Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Broken Crown – Free Extract

tumblr_inline_o8ekk7xqk11thjspb_1280

The fourth part of the Legacy of Russ, the continuation of the War Zone Fenris saga began in Curse of the Wulfen, is here. If you like it, the entire first part is free here!

Exfill Shaft 29.72, the underworld, Midgardia

Egil and his Ironguard had barely gone a hundred yards before their vox links picked up a squeal of transmission code. It was gone in a heartbeat, vanishing once more into Midgardia’s cavernous depths. Fifty yards later there was another blurt.

‘Press on,’ Egil ordered, fighting to keep the frustration from his voice. Logan Grimnar was down here somewhere. Some of his Kingsguard had to have survived as well. The Iron Wolf would find them, or his bones would remain beneath Midgardia for eternity.

The tunnel they were taking was painfully low and narrow, requiring the Space Wolves to stoop almost double as their pauldrons ground against its crumbling dirt flanks. The air was close and hot, and the scuffle of ceramite through muck, the hum of power armour and the panting of his packmates filled Egil with a claustrophobic, fang-baring impatience. Until the vox squealed a third time.

‘Come in,’ Egil snapped, click-cycling through half a dozen channels as he hunted for a solid connection. They could not be alone down here. There had to be survivors.

Ahead, Borgen Fire-eye added fuel to his hopes.

‘Bolter fire,’ the Wolf Guard said. ‘Not far away.’

Moments later the familiar thunder reached Egil’s autosenses, echoing down the tunnel to him.

‘Keep going,’ the Iron Wolf ordered.

They did so, snarling with the effort of forcing their way along the mining exfill shaft. Egil’s dirt-caked armour tracked his rising adrenaline, a growl building in his throat. His decision to come down into these infernal depths had been justified. There were still fellow Wolves down here. Surely Logan Grimnar was among them.

Finally, the vox made proper contact.

Not an inch, brothers,’ came a growl, followed immediately by the crash of more bolter fire. Egil heard the echoes of the shots bouncing down the tunnel ahead. He recognised the voice.

‘Brother Lenold,’ he said. ‘It is Egil, of the Iron Wolves. We are inbound on your location. What’s your current status?’

By the Primarch, it’s good to hear you, lord,’ Lenold responded. ‘We’re holding shaft intersection 29B. There’s wyrd-scum everywhere.’ The rest of his sentence was cut off by a howl, and the furious revving of a chainsword.

‘Hold fast, Champions of Fenris,’ Egil said, then switched to the inter-pack channel. ‘Borgen, how far?’

‘I can see the end of the tunnel’ the Wolf Guard replied. ‘More plague filth.’

‘Into them, brothers.’

Egil saw the light of lumen strips stabbing around the silhouette of Borgen ahead of him, and moments later the rasp of the Wolf Guard’s flamer and the sickly stench of burning promethium reached him. He followed his Ironguard out into Intersection 29B.

It was a cavernous meeting point for monorail lines and mining shafts, plasteel beams and bare wired lumen strips providing a hub for half a dozen separate excavation sites, along with grav-lifts to the surface, rappel-lines to lower levels, and rail routs to the nearest of Midgardia’s subterranean hive cities. Egil and his pack burst from one of the smaller exfill shafts running north to south, catching a brace of shuffling plague daemons in the flank as they dragged their swollen, rotting bodies towards the knot of Space Wolves at the intersection’s centre. Skol, Egil’s iron-plated servo skull, counted two dozen Adeptus Astartes as it hummed overhead, the image from its miniaturised caster transmitted directly to Egil’s bionics.

‘We have you, brothers,’ the Wolf Lord voxed as Borgen’s flamer ignited the nearest plaguebearers, their sonorous chants turning to deep-throated wails as their diseased flesh melted from their canker-ridden bones.

It’s coming again,’ Lenold voxed back. ‘Brace yourselves!’

‘What is,’ Egil began, but didn’t need to finish. He felt the earth around him shudder, dirt cascading from the intersection’s high, steel-ribbed ceiling. Then the ground a dozen yards ahead heaved upwards, splitting apart a monorail track with an ear-shuddering clang. Something surged through the blast of earth and shattered stone, fang-filled maw agape, dragging its long, prehensile body up through the hole it had burrowed into the intersection.

Plague wyrm,’ Lenold voxed. ‘Bring it down!’

‘Borgen,’ Egil snapped. The Ironguard was already bringing his weapon to bear, spearing a lance of liquid flame at the huge, nightmarish worm as it dragged the last of its fleshy folds from its maw-tunnel. It was at least two dozen paces long, and as thick around its centre as any of Egil’s warriors. The parts of it that weren’t caked with Midgardian soil were the corpse-white of a creature that had never known sunlight, and hideous, disease-blotched organs were visible pulsing through its membranous flesh. It made a gargling, squealing noise as it cringed away from Borgen’s flames, twisting with ghastly speed towards the Wolves fighting back-to-back at the intersection’s heart.

‘It’s headed your way,’ Egil voxed.

Destroy its burrow,’ Lenold replied. ‘Quickly!’

Egil saw why moments later. There were things crawling up out of the wyrm’s maw-hole – plague beasts and nurglings, clawing arm over arm, scrambling on top of each other as they dragged themselves up from Midgardia’s depths.

‘Changing canisters,’ Borgen said, anticipating his jarl’s orders as he screwed a fresh fuel cell into his flamer.

‘Grenades,’ Egil shouted. He hammered his boot into the spilled guts of the first plaguebearer to stagger up out of the pit, slamming it back down into the yawning, writhing hole. In the same breath he snapped a frag grenade from his belt clamp and pitched it after the wailing daemon. There was a crump and a blast of shredded, rotten meat and black ichor jetted up from the burrow.

‘Close it,’ Egil ordered. ‘Send these monsters back to the wyrdrealm.’ His Ironguard rallied to him, power weapons carving apart the plague daemons even as they scrabbled for a foothold in the intersection. Then Borgen stepped up to the edge, his flamer reloaded. With a thump-whoosh he flooded the hole with liquid flame, roasting the things choking it. The sickening stench of burning wyrdflesh filled Egil’s nose, penetrating even his armour’s filters.

‘The hole is losing integrity,’ Moln warned.

A second later Egil felt the earth shift beneath him. He threw himself back just in time as the hellish burrow collapsed in on itself, dragging the edges down into a sucking, crushing vortex of grey muck. Borgen, standing close to the centre, was too slow to avoid being caught in the earth’s unyielding grip.

‘Brother!’ shouted Orven, lunging after the falling warrior. He managed to snatch onto the edge of his backpack, but the pull of the collapsed hole was too strong. It dragged Borgen further down before Orven could get a better hold on him. The Wolf Guard choked on muck as he drew breath to bellow defiance. In just a few seconds he was gone, the settling dirt showing no sign of his passing.

Bjorn and Moln hauled Orven back before he too was dragged down. Egil cursed and spat. It was not the sort of death he’d have wished on the rashest, most obstinate Blood Claw, let alone a warrior whose sagas had filled the halls on many a feast night.

It’s escaping!’ Lenold’s voice over the vox tore his attention away from the dirt scar that had become Borgen’s grave. The wyrm had buried its hardened, fang-filled head into one of the intersection’s walls and was rapidly worming its way back into the underground. Egil saw the flesh in its side bulge and twist horribly, and realised that it had swallowed one of the Champions of Fenris whole. The warrior was struggling to escape the creature’s gut, even as its bile melted the flesh from his bones.

Lenold and his Wolves pursued it, chainswords ripping at pale flesh and bolt rounds blowing chunks from its body in bursts of stinking yellow slime. It regenerated every blow, its vile flesh reknitting seconds after each strike. With horrific speed, it had twisted itself into its fresh tunnel, leaving the Champions of Fenris behind.

‘That is the third time that infernal beast has struck,’ Lenold snapped. ‘I cannot say if it was the same one, or whether there are many. Its wounds heal as soon as we make them.’

‘It’s how the wyrdlings have been traversing the underworld,’ Egil surmised, eyes on the churned earth of the collapsed tunnel.

‘Your arrival was timely, lord,’ Lenold said, pacing across the intersection to clasp Egil’s arm. Around him the Champions of Fenris clustered. They were universally dirt-grimed and bloody, the armour not befouled by Midgardia’s depths scarred silver by the strike of blade and talon. Even the half dozen Wulfen slinking among their number were panting and breathless, their tough bodies criss-crossed with fresh wounds.

‘Where is the Great Wolf?’ Egil asked. ‘Where is Logan Grimnar?’

‘We do not know,’ Lenold said. ‘He pressed too far ahead with his Kingsguard and the Slayer. Going by our last vox transmissions he had penetrated Deepspark and engaged a large infestation of wyrdspawn there. Then the lower tunnels collapsed and we lost all contact.’

‘The surface is even worse,’ Egil said. ‘We could not hold what ground we gained. I ordered my Great Company to withdraw to the Magma Gates and then into orbit.’

‘Yet you are down here with us?’

‘Just my Ironguard and I. Would you have abandoned the Great Wolf in a place such as this?’

The question required no answer.

‘At least the air isn’t befouled down here,’ Bjorn observed. ‘Not yet, anyway.’

‘Where are the rest of the Champions?’ Egil asked Lenold. ‘If Grimnar was only with his Kingsguard?’

‘Lost, scattered. The vox links are almost useless this far down. What you see here are the remnants of three packs – my Wulfborn, Korvald’s Fangbrothers and Fjyr’s Stormbringers. We’ve been getting scraps of transmission from Tormund’s pack to the south. We were on our way to link up with them when that damn wyrm struck. The daemons follow in its wake.’

‘You’ve tried all available routes into Deepspark?’ Egil asked. ‘Are all the tunnels collapsed?’

‘All on these levels, and the lower ones. We hoped to try higher once we had consolidated our strength.’

‘I fear we will grow weaker rather than stronger the longer we delay,’ Egil said. ‘I have never seen wyrdlings attack with such relentlessness.’

‘They sense their victory is close,’ Lenold growled.

‘Then let us prove them wrong. Where is the nearest tunnel to the upper levels?’ Lenold pointed at a grav lift at the far end of the intersection.

‘This far down most of the mechanisms still seem to be intact,’ he said. ‘It will be faster than trying to take the tunnels, and risk the plague wyrm striking again.’

‘We will use the lift then. Will you and your pack come with me?’

‘Without a moment’s hesitation, Jarl Iron Wolf. I will not see the light of the Wolf’s Eye again until the Great Wolf has been found.’

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Riddle of Writing Serials

2afe7eb8d5a4e57a12cbe13ad63f6abb

At the close of last year I received a phone call I’d always hoped for, but certainly never dared expect. Black Library, the publishing wing of wargaming giant Games Workshop, wanted me to write a novel for them. They’d been impressed by the work I’d already done for them – four short stories earlier that year – and wanted to take me to what one editor called “the next stage.”

There was just one twist. Before being released as a physical, printed hardback, the book – Legacy of Russ – was to be serialised into eight parts and released online over the course of six months.

Say “serialised novel” and some smart chap will immediately jump up and tell you that “that’s how Dickens did it.” And indeed he did. It was how I’d done it too, at least in novella format, for my Jukepop Serials hit Werekynd: Beasts of the Tanglewild. I strung that story out for almost a year. The perfect initiation, you’d think, for writing the eight parts of Legacy of Russ.

Except knowing that writing serialised novels was possible didn’t actually help with any of the problems inherent in such an undertaking. The difference between a “full” novel and serial installments is more or less the same as the difference between a television series and a feature-length film. There are a number of very important differences, most of which revolve around issues of plot and pacing.

In brief, a serial has to take into account considerations that don’t trouble a novel. Each “episode” has to be reasonably self-contained, and as gratifying to the reader as the last. The stakes are always high – one boring installment and readers will be lost. They’ll stop buying the follow-ups. There’s no danger of that after someone’s bought a novel. Because of this, writing serialised fiction can assume a somewhat frantic air. Not only must you spend at least a small amount of time setting the scene at the start of every installment (to jog memories that have lain dormant for a month or more), but the remaining word count is typically expected to fulfill the requirements of the genre, in this case set piece action and crunchy fight scenes. Dedicating an installment to calmer activity may work out, but it’s also a gamble. The loss of reader attention is a constant specter. Conversely, in a novel the writer can typically afford more coherent pacing – the ebb and flow around start, midpoint and ending give the reader respite and varies their experience. While this certainly isn’t impossible to achieve in serial form, it’s far trickier.

All this was compounded by the nature of the story I was trying to tell. It was  a contender for the title of “sweeping epic”, taking place on a grand total of three planets, two moons and more spaceships than I care to count, and viewed from the perspective of over a dozen point-of-view characters, including a shape-shifting daemon and a machine-man. Such feats would have been daunting in standard novel format, but getting it all into episodic installments meant I had to spend a lot of time in each story touching base with multiple characters and inching their individual development forward, all the while not exceeding the wordcount I’d been set.

If you’re thinking at this point that I had an unenviable task, you’d be wrong. It was still a privilege to be involved in writing something that was going to affect the universe I’d grown up reading about. I was more or less aware of all the challenges posed by serial fiction before I started writing. I made a decision early on to try and treat the project just as I would any other novel. I knew it would be released as a whole eventually, and that was the legacy I decided I should work towards – while the serials were fun, ultimately this was something that was going to be on people’s bookshelves.

If I had to choose between advising readers to follow the story in its serial format, or reading the whole thing as one novel, I’d have to go with the latter option. Hopefully, however, it’s enjoyable whichever way readers feel they wish to approach it.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

War Zone Fenris – Lying in Flames Extract

CaptureThe third part of the Legacy of Russ, the continuation of the War Zone Fenris saga began in Curse of the Wulfen. If you like it, the entire first part is free here!

Morkai’s Keep, Frostheim

‘Canis!’

Harald Deathwolf’s roar came too late. Glacius was embedded in the chest of a disintegrating plaguebearer and his storm shield was raised as rusting blades stabbed and slashed. Canis Wolfborn knelt, bleeding his last at the far end of the corridor. Harald saw the wyrd-wrought black steel of his executioner, a Khornate Herald, rise above the press.

Then Fengir struck. The thunderwolf moved like a charge of lightening through the melee, painted red with the gore of the swordlings it had torn apart. As the hellsword fell the faithful beast slammed into its wolf-brother’s side, knocking Canis over. The daemon’s sword struck, and there was a yelp of pain.

‘Canis!’ Harald repeated, shouldering his way through the manic fight, the shock of his storm shield blasting combatants from his path. Ahead Canis lay unmoving, blood pooling beneath him. Fengir writhed beside him, the Herald’s sword lodged deep in its shoulder. With a snarl of fury the Khorne daemon wrenched the weapon free and struck the huge thunderwolf again, cutting into the meat of its flank. Fengir twisted and howled.

Harald wasn’t going to reach them in time. He cleft apart a brace of capering pink wyrdspawn, grunting as the frost axe carved through their shimmering, ever-changing flesh. They were getting tougher, stronger, faster. Reality in the vaults of Morkai’s Keep was starting to disintegrate, unravelling beneath the sheer, stinking, gibbering weight of the daemonic onslaught.

The Khorne Herald stabbed Fengir again, seeking to lance the monstrous thunderwolf’s heart. Protecting Canis with its own body, the huge beast was unable to attack properly. Its fur was dark with its own blood. Harald couldn’t get close enough.

An explosion rocked the corridor, throwing the Deathwolf into the shoulder plate of one of his Wolf Guards. A section of wall to his right came crashing down, the rubble burying the nearest daemons and splitting the skull of an unfortunate Blood Claw. Harald braced himself, ready for yet another flood of wyrdlings to come bursting through the gap.

But instead of gnashing, shrieking horrors, the swirling smoke of the breach was ripped apart by the thunder of bolter fire. Muzzle flashes and the lightning-crackle of activated power fists lit hulking shapes as they pushed through the rubble, their sheer size knocking the breach wider. Terminators, armoured in black, a white gauntlet sigil adorning their right pauldrons. Iron Hands.

The tide turned. Trapped in the corridor’s confined space, the daemons could do nothing but throw themselves at the new arrivals. Standing firm, with legs braced and backs straight, the Iron Hands gunned the unarmoured monstrosities down, the hammering of storm bolters and the whir of assault cannons almost too loud even for Harald’s autosenses to filter.

Wolf Lord, this is Sergeant Baalor of Clan Company Haarmek. I advise you to fall back on our position immediately.’

‘Not without Canis,’ Harald snarled at the Iron Hand over the vox. ‘Deathwolves, to me! Ravening Jaw pattern!’

His Wolf Guard, the Riders of Morkai , snapped shut around their lord, using the space torn by the Terminator’s fusillade to finally establish some sort of cohesion. Like a fang piercing rotting meat, the small wedge of Wolves punched through the last remaining daemons between them and Canis.

The Khorne Herald was waiting. It stood over Fengir’s prone body, dripping with the thunderwolf’s blood, its guard down and arms outstretched in challenge.

‘Face me, Wolf,’ it hissed, looking directly at Harald. ‘And die.’

‘Maybe next time, daemon,’ Harald spat. His Wolf Guard stayed locked around him, power weapons crackling with lethal energies, as their jarl  knelt beside Canis.

His visor was still reading vital signs. The Wolfborn’s hearts were labouring, and his eyelids flickered as his sus-an membrane forced him into a regenerative hibernation. It looked as though the daemon’s thrust had severed his spine.

‘You need a Wolf Priest,’ Harald told Canis, hoping he was still capable of understanding him. ‘Don’t try and move.’

‘Fengir,’ Canis murmured, the words barely leaving bloody lips.

‘He’s coming too,’ Harald assured him, and then turned to his Wolf Guard.

‘Send that thing back to hell,’ he snapped, nodding at the breach. But the Khornate wyrdmaster had already gone. The rest of its kin were dissolving. Harald slung Glacius across his back and bent to heft Canis across his shoulders, his armour’s strength-enhancing servo bundles whining in protest. ‘Bring the thunderwolf,’ he added. Two of his Riders, Gunnar Felsmite and Denr Longblade, hefted the limp animal between them.

We are departing, Wolf,’ the monotone voice of Sergeant Baalor crackled over the vox. ’With or without you. None of us can remain down here any longer.

‘We’re with you,’ Harald growled, grunting with the strain of carrying the Wolfborn. ‘Deathwolves, withdraw to the Iron Hands.’ The Terminators parted to allow the retreating Space Wolves through, never once interrupting their mechanically precise bombardment of the daemonic creatures scrambling after them.

#

Outside Morkai’s Keep a storm was building. It had come from the east, heralded by a wind that howled and bit with the feral savagery of the World Wolf itself. Thick, ugly clouds had turned day to night, and snow had started to swirl and eddy across the glacial plateaux where the bleak fortress hunched.

Iron Captain Terrek of Clan Company Haarmek stood like a statue forged from black cermaite and silver steel, impervious to the elements that clawed at him. He gazed up at the fortress’s bastions, the lenses of his bionic eyes peeling away the thickening snow to reveal weapons damage and battle scars. Outside the walls the corpses of traitors and heretics had been heaped in dark, rapidly-freezing piles, awaiting a flamer’s kiss. The remains of others still lay scattered across the great glacier’s surface, uncollected. The Space Wolves had been interrupted before they could finish their purging.

Clan Commander, we have him,’ clicked a voice in Terrek’s ear. It was Brother-Sergeant Baalor, normally commander of Tactical Clave Baalor, now leader of the composite squad of Terminators assembled to retrieve the Wolf Lord Deathhowl. Terrek acknowledged the message with a blink-click of his lenses.

‘You’ve found him?’ asked a sibilant voice. Terrek glanced briefly down at the Shadow Haunter Scout Sergeant, Arro, crouched at his side. He and his four Initiates had drawn their camo capes up over their heads like cowls, leaving only the pallid flesh of their lower faces and the nubs of their nascent fangs visible beneath the snowy folds.

‘We have,’ Terrek confirmed.

The Shadow Haunter infiltrators had returned five minutes earlier, with news that Terrek had already guessed at. The defences of Morkai’s Keep were no longer tenable. The Iron Captain had deployed his Terminators on the recommendation of the other Chapter’s scouts, teleporting them into the Keep’s vaults to retrieve the Wolf Lord. He’d served alongside the Shadow Haunters before, and though their combat doctrines and personal outlooks were inefficient by the standards of the Iron Hands, their disparate approach to warfare had yielded some analytically exceptional results. If his grey-clad allies said Morkai’s Keep was lost then it undoubtedly was, regardless of all the fire and fury of the Space Wolves.

The sounds of combat within the fortress reached Terrek’s audio receptors, carried by the howling wind. Bolter fire, chainblades, throaty warcries and the unnatural sounds made by the neverborn as they fought, bled and died. The noises were eclipsed momentarily by the shriek of three afterburning turbofans as a black-plated Thunderhawk gunship banked overhead, coming in to land beside the three already occupying the glacier’s edge. The warriors of Terrek’s strike force – six Claves – stood at parade rest in the shadows of their heavy transports, the snow piling up on their towering, immobile frames.

We are at the gates,’ Baalor voxed. Terrek and the Shadow Haunters waited. The main entrance to the Keep lay open before them, the rail lines that would have sealed the huge adamantium blast doors sitting inert. The enemy had come from within.

‘I have a visual,’ Arro said. The Haunter’s advanced eyesight had detected movement – shapes emerging from beyond the gate, striding implacably though the deepening snow. Soon Terrek could discern three of his Clan Company’s Sergeants – Baalor, Zernn and Naamiel – bedecked in the archo-mechanical glory that was Tactical Dreadnought armour. Behind them came a bloody mass of figures in the blue-grey ceramite of the Space Wolves. The three remaining Iron Hand Terminators, Krevvin, Horst and Thall, brought up the rear.

Terrek’s steel-plated jaw clenched as he saw the ichor-stained creatures loping in the midst of the Space Wolves. Too savage-looking even for their barbaric Chapter, the animal’s distended, muscle-bound frames were clad in archaic scraps of armour and their limbs bristled with dark fur. Even at rest their features were contorted into beastly, leering snarls, their fang-filled maws drooling with spittle. They moved hunched over, stooped like predators, almost as though they mocked the firm and unbending posture of the Iron Hands leading them. These then were the mutants the Dark Angels had warned them about. He fought to swallow his disgust, and opened a vox channel with the motley pack.

‘Wolf Lord Harald of the Deathwolves,’ he said. His bionics scanned unfamiliar runic markings and pelt totems, picking out the figure most likely to be the leader. The one he settled on carried one of his pack kin over his shoulders, the fallen warrior’s blood streaming down the Wolf’s grey armour to leave a red trail in the snow. Behind him two more Wolves hefted the carcass of a huge, furred Fenrisian beast between them.

‘I am Harald,’ the Wolf said, stopping before Terrek as his Terminator Sergeants took post either side. ‘And who in the Allfather’s name are you?’

‘Iron Captain Aleron Terrek, Clan Company Haarmek, of the Iron Hands.’ The words issued flat and lifeless from the bionically augmented warrior’s vocaliser. ‘And this is Scout Sergeant Arro of the Shadow Haunters’ 10th Company.’

With a grunt of effort Harald laid the body he’d been carrying in the snow before the Iron Captain. A quick optical scan by the Iron Hand revealed, to his surprise, that the Wolf still lived. Just.

‘He needs an apothecary,’ Harald said. ‘As does his wolf-brother.’ He nodded back at the huge beast being reverently lowered by his packmates.

‘That creature is his brother?’

‘We are all brothers, machine-man.’

‘Where are your own apothecaries?’

‘My Wolf Priest is with the rest of my Great Company,’ Harald said, his impatience with the Terrek obvious. ‘Still fighting inside the keep. I am going to rejoin them.’

‘You will do no such thing,’ Terrek said, his voice remaining monotone. ‘You will vox your squad leaders and order them to withdraw immediately.’

Harald took a step towards him, visor’s red lenses level with Terrek’s optical hardware.

‘We’ve fought all day to purge this fortress of wyrdtaint,’ the Wolf said, the words a snarl rasping from his helmet’s vocaliser. ‘Morkai’s Keep belongs to the Vlka Fenryka, given by oaths and secured by blood. We will not abandon it, not after so many sagas have been written in its defence.’

‘Then you will all die,’ Terrek said simply. ‘Morkai’s Keep has been target-locked from orbit by my Battle Barge, Iron Requiem. I have instructed its gunnery crew to open fire in exactly… twenty-one minutes and eighteen seconds. The ship’s bombardment cannon will level this glacier, and seal any of the warp filth that survive far below the surface.’

‘You cannot,’ Harald said, turning from the expressionless visor of the Iron Hand to the silent, cowled menace of the Shadow Haunters. ‘You would not dare strike at the sovereign territory of the sons of Russ!’

‘My Clan’s most senior Iron Father will attend to your dying brother,’ Terrek said. ‘We will make… repairs… But only if you cooperate.’

‘This is outrageous!’

‘This is logical. Your keep has fallen. You require my assistance. I, however, do not require yours. Extracting you was merely a courtesy, and one that I extended with considerable risk. Had my Terminators not successfully teleported into your vaults and brought you clear, my Claves would have lost their Sergeants at a stroke.’

It was apparent the Space Wolf wasn’t listening. He was pacing in the snow like some caged animal, every distant howl and clash of steel still echoing from the keep attracting his gaze. Terrek had taken more than enough of the hot-tempered warrior’s foolishness.

‘Our fleet intercepted a transmission from this world’s moon, Svellgard,’ he said. ‘It seems the Wolves of your kinsman, Sven Bloodhowl, are also beset.’

Harald stopped his pacing and faced the Iron Hand once more.

‘The World Wolf’s Lair is under attack again?’

‘Yes. Seemingly with even greater force than before. As soon as we have dealt with the incursion here, my Clan and I will be bound for Svellgard. There are already other elements of the crusade fleet en-route.’

‘What crusade fleet?’

Terrek’s response formulae faltered, and he glanced at Arro. The Shadow Haunter Scout simply shrugged.

‘Wolf, we have much to discuss.’

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized