Skarsmasha banged his gnarled green fist against the frost-rimmed door. Receiving no immediate answer, the ork hammered continuously until a rusted spy-hole snapped open. A bloodshot yellow eye peered out.
‘Wot yooz want?’ asked the eye.
‘The ‘umies are back, and deyz givin’ uz a proppa stompin’!’ yelled Skarsmasha over the howling mountain wind.
‘Have yoo tried dakka?’ replied the eye.
‘Yeah, lots of it,’ nodded Skarsmasha. The eye narrowed.
‘Have yoo tried…stabbin’?’
‘Of course! Dat was da first thing we tried!’
The spy-hole clicked shut and the sound of multiple bolts unlocking came from within.
‘Yooz betta come in.’
Skarsmasha had never been in a weird house. It was dark and the air was thick with incense and smoke from squig tallow candles. The ceiling was hung with copper pots, curious looking scrap and other geegaws on chains that slapped against his craggy face as he followed the old weirdboy deeper inside. Zogbag took a seat crossed-legged in front of a firepit, and lit a pipe, adding to the smog. The warphead looked wiry and lean compared to Skarsmasha, but the Ork nob approached cautiously. He’d heard stories.
‘Sit down an’ tell me about deez ‘umies,’ said the weirdboy, gesturing to the other side of the fire pit. Skarsmasha manoeuvred his bulk into position. A diminutive grot appeared with steaming bowls of green squig tea.
‘Da ‘umies are back at Skarbad’s Star, and itz like deyz ALL beakies now. Bigger dan ever too! Given’ da ladz a right good kickin’,’ explained Skarsmasha. He reached into his pack and pulled out a massive slab-faced helmet, thumping it on the table to illustrate his point. Zogbag’s eye flicked briefly to the helmet.
‘Killed dat one yerself did ya?’
‘Dat’s right,’ grinned Skarsmasha as he remembered the fight. Zogbag puffed on his pipe and looked at the nob appraisingly.
‘Where’s Nob-Boss ‘Eadcleava den? I remember he was ded good at killin’ ‘umies.’
‘Dead. Chopped to bitz by a big ‘umie with a shiny sword.’
‘Kopdakka and his kill-kopta krew?’
‘Shot down, crashed his kopta into a trukk. Dat made a big boom!’
‘He was in da trukk.’
Zogbag puffed on his pipe again.
‘Saw dat ‘appen, did ya?’
‘Nah, but Warboss Killchoppa told me. Said it wuz spek-tak-oolar!’
‘So Warboss Killchoppa sent ya to fetch me, did ‘ee?’
‘Yeah, he said it wuz an important job, an’ I was da very best of ‘oo wuz left!’
‘So all ol’ Killchoppa’s buddies are dead and ‘ee wantz me back does he?’ asked Zogbag, snorting out pipe smoke, ‘Oh sure, itz alwayz ‘Oh Zogbag, come zzap me enemies’ when ‘ez in trouble. But az soon az a ‘uge green ectoplasmic foot stomps ‘is kustom boss wagon flat he’s all chasin’ me out of kamp yellin’ ‘I’m gonna zoggin’ kill ya if I catch yoo!’’ Zogbag took another sulky puff on his pipe. ‘Sometimes da godz get bored and stomp on wagonz. Standz to reason, don’t it? Just coz der’s ectoplasm doesn’t mean da weirdboy wuz involved! No…I don’t fink I’ll be comin’ back to see Warboss Killchopa today.’
‘Yoo ‘ave to!’ yelled Skarsmasha, jumping to his feet and banging his head on the low ceiling. Zogbag remained seated.
‘Don’t get me excited,’ said the weirdboy, holding the nob’s gaze as the firepit sparked green, ‘I don’t fink yoo’d like me when I iz excited.’
‘But da boss said I gotta come back with yoo or ee’d have me ‘ead!’ exclaimed Skarsmasha. Zogbag shrugged.
‘I could explode yer ‘ead now if ya like? Save ya da walk?’
Skarsmasha opened his mouth to reply, but was unable to think of one. When words failed him – which was normally pretty quickly – he’d resort to violence. But that didn’t feel like it was going to work. The massive Ork stood there, jaw grinding, frozen in indecision.
‘Der is another way,’ said Zogbag, breaking Skarsmasha’s concentration, ‘Warboss Killchoppa iz gettin’ old. ‘Ee’s out of ideaz. What da tribe needz iz a new boss to lead da boyz and give da ‘umies a kickin’.’
‘Who’z dat den?’
‘Me?’ blinked Skarsmasha in surprise.
‘Of course! Yooz clearly a born leader. Comin’ all da way up ‘ere to get ‘elp for da tribe while Killchoppa skulks about in da kamp. Climbing dem ice cliffs ain’t easy!’
‘Ack-tu-aly, I came by Ork-Eater Pass,’ said Skarsmasha, puffing himself up. Zogbag’s jaw fell open and he dramatically slapped his own forehead, swooning in amazement.
‘Yoo came da ‘ard way! Yoo fought the sabre-toothed squigs to get ‘ere?! Dis iz a sign of favour from Gork…or possibly Mork!’
Skarsmasha’s face split in a huge grin.
‘Ab-so-lutely!’ said Zogbag, picking up his staff and jingling the trinkets on it, ‘I sense a new Warboss on da rise! Der’s just one matter to take care of…’
‘Wat’z dat den?’ asked Skarsmasha as the weirdboy ushered him towards the door.
‘Kill Killchoppa of course! Can’t have two Warbosses in a tribe!’
‘Right…right! Dat makes sense,’ said Skarsmasha, his resolve hardening. ‘Yeah! I’d betta get going den!’
Skarsmasha drew his choppa and strode off into the driving snow, heading back down the mountain towards the Ork fortress-town in the lush valley below. Zogbag stood in the doorway of the weird house, waving him off enthusiastically.
‘Good luck lad,’ he yelled at the rapidly departing nob, ‘and remember, da godz are with ya!’
Zogbag’s gretchin servant appeared at his side, arms wrapped around his tiny shivering frame.
‘Warboss Killchoppa really wantz yoo back, boss. How many nobs ‘az he sent now?’ squeaked the little greenskin. Zogbag thought for a moment and began counting on his fingers.
‘Let’s see, Nob-Boss ‘Eadcleava, Kopdakka, Mekboss Wrenchbusta and young Skarsmasha der…dat makes four.’
‘Will we eva go back down to da nice warm kamp?’ asked the grot, hopping from foot to foot. Zogbag grinned.
‘Of course! Just az soon az one of dose gullible nobs succeeds!’
About the Author
Chris Buxey is a writer, laser safety officer and occasional Tony Stark impersonator. He lives in southern England with his wife and two children. Chris has been travelling the Warhammer 40K universe for nearly thirty years and has so far managed to keep his heresies hidden from the Inquisition.