Approx. 2300 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
A Howl of Orks:
The Follow Up
written by SJ
Geographically, Epsilon Eridani 3 was currently in a post-Pangaea state. The one continent, approximately 20,000 years ago had split. This left, or would eventually leave, four continents. However, currently, the gap between the two largest continents were small...in some places, less than two kilometers.
The western continent was were Terrans began their initial colonization of Epsilon Eridani 3 almost two hundred years earlier. Fifty years after that, the eastern continent began its colonization. The Eridani Corporation could trace its lineage back to that time.
There were few survivors of the failed eastern continent colonization left to tell exactly what had happened; most, simply said, they were being attacked by monsters. The most comprehensive accounts of that time were reported by high-level employees of the Eridani Corporation itself. Today, few are still living, and those, very old. The official report goes as such:
One hundred years ago, Orks landed in a spaceship (even though no remains had ever been found or detected) and began attacking colonists. The Eridani Corporation said they tried to form a military to bravely defend, but were badly outnumbered. Eventually, all the Terrans were forced to flee back across the narrow channel to the western continent. After that, several decades passed with no incident, the accounts of attacking Orks by the Corporation thought to be exaggerated. As colonists began building towns on the shore of the eastern continent, nothing happened at first. Then, people began disappearing, again, with reports of being attacked by monsters. When the Orks showed up, the colonists tried to defend themselves. Hostility between Terrans and Orks continued on and off for about two decades longer, eventually ending with some sort of peace settlement. After that, about a dozen Terran coastal towns became small trading posts where friendly relations persisted. Then, fifteen years ago the Trading Posts were attacked by Orks, or so it was said. The Orks claimed it was the Terrans that attacked them. Either way, there had been growing hostility until present day.
Fort Marathon was located on the rocky shore of the narrowest point between the two continents, only 1.5 kilometers wide. The relevant commanders of the current combat situation met in the same conference room as they did ten days earlier, when they planned the now failed offensive.
Colonel Dempsey sat at the head of the table, which had an elaborate, digital, 3D, tactical display map in the center. Next to him, on his left, was Captain Larry Knox, fort commander. On his right, in an expensive, leather, chair was Executive Commissar Morris. The last two positions at the table, sitting across from each other, was Colonel Granger and Colonel Gallardo.
There were several video screens located on all sides of the table for commanders not physically in the room. On one screen was Continental Governor, Prime Minister Marylla Lancaster.
Once the meeting had started, it was Commissar Morris who spoke first, angry, almost red-faced as he tried to blame everything and everyone for the military debacle. Technically, he wasn't a military commander, and not really even a commissar; he was an executive who was given the title to fit the job. To save face, he simply took the initiative, attack, before he got attacked.
When the executive stopped ranting, Colonel Dempsey spoke, facing him directly, being diplomatic. "Morris, no one here is going to blame you for the failure of this battle."
Morris tried to interrupt, but the Colonel stopped him. "Listen...you have to understand. The Orks had us all fooled; none of us expected them to be this advanced--nor to have this kind of military skill."
The executive sighed.
The Planetary Guard commander knew that the Eridani Corporation was the number one contributor of money and resources to fund the military forces facing the Orks. He knew a lot of the blame should've gone to both of the Corporate commanders for not allowing Colonel Granger to assist with strategy; but, Dempsey knew why they didn't: Both of them wanted promotions--and if it was THEIR plan, THEY'D get all the credit. However, Dempsey wisely said nothing. And anyway, Commissar Rowley had been confirmed dead by numerous surviving Guardsman.
The Planetary Guard commander continued, facing Morris, but pointing at Colonel Gallardo. "This commander saved the lives of a lot of your Guardsmen out there," he frowned, "and all during that time, all you could do is criticize him. I think you owe him an apology."
The executive sighed, then mumbled an apology.
"How many Marines did you lose?" he asked Gallardo.
"We lost three killed, six wounded."
Morris sighed again, then spoke louder. "I'm sorry." He then took the initiative again. "I'm sorry for the loss of Marines. But you have to realize I was worried about losing every man in my Battle Group."
At this point Morris continued with his ranting again, repeating, as he did before, how he could've used more artillery and air support.
The other commanders sat back and sighed. They kept quiet, like they were waiting for something to happen.
In another couple minutes, a video monitor opposite from the Prime Minister's came to life. There on the screen was the majestic face of General Parker, commander of all Federal forces, and many times, of all involved military forces during a campaign. When the other commanders at the table stood up (except for Commissar Morris), as would be done when a higher ranking commanding officer would enter the room, the General said, "at ease, gentlemen."
They quickly sat back down.
Morris had stopped talking. On the General's video screen, he could be seen looking down at something, then back up. "Well, I don't have all the reports yet, but it seems you've taken quite a few casualties in the current campaign against the Orks."
When the General paused before speaking again, Morris started up again, repeating what he had said earlier, only this time to the General.
Parker frowned, then looked down at something. When he looked back up, he tried to get the executive's attention, eventually shouting with a deep booming voice: "EXECUTIVE MORRIS!"
The executive was silenced...a surprised look on his face.
The General continued, speaking directly to him. "Sir...I think you have some email you need to read. I suggest you read it, NOW, before saying anything more."
The room was quiet as Morris examined his corporate email on his phone. After almost a minute, an embarrassed look came over his face and he got up and left the room...
When he was gone, the thankful grins on the other commander's faces showed clearly as they waited for the General to explain. "I've been informed by Eridani Corporate headquarters that both Executive Morris and Commissar Rowley have been dismissed from the company." He looked around. "I don't see Rowley anywhere..."
There was a delay before Colonel Dempsey spoke up. In a case like this, they had a colloquial way of reporting when someone had been killed by the Orks and their body not recovered. "He's Ork poop."
The General acknowledged the report, then, after a brief pause, continued. "Colonel Dempsey are you still having trouble with Ork raids across the channel?"
"We have been, yes. I tried to explain that to Morris; it's why my Planetary Guardsmen couldn't participate in this campaign, but...you know." Dempsey smiled. "Thanks for clearing up that problem for us. Anyway...as of current, I can report that any and all Ork raiders have been eliminated, primarily thanks to Lieutenant Diaz's Rough Riders."
The General sat pondering. "I was surprised any of the Orks got the nerve to cross the channel. I've always heard they're deathly afraid of the water." He chuckled. "They sink like stones, don't they?"
"It's very possible the Gretchen have come up with some kind of new invention." Colonel Granger suggested.
Colonel Dempsey nodded, agreeing.
"We've just finished building two new channel gunboat drones." Captain Knox added in. "That should help spot anymore possible raids."
"The main thing I need to know," Prime Minister Marylla Lancaster spoke up, "is their any chance the Orks are preparing to cross the channel in force?"
Captain Knox was quick to answer. One of his jobs as fort commander was to monitor satellite imagery; he had an entire team for that purpose. "No, Prime Minister. "The recent satellite scans have shown us the Orks and their vehicles have pulled back away from the coast and probably back into the mountains."
"Thank you, Captain." Marylla replied, glad.
"Vehicles?" Colonel Granger needed further explanation. In his experience with the Orks, never had he encountered much in the way of vehicles.
"Yes...I was going to bring that up, Colonel," Knox continued. "During the battle, our scans picked up the presence of approximately twenty to thirty vehicles moving slowly in the forest toward your position. They were still about four kilometers away, and we don't know how they were armed or armored, but it did seem like they were slowly getting in position to attack your position. Once your Thunderhawks came in to evac your company, they seemed to scurry back into the mountain and disappear."
Colonel Granger sat thinking.
After a slow sigh, Dempsey had to mention. "That does sound disturbing."
"Does that pose a threat?" The Prime Minster asked.
Granger answered calmly. "Whereas the presence of Ork vehicles is something new, the good part is that it's doubtful they'll be able to hide them. So, no--it's highly unlikely they'd be used to invade the mainland, and if they did, we'd know about it way in advance. But, as a counterattack weapon, if we invaded them--they could pose a significant threat, especially if we weren't ready for them." He faced Knox directly. "Thanks for the update. Good job."
"Prime Minister, I do have some good news, actually for all of you." General Parker cut in. "I'm now able to authorize you the use of four brand new Vendetta gunships and three new Basilisk mobile artillery vehicles. In my meeting with the Eridani Corporation, they told me they managed to procure two Baneblade heavy tanks. However, I have no idea when, or if, they'll ever be delivered."
"How did that meeting go?" Colonel Gallardo jested, knowing that corporate meetings could be long, boring, and frustrating. "Have, fun?"
The General chuckled. "Oh, yeah..we had a ball." His voice became serious. "You know, what disturbs me is that the board members were ready to respond either way battle turned out. If the battle was a success, they said they had Yarrick's support to bring in the Imperial Guard for an all out offensive. If the battle failed...well, you know what they suggested?" Parker didn't wait for a response to his obviously rhetorically question. "They wanted to activate the Warhammer 40K. Bring in everything we had...wipe the Orks out for good."
Prime Minister Lancaster had to speak up in reply. "I know there are people on my planet that worry about the Orks. But, if I took a poll, I know most people would not agree to just wiping them out. They want a solution, yes...but, extermination? I'm happy to say, they would not want that." She sat back and thought. "I remember years ago talking to people that used to live in those Terran-Ork Trading Posts. Most of them told me they couldn't understand why the Orks attacked them; it was like...they couldn't believe it. We need to find out what happened. But, with this war going on, I'm afraid we may never find out."
"I agree one-hundred percent, Prime Minister." The General agreed.
Others at the table agreed also, but only to some extent, some knowing first hand just how vicious the Orks could be. If there had been members of the Eridani Corporation present, they would've emphasized: They’re just MONSTERS!
After a short pause, the General continued to sum up his meeting with the Eridani Corporation. "Well, toward the end of my meeting with the board, Yarrick showed up on FTL com link. Needless to say, that extended the meeting, which I had to sit and listen to. In the end, Yarrick gave his unofficial support to the Eridani Corporation and offered them his three Bombard mobile artillery vehicles as a gift. They wrapped up with their usual round of, ‘hail to the Emperor,' and finally left."
The Emperor Corporation was the largest and richest corporation in the entire Sol Frontier. The Imperial Guard was their contribution to the Warhammer 40K; it was the biggest and most well-equipped army of Corporate Guardsmen in the Terran part of the Galaxy. High Commissar Yarrick was the undisputed commander of the Imperial Guard. ‘Hail to the Emperor' was their favorite corporate slogan.
With corporate business out of the way, the General addressed Colonel Gallardo with a compliment. "I hear you did a good job rescuing those Guardsmen. I didn't get a casualty report on that. How many did you lose?"
When Gallardo repeated his loses, the General was impressed. However, he sighed afterwards, sorry he had to lose anyone. "Well, I'd like to request for you to return home. We've been having some unusual trouble in the in Proxima Altar system. Your second-in-command, Major Taliaferro will fill you in when you arrive. I've authorized the use of a Federal transport with a powerful jump drive to get you back quickly. It's excellent medical facilities and staff will be at your disposal. I want your wounded Marines to get well soon. Bring those Scout squads back up to strength. I'd like for you to be ready and on call in case something happens."
As Gallardo got up to leave, others at the table thanked him and wished him luck, the General giving him the final goodby.