Friday, December 4, 2015

The Raid on Pakeshi IV Part 3 - A Weird Strategy



Previously on the Raid on Pakeshi IV: After successfully claiming the world of Shatara, Mad Dok Drillteef has sent a splinter force to raid the world of Pakeshi IV. The local PDF failed to completely repel the Ork invasion, but they have been assisted by the fortunate presence of some  Blood Ravens Space Marines. The system’s Imperial Commander, Celia Falkes and her subordinates still have no idea what either the Orks or the Space Marines are doing on her world. Pakeshi IV is little more than a huge chemical reclamation facility supporting the gas giant mining operations throughout the system. The Blood Ravens are commanded by a young Librarian by the name of Djalix T’sorg.

~ * ~

His state of being had evolved beyond simple annoyance. Codicer T’sorg and his men had been fighting Orks for days. The city they defended lay at the center of a sprawling chemical reclamation facility. The Orks had breached the initial physical defense provided by the surrounding chemical lakes and machinery. Although the Pakeshi Rangers had destroyed the Orks’ huge hovercraft battle fortresses, the Orks themselves still infested the city. The Greenskins’ presence had, at first, consisted of sporadic raids throughout the city, but it had slowly begun concentrating on a single compound.

The locals, of course, did not realize the compound’s significance as a secret research facility for the Inquisition. T’sorg and the rest of the Blood Ravens knew the truth, of course. Hours ago, T’sorg had deemed it tactically significant considering the Orks’ new posture and had made the region’s Imperial Commander, Celia Falkes, aware of the truth. It had become clear that the Orks had learned some information about the compound; information which held a certain importance to whatever debased plans their warlord had in mind.

The Librarian was bloodied. His muscles were sore from being stretched taut by grimy ropes and chains. He was not unconscious. No matter how badly they beat him, he refused to give them more information than he cared to and he dared not black out. One thing that he had learned from his recent campaigns against the Orks is to never show weakness. He couldn’t give the Ork nothing, though. Orks are an impatient lot and don’t suffer long an arduous task with no clear benefit.

His torturer was a squat Ork the others called Frang. This odd, older, yet somewhat stunted Ork, was the king of his domain. The wide alley was a charnel house of horrors where Frang’s other victims were strung up, beaten and disemboweled. Frang carried a long-handled hooked blade, clearly the device which had been the instrument of this golgothan symphony of horrors. Among the victims was a single Astartes, so horribly beaten that T’sorg could not identify the corpse. T’sorg guessed that the cruel blade had not killed any of them instantly, the Astartes in particular. He prayed to the God Emperor that his Battle Brother had not died screaming.

Codicer T’sorg had grown impatient, though. Death would be preferable to the incessant bludgeoning and meandering questioning. He had to admit, however, Frang was an excellent choice for this particular job. The old Ork was clearly disfigured, whether by birth or by some old injury. His lower jaw was narrow and his teeth were small and dull; many of them black with rot. T’sorg had never seen an Ork with old teeth in his head; and he’d seen a lot of Orks. Although Orks were capable of some level of speech, some of it understandable, it was often impossible to fully understand what they were trying to convey. With Frang, however, every question he asked was clear, and the Ork seemed clever enough that he probably knew more often than not when the subject of his bloody work was lying. The questions, however, were very telling.

“Where were the other Beakies?” Frang spat. T’sorg assumed the Ork meant the rest of the Blood Ravens. After Shatara, the Chapter’s presence in the Pakeshi Sector had dispersed, bolstering areas surrounding that world. Commander Falkes had agreed to call Chapter Master Revueltas for reinforcements, though their astropathic choir had been overrun before a response could be received.

“I don’t know,” he growled.

“Were you on the world you call Shatara?”

“Yes. I enjoyed killing many of your kind.”

“Will the oomies counter-attack Shatara?”

“Oh, yes. Be ready for a major assault. We will wipe that world from all memory.”

“You… exaggerate, grox filth!” Whack! across his face. The flat of the blade cracked his left orbit. Burning agony filled his vision. Light and sound exploded in his mind.

“Why do you have so many Weirdboyz?”

In spite of himself, T’sorg said, “We are all, in some way…” then stopped himself. “We take them. From others. So we have more.”

“Liar,” the butt of the implement jabbed into his diaphragm, but the muscles there resisted the thrust. Just the same, he made a great show of exhaling deeply and coughing.

“What lies behind the big, old, wall?” His questioner wanted to know about the Inquisitorial compound. The wall surrounding it was very old, certainly pre-dating the Inqisition’s presence there and likely pre-dating the Great Crusade. “Nothing.”

Whack! “Noooo. There is something. Why else are there walls? Why else are there defenders?”

It was true. The remnants of the Pakeshi Rangers including the Imperial Commander had fallen back behind the wall. The Orks had been striking at the compound’s outer defenses, pecking here and there, sacrificing hundreds of Orks in dozens of raids. Clearly, the Orks’ commander was not stupid. He was testing the installation’s defenses, finding the right places to strike when he finally decided to make an assault. T’sorg had ordered his Blood Ravens to strike out beyond the walls for this reason. They had destroyed at least ten Ork raiding parties before they could be used to help their commander collect the information he needed. His hope was that his counterpart on the Ork side was a careful commander, which his strategy had revealed. The Ork warlord would, if T’sorg was correct, hesitate before making a big move without a clear tactical edge. This behavior obviously went against everything he’d ever been taught about Orks, but one thing that was also important to expect from any enemy was the unexpected.

“Why?” Frang demanded before T’sorg could realized he’d been daydreaming, on the verge of losing consciousness. Through a red, blurry haze, he saw the staff end of Frang’s tool raised for another blow.

“It’s a hardened position. Walls. We can hold you off until reinforcements arrive.”

“You won’t…” Whack! “..hold us!” The weapon came down on the Librarian’s arm. His vision cleared with the sharp pain which signified a cracked bone.

“Didn’t hurt,” he did his best to make this defiance sound desperate. He wondered if the Ork sensed that.

“It will hurt more if you do not tell me everything!”  Each word in the sentence punctuated by a pointless blow laid against his torso and abdomen.

“Please,” he choked, “Tell me what you want to hear.”

“Where?” Crack! “Is?” Crack! “The?” Crack! “Tome?” Crack! “Of?” Crack! “Blood?” Crack!

“We. Don’t. Have. It.” He gasped between each word, spitting blood and tooth fragments.

Crack! “Lies!” Crack! “It is there!” Crack! “Behind the walls!” Crack!

T’sorg gave up the act and became calm. “Thank you, Frang. I’m glad this wasn’t a useless exercise. What is the Tome of Blood?”

The implement came up for another blow, but T’sorg flexed his mind and gently pushed the Ork, “Stop.”

A confused look crossed Frang’s distorted face. The confusion melted into fear.

“What is the Tome of Blood?” He pushed again, “What is it, Frang?”

The Ork doubled over and vomited whatever bloody mess had been his last meal. Fear and realization filled his mind. “I shoud na asked that. I should na told ya.”

“Tell me the rest.”

Frang moaned in desperation, “It will bring Tuska to us. Warboss Tuska. Now he fights for the Lord of Blood. He will fight for us instead. We will conquer!”  Frang was almost relieved when he was done. He leaned against the staff of his weapon, exhausted from the experience.

“Let me go,” T’sorg whispered.

The Ork winced and his eyes crossed. “No.”

“Let me go, and I will make you strong,” he pushed the Greenskin’s mind. Not too hard. Finesse was key.

Frang grunted. Blood oozed from both of his ears, droplets pattering on its shoulders. “Strong…”

“I am Weird. I can make you strong.”

The Ork spasmed, but moved towards him, lifting the pigsticker. “You…”

“I must be let free. I need my hands.”

The business end of the weapon wavered at T’sorg’s throat. He could see the old, violet bloodstains caked on the pitted surface of the crude weapon. How many loyal Imperial citizens had met their end on this cruel device?

“Fpree…” Frang’s voice was was no longer clear, but muddled by the blood which was now gushing from his nose.  The weapon twitched.

Please don’t die yet, T’sorg thought in spite of himself.

T’sorg felt the pigsticker graze his cheek and swipe at the ropes binding his left arm. The cracked bone in that arm became a sudden, distant memory as muscles in his forearm and shoulder screamed at being moved after the long hours of tension. Despite the agony, he focused his attention back on his captor. “You fool. You have let your prisoner go free.”

“No…”

“You will be executed,” and he pushed hard with the last word, putting all of his hate into it.

“Exec….”  The Ork spun his blade around, opened his mouth wide, and bit down upon it, cleaving his own skull from the inside out. Frang collapsed, his head cracking open and a fan of chunky meat ejecting from the wound.

T’sorg immediately reached out, took the weapon and smashed the blade against the chains holding his other arm in place. He thought about looking for his armor, but decided that might be a deadly waste of time. He hefted Frang’s bloody device and began climbing the nearest building. He had to get a lay of the land, find the path of least resistance back to the compound.

As he climbed, he became more aware of the world outside the alley. The acrid odor of the world’s air was actually refreshing compared to the offensive environment in Frang’s golgotha. The crackle of small arms fire rippled in all directions, but there was no heavy artillery. Good. The Orks hadn’t started their major offensive yet. When he’d allowed himself to be captured, T’sorg had gambled with that eventuality. His curiosity had overwhelmed his caution, however. He’d had to find out why the Orks had come to this backwater world and why they were willing to sacrifice so much for so little.

When he reached the top of the roof, he found something waiting for him. His initial reflex was to duck back down, but the Ork was staring directly into his eyes. He could immediately feel the Ork’s connection to the Warp. Its burn-scarred body was practically naked, adorned with only a few bleached bones and trinkets. It leaned on a long, ornate staff. T’sorg’s caution once again lost the battle against his curiosity and he pulled himself up onto the roof.

“So, are you my counterpart?” he rasped. It was possible he had bruised ribs.

The Ork’s response was not verbal, “Close enough. Your things,” it gestured to a large, burlap-covered bundle nearby. “Thank you for visiting. I learned much.”

“I learned a great deal as well,” he said, almost defiantly.

“Yar. You delivered yourself to us. Smart, oomie. Smart one. Go on. Take your things. Go.”

“Why?”

“You need to find what we’re both looking for.”

“You won’t get it.”

“We’ll see, oomie,” and the Ork smiled. “We’ll be coming soon. I can’t hold back Big Mek Dreadnutz forever, so you be sure to find the Tome before we get there.”

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