Sharks and Krakens
Carchardon Captain observed the procedures of the warp translation with no small amount of interest, his pale deathly face was set in a savage grin exposing his wet triangular and razor sharp teeth.
There was the bright flash of reality breach, as the ship juddered and strained, breaking out from the roiling miasma of the warp.
Strange energies of the warp clashed with the straining tear in reality from which the Strike-Cruiser emerged, three other like it followed it, a huge battle-barge trailing not far behind.
"Prepare main batteries, cycle the guided munitions to all Star Kraken ident-markers," the grating steel voice of his ship captain echoed through the bridge, "Brother-Captain Gulik you may prepare your boarding squads."
The immense captain in the dark grey warplate, turned to regard the morose and melded form of the old captain, more machine than man the old captain had suffered catastrophic damage with the ship a decade earlier while engaging in the Cyros Intervention, ever since then a life sustaining machine pod was created and the old captain installed in it to let him serve even in his half-dead state.
"Thank you, captain," was all the giant growled before exiting the bridge as he made his way to the assault bays.
Thirteen thousand kilometers from the warp anomaly usually identified as a translation breach, the Star Kraken's Defence Group Carcharius formed up and readied their response, all ready a silent stream of plasmic tipped torpedoes made their way toward the thirty six unique Imperial Battlefleet Utaris and Adeptus Astartes Fleet elements and most of them had Carcharadon identifiers, the blood-rivals of the Star Kraken's.
Brother-Captain Gulik racked his bolter and maglocked it to his thigh plate while unsheathing his power-axe, he moved away joining his command-cadre of five of his finest from the Third Company.
All the five bowed their heads in deference, Gulik grinned as he issued the order.
"We hunt!" he declared.
The space marines in the livery of the Star Krakens, ducked and advanced over the barrage of bolter fire that was hammering into the bulk head around them, one of the Marines lobbed a frag grenade and awaited its fuse to expire, as soon as the bang of the explosion was felt the marine was up and unloading accurate shots on the memorized position of the Carcharodon squad.
The Star Kraken hit three targets, the first was hit in his head, which exploded in a shower of red gore and gray ceramite. The second was hit on his chest plate, the bolter deflected and exploded on his pauldron.
Seven more Carcharodons appeared from cover and fired back with their bolters as they charged the Star Krakens.
"Death to the Krakens!" the Carcharodon with the Sergeant marking yelled as he charged the closest Star Kraken marine, a power sword in hand.
The charging blade swung toward the defending Kraken's head who bought up his bolter to fend of the blow and stepped backward. The bolter parted and melted as the power blade sliced through the thing, a quick cross cut followed the demise of the bolter, but the Kraken was quicker, his free hands shot out to grapple with the Carcharodon's and defeated the momentum of the Marine.
Kraken followed through with a wrecking ball head blow into the Carcharodon's faceplate, shattering the lenses and twisting and breaking the grilled maw of the helmet and followed up with a blow to his right hand, disabling his grip on the pistol. Before the Kraken could entirely disarm him the carcharodon broke from the grapple.
"Tricky Kraken!" the Carcharodon grunted as he backed away and ripped his helmet.
The brother sergeant exposed his pale and tattooed face and the set of razor sharp teeth through which he spat thick crimson blood. Without a moment to rest the Carcharodon was on the Kraken swinging the power blade in lethal arcs of blue fire. The Kraken backed away and bought his own combat blade up in defence.
Brother Captain Gulik, swung his body left as the immense form of the Terminator's Thunder Hammer smashed into the bulkhead ripping into the carved and ornate structure, the groves and angle of the wall trapped the thunder hammer in place as Gulik backed up and swung his axe in a upward stroke severeing the offending Kraken's arm with the Hammer and follwoed through with a severing arc that beheaded the behemoth marine.
The Kraken's behind the behemoth howled and grunted in dismay as they unleashed a shower of bolter fire at the Captain. Gulik leapt left toward cover, three dead Carcharodon, those of his command cadre lay next to him, the Terminator's work. The rest of his men were excahging fire with the enemy from sparse cover somewhere to his right.
The damned Kraken's were a hard nut to crack.
So far the engagement was going in the Kraken's favour, the Inquisitor was adamant that the ships be taken intact, something about a location locked within the ships to find their Frotress-Monastery.
But Gulik had argued against this, the Kraken's cannot simply be conquered by force, there needs to be a certain amount of guile and surprise, they were a dedicated boarding fighters, attacking them was like expecting to put a fire out with promethium. His vox bead buzzed and stole his attention from the brief reverie.
"Captain, this is First Sergeant Juka, Squads Musar and Veiyo are understrenght, we need support on Decks 17 and 28," his stoic First Sergeant reported without much ceremony.
"Damned, Krakens! Tell the techmarines to rouse the Ancients. We are going to take this ship at all costs." A vox bead affirmation clicked in his ear.
A dozen Carcharodons flooded into the deck from an adjacent entrance and began firing into the flank of the advancing Krakens.
"Cadre! Rise and advance!" Gulik shouted as he swung his axe and charged at the enemy.//////
"Torvo! Get down!" the order was precise and commanding.
The Kraken known as Torvo ducked the Carcharodon sergeants swinging power blade, a trio of bolter shots pushed the Carcharodon sergeant back as they struck his chest and thigh, the shots would have disabled any other foe, but the armour and the Astartes in it was made of sterner stuff Astartes did not die easily.
Torvo charged the reeling Carcharodon and tackled him to the ground, the monomolecular combat blade shoved into the sergeant's exposed head.
The Carcharodon was dead before he hit the ground.
Torvo gathered himself and retrieved his blade from the forehead of the dead sergeant, and whispered a little prayer for the soul of the Carcharodon.
"Take this," the commanding voice spoke to him.
Torvo turned and saw the form of the hulking Terminator Iarund with his immense thunder hammer and a wrist mounted bolter, its hand aiming at the discarded power sword of the dead Carcharodon.
"We need it," he explained. Behind him the seven other survivours of his squad set about ridding the enemy of their weapons and ammunition.
"Aye, Varangian," Torvo nodded as he took the blade from its fall and thumbed the rune.
Torvo swung the blade testing the weight of the weapon.
"Be wary, young Torvo," the Varangian advised, "that blade has a new master, so measure twice and cut once, always."
"Drown in the wake!" Gulik shouted as he beheaded another Kraken with his swinging axe and shot out the legs from under a third Kraken.
The first headless victim still twitched under his feet.
Gulik looked up to see a knot of ship serfs run away from the advancing Tide of Carcharadons.
Thirty strong column moved down the corridor toward the bridge gunning down and destroying all resistance, tailing it was the ancient Ironclad Dreadnought Ukynor, a prominent boarding specialist of his time, his advise and wisdom had saved the Carcharodons from a disastrous retreat and maybe censure from higher powers to a fighting regroup and counter attack.
The back of the Star Kraken defence was broken at the First atrium where four squads of the defenders were engaged and destroyed, but the Carcharadons also suffered, seventeen of his battle-brothers will never fight again, and Ancient Rovik was destroyed there.
Reports flooded in of a successful breaking line action by a Battlefleet captain, and the faltering of the Kraken ship line.
The battle was turning to their favour.
If he could take this ship, the chances of victory would be well over the threshold of doubt.
"Seventy meters from the Bridge captain, Squad Sykus and Squad Verka are trapped near the armoury, their inclusion may bolster our efforts sir, cover any traps with a counter-attack" his First Sergeant explained as he directed his squad forward.
"Noted, Juka," he nodded and turned to the three remaining members of his command-cadre. "Ekial and Shrom go find Sykus and Verka, bring them here as soon as possible. But standby, I will issue the order of intervention."
The two nodded and took off toward the armoury, he turned to his remaining ward and clapped his pauldron.
"Just you and me Olar, like in Setimo Primus," Olar simply nodded and advanced along, quietly.
Brother Captain Otrygg had ordered a change in pace and action. Straightforward and simple, that was the tactic now. The Kraken defense of the cruiser had cost them dearly, but the Carcharodon and Inquisition forces had neatly tied down the Star Kraken's spirited defence.
The complex deployment and tactical intervention weaves required more than eighty space marines to acheive success and since the Third was nowhere near full strength even with the new recruits the Kraken was still missing a few of its lethal limbs.
Torvo was one such newly elevated to the Third Company, known as the Dread Lanterns, the full details of the 'shame' the company and Captain caused for the rest of the chapter was unknown, whatever it was it could be the reason that the third was ordered here in the edge of the Deep fighting of a Inquisitorial purge force led by three companies of the Carcharodons.
"When do you think we will be supported then, Varangian?" one of his newly elevated brothers, called Naddod asked a measure of uncertainity in his voice.
Torvo understood that feeling, none of this made much sense, they had just finished a four year campaign in Ithoris IV and there they had fought with the honoured Templars and the Ordo Hereticus levies, no doubt was placed in their actions or abilities. Then this.
The turn of events utterly confused him, it was unthinkable that the Kraken's would rebel.
Was it that the Old Captain of the First had returned? Torvo thought, but such things were heresy and he moved his thinking in another direction.
"Be quiet, and do not call me Varangian. My sentence is finished, I am on my way back to the First," Iarund growled as he kept his steady and thumping pace up.
"Movement, thrity meters," Brother Manni called out as he aimed his bolter at the movement.
"HALT! WHO GOES THERE!" Iarund thundered from his immense vox-grille.
"Dwellers in the Deep!" the mechanical voice replied from the form of a contemptor dreadnought.
"Traitors amongst us!" the vox bead crackled as bolter fire chattered in the back ground, "Infiltrators in our squads."
Gulik scanned the column with him, a handful of Space Marines had stopped their advance and were pulling away. He saw Olar raise his bolter at his own brothers.
"TRAITORS!" Gulik shouted as Olar fired along with the rest of the Infiltrators.
Six Battle-Brothers went down before the rest of the Carcharodons reacted.
Olar turned his weapon toward the Captain, but he was already moving, when Olar fired, the first shot clipped Gulik's pauldron, the second shit missed his head by a hair's breadth, the third shot never came as the bolter was sliced apart by Gulik's axe, in an unseen move the once-Olar or whatever it was had stepped back from a reverse swing and unsheathed his own blade to realiate.
"What are you Fiend?"
The once Olar attacked with a thrust, the Captain swung the blade away and parried a series of blinding blows that followed, an expert swordsman that used a style alien to him.
Gulik felt himself being driven back, the surprise and shock of the whole thing was making him lazy, compliant...
"NO!" Gulik shouted as he kicked the once-Olar off him and swung his axe in deadly arcs of cuts and offensive drives.
Olar fell back unable to match the savagery of Gulik's blows avoiding the charges and thrusts and parrying those that came close to ending the duel.
But then the once-Olar made the mistake of falling into a unusual cross-cut feint, exposing the Captain's left flank, when the counter-thrust was made by the Traitor, Gulik put a vice grip on the once-Olar's sword arm and bought the axe down onto his shoulder cleaving into the armour and flesh.
The sword dropped from the traitor and he crashed to his knees.
Gulik ripped the helmet off once-Olar's face and what looked back sent a shiver of revulsion through him.
A corrupted and warped face that was covered in scales and weeping little mouths, with a set of insect eyes.
"Take Cover!" Iarund shouted as he saw the lie for what it was.
The immense war machine broke into view not in the livery of the Kraken's but of the Carcharodons, its assault cannon began to fire a torrent of shots into the dark corridor.
A dozen or so shots found their mark amongst the armour of the scattering Krakens, Brother Eystein growled in pain as he ducked and leapt near Torvo.
"You hit?," Torvo grunted over the whine of the assault cannon.
Eystein nodded, "Aye, but hardly a flesh-wound. Got a tank-cracker?"
Torvo checked his belt and retrieved a single Meltabomb.
Eystein rose up and began to fire his weapon, "GO!" he shouted.
Torvo was off, his ceramite clad feet beating against the gantry of the floor as he swung around a blockade beam and leapt over an overturned hauling cart and came spot on to the flank of the dreadnought.
He twisted the handle-charge and leapt onto the contemptor, midway through his leap, he came to a jarring halt as a immense fist sealed itself around his waist.
"Not so fast little Kraken," the Contemptor boomed as it squeezed.
Torvo screamed in pain as he felt his armour warp and bend around the grip of the ancient machine.
With all the strenght he can muster, Torvo tried to maintain himself, to gain a measure of fortitude against punishment and finish his task.
He clicked the mag lock on the handle of the bomb and activated the charge, he aimed it at the dreadnought and let go.
It stuck on to the hull of the machine.
"NO!" the dreadnought boomed as it threw Torvo away like a ragdoll and tried to reach the beeping Melta-bomb, a second later a bright flash lit the darkened corridor as the hull tempreture of the war machine went critical and it exploded.
The force of the explosion created a massive globe of molten bulkhead and a shower of embers. The carcass of the Contemptor lay face down melting in a pool of its own metal.
The face of the traitor shivered and shone as Olar's face imprinted and shifted again, the pain from the axe's blow had denied it the concentration needed to maintain its facade.
"What are you, heathen! Where is my blood-Brother!" Gulik shouted as he hammered the warped face with his ceramite clad fist, his other gripping the power-axe wedged into the monster's shoulder.
"The Hydra...devours all..."
Gulik growled at the implication and a dangerous realisation dawned on him, if they had been infiltrated, then there is no telling the Inquisition may have been corrupted as well.
The heresy of such an action may become unforgivable.
"You...are the scum of the traitor!" accused Gulik.
"I am Alpharius," the monster whispered in a deluded manner.
"You are dead!" Gulik replied as he ripped the axe free from its bite and beheaded the corruption before him.
His First Sergeant Juka approached him warily, one hand a mangled mess, the other with a Bolter held aloft.
"You are well, Captain?"
"No, Juka, I am not. How is this possible?"
Juka gave an awkward shrug, "What do we do now, captain?"
Gulik looked around him and took stock, thirteen dead, seven traitors and six of his own.
"Contact the Void Jaw, tell the First Captain of what happend here," Gulik ordered as he walked toward the rest of the dead traitors, he unsheathed his bolter and put shots to their exposed and corrupted heads that was degenrating from the initial forms of his true brothers.
"What about the Krakens, sir?"
Gulik grunted in annoyance, "We have enemies in our own ranks, who is to say that we weren't lead here by such liars in the first place?"
"So this battle is.."
"False, this battle if false, all of this is wrong, contact all units and tell them to halt progress and form defensive positions. We will have to negotiate a ceasefire."
Juka suddenly cursed in alarm as a dozen battle-weary and damaged Krakens advanced into the hall in front of the bridge their weapons up.
Five more Krakens from Squad Erlend had joined them on their advance toward the bridge, but halfway there, they had run into a firefight.
The oddest firefight Torvo had seen in his entire career.
A six man squad of Carcharadons were firing at their own kind near the maintenance between armoury and the atrium toward the bridge, three of the advacing Carcharadons were already dead, the others were taking cover and firing back in vain, they were pinned down.
"What in the hells are they doing?" Eystein asked stock still Iarund as he watched the situation.
One of the defending Carcharadons with a heavy bolter was hit and was thrown back, the helmet had come apart as he fell and an unnatural howl followed it.
"That is odd, only the Wolves howl like that," Iarund ventured with a tone of amusment in his words.
"Aren't we wasting time watching this, sir?" Brother Manni asked somewhat unsure of the situation.
"I agree with Manni," Torvo added, "we should be moving to the Bridge and meeting up with Captain Otrygg."
"Wait...they are fighting traitors..." Iarund explained as he activated his thunder hammer and cycled his wrist mounted bolter to fire.
"Engage the defenders and support the Carcharadon assault!"
The Krakens looked at each other uncertain fo the command, most were newly elevated and the bonds were still new, they did not understand that most of the veteran brothers would have obeyed this command without hesitation or protest, for such trust is only gained through decades of experience.
Regardless of their hesitation Iarund charged.
"Now, Krakens!" he shouted, they had no choice but to follow.
The Carcharodons watched in confusion as a Terminator appeared amidst their traitor brethren and began to bludgeon a pair of them to death on his hammer as another six Krakens bit into the rest of the traitors with bolters and blade.
Ekial ordered the rest of the eight men with him to raise and advance.
When the two makeshift squads met in the carnage of traitors they were hostile and unsure of any understanding.
Ekial, champion of the Third Company introduced himself as just that, "Ekial of The Third, Company Champion."
Iarund was more reserved, he simply said, "I am Iarund and these are my Krakens."
His armour alone indicated his company designation.
"What are your intentions Champion of the third? We see that your predatory assault seems to have fallen apart with traitors amongst you, what drove you to this desecration and the murder of my brothers?"
Ekial stared at the intricately designed helmet of the Kraken, the forehead was crowned with a krakens head and its eyes were Iarund's own witch its curling tentacles forming patterns on his face, scored of tiny notches were cut into each of the tentacles; he guessed they were kill markings.
Making his intentions clear the Carcharodon unclasped his own helm and clasped it to his belt, he looked up exposing his alabaster face shaven but for thick white brows, his bald head tattooed with curling inks that formed into trace of a shark his black eyes keeping level with the veteran Kraken's.
"It seems we might have been misled," Ekial finally said with a heavy sigh his gaze lowered.
"You have killed my brothers on a lie?"
"Do you suppose?"
"You dare!" Eystein swore as he stepped forth with his blade, the Carcharodons in reply raised their weapons up, the rest of the Kraken's followed suite.
"Choose your words carefully, Ekial of the Third. We are not far from drowning you in the pool of your own blood."
Ekial gave a savage's grin, exposing his sharp triangular teeth sharp as any combat blade, "I was simply gauging perception."
"Enough of this taunting, get off my Captain's ship," Torvo finally said annoyed by the time being wasted.
Ekial measured him with his black eyes and caught the blade at his hip.
"I will leave, but first I need to find my Captain."
When the firing had stopped and the ceasefire declared, Gulik felt a little relieved, he could see the Kraken captain had finally come to his senses and stopped firing, his thoughts took a reversal when the second lot of Kraken's arrived at the Bridge, Gulik noticed there were Carcharadons with them.
Then Eliak had approached his Captain Gulik's baricade and explained the situation, a elevated ceasefire is enforced .
"They are not a very forgiving lot, they want us to leave our dead here and leave, but we are assured safe passage."
"It is not for them to choose, we still hold the numbers in space," Gulik waved his hand in dismissal of such an action.
"Well...captain, the thing is, one of the First Company veteran's he has told me that three more companies with a Inquisitorial battlegroup are on their way here."
Gulik paused his survey of the enemy and looked a little befuddled, "Inquisition? But they were the bastards who led us here."
"It would seem so, but the Kraken Captain wants to meet you, he wants to clear somethings up."
"But I cannot leave my dead here. It is heresy!"
"I do not think we will leave dead either."
"Captain Gulik! This is your only and final chance to explain this predation on Throne-loyal Krakens!" the Kraken Captain declared as he closed the gap between the bridge. Drawing Gulik away from his conversation with Eliak.
Gulik stepped out from the barricade and approached the Kraken Captain flanked by a Terminator with a hammer.
"I am Captain Guli," he paused as he listened to new directives from the Force Commander, "Stand down and ceasefire, negotiation priority, confirmed infiltrators, purge and cleanse ranks."
Gulik lowered his head, "State your terms."
He watched as the bodies of the dead Carcharodons were stripped of their armour and weapons to their black-carpace and loaded into a converyer trolley in stacked coffins, the seal of the Lantern stamped on the lids.
"A bloody mess, all of this," Eystein crackled over the inter-vox as the pair patrolled down the dock, a dozen or so Carcharodons loaded the coffins into the awaiting thunderhawk in a dignified manner.
It was a mess, a mess too bloody and politically destructive that the Inquisiton in Ultima Segmentum were on the verge of an immense purge. The Battle of the Edge-Deep as that little battle Torvo fought three weeks past was meant to be a hammer blow against the Kraken's to blunt their hold and resolve and to weaken their defenses, for what for was anybody's guess, but the who was finally revealed to them a week past.
The traitors they found were, the Alpha Legion, savage traitor marines of the first founding who were known for their trickter inflitration tactics and operational doctrines.
They had instigated this scheme to cause a wider conflict between the two chapters to forment a tiny civil war in the Segmentum that maybe a funnel for greater conflicts in and around the area, that was how the Alpha Legion operated, atleast according to what he had read during the debrief. The retaliation force and the Inquisition had rooted out all the corrupt of the assault fleet and had executed one hundred and twenty thousand members of the Battlefleet along with many attached Guard and Stormtrooper units.
The Inquisitor in charge was taken to the Deep by the Second Captain for punishment, his Interrogator was executed by void suffocation.
But for all this, the Kraken's had suffered too.
"Aye, that it is, Third company has lost so much."
"That is truth, Forty seven brothers. We are understrength."
"New recruits to drown for the scouts."
"Ach! They drown all the same these days, ours was the only pool that was worth a damn."