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Tales of the Tigers

Traveller of Both Time and Space: Episode 4 
Synopsis: Raja Shamshir Talatra, one of the two commanders of the Fighting Tigers of Veda, has led an attack against a band of Red Corsairs Chaos Space Marines. After killing the renegades’ leader, a former Blood Angel named Clavius, Shamshir Talatra is confronted by a Bloodthirster of Khorne, rising from Clavius’ corpse.

I’m going to die, Raja Shamshir Talatra thought. 

There had been many times that the thought had occurred to him before. Once, in a live-ammo training session, his bike had exploded under him, its fuel cell ignited by a hit from the meltagun of a Space Wolf Gray Hunter. In the Blood Deserts of Auros IX, he had jumped aboard an Ork trukk, laden with barrels of benzene and kerosene and crude oil, as it hurtled out of control towards a bunker held by Devastator Marines. Then there was the time an Eldar fighter craft had trained its triple starcannons on him as it swooped down in an ambush. 

In every case until now, he had always dismissed the thought of his death in an instant, effortlessly erasing it from his mind like a tech-slave would delete a corrupted file from a cognition engine. One moment, the thought was there, and the next it was gone, leaving Shamshir Talatra free to act without fear.

But now, as the snarling, snapping red beast rose, flames rippling from its muscled form, the thought would not leave him. I’m going to die, he told himself. I’m

RAJA! the voice of Chandramatie Bahl, the psyker, bellowed in his head. The Iron Halo!

His armor, which he had inherited from Raja Sabeer Ansari, the last man to hold his office, had such a device wired into it. Shamshir Talatra hadn’t wanted it, and hadn’t used it in years. Indeed, he had almost forgotten about it. But now, it might save his life, if he could activate it in time.

The Bloodthirster, impossibly fast for something nearly the size of a Vinyamghali Aliphant, flicked its fiery lash, searing Shamshir Talatra across his breastplate. He shrieked as white, crackling warp energy shattered every bone in his augmented body and fried every circuit in his armor. As he fell, he realized distantly—as if it were happening to someone else—that both his hearts had stopped. He hit the ground, blood spewing from his ears and nose and mouth.

One of his hearts started beating, arhythmically, again. 

“MORE,” the beast rumbled, its voice sounding through the thin air and in the minds of the Fighting Tigers nearby, its breath the cascading waves of heat from a funeral pyre. Chandramatie Bahl fell to her knees, her hands trembling as she fought to brace her psychic defenses against the aura of hatred and anger that the Bloodthirster projected. The daemon terrified those around it, yet compelled them to hate it, to attack it, to kill it—not with guns or blades or any other man-made weapons, but with primeval tooth and nail. 

As one, the Tigers bellowed with rage—not for their fallen leader, but simply rage for its own sake—and rushed the beast. Which was, of course, what it wanted. “YES,” it crooned, as it lopped off limbs and split torsos and hoisted the dying over its gaping mouth, squeezing out their blood like juice from ripe fruit. 

“MORE,” the monster demanded. But the Tigers were now screaming in terror, not rage, as most of them ran—ran like routed Gretchin—away. Most of them—but not all. A bolt of white-hot plasma exploded harmlessly against the Bloodthirster’s chest. Shamshir Talatra recognized the Marine who fired: Ravi Petruva, whom Chandramatie Bahl had given the plasma gun that Shamshir had taken from a Red Corsair. 

“Someone help the Raja!” Ravi screamed, glancing at his commander as he rapid-fired the captured weapon. More bolts dissipated against the beast’s hide. With a sweep of its bat-like wings, the daemon launched itself into the air and crushed Ravi with a horrible wet snapping noise. 

“MORE!” the Bloodthirster howled, as it shook shards of Ravi’s spine from the bottom of its hoof. 

That’s enough, a voice replied. Shamshir Talatra didn’t hear it so much as he felt it. Firing her jump pack forward, Chandramatie Bahl landed on the beast’s back and shoved the blade of her force weapon deep between the Bloodthirster’s shoulder blades. Like a candle flame being snuffed out the daemon simply vanished. With nothing to support her, Chandramatie Bahl clattered to the ground, sprawling on hands and knees. 

Raja Shamshir Talatra succumbed to the blackness. 

Voices. Shapes moving. Armored hands picking him up. Terrible pain. Grinding of bones. Shouting. Putting him down again.

Blackness.

Voices. Shapes moving. Someone bending over him. Tubes in his arm, his chest, his neck. Blood—someone else’s—flowing into him. Blood flowing out of dozens of holes in his skin and inside his body.

Blackness.

Voices. Something about ships approaching the system. What system? 

Blackness.

Voices. One of them in his head—Chandramatie Bahl? Urging him to hang on. 

Blackness.

The voice in his head again. Help is here, it said. But Shamshir Talatra didn’t care anymore.
 


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Related Pages
Raja Shamshir Talatra
Fighting Tigers Glossary and Pronunciation Guide
 

Posted November 2004. 

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Other Pages:
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