtroopers. Shen-hal picked off two with his bolt pistol, their heads reduced to pulp, as he barrelled into the mass of bodies, swinging randomly with his power mace, each hit split bone and flesh. Malzra and Raldor both fired into the crowd with their bolters, not a single shot wasted as each one felled a target. The stormtroopers return fire caught Raldor in the knee-joint of his armour, his own counter-attack shredded three attackers.
'Slaughter the Imperial scum!'
Venerus and Semrail both charged forward, their chainswords roaring into life just before they struck into the Imperials. Venerus cleaved a stormtrooper from hip to shoulder, spinning on his heel to backhand another and snap his neck. Semrail's own chainsword tore a head off in a single strike, blood sprayed from the wounds and painted both corsairs in crimson. Venerus spun back and smashed the hilt of his blade into a neck, punching right through it. A mechanical roar caught his attention for a moment, the young Astartes saw a plasma burst from one of the stormtroopers take a fellow corsair in the chest - one of Tykial's men - the Chaos Space Marine fell to the ground, his body smoking from the impact of the blast.
'Fall back men, fall back!' One of the stormtropers attempted to rally his men, a single shot from Raldor blew him in half. The Imperial were being massacred, very shortly only a few remained and were brought down with massed bolter fire. Tykial took a brief count of the dead, over fifty Imperials - nearly all of them bearing advanced weaponry, and only one casualty among the corsairs. A good slaughter.
'Board their gunship, we can use it to reach the strike cruiser.' Tykial ordered. The corsairs obeyed without question, Malzra dragging their fallen brother into the gunship with them, there was no sense in leaving behind perfectly good armor and gene-seed to rot in this accursed pit.
The gunship itself was clearly not built for Space Marines, but the corsairs had worked with less. As each man steadied himself Tykial kicked down the door to the cockpit and sliced the pilot's head off before he could turn around. The corsair captain took the helm of the craft and started its engines.
'Corsairs, make ready. Sergeant Semrail, I reqire your assistance.'
As the sergeant made his way into the cockpit the gunship took off, its engines slowly turning the craft around and pushing it back into the void. The ship swayed as it left, its pilot unused to such tiny controls but very quickly its movements became near perfect, there was nothing that could give the new owners away. Captain Tykial turned to see Sergeant Semrail standing behind him - he did not care for the man after his suggestion of fleeing, despite recognizing the practicality of it he still didn't like it or the man who had suggested it - awaiting orders.
'I have a plan to make boarding the enemy craft easier. But I need your aid to do it sergeant.'
The first hints that something was wrong aboard Ave Deus Imperator was the static. Every vox-operator began to hear static over the network, so strong that several servitors began to bleed from their ears. As the static grew stronger voices began to randomly emerge in it, all brandishing threats.
'Rip and tear!'
'Praise the Dark Gods!'
'Tear your souls out!'
'Maim, kill burn!'
Shortly afterwards it only got worse. The ships doors began to open and close randomly, so quickly and with such force that one guard lost an arm as he tried to open the door, only for it to open and close on his limb. Several of the automatic defences began to flare up and fire on the crew, bolters shredding bodies as they attempted to flee in terror. Even the presence of the Deathwatch Space Marines couldn't stem the horror that was building up in the crew as their own ship began to turn on them.
As the gunship approached the enemy hangar Tykial and Semrail tapped into the vox-network of the cruiser. The virus had worked perfectly, distorting communications and taking attention away from the approaching ship that shouldn't have been returning so early. Human minds were predictable, always so focused on danger to themselves that they neglected the real danger approaching in the shadows. A ghost of an enemy was often far better then a regular enemy.
As the craft docked and its doors opened up Shen-hal was the first out, his power mace smashing a menial's skull as he ran towards his target, two corsairs following him. Shen-hal was to take the engine room so that they couldn't fire the warp engines and escape into Imperial space once they discovered what was on board. Nal'ku and another two corsairs took a different path towards the internal systems core, disabling the security systems would make the mission a lot quicker and simpler. Malzra, Raldor and the final member of Tykial's corsairs remained behind to cause a commotion, it wouldn't be an easy task to draw the attention of the Imperials but Semrail had confidence in the two Sons of Horus and their ability to be arrogant, loud and obnoxious.
The last three to leave took towards the bridge. Tykial, Semrail and Venerus raced towards the primary command section, once the bridge was taken the rest of the ship would be easy to subdue, but taking the bridge of an Inquisitorial vessel was a task that only the most experienced of warriors could achieve. Tykial and Semrail were the only two that could do it, that knowledge kept them in good spirits as they charged through the corridors, slicing through menials in their path as they fought towards their way home.
Last edited by Lord of the Night; 02-09-11 at 04:52 PM.