Sergeant Tare reached over to the boarding switch and flipped open a cover revealing a small button beneath. He pressed the button. Over head, the loud clicking of several locks sounded as the firing points in the roof of Gutwrencher unlocked. The doors opened, and his squad stood to their full height, looking out the top of the rhino. Immediately they opened fire. Tare moved to the right side and opened the hatch’s viewport and looked out. What he saw was frightening. Tare had expected a horde of gaunts or genestealers, not what was bearing down on the Gutwrencher. Not fifty meters away a giant carnifex was charging right at the rhino. Tare stared in horror. The beast would reach the rhino, tear into its hull, and rip his mean apart. Suddenly, out the left of the viewports window, he saw all hope fade. One carnifex was bad.
Two was impossible. The other beast was slowly making its way toward the rhino as well. Tare looked back and noticed his mean, still firing. Melta weapons and bolter fire, would that be enough? Tare flexed his right hand, encased in a might power fist. He could tear the head off a terminator with this. Could he rip the arms off a carnifex? He might find out today.
Gutwrencher lurched forward, turned right, and sped up. The view port turned away from the carnifex, and Tare knew that the rhino was moving toward the beasts. Tare moved over and pulled himself up, looking out the firing point. Without warning, a sudden wave of pure force washed over him, his mean, and Gutwrencher. He heard the scream of metal as it stretched and flexed under the mental onslaught. Out in the distance he saw the zoanthrope. With two carnifxes and a zoanthrope, Tare could not imagine things getting any worse. He’d have to reevaluate the limits of his imagination, he thought. Behind the zoanthrope he saw a hive tyrant. The grotesque beast was surrounded by giant beatles, dwarfed by his the tyrant, but Tare knew that each one was large them he was.
Then from behind the rhino, a large impact struck the ground and Tare felt heated air surround him. Expecting a large winged tyranid, he was relieved to find the daemon lord. The daemons attention was on the battle before him, and satisfied with the progress, made to take flight again. As soon as the great daemon was in the air above the rhino, Tare saw an explosion of bio-mass strike Muldaven and send him back to the ground. At the same time, another rolling blast of psychic energy rolled across Tare and slammed into Muldaven, pinning him to the earth. The great daemon pushed up from the ground and howled in range, but Tare could see the damage done. Skin had been flayed away, blood poured from Muldaven’s mouth, and still the bio-mass ate through his muscle.
Tare turned forward again, and saw three great giant tyranid even closer to them now. Gutwrencher lurched back into gear, and started moving forward again. From over his shoulder two shots of lascannon fire flew, striking the carnifex. Lascannon fire could stop a rhino. A single shot could halt a bilecannon. A single shot could destroy a land raider. The carnifex shrugged off attacks and barreled ever closer.
Soldier Moratoro called over the rhino’s vox, “Smoking up, Sergeant!”
Tare dropped down into the cabin as he heard the popping sound of the smoke canisters firing. He knew what this meant. They were moving even closer to the tyranid. The smoke would give them cover as they made their way to the front line. No, that was wrong. They were the front line. They were moving the front line forward.
Gutwrencher came around to the left and came to a stop. Tare heard the release of the locks on the side door. Taking a step forward, he pulled it open, and stopped. Not twenty paces in front of him stood the carnifex. The beast wasn’t looking at him, it was eyeing something beyond the rhino, but a moment later, it slowly turned its head to face him. Despite the rumbling of the rhino’s engine, despite the sound of his squad disembarking, despite all the bolter fire and the explosions, he could hear the low growl of the giant tyranid as it eyed him. The beast roared up onto its legs, and howled in fury as it leaned forward and started to charge Tare. Not Tare’s squad, but Tare himself. He could see those eyes, and he knew they were focused on him.
From over head, streaming across the battle field, to lascannon shots sped at the great beast and struck it square in the chest. Tare didn’t have time to become hopeful. The carnifex wasn’t slowed.
Tare’s squad opened fire at the charging beast. The melta weapons slammed into the chitinous armor, burning deep, but cleary not affecting the behemoth. Tare swore under his breath and saw the inevitable conclusion to the beasts charge, and prepared himself. Pulling out his bolt pistol with his left hand, balling his power fist in his right hand, he roared in defiance and charged the tyranid. Pulling back his fist, a moment before impact, he swung.
It was no contest. He found himself flying through the air, striking the side of the rhino, and falling to the ground in a daze. His squad was up and swinging their chain swords. One of the soldiers got around behind the carnifex and was able to plunge his sword deep into the beast’s tail. It spun with amazing speed, and grabbed the startled soldier. He was able to bring his bolt pistol around to fire before the tyranid bit off his head.
Tare stood up, and he knew something was wrong. He felt a strong pain in the back of his neck. Reaching around, he felt a piece of his helm had been torn free in the attack. Reaching over, he undid the clasps connecting the helm to his armor, and removed the helmet. Breathing in deep, he turn to face the carnifex just in time to see another soldier impaled on giant talons. As if some unseen force was directing it’s attention, it turned to face Tare while swatting away another attacking soldier, and it roared.
Tare raced forward as the beast stood to its full height. It brought up high it’s two great scything talons and continued to roar. Tare took his final two steps and lept into the air. The scything talons came racing down. Holding his right hand high, he caught one of the talons with his power fist, the other one missing him as he pulled himself inside the reach of the tyranid. With the enormous strength of his power fist, he squeezed his right hand closed around the giant talon. Face to face, Tare could see into the eyes of the vile creature. Pulling his bolt pistol up, he stuck the muzzle up against the creatures head. He heard a snap as the talon split in two. He pulled the trigger, and the bolt pistol fired.
The carnifex finally stopped moving.
Tare breathed heavily while he watched the light of life go out of the beasts eyes. After a few moments, he relaxed his grip, and pushed himself off the carnifex. He had been lucky. His squad had been lucky; only two dead.
Suddenly from his vox, he heard Moratoro’s voice.
“Sergeant, I’m getting reports in from fleet. They say another tyranid horde is closing in fast from the north. They will be here shortly,” he said, far too clamly.
“Soldier, what are you babbling about.”
“Sergeant, we are getting orders from Muldaven to break through the tyranid line and get to that dreadnought. Apparently it’s more than just spare parts.”
“Damnit,” Tare growled. He glanced across the battlefield, and spied out in the middle of all fighting a giant wreck, the remains of a dreadnought, their primary objective. “What is it? What’s so bloody important about that wreck?”
“I don’t know sarge, the Dameon Lord wouldn’t say. Just said that you need to get your men over their now. “
“Right, embarking now,” he said. Turning to his soldiers, he said, “Back inside! We are going to break our way through the line and get to that damned wreck over there.” Tare lifted his had to point toward the awaiting dreadnought, but when he turned to look, he saw the other carnifex turning toward him and his squad. He recognized that look, and he knew what was coming. He didn’t want to tempt fate twice. “Move it, now!”
There was no chance though, he saw. The creature was too close and it would reach him before he could get back into the rhino. Still, he had to try.
Five paces from the door to the rhino, with two of his soldiers already inside, the carnifex lept at him, a furious howl coming from its mouth. Tare felt the entire battle slow.
He half turned in mid-stride and brought his power fist up in front to shield his bare face. He pulled his bolt pistol around to take aim. The carnifex was flying through the air now, and he knew that the power fist would not stop the crushing force of the creature for destroying him. He knew the bolt pistol, even if he could get it around in time, would slow the monsters descent.
Suddenly, as if time caught up, everything happened all at once. From the sky Muldaven hurtled down at the carnifex, slamming it into the ground. The great daemon lord growled in a might rage, pulled back his sword arm, and swung it full force, the blade cutting a large swath of destruction across the creature. He slammed his other hand down, wrapping his fingers around the great monster’s maw, and squeezed. Muldaven roared in triumph.
Tare kept moving. The battle was amazing. The power the daemon lord possessed was immense. To wield such power… Tare was in awe. He wanted to stay and watch, but he had a duty to attend to. Muldaven demanded it. Mygar demanded it.
The Lord of Decay desired it.
Jumping aboard the rhino, he closed the hatch behind him. Tare smiled in glorious delight. He couldn’t help himself, and turned quickly to open the view port and peered through to watch the battle between the daemon lord and the carnifex. The rhino roared to life, and started to move again. Through the dust and the destruction, Tare spotted the pair of mighty warriors. The carnifex had regained its footing. Both it and the daemon were now circling one another. It was as if the entire battle around them did not exist. Nothing touched them. They were focused so much on one another.
With a speed that awed Tare, the daemon lord leaped high into the air, giving himself even more lift with his giant wings, before diving fast at the tyranid. He held his sword out like a lance, and Tare could hear Muldaven roar in triumph. A finality in that shout that Tare would later see as ironic.
The carnifex had no chance to dodge out of the way, so it did the only thing it could do: use its own giant blades against the falling demon. Too late, Muldaven saw the error of his attack. He could not slow his descent. While the sword struck deep into the monster, the two giant scything talons pierced the daemon’s body. Without hesitation, the carnifex pulled his talons apart, and the daemons body felt away into three distinct and bloody pieces.
With a shake, the carnifex let the sword fall from the wound, and stood defiant over the remains of Muldaven.
Then the carnifex turned to look at Gutwrencher, and though it could not see him, he was sure the monster was looking right at him.