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Subject: Smirking Da Chosen One - Ch. 31- Da Vengeance Ov Da Godz
"It's a sub!" Sleekit had it. "GrodMek is shadowing us!"
Sure enough within a short time it was all stop as a large submarine broke the surface dead ahead and the Big-Mek himself emerged from the hatch.
"You iz goin' da wrong way!" GrodMek bellowed from sea level at the face of the massive ship towering over him still some distance away.
"Sez who?" It was a grot voice that greeted him from the ship's loud speakers, a familiar one.
"If it ain't da one an' only GrotFather!" GrodMek mocked, "gerroutovit! I ain't dealin' wif you. I knows you fer da worst most backstabbin'est rebel grot ov da lot!"
"Very kind of you to say." A small figure appeared on the gunwale silhouetted against the sky. GrodMek could make out a grot in a tall Kaptain's cap. He was not interested.
"You fink I'm joking?" GrodMek fired a shot literally across the boughs and yelled again. "I've seen your hero-Grot, I knows who's in charge on dat ship an' it ain't you Sleekit. Now go get your little boss-freak out 'ere an' quit wasting my time."
"Hero Grot? You MUST mean me!" Sleekit laughed. "Der ain't no grot better, an' not runnin' dis ship, No No, No. Aaris Da Butcha is in charge of dis here Morka-Wing Karrier! So YOU best get out of his way."
"Grox Gak!" GrodMek was having none of it. "I didn't see no Morka Kaptain coming off dat Bomba, all I seen was a bunch of snivellin' grots!"
Another figure appeared on the gunwale obscuring the grot, at least three times his size. He was square set and wore a heavy coat. Aaris Da Butcha addressed the Big-Mek directly.
"What's all dis? GrodMek?" Da Butcha's voice was dripping with contempt, "Gerrout'o da way!"
"Aaris Da Zoggin' Grot-Butcha." GrodMek offered the fuller and perhaps more apt title. Really he had hoped not to see the Morka boss alive again but he supposed personally killing him wouldn't hurt business much this far outside of ork territory.
"GrodMek! When I get my hands round your throat I'll rip yer head off and feed yer squishy bitz to da Whale-Squigz!" Aaris was a subtle negotiator.
GrodMek squinted at the shadowy figures on the BizMork. That wasn't Aaris. The voice was an uncanny impression for sure but that ork up there... For all the fury of Da Butcha's bile his fists, normally flying, were just stuffed down into his coat pockets. GrodMek was growing more suspicious by the minute. And whoever it was he was nowhere near as big as the Morka Big-boss. He wore the trademark coat and hat but, was that a beard? Surely it wasn't that hair-squig ridden buffoon UzKop. Of course, it had to be; he'd seen UzKop's Dakka-Jet landing on the deck, against orders he might add.
"UzKop you stupid burk!" GrodMek called him out on the spot, "I though I told all you fancy fly-boyz ta zog off!" The ork on the BizMork shifted a little uneasily, "You woz all s'posed to head fer GulGogz Landinz. Da GorkaFleet boats wot shot up da MekWorx at RedRoxx is goin' dat way!" GrodMek's plans were already in tatters and this good for nothing bearded wastrel was trying his patience. "You hangin' round 'ere takin' orders from Grotz now izzit?"
There was no replay. The larger figure on the gunwale simply shuffled off and disappeared without a word.
GrodMek grinned and continued "I'm done playing your games Sleekit. I'll dive this sukka an put a pair of torpedoes in your hull right an' quick if you don't fetch me yer boss out right-da-zog now. An' I don't mean dat stupid burk Aaris either, its Smirking! I wants to speak to Smirking!"
This wasn't working. They had planned to keep the Big-Mek talking with Sleekit or Aaris or WazzBad even but Smirking? What was Smirking going to say? He'd hardly said two words on his own behalf this last year, now he was going to have to speak for everyone.
After an awkward pause a bat-winged grot shuffled reluctantly to the fore. He wore an elaborate head dress of seagrass with a large red star emblazoned on the front. The figure ascended the lower bar of the gunwale in full view of his audience below and proudly displayed his full impressive three and a half feet of wing span.
GrodMek couldn't resist a pot-shot at his favourite albatross but ork marksmanship being what is, he missed by a long way.
"Behold da Chosen One!" Smirking's less than commanding grot voice commanded. "Bow down before me or... Wait."
There seemed to be a discussion going on.
"I can't say dat!"
"Just repeat da words."
"But itz ridiculous!"
"It'z da will ov da Godz, now say da line!"
Smirking composed himself. "Big-Mek GrodMek, by da Will ov da Godz I command you..." he began without conviction. "Obey da Chosen One. Get yer boat out of our way and don't hinder our sacred quest!"
GrodMek could hardly talk for laughing. His mirth devolved into a coughing fit that left him breathless and giddy.
"Laugh all ya likes, GrodMek. It'z da Godz wot will be laughing last."
"Oh give it a rest Smirking." GrodMek complained, "You didn't used to be da 'oly rolla type, wots got inta you?"
"Now I came all da way out 'ere after your snivellin' grot arse to give you a message." GrodMek continued. "GorGoff is alive an' well, Smirking, and he ain't happy. Not wif me, not wif you and Gork-help you Sleekit he's gonna rip you a new one!"
"He can get Zogged!" Came the GrotFather's reply.
"Oh yes, I agree, I do." GrodMek nodded most reasonably, "And dat's why I sent all available fliers off da BizMork to bomb his fleet at GulGog's Landin's. You heard about RedRox? Every airfield on all five islands laid to waste in retaliation for da Gargantic. Da MorkaWing needz da BizMork, Smirking! If you go now we can still catch GorGoff before..."
"We has seen your plans, Big-Mek." Sleekit interrupted most impudently, "You weren't for sendin' da BizMork to take on GorGoff. Dis ship was cruisin' for GulGog's alright but it woz rigged to go boom."
"Wot? GrodMek protested his innocence, "No, No! It's a plan for vengeance, I was gonna sail it right up aside oneov dem new GorkFleet MegaKroozas an..."
A sudden voice broke in like a thunderous rolling wave.
"You has seen our wrath kindled once before, Mek," It certainly wasn't a grot voice. It was deep and cold and hard like seabed granite. "We deliver da vengeance ov da Godz on da Oomans, not on our own; and you will not stop uz."
A flicker of a memory briefly shook the Big-Mek's confidence. The eyes, the raw power of Smirking, the grot possessed. Still, he had seen him off once before, he could do it again. GrodMek checked the charge of his kustom force field. The dial pointed to 'Plenty'o'Waaagh!' And besides, at the end of the day it was just a grot!
"I ain't for movin'!" GrodMek bellowed defiant. "You'll mess up da whole fing. We got a good scrap goin' on here. Don't go an' bring da Oomans in onit."
"Da Oomans is da propa scrap!" Smirking declared "Da only reason you want 'em out ov it is cause you can't make teef off of Oomans. You is gettin' rich pushin' Gorkas and Morkas at eachovver but if dey start fightin' Oomans, like we should be, den it'll mean a real Waaaagh and you'd have to make more'n one lousy grot bomb to win dat fight."
GrodMek was furious. Being told what-for by a smart-arse grot was about his least favourite pastime. Especially by one with such keen insight. He seethed and grabbed his blasta, letting off a half dozen rounds in the general direction of the BizMork. He missed. The two grot figures high up on the hulking vessel's bow remained, defiant. He hadn't even seen them flinch. Well, he thought. He'd show them what good a grot rebellion would get you.
Still grumbling he reached down into his boot for his telescopic sight. Pulling it open he raised it to his bionik-eye and plugged it in. Zooming in tight to the figures on the BizMork he could at last see them in better detail.
He didn't like what he was seeing.
That wasn't Sleekit, for a start. The GrotFather was a very familiar face in GrodMek's world but this grot, well he had glasses on for a start and the hat he wore looked half burnt to a cinder. The Smirking figure too was an imposter in wings. Some daft looking clown dressed up to look the part. GrodMek was spitting mad. What was their game? Who had he been talking to? How?
The answer hit him like a sudden break in the clouds. They were in his head, talking to him like WazzBad used to. The two imposters up there were trying to distract him!
But it was too late. Smirking was already upon him. Coming from behind, dripping sea-water and twitching with raw barely-contained power the grot clambered up GrodMek's back-pack and made a swipe at the nobbly dome of the Big-Mek's kustom rebuilt kranium. GrodMek ducked and shrugged him off, sending Smirking sprawling across the upper deck of the Salvage Sub. He grabbed a guard-rail and sprang back to his feet to face his foe.
"You can't touch me, yer freak!" GrodMek growled with his wide more-teeth-than-most grin. He appeared to be expecting something to occur but nothing happened. Confused he checked the charge on his kustom force field again.
He banged on the gauge frantically. Why wasn't it working?
Smirking held a pair of wires in one tight little grot fist. They might have linked the ork's brain to his fancy protective gubbinz but this time it was not to be. They fell from his hand and GrodMek watched them slip down the side of the sub into the sea. He blinked in slow sad comprehension.
Smirking took a step forward, wings billowing behind him, somehow in the opposite direction of the prevailing wind. He stretched out his hands toward GrodMek, a mad malevolent light glowing in his eyes, skin prickling, spine tingling, and let the Big-Mek have it.
This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2020/03/14 00:36:25
The Big-Mek's lifeless body slumped upon the deck as Smirking twitched and convulsed like a mad thing, his fingers still outstretched smoking in the breeze.
A nervous crew of grots in a little galley came alongside and Smudge took command of the situation. The Big-Mek was stripped of a few choice items before his carcass was unceremoniously buried at sea. It slid off the sub and obligingly sunk beneath the waves, and not a moment too soon.
"Oi, gitz" it was GrodMek's chief Spanna, the one they called GitFingaz, poking his head out the hatch. "Where's da boss!"
Smudge turned coolly and told him a bare-faced lie.
"He went up to da BizMork to talk wif Aaris."
"He says we have to heave to. You got some ropes and that?" Nurd didn't wait for an answer but stepped on over the incredulous Spanna's head and proceeded to unlock a stowage box. Producing a thick steal cable he tossed one end to another grot. "Here Grunt, tie 'er off."
GitFingaz climbed out on deck and gave Smirking a questioning look. "Wot's up wif dis guy?"
Smirking was taking a little while to regather his faculties. He was a gibbering mess.
"Um, he's a bit scared of GrodMek... Oi! Swab!" He yelled to a likely grot lackey, "mop him up will ya," he indicated that Smirking needed clearing off the deck. "Orks is on da deck!" He added with feigned deference to the newcomer.
"An' where is GrodMek?" Fingaz was looking around the Biz-Mork for any sign of the Big-Mek.
Smudge instantly regretted reminding the ork of his missing boss. "He went on ahead," he assured the ork vaguely.
Fingaz spotted an item in Smudge's hands. "Wots dat?" It looked familiar, like a piece off one of GrodMek's personal gubbins. Smudge had to think quick.
"Oh yeah, he said you'd know what to do wif it." He tossed the pilfered piece to Fingaz without further comment and then quickly produced a flask. "Fancy a swig O' Rott?"
* * * * *
Smirking awoke to find his hands were already busy tinkering and adjusting. The small machine of dubious quality he had been building was quickly hidden behind his own back. GrodMek was having difficulty adapting to the idea of sharing his latest inventions with the other inhabitants of Smirking's crowded brain.
Smirking blinked and took note of his surroundings. He was back on the Biz-Mork in the Kaptains Ready Room. The wash of emotions from all directions was nauseating. The familiarity and security of a homecoming from Aaris warred with the intense resentment and avarice of GrodMek. The BigMek's plans and devices cluttered up the Kaptain's table and even the fact that the Kaptain's chair provided more than ample room for Smirking's grotly rear did nothing to quell the rising animosity between the two. WazzBad who harboured no such feelings for the place and wanted nothing more than to be out of there foreswore all claim to the Kaptain's chair as BlackGull sitting in judgement as ever claimed it all wholly in the name of Da Chosen One. Sleekit was furiously calculating his options and preparing to throw his conniving support behind he likeliest candidate when suddenly Smirking threw up.
The projectile vomit was a thing of dire consequence. Viscous and sparking with lethal energies it spewed forth upon the table and instantly destroyed both plans and furnishings alike. A green flame erupted and belched dense oily spoke as it consumed the table and its contents.
All thoughts of interpersonal rivalry were momentarily suspended as all beheld the grotesque outpouring of the their contentious bickering with unanimous admiration. Smirking was becoming a proper warp-head and no mistake. Feeling a little better already he plonked his boney behind down in the Kaptain's chair uncontested and beheld his handiwork as a cluster of Fire-grots burst in and doused the smouldering ruin with buckets of sand and sea water.
Smirking spoke not a word as they laboured to neutralise his boiling vomit but simply presided in his position of power. The stuff was potent for all the small amount of it but soon the grot clean up crew had it contained and they quickly decided to shuffle away out of sight. As the smoke began to clear Smirking became aware that one remained waiting by the ruin of the desk anxiously wringing his hands. It was Nurd.
"What's going on?" Smirking croaked, his throat a little worse for wear.
The relief on the other grot's face was palpable and he immediately launched into a desperate tirade.
"Smudge told 'em GrodMek was here, boss." Nurd blurted in a panic, "He had to! We've left 'em all on da Sub but you know orks, dey won't listen to Grotz an' dey won't wait for long. Dey'll be up on da BizMork soon an' when dey finds out dere's nuffink but Grotz up 'ere were all done for!" He took a long breath. "Smudge is keepin' da chief Spanna sweet wif a bottle o' Rott but it ain't gonna last!"
Smirking silenced Nurd with a swift flap of his winged arm and held the gesture while his inner thoughts conversed.
"We gotta keep em on da sub" Sleekit squeaked.
"Dem's MY ladz, yer grot git!" sulked GrodMek
"Well dey ain't welcome 'ere!" Aaris bellowed.
"Dey're your ladz too, some ov'em."
"No way!" yelled Sleekit, "No Meks, no Runthurds, none of yer big dumb Morka goons! They'll ruin everything!"
"We needs 'em, grot!" BlackGull pointed out, "Da Godz needs all da orks to come togevver!"
"An' what? Follow orders from grotz?" Sleekit wailed, "They won't do it!"
"It ain't natural!"
"It ain't propa orky."
Smirking nodded. It was plain ork sense, they all agreed.
"Dey'll follow Da Chosen One!" BlackGull asserted, "It's da will of da Godz! Dey can't refuse."
"If dey take one look at Smirking dey will." Aaris scoffed, "One squeaky order outa him an' my Runthurds'll feed 'im to da Squighounds. Morkalmighty, he's such a runt we could feed him to Mogz!"
"Oh, Mogz." WazzBad was suddenly interested at the mention of the Ship's Squig. Smirking jumped down from his seat and started making little squiggly noises but Mogz did not appear. Nurd shifted uneasily eyeing the mad grot with concern and growing alarm.
"I don't think we oughta let 'em see you like dis, boss." said Nurd backing away slowly. "I'm just gonna close dis door and you can call if you need anyfing."
"Dat's it!" Smirking yelled still twitching and ticking, trying to cram the exuberant ork personalities into some semblance of order. "Dey won't see us! We'll let 'em on da BizMork but we'll stay here and run da ship from da ready room."
"Oh yeah, dat'll work fine." Sleekit whined sarcastically, "The invisible Kaptain wif da squeaky voice on da loud speakaz."
"My boyz won't follow nobody but me!" Aaris declared.
"I dunno, Aaris, dey took orders from me jus' fine." GrodMek sniggered. "But I ain't no grot."
The collective force of every other inhabitant of Smirking's head made his eyes roll with enough torque to pull a Krooza into a dry-dock. "You might wanna look in da mirror, Grodderz." WazzBad giggled, "You'z in here wif us now."
"Well I'm... Wot it is is..." GrodMek fumbled for the right words but he was already way out of his depth.
"UzKop can do it!" Smirking blurted. He wasn't sure whose idea that was and nobody was claiming credit.
"My chief Spanna GitFingaz won't do nuffink for UzKop!" bellowed GrodMek with all authority, "If it ain't my voice givin' da orderz...,"
Smirking leapt into the air, he had it! "Da Spanna, Smudge's Gut-Rott brew!" Smirking capered and yelled, "He's been drinking da stuff!"
"Sure, he's a slacker if I ain't about!" agreed GrodMek. "On'y works if he's cornered like a rat in a trap."
"I don't allow no Rott on my ship." preached Aaris, "Zaps yer discipline it does, slows ya down."
"Kan-it yer lugz." BlackGull snapped, "Da Chosen One iz talkin'!"
"Wot, da grot?" GrodMek, a little late to the party was still playing catch-up.
"He meanz Smirking. Smirking Da Chosen One."
"Look, neva mind! All we needs is more Gut-Rott." Smirking explained.
"More Rott? He's lost it, he has."
"I told you already..."
"Dis is wot you get when you lets grotz do da finking."
"Nurd!" Smirking turned to his somewhat unwilling audience. Nurd was one mad plan away from a nervous breakdown.
"Give 'em more Rott." Smirking's eyes were alive with more than a spark of madness, "All ov'em! Every ork on da sub. We're 'avin' us a big party on da BizMork and dey're all invited."
"Errr, ok boss." Nurd wasn't exactly following the plan but he was happy to have some direct orders for a change.
"And lock the door." Smirking continued.
"Err, you're not going to da party, Boss?"
"No, Nurd. We'll stay here."
"But I wanna go to da party." WazzBad moaned.
"No, we gotta stay outa sight til all da orks has all got brain-rott... "
"Comes of drinkin' too much Rott. Makes it easy for WazzBad to mess wif yer head."
"Easy for us now, Aaris." Sleekit pointed out. "And if we stays outa sight, an' all da orks hears is Aaris and GrodMek givin' da orders dey won't see no grot doin' da bossin', see?"
"It'll Neva work." Grumbled GrodMek.
"Dey'll all be off their 'eads!" Aaris complained, "you can't give orders to drunken Rott-addled zog-wits!"
"You got a better plan?" Smirking stamped and folded his arms, furrowing his brows in a stern expression.
For once the voices in his head fell silent.
He stepped back to the Kaptain's chair and planted his little green behind.
"Alright den." Da Chosen One resolved to take up his command to Kaptain Da BizMork to the will of Da Godz by any means necessary. He turned to Nurd and gave the order.
"Tell Smidge to Brew up some Rott. Invite da boyz over and lock dat door."
GrodMek was not an easy personality to live with, so resentful was he at being deceived and outmanoeuvred, and by a grot no less. He skulked around in Smirking's sub-conscious, a passive-aggressive voice snarking at their plans and keeping his own council. Despite his apparent situation, as one of five personalities now inexplicably trapped in the mind of a grot GrodMek was in no mood to co-operate.
Sleekit however, knew the Big-Mek well, and knew that the best way to coax him into action was to play on his pride.
"So, Boss GrodMek," he began with respect, "We saw your plans. And I gotta say we was impressed, wasn't we impressed boyz?"
A reluctant chorus of assent came from the assembled orks in Smirking's head. They weren't too sure where the wily grot was going with this. WazzBad in particular was dubious. His "Yeah, dead impressed." held more than a hint of sarcasm.
"We had 'em all laid out 'ere on Kaptain Aaris'z table." best give the Kaptain his due, Sleekit thought, "but we didn't get a real good look, did we fella's?"
"Nah, not really." admitted Aaris somewhat disinterested.
"See GrodMek, I thought, since you're 'ere an' all you could explain it a bit." Sleekit continued with all the feigned enthusiasm he could muster. "The boat was gonna be all fitted up with some kinda thingy on da front, like for bashin' wif?"
"It's a reinforced ram." GrodMek explained sulkily.
"Yeah, yeah, you said it better a reinforced thingy."
"But dat don't make sense." Smirking chipped in, seeing how Sleekit was drawing GrodMek out. "If you rams anuvva boat, even wif one of those you'll probably just get all jammed up togevver an' both sink."
"No, no! Dumb grotz!" GrodMek couldn't abide such idiocy being attributed to his grand plan, "da ship's not for rammin' uvva boats, it's for rammin' into da docks. It needs da ram to bust froo da sea gates."
"And den what?" Sleekit squeaked with excitement, "tell 'em da best bit, GrodMek. Tell 'em about da BOOM!"
"I likes a good Boom, I do." WazzBad was getting interested now, he wanted to hear about the boom.
"Den da whole fing goes BOOM!" confirmed GrodMek with enthusiasm. Sleekit squealed with glee on cue and Smirking's hands clapped with WazzBad's unrestrained excitement.
"Yeah!" GrodMek chuckled "Ol' GulGog won't know what hit 'im!"
"Oh, but that was da old plan." Sleekit jumped in quickly, "We can't make a full frontal attack on da GulGog'z dock yardz; you said it yourself, Now they've got Gorka support, plenty as big as dis boat and twice as shooty!" It was true, the ship would be blown out of the water long before it hit the docks.
"We got no air cover for dat!" Aaris complained.
"I could fly Uzza's bird," WazzBad supposed, "He won't like dat but..."
Sleekit jumped back in before the Morkas got any ideas of their own.
"No, GrodMek, it's your new plan I'm excited about."
"Da one where we krumps da Oomans?" BlackGull nudged rather too pointedly.
"Oh it's genius, Boss." Sleekit enthused, desperately clawing GrodMek back on-board. "Tell 'em about the remote."
"Oh yeah, well... err." GrodMek wasn't exactly sure he was following but he didn't want to look dumb in front of the others, so he stuck to what he knew. "Well da remote control, it's da crucial bit see?"
"Dat's right, GrodMek." Sleekit encouraged.
"It's what keeps us far far away when da boat goes Boom."
"We'll be safe and sound back on da BizMork." The GrotFather declared happily.
"An' ready for a propa fight!" Aaris added. He didn't like all this low down sneaky remote control business.
"Well no, but see." GrodMek was floundering, "it's da ship wot goes... I mean, da BizMork is wot..."
"It's da heart of da operation, yes." Sleekit interjected, "Here in da Waaagh room where your plans become a reality, boss."
"Yeah but, in da plan it's da BizMork dat goes Boom!"
The trick was beginning to falter. Smirking spotted an opportunity for a neat observation and directed their gaze to the mess on the floor. The table, whereupon GrodMek's original plans now lay in ruin, destroyed by Smirking's sudden bout of psychic vomit. The old plan was manifestly no more.
"It was a draft, am I right?" Sleekit prompted. "Phase one; the forerunner to the real thing."
"Well, I mean, you gotta test these fings." GrodMek hedged.
"Yeah, an' it worked!" Sleekit nudged, "Your brilliant scheme, da remote, da ram, da great big boom, course it worked! And now combined with da stealthy sneakiness of da salvage Sub. I mean, it's genius, Boss. Da humans will never see dat comin' til it surfaces right in their stupid pink faces and then BOOM!" Sleekit moved in for the clincher. "Dats why you're da Big-Mek, Boss. You gots da know-wots! I mean, dat Chief Spanna, wotsizname," he continued his assault, hardly allowing GrodMek a second to process what he was hearing.
"GitFingaz." GrodMek offered the only solid piece of information he felt he could rely on.
"GitFingaz!" Sleekit allowed his contempt to flow, "He ain't no Big-Mek. You're gonna have to explain da plan slowly to dat guy."
"Yeah, he don't know gak." GrodMek agreed.
"But you know wot, Boss." Sleekit began to hammer his message home,"I'm just a little grot. I'm not sure I got this straight."
"Yeah, me too." Smirking added a little redundantly.
"I mean, you're da brainz of dis operation GrodMek; grotz can't come up wif dis kind of teknical know-wots."
"Well dats true." GrodMek nodded, it made perfect sense.
"So jus' so's we all understand." Sleekit had him now, "We put a reinforced ram on da Sub, just like you designed it."
"I mean, your ladz do it, GitFingaz an' da rest of da Mek-boyz. Dey'll do anyfink you tells 'em."
"Zoggin' right dey will." GrodMek affirmed with boss-like confidence.
"We fills it wif bomz, and sneaks it right up to da Oomans' door step, under da surface, like, cause wot's sneakier dan a Sub?"
"Nuffink, dat's wot!"
"And we is in control."
"Dat's right GrodMek, watching da biggest Boom WazzBad ever seen!" Sleekit knew his audience. WazzBad's enthusiasm made Smirking caper and clap.
"Waaagh!" yelled GrodMek. The feeling was infectious.
"A Waaagh on Oomans!" BlackGull roared like an ocean swell.
"They'll follow da trail back to da BizMork at RedRoxx." Sleekit nudged Aaris who responded on cue.
"An' we'll be ready for 'em. We'll have led 'em right into out trap!"
"Yes!" GrodMek was loving his plan, he was a true genius of epic capacity.
"All da orks'll be waiting, ready for a fight! Morka's and Gorka's togevver, krumpin' on da Oomans!" BlackGull preached, "They'll answer da call of Da Chosen One."
"And it's all because of you GrodMek." Sleekit closed the trap, "it just wouldn't be possible without you."
"Well let's get to work!" GrodMek cried, "what are we waiting for?"
"Nuffink, Boss." Sleekit confirmed, hoping the Gutt-Rott party below decks was now in full flow. Smirking's hand fell upon the ship's vox and turned the dial. "Jus' give da order."
"All right you lot!" GrodMek bellowed into the speaking tube. The grot squeak over the loud speakers was drowned out by the sheer brutality of the psychic assault as GrodMek's command was broadcast clear and with all authority right to the Rott-addled minds of every ork on board. More than one head exploded on the spot. He most definitely had their attention.
"Report to your crew details and tool up on deck at da double. I got da plan of a lifetime and you lugwitz is gonna make it happen!"
As Sleekit gloried in the dance of his puppet a cold rumbling voice grated on his nerves.
"You're dangerous, grot." It was Aaris Da Butcha. He'd been shocked to witness the ease with which the cunning little grot had done a number on GrodMek. "I've got my eye on you." He growled threateningly. "You try any of your tricks on me an' I'll..."
"Oh, kan it Aaris, an' find us sumfink for da Big-Mek to draw up his plans on, will ya."
Smirking went grumbling through the Kaptain's belonging's as the assembled company in the Waaagh Room got to work.
The plan was audacious. Ludicrous in fact. It was so crazy it just might work.
The lonely Salvage Sub bereft of Kaptain and company sailed blindly onward on its glorious voyage into ork history. It was all fixed up with a specially designed and reinforced ram, enough explosives in the front end to blow a hole in the world and most importantly GrodMek's remote control device, working to guide the sub, now the greatest torpedo ever to be assembled by ork hands, to its unsuspecting target.
Back aboard the BizMork the orks were gathered out on the deck for the big launch, tools and weapons in hands preparing, by order to salute the brave pilot who had been selected to fly the dangerous mission to guide the Sub-Bomb to its intended target.
UzKop strode onto the deck, chest puffed up, shoulder's high, broad hairy chin thrust out. He paused briefly to receive his flying goggles and helmet from a grot orderly before stepping out confidently on his way to his waiting dakka-jet. The plane had been prepared especially for the flight. Grot riggers tinkered and toiled applying a squirt of squig oil here, a lick of red paint there. It sat primed on the deck of the BizMork, fully loaded, fuelled to the neck, ready to leap into the sky like a red four-winged, jet-propelled gull over the sea.
UzKop pulled his helm on tight and snapped the goggles into place. Drinking in the atmosphere he waved to starboard and then a'port before continuing the short walk to his waiting aircraft. Few if any noted the peculiar grot trailing in his wake carrying some heavy looking technical gubbinz. None marked his odd twitching or his strange bat-like leather wings. He clambered aboard the dakka-jet as the grot riggers scarpered.
Mogz the Ship's Squig was disturbed from her slumber as Smirking tossed the gubbinz into the navigator's cockpit. She bounced out and slunk away as Smirking climbed in and disappeared from view. UzKop ascended to the opened canopy and turned one last time to wave and to salute the crowd, a wide grin plastered all over his hair-squig riddled features.
"Get on wif it Zog-fer-brainz!" Aaris grumbled. WazzBad let off a little firecracker of energy shocking the hairy oaf of a pilot into gear. UzKop dropped his glory-boy antics and hopped into his seat double quick and the canopy was lowered.
GrodMek had calibrated the remote and marked the position of the sub. "Its already half way to da Big Boom by now; we need to get in da air and catch it up."
With that the engines jolted to life and the whole aircraft shuddered as they cycled up and began to roar.
"Wooooo!" WazzBad howled with glee, his excitement at being back in a dakka-jet at last was causing green and yellow sparks to arc around the cockpit. The engines registered a huge power surge and UzKop quickly abandoned any remaining pre-flight checks and opened the throttle. The thing tore off the deck like a whippit-Squig leaving an impressive trail of green fire all along the deck in its wake.
Smudge and Grunt and some of the other GorkaGrots were watching from the observation deck.
"Dat woz actually real orky." Grunt admitted with reluctant admiration.
"Yeah... "Smudge sighed wistfully "I still mostly wanna just shot it down though."
"Yeah," Grunt smiled, "Remember da big quad barrelled akk-akk on da Grond-Hammer?" He lined up the disappearing speck of UzKop's flier in his invisible gunsights and made a noise like the squeakiest anti-aircraft gun ever.
"Yeah." Smudge sighed, "it was a good'un. I do miss shootin'em down."
They picked up the trail of the pimped out sub in good time and flew a low diving pass. All was as it should be. GrodMek keyed in the commands adjusting the course of the sub first this way and then the other as they looped around and observed it's motion.
"Good'n'nuff," GrodMek concluded. "He corrected the course of the vessel below before sending the command to submerge for the attack run. UzKop flew one more pass as the sub slipped beneath the waves before continuing their flight on ahead of it.
"We'll scout out da target first," Aaris advised. "If we catch any flack just pull up out of it an' 'old your course."
"Aye Kaptain." UzKop was on his best behaviour; what with any number of Bosses in the back seat it wouldn't do to back-chat. "Wot's our target?"
"We'll know when we see's it."
The dakka-jet pelted in low, it's supercharged jet engines ripping a gash through the air with a tortured wail. Smirking had to admit that UzKop was a much better pilot than WazzBad. The flight was smoother, the aircraft more responsive. WazzBad could claim credit for the extra power boost but UzKop's hand on the stick was a great improvement. Distant islands passed slowly and clouds above seemed to hover immobile in the blue.
"Approaching target." UzKop warned, "all eyes front."
Smirking scooted up in the seat and craned his neck for a better view. All of a sudden land appeared below, approaching at a furious pace. He blinked and missed a huge swathe of ocean and shoreline as the outlying structures and craft slipped by. Passing by at lightning speed they caught glimpses of buildings, industrial structures, a tall plasteel pylon and a network of roads leading to the harbour and then it was gone. They pulled up over rocky scrubland rising to a green plateau. Birds and other larger creatures startled and scattered as they burned overhead trailing a thick black cloud of smoke.
"Slow down you great Lumox!" Yelled Aaris, "I can't see gak at dis speed!"
"Quit yer honkin' Aaris," WazzBad complained, "We ain't ridin' no big red bomba now!" Smirking was standing in his seat nose pressed against the canopy glass eyeing the landscape below as UzKop circled back around climbing to kill some speed.
"There!" Smirking squeaked, "dat big round fingy."
"Looks like a fuel barrel." WazzBad guessed, "A great zogg-off big one!"
"O'course it's for fuel." barked GrodMek, "It's an 'arbour for boats. Boats needs fuel!"
"Well can we 'it it?" begged UzKop, increasing his rate of climb in anticipation of a proper dive bombing.
"Shouldn't we worry 'bout da sub first?" Sleekit was trying to stick to the plan.
"Yeah! I wanna dive bomb da fuel dump." WazzBad enthused, "Fuel goes Boom!"
"Its not a fuel dump, you oaf, It's a fuel refinery." groaned GrodMek getting a better view as they circled high overhead.
"Can we boom it? Can we boom it, Kaptain?" WazzBad capered and clapped and Smirking bumped his head on the canopy before landing on his rear in the seat.
"No way Aaris, dat's not wot we iz 'ere for!" Sleekit warned.
UzKop's spiralling ascent reached its climax and he levelled off. "C'mon Boss, wots it to be?"
"No wait..." Sleekit begged but Aaris was in no mood to have his authority undermined by a grot and shouted him down."
"Alright, Uzza!" growled Aaris, a hint of a smile in his gruff tone, "Let 'em 'ave it."
There was plenty of noise as the dakka-jet tipped and plummeted from on high. In that moment a burst of flack exploded above and a stream of fire erupted from the far side of the harbour. The human defenders had gathered their wits at last. Da Waaagh was on and UzKop dived with relish into the fray.
"Hey, knock it off WazzBad!" UzKop yelled. He didn't need the wierdboy's supplemental power driving them into the ground. The tell-tale Waaagh energy emanating from the afterburners and arcing around the aircraft was alarming in the extreme. "Somebody throttle dat Warphead! He'z gonna get us killed."
"Just drop da bombs you great hair-Squig, I'll do da rest." WazzBad yelled with glee.
UzKop slapped the button and two great bombs detached from their mounts. He pulled back hard on the stick and the plane began to shudder but continued to dive unchecked.
"Waaaagh!" UzKop screamed as their altitude fell well below his ability to recover. The huge fuel silos grew nearer and swelled in his view as WazzBad tipped the flier on its port wing and somehow in defiance of all logic and physics, brought them out through the industrial complex at treetop level banking hard onto the main thoroughfare heading back down to the harbour.
"Now dat's what I call dive bombin'!" WazzBad yelled as in that moment a fireball of gargantuan proportions erupted behind them. They felt the bump of the shockwave rolling past as they flew on through the human city. Smirking grabbed the twin-barrelled tail gun and they all enjoyed a little game of strafe the high street as they advanced to the main target.
A heavy ship was docked alongside a fuel tender and a smaller fleet of coast guard vessels. UzKop righted his course to pass right over the top of the larger ship despite the steady stream of gunfire now hosing them down.
"Deploying da first marker!" GrodMek declared as he keyed in the launch code. A little beacon dropped unseen into the bay beyond the ship and the dakka jet continued to the open mouth of the harbour.
"Deploying da uvva one." GrodMek got very technical at times like these, the others shut up and let him do his job.
With the second beacon dropped it was time to turn back toward the incoming sub still submerged and steaming in on target. Seeing no further impediments to its progress GrodMek dropped the third and final beacon. It skipped upon the surface of the ocean as they pulled up and away.
"Now all we do is watch an' wait." GrodMek mused.
"Yeah! Wait for da Sub and watch it go Boom!" Laughed WazzBad.
"Wait for da Sub and watch for trouble more like." UzKop was aware that one of the primary virtues of a surprise hit and run attack was the running part. "We're gonna get bounced 'anging about 'ere too long."
"Ah quit yer belly-achin' an' keep circling." Aaris grumbled.
"How long's dis boat gonna take GrodMek?" BlackGull was eager for the real hammer stroke of vengeance to fall. The attack on the fuel refinery had been spectacular for sure, and no doubt the humans were scurrying around down there devoting all their resources to tackling the blaze. When the Sub-bomb arrived they would be caught off guard and doubly beset.
"Yeah, either dat or we just called attention to da spot before da main attack arrives!" Sleekit scolded, "an' by da time it gets here every gun-boat and Oomie flier will be here waiting for it!"
"Oh give it a rest, Grot." WazzBad didn't appreciate the back-seat buzzkill. "We woz just havin' a little fun."
"Well I don't remember fun being part of da plan!"
"I do!" WazzBad giggled, "k'mon Uzza, let's 'ave some more fun!"
A surge of WazzBad's energy was cut short as Aaris put his foot down. "No more shenanigans!" He ordered "keep 'er level UzKop."
But as they circled the bay UzKop pulled them higher.
"Oi! I said level!"
"Sorry, Boss but we got company." UzKop began, "An' wif all due respect Kaptain, you iz a bomba guy and I'll admit you knows bombas but you don't know Zog about dakka-jets."
"I gotta get us up as high as possible before dey get close."
UzKop was right. No sooner had he spoken when a pair of human-built patrol fliers came whistling in along the coast. They banked suddenly into a shallow dive on course to intercept the ork raider.
WazzBad whooped, "Looks like da fun found us! Let's give 'em some dakka Uzza!"
UzKop squeezed the trigger hoping to catch the lead enemy fighter in a head on pass but both he and the human pilot missed racing on by and turning hard to re-engage.
The heavy G-force turns and stomach churning manoeuvres of this new dog-fight were not Smirking's idea of a good time however much WazzBad and UzKop seemed to be enjoying themselves.
"Da Sub's reached da first beacon." GrodMek reported.
"Iz dat it! Can't it go any faster, GrodMek?" Sleekit begged.
"Not when it's under water," advised GrodMek "A sub only goes fast on da surface."
"Den float your zoggin' boat and put da foot down!" Aaris barked. "Morkalmighty you're a cowardly git!"
They were diving now in a spiral spin, WazzBad's Waaagh energy was in full effect and UzKop was making best use of it.
"But it's a sneak attack!" protested the Big-Mek.
"It don't matter now!" screamed Sleekit in mortal terror, " Float it and floor it now!"
GrodMek punched in the codes to surface the sub and increase all speed as UzKop banked hard and pulled up allowing the pursuing fighter to slip on past. They wheeled out over the bay. Smirking, standing eyed the waves for the emerging sub but caught sight of it much too far to the south.
"It's following da beacon!" GrodMek groaned, "it musta drifted out of da harbour." He grabbed the remote and switched to manual control hauling the vessel back on course.
The heavy flack cannon at the mouth of the bay opened up again, they were much closer this time and Uzkop got a shock as a piece of flack came ripping through his cockpit. He pulled away fast and though the damage was minimal he was starting to lose his enthusiasm for this fight.
The massive wash from the fast turning sub came crashing in along the sea wall almost drowning the human gun crew as the sub passed within a squigs whisker of the harbour gate below.
The pair of human fliers were back in formation now and making their move to close in on the ork foe when down in the bay the sight of an incoming ork vessel took their attention. The lead aircraft pealed off and made a hasty and desperate strafing run with its twinned lascannons but to no avail. The other flier made a low turn and came in at a better angle carving a gash in the sub fore to aft but the invader plowed on as GrodMek steered it's course toward the heavy naval tonnage asleep in the dock.
UzKop momentarily free of pursuit took them up for a long high loop at the pinnacle of which they hung motionless watching the moment unfold below in gloriously slow motion. The reinforced ram bit home penetrating the hull of the larger human ship and cutting deep into its starboard bow.
"KRUNK!" GrodMek celebrated as they began once more to descend. "I krunkked da big ship!"
"Krunk?" Complained WazzBad. "Where's my BOOM?"
"Oh you wanna boom?" GrodMek yelled.
"I wanna get outa here!" pleaded Sleekit.
UzKop completed his loop and turned out to sea.
"I wants a BOOM!" demanded WazzBad. There was a jolt of energy that caused some erratic disruption to the engines as the wierdboy threw a wobbler.
"Knock it off back dere!" UzKop yelled, fighting the controls to stay airborne. The pair of human fighters were back on his tail and he jinked left and right avoiding their stabs at blasting him from the sky.
"Wot's 'appening Mekboy?" BlackGull demanded, "we gonna get a Boom or what?"
"We gonna get Boomed ourselves if we don't shake dis fella!" UzKop was turning hard trying to keep an enemy flier off his tail, "I need more power WazzBad!"
WazzBad kicked an energy boost to the engines as Smirking took a hold of their rear facing gun and squeezed off a deterrent burst of fire. The enemy peeled off and UzKop raced around after him closing in for the kill.
"Eat dakka Oomie!" He opened up with a burst of fire from his main frontal Kannons and was rewarded with a shower of oil and blue smoke from the target aircraft. It dipped and descended turning for home.
A sudden blast of energy stopped UzKop finishing the job. The second aircraft had closed in behind and was dropping bangers on their tail.
"Eeeeek" Smirking squealed bravely as he showered the marauder with dakka to little effect. A lance of ruby energy erupted from its primary weapon and Smirking ducked on instinct. The whole dakka-jet seemed to duck with him and dropped away from the beam rippling with green and yellow energies emanating from the rear cockpit.
"Dirty back stabbin' runt!" BlackGull roared at their human assailant.
"You'll not sneak up on WazzBad again, yer Git!" The wierdboy was incensed.
Smirking grabbed his gun by the handles and screamed "waaaaagh!"
The chorus erupted in a crescendo of violent energy that burst from the frame of the rattling dakka-gun. Each bullet released was propelled and swollen by a glorious green and yellow nimbus of light. They flew and bent and twisted through the air to collide at last with the astonished human's fighter which exploded, ripped asunder in a tremendous blast of firry death.
" 'Oly Smokes, wot woz dat?" Sleekit gasped.
"Da vengeance of da Godz!" sang BlackGull.
But the action was far from over. The anti aircraft guns on the ship in the harbour finally opened up, targeting the lone dakka-jet with deadly accuracy. A rattle of impacts sounded along their armoured fuselage but the airframe held.
"GrodMek!" Aaris barked with impatience, "make it Boom so's we can get outa here!"
"I can't," he admitted reluctantly. "It's s'posed to 'ave armed when it hit da last beacon. It shoulda gone boom by now."
"Dat's why we brought da bombs on da dakka-jet you stupid gitz!" Sleekit berated them all. "Now we can't even hit da sub!"
"Who sez?" BlackGull turned on the impudent grot. "You seen how da Chosen One just 'andled dat Oomie piece ov gak, didn't'cha?"
"Well, Yeah, but..."
"So..." BlackGull reasoned. "He can do it to da sub."
" 'Ang about, BlackGull," Aaris grumbled doing the maths, "dat's a rear mounted dakka-gun shootin' at a ground target at da speed of Mork!"
"So?" his faith in da Chosen One was unflinching. "It's a big target. It ain't moving..."
"We are." The Kaptain asserted.
"It's so full of bombz it won't take much to set it off." GrodMek added.
"At close 'nuff range to hit da fing we'll go boom along wif it!" Sleekit squeaked.
UzKop called in from the pilot's seat "We got more company fellas!" More human fighters had arrived on the scene, they looked bigger and meaner than the previous pair of patrol planes. Three bristling little gunships spoiling for a fight. "If we're gonna do something we gotta go now!"
"Alright boyz," Aaris consented "give it yer best shot."
Smirking stood and gripped his weapon as UzKop banked in curling low over the city once again making to swing in over the harbour for a final pass heading back out to sea. The leading enemy flier dived hard in after them. The chase was on.
WazzBad kept a wary eye on the pursuing aircraft as UzKop jinked and weaved evasively. A flurry of heavy bolt shells poured into their tail. Though it did some damage they were answered in kind by a burst of dakka from the angry grot in the rear. Smirking feeling now like a seasoned pro was keeping both his head and his trigger fingers down.
They were closing on the harbour now. "You ready for your Boom, Wazza?" UzKop yelled as he rushed in, guns blazing "Hold onto yer gak!" He hauled back on the stick and the dakka-jet shot up over the harbour like a rocket heading skyward.
"NOW!" Yelled every ork in Smirking's head as he wrestled the big dakka-gun into position and pulled on the triggers. Once again his bullets were accompanied by a blaze of waaaagh energy. The fountain of power emanated from the rising dakka-jet like a streaming firework pouring down upon the ships below.
"Waaagh!" They all screamed in unison.
The leading enemy fighter went barrelling by below narrowly avoiding catastrophe before a slick on the water caught fire, immediately followed by the ignition of the fuel tender beside the two mangled ships which were rocked by the shockwave and finally as the second chasing enemy fighter flew directly through the shower of dakka WazzBad got his BOOM.
A powerful blast of immense force went off as GrodMek's bomb-laden sub finally exploded. The enemy flier was sent hurtling in pieces as a gout of fire and sea water shot a hundred feet high and engulfed the entire harbour in utter devastation.
"Boom!" WazzBad laughed, clearly delighted. A wave of sheer joy and relief washed over them all and for a moment a blissful orkish hysteria overcame the merry orkish band. They sang and laughed and yelled abuse at their pathetic enemies who surely now squirmed below in the muck and mire and misery of ignominious defeat.
Only the grots managed somehow to keep their wits about them and as Smirking glanced out over the water he caught a glimpse of the two surviving enemy fighters wheeling in again on the attack.
"Eeeeek!" He yelped.
"Enemy fighters incoming!" Sleekit confirmed. The victory celebration would have to wait.
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/06/07 16:15:33
They tore out to sea, leading the enemy into their trap, whooping and jeering as they flew.
It would be a long and dangerous chase but the orks were confident in the extreme. Had they not just executed a precision strike of devastating proportions? Had they not flaunted their martial capability with the skill of seasoned warriors? Surely the very Godz in their power were on their side.
"Now back to da ladz!" BlackGull ordered, "and not too quick, UzKop. We want da Oomies to know 'xactly where we're at."
"I reckon dey already knows, errr..." ...was that BlackGull fella a Boss? UzKop wasn't really sure who that guy was. "Da Oomies jus' leave us well enough alone most times."
"Well not anymore, right?" Aaris exalted in their extreme brass-neckedness, "They'll want revenge now."
"And when dey come," BlackGull broke in," we'll have a propa fight worthy of da orks."
The dakka-jet climbed and passed through a layer of cloud, hopping up upon a billowing white sea. The light was clear and pale and the world below through little glimpses between the clouds glimmered distant and remote. A true Godz-eye-view.
"Oi! Uzza." WazzBad sounded wary. " you seen dem fliers?"
UzKop looked around and about but had to admit he'd unwittingly lost his tail.
"Maybe dey turned for home, cowardly gitz!"
"Or dey got lost in da clouds?" WazzBad suggested.
"Dey've gone and given us da slip!" Complained BlackGull, "you're s'posed to be leading them not losing them!"
"I din't do nuffink!" UzKop protested, "Dey was chasin' just as fast as we was flyin'. No, ladz, dem Oomies is up to sumfink."
No sooner had he spoken when one burst from the clouds below within spitting distance of their tail end. It opened up with a storm of autocannon fire. The dakka-jet rattled and the tail caught hell before UzKop could twist and dive their way clear. A volley of scatter-laser shafts followed them into the cloud but failed to find their mark.
UzKop was a little shaken. Their fresh confidence from the great victory at the harbour was already beginning to drain away. They had gone from hunter to hunted in a matter of seconds and were now ingloriously skulking in the clouds hiding from the humans, miles from any other orks. Their spirits were at a low eb.
"Damage report." called UzKop, "Some'o my instruments is dead. I ain't gettin' nuffink on da fingy up 'ere. An' can anyone see wots wrong wif da tail?"
"One fing at a time Uzza." GrodMek sighed. Smirking dropped down into the bowels of the fuselage shimmying through a tight rigger's passage, dragging a little sac of GrodMek's tools behind. He twisted round onto his back and grabbing the underside of UzKop's seat pulled himself forward into the pilot's footwell. There was a lot of blood. UzKop had taken a couple of hits himself and looked decidedly worse for wear. His hair-squigs hung limp on his wan features as he struggled to keep the errant craft under control.
"'Ang in dere, Speed Freak." said GrodMek, "dis'll be done quicker'n an oil-squig's gak-break."
UzKop smiled bravely through bloody teeth. Nobody said anything more about it; it wasn't the done thing.
Once up inside the guts of the dakka-jet Smirking set to work. GrodMek seemed in his element, humming a merry "ere we go" as he reconnected wires and bypassed shot fuses. A sudden surge of power indicated success and UzKop's plane began to climb again, their spirits renewed.
Back in the relative safety of the clouds Smirking returned to the rear cockpit for GrodMek's second task. He stood and looked out of the bubble canopy of his position but he couldn't see past the end of the barrels of his dakka-gun in the thick cloud.
"We can't see gak in dis soup, UzKop," Aaris complained, "get us outa da clouds!"
UzKop dropped cautiously, very wary of any tell tale sign of the pair of human aircraft pursuing them. The controls felt sluggish and unresponsive.
As soon as the clouds cleared Smirking surveyed the tail.
"Yeah, it doesn't look good, fella." GrodMek advised in a well practiced used-dakka-jet salesman tone. "Lost most of your rudder and da stabiliser on da left hand side took a pastin'. It's a real mess back dere. I mean, I'm not sayin' I couldn't fix it, but I wouldn't buy it, dats for sure."
"Yeah feels like gak." UzKop confirmed, "Anyfink we can do for it Big-Mek?"
"Oh yeah, I mean sure." GrodMek blustered,"reckon I can rig you up a makeshift repair, just til we gets our wheels on da ground, you understand. I can't make no guarantees on workmanship in dese here conditions."
"Whatever you can do, GrodMek." The voice of UzKop held a note of desperation. "I don't fancy our chances of outrunnin' 'em like dis."
GrodMek, taking control began assembling a few choice items in the gunner's cockpit. His sack of small tools, a few panels of approximately the right size and shape.
"Whoa! Hey wait just a minute!" Sleekit chirped up. "We ain't goin' on some GorkDamned stupid wing walk to fix dis fing!"
"Why not!?" grumped GrodMek, eager to get his hands on something broken, "it's a straight forward bit of riggin'! We're a grot afterall! Wif my know-wotz we might even be da bestest grot rigger eva!"
"Da Chosen One is not just a rigger!" bellowed BlackGull.
"And he's waring wings, you great Burke!" Aaris added with contempt. "You ever been out on da back of a dakka-jet in flight? We won't last a second!"
"Why can't WazzBad fly us?" Sleekit offered. He can keep us in the air, right?"
"Nah I'm bored of this." The wierdboy complained. "I wanna go play wif Mogz."
"Great!" GrodMek enthused, "den I gets to fix da plane!"
"No!" Came a chorus of dissent.
"Stop him BlackGull, he's gonna get us drowned out here."
"Oi, grot! You don't give me orders!" BlackGull thundered.
GrodMek was still gathering his things. A big roll of gaffa-tape had already found its way onto Smirking's wrist.
"You Morka boyz all has grot riggers on yer bombas!" GrodMek pointed out, "but I guess dey say Morka Grotz iz da bravest ones. I always knowd you was nuffink but a cowardly runt, Aaris!"
Aaris exploded in a torrent of violent impotent rage. Smirking felt instantly ill.
"You piece of squig gak, snot-for-brainz, grot lovin' Zogger!" He ranted, "I'm gonna rip your head off!"
"Gork's Gak, you're a dumb Git!" came GrodMek's blistering retort.
"Errr, guys..." much as Sleekit enjoyed the sport of boss baiting he was becoming very aware of Smirking's queasy gut. "You gotta stop fighting or..."
"Dat's enough from you, grot!" snapped BlackGull, "your betters are talkin'!"
Smirking was desperately clambering for an exit, he had just succeeded in releasing the canopy latch when the psychic pressure peaked and he spewed forth a great gout of glowing vomit. The canopy, taking most of brunt of the impact blew off and away but the rear fuselage cockpit area received plenty of splash-back and began to fizzle and smoke.
There was a massive rush of wind and Smirking curled down into the seat, folding his wings over his head.
"Now look what you done!" Sleekit scolded, "Dere's too much animosity in here for Smirking to take!"
"He means fightin', WazzBad." GrodMek never missed an opportunity to Mek-splain a situation.
"Typical grot, wants orks to stop fightin'," Aaris guffawed, "may as well ask a grot to stop squeakin'."
"He's right, Butcha." BlackGull admitted. "If we get to scrappin' Da chosen one has to let off da steam, and dis ain't no place for it."
Smirking began to feel a little better. He opened his eyes. GrodMek's bag of tools was lying in a puddle of vomit in the footwell of the cockpit. He reached down to lift them clear but the bottom came out of the bag, the tools dropped into the corrosive glowing puddle and broke right through the skin of the aircraft. A sudden gust of air flowing up through the cockpit caught Smirking's wings and whoosh, out he went with a yelp.
"We're all trying, you nonce!"
UzKop eased up on the throttle and allowed the clinging grot to ease down onto the top of the fuselage.
"Can we reach da tail?"
"Da broken tail, can we reach it?"
"To fix it! 'Avn't you been payin' attenshun?"
"We're out 'ere already, fellas we may as well 'av a go."
Unable to argue for fear of another gastronomic outburst the company found themselves shimmying back toward the tail of the aircraft. A stubby vox aerial protruded from the top of the fuselage. They had a nail-biter of a time negotiating past it before scooting down to the damaged tail fins.
"Well it's in a sorry state," GrodMek tutted, shaking Smirking's head. "but not so bad as I'd reckoned. Bit'o gaffa will sort dis right out." Convenient, as that was all they had.
The roll of tape on Smirking's wrist was employed to patch a few holes and finally he wrapped a generous strip across the flat of the tail fin hoping to secure the rudder in place.
That was the moment that an enemy flier appeared again still some distance away but gaining fast. Not one of the fighters that had pursued them out into the ocean. They must have handed off the chase to the heavier sea patrol gunship that now approached. It looked a big bruiser but with any luck, they might still out-pace it.
"Floor it UzKop!" WazzBad screamed on pure jet-pilot impulse. UzKop opened up the throttle.
"Wot da... NO!"
The sudden surge of wind caught Smirking's wings and whisked him off into the sky. The roll of tape on Smirking's wrist was spooling out at an alarming rate but they were still tenuously attached to the tail of the dakka-jet flapping around like a damp noodle in the wind.
"See, I always say you can do anyfink wif a roll of gaffa." GrodMek noted feeling mighty proud of himself.
"We're gonna die!" Screamed Sleekit.
"Quit yer honkin' grot!" Snapped BlackGull. Smirking felt oddly reassured as the authoritative shaman took command. He first took hold of the tape with their other hand and began to pull them up the length of the tape. The stuff was horribly tacky and hard to let go of once grasped.
"Nah, ya gotta do it like dis!" GrodMek butted in. He wrapped the excess tape back around his arm as they progressed slowly up the line, everything flapping in the wide open sky.
The rush of air became laced with a thunderous roar as slowly the big enemy aircraft approached. It pulled up close behind Smirking easily matching the reduced manoeuvrability of UzKop's dakka-jet. Smirking looked back and gave them a nervous smile. It looked like one had some kind of pict-recorder in hand and was clicking away. Smirking pulled his hand off the tape and gave him a wave.
"Wooooo!" Whooped WazzBad, feeling the wind in his wings and ears, "dis is more like it!"
It wasn't so bad, this; Smirking almost felt at home in the open air. Maybe he had been a seagull in a former life, he thought. The tape fouling up his right wing wasn't helping his flight characteristics though. He tried to spread his arms out but the extra drag just caused them to slip the tangles and the tape spooled out to the end of the roll.
The humans were backing off a little now, they'd apparently gotten enough pictures and maybe had something else in mind. Smirking gulped as he saw the big autocannons in front of the machine bark into life. Tracer fire whistled around his ears as he flip flopped this way and that. UzKop began to climb in an effort to get back up into the clouds as Smirking still dangled precariously behind pursued by the human gunship.
"We gotta get back on da dakka-jet."
They clawed their way up hand over hand but the stretched and tangled tape began to tear. Smirking made one last desperate swipe at the line of tape still attached to the dakka jet as it disappeared into the cloud bank above. He felt a sudden sensation of weightlessness.
"Get that tape off me wings!"
"Dis is it Ladz, we's goin' down!"
Smirking blinked looking down just in time to see the humans pulling up after UzKop's dakka jet. They raced up directly at Smirking as he fell. He had just enough time to shut his eyes and brace for the impact.
There was a bright flash of light and then he was gone.
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/04/11 21:17:55
"Away into the clouds." The flight captain observed with redundant obviousness.
"No not the raider. I mean the little guy."
"Throne knows, Jeff. Down, no doubt. Just keep an eye on the readings!"
"Sir." Jeff sulked his way from the starboard observation pod back to his station. "All readings nominal, sir."
"He's smoking bad, Captain." asserted the pilot, "We'll catch his trail in these clouds sooner or later."
"Very good, Don, fly on. Jeff!" The Captain snapped, "get back over to the observation pod and keep watching the clouds for smoke!"
The copilot jumped to the order and the captain manned the pod on the other side.
"Mark your heading and take us on a wide circuit, Don."
"Eyes peeled men. The smoke will lead us right to them."
They circled in a wide search pattern for a minute to no avail.
"He was losing power, Captain." The co-pilot offered, "maybe he dropped below the clouds."
"Don, take us down."
"Aye Captain, descending to oh nine thousand."
The gunship made a slow banking turn into the clouds and emerged once again from the underside of the cloud bank. There before them, plain as a signpost in the sky, was UzKop's smokey signature, trailing off into the distant east.
"Excellent flying Don. Jeff, get to your station. I want to know where he's heading."
Jeff resumed his post and immediately pulled up the topographical display. Overlaying their projected flight path he zoomed in on a ring of islands. The only known land within a thousand clicks of the line in any direction.
"I have it!" The Captain shouted confirming the same information Jeff had sent to his personal data-slate. "Malcador's Landing! Throne in Terra!" he swore. "Have the beasts no decency?"
"None, sir." Don sighed in sympathy.
"Forward. All speed." He commanded, "Jeff, relay our flight path to Command HQ." He added, and with an air of piety, "Advise them we will engage the Godless Xenos at Malcador's Sacred Landing site."
The Captain watched over the Co-pilot's shoulder as Jeff inputted the data.
"No, "Sacred", Jeff! Malcador's Sacred land... Oh never mind I'll send it myself."
Jeff sat back as the Captain disappeared into the back to record his most pious message. He flicked on his pict recorder and went through the latest batch of images, expunging the blurry or unremarkable ones.
"Here, here Donny." He laughed, "check this out."
The pilot looked around. Noting the Captain had diapered into the back he set the course on the onboard computer and allowed the auto-pilot to take over.
"Pretty funny huh?" Jeff was grinning like a goon. The picture on the little screen showed a grot dangling on a line from the back of a smoking dakka-jet.
"Is it waving at us?" The pilot raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah!" Jeff chuckled, "crazy little guy. They're all nuts these greenskins, I tell you." He shifted back into his seat and continued flicking through the collection.
The Captain stood at the holo-recorder entering the details for the message he was about to send. He had considered a live feed to the coastal command staff office but thought better of it. Why allow some acting commander, some junior officer to relay his message up the chain of command, no doubt taking all the credit along the way? No, there would be public outcry by now. Senior officials in direct contact with the man on the front line was what was called for. He punched in the address of the Lord Admiral himself and prepared to record his message.
The Captain took off his hat and placed it beneath his left arm. He tidied his hair but feeling his balding head decided it best to put his hat back on. He stood before the holo-recorder and toyed with the idea of donning his sword belt. Draping the thing around his waist and laying the fat scabbard on his right thigh he squinted at the preview image and frowned. He laid it aside. Turning his left shoulder slightly in to the front and straightening his neck, setting his shoulders back and raising his chin to a more heroic angle he commanded the machine to record.
"Captain Haversham, fifth Eastern Maritime Division, our heading is east on five six niner following the trail of the Xenos Raiders out of Paledeo Docks.
The Xenos raider, after sustaining damage from our initial assault managed to temporary evaded us in the clouds. But none the less we are now tracking his progress east and expect to engage the enemy at what must be their base of operations, which I regret to inform Your Excellency, we anticipate to be none other than the holy site of the Sacred .. Malcador's Sacred Landing site, over the Sanctuary Islands that is." He blustered a little and then sighed. "Pause recording."
"The site of... No... the sanctuary Islands, the sacred landing site of the holy, of Malcador the..."
The Captain gave it up, exasperated. He rolled his neck and loosened his shoulders preparing to give it another shot. He straightened his tunic. Trying to strike a more resolute and warlike tone he went to lay his right hand upon the hilt of his sword but of course he wasn't wearing it. He glanced ruefully over at the discarded weapon but noticed to his surprise that the scabbard was now empty.
The Captain caught a flash of green in the corner of his vision before his world went black.
Everyone was a little shocked. BlackGull was well impressed. Their respect for Kaptain Aaris' ruthless killing efficiency was certainly growing.
"Wot?" Aaris balked, "it was just a standard muted throat slash, kind'ov a fing. Dey don't call me Da Butcha for nuffink."
Sleekit was eyeing up the Captain's fancy hat so Smirking popped it on his head before dragging the Captain's body to the back of the craft among the boxes and tools. Rummaging around in the captain's pockets he found a key to the lock box. Inside was a trio of PDF Naval issue autopistols and a set of full clips.
"An' what? We just shoot the other two?" Sleekit wanted to think this through but the orks were out for blood. Aaris ran an expert eye, over the selection of ammo, sniffed it, and chose a blue striped clip. He pressed it home and primed the weapon like a pro.
"Wait, wait." Sleekit protested. "Can we even fly dis fing?"
Smirking looked round as if considering for the first time that he was on a human gunship. How had he even got here?
"I reckon we teleported." WazzBad and BlackGull began talking shop.
"Yeah, I reckon."
"Bit o' the old 'ere we go'."
"Yeah, dat's it. Real little 'un. Like froo da key'ole."
"I mean you neva really knows doz ya?"
"Nah, not really."
"I say that though I 'ave gone ship to ship once."
"Yeah, for reals. Lost me a few ladz on the way..."
"Yeah, you always gets a few."
With this inane dialogue rolling along in the back of his mind Smirking crept forward and observed the forward section of the gunboat.
"Hey, hey Donny look." One of the men was trying to get the attention of the other, who was absorbed in a small data-slate. Their language was strange and alien. The man reached over to show his companion an image on a little black box.
"What's going... I mean that's wierd right?"
"What?" The other man looked up, and soon his attention was as absorbed in the little image as it had been in his data-slate.
"What in Terra is that?"
"I dunno, weird right? I thought it was just a lens flair or some kind of distortion from the flash but then I wasn't using the flash and I can kinda see a yellow face in the glow, can you see that? Look right there in the...
"And the smokey bit over here too, that kinda looks like a ... "
"Oh yeah, holy Terra, look! Look at this Donny! If I zoom in it's like he has three faces! They're like green ghosts or something."
"Throne! It's giving me the willies."
"Aw man, Maria's gonna love this."
"You can't show that to your girlfriend, Jeff! That's Heresy!"
"What!? Come on."
"I'm serious. You can't show that to anyone. You need to expunge that pict right now."
"It's not Heresy, Don, it's just a little gretchin! Look at his little face in this one, it's like he's smirking. Heresy doesn't smile and wave at you Donny."
"I'm not kidding around, Jeff. They'll take your pict-recorder, they'll take your licence. Throne, Jeff, they'll take your girlfriend too if that's what she's into!"
As the humans went on the orks were getting jumpy.
"So what are we waiting for? Let's just zoggin' do it!"
Aaris took the lead and Smirking stepped forward. The presence of another body in the cabin registered dimly to the other men as they talked.
"Captain, I'm concerned as a matter of purity that..."
The two men stared aghast at the now familiar little green face standing before them wearing the Captain's blood-spattered hat. They both died with bullet holes marring their stupefied expressions.
Smirking stepped over the pilot's corpse and climbed into his seat.
"Right!" Aaris was limbering up to take the yolk. "Where's the stick?"
To his horror the panel was all buttons and screens. Not a hands-on control in sight.
"What's wrong wif dese Oomans?" He wailed, "I wanna fly da Gork-damned ship!"
"Let me 'ave a butchers, Aaris. Dis ain't no Morka Big Lugga." GrodMek stuck his nose in suddenly interested in all the glittering display of technological do-hickery. Smirking's fingers whizzed around the console, testing and exploring, learning by pure Mek-instinct the workings of the beast.
"Here, boyz, check dis out." He hopped off the pilot's seat and bounced over to the other side where after a little coaxing he managed to pull up their flight plan display. A pink holographic projection showed their position and projected flight path plotted on a 3D rendering of the planetary topography.
"Looks like we're nearly dere."
"And den wot?" Sleekit didn't like all this. He was much too careful a planner to ever feel comfortable just winging it.
"Den we sees wot we sees when we gets dere!"
Smirking threw his heels up on the console and leaned back in the chair. He picked up the co-pilot's pict-recorder and began flicking through the images with a cheeky little smirk on his face.
"Oh, look! Dat's a good'un."
"Yeah, nice one."
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/03/20 00:49:58
With the in-flight entertainment done Smirking tossed the pict-recorder and set about preparing for their arrival.
"So now we just gots to find da BizMork an' we can set 'er down nice an' easy like." GrodMek checked the readings for ships. "And den we can join in da big scrap!"
"No you idiot!" Sleekit squeaked above the din, "WE'RE da big scrap now!"
"Wot's 'e on about now?"
"I dunno, grotz I tells ya..."
"We killed da Oomans." Sleekit explained, "da ones wot was gonna follow UzKop home and attack da Fleet."
"You mean da Morka-wing." Aaris blustered at the mention of his Gorka rivals
"I mean WE'RE IT!"
"So let's attack." BlackGull shrugged, "I dunno, you grotz just make ev'ryfing so compli-ma-cated."
GrodMek was already punching in attack patterns to key up on command.
"So we flies in, we attacks da 'ole zoggin' lot of 'em!" GrodMek enthused.
"We gives 'em all plenty ta fink about and Zog's your Big-Nob, we're top of da Git-List." Aaris concurred.
"An' it's no more Morkas versus Gorkas after dat!" Announced BlackGull emphatically, "it's just all us Orks togevva, krunkin' on da Oomans."
"Oi! An' grots!"
"Shut up, you."
The battle was already in full flow when they arrived. Long plumes of smoke were rising from many points around the ring of islands and the inner bay was choked with vessels of all descriptions, some evidently stricken and sinking from Morka air assault, some, larger Gorka Battleships were still bombarding the island airstrips with heavy ordinance.
"Can anyone see da BizMork?" Smirking kept looking about but at the end of the day he only had one pair of eyes. "It's not 'ere!"
"Dat useless burke GitFingas 'as gone and done a runna!"
"Oh, no, dere 'e is."
They had spotted their ship, keeping out of danger on the far side of one of the smoking islands in the south west. She had obviously taken on some additional Morka aircraft from the shelled airfields and was busy keeping them in service.
"But we can't just attack da lot of 'em and den just fly down and land on da deck of da BizMork."
"Cause they'll follow us down and then sink da ship too."
"You know wot, grot." BlackGull began his customary browbeating. "You wanna worry 'bout ev'ry little fing. But sometimes you just gots to 'ave a little faith in Da Godz."
"Yeah, an' quit your snivellin!" Aaris added for good measure.
"GrodMek, prepare to attack." BlackGull commanded, "Waaaagh!"
GrodMek selected his first pre-set attack pattern. A holomap appeared overlaying the attack route across the local terrain. Little red reticules hung over a number of likely targets; tiny holographic boats and aircraft marked on the display. He confirmed all targets and the engines droned harder as they began their diving attack run.
A large Gorka Battle-Krooza was the focus of much of the fighting. It sat amidst a swarm of smaller Kroozas and Destroyaz all pummelling a Morka island port and airfield into ruin. Long range shells from Morka coastal batteries fell among the Gorka boats as dive bombers braved copious amounts of anti-aircraft fire in attempts to sink the Gorka raiders.
Into the melee swooped an unfamiliar bird of prey. An alien invader. Streams of autocannon fire strafed across the Gorka decks as it passed trailing smoke and bright chaff flares. It was a spectacular if slightly ineffectual entrance. The boats below now swathed in a thick cloud of white smoke were confused and frustrated. The planes above aborted their attack runs and regrouped in a defensive ring circling the cloud, unsure of what to make of the newcomer.
Their reticence turned quickly to despair as the gun-ship came full circle and returned to the fray climbing on the attack, all forward guns blazing. One of the ork fliers was torn to flaming shreds that fell as ragged rain from the sky. As they scattered every which way in their panic another pair collided and fell spinning entwined into the sea as this deadly new enemy thundered through.
"Woooo!" WazzBad howled as they carved a swathe through the battle. "Dat's rattled 'em!"
"Look, see dat guy?" Aaris had his eye on one of the fleeing dakka-jets. "After 'im!"
They banked in behind a bright blue and white aircraft that was making for the northern end of the ring of islands, the less smokey end. "He's 'eading for GulGog's!" Aaris yelled, "I zoggin knew he'd been an' built 'imself an airfield!"
GulGog was an odd case. He'd come out here to the RedRoxx islands on a Gorka Fleet exploration contract but had stayed behind and taken over the expansion of an off-shore oil field. The old Gorka port in the northern island was now his domain but illicit trade with the Morkas had made him wealthy and now a number of the larger islands held small airfields on the understanding that Morka protection would keep GulGog's operations free from any Gorka interference and reprisals. But if GulGog now had an airfield of his own, and the Gorka Fleet gunboats were leaving it alone...
"Maybe that fighta's a Morka on loan?" offered Sleekit.
"Nah, it ain't red." WazzBad observed. "Lokkit 'im, he's trimmin' for a landin'."
"I'll teach dat oily Deffskull to betray da Morka-Wing." Aaris growled.
"Ya can't trust us DefSkullz." GrodMek boasted, "We lies, we cheats, we steals." He shrugged, "whachagonnado."
"I'll show ya, GrodMek!" screamed Aaris. He selected a ground attack pattern and prepared to come in low over the airfield. GrodMek let him, it wasn't his outfit getting hammered.
They followed the ork flier in low and slow and chuckled as the little ork pilot scarpered across the airfield in a bid to escape the avenging angel in his wake.
"Look at 'em!" Aaris spat with disgust, "he's been collectin' scrap planes as payment an' fixin'em up, da sneaky git.
The gunship's multi-lasers, mounted below the observation domes on each side, fired a long continuous volley as they practically curb-crawled the length of the island airstrip. Buildings, service vehicles and grounded aircraft all plastered in Deffskullz blue were peppered with an indiscriminate barrage as they passed. Aaris roared with laughter as GrodMek fired up the engines again and laid in a southward course.
"Anyone wanna sink a ship?" GrodMek grinned. It was his speciality after all. There was unanimous agreement, even Smirking was smirking.
Leaving the angry DeffSkullz in their wake they came in low across the bay. GrodMek cycled through attack patterns but without torpedoes or a load of bombs to deploy their chances of sinking a Gorka ship were looking slim.
"Wot's dat fingy." WazzBad was pointing at a covered red switch on the dash. It looked a bit of botch job, a manual control switch installed over the otherwise computerised systems.
GrodMek rifled through the ship's menus but came up short. "I dunno," he shrugged, "Hit it."
Smirking reached for the thing and tossed back the safety cover. WazzBad threw the switch with gleeful abandon and immediately a tageting reticule appeared on the display accompanied by a mechanical hum emanating from somewhere above their heads.
"Who said dat?"
An image of a flashing missile appeared in the corner of the display.
"It's a rokkit!" yelled GrodMek, elated.
"Select target." requested the computer voice.
"Huh?" grunted GrodMek, "Shut up you, I'm tryin' to shoot da rokkit." He pulled up the selection of ships in front of them. One profile stood out, a familiar silhouette amidst the fog of war.
"Da GrodHammer!" squealed Sleekit. He slammed his choice home and the rokkit leapt from its culvert like a squig-hound at the races.
They all stood wrapt as the embodiment of their bloody minded destructive desire flew like an arrow aflame into the heart of a dragon. The black beast reared in the water and spewed forth such a burst of firey fury that all who looked on were awestruck.
"Yeeaaaaahs!" Sleekit roared in grot-like tones. "Suck dat, GorGoff, you great grox's rear!"
"Steady on fella."
"Yeah, I'm tellin' you, dat grot is dangerous."
"Oi! Look out!"
Their attention had lapsed. A pair of angry blue fightas flying out of GolGog's shot-up airfield were hot on their tail and hungry for revenge.
"Gork-dammit, GrodMek! Get dis tub movin'!"
Smirking fumbled for the evasive manoeuvres menu but inadvertently selected another ground attack pattern. They slipped into a shallow dive heading directly into the jaws of the angry Gorka-Fleet vessels below.
"Wot da? Nooooo!"
All hell broke loose as the anti-aircraft guns on every ship erupted in a torrent of hot death. Smirking's gun-ship answered in kind giving as good as they got, strafing the decks as they ran the gauntlet through the deadly crossfire. A chasing fighta was hit, caught by a stray round from a flack cannon. It came screaming in to explode athwart the side of the mighty Battle-Krooza. The human-built gunship, however was made of sterner stuff. It took a hammering from all angles but the armour held fast. They emerged smoking and rattling but mostly intact.
"Waaaagh!" Screamed BlackGull, his battle lust at its pique, "da armour of da Godz! We iz unkrunkable!"
Smirking frowned at the amber flashing lights in the display. They looked like engine warning lights. Either they were damaged or out of fuel, overheating or coming apart. Whatever it was it wasn't a good sign.
"So fix it Big-Mek!" Aaris ordered.
"Bah! Dis fing?" GrodMek scoffed, "you don't fix Oomie stuff. You jus' ride it til it breaks, den 'bout da best you can hope for is to use it for parts to make somefink propa orky."
Now out of range of the Gorka ships the second Deffskull fighta closed in for the kill, hoping to finish what the Gorkas had started.
"I mean look at dis!" GrodMek complained indicating the severely curtailed evasive manoeuvres menu, most options now greyed out and unavailable due to lack of power. "Paffetic!"
He selected pattern 'Dorn VII' hoping for the best but was sorely disappointed as the pursuing fighta matched them easily and even licked off a few shots.
"WazzBad!" GrodMek complained, "give'us some Waaagh! We need more power!"
"Wot? I can't Waaaagh dis Oomie jug." he pleaded, "It's like you said, it ain't propa orky."
"But we need some speed!"
"Den paint it red or somefink, I dunno!" WazzBad had zero faith in their stolen human gunship. He couldn't muster up a single spark of Waaagh energy to fill their sails. Aaris was seriously considering the red paint idea but the stupid humans didn't seem to have packed any.
Smirking was absentmindedly flicking between 'Dorn VII' and 'Lord Commander Solar Macharius Crusade 392', a manoeuvre that seemed shorter than its title to execute. The little fighta was matching them move for move and waring them down.
"Enough!" Barked Aaris, "let's nail dis DeffSkull git an'..."
Something came loose and the gunship dropped suddenly to the left sending Smirking tumbling from his seat. Down on the floor he was briefly reacquainted with the human dead. Not wishing to join them permanently Smirking clawed his way back to the controls. The display was urgently requesting instructions.
"Blast dat fighta!" barked Aaris.
"I can't," wailed GrodMek frantically trying to pull up an attack menu, " All I gots is landin' options. It's stuck on wimpy quitter mode!"
"We'll get us to da BizMork den."
A flurry of dakka rattled their rear armour and the engines began to scream ominously. Immediately the gunship computer froze out all input and selected an emergency landing site. They were heading for a large rocky island on the south eastern side of the ring. The Deffskull fighta on their tail was leaning on his trigger, determined to chase them all the way down.
Smirking had a massive headache. He always had a headache these days, what with sharing his brain with five other inhabitants, but this time he felt it might have more to do with the large bump he had received when the gun-ship hit the ground. The darkness in the cabin might have been due to dirt and thick vegetation obscuring the daylight through the windshield or it may be night already and Smirking had been unconscious for a few hours. He couldn't tell. He was hungry.
Down in the back of the ship among the crew's personal kit he found a crate of silver packets labelled VITA-PASTE. The silver foil wasn't very tasty but the orange mush inside made it well worth it. He ate like a starved thing.
Feeling surprisingly full after only six packets and still picking the foil from his teeth Smirking set about investigating his circumstances. He was trapped. If there was a way out of this thing he couldn't see it. The walls all looked much the same, all stowage cubbies and technological human gubbins. The floor at the rear looked like maybe his best bet. A long crack across the floor and some heavy duty struts on the walls indicated a rear loading bay not unlike the kind of thing he'd seen on a Morka Big Lugga. There wasn't much hope of opening the thing if there was nowhere for the ramp to drop, assuming they were belly down in the dirt.
He puttered about inside fiddling with dead instruments and inspecting the contents of every box, compartment and pocket. The co-pilot had a little packet of smelly sticks in his shirt pocket. They did not taste good.
His chorus of mental hitchhikers were ominously quiet. With no orks in the immediate vicinity, no animosity fuelling their usual psychic banter Smirking was almost free to do as pleased. Still his idle hands tinkered absent mindedly with the skill of the Big-Mek. His inquisitive mind interrogated every alien object with the deviousness and cunning of the Grotfather; each item subconsciously evaluated in terms of its potential as a weapon with the cold ruthless calculation of da Butcha. He would flit from task to task with an irrational lack of concentration no doubt born of WazzBad's influence. And all the while the Shaman lurked, a deep well in the back of his mind observing all and keeping account, plotting the moves ahead in a much longer game.
Smirking was startled out of a pleasant daydream as the gun-ship's systems came back online. He felt GrodMek's professional pride swelling up and sat back to bask in the glow of all the brightly lit displays. His fingers began dancing upon the controls. His hands were a little worse for wear, he noticed, from all of GrodMek's tinkering but considering they had the power back on he wasn't complaining.
A quick inventory of the systems showed the weapons were offline. They had coms but not sensors, fuel but no engines, emergency systems, no backups. The gunship could neither fly nor fight, it was little more than an armoured shed on an island hillside. Their chief concern might be bombardment either by Gorka-Fleet ships off shore or by Morka-wing bombas from the other islands. Even GulGog's boys were likely candidates for a revenge strike.
It didn't sound like anyone was trying to blow them up right now but still, they had to know what was going on out there. GrodMek had a plan.
"We got emergency systems right?" Smirking asked himself. "Well how's dis for an emergency?"
Smirking stripped the cover off one of the seats in the cockpit and tore away a lot of foam padding to expose the wires of the seat-heating system. Pulling some free it took a little trial and error but he soon found a pair that sparked pleasantly and quickly set them to work on the pile of ripped up foam padding. It was quite flammable and produced some very noxious fumes. Immediately the gun-ship's venting systems kicked in and a large fan above his head began to whir behind a vented guard.
Smirking was eyeing the vent skeptically as a potential escape route when there came a loud banging from high in the rear cabin roof. An emergency escape hatch had blown a bolt. He was free. Smirking smothered the flaming foam with the pilot's blood-soaked flack jacket and made for the exit. He reached the hatch clambering atop some precariously stacked boxes and squeezed out past the heavy door.
The outside world was all stuffy green and dank. Clearly some kind of environmental systems had been operating in the human gun-ship to keep it fresh and cool in there. Smirking looked up, listening. A yawning gap in the trees above showed only clouds. A thick overcast had settled, purple and grey. It was still daylight, maybe not for long. Nothing stirred in the skies. Not a plane, not even a gull.
"Storm coming." Smirking thought aloud, unsure of whose thought he was expressing. It didn't matter much. Hoping for a glimpse of the wider world he looked for the nearest tall tree and began to climb. The bark was sticky with a pungent sap that clung in strings to his hands, feet and body. The twisting vine-strewn thing wasn't hard to ascend though and he soon found himself a seat on the very top of the world. They had come to an abrupt halt on the side of an island plateau overgrown with dense jungle vegetation. They weren't far from the shore with a view out into the island-encircled bay to the north west. Behind him the jungle spread up and over the crown of the rocky isle where some odd stone-built arches and spires clawed desperately skyward from the clinging greenery. Some ancient human architecture. Smirking didn't imagine anyone had been home for quite some time. There was no sign of any smoke, no clearings for airstrips, nothing orkish in sight.
Smirking got comfortable and peeled the thick husky rind off a large fruit he'd found a few branches down. He dug his teeth into the purple fleshy heart but for all its wild colour it tasted surprisingly bland. Still, he was a very hungry grot.
The view from on high was underwhelming. Visibility was poor as the clouds rolling in from the west settled low over the farthest northern Islands. Smirking squinted at the silhouettes of distant Gorka ships beyond. Impossible to tell what they were. A pair of Kroozas maybe. The GrondHammer had evidently escaped the bay though a lingering slick of oil suggested that perhaps she had been towed away. Smirking felt a bubbling well of deep resentment growing in his gut, Sleekit's hated of his old Gorka ship expressed in a bitter indigestion. Or was it just the strange fruit?
All the sea was calm.
Had they blown it? No great evidence could be seen of any great preparation for war against the humans. They might only have succeeded in a forced and uneasy truce for the time being, if they had achieved anything at all. The occasional Red Morka dakka jet would roar on by overhead to pouncing upon on a distant Gorka ship, or be chased off by blue DeffSkullz fighta patrol. Smirking sighed. No doubt the coming storm would be a more pressing issue and all would soon be busy battening down the hatches. Then maybe the humans would send another wave. Or maybe those other two fliers they had lost in the clouds might yet make a sudden reappearance.
He spat the bitter seed of the strange fruit from his mouth and frowned. Who was he kidding? The humans weren't coming. The orks would only go lick their wounds and then start gearing up for their next fight. They'd be wading back into the fray again, just the same as ever, Gorkas versus Morkas, just as soon as their back up arrived...
That was it.
He had it.
Smirking would call for back-up!
He slipped back down the tree just as fast as the sticky sap and vines would let him, collecting another couple of fruits on the way. Once back inside he let his sticky little digits run wild over the console. Flight logs, Gun cameras, geo-location, attack pattern records, anything he could find that might tell the story of their assault on the orks. All data gathered he shunted it off to the communications relay and bounded back into the rear of the cabin to find the machine. He found it easily, drawn in by a blinking red light on the console. A frozen image of the human Captain looking a little awkward remained on the preview screen. A paused recording from right before they slit his throat. Smirking appended the rest of the data to the unfinished message and poked the button next to the blinking red light. If flashed amber flickering intermittently. Smirking stared hard at the light, all his will was bent upon it, wishing it to send the stupid human's message to his stupid human friends. He furrowed his brow and concentrated hard on the blinking amber light until finally it settled on a solid green. Green meant success, right? Green was good. Propa Orky.
Smirking sat atop the crashed human gun-ship watching a big swollen yellow moon hanging over Red Rox. The storm had come and gone washing the sky clean of Morka jet trails and the smoke of Gorka battle kannons. His second night on the island was proving an improvement on the first. No more rain, a clear view over the moonlit bay, and a... Something hit the back of his head.
Smirking turned, eyes flashing murderous power, but there was nothing but jungle shadows behind him. He watched searching the undergrowth for so long that he almost believed he had imagined it. The small lump on the back of his head, however insisted on the truth. Something had flung a stone at him.
"Come out!" He yelled, his strange combination of grotly squeak and orkish authority still sounding peculiar in his own ears. "I know you is hiding back dere. Come out an' show yourself!"
Smirking felt a fool. Sitting yelling at the darkness. He slipped back inside the escape hatch and locked it from within. Whatever was out there wasn't getting in this night.
The morning light came streaming in from the east all mottled and green through the canopy above. Smirking blinked at the glass dimly. The though belatedly occurred to him as he dozed on for another hour or two that the window had been all covered before. With leaves or dirt or whatever. He hadn't gone and cleared it off. Perhaps the rains had washed it clear. He opened his eyes suddenly. Or maybe not. Had someone been watching him sleep? Smirking shuddered to full wakefulness and clambering up on the dash he inspected the glass in detail.
It was no good. He'd have to go outside.
Smirking was immediately betrayed by the loud creak of the escape hatch as he tried to slip out unnoticed. He cursed it once but pressed on regardless. If the thing was still around it might be looking for another handy rock to fling. Smirking was on his guard. He skirted a little gun turret up top, mentally noting that he'd not used the thing in their big shoot out over the bay. It looked a handy bit of dakka, if a little on the small side. Flinging his feet down over the front edge of the gun-ship he slid down on his belly and landed in the leafy mould. Inspecting the glass from the outside Smirking discovered some strange marks. Like little sticks... maybe, or a stiff broom had brushed the glass clear. Or maybe... A hand print in the lower corner finally spelled out the answer. Little fingers.
Another stone cracked hard on the back of his skull and Smirking spun on the spot, mad as a gnasher-squig with a toothache.
"Waaaaagh!" He screamed at the jungle in general. He grabbed up a dirt clod and tossed it hard into the undergrowth. Something squeaked. Something giggled. Something rustled. Then an avalanche of dirt clods came flying from all directions. Smirking ducked and dived and scrambled up on top of the gun-ship. He found a handy culvert surrounded on three sides by armour grade plasteel and hunkered down until the dirt stopped flying.
All went quiet. Smirking was worried in case his reappearance elicited another round of dirt flinging but he supposed he couldn't hide forever. He dared a peak over the edge and was met by a strange little green face. Two faces in fact. No three. He raised his head and looked out over the top of the gunship to the jungle floor. There were more, lots more. A swam of little green faces, watching his every move. Newly spawned or under-developed or something. Snotlings, hundreds of them.
Smirking's usual chorus of mental hitchhikers were eerily silent; no orks nearby, but a flurry of their reactions were still flooding his mind. Pathetic! Interesting. Crazy. Useful? Disgusting. He didn't know what to think.
One thing, he knew was always certain where orks are concerned, the general rule that size matters, and on an island of snotlings a grot is the boss.
This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2020/05/23 09:04:13
The Snotlings, it turned out were an industrious bunch, if somewhat unpredictable. Theirs was an immediacy of action; a thoughtless, reactionary mob-mentality born of amusement and conformity with an utter disregard for consequence. Smirking quickly discovered that whatever they found novel and amusing would quickly grab the attention of all and a wave of enthusiastic participation would wash over the group.
As the largest greenskin around he naturally took the lead. He guided their antics and carefully steered the snotling mass in useful directions. Smirking rewarded anything productive that he saw with an enthusiastic response and simply disregarded anything he though likely to cause a riot, unless for a bit of entertainment. A snot would break off a stick and beat at the jungle foliage. Smirking approved. He did likewise and soon an army of so-armed and motivated snotlings were beating a path through the undergrowth.
Between fits of frenetic progress and bouts of violent comedy Smirking's band moved slowly upwards into the jungle and toward the crown of the hill.
Abruptly they stopped. Stopped going forward, stopped beating a path, even stopped beating each other. Their arms hung limp at their sides, sticks abandoned in a collective dull stupor.
Smirking was perplexed but he pressed forward and found that they had reached the old ruins, left here long ago by humans of bygone days. Up close the stonework was all crumbling, only held together by a mesh of twisted vine. Smirking dug a claw into the cracked masonry and picked off a chunk of yellowing stone. He instantly felt sick to his stomach.
A wave of nausea swept over them all and every snotling in sight began to wretch and gag. Some clutched their bellies and dropped to their knees. Some vomited and choked. Smirking threw up. It was mostly nutri-paste and silver foil, all stained purple by the jungle fruit. There was no energy in it, no potency like before. He was nothing but a skinny sick grot.
He staggered back and tripped over a snotling at his feet. It was all curled up and motionless. It didn't react at all. It was already dead, killed by whatever foul virtue lingered around this old human holy-place. It was all Smirking could do to crawl away on his hands and knees.
"I'm tellin' you GrodMek, dis is da place!"
"Wot, dis dump?"
"It's 'Oly I tells ya."
"Yeah, Aaris, we all seen dat. Da walls was full ov 'oles."
"Not like dat! It's a sacred place, ov da Oomans."
"Wot Oomans? Look at it, it's empty!"
"But look at WazzBad, look at BlackGull even!"
"You dumb git, GrodMek! It's obvious, dey're both outa Waaagh. Dey're flatter'n a pair of squigs on da runway."
"So wot? Now da big Morka Kaptain in charge is dat it?"
"If you pair of grox's rears are done measurin' your imaginary tusks can we get on wiff tryin' to figure out a way outa here?"
"Shut up Grot!"
"Yeah orks is talkin'."
"Bout wot?! Some Oomie magic! Powerful enough to make a snotling curl up and die! Big whoop. I can do dat wiff a fungus burp. I wanna get off dis Gork-forsaken rock and back to da BizMork."
"Well he can't hear us, grot! Smirking's on his own dis time."
"Dat's wot I'm tryin' to tell yous. It's coz da wierdboyz's powers 'as been zapped by dis here special Oomie place."
"Hang on... special to da humans?"
"Yeah, grot. Real Oly-like."
"So if we wants to hit dem where it hurts. It's right 'ere!"
"But dere's nobody zoggin' 'ere!"
"I knows dat, Grodders, dat's not da point!"
"Yeah, GrodMek, just shut up an' listen to Aaris!"
"You grot git! Don't tell me to..."
"Dis is it, GrodMek! Dis place is like... It's da GorkaMorka, for dem!"
"So if WE, bombed out dis place... Da special 'oly temple of Oomie wotsits, wot makes us puke an' makes nuffink but Snots grow 'ere..."
"Right! We should bomb dis dump offa da face ov da planet!"
"Couple ov Block-bustaz, dese old walls'll fall to bitz."
"Zoggin' right. Dat'll get their attenshun."
"More'n dat GrodMek. If we hit dis place I rekkon I know wot'll 'appen next."
"Seriously Aaris, do we 'ave to listen to dis grot?"
"Dey'll want revenge. Payback. Dey'll go for Da GorkaMorka."
"Wot? Did he jus' say..."
"He was YOUR grot-stooge Grodders, mate. I dunno..."
"Try to keep up you two! I'm tellin' ya. If we want all da orks, all ov'em, to fight together against da human's dere's just one fing dey'll all agree on defending ..."
"Listen to dis grot git talkin' taktiks, Aaris! Orks don't defend nuffink, grot! We only attacks!"
"Would we attacks Oomans wot tried to blow up da GorkaMorka?"
"Da Oomans? Dey wouldn't dare. We'd blown 'em out of da sky!"
"An' den stomp 'em into da sea!"
"Anyway, dey'd neva get even close, Da GorkaMorka's got more dakka dan an 'undred MeggaKroozaz!"
"Yeah Aaris, not to menshun da BigMek's know wotz. Top secret 'course, but b'tween you'n me, it's got warning systems wot looks out twenny miles in all d'rekshunz."
"Not if we gets in first and you shuts down da warning systems, GrodMek."
"Sleekit, you sneaky git!"
"You want Dem to win!"
"I want 'em to start a proppa scrap. Not just to die trying."
"So we needs to get into da GorkaMorka!"
"To shut down da systems."
"So da Oomans can get close 'nuff to attack it."
"Which dey wanna do because...?"
"Cause we smooshed der special island."
"We is gonna."
"First we needs to get back to my Big Red Bomba, den I'm gonna flatten dis sukka?"
"But how do we get back to da BizMork?"
"Smirking, I guess."
"But he can't 'ear us. He's gone native. Joined da Snots."
"I guess we just gotta get lucky."
"Don't worry , GrodMek, Smirking's da luckiest git I ever met. He'll fink of somefing."
"Captain Haversham, fifth Eastern Maritime Division, our heading is east on five six niner following the trail of the Xenos Raiders out of Paledeo Docks.
The Xenos raider, after sustaining damage from our initial assault managed to temporarily evaded us in the clouds. None the less we are now tracking his progress east and expect to engage the enemy at what must be their base of operations, which I regret to inform Your Excellency, we anticipate to be none other than the holy site of the Sacred .. Malcador's Sacred Landing site, over the Sanctuary Islands that is."
The Lord Admiral Berryhill said nothing as the message ended, preferring to wait first for Planetary Governor Astley Prigsworth's reaction, to better gauge his own response. He hadn't been expecting an invitation to the high seat of government let alone with the Governor himself. In fact there had been very little about the last three days that could be considered in any way expected.
"First it was the oil refinery and docks at Paledeo," Prigsworth began, "Not to mention the destruction of two defence fighters but also of a fully armoured long range patrol gunship. And now this?"
"The Xenos attack was unanticipated, sir, and most... er.. unconventional."
Governor Prigsworth did not look impressed. He produced a dossier from a drawer with the PDF Naval seal embossed on the cover. Berryhill recognised it as likely to be one of the annual reports produced for the Governors office, signed no doubt by his own office if not in fact by his own digi-script.
"Let me read for you an extract from your assessment of the Xenos threat from..." He donned his reading visor and checked the time-stamp on the document, "oh just eighteen months ago."
"Primitive in the extreme." He began with a flourish. "The savage native fauna represent a negligible threat to the local populace. One easily managed with the routine application of maritime patrol craft."
He looked up sternly over the rim of his visor before continuing his oratory from another section of the report. "Long Range Patrol, Fifth Eastern Maritime division... Oh the very same, look, none other than our good man the late Captain Haversham himself reporting." BerryHill's eyes bounced briefly over to the image of Captain Haversham still frozen on the holo-display in an attitude of mild discomfort.
The Governor continued reading the report with maddening self satisfaction, "Report encounter with Xenos canoe. Rudimentary projectiles thrown by count of eight Xenos occupants. Noted from gun-vid-recording all Xenos expunged and vessel...' Ha!" The Governor interrupted his reading, "It's a canoe! 'Vessel' indeed! 'Vessel destroyed." He scanned the final pages of the document, "Island reconnaissance North East Sector: normal feral orkoid activity observed. Gun-vid confirms seventeen culled and four rustic sailing barges destroyed." He dropped the report and removed his reading visor. His face was a storm of contempt. "I can't help but notice there is something missing from these reports Lord Admiral."
"We have experienced... that is, the Xenos threat has undergone something of an unanticipated escalation... The situation has been... for the most part the Xenos have been fighting amongst themselves, from what we have observed it appears..."
"An escalation?!" The governor's eyebrows had also undergone something of an escalation, "you have observed this escalation have you?"
He picked up a data slate from the desk and began to work the screen.
"Let us hear what you have observed of late, shall we?"
He sent the display over to the large hollow-screen dismissing Haversham's discomfort with nary a second thought and bringing up the record of Lord Admiral's periodical reports. Admiral Berryhill knew that as he tended to keep them brief, they would contain little by way detail. The Governor seldom required more than a brief overview of the situation. The more brief the better it seemed.
"Let's have a look, at your last update. Let me see now... He checked the date-stamp, "just a fortnight hence you advised... In fact, if you would be so kind as to read your report of a fortnight ago, Admiral?"
Berryhill felt his face flush. He cleared his throat and began to read. "Sectors North and Southwest secure. Sector Northeast: Increased Xenos activity: Island reccon reports Xenos population growth. Sector Southeast Increased Xenos activity. Twelve vessels observed, one engaged and destroyed. Sector South: Secure."
"Indeed..." The governor continued to go back through the archive, another fortnight, another month casually glossing the contents aloud.
"Vessels observed.... Population on the move... Xenos engaged by patrol craft..." He skipped back another few months. "Sector North East: Patrol observed Xenos tribal factions at war...Large Vessel observed!" He looked pointedly at Berryhill, "a large canoe I suppose?"
Berryhill made no comment.
"What's this, now? Communications disruption continues, South east sector..."
"We have experienced sporadic communications outages at extreme range across the..."
"Yes yes," Prigsworth interrupted. He didn't want the conversation straying too far off topic, "you see my point though don't you, Lord Admiral?"
Berryhill's face was a study in ignorance.
"Were the good people of Paledeo; the dockers, the refinery workers... were they to read these reports of yours from the past several months... Were the good citizens any other port city on the Eastern Seaboard for that matter to have read your, shall we say rather concise appraisal of the Xenos situation, might we expect that they , being fully appraised and aware of the raging conflicts not a shuttle ride away... that they might have prepared themselves? Armed themselves or at the very least deployed some kind of early warning system?"
Berryhill who was standing to attention suddenly realised the governor had finished speaking and was awaiting a response. His tirade however had been so long and obtuse that Berryhill wasn't altogether sure that there had been a question in it. He elected to say nothing rather than to say something stupid.
"Where are the warships, in your reports? The Xenos jet fighters and submarines that you have 'observed' presumably springing fully formed from the depths of the ocean!? Where are the bombs and the heavy ordinance, Jericho?!"
Oh so it was first-names basis now was it?
"Have you seen the gun-vid footage sent by Captain Haversham? Have you seen those "vessels" he was firing upon? They weren't fething canoes, man!" The governor was becoming quite animated. He accessed the report files and cued up the footage on the holoscreen.
"I have seen it, Sir." Berryhill remarked coolly.
"Well let's watch it again!" He pressed the command in an exaggerated display of aggravation. "Look at this, look. That's a bloody big ship, Admiral!"
"Yes I'd estimate some forty thousand tonnes."
"And these, these island natives, watch!" The combat-vid footage continued as the gunship crossed the bay and dived upon the ork infested island. "These feral tribal creatures! It's a fething aerodrome, man! The sky is thick with Xenos aircraft!"
"As we have observed, Sir, they mostly fight amongst themselves. Our patrols don't often interfere."
"You don't interfere?" The governor practically shrieked, "You're supposed to eradicate them on site!"
"We have not the means, Sir. Even our long range patrol craft can't get as far east as the main bulk of the Xenos island populations. Also, the sudden escalation we have observed has not been matched by any growth in our own resources. If anything we are woefully under funded owing to the privations across the eastern seaboard following the great tsunami two years ago."
"Yes yes, we have all of us made our sacrifices, but this, this is, a dereliction of duty. You knew they were out there and yet you did nothing."
"We patrolled our waters, sir. We knew they were out there and for the most part were no threat."
"No threat?!" Governor Prigsworth enhanced the image of the great black Gorka Krooza on the holoscreen caught frozen in an instant of awful fire-spewing glory, "that thing is a monster."
"We've seen bigger, Sir." Berryhill surprised a smirk at the Governor's incredulous stare and continued, "Yes, much bigger in fact but the Xenos sunk it themselves. The fliers, sir, they torpedoed it I believe. You see there appear to be two factions engaged in a Xenos civil war, one predominantly Airborne and the other more Naval. Now all Imperial Military doctrine on the handling of Ork..."
"Yes yes Admiral spare me the detail, you seem to know all there is to know about the Xenos but when in the name of the Sainted Corpse were you planning on informing the rest of us?"
"We didn't want to cause undue concern, my Lord."
"I think it may have been quite due, wouldn't you say?"
"Well no sir, all indications would have suggested..."
"A large bloody great hole in the city of Paledeo might suggest otherwise, Admiral!"
"Such an announcement would have caused civil unrest, sir. There was no money. Defence funding has been stripped to the bone.
"I seem to recall the launching of a new carrier not six months ago? You mean to tell me the Naval PDF is under-supplied, under-equipped to deal with these rabble?"
"Well, the carrier will certainly be a formidable addition once the sea trials are completed. She has yet to be commissioned..."
"So commission it, Lord Admiral. I can't see why it's been floating out here on the Southern Sea all this time when clearly our greatest threat is to the east!"
"As I was given to understand at the time, Governor, her launch was brought forward due to... political considerations."
"Political considerations? Please!" The Governor switched off the holo-display and resumed his seat behind his desk; the Planetary Governor's seat, the seat of power. "Don't presume to lecture me on political considerations."
Admiral Berryhill braced for the inevitable tirade to come.
"I haven't toiled these past two years rebuilding this proud outpost of the Imperium from the blood and mud of the Great Wave to be coddled and second guessed by the likes of you and your greedy backstabbing naval partisans! I know you didn't vote for me and your North Coast Space cadet Emperor-bothering bank-rollers would sooner see me dead than in this office but I'll have you know that every Emperor-fearing man woman and child of the Eastern Seaboard will stand right by me and my policies of zero tolerance for the Xenos threat. I can hike taxes till their noses bleed to fund it too and in two years time they'll vote me right back in because what you've done... what your lacklustre, keep your distance, don't-poke-the-scary-greenskin policy has done... what it's gotten you is this, this day! This tragedy, and this reason for the people to get behind me. And mark my words Admiral, your pious Northern allies will fall into line with my thinking on this too, once word of Haversham's martyrdom gets out."
Berryhill scoffed unashamedly. What sanctimonious rot, and from Prigsworth of all people.
"And it will get out, to every newsfeed from coast to coast." He cued up Captain Haversham's last words.
"...appears to be none other than the holy site of the Sacred .. Malcador's Sacred Landing, over the..."
"I'll clean it up of course, it'll be very good, very poignant. We'll have the Sanctorum Orphanage choir sing a homily in the background, that sort of thing, they'll lap it up.
Oh, that reminds me," Governor Prigsworth reached behind into an alcove inhabited by a scrivener-servitor and produced a previously dictated parchment. "This is your statement, Admiral. You will commend his action, pronounce a day of mourning and posthumously award Captain Haversham... I wonder could we promote the man? You will posthumously award Major Haversham the Drusian Laurels for his exemplary sacrifice and high... Well you understand, read the speech it's all in there I'm sure."
"I see." Admiral Berryhill was beginning to have a very bad feeling about this.
"And if, as you say, these Xenos are already more intent upon pounding the green feth out of eachother rather than out of us then it'll be all the easier to swoop in and nip this thing in the bud good and early. Wit any luck we'll have that carrier loaded and ready to sail in time for my candidacy announcement speech at the end of this cycle. In fact, Admiral, luck has nothing to do with it, you can consider than an order. You will see to it personally. It will be your flagship to command.
Then, this eastern campaign will run parallel to my re-election campaign, strong victories, measurable goals, identifiable enemies, all good spin. And on Election Day, I'll see you back here in this office, and not only will I still be the duly elected Governor of this Emperor forsaken rock but I'll be its fething saviour! And what's more, on that day, Lord Admiral, you may announce your retirement. Am I clear?"
"Perfectly, sir." Berryhill retrieved the document from the Governor's desktop and folded it into his breast pocket.
"Political considerations, indeed..." Prigsworth sneered, "Get out of my sight."
Smirking had stumbled and cursed his way back to the crash site, all the while an idea was forming of what he intended to do.
"I'm gettin' da zog off dis Gorkforsaken rock." he grumbled, "and I'm taking dis gunship wif me."
Soon he had the snotlings felling trees, gathering vines, clearing the jungle to the beach; there was no shortage of labour. There was however a general shortage of attention. The Snotlings would take to any new task with enthusiasm and fervour but once he left them too it the novelty would soon wear off. Without his constant attention to keep them focused and motivated they would easily get distracted and would wander off.
After a couple of days of attempting some elaborate work rotation plans in an effort to maximise productivity (that was like herding squigs) Smirking gave it up. He hated them already. Stupid snotlings.
Sitting with his back to a sticky tree, eating another tasteless purple fruit; he hated the purple fruits, they made him gassy, he ripped a wide leaf out of the undergrowth and rolled it into a cone. His fingers gluey with sticky sap provided enough stick to hold it in place and having produced a suitable dunce cap he awarded it with utter contempt to the snotling with the stupidest face he could find.
The effect was surprising. The big hat thus conferred the stupid looking little snot began ordering and managing his immediate neighbours in the diligent undertaking of whatever they were doing before the cap went on. He had been sharpening a stick. Now they were all finding and sharpening sticks. Smirking shrugged it off. The novelty would wear off just as soon as ever and they'd all be back to nose-picking and dirt-clod throwing soon enough. He went down to the beach to wash the sticky sap off his hands in the sea but when he returned, Smirking found that there was a sizeable team of snotlings now, gathered around the big-hat-snot all sharpening sticks. He was surprised, and intrigued.
The Snotlings, as it turned out were remarkably easy to manage, or some might say manipulate in this way. All Smirking had to do was to demonstrate his apparent interest in a particular task, ensuring a sizeable enough audience to undertake such a venture, appoint a big hat to the first snotling to catch on and soon a team of snotlings would be beavering away doing whatever it was he had directed them to do, without the need for his constant supervision.
In a matter of weeks, two long tedious weeks in fact, the gunship had been transformed. It now resembled, well... truth be told Smirking had never seen anything really quite like THAT before; It was the work of snotlings afterall.
The thing sat upon a rudimentary raft of lashed logs and had a tall mast protruding at an odd angle from the escape hatch on the roof. A hundred waxy leaves woven and stitched into a patchwork sail hung lifeless in the claustrophobic jungle air. But not content to trust to the prevailing winds, some part of Smirking's inestimable greenskin cunning (he suspected it was GrodMek) had insisted upon a big paddle-wheel, two of them in fact, one on either side of the craft with a long wooden axel running through a gap in the underside on the gunship.
After some time, and a lot of patience, Smirking and his snotling army had dug out the nose, cleared a wide enough path to the beach and laid a track of rolling logs out onto the sand. Now all that remained, he hoped was to push the thing down and into the water.
But Smirking would need every last one of the snots. Only through all of their combined efforts could he hope to be able to shift the thing. And even then, he was just one grot with Gork-knows how many snotlings to lead. It would take more than a couple of well appointed hats. Then it hit him. What he needed was THE hat! If they'd work for a snot in a big-leaf-hat they'd go mad for a big grot in an even bigger one, right?
Smirking selected the biggest leaf he could find from the jungle foliage. It was big and flat and waxy if a little brown but it would do the trick. He began folding it up until he had something resembling... A hat made of a big leaf, but honestly that was all he was going for. He plucked a smaller red tinted frond from out of the undergrowth and stuck it in for good measure. Well, there was nothing else for it, Smirking donned the Boss-Hat.
He put two hands against the rear end of the Gunship and started leaning in. He put on his best 'I'm-pushing-as-hard-as-I-can' face, really hamming it up for his assembled audience. One snotling picked up the idea immediately and started to push too, although he was pushing in the wrong direction. Smirking went and picked him up and dumped him behind the gunship. He encouraged the little guy to have another go and soon they were joined by another pair. Smirking laughed and made a scene of the three Snotlings who were pushing on the rear of the gunship. 'Weren't they a great lot?' He pointed and called attention to them. 'Look at these guys! Aren't they just THE guys!? He quickly gave them all hats and soon many other snotlings began to take notice. Many more eager workers jumped on the bandwagon following their lead. Smirking cheered and made a fuss over their efforts sticking quite the figure in his fine big boss-hat, bringing in more and more hands.
He ran to the front end and started pulling on a pair of long ropes made of vines which they had twisted together and lashed onto the nose. Soon a score of merry green faces were tugging wildly on each rope, egged on by their grot captain, celebrating every imagined gain and driving them to competition as the ever growing teams on each rope pulled harder and harder. The green hats had the edge, no the brown hat gang were gaining. He smirked deviously as he left them to their tug of war.
Next Captain Smirking, he was wearing the Boss-Hat afterall, grabbed up a heavy stick and jammed it under the side of the gunship. Soon many more little levers were applied at all angles and positions, he lifted and heaved, the snotlings heaved and lifted and in a frenzy of tiny green bodies and chittering cries the heavy machine finally began to shift. Smirking climbed aboard the moving vessel and stood atop where all could see and pointed heroically toward the sea.
Once upon the rolling logs the task became somewhat easier. The rope-brigades guided the lumbering mass in the desired direction down onto the sand, but when the rolling logs dug in and sunk the whole exercise almost ground to a halt.
Smirking almost toppled. Luckily there was enough moisture and moss in the logs to allow some frictionless movement.
Smirking wasn't beat yet. He went racing to the shore for some seaweed, to the tree line for some leaves. Soon snotlings were throwing all manner of materials upon the slipway and the gunship slid slowly but inexorably toward the sea. Smirking watched in great satisfaction and utter exhaustion as the thing went in and, incredibly, began to float. Smirking could hardly believe it.
He cheered and whooped and capered on the sand setting off a huge wave of ecstatic snotling celebration that took some time to ripple around the now thousand strong assembled mass.
The improvised paddle boat sat in the surf like a bobbing brick. Smirking charged splashing into the waves and clambered up onto the wing followed by a seemingly endless crew of salty snotlings. He threw the hat onto the deck in an effort to curb their enthusiasm but the snotling tide was already in full flow. In danger of being swamped he grabbed up a big stick and timing his efforts with the bob of each wave pushed and levered the gunship away from the island and into the surf.
As they got out deeper and deeper very soon Smirking's stick could not reach the sand below. It was still useful however in the task of keeping the more determined snotlings at bay. The gunship was already positively crawling with the things and sitting alarmingly low in the water. The sail flapped in the ocean air as the current more than the wind carried them away from the beach and out into open water.
Smirking assessed the situation. Having left the accursed snotling island behind he felt instantly stronger, bolder, and as the latent Waaagh energies of both BlackGull and WazzBad returned, twitchier. He grabbed a hold of the mast to avoid losing his balance on the rolling deck. As his mental equilibrium reestablished itself he spotted one of the snotlings twitching and gibbering for the amusement of its buddies, clearly mocking Smirking's involuntary ticks. Smirking saw red. He staggered the few steps it took to reach the offending snot and without breaking his shambling stride booted the little git clear off the deck into the ocean.
All eyes were now on Smirking. An alarming number of little eyes. Fixed on him. He spotted his big hat, amazingly still lying where he had tossed it. Whipping it up in a flash he secured the ragged leaf thing on his head and began dishing out orders quick, before anyone got any other bright ideas. Before they could blink snotlings were climbing the rigging manning the guns, running inside the paddle wheels and generally busying themselves at the behest of Kaptain Smirking.
The sudden flurry of activity produced results, of a sort. As the big wheels turned they began to move under their own power if slowly and without any apparent directional control. His very own snot powered paddle steamer.
Smirking could feel GrodMek's satisfaction, WazzBad's impatience, BlackGull's pride, Aaris's contempt and somewhere beneath it all Sleekit's indignity. It was all a bit confusing.
As they trundled along, just another small craft in a sea of possibilities Smirking remained hopeful. All they had to do now was to get somewhere, anywhere really. Another island, another ship, da BizMork preferably but he wouldn't be picky. Smirking as ever was trusting to his luck and to the will of da Godz.
As the engines screamed in overhead and the bombs began to fall, the guns roared and bullets flew he sat helpless atop a floating wreck. His half deranged crew of bedraggled and soggy snotlings had worked their little bodies to the limit turning the paddle wheels in a vain attempt to get them ashore on another island but the bay was vast, the wind was light and the current unforgiving. They were barely afloat, dead in the ocean waves, fully exposed and utterly defenceless.
Over on the other side of the bay a pair of smaller Gorka gunboats on patrol received the human attack with an eagerness for the fight. They opened up with every gun pointing skyward showering the human dive bombers with tracer fire and flack as tall plumes of water exploded on either side. The bombs narrowly missed their mark.
"Mork-Zog-a-Grox!" Aaris bawled. The orks' voices were back and full throated in their futility. "Da Oomans can't hit gak!"
"Gorkas got plenty o' Dakka, Kaptain." WazzBad recalled from experience, "it ain't always dat easy to hit 'em when dey gives it all dat."
"B'sides," Sleekit added, "ain't dey on our side?"
"Wot!!!" Aaris exploded. "All Gorkas can eat my..."
"Dey iz Orks!" BlackGull declared, with something of a psychic smackdown. "We iz all orks! Nuffink else matters."
A second wave of human fliers came roaring in low over the surrounding islands. One peeled off and swooped down to investigate what must have appeared a familiar shape floating down there on the bay. Smirking dived for his life as it opened fire, strafing a line of impacts across the face of the water and onto their armoured back. A snotling exploded as a high calibre round made contact, confirming that the contents of its head were indeed mostly green and gooey. Then the flier was gone, away over the water in the blink of an eye.
It rejoined the others as they swooped in low, releasing torpedoes at the now quite distant Gorka vessels on the horizon. An explosion sounded amidst the chaos as a fighter fell to the withering fire. A torpedo found its mark and a gout of sea foam and fire broke the surface with a tremendous crash.
Then Smirking cocked an ear to the unmistakable rumble of dakka-jets. He raised his head and clambered back onto his feet. They all watched as a flight of mixed aircraft rose one after another from the northern rim of the circle of islands, "GulGogz ladz" GrodMek confirmed. They passed over the smoking Gorka ships without incident closing in on the tails of their human quarry. WazzBad was so excited he could hardly contain his Waaagh. Smirking twitched like a mad thing, and when one of the humans caught a butt load of dakka in the engines and made a splashdown Smirking actually saw sparks appear from his fingertips.
"Dem's short range fightas," Aaris observed, "dey must 'ave a carrier out 'ere somewhere."
"Oooh, can we sink it?"
Smirking could feel Sleekit's eyes roll hard. "GulGogz boyz might sink it, or Da Gorka-Fleet maybe," the Grotfather began with a mischievous eye on Aaris "but there's about as much chance of us sinking any Oomie carrier as there is of Aaris dressin' in black and taking over command of da GrondHammer."
"You miserable li''le turd!" the Morka Kaptain yelled, "da day I'm a Gorka is da day dat... dat..." he was instantly apoplectic with rage. Smirking was smirking.
"I don't see no Morka's sinkin' no carriers, Aaris. Maybe you should join Da Fleet!"
Smirking had to sit down. Apart from the sickening motion of the waves the sensation of Aaris chasing Sleekit in circles around his head was making him quite dizzy.
"Speaking of sinking..." When BlackGull spoke, which was rarely, everyone paid attention. It didn't take more than a glance at their circumstances to see what he was talking about. They were sitting very low in the water and listing a little to one side. Perhaps the strafing had done more damage than a single grot afterall. In any event their left wing was now fully submerged.
It didn't look good for Kaptain a Smirking and his snotling crew. No wind, no power and precious little chance of reaching dry land. Not to mention they'd been out on this tub for two long days in the blistering sun without provisions of any kind and all the while at the complete mercy of both man and ork. Smirking was beginning to panic, worse than that he was beginning to lose the plot. His tenuous grip on sanity hung by the narrowest of threads.
A bunch of snotlings were paddling and splashing about down near the sunken wing for all the world oblivious to their plight when suddenly there was a screech. The whole gunship shuddered as something bumped them from below. Smirking grabbed a hold of something steady and looked around in a panic.
"Wot woz dat?"
"We hit sumfink?"
Smirking looked back at the Snotlings in the water, wasn't there a fourth one there, just a moment ago?
In that moment there arose from the surface of the deep a huge white shape, mouth gaping, teeth upon teeth, all bloodstained. Another snotling was swallowed whole in the blink of an eye and the great fish splashed down and slipped silently away.
Smirking gulped. "Sharks!"
He put on his big hat and ordered all their remaining snots to climb up higher away from the water. More than one had seen what happened and they didn't take much convincing.
"Great!" Squealed Sleekit, "Just fan-zogging-tastic! If we don't get splashed by an Oomie raider, or blasted by a Gorka gun-boat we can just sit tight here 'til we sink into da shark infested ocean!"
"You eva been in any shark infested ocean, grot? I been in it, one time before..." BlackGull's voice was a low rolling thunder on the horizon. He sounded far away, already lost in some reverie of another time.
"We was out on da ribz, couple o' deep sea mobz, maybe twen'y boyz, all good BlackGullz dey woz. We'd 'ad it good, sail-fish it woz, a good haul. We was headin' for home when a pair of cuttas, Red-Fin Reavers dey woz, came in on da wind an' cut frough our ribz like choppas. Blam, jus' like dat, we woz sunk. Da Reavers dey left us for dead.
We didn't see da first shark til a bit later on. We got us-selves into a tight group, da shark he come to da nearest ork an' dat fella'd start stompin' and hollerin' an' maybe da shark'd go away.
But sometimes da shark don't go away. Sometimes he looks right at ya. Right into yer eyes. Da fing about a shark is, he gotz lifeless eyes, black eyes. When he comes at ya he don' even seem to be livin'... 'til he bites ya! An those black eyes rolls ova white an' den... Den you hears da Orks start yellin', an' da ocean turns green, an' neva mind all yer krumpin' an' yer yellin' da sharks all comes in an' dey rips yous to pieces!"
Smirking blinked, utterly terrified. He scanned the surface of the water flinching at every shadow, was that a fin, a tail. A little splash off the rear of the ship had him leaping half out of his skin. The Snotlings too were on edge now, taking their cue from their illustrious grot leader, to be afraid, be very afraid. They fell to gibbering and wailing and lashing out at each other. One slipped, or was pushed off the nose of the gunship and was snapped up almost as soon as it hit the water. There was no doubt about it, they were surrounded.
Smirking cast about searching the deck for items, for options, for any plan at all that might prevent or delay or alter in any way their seemingly inevitable fate.
A shadow passes over his worried little grot face making him look up. A large red sail had appeared ahead of them in the water, and another further distant.
"Da Reavers!" He yelled, "da Red-Fin Reavers!" Smirking fully expected the approaching craft bearing down upon them to slice their ailing vessel in two and leave them all for shark bait. The fact that he was sat upon the armour plated hull of a gunship didn't occur to him. Or that the Redfin Revers were little more than ghosts of a memory of bygone days, so wrapt was he in BlackGull's spell.
"Tie it off then!" a shrill voice from the other boat called.
Smirking blinked stupidly. Slowly realising that he was not being attacked, but rescued. The other boat was a Grot Galley, and in the bow holding the other end of a rope which lay at his feet was a familiar grot.
"Smudge?" Smirking was dazed and very confused. "But how... How'd you find uz?"