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With a shudder the shuttle's nose turned upward, indicating that the descent to the planet's surface was almost complete. The whiteshields were shifting nervously in their seats, not sure of what was waiting for them on the landscape below. One of them, Jarvis, was playing with a colorful toy he kept with him as a good luck charm, a little cube with multi-colored tiles. Each of the young men dealt with fear in their own way, and each way was as valid as another, thought Kraken.
The intercom interrupted his thought, "Planetside in T-minus 10 seconds...9...8...7...6....5...4...3...2...1...."
With a heavy thud, the craft touched down on the rocky terrain that was Omega-Alpha-Omega five, or as the local inhabitants referred to it, Scragg.
The whiteshields got up and in what looked to be total disarray scooped up their gear and slung the laz-guns over their shoulders. Despite the apparent lack of organization, it only took them seconds to get ready to go. Kraken, himself, made sure his bolt pistol was loaded and in place as he slipped his arm into the mighty powerglove that was his most trusted friend. He dusted off his long black coat that was his badge of office, and put it on, affixed his hat in place, and opened the hatch the led to Scragg.
Led by their Commissar, the group one by one stepped outside of the shuttle, still red hot to the touch from the descent. The landscape was bleak and cold, patches of snow dotted the landscape. Smoke could be seen off on the horizon and that was where they where headed.
"Men," barked Kraken, "We are here as diplomatic emissaries of the Emperor. Our mission is to make those savages on the other side of that hill realize the danger that's coming is real and as much a threat to them as to us. "
"Sir?" It was Jarvis.
"If this is diplomatic, why are we fully armed, is there a chance they'll attack?"
"The Orcs are extremely unpredictable, people, and the only thing they respect is strength and power. If we came unarmed..." Kraken raised his huge power glove above his head. "...we wouldn't be taken seriously, and then we would be in trouble. We are expected and any trouble that may arise will undoubtedly be against whatever orders those beasts might have, but don't take any chances, and for the Emperor's sake, don't antagonize any of them."
The group marched forward through the tundra toward the smoke that marked the Orc camp. As they climbed over the final rise, it came into view. Hundreds of tents sprawled out in a roughly circular pattern from a central building -- half temple, half demolished war machine. Thousands of Orcs scuttled around, most of them unaware that they were being watched from the hill above. Most of them, but not all of them.
"Ooomie's! Wot you wont? Eh?" shouted one of the Orcs approaching from down the hill. He was accompanied by several cohorts, though it appeared as if he was in charge.
Kraken spoke up, "We're here to see Hur-Urche-Splizkull. We are expected, do you understand?"
The orcs, apparently deathskulls by their blue facepaint and ragged clothing, began to bicker amongst themselves, then began laughing.
"You Krakin?", the big one asked.
"I am he," the commissar responded.
"You prove it, I let you pass, ooglee!"
"What do I need to prove, UGLY!", yelled Kraken, shaking his powerglove at the obstinate orc.
A number of the whiteshields eyes bugged out and jaws dropped. Was their leader challenging the extremely large Orc to a fight?
"I'll walk through you, pip-squeak!" continued Kraken.
The orc howled and bared its huge teeth at the commissar, then looked at his followers for some support, but they were fixated on the crackling plasma oozing out from Kraken's power glove, and provided none. He bowed his head slightly and spoke.
"We take ooglee oomies tah Splizkull," groaned the orc.
"Thank you," replied Kraken.
The squad behind Kraken relaxed noticeably.
These orcs that were leading the troop towards the camp were deathskulls and notoriously untrustworthy, even for orcs, but not overly brave either and that was now working to their advantage. Splizkull was a Badmoon, though, and badmoons by nature liked wealth and the trappings that wealth provided. That was the weakness that command had bet the Imperium could use to sway Splizkull to the Imperium's will, but conversely, the Badmoons were fiercely independent, and were used to getting what they wanted by taking it, not by making deals. But they had a really good deal to offer....
As the group made its way into the orc camp, the conspicuous humans did not go unnoticed, but having the deathskulls as an escort must have been helpful because all but the bravest of the orcs, and the dumbest of the gretchin, gave them a wide berth.
The camp itself was immense, the smoke that was seen from the landing point was not one fire but the combination of dozens. It was a chaotic scene, with orcs chasing other orcs, fights, gretchin doing the dull laborious tasks, and more than a few red clad Evil Sun orcs pounding a few extra nails in their warbikes and buggies, just trying to make them "Go fasta."
A painboy with his white smock bloodstained green sat outside of his tent smoking out of a large metal pipe. The smoke had a green tint to it. A sign above him read "Hed shop" and was decorated with a real Squat head.
Occasionally an explosion would pierce the already noisy atmosphere, and orcs would scatter. Either their stikkbomb grenades were highly unstable, or the orcs who so carelessly carried them were. Both options were equally likely, thought Kraken.
"Yes, Jarvis?" replied the Commissar, eyes still pointing straight ahead to the temple.
"How do they survive? They seem so...self destructive. I just saw one over there sawing another one's hand off while he slept."
"Their limbs grow back in about a week. Heads, too."
For a while the orcs seemed to ignore the troop, marching over the icy ground behind the ragged Deathskulls, but as they entered the more populated center of camp, more and more orcs took note of the strangers and began to follow them. Before long it was a frightening parade of heavily armed green monsters escorting the guardsmen and their leader to the warlord Hur-Urche-Splizkull.
One of the orcs, the Painboy from the 'Hed Shop', approached Garrit, the guardsmen taking up the rear.
"Got Teef..." the bloody Orc said.
"Me got Teef, trade fer gude oomie feet!, Deel?" The beast's face twisted into a hideous grin, baring his huge teeth, some two inches long.
"Uh...you want my feet?"
The orcs eyes lit up, and he pulled out a machete. "YAH!"
"Hey, man! You can't have 'em! I need my feet, understand?!?!"
"You say feets, Ah say feets, we make deel, oomie! Gimmie yur feets!" the doc bellowed, stomping now, as if to drive his point home.
By this time Kraken had noticed the Doc and, while motioning the rest of the group to continue on, let himself fall back to check on Garrit and his new "friend."
"What's the problem here!" yelled Kraken.
"Ewe oomie ere welch on deel, he trade me fer iz feet!"
"Honestly, sir, I didn't do anything..."
"Quiet, Garret!" barked Kraken, "You, orc, his feet belong to me, and we have no deal, understand me?"
"Rrrrrrrrr, yeah, oomie..." growled the doc, "but I not forgittin ewe...", and he put his machete back in its sheath.
The Temple up close looked like a patchwork quilt of destruction, it was composed of bits and pieces of every kind of war machine you could imagine. Eldar jetbikes, Land Raiders, even the twisted remains of a chaos deamon engine could be made out as a contributor to this shrine. Mostly the structure, if it could be called that, was thick metal pipe, bolted, nailed, and in some cases taped together to form a rough dome shape. Large portions of the walls were simply sheet metal, brightly painted in a typically Orcy fashion with the machine parts filling in the holes. To the human eye, quite horrific; to orcs however, it was a work of art.
The doors were huge, twice the height of the tallest man, and made of copper. Large nails had been pounded though it and skulls hung on the tips of these nails. Most of the skulls were human.
The troop walked up the stairs and the giant doors slowly swung open to greet them. A warm wind blew out of the temple, and the smell was sickening. Dinnertime, thought Kraken.
Jarvis was looking a little green, but still marching forward. The odor appeared to be affecting him worse than the others and he held his sleeve up to his face to shield himself, but to no avail, it was more than his stomach could take, and the results were quite predictable. Jarvis lost his lunch on the steps of the orc war temple.
The outcry from the mob below was deafening, they literally roared. The entire crowd surged forward to see what the stranger "oomie" had done to the centerpiece of their society. There were whoops and cries, and more than a little applause. In one fell swoop, Jarvis had managed to become an honorary orc. All he had left to do to become a real orc was drill a corkscrew through his head. Fortunately for Jarvis, he didn't know the finer points of the orc rituals.
"JARVIS!" Kraken roared. "Quit makin' friends and get your butt in here, we've got a job to do!"
Jarvis gathered himself, well, most of himself, and scuttled in after the rest of his companions.
"Diz dud bestest tempul in al uh Orcdum," the deathscull explained. "Wuz bilt by Gazgul Thraka an lef ta Splizkull wen 'e left. No udder tempul in duh hole oo-nee-verz iz az big or az strong!"
" Yes, it's a fine piece of architecture," Kraken stated bluntly.
"Yeah! Wut 'e sed!" a little gretchin piped up from beneath the deathskull's feet. He was dressed in uncharacteristically bright robes, for a gretchin, and just as the deathskull was about to kick him for being there, the sight of his robes forced him to stay his foot.
"Sir?" asked Jarvis, quietly.
"Yes, Jarvis?" replied the Commissar.
"What's with the little guy, all the other, what are the called..."
"Yeah, gretchin, all the other ones get beat on without hesitation, he looks kinda special. I wonder what the deal is."
"That one's probably a Nobs' personal attendant, maybe even Splizkull's, most likely only his master can hit him, on pain of teeth removal, or something equally bizarre."
The little gretchin ran down the hall ahead of the group, tripping over his fancy yellow attire a couple of times, as if he were not used to his garish outfit. He screeched and giggled the entire way and disappeared around a corner a fair distance ahead.
All the while, Kraken was noticing a faint hum that grew more and more pronounced as the group was led deeper and deeper into the building. At first he was puzzled by what this could be. He felt the walls and realized that the entire building was vibrating slightly, along with this hum. Then it hit him. This fortress had been in numerous battles. Battles large enough to destroy the entire surface of this planet, yet this large but not overly large structure had somehow survived. Power fields...somehow the Splizkull's or an earlier warlord's mechaniacs had managed to build powerfields to surround this entire structure. No small feat, even for the imperial tech priests. Weapons no matter how large would have little or no effect as long as that hum continued. For a brief moment the commissar marveled at his hosts, then he caught one picking his nose and the feeling quickly passed.
Deeper and deeper into the temple they walked, steadily downhill, curving to the left in a spiral. It seemed as though they had walked the length of the thing and back at least a dozen times and indeed they had, for orc warlords like to keep a lot of distance between themselves and their enemies...unless they are at war. Most likely there was an elevator somewhere that could have taken them straight to Splizkull...but that was not for strangers.
Eventually they reached the entryway to Splizkull's court. It was a huge room, filled with smoke and orcs. The most prominent of the nobs, dressed in their garish finery, stood in their places with their retinue behind them. Columns made of imperial volcano cannon barrels held up the ceiling, and at the far end of the room Splizkull sat on a throne surrounded by the head of a chaos titan, its evil eyes staring out at the entire room.
As the strangers entered, the room fell silent. Except for a few of the more rambunctious gretchin, only the nearby hum of the shield generators could be heard.
Splizkull was dressed in vibrant yellow robes under which was bulky powered armor. He had a huge combi-weapon resting next to his throne on one side and a drastically modified nemesis force weapon. He paused for a moment then he stood and spoke...
"OOMANS! Com closer..."
Kraken motioned for the troop to stay where it was and began to approach the throne.
"All de oomans com...! Com over to me!" Splizkull's voice was deep and clear.
With a nod from their leader the whiteshields scuttled forward. As a group they approached the huge orc and the stopped just short of where he sat.
"You wish to speak, Oomans? SPEAK DEN!!!"
A number of the nobs stifled laughter. The same brightly clothed weapons as they met above could not stifle his, and paid for his glee with stiff kick from Splizkull.
"Mighty Splizkull," began Kraken. "The Imperium needs you and your orcs' aid in dealing with a powerful threat to both of our empires. Space hulks filled with traitor marines and chaos entities have been pouring out of the Eye of Terror for several weeks now. It is the most blatant threat to humanity and orcdom that anyone has seen in a thousand years. If we are not united against the invasion, we both will surely be lost. We ask that you join forces with our marines on several of the planets that lie on the path of the invasion fleet. They will need recruits and supplies for their final objective."
Splizkull lifted his head and opened an eye. "Wot iz the FINOL OBJEKTIV?"
"The fleet is currently headed directly for Earth."
The huge Bad Moon smiled slightly, then began to chuckle. "Yur poor Emporur is in danjur uv lozing hiz life...may bee Horous is reeturned to finish wot he begun so long ago?"
Kraken stood stony faced and silent.
"Da kaos godz dont have no danjur for us! Wy ought we shoot wit you an not AT you, huh?"
Kraken smiled. "We'll give you the Landover Sector...all those ore mines, just for you, Splizkull."
The warlord cocked his head slightly. "Der be stuntiez der, huh? Wot about dem, eh?"
"Their loyalty to the Emperor is questionable. We will end our protection of them, if you agree to help us with our...situation."
"You jus' let duh stunties rot den, eh?"
"Basically, you can do with them what you like."
Splizkull motioned for a few of his more powerful nobz to approach his throne. There they conversed in a relatively quiet huddle. The few bits and pieces of dialogue that Kraken could make out were in a dialect of Orkish of which he was not familiar. After the short discussion the nobz went back to their places and Splizkull sat motionless for a time. The whiteshields were standing uncomfortably behind their leader, some perfectly motionless, others shifting slightly from side to side. Jarvis was unconsciously fiddling with his toy, still in the pocket of his guard jacket.
Splizkull's armor creaked and groaned as he stood. He grabbed the halberd at his side and slammed its base on the ground by his feet. There was a flash and a electrical crack that echoed throughout the huge chamber as the iron pole struck the concrete floor. Splizkull spoke. "Dere wull be no deel...If we won' Landovvur, we TAKE landovvur widdout no empururz deel! You take you littul oomie kidz odda 'ere, bifor we desidez we don' won' you tuh go no more, Kommie Krakun!...You makin me spit teef, ooglie oomie!"
Kraken stood rigid as the Warlord continued to spit venom at him, his Emperor, and his men. He know it would be disrespectful to back away before the great orc was done with his "speech."
His men, however, were terrified of this monster's roar. The orcs surrounding them seemed to grow more and more excited with every word that came bolting from their leader's huge maw. They jostled more and more nervously as the noise level in the room grew. Kraken motioned them to settle down, his eyes never leaving the eyes of the Warlord. The orcs began to whoop and holler, all the while Splizkull continued his verbal attack.
Then, suddenly and in mid-sentence, he stopped, and all the orcs, save a few gretchin who weren't paying attention, stopped with him.
"YOU DERE!" Splizkull pointed at the whitshields, who immediately moved away the finger, leaving Jarvis standing alone.
Jarvis' eyes darted back and forth as he realized that the orc was indeed pointing at him. "Who, me?"
"Yaaah, stoopid oomie!, Wot you got in yur pokit?"
Kraken nodded at Jarvis, encouraging him to do as the warlord said. Jarvis, in compliance, removed the small multi-colored cube from his coat pocket and held it up for Spizkull to see.
"Ooooo, wuzzat you got dere, huh?" The orcs eyes were as large as saucers.
"Tell him, Jarvis," said Kraken.
"Well, warlord, sir...It's a puzzle, um...a game. You try to get all the colors the same on each side, see?" He then fiddled with it to show how it worked.
There was a hush across the hall as the orcs fixated on what the young guardsmen was doing, the occasional "ooh" and "ahh" cutting through the otherwise quiet room.
"Krakun," said Splizkull, "Can you get some 'o dem?"
The Commissar grinned. "As many as you want."
"Den we fight stinkee Kaos fur you! We do it! We wont Landovvur and hundurd boxes uv dem tings! We got deel, oomie?"
"I would say so," replied Kraken with an even bigger grin. "And Jarvis, give the warlord your cube, please."
"Yes sir!" The orc guards moved out of the way allowing Jarvis to scramble up the steps to stand before the mighty orc. He then held out the cube for Splizkull to take.
"Liddul ooglie oomie...you an meez maitz!" The orc took his prize and smiled a toothy orc smile.
"Boss? Why we 'elpin duh oomies, fer? Nobuddee carez ubbout dat stoopid oomie boks ting?"
"Branerot, yuh stuntee hed! I notz dooin itz fer duh boks, itz fer tuh gitz da oomies unawarez."
"Yuch! Why you wantz dere unda-warez?"
Splizkull grimaces and gets his servant with a mighty backhand, sending him flying in to the wall on the opposite side of the room.
"Stoopid! We fightz wit duh oomies, den wen all o' dem iz ded, an all da stinky kaos iz ded, an we got Landovvur an all duh stunteez iz ded, den I be Warlord uv EVVREETING!!!!"
Branerot peels himself from the wall and replies, "Oomies iz sooo stoopid."
|22 July 1996||reformatted|
|16 April 1996||reorganized|
|Comments or corrections?|