Chapter 10 WAAAGH! GrodMek?
GorGoff was in the thick of a prolonged human assault. The day had been bright, his south facing position had made for treacherously sunny conditions and all day long these pathetic little pink skinned aliens had been determined to run at the half blinded orks but never seemed interested in putting up much of a fight when they got there. He pounded another hapless human soldier into the mud and spat on him. Feeble and pathetic as they were however the sheer weight of human numbers pressing in from the right and was slowly squeezing his lads up against the rocky high ground on his left. GorGoff knew his boys had not been at their fighting best, but as the setting sun lent an evil glowing ember to his eyes he grinned like a shark. The night would change all that. Suddenly, as if someone had flipped a switch the noise of fighting died out. The annoying crack of las-fire was replaced with the hoarse yells of hard-done-by orks denied a fair fight as the humans ran away.
GorGoff spat in disgust and turned his back on the dull ache of the sunlight and the growing tedium of such poor sport. Then he felt it; a low rumbling in his belly. Little rocks began to dance and low dust clouds formed like mist from the quivering dirt. Perhaps the day wasn’t over yet thought Gorgoff, turning to face the red sky and heat haze horizon. There a massive armoured assault advanced riding upon a blazing dust cloud like a wave of fire.
GorGoff double checked, no that wasn’t fire, definitely just dust. He grabbed the nearest ork by the head and twisted him fully face to face.
“Tell GrodMek ta get ev’ry big gun we’ve got an’ point ‘em datta way!”
He didn’t wait for a response but simply threw the ork bodily in the direction of GrodMek’s camp. GorGoff stepped up onto the top of an upturned trukk and bellowed like the monstrous brute he was. The assembled orks of Waaagh! GorGoff went wild.
“GrodMek! GrodMek!” a frantic breathless and distinctly Goff voice broke the MekBoy’s concentration and as a result his welding torch burned a hole through the metal of the chassis he was working on. He reached for a patch but then considered his work. He was only welding patches at this stage. The weapon was as good as done and he may as well just bolt the glyp-plate into place. It was a while since he had seen a traktor kannon in operation but now…
“Da Boss! ‘E says ta get da gunz an’…”
“Da Boss wants ‘is gunz eh?” guffawed GrodMek at the Goff underling. He glanced briefly at the ork, checking for scars. Not a Skarboy, just a grunt. He let his derision flow unabated.
“Da Boss wants dis! Da Boss says Dat!” he mocked in his best fake Goff accent.
“…b-but he really said it.” The goffling stammered in notedly more rounded Bad-Moon-esque tones. Momentarily miffed at GrodMek’s apparent disregard for the boss’ orders and terrified at the thought of GorGoff’s reprisals he steeled himself to continue “der’s a ‘uge ‘eap ov oomie…”
“Wot!” blurted GrodMek “Too many Oomies for ya!”
“where’d’ya’want dis Boss?” asked a passing Deathskull ork.
“Wotsit?” GrodMek queried, ignoring the Goff messenger completely.
“a wotsit.” The blue faced ork offered demonstrating his particular level of ineptitude.
GrodMek eyed the object with an appraising scrutiny trying to look like he knew exactly what it was and how to use it.
“Put it on da wotsit pile” he conceded.
“da oomie one!” he added to the Deathskull looter’s back as he was already on his way. A constant bustle of Deathskull ork traffic milled about sorting and repairing looted wargear overseen by a handful of Bad-Moon orks, GrodMek’s Flashgitz. GrodMek surveyed his growing Mekworx like a king inspecting a new palace.
“GorGoff NarGrim ordered me ta tell you…” the Goff began again.
“Well GrodMek RazNazz is da Big-Mek ov dis ‘ere Mekworx an if GorGoff wants a new toy tell ‘im ta come geddit ‘izself!” GrodMek spun on his heel and stomped off toward his work shed, hoping the Goff wasn’t stupid enough to actually take that answer back to GorGoff.
Once inside a faint pounding in the distance caught his ear. Like heavy foot steps. Like heavy mechanised footsteps. Visions of GorGoff stomping his way in his fully mechanised Mega-Armour quickly distilled the full purport of his situation into perfect clarity. While the Goff outside fumbled with his wits GrodMek made a grab for a conciliatory offering and then flung the door open, grinning like the grox that got the guts.
“Ere ya go, ‘e can ‘ave dis.” He offered with infinite benevolence.
The Goff was wandering to the rear gate of GrodMek’s Mek-worx. GrodMek followed like a cringing jester holding aloft his prize.
“Wots dat?” the goff mused indifferently.
“It’s a Sungun” GrodMek began enthusiastically. “ I turned up da par an’ made da handle an’ trigga big enuff fer…”
His enthusiasm faded as he followed the Goff’s gaze away off behind him into the rocks, where an ork was clearly running from something.
GrodMek squinted. “Is dat Skagnet?”
“Not ‘im! Dem fings!” The Goff grabbed the sungun and let off a round from the Boss’ new toy illuminating the scene in a bright blue plasma flare.
GrodMek’s jaw dropped as a prize pair of long legged human machines stepped into range of his Snazzguns.
“Flashgitz!” He hollered making a dash for his shed. Every Bad-Moon ork in the facility dropped what he was doing and assembled as GrodMek emerged desperately fumbling the various accoutrements of his kustom-mega-blasta into place.
“Take ‘em down!”
The newcomer continued offloading glowing plasma rounds leaving no doubt as to the target in question. Excepting that he may have been trying to hit Skagnet, ork marksmanship and mentality being what it was he cared little either way.
The Imperial sentinels halted their pursuit under the sudden attack and turned their weapons on the massed ork gun-line assembling in front. They split up. One leaned to the side and broke into a long striding lope. The pilot kept his weapon trained to the front as his vehicle moved across the line trying to make for some higher ground. A flurry of multi-laser fire peppered the ork positions ineffectually.
“Dey’re stompy!” GrodMek enthused dropping the struts of his weapon’s bi-pod into place.
The Flashgitz took aim at the moving target unleashing a rainbow arc of fire as it ran. The second sentinel stepped slowly and deliberately back as the human pilot took careful aim with his auto-cannon. A torrent of heavy fire rained in on the Flashgitz from both directions.
“an’ shooty!” he continued, twisting the long barrel of the gun in tight.
An eager flashgit stepped out into the open trying to get a better angle on the running walker. His chest exploded as high calibre auto-rounds tore him apart in spectacular fashion.
“An’ dead killy!” GrodMek was elated.
He fixed an elaborate sighting mechanism to the top of his kustom-mega-blasta and beheld it’s orkish magnificence. His Flashgitz were having trouble hitting the moving walker so he left them to it. It was the standing target, he noted, that was doing the most damage. The Big-Mek tried not to flinch while the Goff continued to offload searing hot plasma within inches of his head. He eyed up his target and set the weapon’s charge to build allowing its sonorous thrumming to attune his senses to the task. He calibrated the beam confinement for armour, judged the distance, allowed for humidity, wind speed, ignored the flashing warning glyph. The tingle of static build-up tickled the back of his brain and told him he was ready. He sneezed and squeezed the release valve. A solid beam of green energy punched through the air and cut the human machine in two. The vehicle gushed oil and blood as the bulk of the cabin toppled off the still standing set of legs. GrodMek grinned with immense self satisfaction. He was brilliant.
SkagNet cowered like a snake under a rock as speeding hot metal death and lethal multi-coloured energies seared streaks in the air in every direction above his head. Nurd was a quivering mess and even Snikkit was suitably convinced of his eminent mortality. The danger however was short lived and as the second human machine went up in smoke SkagNet winced at his prospects. He had run away. They had all seen him. GrodMek and all the rest were witness to his shame. They could mock; with their big guns and flashy gear. Taking down two such machines was easy for them. He’d like to see them try it with just a handful of gretchin and a head full of know-wots.
If his old whip had held, he thought. That one would have toppled over the side, and then he could have taken out the other one easily. It was just two at once was the problem, he told himself. He could have climbed inside the one with the big gun and shot up the other one as it struggled to get its legs free. Then he would be the one riding the big stompy, shooty thing. He would be the one covered in glory. He sighed and his shoulders dropped pathetically low. Not the sorry old has-been who runs and hides with the grots. He cuffed Snikkit a savage blow to the head in his misery. Snikkit turned and bit him in the leg chipping a tooth on the rusty metal peg.
It was quiet. Apart from the war going on some way off behind him, the constant rumble of distant tanks and the louder orkish yells and dakka-dakka-dakka of gunfire, there was no immediate threat. He could hear GrodMek barking orders about the salvage of the humans’ walkers. A group of blue faced orks made to ransack the furthest wreck.
Maybe they hadn’t seen him, SkagNet hoped. Maybe in all the excitement of the fire-fight he had gone unnoticed, and if the blinding sunlight and the human assault would just keep up for long enough to slip away, “Gorksagoodun-Morksamazin” he begged, fumbling GogGob’s old necklace charm in desperate hope…
What was that? A pair of figures had emerged cresting the horizon of the rocky outcrop in front. Brightly glowing in the reddening light they stopped and looked at him. One pointed and waved with a large smirk plastered over his stupid little face. He began to trot down the hill past the still standing pair of legs while the other figure just yawned and plodded on after him in a lazy doze.
“Oi SkagNet yer paffetic piece o’ grox dung!” came a hated ork voice from behind. ”Stop ‘idin’ ova der wif yer grotz an’ bring me dem stompy gubbins afore I blast ya fer runnin’ like a weedy oomie git!”
SkagNet was surprised to see how many of the deathskull orks were working for GrodMek now. It made sense he supposed. With their innate tendencies to loot all manner of battlefield salvage and GrodMek’s abilities to put it to use they made a powerful combination. Whatever deal the Mekboy had stuck with the Deathskull bosses seemed to be at least satisfactory. The Flashgitz ability to immobilise vehicles without utterly destroying them probably had something to do with it. As he watched them strip the destroyed vehicle parts down and carry them away to their junk heap, GrodMek’s junk heap he corrected himself he spotted that something was going on.
GrodMek was shouting orders and a smug looking Goff beside him was laughing at his sudden agitation. Deathskulls all over the Mek-worx were dropping tools and running for their vehicles. A crew of blue faced Gretchin were loading crates of ammunition and large shells onto a flatbed while orks hefted a big artillery piece into position on the tow-bar.
“Must be a Waaagh! on.” Nurd offered unhelpfully. SkagNet just groaned. He didn’t have the energy to cuff Nurd round the ear but luckily Snikkit was now well enough attuned to SkagNet’s wishes that he didn’t have to. As the Gretchin tussled in the dirt SkagNet watched a huge cavalcade of artillery laden wagons roll out of GrodMek’s yard. It must be a massed armoured assault. The enemy tanks could still be heard rumbling in the distance. That must be it thought SkagNet surveying the emptying yard with its gleaming piles of unguarded scrap. The only thing that could lure so many Deathskulls away from this much loot was the promise of even more loot. He was also suddenly aware of not just the number of orks in GrodMek’s employ but also the sheer weight of firepower at the Mekboy’s command. Waaagh! GorGoff had been good to the old Bad-Moon Mek.
“SkagNet!” a blast of green energy seared the ground not a grots length from SkagNet’s filthy unshod foot. GrodMek was standing in the gateway of his yard glaring with barely contained rage. The next shot would be no warning. That was assuming the first hadn’t been meant to hit. It was hard to tell given the general ballistic ineptitude of the ork race.
“I said bring me dem stompy gubbins afore I blast ya!” He repeated verbatim as if to a snotling. SkagNet pointed at the still standing set of legs behind him like a fool and was gently reassured with another ill aimed blast from GrodMek’s Kustom-Mega-Blasta. He jumped to work dragging the brawling grots along to task with as much eagerness as his life was worth.
As SkagNet carried a heavy mechanical leg assembly on his back he could feel the covetous eyes of a remaining band of Deathskulls like bugs crawling on his skin and for once was glad of GrodMek’s keen supervision.
“Don’t min’ da ladz SkagNet” GrodMek’s tone was almost conspiratorial but still managed to maintain his usual gun-to-your-head edge.
“Take dem legz d’recly int’ da workshop.”
GrodMek went to give the gawky loiterers orders as SkagNet altered his staggering heavy laden course toward the workshop. His four remaining grots, Slaka, Smirking, Snikkit and Nurd followed behind carrying the second leg between them. SkagNet hefted the heavy limb down with a feckless shuck and noted the green stains on the thing’s foot where Smudge had been crushed. He sighed. Where had it all gone wrong? He was supposed to be out there stalking in the night and causing death and mayhem where least expected. He and Smudge and the rest of the gretchin kommandos were supposed to be deadly, silent, undetectable, unstoppable agents of destruction. Who was running this Waaagh! anyway? GorGoff? WazzBad? GrodMek even? Whoever it was it was all going wrong. If he’d just been left alone to do what he was supposed to be doing they wouldn’t be in this mess. Half of those enemy tanks rolling toward their position would already be wrecked and smoking hulks most likely blocking up the supply yards and causing logistical issues for the rest. Truth be told if GorGoff had allowed SkagNet to do his job he’d be walking this Waaagh! not wading neck deep in enemy armour. SkagNet spat on the smudge stained foot and kicked it with his own metal peg. As the rest of his hapless band dragged in their load he scanned the workshop for bionic legs and finding none but the two huge ones he had just delivered he turned and sulked out.
Smirking glanced around uneasily. He was not at all comfortable finding himself again in GrodMek’s workshop, albeit a hastily reconstructed field version. He glanced around noting the same red lights, the same types of boxes and tools and… then he saw it. The same old oil drum which he had hidden inside. His skin crawled with remembered dread. He imagined being again inside, frozen with fear as his friend, perhaps Nurd this time, like Fuggit before him was shaken and beaten and dragged of for experimentation. But something was different. It had wires now and other pieces bolted to the sides. GrodMek was building something, his imagined Killa-Kann was taking shape.
A sliding door on the far side of the room screeched on its rollers. GrodMek! He froze, looking around for help as a sliver of light from the opening door struck him like a search light and widened without mercy. Where was everyone? Had they abandoned him here in GrodMek’s workshop again? A pair of hairy arms slipped in and hefted the doors aside with a little brute force.
“Dat’s da one!”
Smirking quaked as a rush of shadows flitted in through the floodlit portal. He was sure they had come for him at last.
“Starter up!” barked the same voice. Smirking thought he recognised UzKop the Flashgit from the sungun incident and opened one quizzical eye. A group of orks crowded round a large oddly shaped weapon mounted on a tracked chassis. UzKop started the engine which was now beginning to roll the tracks and the weapon out of the workshop.
“wotsit?” a Deathskull ork asked as he followed behind.
“Dat’s a Traktor Kannon” explained UzKop like a condescending teacher. “Da Boss is gonna traktor GorGoff right outa da Waaagh!” They all left guffawing like idiots. Smirking turned and tiptoed around the puddle he had left on the workshop floor hoping to find SkagNet before anyone else found himself.