I, Greenskin

4/5 (1)
Art by Noah Miller

+++ THE BOY +++


The rumors started slow and built like a landslide, until panic gripped the streets. PDF satellites detected an object: a massive, lumbering derelict, lobbed at the planet from Throne knows where. The signals bursting off the hulk told them only one thing…

Orks were coming. 

No one here had ever seen an ork, no one had seen much of anything. They were a forgotten planet, but they’d all heard the stories. Desperate calls for Imperial support went unanswered, and even if their messages reached someone, how could anyone possibly get here in time? And why? Their planet may once have been important, but now, they were barely able to tithe. The archeotech excavations ended a millenia ago, and the mining consortiums had abandoned them for generations. They were alone, and everyone knew it.

The Governor’s local militia forces crowded the streets, yelling loudly and beating back any who tried to flee. 


‘Back in yer habs, ya cowards, back in yer damn habs! Clear the fuckin’ streets!’ The guard captain squawked over the loudspeakers. ‘Deserters get shot, order O’ the Governor! Honor to the Throne God!’ 

Of course the boy and his family would never flee, they were proud citizens. They worked hard and were shown the respect of a full water ration and living quarters in the city center. Who could ask for more? Others were not so civic-minded, carrying their belongings on their backs and stuffing them into carts, hoping to find refuge in the mines, or the ancient xenos ship graveyards in the dark hills.  

Militia forces would allow none of it, wildly firing their autoguns into the crowds. Corpses littered the streets. By sunrise the gunfire petered out to only the occasional blast at a straggler attempting to flee. The boy watched, crouched behind the glass window of the hab. 

‘Weeding out the yella belly,’ that’s what his father called it. ‘They deserve it. Tryin’ to make us all weaker. I ever tell you, we had them xenos come through when I was half yer age, boy? Tried to pillage our homes and do Throne knows what else. Ah, but we survived, cause we all stuck t’gether. Y’hear me?’ 

His father beamed with pride whenever he talked about the raids of his youth. Though the boy long ago realized the stories grew in scope and ferocity every time they were told. No one ever seemed quite clear on who the attacking creatures were – certainly not orks, people would remember orks.

The boy couldn’t pull his eyes away from the sight of a PDF volunteer in a long leather coat, beating an elderly man to death with a lead pipe. His father assured him this was for the best. The boy decided to believe him. 

The Governor vox-casted his instructions to the masses. The boy realized he’d never seen the Governor, never even heard from him, and now he was hanging on the man’s every word. The loud speakers struggled through the caked on rust and ruined cable to relay his message. All citizens would be armed, ages five and up. Everyone would aid in the defense of their home. The boy, being large enough, was given his own autogun. Some ancient thing that needed to be bashed against a wall just to knock the gunk off it. Even with that precise correction it barely loaded and every time he pulled the trigger it seemed ready to blow up in his hands. 

His sister, too small to even fire a stub pistol without the blowback knocking her to the ground, was given the all-important task of running ammunition across the soon-to-be battlefield of their former transit ways. The boy’s father smiled warmly at her, he felt pride. The boy felt nothing but fear.

Everyone gathered in the center square to see the raising of the void shield. The shield was impossibly old, an ancient device predating the Imperium. The boy wondered if they put too much faith in this device they hardly comprehended. They’d tested it every few years during the reunification celebration. Reunification with what, the boy never understood.  They assured everyone the void shield would hold. The boy and his family watched as the mechanisms lit, the atmosphere shimmered. Iridescent trails danced across the surface, casting light onto the streets.

‘Beautiful,’ the boy whispered, awe stricken. But that was a short-lived feeling as he turned to see his mother in tears. 

‘None o’ that ol’ mother, we gotta be strong. This is our time to prove what a citizen can do.’ His father straightened his back and gave a reassuring smirk. 


The PDF planning committee organized them into groups, layers of defense, set behind makeshift barricades. The boy and his father were positioned towards the front, his mother somewhere farther back. He hoped that meant she’d be safe. 

It was late evening when the derelict space hulk streaked through the dim blue-black sky. It screeched a horrible noise, as if dragging its fingernails across the atmosphere. A far off rumble and bright light heralded the touchdown. 

Orks had arrived. 

Reverberations from the collision were deadly. The ground shook, rickety buildings collapsed, fires kicked up all across town as pipelines and energy transistors ruptured. A manhole cover, only feet from the boy, launched into the air, the sewage tunnel beneath spewing toxic gas. The boy was thrown clear but he saw as the noxious cloud melted the right side of the conscript he’d been stationed next to, his skull visible, the remaining meat scorched black. Another clawed at his neck having breathed in the fumes in panicked gulps. Both were dead within moments. 

They’d yet to see a single ork and their city was already in tatters. 

Their commander, who the boy nicknamed One Eye,  admonished those who rushed off to try to save their homes. ‘Back to the line you idiots!’ he screamed. ‘The line is all that matters! Them greenskins want you to run, only the line will save you. Only the line!’ 

It wasn’t the most rousing speech, but it was enough to shame the conscripts back into formation. One man even dragged back his fleeing comrade. The whole affair gave the boy a sense of hope. Maybe One Eye, and others like him, could see the city through this mess.

‘Keep yer eyes forward, yer gonna want to remember how many ah’them ya cut down. This right here is history, boy.’ His father shoved his shoulder playfully. His confidence gave the boy hope. Hope that was lost moments later when the clunking engines of war approached. 

The machines they rode belched fire. The sound of pounding drums couldn’t be heard, but it could be felt on the edges of the mind. One crazed conscript, driven mad by the impending assault, leapt over the hastily constructed barricades and rushed the void shield. No one tried to stop him, he simply evaporated when slamming into it. There wasn’t time to contemplate the man’s actions before the outline of brutish hulks, smeared by the shield’s visual distortion, came into view. 

His father’s face gave way to his true feelings. Death had arrived, and it was green. The horde barely slowed, bashing itself against the shield, igniting it with weapon fire. At first it seemed like fireworks, flashing bright. The interior became warm, then hot, scorching. Brighter than daylight. The boy closed his eyes. Men and women screamed around him, unable to comprehend the sheer force being applied against them. The cacophony rose to deafening levels and– WHUMP!

Silence followed. For just an instance the world stood still. A light breeze touched the boy’s skin, encouraging him to open his eyes. The sky was once again the proper inky black and only the fires lit the world. The void shield was gone. Leaving the city unprotected. 

His hands and arms stung as the autogun fired. The smell of the ancient thing, struggling to let loose ammunition, was acrid and painful. The boy was not suited for war. For that matter neither was the city. Orks came like the tide. Many rushed right past the conscript lines shrugging off the few shots that managed to find them. Heads were cleaved. Bodies torn apart. The boy watched as one conscript exploded underfoot of a rushing greenskin. The very stride of the enemy was a deadly weapon. 

The orks carried weapons of all sorts but they favored carved bone clubs and chain swords. The boy struggled for a moment to understand how beings who crossed the gulf of stars, beings who were capable of destroying the shield left by the Throne God, could be so brutal and barbaric. His breaking point came when he saw One Eye skewered on a chain sword, the teeth chewing and spewing his blood across a dozen other conscripts. Quick math told him that they’d yet to bring down a single ork, not a single one. 

How one faces their own death is a truly private thing. The boy hadn’t given it much thought. He hadn’t lived long enough to contemplate mortality, but he had hoped that it would be a death he wouldn’t be ashamed of. A heroic last stand surrounded by the bodies of his enemies, the Throne God staring down on him, proud to call the boy his subject. 

In reality he simply ran. He’ll never know how his father died, or where his sister ended up. Though he did catch a glimpse of his mother. Two orks, little more than outlines in the smoke, tore at her body. Her blonde hair tinted red. Her eyes rolled back in her head. The boy hoped that she did not see his cowardice, not that it mattered as her body was split jaggedly along an unnatural axis. He yelped, and the monsters heard. 

The boy ducked into the alleyways of the hab structures. His foot slammed down on what he hoped wasn’t a discarded limb. He stumbled and fell, sure he would die. He’d be bludgeoned by the hulkish things that he had watched rip his mother apart. That was if he was lucky. Maybe he’d be carted off to the pens, to wait while parts of him are torn off for an evening stew. Or, he thought, Or they’d toss me around, use me for target practice. Best I can hope for I think, leastwise it’d be quick. 

He could hear them, they’d been just behind him, why was he still alive? His answer came in the sound of a shriek. It was the kindly old lady who’d lived in the next hab over. Her scream was long, and wet. Then came green-tinted laughter, so deep and so thunderous it hurt the boy’s chest. He thanked his luck, and thanked the Throne God for her sacrifice, then planted his feet and took off running.

Hard metal made contact with his face. The boy fell back, only to be stopped as something that could loosely be described as a hand, caught his fall, its fingers so massive they could easily wrap fully around his entire body. The boy looked up, met eyes with the being that towered over him.

To his own shame, he screamed. 

The thing barely fit within the alleyway. Covered top to bottom in strange shifting plates of dark metal. It’s armored head peared down at the boy, eyes lighting up. Noises rumbled, almost like music, maybe it was a language. Then after a pause, a mechanized voice spat from a grate on its chestpiece.

‘Step behind me, human.’ The Armour said. 

Everyone knew of the Angels. The Throne God’s chosen, Astartes. The Saviors had arrived. The helm cracked open. Retracting into unseen slits. A spray of thick pressurized air slowly spread from around the being’s face. 

The boy was greeted with a visage that filled him with fear. It was no Angel! No Astartes! No being the Throne God could love! Two blunted tusks protruded from its mouth, its skin green and thick, it’s a eyes pure black, its hair neatly slicked back. An ork… And yet not one. Intelligent, composed and even in some way it seemed… kind. 

The creature spoke again in its odd harmonic language, and the suit translated, ‘Human, please step aside. I will protect you.’ 

No sooner had it spoken, then came the sputtering noises of two orks. True orks, in their barely slapped together metal plates, with their dark dim eyes and curled posture. Half the size of this being that stood between them and the boy. If they seemed like brutes before, when compared to this figure they were nothing more than cavemen standing before a demigod. 

The orks grunted at him, the boy could not understand them. His protector looked confused as well, his eyes narrowed as he considered their words. It took him a moment, the suit must have translated and he had to wait. He spoke back to them and they laughed. They made crude gestures, and to the boy it seemed they were making fun of him. 

The being turned to the boy. ‘You will wish to close your eyes.’ 

His helm slid back across his face, the eyes lit up. The orks continued their giddy laughter and charged, strangely his size gave them no pause. 

 The armored protector delicately split one’s arm from its body and beat the other with it. He went about dismantling them efficiently, leaving little more than a pile of viridescent body parts neatly stacked in the center of the alleyway. Of all the violence the boy had witnessed these few days, this was the most civilized. 




Orridar’s armor lit up the darkness inside his helm. He felt stiff, and struggled to see, or even think. His armor’s emergency systems pumped resuscitation fluids into him. Amber and crimson alarm notification splashed across his helm display. Multiple shrill and overlapping alarms bared in his ears. Whatever had happened to him was catastrophic, and neither he nor his suit had any answers. Trying to move was nearly impossible, and external pressure readings told him why. He was buried, and buried deep.  

Mental calculations took him a few moments. His suit had enough power to do the job, but only just enough. He took a moment to pray to the Creators, then enacted the program. His suit produced an initial surge, creating a perfect sphere of energy, immediately vaporizing the rock around him. Then his armor focused the displacement blast upward through the layers of compacted sediment. Orridar was now running on reserves, hopefully it was enough.

Free falling in the superheated void, he reached out and grabbed hold of the smooth wall he’d created. The claws of his armor ripped through the rock, giving him a start to his long trek. The six hour climb gave him plenty of time to think. He wracked his mind trying to recall what exactly had befallen him. 

The war was going well, at least in his quarter of the galaxy.  He’d heard other empires weren’t faring quite so nicely as the Protectorate. They’d consistently beaten back the metal beings that his creators hated so fiercely, and had been rewarded with stature and self-determinism, becoming more than just a client race of soldiers. They’d been raised to leaders on a galactic stage. 

Orridar had recently transferred from his duties as Science Officer on his Deep Travel Explorator ship to serve in the front lines. While it was an honor to be allowed to join the Creator-War, Orridar was an explorer at heart. He’d spent years far past the outer rim, conducting dark space research in the true void. He’d been a scientist, a leader, an adventurer.  He’d made contact with multiple untouched races, and brought back exotic technologies that expanded his people’s way of life. He could never put into words how fulfilled his experiences made him, and with what sorrow he gave them up to become a soldier. … But he knew that there would be little left to discover if the Creator-War went on unchecked.

To prepare for his new station, Orridar meditated for a month alone in his cabin. He’d absorbed the needed memories from the over-mind, the combined knowledge of his entire race flooding into him. It was up to him to sift through it and take on only the desired traits. He searched for combat techniques, engineering plans, weapon schematics, siege tactics, even the psychological tools one might need to deal with the horrors you’d see in the field. He, like many of the Protectorate, chose to hold on to the skills from previous stations in their lives. Every new position came with new skills and new experiences to add back into the over-mind. When one would make themselves better, they also made their race better. He often wondered what his people would become decades, even millennia from now. Their continued shared experiences, pushing them forward, to become the leaders of the galaxy. 

Commune with the over-mind was not without risks. Each exchange changed his personality slightly, but for the better, he hoped. A thought occurred to Orridar, had he not properly prepared his soul before accessing the over-mind. Is that what blunted his memory? Orridar couldn’t help himself, he briefly reached out again for the over-mind, hoping maybe it could give him some answers. This was a mistake he quickly regretted.  He was met with blood tinted screams and the sound of drums. Pure rage and giddy excitement. He recoiled, ripping his consciousness out of the over-mind. His entire being shuttered with disgust,  and he nearly lost his grip. Whatever he touched wasn’t the over-mind as he knew it, this thing was something else, something rotten, something broken.

Alarms alerted him to a new development. As heat from his own blast dissipated, it was replaced with radiation spilling down from above. The planet’s surface was ablaze with nuclear fire. Orridar had little choice in the matter, his suit was unable to make another energy charge for quite some time, so he willed his armor to reform his gauntlet into a blunt instrument. With one hand still dug into the wall he used the other to punch his way through the last few meters of rock. 

Light streamed in, followed quickly by falling embers and burning liquid. The armor identified it as a crude sort of fuel. Likely used in a warp capable ship’s engine. Highly radioactive, and highly dangerous. Luckily Orridar’s physiology could easily clean radiation poisoning, and his armor was already absorbing the stray energy to charge itself. Still why someone would use this sort of fuel puzzled him. It was dangerous to plant and animal life, a crash, like what clearly happened here, put the entire ecological system at risk. Who would be so reckless?

Pulling himself from the cavern, Orridar allowed himself a moment to lay on his back. Fires still raged around him and yet he felt relaxed. Looking out past the blaze he was met with the remains of a crashed space hulk. Of course this thing crashed, look at it, how was it ever spaceworthy?

His suit systems at full strength, he scanned for signals. An impossibly strange language flooded his ears. Nothing he’d heard before, but they were clearly in distress. He set his armor to translate the language, and headed off towards its source. He could provide assistance, and with any luck, they could help him get in contact with his people. Before he could respond, his suit, processing data at an immeasurable rate came to a terrible conclusion. 

The stars were in no known position. For a moment, it seemed as if Orridar was no longer in the universe. However, that was incorrect, he was simply not in the universe as he knew it. Extrapolating from the stored star charts, and compensating for stellar drift, Orridar was informed that he had spent a totality of over sixty million years sealed below the planetary surface. 

How is this possible? Orridar thought, and the suit replied.

Engineered by his god-creators, the armor was, as an emergency feature, capable of sustaining him within a near unmoving sphere of null-time. This coupled with his own enhanced lifespan had kept him preserved through the immensity of time. The planet fall of the derelict jostled him to life, the kinetic energy charged his suit enough to wake him, and left him a castaway, an impossible collection of eras beyond his own. 

None of the experiences he pulled from the over-mind could have prepared him for this. His chest constricted in panic, but his suit compensated with a rapid-release of calming chemicals. Orridar was put right again, his existential crisis grew and ended in the space of forty five seconds. Remember the signal, remember your purpose, you’re a Protector, you provide help where help is needed. Get to work. 


The suit managed to partially penetrate the cogitator systems generating the distress signal. Deciphering the language, it was classified as Low Gothic. The suit developed a working model of the dialect, and extrapolated much about the civilization it originated from. Very little of it was what Orridar would call good, but still these were people who needed his help.

These ‘orks’ as the messenger called them, frightened the speaker, the tone and tenor of his voice betrayed a man who knew he was going to die. Orridar wondered what kind of race they could be, when the answer found him.

‘Oi ‘der! wot iz yer? You an ummie? Yer a big ol’ ‘umie if’n it is you a ‘umie?’ Orridar paused, the words were almost something he understood, but he couldn’t quite make it out. They were thick, guttural, nothing like the efficiently perfected  music of his own language. The voice had come from behind him. Turning to the source, he was stunned. 

Small, no not small, the right word was stunted. Almost the size of a child. He wore ripped cloth, carried a bloody blade and one eye had been scarred over. To Orridar the creature seemed to be feral. Is this what crashed the ship? This thing seemed almost related to him. His skin color, his tusks, even something in his stance was familiar… Maybe an offshoot race, though how one could have gone uncataloged is a mystery. 

His suit once again gave him the answer, and it filled him with sadness. 

‘Hello there. I mean you no harm, I am Orridar of the Eleventh Protectorate Detachment. What is your name?’ Orridar hoped in vain that this being… this ork… would understand him.

‘Wot?’ It sneered. Placing a finger to it’s nostril it blew a long thread of snot out the other one. Orridar attempted not to feel disgust.  

Orridar let his helm slip away, maybe the ork would see the resemblance, maybe it would understand him.  He asked his suit to record the exchange, the longer he could keep the ork talking the better chance it could translate for him. 

‘Roooigh’t ya ain’t no ‘umie, so you da big ork, ‘ow I not seen ya before?’ The words slumped out his slack jaw.

‘My… name… is Orridar. I come… in peace.’ He talked slowly, there was some commonality in their language, just as there was commonality in their appearance. 

‘Peace?! peace iz for weak scum ‘umiez, dey get smash an’ stomped, dats why we’re ere, ya stupid or sumfink?’ The ork ground its teeth, making a clicking noise. It slung a rifle off its back and aimed it at Orridar. It seemed to be working through his own irritatingly slow thought process as he spoke. ‘Ya look like Ork but ya don’t smell like no ork, ya don’t sound like no ork, ya ain’t no ork, so ya dead.’

Orridar closed his eyes. Sighed. His helm snapped closed, his wrist formed a large barrel and with a dull WZZZMP an energy discharge turned this ‘ork’ into aerosolized paste. After sixty million years this is what his proud race of explorers and protectors had become. No longer were they the legendary Krorks, saviors of the galaxy, founders of the universally respected Protectorate Empire. Now they were only orks, gibbering, violent, barbarians. 

It was some time later when Orridar reached the city. He’d done his best to ignore the sound of beating drums in his mind, but they’d grown quite a bit louder as he drew closer. He thanked the creators for his mental training and pushed on. 

The invasion was well underway, the streets smelled of gunfire, burning meat and the odd copper like blood of the ‘umiez’.  Orridar found himself surprisingly torn. Even during his era, there had been Krorks of a bloodthirsty nature, but they always drew a line, always stayed true to the essence of the over-mind. Would it be possible to bring these degenerates back to the high shining standards of the Krork Protectorate Empire?  

It seems unlikely. Orridar concluded as he watched through his scanner, a portly green figure gnawing on the open spine of a still living kill. 

Following the transmission source, Orridar entered the city proper, through a tight winding maze of metallic corridors. His armor scraped the edges of the structures, they dented at the sheer force of his movements. 

The boy ran full force into him. Orridar didn’t register the impact but was careful to keep the boy from falling. So this was a human? There were no beings this small in Orridar’s time. Even the Aeldari made up for their lack of bulk with staggering height. But these fragile beings, if any race needed Krork protection, it was them. Orridar, in that moment knew, if nothing else, this boy would survive. He’d make sure of it. 

His suit alerted him to the approach of two hostiles. Orridar felt a brief flash of sadness that his equipment had started marking his distant descendants, the orks, as enemies. 

‘Oi! Dats a big’n. Dat a new kinda stompa you fink?’ Orridar waited for the translation. 

‘Ain’ got no stompas.’ The other spoke. 

‘Ah true… dats’ true.’ The orks, still unsure if he was one of their own, stated their demands. ‘Gib us dat ‘umie, dats me meal i dun claimed ‘im, i did.’

They want to eat him. This is madness.

‘The boy is under my protection, please brothers, there is a better way.’ His armor delivered his translation. 

‘Hur hur hur! Dis one speak da fancy. Ya da fancy git!’ The orks jostled one another. Their gaze drifted back to Orridar, sickening grins showing their blood-stained teeth, strips of human meat still clinging to their tusks. There was no reasoning with this sort of madness.

‘Step behind me, human. You will wish to close your eyes.’ Orridar shuttered his helm and went to work.


+++ THE DRUMS +++


The boy trailed after his protector, running and stumbling through the streets that had been his home. In the city center, where parades to the Throne and celebrations of the governor had once taken place, the orks had constructed something of a larder. They had already gone about the business of stringing up bodies from power lines to dry the ‘‘umie meat’. The central fountain, once a symbol of pride and perseverance, was now a collection of severed heads bobbing with the flow of black-red blood. 

Orridar felt a twinge of surprise, not because of how awful the sight was, but how little it affected him. There was something almost beautiful about the savagery of it. Simple, plain, clear. The beat of the drums. Find. Kill. Eat. 

The boy looked down into the water, Orridar admired him for looking into the face of fear.  One of the heads turned, dead bloodshot eyes  faced up into the sky. The boy let out a small squeak. Orridar knew it was involuntary but still, the boy should know better than to make noise. It would only bring more orks. 

Orridar’s nose twitched. This boy stank of fear. Even through the helm Orridar could tell, he smelled wrong. Orridar shook the feeling, he had to remember the ethos. Protect those who need it. Save all we can. Life is precious, even life you find disturbing, no– Especially life you find disturbing. It is in the complexity of life forms that the universe will find harmony. 

Orridar dropped to one knee, careful not to move too quickly and disturb the boy. He placed both his massive hands around the boy forming walls of protection like one might do to a small pet. His helm slid away, he wanted to be sure the boy could see the sincerity in his eyes.

‘This universe is full of death. It is a dangerous and dark place. You may never be safe, and for that I am sorry. However there is also wonder and joy to be found within it. I promise you boy, when finished here we will find the beauty of this universe, together. You are safe.’ He spoke from the deepest part of himself. The adventurer, the scientist, the Krork. 

Protect the boy and you will never be alone.. 

And yet in the back of his mind… The drums. They were growing louder, heavier. There were voices now just barely below the beat. Chants. Howls. Music. Beautiful savagery. His fingers twitched for just the slightest instant and– he stopped himself. Orridar had to remember how weak this boy was, how gentle, how even that little moment could have crushed the child’s chest and ended it’s life. Protect the boy. 

‘We need to keep moving. There may be more of your kind alive deeper–’ He stopped as his armor alerted him to a new signal. A host of new signals. Surrounding them. Up, above them, lining the roofs of the buildings. Orks. One among them so massive it matched his own size.

‘OI BIG KRUMPA!’ A voice so loud the water shuddered. He felt it through his armor. 

The massive shadow lept, a clawed hand ripped into the masonry and slowed it’s descent. The figure slammed into the cement below, howling and screaming. Spitting and frothing. Pure magnificent fury. A voice settled in Orridar’s mind: Dat der, dat’s da Warboss. 

The Warboss stepped forward into the flickering amber streetlamps, his skin a verdant green covered in thick criss-crossed scars. The Warboss’s every step was a thudding, pounding drumbeat, invading Orridar’s chest, his hearts, his bones, his very mind. 

Orridar and the Warboss collided. The ensuing shockwave threw the boy off his feet. Orridar’s armor screamed alarms and warnings at him. The Warboss was not something he had expected. To this point, he outclassed all the orks he had encountered. The Warboss, while weaker and filled with a crazed recklessness, had a level of ferocity Orridar could not account for. The suit alerted him as multiple orks from the roofs descended to the street, chanting and hollering. It occurred to him that to the orks, combat was entertainment. Orridar couldn’t deny that there was something intoxicating about the whole affair. 

The drums rose into a deafening cacophony. Orridar realized he was so wrong about the noise. It wasn’t mindless savagery, it was a perfect chorus. Orks spread across the galaxy, each beating their own drum. Uncountable trillions on trillions. The voice, no–two voices speaking in unison, whispered again. Ya don’t need to protect dem no more. Ya find, ya krump, ya kill. Dat’s da way now. 

They exchanged blows. The Warboss screamed and howled. Orridar remained silent, though he wondered why. The Warboss did seem to be having a lot of fun. Youz iz all cunnin’ an’ no brutal, the voices whispered to him. We be brutal now.

His suit suggested unleashing a blast from the energy core, ending this cleanly and quickly. Dat’s not a very orky thing ta do… And– And the boy might get injured. We have to protect the boy.  Instead, he grabbed the Warboss by the wrists and twisted. The satisfying orchestral snap of bone and popping of muscle sinew put a smile on Orridar’s face. The orks around him cheered.  

The Warboss let out a guttural howl, so Orridar did what felt natural and reached deep into the creature’s throat. The Warboss bit down, his teeth shattered on the impossibly strong armor. Orridar grabbed hold of a lump of organs. He pulled. It all came loose. 

The Warboss collapsed, it still struggled. It still lived. Orridar lifted his foot and slammed it down on the pathetic thing’s head, over and over until only a thick emerald slime remained. His arms burst forward involuntarily, he held them up in violent triumph, still clutching the innards of his enemy! The orks burst into riotous noises. All together they chanted for him. A hero. A leader. Their new warboss. The suit struggled to fill Orridar with the right combination of chemicals to return him to normalcy, but none could drown out the drums. 

The suit sparked and shuddered under the strain of his brilliant, perfect, simple anger. The orks respected him. They– wait. Wait! Orridar struggled through the green haze. The boy…  Orridar turned to see him, surrounded, frightened, but unharmed. The phrase turned over and over in his mind, a part of him desperate to hold onto the past. A part of his struggling to let go and be born into the future.  

I must protect the boy. 

I must protect da boy. 

I gun protect da boy. 

I… da Boyz. Da Boyz is all dat matterz!

Orridar turned, taking in the world around him as if for the first time. His suit had stopped speaking to him, his own mind, simplified as it was, annihilated the programming his creators intended to keep him in check. It’s weapon systems inactive, it only moved under his strength, a strength amplified to heights he had never felt before. 

The boy, the pitiful boy. The ‘umie. Orridar approached him. With every step he pulled a chunk of his useless armor off, letting it clatter on the ground. Gauntlets, chest plate, helm. He looked down on this thing, the smell burning his nostrils. The voices, no longer a whisper, now a conversation. You no krork. You no Protector! You let that go now. You kill da Warboss, you iz da Warboss! Big-Krumpa Orridar! 

The voices came from such a familiar place. Wild, violent to be sure, but also warm and welcoming. The Overmind wasn’t corrupted as he’d first assumed, but rather born anew. He loved the voices now, understood them perfectly. Oh and how he agreed with them! The old ways were a lie. He was never meant to protect. Protecting just gets in the way. 

Orridar dropped to one knee, even lowered he still towered over the boy. His lips curled into a smile and he spoke. Thick guttural grunts. To the boy this was just nonsense. To the orks, it was the sweetest sound. The boy believed his protector had the best of intentions. He thought this even as Orridar curled a hand around him, even as he lifted him into the air. The boy didn’t feel fear, why should he? 

Even surrounded by orks, he thought himself safe and protected. Right up until Orridar twisted him in half and drank the flowing blood from his sternum. In the years to come, the boy remained Orridar’s favorite trophy. 

The boy’s skull was always polished, and even after years of victory upon vicious victory, it stayed mounted at a place of honor, high upon the bloody throne of Warboss Big-Krumpa Orridar.

About the Author

Noah Miller is a writer/director/animator from Los Angeles, CA. You can see more of their work, on www.theopposition.party including the short film, Alien: Alone from the 40th Anniversary Alien Celebration.