The explosion rattled the dim overhead light sphere in its protective cage. Beyaert slammed a fresh clip into his bolter and freed his double sided chainsword from the Red Corsair’s corpse at his feet. Silence once again took hold of this secluded part of the traitor’s base. Not even the remote sounds of battle, bolter fire and the occasional scream, seemed to really penetrate the oppressive quiet that was so recently ripped apart by the Fiery Lion and his wayward opponent, now lying broken and gored on the grating of the dimly lit hallway. 

Dust slowly descended from the low ceiling, catching the pale and weak light of the emergency lights, disappearing in the distance. He was near. Every fibre in his body was aware of it and nothing would stop him now, so close to his elusive quarry. There was no doubt in Beyaert’s mind that the traitor had heard the brief but fierce combat in this narrow corridor. He was facing an opponent not only driven by hate and despair, but also aware of his presence, the Corsair guarding this part of the base, in his feeble attempt at resistance, had seen to that at least.

 Cautiously he moved on, certain the final confrontation was at hand at last. For a brief moment, the Fiery Lion thought about those he had so callously left behind. It was not in his nature to abandon those depending on him, especially not in battle. But this assignment had already brought so much disarray to all that he had held dear not long ago. He was not certain of what he presently felt; regret, anger, guilt and hate all whirled around in his mind in equal measure.

 How could he ever face again those that thought of him as a brother and he so treacherously left behind several hours ago? They had depended on him and he had shamed their trust. He had broken an oath, just to keep another. He could not help but draw parallels with his own position and that of the one he hunted. Would the Legio now set some unsuspecting brother loose on him after this was over, in turn messing up that unfortunate’s loyalties?

 No. He could not allow his thoughts to drift like that. These musing only brought him closer to taking the path of the one that would be facing him soon. The one that had led Beyaert’s own men to death and disgrace. The one that had ultimately led Beyaert himself to be here, seeking him out; the erstwhile Veteran Sergeant of the First Company of the Fiery Lions Chapter, Mossert. The Traitor.

 Beyaert silently recited the litanies of hate once again. How many times had he done so now, after piloting the Boarding Torpedo to the surface of the asteroid? It didn’t really matter, did it? His resolve was returning with each verse, as he cautiously moved further down the corridor.

 A low growling could now be heard further down, where several dark doorways opened up to the hallway. Beyaert stopped. This was it. He hefted his double sided chainsword in his left hand, feeling its superior balance, his finger hovering over the activation rune. Crouching low, ready to leap at his still hidden opponent, he inched forward, all senses, heightened by Legio combat drugs, alert for the slightest change in his surroundings. He could hear his own hearts beating in his chest, his nose picked up the scent of sweat, blood and a faint trace of Promethium. Straining his ears he could now hear somebody besides himself breathing nearby. Very nearby.

 A low, rumbling voice spoke softly from the impenetrable darkness of the doorway to his right; ‘So, it finally has come to pass, lion’. Beyaert froze; even though he had employed the full extent of his impressive hunting and stalking skills, the lost brother had managed to outsmart him and had the drop on him. ‘Mossert. You must have known the Pride would come after you’, Beyaert managed hoarsely. ‘But of course; I would not have it any other way’ answered the voice in the dark, ‘just like I knew it could only have been you.’ ‘Just as you feared, you mean’ hissed the loyal Lion, ‘what did you do to them, for them to blindly follow you to their doom anyway?’

 ‘You have to believe me none of us had any choice in the matter brother, we were betrayed by vile machinations and forces beyond our control or comprehension, we…’ ‘Don’t call me brother, you vile traitor!’ Beyaert spat; ‘you lost that privilege long ago when you betrayed the Emperor and the Pride. When you killed my men!’ ‘Your men were not yours to begin with Sergeant’ Mossert answered calmly, ‘they became my men when we boarded the Flaming Claw and left you behind. They were my responsibility. And my loss…’

 ‘No; they were lost to the Pride, lost to the Emperor, lost to me’ Beyaert retorted, ‘they followed you because they were ordered to, but they were my squad and you will have to answer to me for their deaths’. ‘For what it’s worth, both myself and our dead brothers never wilfully turned away from the light. We were forced by circumstance but had our revenge. And now, I will gladly be held accountable for my actions since that fateful day we freed ourselves from the oppressive influence that forced us, but only those. What the others did, was out of my hands, as we parted as equals.’ Mossert quietly moved closer to the doorway, staying in the shadows. 

Beyaert had slowly turned towards the doorway and now stood upright, facing the shadowy figure crouched in the deep shadows inside the darkened room. ‘Tonningen is dead’, he said, ‘I crushed his skull with his own autocannon on one of the upper decks. Of Lages, there is no trace. Yet’. ‘I thought you cared about your men’, observed Mossert, as he slowly got up and stood to his full height. ‘That what I killed was no longer one of my men’ answered Beyaert, ‘I doubt he recognized me’. He inconspicuously flicked his bolter to full auto fire, partly concealed by his body.

 ‘Yes’, Mossert mused, ‘he seemed strangely attracted to the Corsair way from the beginning’, as he slowly flexed his claws one by one. ‘And that sadly leaves us with just one more matter to conclude,’ the traitor said tersely. ‘Ready when you are, Sergeant Beyaert…’

 The Lightning Claws shot forward from the darkness in two bright blue, crackling arcs, as Beyaert brought up his chainsword, its shrieking roar ripping through the silence of the abandoned wing of the  station, just in time to parry one strike. The chainsword’s motor loudly protested, as its chain was stopped by the claws cutting into it, sending razorsharp teeth flying everywhere as Adamantine shrapnel, cutting both combatants. Simultaneously, Beyaert twisted his right arm up, bringing his combat shield on his right arm into the path of the second claw. Turning his bolter in between them, he pulled the trigger and kept it depressed and as the searing white hot muzzle flash burnt both their faces, temporarily blinding both, a full clip of Inferno Bolts ripped through Mossert’s right claw. The projectiles exited on the other side of the bloody, mutated orange weapon and  leaving a ragged, gaping hole in the terrible limb grapling with Beyaert’s chainsword.

 With a howl of pain, Mossert smashed into the loyal Lion with all the force his mutated, hulking frame could muster, throwing his smaller opponent off balance and sprawling into the corridor. Beyaert slid to a stop and raised his bolter again, aiming for the bestial features of the traitor coming for him, Mossert’s lionesque features curled into a snarl. Lining the barrel up, he squeezed the trigger, a dry click the only effect…

 Then Mossert was upon him again, swinging his intact left claw towards the bolter stretched out at him. The powerful, augmented slash of the terrible Lightning Claw cleanly cut through the venerated firearm, leaving Beyaert with only the part behind the triggerguard remaining. As the Fallen Lion swung to slash at his former brother again, Beyaert desperately threw the remains of the once proud bolter at the dark lion’s features, hitting him squarely in the snout, a roar and staggering back the satisfying result.

 Beyaert crawled back some more to get enough distance between him and his opponent, to find room for the vulnerable moment he needed, to get back on his feet. However, Mossert, in all his bestial fury did not allow him the time, as he pressed on his attack. He once again caught the damaged, but still roaring chainsword Beyaert swung at him with his right claw, which had been mangled beyond repair but which could still parry. Just as he was about to plunge his left claw, crackling with energy, into the downed Lion’s body, finishing him off, another, hugely more powerful explosion rocked the abandoned part of the base. The lights died instantly and the metal and rock of the structure groaned and buckled, steel beams breaking and tons of debris falling into the narrow hallway.


 Coughing, Beyaert pushed a piece of metal plating off his shoulder and head. His ears rang with the thunder of the explosion and ensuing cave in. His senses momentarily overloaded, he coughed again, as he tried to get his bearings again. The pitch black darkness prevented him from seeing anything, only allowing him to feel an oppressive weight on most of his body, preventing him from moving. He managed to switch on one of his suit’s lights and was able to survey the situation. It was not pretty. The corridor had caved in, about twenty paces behind him, in the direction from which he had come. He could not see far into the other end of the hallway, as his body was pinned under a huge pile of debris and his light source wasn’t strong enough to pierce the darkness very far. Only his chest, head and left arm were uncovered and from the lack of sensation in his right leg, he was certain he had lost function of the bionic limb. Again.

 Suddenly he heard movement on the other side of the partial cave-in that had covered him. Turning his head and light into the direction of the sound, he witnessed Mossert slowly and unsteadily getting up, his already damaged right arm an even more mangled mess, hardly attached to his shoulder anymore, as a metal panel had cut through the mutated flesh and  fused Ceramite. There was surprisingly little blood, even for a marine. He staggered back a step, regained his balance and fixed his bestial eyes upon Beyaert.

 ‘Well. Sergeant Beyaert.’ The mutated traitor said softly, his voice once again strangely devoid of the bestiality so evident on his features. ‘It appears we find ourselves in quite a situation.’ Your lust for my blood seems to have been thwarted by your brothers’ destructive works. Look at yourself, sergeant. You’re helpless and your fate rests with me it seems.’ Beyaert desperately started to try and move his body from under the pile of debris. ‘Rest assured though,’Mossert continued, ‘I never really wanted you dead. I can’t kill yet another of my brethren.’ ‘I’m not one of…’ began Beyaert, but let the sentence hang.

 ‘Yes; do you see now?’ asked Mossert. ‘Even though we were damned to walk outside of the Emperor’s light by foul powers, we have always been part of the Pride, even when we could not return to it.’ I do not wish this fate,’ the mutated renegade gestured at his distorted facial features, ‘to befall anyone else and this realisation has given me purpose once again.’ He started to limp down the corridor. ‘farewell Sergeant Beyaert. Please relate this encounter to the Pride and let them know I will seek my own atonement for my past sins…’

 Powerless and refusing to accept what he had just heard, Beyaert had to lie there and see his prey slowly slip from his grasp, as he moved, ever more surely, into the darkened hallway. ‘I will get you Traitor! I will hunt you down to the end of the Galaxy! You will not get away, you abomination!’ But a soft, low  laughter was all he got in return, disappearing in the gloom. Desperately, Beyaert tried to free himself from the debris holding him down but he already knew he would be too late; his quarry had gone…

 It took Beyaert a lot of time to get himself free of the rubble that had trapped him in the explosion. In the meantime, he could hear the sounds of battle coming from elsewhere in the base. More explosions could be heard and he realised it would just be a matter of time before the base was destroyed completely. He considered his options and came to the conclusion there really was only one left open to him. He would have to return to the Legio and face the charges that would obviously be put up against him.

 He could remain here and die, but that would serve no purpose. Going after Mossert was futile, with only one functional leg, he was both too slow and weak to face him again. Besides; he no longer possessed a weapon, his bolter destroyed, buried under tons of debris and his chainsword badly damaged and missing a number of teeth. And where would he look? No; the Legio was his only way off this rock and that window of opportunity was closing rapidly, judging by the explosions shaking this base. He set off down the darkened corridor, his suit’s small light the only one piecing the oppressive darkness and using the remains of his chainsword as a makeshift crutch to assist in walking.

 If possible, he should link up with brother Ward again. Reluctantly, he switched his vox and vitals back on, making his presence once again known to his Legio brethren… The squad display remained empty. He tapped his bionic eyepiece, assuming it had been damaged in the battle, but the display did not change. ‘They must all be dead’, he thought. For all he knew, he could be the only survivor of the assault force. More fuel for the guilt building up inside of him.

 Then the vox system started to crackle. ‘…ight now!’, ‘Fall ba…’, ‘…mediate eva…’, ‘…pedoes’. The unmistakable voice of Sergeant Golgotha; the last man Beyaert wanted to face right now. Still, as long as the former Scion of Dorn was alive, there was a chance of getting off this forsaken rock. ‘…yaert, you wretch!’. ‘…of hiding, have you? Get back here right no…’, ‘…have words about this later!’ Beyaert winced at the tone of his sergeant. There was no way back now and resigned, the Fiery Lion limped in the direction of the Legio Boarding Torpedoes. There’d be hell to pay…