Wolf Trap – Free Extract

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Part six in my Legacy of Russ series! If you enjoy it, the full story is here, and the subscription to all eight short stories is here.

Ramillies-class starfort, designate Mjalnar

The very walls of Mjalnar shuddered and shifted, plasteel plating suddenly as insubstantial as a heat mirage. Through the haze came wyrdlings, their blades and claws reaching for Ragnar and his Space Wolves.

‘Blackpelts, to me!’ Ragnar roared. Normal forces would have been annihilated by so sudden and horrific an ambush. The Blackpelts, however, were far from normal. Back-to-back they fought, Tor Wolfheart and Alrydd the Bard, Uller Greylock, Hrolf Longspear and Svengril the Younger. With bared fang and wild eye they smote the creatures of Chaos, the warped corridor ringing with Fenrisian steel and crackling disruptor fields, snapping bone and snarled oaths. They were the Young King’s most favoured warriors, chosen as much for their brutal sword-skill as for their combat experience. Against them the lesser daemons of the wyrdrealm, for all their rage, could do little.

And they were as nothing compared to their lord. Ragnar was a blur of unrestrained, natural-born violence. He’d abandoned the protective knot of the pack, striking out further down the corridor. Normally a Wolf Lord’s personal retinue would have striven to defend their leader, adopting a formation that covered his back and protected his blind spots. But the Blackpelts knew better than to try that when the battle-joy had taken hold of their Young King.

Ragnar killed. It was simple. It was brutal. It was a terrible thing to watch, something that even his Wolf Guards treated with reverence. He was a blur of perpetual motion, never hesitating, never stopping, not even thinking. It was instinctive, deadly, the result of posthuman genetic engineering and the warrior conditioning of an already martial race, combined with over a century’s bloody battlefield experience. Frostfang, Ragnar’s ancient chainsword, was a blur, a halo of tearing teeth that left a haze of viscera hanging in the air around the lunging, spinning shape of the Wolf Lord. He danced the warrior’s dance, darting death that sawed through limbs and skulls and torsos and sent clutches of nightmares tumbling back to hell together.

Inquisitor de Mornay was only half aware of him. His plasma pistol was in one fist, venting steam from its coolant valve as he fired down from his palanquin. Sister Marie stood behind the rocking platform, hammering her combi-bolter into the mass of bug-eyed, snapping monsters clawing at them. Her black power armour was pitted and scarred, its holy surface befouled with a sheen of dripping ichor . She was reciting the Thirty Third Prayer of Revelatory Salvation in low, hard tones as she killed, eyes gleaming with the fires of a warrior given sacred purpose. When the tide rose too high she triggered her flamer, and the corridor was filled with the stench of roasting warpspawn and the dancing light of blazing promethium as it ate hungrily at the shrieking creatures.

Subconsciously, the Inquisitor was regretting not bringing the arco-flagellant, or donning his exo-plate. A part of him had hoped the rumours of Mjalnar’s corruption would prove to be unfounded, and the last thing he’d wanted was VX 9-18 rampaging through the starfort’s narrow corridors. That was a mistake he wouldn’t make again.

The daemons screamed with fury, enraged at the fact that their trick had been discovered. Without the intervention of de Mornay they would have driven Ragnar and his packs to the brink of turning, the Wolves’ frustration with the starfort’s seemingly endless, deserted corridors leading to the triumph of the Canis Helix. The Young King would have become the Young Beast.

And then, as sudden as it had begun, the ambush was over. The last daemons flickered and vanished with fading howls. The walls were whole once more, painted with dripping slime and riddled with bolt rounds. Ragnar twisted to a stop in a low crouch, Frostfang held upwards, its kraken teeth still revving. The Wolf Lord remained frozen for a second, fangs bared, a single twitch all that was needed to trigger another killing spree. But none came. He stood and deactivated the chainsword, wiping a globule of shorn wyrdmeat from the casing.

‘I needed that,’ he growled.

‘We can’t stay here,’ de Mornay said. His plasma pistol whined as it recharged, hot in his gloved grip.

‘We aren’t going to,’ Ragnar said. ‘Pack, on me.’ He keyed his vox.

‘Report.’

It’s an ambush, lord!’ shouted Hostor over the link. The sounds of fighting were clearly audible in the background.

‘The whole station is a trap,’ Ragnar replied. ‘Objective remains the same. Secure the command deck.’

Understood,’ said Hostor, the word underpinned by the sound of a revving chainsword.

‘The other packs?’ Uller asked as Ragnar broke the link.

‘Unresponsive,’ the Wolf Lord said grimly. ‘World Wolf pattern. We have an objective to secure.’

‘Where are you going?’ de Mornay demanded as the Wolves moved off down the corridor.

‘The command deck, of course,’ Ragnar called back. ‘Via the nearest vox terminal. Someone has to warn the rest of the Chapter that those Grey Knights were right.’

‘The place is infested,’ de Mornay said. ‘We’d be better evacuating and bombarding the station with your fleet.’

‘I’ve seen worse cases of corruption,’ Ragnar said. ‘Haven’t you, Inquisitor? Besides, do you think that little scrap was enough to satisfy me?’ The Wolf laughed.

Glowering, de Morney rolled his platform in the pack’s wake.

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