Victories of the Space Marines - By Christian Dunn

Baldr Svelok slammed hard into the acid-laced rock. His plate crunched against the stone, sending warning runes flashing across his helm-feed. Instinct told him another blow was coming in fast, and the Wolf Guard ducked. A massive tight-balled fist tore into the rock where his head had been, showering him with shards where the impact had obliterated the cliff.

Svelok dodged the next crashing fist, his augmented limbs moving with preternatural speed. He almost made it, but the monster’s talons raked down across his right shoulder-guard, sending him sprawling to the ground and skidding across pools of acid. He landed with a heavy crack, and something snapped across his barrel chest boneplate. He felt blood in his mouth, and his head jerked back from the impact.

Throne, he was being taken apart. That did not happen.

He spun onto his back, ignoring the heavy crunch as the creature’s clawed foot stamped down just millimetres from his arm. It towered into the storm-wracked sky, a living wall of obsidian, five metres high and crowned with dark, curving spikes. Lightning reflected from the facets of its organic armour, glinting off the slick ebony. Somewhere in the whirl of jagged, serrated limbs was a monotasking mind, a basic alien intelligence filled with an urge to protect its territory and drive the infiltrating humans back into space.

Svelok had never seen a xenos like it. The closest he could get was a creature of demi-myth on Fenris, the Grendel, but these bastards were encased in plates of rock and had talons like lightning claws.

“You all die the same way,” he growled. His voice was a jagged-edged rasp, scraped into savagery by old throat wounds. He sounded as terrifying as he looked.

The storm bolter screamed out a juddering stream of mass-reactive bolts, sending ice-white impact flares across the creature’s armoured hide. It staggered, rocking back on its heels, clutching at the hail of rounds as if trying to pluck them from the air. The torrent was relentless, perfectly aimed and deadly.

The magazine clicked empty. Boosted by his armour-servos, Svelok leapt to his feet, mag-locked the bolter and grabbed a krak grenade.

Amazingly, the leviathan still stood. It was reeling now, its hide cracked and driven in by the barrage of bolter fire, but some spark of defiance within it hadn’t died. A jagged maw, black as Morkai’s pelt, cracked open, revealing teeth like a row of stalactites. It lurched back into the attack, talons outstretched.

Whip-fast, Svelok hurled the grenade through the open mouth. The massive jaws snapped shut in reflex and the Space Wolf crouched down against the oncoming blast. There was a muffled boom and the xenos was blown apart, its iron-hard shell smashed open and spread out like a splayed ribcage. The behemoth crumbled in a storm of shards, toppled, and was gone.

“Feel the wrath of Russ, filth!” roared Svelok, leaping back to his feet, fangs bared inside his helmet. He seized a fresh magazine, spun round and slammed the rounds into the storm bolter’s chamber. There’d been three of them, massive stalking beasts carved from the stone around them, horrors of black, tortured rock bigger than a Dreadnought.

Now there were none. Rune Priest Ravenblade loomed over the smoking remains of the largest, his runestaff thrumming with angry, spitting witchfire. Lokjr and Varek had taken out the third, though the Grey Hunters’ armour was scarred and dented from the assault. The xenos monsters were tough as leviathan-hide.

“What in Hel are these things?” Lokjr spat over the comm, releasing the angry churn of his frostblade power axe.

“Scions of this world, brother,” replied Ravenblade coolly.

“Just find me more to kill,” growled Varek, reloading his bolter and sweeping the muzzle over the barren landscape.

Svelok snarled. His blood was up, pumping round his massive frame and filling his bunched muscles with the need for movement. The wolf-spirit was roused, and he could feel its feral power coiled round his hearts. He suppressed the kill-urge with difficulty. His irritation with Ravenblade was finding other outlets, and that was dangerous.

“How far, and how long?” he spat, flexing his gauntlet impatiently.

“Three kilometres south,” said Ravenblade, consulting the auspex. “One hour left.”

“Then we go now,” ordered Svelok, combat-readiness flooding his body again. “There’ll be more xenos, and I still haven’t seen one bleed.”

Kolja Ravenblade loped alongside the others, feeling his armoured boots thud against the unyielding rock. Gath Rimmon, the planetoid they’d been on for less than an hour, was a hellish maelstrom of acid-flecked storms. The sky was near-black, lit only by boiling electrical torment that