Chapter 8 First Contact
As SkagNet urged his mob forward toward their ominously quiet target he couldn’t help but wonder if this was the end or the glorious beginning. A low sunrise spilled out across the landscape bleaching the colour from the sky and turning everything in front of SkagNet to a confusion of orange blurs and fuzzy silhouettes. He had spat at GrodMek’s boots and taken his lads in a full frontal assault just to spite him. He’d be damned if he’d have the wretched Bad-Moon mekboy and his flunkies scoffing and joking at any good honest Bloodaxe stealth manoeuvre. SkagNet didn’t much care for accusations of cowardice by the cowards sending him to do their dirty work. He’d show them. He’d walk through these humans like a ghost and vanish into the Waaagh! like a legend and leave GrodMek and his cronies behind to skulk ingloriously in the rear.
A burst of las-fire shattered his delusions if nothing else, and he double timed his gretchin mob to the left. Keeping as low as possible they moved into cover behind a corrugated metal out house that wreaked of excrement. Smudge dived in under the rear wall and emerged covered in unspeakable filth. He offered a handful to SkagNet who liberally applied it to his face.
“Right you lot!” SkagNet addressed his mob.
Seven pairs of beady red eyes stared up at him in a mixture of desperation and excitement. Snikkit was somewhat preoccupied in vandalising the corrugated metal walls of their cover but SkagNet didn’t bother to stop him. Their target was comprised of two stone buildings. The larger of which had taken most of the incoming fire from GrodMek’s Flashgitz. Its rear wall was almost collapsed and parts of the roof had fallen in. A blank gable faced them. Across a small gravelled yard into which the buildings faced, another smaller building loomed unscathed, almost serene amidst the din and smoke of the Waaagh! Not a window pane nor even a flower pot had suffered a blow and it sat in defiance of SkagNet’s assault like an invincible bastion against the green tide. SkagNet eyed it warily as he formulated his plan.
“Smudge an’ Nurd, sneak roun’ an’ get ready.” he indicated with a thumb over his right shoulder.
“We’ll get der attenshun, an’ wen dey make a move, you sneaks up an’ surprises ‘em.” Smudge nodded and loaded his blasta as if to confirm his orders before slipping off around the corner. Nurd followed suit tentatively on his tip toes.
With his A-team on the complicated and tricky surprise flanking manoeuvre it was time for SkagNet to make his move.
“Snikkit as da right idear.” Snikkit glanced up from wrenching a corner of metal sheeting out of its fixings and grinned like a psychopath.
“We’ll ‘ide in ‘ere an’ keep watch fer oomies.” SkagNet levered the corner of metal sheet out of the frame and allowed the rest of the team to squeeze inside the festering cesspit. As the space inside the outhouse became more and more cramped SkagNet selected his B-team. Smirking and Runt were unceremoniously booted out the outhouse door which was quickly slammed behind them.
“You two go ‘roun’ front.” Skagnet explained through the crack of the door.
“Boss?” Runt protested.
“Jus’ sneak in da front door. Dey fink yer on da ova side anyways!” SkagNet tried to sound convincing.
“Dey’re prob’ly lookin’ fer Smudge an’ Nurd!” he suggested.
Runt wasn’t convinced. He turned to Smirking for support just in time to see him disappear around the gable wall. Runt decided not to wait for SkagNet’s encouragements to become brutal and quickly followed Smirking around the corner. A large square pot against the front wall of the stone building made for a convenient obstacle to hide behind. It contained a bushy sort of tree in which Smirking had found a snail which he was poking out of its shell with a long sharp fingernail when Runt ducked in beside him. SkagNet eyed the ominously tidy building on their left watching for any signs of humans. Not a petal stirred in the carefully potted window boxes. Surely any human inside would have spotted the two gretchin in the yard. A rumbling sound to the left grew more distinctly through the thin walls of the outhouse. SkagNet couldn’t spy anything through the crack of the door but the silent house across the yard and the bare partially ruined gable wall beside him.
“Slakka!” he gruffed “Watcha see?” Trusting to the Grot s better day-sight in the golden morning light he relinquished his lookout spot. Unkie shifted out of the way pressing against the metal walls noisily, Skagnet winced and froze. Snikkit played in the reek as the rumbling grew louder.
Smirking gulped down his morsel tossed the empty shell to Runt. Runt began searching jealously for another snail while Smirking dived in under the lower branches of the bushy tree and shimmied through to the other side landing in a heap on a rough front door mat. Dully he became aware of a rumbling noise which grew suddenly sharper as if emerging from behind an obstacle. He caught a glimpse of something large and boxy moving slowly onto the gravelled yard and instinctively ducked.
“um.. Boss…” Slakka hesitated. “whatcha call dem fings agen?”
“wot fings?” Skagnet queried, creeping uncertainty squirming in his gut.
“I fink it’s onea da ones you said was bes’ lef’ alone.”
Skagnet listened to the ominous rumble with a sickening feeling of dawning recollection.
He shoved Slakka out of the way and pressed his eye to the crack in the outhouse door.
The blast was devastating. Smirking came-to still lying on the front door mat covered in shards of earthenware pot and dirt. A burning remnant of bush sent a trickle of smoke into the warm hazy air which smelled much more heavily of explosives than seconds before. Everything was still and deadly silent. Or was it? Smirking was dazed and confused he dreamily fingered a fragment of snail shell which lay just in front of his face in the gravel and dirt unable to recollect himself.
A flurry of fire emerged from GrodMek’s Flashgitz on the hill as SkagNet and his team skulked in the outhouse watching the drama unfold. A huge Leman Russ Battletank had entered the yard and apparently seen fit to tackle two gretchin with a blast from its main ordinance cannon. In the ensuing chaos both GrodMek’s mob and an incoming group of Deathskullz in a heavy battlewagon had begun a battle to claim the enemy tank for themselves. The vehicle turned on its axes. SkagNet flinched as the outhouse fell momentarily under the muzzle of the dreaded battlecannon but the vehicle continued to turn lining up its imposing frontal arc on another target. He scanned the flanks for sponson mounted weapons and once satisfied of his own relative safety made a break for better cover.
Under the barrage of heavy incoming ork fire, none too accurate and apparently indiscriminate SkagNet and his crew emerged from hiding and stole to the front door of the larger stone building, navigating fallen masonry, a large crater and something sticky before ducking inside the building. Unki grabbed Smirking by the scruff on his way in and tossed him inside. He sat slumped in the doorway watching Snikkit and SkagNet make short work or a pair of startled guardsmen. Another human emerged from an adjoining room but already wounded and barely able to fight he didn’t last long as Unki blasted him with glee. Smudge and Nurd appeared from the same doorway shortly afterwards. Nurd was warring a wide grin and a human officer’s flat cap. One more room was flushed of any possible threat by Slakka using a handful of sticky bombs. Smirking didn’t hear them go off but Slakka seemed happy whatever the result. SkagNet was obviously giving orders now and the rest of the lads were starting to form up and look serious. Smirking was dragged without warning by the feet away from the door and dumped in a corner next to a dead human. His ears were ringing now and he slowly realised he couldn’t hear what anyone was saying. SkagNet’s lips were flapping and he was looking at him like he wanted a response. Smirking just smirked and nodded and SkagNet gave him up for a fool.
As the smoke in the yard cleared SkagNet’s gretchin held their ruined building objective admirably against the mob of angry possessive Deathskullz swarming over the vanquished human tank in the yard, still being bombarded by GrodMek’s boys. There were no more humans to be seen so SkagNet took a few pot shots at a pretty flower pot in the window of the ominously untroubled house opposite and considered its obliteration a small personal victory.