I wish I were anywhere rather than here, brother Malloc of the Dark Angels thought darkly, and immediately regretted it. To serve for the Emperor of mankind, for the glory of one's chapter that was the most any man could ask for. For Malloc the honour was greater, for he was a space marine, one of the Emperor's chosen. To exist purely for the purpose of serving the saviour of mankind and protecting humanity - that eclipsed all the hardships that they were called upon to face. A scream pulled him from his reverie. All hardships, Malloc reminded himself. Beside him, brother Octavius, a hulking figure in his terminator armour leaned close. "With any luck brother, they'll drink themselves to death before the night is out," he growled, his voice not betraying a hint of humour. Malloc allowed himself a brief smile. Octavius had made no attempt to keep his comment within the small group of Dark Angels sitting together at the edge of the camp, and it was clear that despite the wild shouts and yells coming from around the large fire, the Space Wolves had heard.
Ever since the Dark Angels had been called upon to battle beside the Space Wolves against a warband of Goff Orks that had somehow made it to the lush world of Terres, tensions between the two chapters had run high. Things had not begun well. In the first engagement the Dark Angel forces had refused to charge, as the rabid beasts the Wolves called Blood Claws had done, into the guns of the enemy, choosing instead to pin the green scum down with bolter fire and wait for the approaching heavy support. The arrogant Wolves had then branded the Dark Angels' brothers cowards for refusing to move. When reminded by brother Octavius that only two of the Blood Claws from the thirty that had charged had survived, the Wolves had remarked that their marines were not afraid to die. At this, brother Lionus had lost his temper and had pronounced the entire Space Wolves chapter one populated by slavering dogs, incapable of rational thought, and thus not worthy of serving the Emperor. The situation might have escalated then, had not the Wolf lord Kryl Grimblood interjected to stop his men launching a full-scale attack on the Dark Angel's command bunker. Thankfully for the Imperium, Grimblood's interjection was characteristically forceful, with at least two Blood Claw marines leaving the scene in the arms of a servitor heading for their Apothecarion. Still, the Space Wolves' desire for vengeance had not been appeased.
If the Dark Angels had had any illusions about this point, they were made brutally aware of their error the following morning. Upon entering the driver's compartment of his Predator, brother Conrad had been greeted by the skinned carcass of a boar that the Space Wolves had hunted, slain and then deposited in the tank. The creature's blood had spilt over the entire compartment, desecrating the sacred vehicle's systems and rendering it unusable for the remainder of the day, as brother-Techmarine Gideon re-sanctified the war machine. Insult had been added to injury, when, as the Dark Angels' chaplains led their brothers in evening prayers, the Space Wolves had seen fit to test their bikes in a circuit, that frequently brought the riders into the clearing that the Dark Angels had cut out of the forest. That was until the Ravenwing had arrived. Malloc smiled again. Nobody out rode the Ravenwing! He turned his attention back to the Space Wolves before them. The sons of Russ had pulled another barrel of ale from the back of a rhino nearby and were busy sharing it amongst themselves. They had been like this since returning from a successful encounter earlier, and their behaviour was beginning to gall the Dark Angels. A member of the Wolf Guard stumbled over to them, a tankard in his hands. "Here brothers!" he roared, "Drink with us!" Octavius took the tankard from him and eyed the foamy head spilling over the side. "I am afraid that we must decline brother Olaf," the terminator replied, "the Emperor rewards greatly those with the strength of will to abstain from the sins of humanity."
Olaf, ignorant or unconcerned by the insult, looked at him as if he first believed that the Dark Angel was joking, but Octavius' stern gaze was enough to convince him otherwise. Turning, he called to the other Space Wolves, "Brothers! The Angels of Death are too scared to drink as well!" The Space Wolves howled with laughter. Octavius rose slowly, "Brother Olaf, your drink," he said politely. As the Wolf guard turned and reached for the tankard, the Dark Angel struck him full in the face with one gauntleted hand. The marine dropped to the ground like a stone, unconscious. Octavius grunted, "Like father, like son."
Outraged at this slur against their Primarch, the Space Wolves reached for their weapons. Malloc stood, mirroring the movements of the other Dark Angels present. A fiery Blood Claw, gripping his chainsword in one hand, was approaching their position. It appeared he had drunk too much even for a space marine, and was visibly shaking with anger. Octavius stepped forward to meet him. Apparently he'd had enough. The Blood Claw, swaying with the effects of alcohol, brought himself up to his full height, determined to make himself larger than the huge Deathwing terminator. Octavius glowered down at him, "Yes brother?" he said, his voice dangerously low. The camp had become silent. Only the crackling of the Space Wolves' fire served to break the stillness. The Blood Claw looked the Dark Angel in the eye. "For Russ!" he suddenly yelled, and swung the chainsword at Octavius. The terminator stepped calmly backwards and took the blow on his left arm. The whirring blade deflected harmlessly off the mighty ceramite plates and the jarring impact sent it spinning out of the Space Wolf's hand. In the same movement, Octavius grabbed the young marine and hurled him into his brothers.
Chaos broke forth. The Space Wolves screamed in anger, and leapt at Octavius. The other Dark Angels moved to his aid. Malloc lashed out with a green armoured fist, sending a Grey hunter sprawling into a table. Behind him, Olaf had recovered and brought a bough he'd retrieved from the edge of the woods down on top of brother Conrad's head. The Dark Angel dropped to the earth. Octavius was being borne to the ground by five Blood Claws, livid over the treatment of their comrade. The mighty terminator had waded into the midst of the Space Wolves with only his honour dagger, but had somehow managed to account for three of the grey armoured marines lying unconscious on the floor. A large rock skimmed over Malloc's head and he swung a boot at the marine that had launched it, receiving a satisfying crunch as something snapped inside the Space Wolf's armour. The cries and howls of the furious Space Wolves were met with resolute silence from the Dark Angels, who fought with their customary determination and implacable demeanour. But as Malloc advanced on a Grey hunter, who had hoisted the prone form of brother Conrad onto his shoulders in an effort to hurl the Dark Angel into a nearby tree, a Ravenwing biker sped into the camp. The marine hurriedly approached. "Brothers!" he shouted, "The Orks are here!"
To a man, the combatants ceased the battle. "What?" roared Olaf, "How did they get past the scouts?"
The Ravenwing marine, a little hesitantly, turned to Olaf, "The fiends had mined under our front lines and they caught us unprepared. We split up to avoid being caught in the cross fire and have returned to the command compound." The Dark Angel turned back to Octavius, more at ease with his own kind than a Space Wolf who currently appeared to have reverted to his feral roots. "Brother Octavius, Master Belial is assembling our men at the compound. You are to join him as soon as possible." Octavius was already moving. "Arbalan!" he addressed another terminator, "Fetch our weapons." He stopped, surveying the scene. "Brother Malloc," he spoke rather more quietly, "Retrieve brother Conrad and revive him." The Space Wolves too forgot the conflict and took up arms. Seconds later as Arbalan was returning, the Orks attacked. A volley of frag missiles lanced over head, exploding into a patch of foliage behind the marines, and bolter shells began to chew up the earth. Swiftly the marines moved into what cover was available and returned fire. Malloc dived into cover besides Octavius, Arbalan and Olaf. "They must have sent a force to bypass the compound," Olaf muttered, loading his stormbolter and scanning the edge of the forest for the enemy. Octavius joined him, power sword in one hand. "There!" he said. "They come." The body of Orks that approached was small, but they were supported by a crude dreadnought. Olaf sent a stream of bolts into the aliens, but the majority was shielded by the bulk of the machine.
Octavius looked at Arbalan. "We must assault the unclean," he said, "We don't have the firepower here to take down the dreadnought from a distance. Brother Olaf," he turned to the Wolf guard, "Will your men support us?"
Olaf laughed, "I'm surprised they haven't charged already! They will follow our lead, but will yours?"
Octavius gave a grim smile, "Our brothers will do what is required."
Olaf hoisted his stormbolter, "Then lets us bring death to the enemies of the Emperor!" With out another word he broke cover and uttering his battle cry, charged the Orks. Octavius followed his example, followed by Arbalan and Malloc.
From either side the Dark Angels and Space Wolves emerged following their commanders' lead, bolters blazing cleansing fire. The Orks, unable to resist the thrill of close combat, piled forwards beside the dreadnought. Olaf drew first blood, his power fist crushing the skull of an Ork warrior and his stormbolter opening the stomach of another. Arbalan was close behind. His lightning claws tore through the armour of his opponent and skewered the creature's chest, before he flung the body away. Octavius, ducking the axe of a Goff, shouted above the din, "Brothers! Destroy the heathen's war machine!" Malloc reacted swiftly and fought his way forward.
As he reached the dreadnought, he found himself besides the frenzied Blood Claws. The machine's power claws had already knocked one of the Space Wolves to the ground, his armour rent in several places, and the remainder were struggling to keep it at bay. The Dark Angel moved swiftly, unclipping a krak grenade from his belt as he dodged the awkward movements of the Ork machine. As he searched for a weak spot in its armour, the Blood Claw that had challenged Octavius earlier joined the combat. The warrior lashed out with his chainsword, severing a hydraulic cable and causing sparks to fly from the dreadnought's armour. The machine swung around faster than would have seemed possible and struck the Space Wolf to the earth. The marine struggled to stand, blood leaking from his left leg, but collapsed unable to move. Malloc forced his way forward and hauled the Blood Claw to his feet. As the Dreadnought moved to crush them, the Dark Angel hurled his grenade into the machine's crew compartment and flung himself to the ground atop the wounded Space Wolf.
The explosion shook the earth. Debris was flung outwards as the dreadnought pulled itself apart in an impressive pyrotechnic display. Something heavy glanced off Malloc's shoulder pad and spun away, and was followed by the patter of shattered metal dropping back down from the sky onto his armour. As the noise died down, all that could be heard was the chatter of imperial bolters as the Orks fled back into the forest.
Malloc regained his feet and examined the Blood Claw's injury. The marine's armour had been crushed, trapping his leg inside, but he would live. The Space Wolf opened his eyes. "Your are lucky brother, " Malloc observed, "You should keep your leg." The marine managed a smile of gratitude. As he helped the wounded Space Wolf to the Apothecarion, Malloc smiled. Any hardship. After all, they were space marines.