Shen-hal smashed through a stormtrooper that stood in his path, the maggot's brain splattering over the wall as his killer's mace swept him aside. The two corsairs behind him kept up their steady fire rate, picking off anyone in their path that posed a threat while Shen-hal took care of those that got too close. It was a slaughter, the kind the former Silver Skull liked the best.
As the corsairs entered the engine room Shen-hal took note of the massive energy pylons keeping the vessel running. Normally they would sabotage them so the prey couldn't escape, but they themselves needed to escape. Thus securing the pylons and making sure they couldn't activate was the objective for the moment.
Two quick successive shots rung out, before Shen-hal could even register where they had come from both of the corsairs at his side were dead, their heads blown into pieces. Both marines dropped to the ground though Shen-hal didn't so much as spare a glance, he was much more interested in who had done it.
'Coward!, face me if you dare.' His taunts produced fruit very quickly, a single Astartes stepped out into view. He was clad in black power armour, his shoulder bearing the symbol of the Inquisition. Deathwatch. The elite corps of alien hunters that served the Inquisition. But it was the other symbol that drew Shen-hal's attention, he nearly burst out laughing. The marine bore a silver skull, the same as Shen-hal's. A fellow Silver Skulls. The loyalist noticed Shen-hal's symbol and snarled.
'The Prognosticators told me that in serving the Deathwatch I would face a trying battle against a true enemy. I see now what they meant. A miserable traitor to our chapter.' His words elected a bark of laughter from the corsair.
'You take the words of psyker filth far too easily brother,' Shen-hal strained the brother, mocking the loyalist with their shared heritage. It reminded Shen-hal of why he had left his chapter in the first place - he had always despised taking orders from psykers and only fighting when they demanded it - and came to the Red Corsairs for the freedom that he so desired.
'I will kill you and burn your gene-seed. I will take your skull back to Varsavia to be enshrined in silver for all to see.' The loyalists threats made Shen-hal's blood rise in anticipation.
'No brother. I will kill you, your gene-seed will be used to make another Red Corsair, your armor will be defiled and salvaged for our use. But fear not, your precious chapter will receive a skull for their shrines. Yours!'
Shen-hal charged forward, his power mace burst into life as he swung towards the loyalist who drew a power sword in response, just blocking the blow. The loyalist pushed forward, following with quick strikes to catch Shen-hal off-guard. The traitor marine was not so weak and met each blow with a parry from his mace, as the loyalist overextended himself Shen-hal struck out and punched his foe's chest, knocking him down onto his back.
'Pathetic brother. Truly pathetic.'
As Shen-hal swung his mace down the loyalist rolled to the other side, leaping back up to his feet and stabbing with his blade. Shen-hal spun on his heel to avoid it and struck out with his mace, hitting the loyalist's shoulder. His cry of pain gave Shen-hal the opening he needed, a quick strike to the knee brought down the Silver Skull. As Shen-hal stood over his former chapter brother, looking at him with disdain for his weakness, his slavish devotion to psykers and their lies. As the mace fell on the loyalist's neck the last thing that he heard made his heart sink.
'Your Prognosticators were wrong brother, again.'
Nal'ku spun out of cover and unleashed a torrent of flame on the advancing stormtroopers. Their weakness made him sick, his chapter had disowned him for such sentiments and beliefs that they shouldn't be sheparding the weak masses. Nal'ku had simply been born to the wrong chapter, many others would have accepted him, but he had been a Salamander and had been exiled for leaving innocents to die. He did what many renegades did, he went to the Maelstrom and pledged himself to Lord Blackheart. And now he was free to kill whomever he wanted. The ultimate freedom.
As another squad of stormtroopers charged forward from the security station the two corsairs with Nal'ku opened fire into the press of bodies, each shot blowing a mortal apart. In such close quarters even the shock of the blast was enough to shatter bone and burst organs, even the round passing by could burst an eardrum. This was where Space Marines excelled and none more so then the Red Corsairs.
A quick burst from the flamer took out the remainder of the stormtroopers, their screams echoing through the narrow corridors. Nal'ku raised his boot and kicked the door to the security station, the metal tearing from its hinges and falling to the floor with a resounding crash.A bolt round shot past him, just narrowly missing the corsair's head. A stream of white-hot fire burst through the room, burning through the Deathwatch Space Marine that fired the shot. Several others emerged from cover and opened fire, a Red Corsair falling to the ground as he was riddled with bolt rounds. Nal'ku and the last corsair dived into cover, the dying corsair firing several shots in futile desperation.
'For the Emperor!'
Nal'ku's fiery temper heightened hearing the cry of the loyalists. Nodding to the other corsair who rose up and fired into the loyalists Nal'ku sprinted across the room to a pillar, the loyalists were close to him now. He spared a glance to the other Red Corsair who continued to fire until a bolt round pierced his neck, he fell without a sound. Nal'ku spun around the pillar, the two loyalists directly within sight and opened fire on them, the flames pouring out as Nal'ku screamed.
'For Huron Blackheart!, For the Dark Gods!'
Tykial's power axe decapitated another loyalist marine. He and Semrail had been fighting their way through the Deathwatch for several minutes and each had killed at least two of the hated enemy, though young Venerus had surprised them both by taking down at least four with impressive bolter shots and a well-placed grenade.
'Your youngling is a fierce lion Semrail, he does your squad credit,' Tykial complimented them, Venerus grinned at this underneath his helmet.
'Aye, he'll go far once he has some more raids in his training.' Semrail added on, making sure that Venerus didn't take that compliment for more then it was meant to be. The young marine had forgone his original bolter and taken two from the bodies of loyalists, each one loaded with specialized bolts and a more advanced stock. He wielded one in each arm as he charged alongside the Captain and his Sergeant.
'This is Shen-hal. The engine room is secure, awaiting your orders.' The vox chimed in with reports from both Shen-hal and Nal'ku. 'Nal'ku here, the security room is ours. Deactivating security systems now.'
The three corsairs continued onwards, blasting through any menials or stormtroopers that tried to intercept them. Their efforts were futile, the Red Corsairs practically had the ship under control already, all that remained was to take the bridge and set a course for the Maelstrom. For home.
As the door to the bridge loomed ahead the three Chaos Space Marines charged through it, they were greeted by bolter fire from the loyalists entrenched within. At least five Deathwatch marines were in cover, shooting at the Corsairs as they tried to penetrate the bridge. Verenus opened fire with both bolters, taking a loyalist in the head with his first salvo as Tykial and Semrail leapt forward to meet the loyalists in close combat, chainsword and power axe at the ready.
'Traitorous scum, meet your doom!' a voice rang out across the room. A Space Marine decked in black and silver armour approach the corsairs, his ornate power sword in both hands glew a bright white. His iconography demoted him as a Black Templar, once of the most zealous slave chapters of the False Emperor. Semrail howled a challenge and leapt at him, his chainsword roaring for blood. The templar merely looked in his direction and executed an elaborate sword flourish, the energised blade slicing through the sergeant's chainblade and both his arms. Before he could blink the loyalist struck again and sliced through Semrail's neck, his severed head flew across the room.
'Die loyalist worm!' Tykial shouted in rage, the filth had killed a Red Corsair and their honour demanded that he die in turn. Venerus likewise howled in rage and unleashed both of his bolters on full-auto, the shots tearing through the two more loyalists on the bridge, he turned to face the last one and was tackled to the ground, the Deathwatch marine trying to force a power knife into the young corsair's neck.
Tykial dodged the first blow of the loyalist's blade but he was quick and immediately followed up with a second strike that nicked the captain's shoulderplate and forced him back a step, the loyalist quickly capitalized on this and struck Tykial's faceplate with his hilt, smashing a dent into the metal. Tykial quickly brought his axe up and blocked the kill strike, his other hand grabbing his plasma pistol and loosing a shot. The loyalist pulled back just before the blast could hit his leg.
'Your form is weak traitor.'
'As is your faith loyalist.'
The loyalist snarled and was about to leapt forward when a bolt round impacted against his knee-joint. Verenus fired his new bolter again, this time sinking a round into the Deathwatch marine's leg, the blast tearing the limb apart. Tykial turned and grinned, Verenus had been able to reverse the knife and slit the loyalist's throat wide open before finishing him off with a stab to the forehead. The wounded templar moaned in pain.
'Miserable wretch, face me with valour!' He cried out in anger at his foe's casual disdain for honour. Tykial laughed at the loyalists demand, marching closer to him and disarming him of his sword in a swift blow of his axe. The captain looked down and chuckled at the loyalist.
'You think we consider you worth that much loyalist scum. No, Red Corsairs fight to win and for glory, not for valour or your own notions of honour. Why would I fight you one on one, when I can so easily kill you with my brother's aid.'
With a single stroke of his axe Tykial beheaded the loyalist before he could respond to the captain's taunting. The sound of footsteps echoed through the bridge as Malzra and Raldor ran into the bridge, scanning the room with their bolters before holstering them. Malzra cursed at seeing Semrail's corpse, Raldor remained as stoic as ever. Tykial turned to regard them and activated his vox.
'Shen-hal, this is Captain Tykial. Reactivate the warp engines and report to the bridge immediately.' His vox report was answered with an affirmative, the Red Corsairs could feel the hum of the ship's engines reactivating.
'Captain Tykial, we've secured the bodies of all your Red Corsairs and the loyalists that we faced. We also found this on our way here,' Malzra said, his voice sounding very proud. He tossed an ornate power blade before Tykial, the stylied I of the Inquisition shaping its hilt. 'An armory filled with weapons like that, all advanced and filled with ammunition.' Malzra's announcement brought a commotion from the gathering Red Corsairs, Shen-hal and Nal'ku arriving just in time to hear it.
Tykial gathered the situation in his head. They had lost half a dozen Red Corsairs and a Dauntless-class light cruiser but the gains had been so much more. They had the lost corsairs gene-seed and the gene-seed of at least another half dozen Deathwatch marines, plus their armor and weaponry not only the ones they carried but an armory filled with it. And the biggest prize of all, a Strike Cruiser to add to Lord Blackheart's rapidly growing fleet.
'Captain Tykial, the ship is ready for your command. Where do we set course?' Verenus questioned, the young marine had stripped the Deathwatch of three of their bolters, he used two and wore the third like a trophy. Shen-hal was busy skinning the skull of a loyalist while Nal'ku, Malzra and Raldor went over the bodies, taking whatever they wanted for their own armor.
'For the Maelstrom. We're going home.'
As the Strike cruiser Ave Deus Imperator
, which would soon become known as Encroaching Apocalypse
, broke away from the station it fired a brief salvo, obliterating the small void-prison and any evidence that the Red Corsairs had ever been here. The air around it began to shimmer as a tear in reality opened up before it, and as it drifted into the Warp it knew its new home.