One Good Scrap

I’m still riding high on my Warhammer 40,000 kick. My most recent discovery is audiobooks where this galaxy at war is brought to life by talented voice actors reading shockingly well-written novels.

My first love in this whacky world remains da boyz. The Orks of the Warhammer universe are pure joy and, subsequently, the most meta. They live to fight. There is no art, science, hierarchical structure, spiritual pursuit, nor social relationship that exists but the rush of a good battle. Their biological needs are even centered around fighting. What better representation for people whose number one longing is to have fun on the virtual battlefield.

It doesn’t hurt that they’re essentially just adolescents with ADHD that love loud music.

As I’ve gotten older it seems the script has proverbially flipped on my likes, needs, hobbies, and artistic endeavors. In the past I honestly think I wanted to express myself through gaming. Traditional modes of expression, like writing stories and music, was more about precision. I wanted to do the thing well more than I wanted to put a feeling out there. Now I wonder if music and writing are becoming more about getting emotion out and gaming has fallen into its appropriate slot: pure fun. As such, the Orks are the ones for me.

So enjoy a bit of this expression with an Ork short story below.

There were many stupid things inhabiting space. Few were as stupid as the squishy, weird humies but lots gave those pink gits a proper run for their money. Tyranids were right up there with them, only left in second place because at least with ‘nids it was understood that they were here for a good scrap…even if that was only because their brain boyz were telling them to.

Plus they had all the teef.

“Yer see,” said Haggak over the sounds of gunfire, “Dese ‘nids ain’t too differ’nt from us.” The wide, green ork wrenched their choppa from the head of the termagant they’d just slaughtered. The effort made the muscles of their overlong arm strain against the metal sheeting that covered it.

“Wot?” squeaked a voice at his back. Mar the grot stood on their perch atop Haggak’s shoulders. Well, the grot stood there because that was where it was strapped in. Its splayed green hands, tiny compared to Haggak’s but about the size a large human’s, clung to the grips of a deffgun mounted on the harness. The harness was, in turn, affixed to the armoured shoulders of Haggak.

Spurts of battle processed all around them. The fiercest fighting had died off and so most of the mob Haggak and Mar came in with trotted on to the next battle some time ago. The big mek, his boyz, and his grot ashishtunt were told to hang back and tidy up. So that’s what they were doing.

Between the pines, each as thick as Gork’s right leg, flashes of movement could be seen: now a white, insectoid tyranid dashing on and then a fleeting sheen of fire as one of the boyz shot it down. Things like that.

Though a big mek, and thusly a boss, Haggak remained a nob of the people and fought alongside the boyz as was proper. They pivoted, blasted an oncoming tyranid beast, and barked a few commands at the ladz in their charge. The shoota boyz complied and instantly began stomping ahead of the metallic monster that was leading them. Then Haggak continued the little speech as they stalked through the forest.

“Pay attenshun!” they spat.

“Yus, boss,” conceded Mar but, being out of Haggak’s field of vision, it took the opportunity to roll its eyes.

“Now. I were sayin’ dat dese ‘nids are wot like us orkses, jus’ stupid.”

“Yus, boss,” agreed Mar, but it hadn’t heard a word. It was too concerned with its own survival and, thusly, scanned the drab forest floor through which they trod for more enemies that might be sneakier than the last. All was quiet for now.

“Fer example,” lisped Haggak, “let’s say one of dese bugs chops me head off and does me in, right?”

Mar made a noncommittal but affirming sound and then pivoted its deffgun towards a snapping twig. Nothing happened.

“Wut’s going ter happen den? Mar. Mar!”

“Ehm, you boss! Yer the best!”

Haggak stopped walking and tilted their head as far as they could towards the little green creature on their back.

Mar had obviously not been listening and went with the reply that seemed most likely to be correct. This was very wrong, but Mar hadn’t lived as long as it had because it was slow on the uptake.

Mar blurted out, “I mean, we’d win! We always fight an’ win, boss!”

Satisfied that the grot was both paying attention and, as expected, less intelligent than themself, Haggak continued the lecture.

“Right. And why’d we win? ‘Cause da boyz don’t need no boss to tell them to keep on scrappin’. Dese weedy ‘nid gits do! Put one of their bosses down and,” Haggak snapped two taloned fingers, “they is done for. Not us orks, no sirree. Take out a nob if yer can and the next biggest ork’ll step up to keep da fight goin’.”

This brief exchange was, simply, a day in the life of Mar. All orks were served by the smaller grots; this was the way of things. But some orks, especially nobs and oddboyz, were known to keep a few specific grots around to serve as helpers and punching bags. As a mek, and a big mek at that, Haggak had been through plenty of grot ashishtuntz. Their using the fancy, humie word may sound glamorous, but it was no more than putting lipstick on a squig; any way you chopped it a grot in the employ of a mek wasn’t going to last very long.

There was the first one, who’d been fried by an unfortunate, but not unexpected, tellyporta malfunction.

Then there was the next, a real chatty grot who Haggak had not been too disappointed to see exploded when the shoota on their mega armour short circuited.

And of course that other one, the most recent in this long line. It was a good grot with plenty of brains between its ears but it liked to tinker when Haggak wasn’t around. When the big mek returned to his shop one evening after a go at the brew hut to find a snazzchoppa they’d been tinkering with broken nearly in two, there wasn’t anything to do but punt the little prat off the slide of a cliff.

Mar, in addition to plenty of brains, also had plenty of good grot-sense and got on fine with its new boss. So much so that Haggak let it play shoota atop their back after the fancy’d struck them. Mar’d even gotten a name out of it besides Oi You, which was the usual name given to your average grot or snotling.

They plodded on between the trees, Haggak yammering and unaware of their surroundings; Mar swiveling back and forth, driven by its natural sense of wariness.

“Cuz dat is wot orks live to do: fight! If dere’s one fing I learnt in the five many-many years I’ve been kickin’ around dis crazy galaxy, it’s dat life is one big fight.” Haggak raised their hand professorially, having got to the real thinkin’ part of their train of thought. “An’ if life in this here galaxy iz just one big fight, an’ orks live ta fight, an’ orks is da best at fightin’, den dere’s really nuffink to fret ova, is dere?”

“Course, boss,” said Mar, but it thought Easy for you to say, you big green git. Orks rarely, if ever, felt fear. And when they felt fear it probably wasn’t actual fretting but more a survival instinct telling them to get ready for a fight. Grots, on the other claw, lived in constant fear. It made them sharp, clever, and more careful than their hulking counterparts, but it was still miserable.

“Oi!” Mar cried. Before Haggak could inquire the shoota over their shoulder crackled loudly and the meaty sound of another tyranid crashing to the forest floor cut through the ringing in their ears.

“Anyways,” said Haggak, still trudging along. “Nuffink to fret ova.”

“Yus, boss.”


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