I meant to enter this story in the short story contest put on by the folks making Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Sadly I didn’t get it done in time to meet yesterday’s deadline, hence the abrupt ending. So! I’m putting it here for your Orkish enjoyment.
The darkness of space does not welcome life. It is void, unsustainable, hopelessly bleak and cold. Space-faring people face this hostile vacuum and cross it when they must, but black nothing does not suffer well the living. Some peoples, however, fare better than others in this colorless star-sea, especially when the promise of battle and glory goes before them.
And thus Snaga waited on some seat or other, somewhere in the Kharon sector or somesuch, scratching his flanks and looking at his shoota. It was cramped aboard the Krooza Kill Kutta, and so work — something struck him and he fell to the side.
‘Oy! Mind yerself, ya git!’ cried the thing that had struck him.
Even its brawling opponent stood to the side, fists on hips, looking belligerent. ‘Yar! Dere’s fightin’ here!’
The moment having seemingly passed, the Choppa Boy who’d crashed into Snaga drew surreptitiously and dove at his opponent, blade waggling. They would fight for the next hour or so, with another two outraged interruptions when they would inevitably crash into more Orks.
Conditions were tight aboard the Krooza, and so Snaga had barely the time to keep his shoota polished, but it was worthy work. If nothing else it gave him time to reflect. He’d always been the living definition of a ‘runty grot’, if it ever applied to an Ork. Whereas the gretchin and grots were actually tiny, Snaga was only tiny for an Ork; standing at about the same height as your average Guardsman. The fact of his survival was largely a matter of a decent shooting eye, cowardice, and pure luck. But this trip had caused some doom to fill his tiny mind: he was not going to survive it.
‘Where’s we goin’ again?’ he thought aloud.
‘Crama or Charna or some uvva hole out dere. Bleedin’ stink-pit, morelike,’ said another shoota boy to his side.
‘How’s dat, den?’
‘Ain’t nuffink down ‘ere for all I’ve ‘eard. Prob’ly end up ambushed by beakies or the like.’
‘A propa fight, den!’ Snaga said bravely.
The dissenting Ork, pale green and covered with scars and markings in the shape of an oblong star, shrugged. ‘Ain’t just humies, I fink. Reckon dere’s Chaos boys and panzees an’ worse. One krooza ain’t winnin’ dat fight.’
This was the wrong time for such talk as many orks passed here and there, monitoring the fight which looked to incorporate more rowdy boys into the fray. A towering shadow overcame Snaga and his companion; a rather sharp voice cut through the racket.
‘Wot’s all dis, den? Two weedy runts afeared uv a little fightin’?’
The shoota boy, small to begin with, seemed to visibly shrink with the Nob looming over him. ‘Nuffink like dat, boss!’ he squealed, ‘We’s just havin’ a joke, right Snaga?’
A blank look was Snaga’s reply. It was show enough of his quality that his shoota didn’t fall from his shaking hand at that very moment.
‘And yer a lyin’ little grot, too, ain’t ya?’ bellowed Rafgraf, the nastiest and meanest Nob on the ship.
The shoot laughed a bit too nervously, ‘Nar! We’s just–’
A deafening, ‘YEEEEEEEEEEEEOW!’ preceding a ‘WAAAGH!!’ shattered the low din of Ork voices in the main chamber of the krooza. The fight had ended…or just begun. That was never quite clear. The shout was like a charge through the body of Rafgraf and he grinned a horrible grin, spiky teeth springing from his mouth.
‘Seems ter me you needs a reminda of what a real fight is!’ he said.
The shoota stammered, Snaga waited nervously, then like a pouncing animal the Nob swung, and connected, and the Shoota Boy flew. It was nothing to make a Rokkit Boy proud, but far enough to send him crashing into the bulkhead.
‘WAAAGH!!’ bellowed Rafgraf and strode forward to finish the fight.
As if in answer the bulkhead shook and the rest of the ship rattled with it and all present fell over. Bins full of bolter rounds and ammo clips and choppas and shootas fell with their owners and a poor, lone case of fungus beer tipped over. The gretchin present cried in woe. And then all was still, even quiet, for a moment and there was silence until Rafgraf broke it.
‘Wot’s all dis den?!’
‘Dunno, boss,’ said Snaga quite honestly.
A voice came through wall-mounted speakers like tin. ‘Oy! We’s bein’ boarded ya grots! Get da lead out!’ It was Verrt, Big Mek and the right hand of the Warboss. When he jumped all the other Orks jumped their highest, and Rafgraf was a fine jumper.
‘On me, ya runty squeaks!’ he said. Three dozen boys fell in instantly: Shootas, Choppas, Lootas, even a ‘Ard Boy or two clamored and shoved their way to the fight. The Nob screamed unintelligibly and ran in the direction he deemed the most fighty. Snaga kept at his heels and they charged for what felt, to an Ork, like days. When no fight appeared there was grumbling: was this some ruse, some training exercise by the Boss until the real fight began on Arkhona? Ork physiology does not lend itself well to such thoughts, so it was a stroke of good fortune that the corridor to their left exploded.
Through the gaping hole poured more Orks and a few large men. They gave no battle cry, but engaged the fight straightaway. The disdain of Rafgraf was palpable. ‘Soddin’ freebooters! Send ‘em packin’, lads! WAAAGH!!’ And battle was joined. Rafgraf and his crew crashed into the invaders like oil and water colliding, a chaotic swarm of red and green and fire. Pistols shot, blades flew, limbs were severed. To the untrained eye, the tactics of the Orks were no more than the mantra many of them repeated: ‘Shoot! Chop! Shoot! Chop!’ But in fact they worked as one, each intuitively sensing his mate’s next move; a well-oiled machine that soon surrounded the boarding party. The freebooters were pushed back, almost to the sealed gangway by which they’d come, until Snaga felt the tide of battle shift. Another mob of pirates, these mostly humans in mismatched armor, turned the corridor to their left and opened fire. A wall of boys dropped like bricks and more soon followed.
The blam-blam of heavy fire cut into their flanks, forcing the rearmost Orks to break away and charge the pirates. They too were cut down. Rafgraf, and Snaga with him, were caught between the hammer and the anvil; stuck in, hand to hand against one company with another blasting their sides. Then, like the cry of an avenging angel, Snaga heard sweet music.
‘Bring on da dakka! Shoot! Shoot, ya gits!’
It was Gutlug, their resident Flash Git, and the rest of his boys bringing up the rear. The chorus of dakkadakkadakka matched the bleating of their guns; the clanging of shells against the hard floor of the ship wondrous percussion. If the din of battle was loud before, it was now deafening. But the effect was achieved and the void pirates who hadn’t been cut to ribbons fled back the way they came. Rafgraf and his lads, spurred on by the joy of battle, messily finished the others in a slaughter of fire and choppa strikes.
The battle lasted less than an hour after that, but Snaga wanted more. He felt power surging through his green body, battle lust calling him to kill and kill again. When the last shot was fired Verrt was heard almost immediately on the communication system.
‘Bit o’ turbulence dere, lads, but a fine bit o’ sport afore the real fight! We’s going to Arkhona and we’s takin’ dat rock for da Orks! Bring on dem pirate boyz or humies or whateva. Wurr da Orks and we fight and we win!’
When the ubiquitous ‘WAAAGH!’ came and threatened to break apart the already tired hull of the Krooza Kill Kutta, Snaga was the first and the loudest.