Alrik Firehawk straightened, armour thrumming angrily, blood-stained fingers twisting into vibrant-red fists. Iorek Ghostwolf, the one-eyed, milk-skinned bastard, had gibed at Alrik’s expense - Brother Keris entering the generator chambers - Iorek moving to join him, playing the part of Packleader studiously. Alrik’s eyes became narrow, hateful slits. There was a deep-seated animosity between Alrik and Iorek - One that had boiled over several times during the Hecutor Campaign; causing tension amongst the Pack.
Why Alrik felt so vehemently towards the Ghostwolf, he knew not. Was it jealousy? No, most certainly not - Alrik Firehawk was above such petty, manlike things. He was an immortal - One of the hallowed Adeptus Astartes - Of one of the Nine Legions, nonetheless. Indeed, jealousy was an alien concept to the Firehawk.
Perhaps it was the pathological differences between the pair - Iorek was a shrewd marksman, brilliant before the loss of his eye, and still doubtlessly the best shot amongst the Pack; whereas Alrik was a murderous swordsman, preferring to get in the thick of it, to feel, smell and hear combat. Again, he doubted this - Keris and Alrik were polar opposites, but Alrik counted him amongst the closest of his brethren.
Whatever the reason was, Alrik knew one thing for certain - It felt natural
Idly, the Firehawk played with Kjarl’s flaying knife, circling his thumb over the bone-relief of the Flesh Tearers’ heraldry. The maw-enshrouded teardrop; pale, creamy white enshrouding a carnadon tooth-shard. Alrik’s eyes slowly drifted downwards, locking onto the blade. The maw had turned a gaudy pink, with the blood of the Warp-drunk thralls.
‘A portentous omen,’ Alrik whispered sibilantly, lips pulling apart in an odd, malign half-smile. ‘A bloody-mouth and a lone teardrop. The Stormcaller would cry aghast…’
Ten days passed. Ten days of brutal training, solitude and sulking. Countless servitors had been dismantled, a thousand thoughts had been reconsidered, debated upon and ultimately thrown to the winds. However, one plagued him, returning whenever banished, disturbingly stubborn.
Keris was leaving the Pack. Keris, his blood-brother, his guiding-light, was abandoning him. Just the notion of it made Alrik choleric. Keris the Priest, Keris the Wise, Keris the Betrayer
. How could he? Did he care nothing for Alrik?
The Aurora Marines and Space Wolves had now entered the Jorus System - Powering through the Orkish blockade above Jorus herself, punching their ramshackle ships from the star-ocean. Few naval officers truly understood how to successfully handle an engagement. Space was three-dimensional, something that most neglected to acknowledge; treating their vessels like their wet-navy counterparts. Evidently, the Orkish shipmasters had not prepared for such a sudden and violent attack. After the location of the distress beacon had been decided upon, Vermundr had petitioned that his Squad be within the vanguard. It had been granted.
Pack Kjarl - Pack Vermundr
- Stood together within the confines of a Thunderhawk, as it plummeted down through Jorus’ poisonous atmosphere. The world was purgatorial, a vast, glowering eye of molten rock and sulphur-choked air. Alrik did not know the name of their destination - Nor if it even had one - Merely that it was a geothermal mining station, and that it was now in the possession of the Orks. He licked his lips, eyes falling on Vermundr, and then Iorek, before finally resting upon brother Keris. Sections of his blue-grey armour had now been repainted a deep, unreflective black. His presence alone was jarring… Like a knife, twisting, tormenting him.
Alrik averted his gaze, running a cold gauntlet over his head. He was excited
. This was his chance to slake his bloodlust. Haladas and Freyr would be avenged, finally. It was a beautiful thought - One that made Alrik grin voraciously - An ugly, snaggletoothed grin.
He purred, craned his neck forwards as the Thunderhawk’s side hatches swept open, staring down at the station. ‘Skull…’
..Beta Phi XII…
..Distant gunfire, pious roars - The squeal of an injured Ork..
..Jubilant howls, the sound of rampaging Blood Claws, accompanying the measured bursts of heavier weaponry and the tell-tale gnawing of Chainsword upon bone..
Alrik Firehawk sweeps forwards, bolt-pistol in hand, eyes scanning the curtain of thick, cloying blackness. It stings his superhuman lungs, leaves a vile taste on his lips. Upon the wall nearby is a member o the Adeptus Mechanicus - Crimson robes peeled back, pinned in place by a dozen blades. The Adept has been crucified, blood and oil leaking from its violated, twisted body. Alrik whispers a prayer to the Omnissiah, before moving into a vehicle garage.
Something massive, mottled black-green, stands ahead of him. In one huge paw, a brutal cleaver gleams.
‘For the Allfather,’ Alrik intones, raising his bolt-pistol, compressing the trigger. The Ork turns towards him as the bolt-pistol barks.
Piggish, small eyes widen. The Ork’s chest explodes, a welter of gore, swaying back and forth unsteadily.
And then, it laughs. It laughs at the youthful Space Marine, a deep, guttural sound - Brimming with mockery. Alrik levels his bolt-pistol once again, snarling, and-
-the gun is swatted away. It slides through the garage, halting metres away. Blood is dribbling from the Ork’s massive gullet as it backhands Alrik, sending him onto his back.
The beast raises it’s cleaver. Alrik Firehawk is done - He has served the Emperor dutifully - And now he is to be ended at the hands of this abomination.
A Chainsword sweeps through the Ork’s throat. The head tumbles away, blood gushes. Haladas stands above Alrik, proffering his hand.
‘Skull or spine, my brother.’ He speaks, smiling. ‘These bastards take a lot of punishment, anywhere else.’
Alrik takes his hand, smirking at his brother. It is the last time he ever does so.
‘…Or spine.’ Alrik finished, as he crept onto the edge of the hatchway. The sky was an open expanse before him - Marrying the horizon in the distance. Alrik sucked in the air between gritted teeth, and fell over the edge.
The wind tugged at his face, rippling the layers of scar tissue painfully; his arms outstretched, jump-pack growling angrily behind him. The fall was beautiful. Alrik felt atop the world - Laughing manically as he fell, faster, accelerating still, faster and faster and faster, jump-pack whining, the station growing from an insignificant glimmer to a very large and very real danger.
With a growl, Alrik snapped his arms and legs inwards, igniting his jump-pack once again. He snapped back into reality, landing hard, flattening a nearby Ork as he did so. He gave them no respite, Chainsword swinging into the Xeno’s gut. Intestines, pieces of green-skinned flesh and dark, brackish blood erupted forth, splattering Alrik’s greaves. It roared, gripped in death’s clawed hand, looking up at it’s killer with cruel, beady eyes. Alrik smiled, winked, and crushed the Ork’s skull beneath his boot.
‘That was for Haladas.’ He spoke grimly; like an elder speaking a half-remembered tale.
Another rushed him, swinging an improvised mace. Alrik ducked beneath it, hacked away the thing’s arm below the elbow, before robbing the alien of a head with a tremendous back-handed swipe. Blood jetted and flesh churned as Alrik barreled into another, driving his Chainsword up through the beast’s chest cavity, two-handed, the tip of his chained-blade piercing between the Ork’s oversized shoulder blades.
A sword scraped across the Firehawk’s left shoulder pauldron, dragging across his chest, before falling away at the right hip. He turned with the blow. His Chainsword licked out - Like a spear - Ramming hilt-deep into the Ork’s skull. It shuddered, dead, held aloft by the Space Wolf. He kicked it free, twirling the Chainsword, hunting for his next victim.
up.’ Alrik hissed at one of the Orks, who was roaring incoherently. He punched the odiferous monster, snapping tusks, deflating its nose. The Greenskin stumbled, stunned, blinded by pain. The Space Marine tore his bolt-pistol free and proceeded to empty the magazine into the creature’s head.
The next two Orks rushed him together. One swung an immense cudgel, the other held a whirring Chainaxe of Imperial design. Alrik holstered his bolt-pistol calmly and stepped in to meet the pair. Ceramite-shod fingers seized the haft of the Chainaxe, holding the vibrating teeth scant inches from Alrik’s face. He twisted, counter-clockwise, and snapped the Ork’s arm at the elbow. It squealed, horrified, weapon wrangled away.
With a ululating howl, Alrik buried the Chainaxe in the cudgel-bearing Ork’s side. It pirouetted, arms flailing, blood squirting. Alrik bifurcated the first Ork from shoulder-to-hip, organs spilling out in a visceral explosion. He turned back to the other Ork, watching it squirm on the ground, wrestling to wrench the Chainaxe free. Alrik laughed bitterly at the sight, dipping his Chainsword through the Ork’s heart, twisting three-hundred-and-sixty degrees as he did so. It sighed, sank back pitifully, and left life.
A moment of peace passed. Alrik watched the other Wolves in their bloodletting, breathing deeply, flexing his fingers. One last Ork stood before him, tall and broad-shouldered, wearing a shirt of rusted chain, a makeshift gun clutched in long-fingered, fat hands. It grinned at him, eyes twinkling angrily beneath a pair of dark, grimy goggles. Alrik returned the gesture, giving a mocking bow, and launched forwards with the jump-pack.
The Ork made a curious noise - Something between a mewl and an exasperated laugh - And burst apart. Alrik’s jump-pack whined as it cooled down, dropping the Space Marine back onto his feet, streaked with gore, face covered in a film of scarlet, glittering amongst the ridges and trenches of his scars.
Krahl spoke, then. He was a firecracker of a Marine - Determined, stubbornly so - And, by Alrik’s admission, he could look after himself. Even still, the Firehawk had no doubts that he would beat the young Blood Claw senseless, given the chance.
‘I doubt that, little-wyrm,’ He called out, wryly, licking the Orkish blood from his narrow, broken lips. The arrogance was thinly veiled. ‘You look unhappy, boy
. Does battle hold no promise of joy, for you?’