Cletan the small cog
Cletan sat cross-legged on the floor of the filthy hut. Disused and located deep within the worst and most fetid part of the camp, it offered an uncertain respite from the lurking dangers and sporadic violent upheavals that rocked the slums on a daily basis.
He worked with anxious fingers, pushing the over sized needle crudely through the tough skin of the wretched beast, its demise a chance for him to prosper. His heartbeat wrung loudly in his ears, as the too close sounds of squealing, high pitched aggressive whines accompanied the loud banging of bodies hitting sheet iron and breaking of glass. followed the discharge of a simple solid projectile weapon, that split the night with gusto. It wasn't the violence, that, he was well used to by now. It was the uncertainty, the proximity and the level of escalation. This concerned him. The camp's could cascade to level of violence at any time. This might be a small scrap between the less fortunate grot underlings over anything from a dirty rag or a particularly sharp stick. At the other end of the scale, a major riot over territory by the surly lower caste orks. The degrees of what may occur was unfathomable at the best of times, and it was this that made him anxious.
A weaker or perhaps smarter man would do his best to flee with the large matted bilge rats, who had a sense about these things and scurried off before they were caught in the crossfire or became a collateral snack. As Cletan worked he reflected on his inglorious position and a montage of shattered images past through his mind, an ironic smile lit his grimy face. Indeed he was one of "the lucky ones".
Vat born and genetically modified to be a stable and stoic on a a planet of little interest. He hailed from a large agri-world with a digital code and a cursory name long for gotten in a vast empire. It's most, or perhaps least distinguished feature, a mono continent, with a flat textureless plain raked by cold winds and fast moving rainstorms. Perfect for supplying the empire of man with simple nutrient rich plant material derived from indigenous grain. Grown in epic proportions, gathered by gargantuan auto harvesters then transported to large silos and attached monolithic processing plants that dotted the faceless plains. The grain was broken down into a thin grey gruel in the processing plants and transported off world in bulk carriers to supply the fringe colonies, the cast of soldiers and faceless masses that ever extended the reach of mankind across the breadth of space itself. The planet, a small cog in the imperial machine, providing the most basic of supplies to the empire. The processing plant a smaller cog in the service of the planet. Cletan a plant worker, himself was smaller still. less valued than even the thousands of machines themselves, housed in the ancient hoarding of the plant,. They were forged of bright metal brought from off world, indeed the smallest had travelled at great cost and effort to get here, long ago. Stamped with the symbol of the Mechanicus. Kept in meticulous running order by rarely seen shadow cowled acolytes draped in the red of Mars, they were removed far from the daily machinations of the plants.
He remembered his insignificance fondly, his days, like his vat brothers, filled with monotonous work details. Endlessly making sure the plant ran effectively and constantly. he remembered the warm humid air hissing from giant crushers and the low hum of the breakdown vats. Once these were small but constant annoyances, now, happy memories. The gruel they produced, so weak in taste almost insipid, light grey in colour and gelatinous. As if all the life had been processed out of it leaving the barest memory of something called flavour. "Good times" he thought. Aside from the gruel, the plant's produced a basic weave used for simple garment manufacture. Made from the stalks left over from the harvesting. Shredded, battered, stretched, boiled, dried, steamed and beaten. A different monolithic machine performing each task on a planetary scale. The only feeble difference between Cletan's plant and the others, was the simple addition of a pale blue dye to the material. Unaware of the greater worlds around him, Cletan could not have known it was destined to clothe the thralls of an elite marine chapter. The mighty and savage Space Wolves, they, the protectorates of this segmentium. Prowling the dark reaches of space in sharp grey vessels to fall upon the enemy and bring glory to the emperor.
Great ovoid transporter craft hung like globes in the pale sky. With huge capacity, they sat awaiting their chance to land be filled, and then slowly their thruster engines would brighten the sky as they burned hard to get their great bulk free of the planet's gravity. They sailed for many slow months in darkness, bringing supplies to warfronts and hive worlds in the vastness that was the Imperium. This was the pattern of the planet, the plants and the un-numbered workers. All toiled tirelessly in the service of the emperor.
Until the war band's of Deffsneaker had arrived to plunder and pillage.
Cletan frowned, stitched and jerked the needle, very nearly putting it through a finger. The odour of the dead creature was beyond foul, he worked around its massive, now still jaws. It was essentially a bio-platform for a mouth full of overside teeth and tusks. It was also his ticket out of this shit stain of a camp. Unsure exactly how things would play out. Cletan was working based on half remembered rumours and stories from back at the plant and the little information he had gleaned from vid and vox casts. These made available( after the strict vetting process)to the working masses during their brief rec time. Once again his mind circled back to that time.
The ork beasts. He remembered that moment, it hung in his mind like a gruesome dream.
Cletan, his duties completed, sat in one of the smaller rec halls, more an alcove really. He was having his eyebrow etched with the 3 stripes that helped visually distinguish him from his bio-engineered kin, some had facial tattoos, hair mods or simple piercings, his was a small difference that allowed his work team and casual friends to recognise him. He handled a mug of simple beverage, derived from the grain and fermented from the same stores used for the nutrient gruel. The workers had a ready and high quality supply. Some work crews focused on its manufacture in their rec time while most just focused on drinking it. It had a strong kick and a palatable after taste, perhaps the only part of the plant's heavily regulated regime overlooked by the monitors.
Even the off world pilots and ship's crews would mingle in the rec halls, drawn to sample the brew,stretch their legs and share fantastic tales of other worlds and peoples, rumours of great wars, tech advancements and most popular, the astarte's superhuman feats of courage and martial skill. Their tongues loosened by the fine ale, a few even spoke of xenos encounters, black hearted rogue traders, nefarious machines and other tall and even taller tales. Dismissed with scoffs by the processing plant's crew, who could not begin to think such things were real, far beyond their simple lives. They smiled and nudged one another noting the ale was a particularly good batch.
The ambience of good natured camaraderie was forever shattered by an explosion beyond logical reason. An act so violent and unthinkable, that the land shuddered in surprised protest. The ork, had arrived via hurtling asteroids. In a cloud of ionised atmosphere and fused matter. the land was compacted and then disintegrated by the brutal force of the landing. A blinding flash, an immense shockwave and the sound of white noise impacted on those in the plants of the northern reaches. The closest ships in orbit simply broke apart from the sound wave and residual atmosphere carrying it far into space as it planet screamed its pain to other worlds. We will not remember the southern part of the continent, breaking apart and imploding deep into the planet, so hard a bulge and an eruptive volcano chain pushed through the crust on the other side of the planet. Causing the violent birth of a new land mass, and the evaporation of the southern sea. This area of the continent was lost in a painless instant. Leaving a vast fused wasteland with a pungent metallic tinge that would last for thousands of years.
A good day at the office if you're an ork. Those that survived the initial landing looked immensely pleased with themselves. There was plenty of good natured back slapping and toothy grins. "Well done boys," " that was flippin loud" and "I think I shat myself hard" became cliche statements over the next couple of hours. A very cursive look at this event revealed the ork had simply strapped many and varied engines to a large asteroid, brought it up to terminal velocity and aimed it loosely at the bottom half of the planet. A simple but effective tactic, after all it was a stick shift with a very deranged pilot. Also it was not very manoeuvrable as it had the aerodynamics of a large rock. Which of course it was.
The orks landed almost immediately after the first asteroid impact, in other sturdy reinforced rokks. These landings were cleverly timed, following in the wake of the first riding the massive blow back shockwave to stall their momentum and allow for a softer landing, by ork standards. it should be noted ork standards are quite low across the board. The first two or three asteroids unfortunately or perhaps not so, disintegrated under the force of this rollicking wave. Melting and evaporating at the same time. Whole war bands and numberless screaming grots were lost, but no one was really bothered and just got on with it. There was even scuttlebutt deep in the surviving asteroids that a rival leader and his faction were keen to gain the prestige of being first to the fight. They were given the opportunity in case this sort of "nasty accident" happened. The warriors would be missed certainly, but were also no longer threat to the warlord's power base. So all in all it was win win for the hulking war boss who came up with "the plan". Both brutal and cunning.
As planetary invasions go it was a cake walk. Firstly it was a soft target with little orbital defence, a few notary satellites and one remote astropathic station which remained hidden from the orks. The planet wide harvests had continued for thousands of years uninterrupted. Until any defence levies or guard units initially placed there had been re-ordered to more active zones or critical defensive positions on other planets. Those left were the Mechanicus personal body guards, a handful of Adeptus Arbites on secondment, and each plant's emergency response units. These were mainly trained for accidents and natural disasters vary rarely needing to fire their weapons except for maintenance, training and vermin control. The Arbites while well armoured and highly trained, were peace keeping units assigned to each plant and attached hab zones and numbered in the handful.
The ork remained unnoticed deep in the asteroids with no emissions or any heat signatures from the dead engines. This was until close to the localised space zone around the planet. In fact history will show they were identified more as a possible obstruction for collision in regard to the bulky transporters. The official description, dutiful recorded and relayed to an Imperial navy station was " /asteroid field accompanying ice debris - possible shipping obstruction class 4 - insignificant- This was then cordially sent and supplied to the transport ship's bridge crew with the other class 4 issues. Duly overlooked and rightfully so in regard to navigation priorities. a footnote at the bottom of a 8 page transcript.
After some time to allow the ground to cool, the Warlord rolled down the great iron ramp in his personnel battle transport "Grinder", followed by a mix of wagons and trucks carrying a variety of orks. All heavily armed and quite deaf from their impact landing. This led to a lot of shouting and pointing and more even louder shouting. Once the heavily suspended trucks and trakks had formed a rumbling iron herd, they moved off in reasonable fashion. The warlord noted for his vile temper, his low cunning and his girth, was fondly referred to as Bucketgutz Deffkreeper by his war band, and less fondly so by his still living enemies. Leaning out the viewing port, he simply waved his large gun menacingly in the air let off a few rounds and vaguely pointed North. The invasion had began.
Cletan and his fellow plant crew had the pleasure of listening to the orks over the vox castor, as they scouted out the more southerly plants still intact, visiting upon them their initial frustration and war fervour that left many dead. They also had the added bonus of seeing great smoke trails spiral upwards as the ork by whimsy or whim set fire to or exploded plants and hab zones further south. The fields also catching light with spot fires adding to the black greasy smoke that became a noticeable curtain in the sky, drawing slowly closer. Vox after Vox went silent and it was easy to track the progress of the war band by the breakdown in plant to plant communication. The cessation of panic voices and screams of the dying was a relief. The crew in Cletan's plant realised with dismay after 9 very long days that escape was not a viable option. Fleeing into the great crop steppes was ill advised due to the wild fires, off world transports, well those that could, had left within minutes of the asteroid landing, and help if at all coming, was so far away as to be unrealistic. That left a simple if unenviable choice of defensive tactics.
This was duly planned out by barely competent overseers and plant monitors. It involved barricades and handing out the limited arms available, some training in said arms, ammunition was not readily available so this was limited. The manufacture of simple hand weapons for the majority and the destruction of roads and part of the hab zone. This was to deny the enemy easy access. Of course the plant was the most defensively sound structure with its monolithic walls and towering roof and the defensive effort was concentrated there. The Arbites and crews feverishly made as many additions to it in the time available. Kaltrops were manufactured by the thousands and place on the roads before the denial zone outside the plant, great metal doors were hooked up to the plant power supply going live to fry the invaders. Oil barrels were set up at key factory junctures to be ignited as needed. Their confidence bolstered by their effort and confidence in their plant militia led by the carapace armoured Arbites, The crews then began moving food stores and medical supplies into the strongest and innermost part of the plant. In these tight spaces this was where the individual workers would have the biggest advantage over their more bulky opponents.
Cletan himself was less sure, had not the other plants initiated the same procedures? Did the screams of butchered crews over the vox somewhat dampen the effectiveness of these tactics? Are we going to die to a man? He had these doubts and devised another more personnel plan, he would fight then hide.
Once the Ork was close he would simply sneak away to previously prepared position and wait it out. As per his want he gathered food supplies, a churn container of ale, a bucket for ablutions, a heavy cudgel, simple medical supplies and some rather racy reading material. The subtle genius in Cletan's plan and that, which it must be said led to his survival was this. He would hide in plain sight. The vast dye vat 112-pale blue located near enough to the centre of the plant. An upturned fermenting copper would be his home. With legs welded on and the addition of an air bleeding/re-constituting unit, some sealed containers inserted for waste and supplies. It would become a simple diving chamber.
The over sized copper sheen vat was wheeled to a workstation, welded open and the re-breathing additions put on. Once loaded with supplies and insertion of a basic shelve and circular bench seating, it was then sealed again except for a hole to equalise pressure. This was cut large enough for a man to fit through in the bottom of the chamber. When complete it was picked up via a heavy gantry crane. Then simply lowered over, and into the vast dye vat. Avoiding the great central mixing paddles the unit quickly disappeared with 3 slow viscous blue bubbles and a little bubbling noises that made Cletan smile, despite the desperate nature of his situation. Cletan had finished his bell chamber in three nights of flying sparks and shining rivets, all the crews were working in an hectic manner on various projects so he was not out of place. Those that fled the factories were problem enough for the supervisors and monitors. All eyes were looking outwards, as each man fleeing weakened the defensive effort. Cletan completed his unit as unnoticed as the rest of his existence. As the sky blackened with impending doom and as large dust clouds appeared on the horizon he was at last ready to fight…well fight a bit, then hide.
From the ork perspective things were ok, but not super great, the fights were rather dull. The guns the enemy carried, while being able to penetrate their tough green hide. It required a very lucky or large number of shots to take down a single warrior. Those that fought against them were quickly killed. The humies putting up a bit of a show for less than an hour, then getting squeamish they began running off in all directions. When they fled they usually ran as an entire work crew. Those that fled into the fields were captured by barbed harpoon or chains dragged behind Ork buggies and bikes. The harpoons were sharp and wicked, attached to a compression gun mounted atop the buggy and fired by a malicious grot. The line pulling taught as a victim was skewered thru the leg or torso to the ground. The cackling grot then tapping the roof above the driver which would put him into a wicked spin. Using the line to encircle and crudely bind the rest of the panicked prey within the circular arc. The line was released and a pick up trukk quickly followed, overall wearing Orks hopped out to cheerfully load up the already bound captives.
The chain buggies were more vicious still. Long rusty chains rattling over the ground behind the buggy. The tendency of the fleeing crews to move together helped. The buggies and bikes would simply fly through the churning dust, throw a turn or junk left and right whipping the long chains across the ground as they sped away from each other with surprising skill. A rattling crack from the chain at the very least would stun a humie, perhaps break a bone and at worst, snap up off the ground decapitating the unfortunate in a spray of blood and dust. Most of the plant crews would see a fellow go down with a broken shin or a gut splitting wound and simply drop to the ground for fear of moving thru the fast moving vehicles and trailing chains, almost invisible in the exhaust fumes and dust. A weapon of terror rather than an effective combat tool yet handy and offering a little light amusement to the Ork outriders. The over charged engines used by the Orks and large belching exhausts would also set fire to the ripening fields, adding another level of lethality or excitement to the chase, depending upon wether you were prey or predator. It was said more than once on the invasion from admiring ork infantry looking on" who doesn't love seeing the burny burny dance?"
The fate of the plant crews who hid deep within the maze of machinery, vats, and pipes of the plant was no different. The alcoves, store rooms, and upper gantries. The darkest recesses they could squeeze themselves into, held no succour. Thinking themselves safe or secreted. They were easier prey again and even more disappointing to the brutish invaders who found it tiresome and frustrating to hunt them down. Some even believed it was unsportsman like, as they tried to move their bulky wedge shaped bodies through the factory. Eventually (after about 5 minutes) the inherent lazy nature of the Ork warriors made them tire. With a gnashing of toothy mouths and a furrowing of brows over deepest red eyes, they would concede it was a job for the grots. The war drum would be beaten and boomed through the factory, with a shake of rattling beads and a low and lethal hum of electricity the Ork Grot handlers would edge forward through the mobs of heavily armed and in these cases very ticked off Ork warriors. The Runtherds were covered in fetishes and braids, daubed in the warpaint of their tribes. Almost resplendent with feathers, coloured beads and bird or vulpine skulls, grizzled in visage and cooler than their brethren in countenance. Each Runt Herder carried a personalised grot stick of un-uniformed design, but all having a long pole with a wicked spiked claw to clamp wayward grots or any enemy that came within their grasp. Most were modified to delver a belt of bowel loosening electricity to any prey captured by the jawed head. A primitive dial could set this to stun a grot, for being a bit naughty, or to deliver a violent shock, strong enough to cook the blood in the dual hearts of a space marine warrior. It should be noted this also saved on cooking time…
The Runt Herder would look cooly at the myriad of pipework and sprawling plant workings, disappearing beyond sight forward into darkness, and above to vaulted ceilings so high the steam and smoke formed a light cloud in its upper reaches shrouding the top of the largest boilers and machines. The plants were built on a uniform design and he had performed this task in most of them. With a knowing grunt he would motion to the doors, pipes and grills that exited the factory. Then with a mixture of resentment and anticipation the Ork horde would move to secure these areas, wicked clubs and koshes in their meaty green hands, some would knock these ominously against door frames or grills to further bring panic to the foe. Once the exits were secured he would spark his Prodder in a glowing actinic arc and give three short whistles. The gretchin poured forth in a mass of spindly limbs with wide grinning mouths showing their short point teeth. They would seethe forward gibbering and cackling like crazed marionettes. Armed with simple weapons and malicious glee. They cascaded through the factory, able to see well in dim light, with large ears and bulbous noses of the goblinoid race, they we well suited to find the huddling and hiding work crews. Pinching and biting, they would use sharp sticks and metal debris to prod at the ensconced humans. Squealing in high pitched anticipation of a free lunch or perhaps in anticipation they themselves would not be lunch, they would by mass of numbers, drag or prod the humans from there refuges.
Once out, they were jumped upon and beaten soundly by teeny tiny fists and perhaps an ear was bitten of by the particularly brave. Some of the plant crew put up a fight, they throttled or flung the gretchin away to the satisfying sound of the straw snapping limbs. Some used their maintenance tools as weapons and crushed their noisome bodies into slimy green blooded puddles. Alas to no avail. the gretchin would pull back growling low and circling, like very small dogs, Then once embolden by more of their numbers drawn to the conflict ,they would reach a critical mass and surge over the unfortunate victim dragging him down and attacking his most soft and vulnerable places as punishment. Until he submits or is beaten into unconsciousness.
Those that tried to run, were met by the heavy hand of the Ork warriors at the exits. A light krumping usually did the trick and the fleet of foot were rounded up rather smartly in these one sided encounters. And so plant after plant fell, looted and crews rounded up. These then put into trakks or trucks, transported to and secured in great prison like rolling fortresses. Perhaps purpose built or perhaps just wagons with the addition of a secure door and a very large and crude padlock. The prison wagons were a mute iron hulk bedecked with trophies and red daubed skull motifs. They were sparsely furnished and manned, a simple drop hole and a few snarling rotund squig hounds being the only addition to the formidable defence of a 20 foot drop to the ground. Indeed some tried, and were seen limping off, only to be rounded up by the circling screen of bikes and buggies. They returned with raw wounds if at all.
The brutality playing out across the plains was an unknown to Cletan, he could only focus on the immediate problem of survival. He whistled softly as he selected the finest brew from the now abandoned fermenting room. As he moved vat to vat he simply adjusted the control mechanisms to add the maximum sucrose gels and double clamped the lids. He made sure the burner brewed vats and thermo skins on the advanced tanks were turned up a notch. After that he used a porta welder and adeptly ran a seal over the first 20 or so tank vents. After it ran out he then crushed the outlet release valve pipes on the rest. With a sadness he took one more look around and decided with some venom to move the trolleys laden with sucrose gel hard up against the vats. Each trolley contained 4 or so drums of sucrose gel and by the time he moved 12 there was little room left. Taking the churn barrel with his ale, he carried it on his shoulder the short walk to the pale blue dye vat. Once wrapped in sheeting it was dropped into the vat from the gantry. Hearing a satisfying clunk as it sunk below the thick creamy dye and rested next to his bell, Cletan was ready. Once the Ork began to overrun the plant he would simply put on a haz suit and breather, these hung on emergency racks in each sector. He would then climb the ladder to the control panel, turn the mixing paddles off and slip into the tank and edge the five or so feet to his bell chamber pulling his beer churn up into the bell hole with him.
The alarm klaxons wailed with inevitability, Literally a thin sound of panic against the throaty roar of the bikes and buggy outriders that swarmed across the plain. They heralded the arrival of the ork horde in hues of red and black, rust and metal. The larger troop transports and slower trukks and trakks followed in long columns across the plains secure in their lazy domination of the planet. They rarely swung there periscopes up or ran the large guns in defence rotational patterns. The fire power they had was beyond considerable, but the canny warlord had made sure from the top down this was a hands on mission. It was a large target with limited resources and few defensive measures. He wanted his boyz to get up close and personal. Storming fortifications was never easy in battle and this was a practice run for the ground pounders. Also he was happy to collect some humie slaves who had a bit of know how about wat nots and gubbinz. This was a carry all term for orks, regarding most technology and complex machinery which was beyond most of his war band except for a few select gifted mek boyz. What the warlord was really interested in was the great harvesters and ground transports. Artificially controlled and now sitting quietly in sheds and housing stores. A gleam would light his beady eyes up as he thought about them, decked out with some very large guns, armour plating and perhaps an oversized spiky roller or two. The image of this warmed the cockles of his great black heart.
Of course this was all by chance, in the typical ork style the planet they landed on was an unknown, with no long range scanners or sophisticated scrying equipment the landing was basically another "hit it and see" moment. Advantageous genetic pre-disposition allowed the orks to make the best out of all most any situation, and the oversized harvesters fell heavily into this category, the rest, the slaves the planet's remaining resource, the practice krumpin for the lads, a bonus for sure, but an after thought.
Cletan's plant was one of the few left in the North, and this time frame was rapidly becoming shorter. Bikes and buggies opened up with large caliber auto guns and rockets. A long way away still, it was just a little steam being let off. Contrails of rockets and tracer rounds visible as they slammed into the plant or careened into the hab zone. The weight of fire grew heavier as they drew closer. Until ammunition started to run short and they would careen off to resupply from vehicles further back in the column. A few larger rounds started coming in, these at least could be heard by the large solid shells tearing into the plant walls ripping great chunks out of it. For all the noise and smoke the damage was minimal, the walls meters thick, were scorched and torn but rock solid. Shells started whistling in to the hab zone lightly built it began to be churned up by the continuous fire, buildings rocked by concussion and explosions began to tilt and be demolished. Largely uninhabited, the orks still enjoyed training big guns onto it, and giving it a right thumping.
The warlord pulled his massive bulk up to the front of Grinder's main viewing port and pointed at a rather non discript section of wall. He got his shouta boy up beside him with a casual yet menacing gesture. "There" he said in a low growl and dropped back into his iron behemoth. Sniper fire he thought to himself, you don't live this long without a healthy dose of paranoia. The shouta boy began loud haling and relaying his complex set of commands to the war band. Flags were run up, primitive and crackling vox boxes squawked into life and gretchin runners with bright orange tattoos were sent out. The warlord had all his runners tattooed with orange swirls, his previous messengers would simply be pot shot as they ran between vehicles, one self important grot he used to have, had a large wrecking ball dropped on him, as he stood and shouted up relay commands. A green smear on the massive iron ball and some tennis shoes was all that remained. A smile creased his scarred face, still funny he thought. The orange tattoos helped but the message runners were still a tempting target for the boys to get "their eye in". The importance of the job meant there was no end of volunteers and while dangerous, the individual grot while alive, could flaunt his prestige to his fellows.
A multitude of vehicles began firing at the desired point, round after round slammed home into or around the area denoted by Warlord Bucketgutz. After the smoke cleared, a heavily damaged section of wall could be seen, barn sized and choked with rubble the integrity of the wall still remained. With a tap on the shoulder, Grinder's driver shifted through the gears and edged the bulk of the vehicle up the sharp incline to the wall section. A great whine of increasing noise came from the grinding roller jutting out from the front of the wagon, it began to turn on the spot throwing up dust and debris. The driver expertly moved the vehicle forward and its massive weight began to push the spinning steel roller into the wall. The flat heavy grinding teeth on it began to cut into the wall. Already fatigued from the concentrated shell fire it began to powder and crumble under this new onslaught. Slowly it began to slump and large pieces fell onto the roller only to be spat out as a dry dust under the vehicle as its over charged engine roared and supplied massive amounts of power to the roller, momentum was maintained so it would not break or catch fire. Worn and ragged after standing for thousands of years, the wall succumbed to Grinders inexorable onslaught. Man size chunks came crashing down and around the battle wagon heralding the next phase of the attack. The orks had breached the plant and in doing so had by passed some of the more organised and lethal defences set up around the doors and large entry ports. The wagon reversed out of the breach and simply rolled backwards down the hill. With a howl and savage fury the orks fell through the breach, leaping over rubble and firing blindly into the dusty darkness.
The plant defenders were not surprised, the attack on the wall section was loud and vibrated along its length, those armed with the best weapons led by the Arbiters began to hastily erect makeshift barricades in front of the area to be breached. The level of violence inflicted on the wall was an ominous portent for the defenders. As the wall section collapsed and the dust and light spilled inwards, the defenders were blinded and chocked momentarily. When they looked again the breach was full of dark bulky shapes, silhouettes of warriors with heavy pauldrons, backpacks with belted ammunition and spiked round helmets with long linked guards running down each side. They carried a variety of large hand weapons and thick heavy nose sluggas. Brutal short range weapons with fat magazine clips holding large caliber rounds. The defenders sent volley fire into the breach firing as blindly as the orks fired at them. Flashes from muzzles illuminated the ferocious ork as they stormed the breach. Round after round fired by panicked hands flew into the orks, many ricocheting off their armour and helms, many more finding their mark in an enclosed space. With a godless howl the green skins smashed bodily through the barricade and closed with the defenders. Firing at point blank range and swiping with great metal choppers the orks laid about them with something between joy and anger. Their red eyes pin pricks in the melee, constricted with the euphoria of battle lust. Defending plant militia had killed many and wounded more. Still the orks came on, some sporting shocking wounds, they did not relent and ended up simply charging in using their pistols as brutal clubs more than as side arms. Meaty forearms swung the sluggas with devastating blows. In their fury pistols exploded bullets upwards as they cracked against human skulls or down on collar bones. Some times blowing the head off a fellow ork or putting "one in the kidney". Both results unfortunate, but also a tiny bit funny.
The Arbiters while better armed and trained, were especially targeted by the ork. The green skins actually coming to blows with each other to have a crack at "The top men in their fancy duds". In return the Arbiters used their heavy slug throwers and riot shotguns to great effect taking a fair toll on the attackers before being dragged down and throttled, or clubbed and shot, or quite possibly all three at once. The bulk of the fighting was over in short minutes. Ork warriors stormed through the breach and spread out through the factory like a violent green wave. The booby traps were duly triggered and orks were electrocuted or ravaged by burning oil to little effect. The isolated defenders at doors and ports were engaged and dispatched, the more fortunate, beaten into submission. Then as in the other plants, the crews broke and fled before the onslaught. A terror, unimagined for them. They were factory crew on an agri- world, not hardened warriors or trained soldiers and the screams of the maimed and dying froze their hearts with fear. The Blitz attack had done its work resistance crumpled, cohesion also. It was as the orks would say "Another classic brown trouser moment for the humies."
Cletan put in a considerable and brave effort, he had got his hands on a side arm from a connected work mate. He had used this, as had many others firing wildly at anything vaguely ork shaped, and as the others, lucky to hit it. In fact he was not even sure he had seen an ork but he had certainly used up his clip ammunition pot shooting humanoid shaped plant equipment and possibly an over weight monitor from section 3b. The choking dust and large powder retorts from the sluggas had filled the section around the breach. Once a few oil barrels were triggered visibility was down to an arms length. It was the lack of noise that eventually pulled him away from the swirling combat. A muted hush came over the area when the firing more sporadic and the guttural cries of the orks became less intense. They were done and he knew it, this thought crossed his mind and was punctuated by yelps and a sizzling sound from a door that was wired up to high voltage plant equipment not twenty feet away. The exotic aroma of burning xenos flesh filled his nostrils, it was time to move.
The haz suit was simple to find by following the emergency yellow floor tape, Cletan slipped into it easily and put on the breather, his crew had practiced this monthly for years as part of regulated safety drills and it took no time at all. The blue tape led to the vat and he suffered no encounters as he moved along it. Once at the vat, Cletan climbed the metal gantry, he deftly flicked the kill switches and emergency stops on the control panel. Some flashing red light indicating mechanical interference or failure gave him strobed light to work by. Cletan visually checked that the great mixing paddles had stopped, and eased himself into the thick milky blue dye vat. He hugged the edge until he circled around to where the bell was and with some anxiety slipped below the liquid into the claustrophobic world below.
Cletan fumbled momentarily for two things, the churn keg of ale and the leg or body of his submerged chamber. Finding both quickly he crawled and slid under the bell on his back along the vat floor tugging the cylindrical churn keg along in his left hand. Quickly finding the bell hole he simply stood up into it. From the waist down he was in the blue dye, from the waist up he was standing in the dimly lit interior of the chamber. Taking a moment to let as much of the dye drip down into the vat, he then pulled up the churn keg unwrapped the sheeting and used it to cover the hole as he lifted himself out and onto the interior rim of the bell.
Annoyed, annoyed, so fecking annoyed. Why? The orks, the battle, the loss of friends ? Frankly no. Looking down he had made quite a mess. The haz suit and mask he had removed and sheeting that wrapped the churn keg had dripped quite a bit of dye across the floor, pooling in thick lumps around the discarded items. That will take ages to dry, his internal monologue told him. Casting his eye around the cramped interior he sighed, flicked on the re-breather switch to keep the air sweet, extended its external aperture above the dye by a few inches and switched on the interior light. He checked the battery packs for each item, patted himself down like a man looking for his wallet and then spied the gleaming churn keg standing opposite him on the little floor space available. Once again his internal monologue spoke to him, this time with a more optimistic thought. Brew have a mug of brew, might as well, could be outside dying right now. So he did, in fact he had two.
part 2 In which Cletan by providence or misfortune is bound to the Ork horde and makes his way to the mysterious and savage planet of Wakonda
- The great warlord Bucketgutz Deffkreeper his affiliation with the Red skull Clan
- introduction to the Blu Toofs, and the covert operation "black hat"