Chapter 3 Heist
Smirking trotted merrily along in line behind Unki, Fuggit, Smudge and SkagNet who led the party through the back alleys of what was known as the Mekzone. Slaka was posted in the rear; his daylight senses being best suited to rear guard at the hazy sunlit alley exit. Suddenly Unki stopped and Smirking plodded right into him, bouncing off his more heavily muscled frame he stumbled into a heap of junk. A large empty bullet-holed tin can clattered noisily to the ground.
“Shhhhhhh!” Snapped SkagNet. “Keep da noise down, we’z ‘ere! Dis is GrodMek’s workshop. Slaka, woz we spotted?”
Slaka shook his head.
“Good. Now stick ta da plan.”
Smudge disappeared into a crack in the corrugated metal sheeting of a building on the left while the other four stood and blinked at SkagNet blankly.
“Morka-mighty!” SkagNet cursed, “You lot is paffetic!” He clawed his fingers through his ragged hair squig trying to remember his own plan.
“E’s gone in der ta find da shootas,” he remembered aloud “Wen e’s foun’ ‘em, an’ ‘e gets back, you lot is goin’ back in wif ‘im.” SkagNet paused. He had picked each of these grots for a reason. He eyed them over one by one to jog his memory.
“Unki, you as da unkiest muscles, so you ‘as ta carry da shootas out.” He looked at Fuggit and Smirking, what possible use could have chosen them for? Smirking smiled like a loon as SkagNet stared blankly at the pair. Fuggit stuck his tongue out and was about to blow a rasp when SkagNet grabbed it and suddenly realised the unique qualities for which he had brought these two along.
“You two is da decoys. If ol’ GrodMek spots what’s goin’ on you ‘as ta dis-trackt ‘im while Unki an’ Smudge nicks da shootas.”
Lastly there was Slaka.
“An’ you go keep watch out front, an squeal if anyfink ‘appens.” Slaka nodded and made his way round to the front of the building. Smudge appeared sticking his head out through the crack he had entered.
“Found ‘em.” He whispered and ducked back inside.
“Go on den.” SkagNet ordered. Fuggit dived inside and Smirking followed. Unki looked dubiously at the crack. “Wot ‘bout you Boss?”
“I can’t fit in der! B’sides, sumone’s gotta keepa eye out ere. An’ anova fing. If yous see a leg lyin’ about I’ll ‘av it!” he clunked his peg-leg on the hard dirt ground meaningfully. “Now get in der!”
Unki squeezed in through the narrow crack and Skagnet scrambled over a low wall to wait in hiding.
Inside the mechboy’s workshop was dimly red lit. Smirking stumbled into Fuggit’s back as the grots bunched up inside unwilling to venture much further into the unknown. Slabs of scrap armour-plating, buckets of bolts and various mechanical detritus littered every available space. Narrow paths weaved between piles of rubbish in the floor, around stacks of scrap metal leaning against the walls and occasionally under large vehicle parts and frames slung from the roof. Smirking stared wide eyed at the treasure hoard unfolding before them.
“Wot’s we doin’ ‘ere?” whispered Fuggit.
“Snot-fer-brains!” Unki hissed. “Jus’ look out fer Smudge.”
A metal bolt flew across the room and hit Unki right in the face. It was a little larger than necessary to get his attention but it did the trick admirably. Smudge stood atop a bucket of them with another one in hand almost disappointed at the immediacy of his success.
“Der ‘e is!” shouted Fuggit.
“shuddup ya…” Unki let his hands do the talking as he gagged Fuggit. “Keep quiet an’ follow ‘im. He’s foun’ da Shootas.”
The three grots scampered over to where Smudge was hiding, keeping an eye on a figure in the next room. Flashes and sparks leapt from the work surface where another grot was at work repairing weapons under a green lamp.
“Oi Skab!” a deep and Orkish voice bellowed from a distant part of the workshop. “Where’s me burna?”
Skab flinched and fumbled his spot weld burning his thumb. He stuck it in his mouth and called “I’s gnearly dung wif it bosh!”
Skab pulled out the scorched digit. “I’s fixin’ da naff shootas!”
“Well ‘urry up will ya. I needs it fer ova stuff, der is a Waaagh! on ya know!”
“I know dat yer big lug” Skab mattured under his breath “dats why you tol’ me ta fixem!” He continued muttering as he went back to work. Smudge waited until he was sure the Mechboy’s assistant was fully absorbed in his task and then he set about explaining the plan.
Pointing and gesturing in sharp decisive hand signals elicited a trio of blinking confusion from his companions. Unki grabbed Fuggit’s mouth again as he breathed in to ask a stupid question. Unki was quite sure his own question regarding the gesturing grot was entirely sensible.
“As ‘e gone mad?”
Smirking smirked. Smudge’s shoulders dropped in defeat. Fuggit struggled for air.
“Look.” Smudge conceded, “E ‘as da shoota’s an’ we ‘as ta gettem.”
He paused for a ray of comprehension to cross their bewildered faces.
“I fought we wuz jus’ gonna lift ‘em like. Nick ‘em. Boss didn’t say nuffinck abou’ no ova grot ‘avin ‘em.”
“E wozn’t der a-mintago” explained Smudge. “But ‘e’s der now. Sjust bad luck.”
“Yeah, fer ‘im.” Unki squeezed harder contemplating violence.
Fuggit was turning a deep shade of green and his eyes were starting to uncross. Unki thought he must have learned his lesson by now and let him go. His resulting gasp nearly blew their cover. They all ducked as Skab jumped and a heavy spring went flying to ricochet off the lamp shade above the table. The bulb flickered out and he cursed. In the darkened gloom lit only by the red glow of the welding torch Smudge grabbed Unki by the arm and pulled him forward in an effort to grab the only such opportunity they were likely to have. As the four infiltrating grots crept stealthily into the room, Skab laid aside his burner and climbed up onto the table. The green bulb sputtered to life and blinked out again. Skab paused in the dark. Was there really another grot standing on his chair with his hands on the box of guns that he was fixing? The box of guns that he was standing on? He shook his head and gave the bulb an incredulous twist. The resulting illumination did nothing to allay his fears. Unki tugged hard on the box pulling it out from under Skab’s feet and they both landed in a heap on the floor as weaponry clattered around them. A second passed as all five grots took stock of the situation before each scrambled for the nearest weapon they could grab. It was a stand off.
The green lamp swung drunkenly over the scene as they stood, weapons aimed in trembling hands. Competing questions raced through their minds in rapid succession. Smudge hid under the table clutching a large shoota in both hands wondering if it was loaded. Would this grot be stupid enough to be welding a loaded weapon? His opponent was pointing a similar weapon at Unki; would he bother if he knew they weren’t loaded? His muscles twitched under the weight of the thing. It certainly was heavy: maybe it was fully loaded.
Unki pointed a stub nosed slugga at Skab. He had already tried to pull the trigger but it was jammed tight and wouldn’t move. He kept up the pretence and hoped the other grot hadn’t noticed. He envied his opponent his larger weapon wishing he had been the one to grab it first.
Skab stood cornered between three, maybe four strangers. He felt sure there was a fourth grot behind him in the shadows under the table, a totally unknown quantity. He considered his options. He couldn’t be sure which of the weapons leveled at him were ones he had already repaired, and he hadn’t been too particular about checking if any were loaded. Skab envied the bigger grot his smaller weapon. If he had been able to grab it in time he would have gotten the quick draw on him. Skab didn't know any of the strangers but one of them was pointing its weapon at one of its companions. Skab felt reassured even if his friend looked a little cockeyed. And what was that other grot smiling about? Did he know something Skab didn’t?
Smirking held a six shoota in each hand, and another slugga lay at his feet. He was grinning from ear to ear. Things were starting to get interesting at last.
Fuggit wasn’t sure what was going on. He had grabbed a gun and started pointing it at the others just so as not to be the odd one out. He felt his stomach churn with excitement. His bowls twisted in anticipation and then the sheer force of nervous tension erupted as he farted loudly. Five grots squeezed their triggers in unison at the sudden interruption.
Skab’s weapon misfired exploding in his hands. Unki threw his useless slugga at the stunned grot who staggered and slumped in a daze on the floor.
“Skab!” it was GrodMek. “Oi Skab! Wot is you up to in der?!”
Smudge sprang out of the shadows and flipping the box over in front of Unki, dumped his shoota in before gathering some more. The rest followed suit. Smirking slug his brace of pistols in his belted pants and joined the rest throwing in weapons from the floor as Unki struggled to hoist the box onto his back.
“Skab! I wants me burna an’ I wants it now!” the ork’s voice and his heavy metallic boots were coming closer. The grots ducked under the table. GrodMek appeared in the doorway a second later. Smudge wished someone had dragged Skab under the table too but it was too late. A noise came from outside.
“KooooooWaaaaah! KooooooWeeee” a clang and a guttural ork yell followed. The grots recognised Slaka’s warning call and knew that he had been rumbled from hiding and had scarpered.
“eh? Wos’at?” GrodMek paused a few feet from the table then his front door burst open and a voice called in.
“ol Grodders me ol’ chum. Da Boss said you’d be ‘ere’”
The Mekboy groaned. It was SnazzGutz the painboy. GrodMek turned and took a few steps toward the door privately dragging his heels for as long as he could. His attitude underwent total transformation however as he passed the entry into the hallway. With the biggest grin he could plaster all over his face he swept out of the room in a grand welcoming gesture to meet the ork medic. It never paid to offend a painboy and nothing establishes the wealth and status of an ork quite like a healthy set of sharp teeth.
Smudge made a break for the door. He waited until GrodMek was a safe distance down the hall and then signalled Unki and the others to get moving with the swag. Smirking moved up first followed by Fuggit, Unki took a little longer struggling under the weight of the box. Smudge set Smirking to watch the Orks and went back to give Unki a hand. Down in the passageway to the front door the two orks were doing what Bad-Moon orks do best, talking business.
“owright Snazza, Da Boss wants some new toys doz ’e?”
“Yeah, Propa Goff stuff ‘e sed.”
“Da biggr an’ stompia da bettr eh?”
“Dats right, an’ ‘e says you don’ ‘av de expurteez fer dat kind of fing so ‘e sent ol’ SnazzGutz to ‘elp ya out. So you does da worky bitz and I does da ‘urty bits.
“Did ‘e mention my fees?”
“Na! Typikal Goff, Neva talks bizniss.”
“Jus’ wants da stuff now an’ ya neva see da teef.”
“’is boys ‘ll ‘av your teef if ya don’t make good, Grodders me ol’ chum”
“Well showuz wotcha got den.” The pair turned and started moving toward Smirking who had gotten so absorbed in the conversation that he had forgotten to hide. SnazzGutz pointed at him.
“Dat yer ‘elper grot izee?”
“Yeh dats Ska.. eh? Angabout, Oower you!?”
Smirking yelped and ran for it. Smudge and Unki ducked down behind the box they were carrying and hoped they wouldn’t be spotted. Fuggit stood in the middle of the doorway to the green-lit store watching Smirking disappear into the gloom and wondering where the other two had gone. It was the alarming appearance of two angry orks that quickly made up his mind to run after Smirking.
Smirking ducked into a stack of scrap iron, squeezing between the cracks and out the other side. He hoped that making a few short cuts between the stacks of rubbish in the storeroom would buy him some time to find somewhere to hide or better yet, wherever it was that they had entered in the first place.
Fuggit ran straight down the middle of the main track between the piles preferring the open ground for speed to the more complicated and probably dangerous gaps in the piles of scrap. GrodMek spotted the cross eyed grot and gave chase SnazzGutz followed the resulting shenanigans with great enjoyment, his grim orkish guffaw resonating through the dusty air of the storeroom. Fuggit ran for his life. He rounded a wide central stack and about-turned as he spotted GrodMek waiting for him to come full circle. He jumped a fallen girder and ducked under an overhanging steel bar. GrodMek plodded over and smashed aside the obstacles with reckless abandon causing a small avalanche of scrap metal parts to dislodge Smirking from his hiding place. Fuggit spotted his friend ducking into a doorway not far off to his left and changed direction to follow. He hopped up on a long armour plate and running the length of it turned to look for his pursuer. He caught a glimpse of GrodMek’s boot coming down on the other end and before he knew what was happening he had been catapulted through the air and landed hard against the frame of the doorway he was aiming for.
Fuggit was dazed and confused. He might have picked himself up if GrodMek hadn’t done it for him.
“Oo do ja fink you is eh?” GrodMek tried to shake the answers out of the already shaken grot. Fuggit couldn’t remember any.
“Avin’ sum trouble wif yer grots Grodders?” SnazzGutz’s smile was especially toothy and dripping with disparagement.
GrodMek’s mind squirmed for excuses, feeling like SnazzGutz was getting the better of him. In Ork business the big teef went to the ork with the big ideas and any other orks involved were little more than tools in the hand of the master.
“Dis one’s fer you Snazza.” GrodMek tossed the shaken Grot at his feet. Fer eksperimentz like.” He added, as if he hadn’t just thought of it. Come ‘ere an’ I’ll show ya wot I ‘az in mind.” GrodMek groped inside the door for the light switch hoping that the resulting illumination would shed some light on what he apparently had in mind.
Smirking blinked as a light came on. He peeped out through a crack in his hiding place and watched as the two orks entered the room. GrodMek appeared to be looking for him. He was looking for something. Smirking’s heart nearly stopped as GrodMek turned and looked right at him. The Mekboy’s eyes lit up.
“Dis is it!” he exclaimed to the somewhat baffled Painboy who was carrying Fuggit by one ankle swinging upside-down like a wet sack of bones.
“Wot? Da can?”
“Da KILLA KANN!” GrodMek bellowed, becoming more enthused and animated than he felt any right to be.
"I s’pose it’ll av shootas an’ legs an’ dat?” asked SnazzGutz looking at a bare half rusty oil drum in the corner with a large cracked dent in the side. Smirking tried to stop his knees from knocking as he quivered inside the barrel.
“An’ dis fella goes inside dozz ee?” he shook Fuggit like a loose engine part. “workin’ da worky bitz?”
“Dat’s it! You undastan’ purfik” GrodMek could hardly believe it. It was the greatest plan he had never come up with. He was impressed at his own genius. “Da Boss’ll want eeps of ‘em, an’ we’ll be rollin’ in da teef!” he enthused. SnazzGutz eyed the old tin can and the raggedy grot in his hand with doubt. GrodMek turned him around and quickly knocked out the light before he changed his mind.
“Snazza me ol’ pal, finkaboutit.” The pair plodded off talking business as Smirking slipped away, forgotten and unseen.
There was no one outside the Mekboy’s workshop to meet him when he got out. SkagNet and the others were gone. If the other’s had even made it out. He had made it out, he thought to himself with some measure of personal pride, and he still had his pair of six shootas slung low in his pants. Smirking played with his long tall evening shadow as he swaggered on back to SkagNet’s place, pulling twin pistol quick-draws at stray squigs and snotlings and blasting imaginary enemies with imaginary bullets. He wasn’t just a grot any more. Now he was armed. Now he was a Gretchin!