THE HUNT BEGINS
The children ran through the valley, laughing and playing, amongst the docile cows, the children didn’t see the cows gather in a circle, they ran past the boundaries of the green fields and into the rocky foothills, one of the girls in
the group stopped and looked around and screamed......
Men looked up from their work in the small village, women stopped in the main street and the chief, Cameron Abredes stopped in his tracks, eyes wide and his scarred face as white as snow, “Oh, Emperor no!”
When the chief and his household warriors reached the foothills all they saw were smudges of blood and the occasional discarded, bloody, child sized, homespun garment.
“Who or what could’ve done this, chief?” asked a tall, burly warrior armed with a heavy hammer, twirling it in his meaty hands
“Those goddamned mutants” muttered Cameron, his power fist clenching and unclenching, “only they do this to children, no other clan would”
“I wouldn’t put it past those bastard dagger-cats” muttered another housecarle, shouldering his las-gun, and settling back down on his saddle, assured that none of the feline predators were near
“Quiet Finn, there could be more around, scavengers” muttered the chief
“So do we kill them?” whispered the hammer- armed warrior, his face grim but determined
“No we go back and mourn, then contact the nearest Space Wolves, they wouldn’t want to have mutants killing their way around” directed the chief, turning his hardy little gelding back towards the small village...
The village women wept well into the night, their keening could be heard over even the howling wind outside.
The chief looked haggard, he had stayed up through the night, talking to the commander of the Space Wolf garrison in the nearby fortress, they would send two veteran tactical squads , supported by twenty housecarles, any less the Space Wolves would be overwhelmed by mutants supposed numbers, any more the villages defences would be so weakened that any enemy clans would be free to destroy the village and take the valuable livestock and any other plunder, human or otherwise...
The next morning ten housecarles were assembled outside on the hard, icy ground waiting for the wolves arrival, the chief walked out into the cold, wearing modified carapace armour like the rest, but along with his powerfist he wielded a combi-flamer and a brace of melta bombs, turning to the man beside him, “ Grechian, make sure to keep the women and children inside the village perimeter and all the remaining housecarles armed and ready to fight”
“It will be done” replied the small dark olive skinned wiry man, a sword hanging at his waist in a battered scabbard, next to a worn las-pistol
A housecarle ran down towards Cameron, barely pausing for a breath when he stopped and spluttered out,” The Space Wolves are here, they are approaching in a Thunderhawk-class gunship”
“How could you tell moron?” yelled one of the younger housecarles
“I used to be an anti-air observer for the Guard, so that’s why I can tell the difference” retorted the man his eyes shining with anger, hand tightening on the hilt of his own sword
“Both of you, stop before knock both of you out!” roared the chieftain, the grizzled man’s voice tearing through the escalating confrontation
The two men looked down at their feet like chided little boys and mumbled excuses, face red with anger the chief looked down at his men and roared, “I don’t want anymore behaviour like what just happened, we are about to go into a battle, the likes of which you have never seen before, so keep you crap wired at all times!”
The Thunderhawk landed outside the confines of the clustered village, a Space Marine, his blue-grey power armour covered in wolf pelts and engraved with runes, walked down the ship’s boarding ramp approaching the group of housecarles, his wolf pelt cape flowing behind him.
“Who is the chief here?” asked the Marine, his voice quiet and husky.
“I am chief, Cameron Abredes, you are?” replied the powerfully built clan leader.
“Wolf Guard pack leader, Kaile ThunderFist” answered the astartes evenly, noting the Abredes clan crests on the men’s armour and the grim expressions of the housecarle’s faces he added, “I hold no ties to my clan anymore, I owe all my allegiance to the Emperor, Russ and the Space Wolves, so don’t expect to be treated as a enemy clan”
“My thanks wolf”
“Now where is the entrance to where these mutants are hiding?” asked Kaile.
“Follow us” Cameron told the space marine turning and starting to walk into the dawning day.
The group of armed warriors walked up the pine and spruce covered foothills, the high the men went, the more snow covered the branches and the ground forcing the clansmen to slow to a crawl, a space wolf walked up to Cameron and asked, “Would you like me to help your men?”
“How would you do that, Marine?” asked Cameron.
“Like this” and the Space Wolf ploughed through the snow, allowing the housecarles move through the snow easier and at a faster pace.
“Thanks “Cameron breathed through blue lips.
“Don’t mention it” replied the, red haired, Space Wolf.
The Space Wolf commander walked up to the clan leader and asked without some suspicion appearing in his voice, “Where are the ten other men you promised?”
“Why, doesn’t the Space Wolves trust the people they used to call clan and family?” Cameron snapped back
“Time and experience has taught us to never trust anyone, so where are the housecarles?” demanded the Wolf Guard, his gauntleted hand flying to the handle of an ancient bolt pistol hanging at the Wolf’s side
“Whoa, calm down they are waiting up ahead, at the mouth of a cave from which we tracked the mutants” bellowed Cameron in surprise, his powerfist’s deadly energies crackling into life
“Well then, why didn’t you tell me earlier?” inquired Kaile, his low voice rough and angry
“You didn’t ask, so back down!” roared Cameron, his pride bruised and anger roused
“Both of you calm down!” howled one of the Space Wolves who had spent the march at the back of the column, now behind the two leaders
Cameron turned towards this new entrant to the argument and was surprised to see the black armour of a chaplain, the black armour was covered in yellow- white wolf bones, and necklaces of wolf fangs hung everywhere, along with vials of healing balm and potions, along with the trophies and favourite weapons of a veteran warrior.
“Yes, Loki, I apologize for my previous words, Cameron” the proud wolf apologised
“Aye, me too lad, thanks to you chaplain, he might have killed me if we kept going” agreed Cameron, de-activating his weapon.
“Now after that, Cameron, how long until we reach the cave?” asked Loki
“Fifteen minutes, more or less” replied the clan chief
“Well let us continue” Loki said through his helmet’s vox caster
The housecarles jumped to their feet when their clan chief walked into the clearing, the chieftain asked “Are we ready to go?”
“Yes” the ten men said in unison, followed by the sounds of weapons being checked and doubled checked
“Well, me and the others are going to rest for ten minutes, then we are all leaving, understand?” directed Cameron.
“Yes” was the reply again.
“So the hunt begins” muttered Loki under his breath.