Waylon had that thousand yard stare back in the truck. I’d seen it a thousand times on Cadia. It was the look of a man who’s seen something he can’t explain. Something from the other side. Changes a man. Sometimes physically.
Ramirez came back to the truck a few minutes later, and tossed the sack of sniveling guardsmen in the cargo hold. The truck’s suspension buckled under his weight, but held, and we drove a while in silence, following our own tracks back the way we’d come.
Finally, I broke the silence as we reached the two wrecked chimeras. Suggested that we ought to check them out. Ramirez agreed, and we even convinced Waylon to snap out of it, and come with.
Snow was starting to coat the Nyxian pudding that lay round the vehicles. The storm had broken at last. Waylon had a look at the trailer. Seemed like something had torn it open from the outside, with immense claws. I took the Colonel’s sword to the rear door, and in a few minutes we had it open.
The inside was relatively clean. Seemed like they were missing a few engineering kits, and the crew compartment was torn up. Ramirez figured something had broken one of the drive shafts, and they’d been attacked while trying to patch it up. Gave up searching, and headed on toward the relay station.
The evidence of a small battle was apparent in the Nyxian pudding around the entry gate. I shouldn’t have to keep seeing this kind of stuff. Like civilian militias everywhere, these were just a bunch of kids, maybe with a few older guys to rouse ‘em up. From the look of it, they died screaming, some of ‘em with their guts hanging out. That’s about par for the course when civilians take up arms. Odd though, unless Adys had a couple of bolters in there. Some of them looked cut, not lazed. Maybe those things with the claws made it up here too. The parameter fence seemed secure, but dozens of Borer bodies were spread in the snow. A couple of trucks were parked off to one end of the fence. Waylon insisted on checking out the trucks, but Ramirez and I opted to stay behind.
Adys and Ramirez shouted back and forth over the fence for a while, but they weren’t opening up. Needed us to come over. Ramirez and was talking about carrying me, when suddenly, three trucks came into view in the distance. More Borers! Waylon came sprinting back toward our rover, and without another thought, I hopped in the passenger seat. Say what you will about that man’s penchant for deception, but he might be the best driver I’ve ever seen. In a single smooth motion, accelerating the entire time, he pulled the car in a tight loop. Somehow, he could tell that snowdrift had something underneath it, maybe he saw a ditch that I couldn’t, but between the bouncing balloon tires, and the impromptu ramp, we were airborn! Crash landed inside the compound just before Ramirez came over the fence himself, and got inside before the trucks arrived.
While Adys and Ramirez set to talking about whatever was wrong with this damn array, I tried to organize a party for the defence of the station if these Borers wanted the same thing as the last group. It was a sorry lot – just one real guardsmen, and he barely lived up to the title. His lasgun wasn’t even loaded! The rest were civilians. One of them was waving around a loaded, unsafed lasgun. The others hand their fingers on the triggers with the safeties on. I wasn’t sure where to begin with these guys. Gave them a little speech, and led them out into the barricades. Somewhere in this, Waylon disappeared.
The Borers had pulled up in front of the gate, and disembarked into the pudding. They did not look happy. Guess they knew some of the constituents. Some old timer got on a truck’s intercom, and started shouting at us. Wanted some kind of relic or something. Didn’t make a bit of sense to me, but before I could tell him as much, Waylon appeared on the roof of the truck. The sneaky bastard had gotten around behind them somehow, and started into this crazy story about how he was sent by “Red Scar”, and how we weren’t the Borer’s enemies. Totally unbelievable. I thought he was about to get mixed into the pudding with the hammers some of the men were waving, but incredibly, the Borers bought it! I got up, and walked to the gate, as a wolf’s howl sounded in the distance. Quickly, we opened the gate up, and started to let the Borers inside.
As the howls sounded closer, I drew my sword, and started running headlong toward the rear truck. This didn’t sound good, but maybe I could delay whatever it was with a rear guard action, long enough for the trucks to get inside. As I ran out the gate, I saw Ramirez setting up the ridiculous multilasers he keeps where his liver used to be, and Adys lugging a search light up to his position. I was just passed the gate when the rear truck went up. I can see it happening even now. Two gigantic wolves, 3 or 4 meters tall, bounding across the snow. Amaroks from Vallis Augustana! I saw the eyes of the truck driver as he started shouting over the radio. One slash at the back, and the fuel exploded somehow. Fire everywhere.
The blast stunned me for a second. There was commotion all around me. I could Waylon shouting as he got out of the lead vehicle, and ran toward us with some of the Borers. Before I had time to react, the White Wolf was upon me. Bounding across the snow. It was the size of a Dreadnaught. Whether it was my reflexes or the beast’s overconfidence, born of chasing green recruits, I’ll never know. It lunged lazily, with foot long claws. I moved to the side, and lopped off its forearm in a single stroke, already beginning to circle. On the other side of the truck, I could here Waylon and the Borers moving up, and Ramirez directing the spotlight. The other wolf was after them, and there would be no help.
We circled for as two predators, eyes locked. The beast was losing blood. It had to move first, and we both knew it. A lunge again, faster, and more direct than before. Had the wolf kept its paw, that could have been the end of me, but it stumbled, fatally. I leaned outside its swipe, and then redirected the momentum into a double handed overhead chop. The wolf’s head had just slammed into the ground as I swung – the worst possible place for it to have fallen. The end was swift.
On the other side of the burning wreck, I could hear the Borers, fighting the black wolf. More precisely, I could hear their screams, and the crunch that could only be bones snapping. Lasfire lit up the sky, and I jumped headlong into the flames, pushing through toward the other side. By the time I stumbled out, it was over. Apparently the wolf had some kind of adaptive camouflage, but Ramirez had thwarted it through his quick thinking, and direction of the spotlight. Waylon had even managed to jerry rig one of the mining lasers, and burn the wolf with it!
Ramirez repaired the station’s landline, while the rest of us went through the compound looking for the Borers’ artifact. As expected, it wasn’t there. We did find a room in the basement though, and I wish we hadn’t. At first all seemed well – a tech priest’s lab, Ramirez getting along famously with the guy (Thalossian). But I swear his camera footage showed us being killed! Just for an instant, but Waylon saw it too. As we tried to walk down the corridor to investigate, it seemed to stretch, becoming longer and longer. We heard him speaking to Ramirez of “the gods”, and Waylon drew his meltagun. The priest just looked down the barrel, and spoke some ritual words before walking past. Waylon squeezed the trigger – and gained some respect in my eyes, you don’t shoot at the servants of Chaos unless you really mean it! – but to no avail. The man floated away, faster and faster, and even the valiant efforts of one of the Borer chief’s sons were for naught. Before we could move, he’d vanished up the stairs. No one else even saw him. I fear for this planet, and for what may come, whether the inquisitor roots out the evil or no.