Nails

Forget the promise of progress and understanding, for in the grim, dark future there is only war.

Nails

Postby Nineswords » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:37 pm

THE NAILS WERE biting again, an urgent thump, thump, thump that never ceased in the back of Mirakh’s skull. Killing would provide precious relief from the pain, but Mirakh resisted the urge to plunge into the gravel covered pit in a murder-frenzy when the steel gate opened before him.
 
Stalking toward the pit, Mirakh’s face split into a wide grin as he spied his weapon propped up next to the gate, an absurdly oversized chainaxe Mirakh had unimaginatively named Skull Biter. It was supposed to be a dig at the oh-so-generic titles that his former legion had named their tools of war, but the name had stuck as it became all too literal over the centuries. Taking Skull Biter in a two-handed grip, Mirakh approached the pit cautiously, resisting the Nails’s embrace for a few moments longer, borne by long years of combat experience that had kept him alive whilst his erstwhile brothers had been cut down.

Soon, he promised.

Mirakh stole a glance upwards at his captors, noting the smooth curved walls of a stone drum, pockmarked and nicked by scores of gouges. Unlike the fighting pits of the Conqueror in a bygone age, this one was sterile and utterly devoid of brotherhood. To Mirakh, it was a poor approximation of the gladiatorial art, more akin to an abattoir than an arena of combat. Gazing past the stone lip, his gene-hanced eyes registered dozens of dark clad Astartes framed by the utter blackness of the deep void. To his disgust, Mirakh concluded that he wasn’t even in the meat-space of the rotting Imperium, let alone the dimension he now called home. Whilst the ever shifting tides of the Warp harboured insanity, at least it accommodated life in all its diversity.
 
Interrupted by another steel gate opening, Mirakh snapped to attention as its occupant emerged into the arena. There were no cheers of encouragement from the assembled throng, the silence instead broken by the tread of power armoured boots on gravel. Standing before him, also brandishing a chainaxe was another Space Marine clad in unfamiliar white and grey colours. Where Mirakh’s armour was elaborate and festooned in vicious brass barbs, the warrior before him was harnessed in an archaic suit of Mark V covered in bronze molecular bonding studs, sporting a device that looked to Mirakh like one of the warp predators that infested the Eye. Mirakh chuckled at the sight: a perverse mirror image of himself ten millennia past, before he had willingly succumbed to rage’s embrace. The chuckle escalated into mirthless laughter at his Lord’s final cruel jest.
 
’Like you I once was, and like me you shall be,’ Mirakh rasped in Low Gothic, trembling as he struggled to maintain some semblance of composure. ’So it comes to this, I would know your name, warrior.’
 
There was no response, not that Mirakh had expected one. He shrugged.
 
’Suit yourself, my Lord does not discriminate about whose skull lands before his throne,’  the berserker leapt, fuelled by the explosive rage of the Butcher’s Nails and gunning Skull-Biter’s activation stud. ‘Only that they do!’ he roared, the vox caster drowning out even the whine of the chainaxe. Possessing a speed that belied the weight and size of Skull Biter, Mirakh’s first blow smashed against its counterpart with uncaged fury. The parry was swift, haft to haft, forcing both weapons to chew air instead of armour, but the Traitor Marine pressed his advantage, throwing a vicious right hook towards the grey-clad warrior’s head. With an audible crack, the blow connected but it failed to throw his opponent off balance. Lost in the murder-frenzy, Mirakh battered again and again before his opponent heaved upwards, breaking the deadlock.
 
Then the grey warrior struck.
 
Where most opponents would have moved away from Skull Biter’s reach, instead, a grey elbow joint slammed into the seal around Mirakh’s throat, its force compounded as the warrior stepped into the gap left by the parry. Mirakh gagged and the Nails screamed. Pain stabbed into Mirakh’s skull, flaring through his system in a surge of electrical fire. He grunted, before the murder-frenzy took him once again. With a garbled cry, the Chaos Space Marine charged in and swung the chainaxe at the retreating grey warrior, this time arcing dangerously close to the target’s chest piece. Once again, the grey warrior brought up his haft to block the blow, but Skull Biter’s adamantium teeth whirred and chewed their way through it.
 
The Butcher’s Nails sang to fever pitch in anticipation of the kill, forcing Skull Biter another few inches as he had done so many times before through the chest piece and into the meat and organs beneath.
 
There was a sharp crack, and Mirakh’s triumphant grin turned into a rictus of pain as his knee gave out. The grey warrior stamped on the berserker’s knee joint again, shattering ceramite and bone in equal measure with a sickening crunch. Denied his current trajectory, Mirakh missed the grey chest piece, the momentum of his armoured weight used against him, and stumbled.
 
In that moment, the grey warrior’s own chainaxe battered into Mirakh’s face, the fading power from its own teeth tearing through the butcher’s helm lens, shredding an eye and the brain matter behind it. Arterial blood spurted out in a wide arc, spattering against the white stone wall.

‘That is the difference between you and I, World Eater,’ said a quiet voice. Mirakh struggled to hear the words, but he couldn’t mistake its underlying lethality. ‘Your savagery is borne out of a physiological compulsion. You have no control, and that is why you lay dying.’
 
Mirakh gurgled, his transhumance physiology attempting to reknit the flesh between the chainaxe’s impact, but the damage was beyond repair. With rage and vitality leaving him, Mirakh’s remaining eye became fixated on the dozens of Astartes now entering the pit with a predatory gait.
 
The Nails still bit as they silently tore Mirakh apart.
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