Approx. 5100 words
All Rights Reserved
Copyright 2015 SJ
The Ork Situation:
written by SJ
In Camp Cheyenne, the Space Marines had settled down to their normal routine, but then had to be set on alert status because of mounting Ork activity on Epsilon Eridani 3. It was now known the Orks had a Warboss, something that always meant trouble. There had been ongoing skirmishes between the Corporate forces of the Eridani Corporation and some kind of Ork mechanized troops, something they called, Mekboyz. It soon became apparent, that if nothing was done to prevent it, there was going to be a real war between the Orks and the Terrans.
When Lana Lyu LaFong was called to Major Taliaferro’s office, he was obviously concerned. He knew what had to be done: He had to assign another Special Ops Marine to Epsilon Eridani 3, which meant risking another Ork poop incident. The Marine had to either gather information about the size and composition of the Ork forces, or find out why the war was starting, and try to prevent it.
The Major explained the seriousness of the situation. “The Orks have a Warboss, and they have captured Leman Russ tanks. They also have their own vehicles they call by various names: Wartrukks, Wartraks, Warbuggies, and Warbikes. As to exactly how many, we don’t know. It also seems they have the ability to detect larger spaceships in orbit. The Omicron Rangers are already in the Epsilon Eridani system. But, it is assumed as soon as they try to approach the planet and start to land, the Orks will attack...all out war.”
Officer LaFong sat listening carefully...
The Major sat back in his chair, but was not relaxed. The look on his face was mixed...like, he couldn’t decide exactly what he wanted to say, or how to say it. “Of those people that have made up their minds about the Orks, there are two basic opinions: Some people think there is something happening that is making the Orks act the way they do, making them violent, pushing them into making war on us. Then, there’s the others, who...think they are just monsters.”
Lana nodded, understanding. When there was a pause, she had to ask--she needed to know. “Major...which way to you believe?”
He sighed like he didn’t want to answer. Taliaferro used to live on Epsilon Eridani 3. During the Ork wars he had lost friends and family. Finally, he tentatively answered. “I think they’re monsters.” He looked down, sighed again, then looked back at Lana sitting there, who seemed to know he wasn’t finished. “Every time I send a Special Ops Marine over there...” He almost smiled. “I hope they’ll come back and prove me wrong.”
When she smiled back, he began to have hope for that second possibility. As Lana got up to leave, he knew she already had all the information she needed. She would be allowed to use the Camp’s Special Ops space shuttle (equipped with stealth), which would get her to Epsilon Eridani in less than two days. She was allowed to take two people with her, so she chose Gannon and Bull. If the only thing she was able to do was plan A: gather military information on the Orks, she figured she was going to need all the firepower she could get. But, she was hoping for plan B: find out what was happening...and try to prevent the war all together.
Officer LaFong guided her Special Ops shuttle into the small landing strip used primarily for HQ personnel at Fort Marathon. Her team brought ample equipment with them. LaFong, aside from her normal equipment, brought her VSS ‘Vinovka’ sniper rifle, something that would allow her to kill Orks silently...if needed. Gannon and Bull both had Mk.2 heavy bolters and missile launchers; they were experts with both those weapons. If not with Lana on an Ops mission, they could be used to defend Fort Marathon along side Planetary Guard forces, which was where they would be allocated until Lana finished her initial investigation.
Lana met with Captain Knox, Fort Commander, first, who informed her of the current Ork positions, which wasn’t that complicated since most of the Ork forces were located on the opposite shore from the Fort, about one kilometer away, concealed in such a way as to avoid artillery fire. The plan was to defend the Fort with a small defense force, then fall back with the main force. In order for the Orks to actually take the Fort, they would have to land and surround it, attack from all sides. At present, the Orks seemed to be waiting. It was obvious they had an unknown reserve set up to exploit their attack. In order for that force to be revealed, the Planetary Guard forces had to fall back, draw them on shore. When that happened, they could engage the Orks at a distance, then, when the Omicron Rangers landed, make a full scale counter attack.
Knox smiled after explaining the plan. However, Lana did not smile. She knew it was a good plan, excellent in fact; but, there would obviously be MANY casualties...a real war. She was now hoping she could pull off plan B.
Next she talked with Colonel Dempsey by video link. He was in charge of the counterattack force. He had a mobile force which included six Basilisk mobile artillery vehicles, something he knew the Orks feared. She could also read in his eyes and speech, that even though he was ready to do battle, he really didn’t want to. When Lana tried to ask him what started the war, he simply wasn’t sure, referring back to when the Orks attacked the Trading Posts without warning, massacring hundreds of Terran civilians without mercy. He, then, made a call, and soon Prime Minister Marylla Lancaster joined them by video link.
She tried to explain in more detail: “Fifteen years ago, we were at peace with the Orks. I knew people in those Trading Posts. I remember them telling me they couldn’t understand why the Orks attacked; it happened without warning. Back then, the previous battalion commander ordered an immediate counterattack. I wasn’t Prime Minister then. If I had been, maybe I could’ve stopped it...maybe waited until we found out what happened. The Orks have always maintained, THEY were attacked by us...that it was Savage Orks that attack the Trading Posts and started eating people.” She had a tremor in her voice. “Now, here we are on the verge of war.” She looked at Lana, then asked. “I wasn’t told exactly why your are here...something about a Special Ops mission.” She sighed. “I assume you’re here to help us to defeat the Orks?”
Lana smiled, then tried to explain. “Well, yes, one of my plans is to help you defeat the Orks, what I call plan A. But, from what I am hearing, I’m going to go with plan B, first.”
Marylla was interested. “What is that?”
“Plan B is to try and stop the war. And from what I’ve heard, it seems like, fifteen years ago, there was a terrible misunderstanding.”
“Yes...I would say so. But what can we do about it, now?” Marylla found it hard to sound hopeful.
“Well, at first, I would like to know more about what the Orks meant by, Savage Orks. Does anyone know?”
There was a slight delay, then Dempsey responded. “We don’t actually know. Back then, the attack took everyone by surprise. It was hours before anyone was sure what had happened. Once the survivors reached the west coast and told of the horrible event, the commander, at that time, immediately launched an attack to try and save people. It wasn’t until after most of the fighting was over before we got any information at all. There were a few people that were very good friends with the Orks...knew some of them personally, lived with them. It was they who passed on the message from the Orks saying it was Savage Orks that attacked the Trading Posts. But, by then, it didn’t matter. Fighting went on for almost a week. Afterwards, the Orks wanted to know why they were attacked. But, every time we tried to talk, it ended in anger. When we mentioned that we have proof they eat people, DNA found in Ork feces, they didn’t want to hear it. Eventually, we just stopped talking. No one wanted to believe their story about Savage Orks.”
The Prime Minister tried to elucidate. “From what I’ve heard, some people are starting to believe that the Orks go crazy periodically; they become violent, attack people, then afterwards forget what they’ve done. Then they say, Savage Orks did it. I’ve heard it’s one of the more popular theories; some kind of genetic flaw. But, how do we test it? It not like the Orks are going to suddenly stop fighting and submit themselves for testing.”
“The Eridani Corporation still insists the Orks are just lying.” Dempsey mentioned.
Before anyone spoke again, Lana cut in. “Has anyone been able to scan, try to find any of these--Savage Orks. If they’re out there, we should be able to find them.”
“No one has ever been able to find them.” Dempsey was positive. “So far, there has been no evidence to support the existence of a Savage Ork, or anything like it.”
Lana started to ask. “If they scan exactly like an Ork, then--”
“Then, well, we’re not going to find the answer with scanners.” Dempsey answered.
“How about the Catachan?” Lana pursued the question. “I’ve heard they patrol around in Ork areas all the time. You mean they’ve never seen anything that could be a Savage Ork?”
Neither the Prime Minister or the Colonel answered right away...
It was Dempsey who replied. “The Catachan are weird. They’ve honed their natural skills to evade and spot Orks. To them...an Ork is an Ork, and they kill them on sight. They work for the Eridani Corporation almost exclusively. And...well, I don’t think you’re going to get a rational answer from them. That’s the best way to put it.”
Lana had heard enough. She asked simply, “okay, let me put it this way. If I could go out there and present PROOF of a creature the Orks call a Savage Ork, what would that do? Would that stop this war...or, at least get everyone back to talking?”
No one responded for several seconds...
“What do you think, Colonel?” Marylla asked.
“My God. If you could bring us proof of the existence of a Savage Ork.” He smiled as if Lana had just solved all their problems. “I’ll do whatever I can to try and stop this war.”
“Lana, if you get that information, I’ll do everything I can from my end.” Marylla seemed to be brimming with hope. “I’ll make sure everyone I know is made aware of that information.” Then she came down to reality. “But, I don’t have any idea how your going to do that.”
“Well, that’s the tricky part, I’ll have to agree, but it’s what I get paid to do.” Lana sounded positive, then asked, “do you know of anyone that used to live in those Trading Posts...some people I could talk to?”
Both the Colonel and the Prime Minister gave her a small list of names; however, none of them resided in Fort Marathon, so she flew her shuttle to Talbert, a coastal town about one hundred kilometers to the north.
The list of names Lana was given were supposed to be people that used to lived in the old Trading Posts. Some didn’t want to talk at all, others wanted to help, but, were able to give her little or no information; even though they didn’t seem to want to say it outright, many of them now considered the Orks monsters.
The next stop was the Eridani Corporation.
In a nice office building, Officer LaFong was greeted formally by an executive, whom Lana quickly recognized was in charge of public relations. She quickly tried to explain to him that she needed to talk to one or more of the Commissars in charge of military operations, but was told they were busy. After almost an hour of conversation, most nonessential to military affairs, she was directed to what was called, Eridani Base, a fortified HQ for the Eridani Corporate Guard located twenty kilometers south of Fort Marathon.
The Corporate HQ was very nice, a formal example of Corporate lavish excess. She quickly learned that the Executive Commissar was off planet at a meeting, and the Commissar formally in charge of the Corporate Guard was currently directing troops on the coast of the eastern continent. Lana was met by a Lieutenant Vasey, a clean, nice-looking, young, woman who quickly led the Space Marine over to a holo-map. There, she pointed out the location of Corporate forces, all well entrenched along the coast just across the channel. She explained how Ork mechanized forces, Mekboyz, constantly harassed the Corporate troops. So far there had been very few casualties, opposing forces obviously at a stand off: Corporate infantry and heavy weapons remained safe as long as they stayed inside their trenches, the Mekboyz remained safe as long as they kept their distance, usually making long-range hit-and-run attacks.
When she mentioned if she could talk to the Catachan, Lieutenant Vasey grinned and mentioned that they were still grumpy, upset they were no longer involved in the fighting.
Lana looked at the holo-map and grinned also. It was apparent that the dropping of so much defoliant over a year ago had wiped out acres of what used to be dense forest. The Catachan were experts in forest infiltration warfare. Now that the forest was gone, and Ork infantry replaced by Mekboyz, the Catachan was no longer needed. They were not trained to fight mechanized vehicles out in the open. However, Lieutenant Vasey made a call and set up a meeting with the residing Catachan officer.
Aside from a number of undisclosed, secret bases, the Catachan had a small HQ just outside of the Corporate Base. There, she met with a Lieutenant Blake and two Catachan sergeants.
Even though the Base was right next to the Corporate Base, it still was a rather isolated area. The Lieutenant seemed cordial enough, but the two sergeants, a woman and a man, looked menacing, to say the least. They were not impressed by Lana’s short statue at all. It was obvious they were expecting a big strong Marine.
Lana didn’t feel welcome and got straight to the point, addressing Blake directly. “I want to ask you about the previous Cheyenne Ranger Special Ops officer that was sent here a year ago. His name was Officer Dietz. I was told he came here and went with you guys--”
“He didn’t come here.” Lana was rudely interrupted by the female sergeant, a strongly built woman who obviously didn’t like Lana at all.
The male sergeant stood agreeing with the woman.
Then Blake interceded, smiling. “Wait. Let me check our records.” He sat down at a computer. “His name was...?”
Lana sighed deeply, sensing the hostility. “Officer Dietz. He was a Cheyenne Ranger Space Marine. He came here on a Ops mission. I talked to a number of people. They all say he came here before he turned up missing.”
The big male sergeant stepped forward, advancing on the short Space Marine, who stood her ground, at first. He frowned, staring at her. “We had nothing to do with anyone’s disappearance--”
“I’m not saying you did,” Lana frowned back.
He advanced again, and Lana had to step back, her retreat apparently being what the man had wanted. She had to agree with Dempsey: These Catachan were definitely weird...to say the least; and not in a good way.
Finally, Blake spoke up. “I see here that a Officer Dietz did come here. But, I have nothing after that.” He smiled. “Is it possible he went elsewhere after coming here?”
“The last thing he did was to come here so he could get a Catachan escort--”
This time the woman stepped forward, speaking demeaningly. “LOOK, princess! We have no more information on this guy. He didn’t come here and we had nothing do to--”
“YOU LOOK!” Lana shouted back. “You guys are the ones that found his remains, DNA in some Ork poop.”
“Not us!” Both Catachan sergeants countered, then grinned, like finding someone's remains in Ork poop was amusing to them.
“Whatever team found his remains is going to be hard to locate,” Blake explained, trying to clarify the two sergeant’s response. “We don’t keep records like that.”
Lana frowned and sighed deeply. Then she tried changing the subject. “Okay. If I wanted a team of Catachan to escort me into the Ork territory for an Ops mission, who would I--”
The woman started laughing, soon to be joined by the man.
“YOU.” The woman pointed at Lana. “You wouldn’t last one day in Ork territory.”
“Or with us.” The man added in.
Lana tried to ignore them and looked at Blake, repeating her question.
He smiled, as if laughing inside. But, he answered simply. “I don’t know. Really...I have no idea who you would see to get a Catachan escort. You would have to go back to Corporate and set up something with them, then they would set up something with us. They should know the right people to contact. Here, in this office, we don’t set up things like that. We’re more of a recruiting office. Sorry.”
Lana stood trying not to look as embarrassed or angry as she felt. She knew now she wasn’t going to get anywhere with the Eridani Corporation or the Catachan. She left and returned to her shuttle. Lieutenant Vasey had wanted Lana to check in with her before leaving, but, she decided not to. As she sat in her shuttle, frustrated, she was beginning to think Plan B was not going to work out.
When she noticed there was a message left on her phone, she played it: “Hi, this is Ian Cottrell. You said you wanted to meet with people that used to live in those Ork Trading Posts. I don’t know what we can tell you, but if it will help you to stop this war, we’ll tell you everything we know. My wife and I work in Talbert’s City Hall. You can meet with us there.”
Lana sat back in her shuttle and smiled. Finally, a small ray of hope.
Lana met Daphne Cottrell in the lobby of Talbert’s City Hall where she and her husband worked as assistants to the currently residing political personnel. After a few amenities, Lana followed Daphne to a private room, soon be to be joined by Ian Cottrell. They were both eager to answer any questions the Space Marine had.
In earlier conversations with others that used to live in the Trading Posts, Lana started out asking questions about the actual day the Orks attacked, which for most, was rather painful. This time, she asked more general questions, letting the Cottrell’s reach that part of the story in their own way.
The couple wanted to be as helpful as they could and began by explaining their job as supply assistants. The Trading Post they had worked at was only about the size of a very small town. And it was only about a ten minute walk down a narrow, densely-forested, road to the coast, where the ferry was located.
They explained they always felt safe, and had several Ork friends, listing them by name, those they knew personally: Gargolgo, Nabbo, Trundo. Eventually, when Daphne gave birth to their first child, a girl they named, Nancy, they still felt safe, taking the child with them to the Trading Post.
It was at this time, Daphne looked like she was about to cry. When Daphne didn’t continue, Ian continued for her, recalling an event that was obviously painful for them: “We had just celebrated Nancy’s first birthday, and she was sleeping in her crib. We had a couple friends there and we left them with the baby because we needed to go to the ferry. We were almost ready to return, when we saw people running down the road screaming. When they reached us, they told us that Orks had attacked the Trading Post. They said they were like wild monsters--tearing people apart.”
Tears were in Daphne’s eyes. “We wanted to go back. Our baby, Nancy was there. We couldn’t leave her.” She looked down, the horrible event painful even today.
Ian continued. “They rushed us onto the ferry and took off. They said there was nothing we could do. Everyone in the Trading Post was already dead. We couldn’t go back. They wouldn’t let us.”
“The whole thing was like a bad dream.” Daphne looked up. “We couldn’t believe it. By the time we reached the coast, military troops were already getting ready to cross.”
“They had mortars set up and ready.” Ian added. “Like Daphne said. It was like a bad dream. We couldn’t believe the Orks would turn on us like that. Even today we still can’t believe that any of the Orks we knew could’ve possibly been involved.”
Daphne became sincere, almost crying. “Nabbo was a gentlest person I knew, Terran or Ork. I can’t believe he or the others would attack us.”
There was a pause, and Lana waited, letting them rest...
Eventually, Lana had to ask. “Where there any Orks actually IN the Trading Post when you left for the ferry?”
After a short delay, Ian answered. “Come to think of it, I don’t think there were.”
“And, of course, you didn’t witness the actual attack?”
“No. From what I’ve heard, no one actually in the Trading Posts when the attack happened survived. One of the men on they ferry said he had a couple friends a short distance behind him as they ran. He turned to look back and said he saw a something come out of the forest, just a blur, then disappear. His friends were gone.”
Lana sat thinking. If she correlated all the statements she got from all the people she talked to, the primary response was the same: They couldn’t believe the Orks attacked them. She sat deep in thought, then noticed the Cottrell’s looking at her, like they were waiting for her to say something.
Lana asked again. “So no one in ANY of the Trading Posts actually saw the Orks attack?”
“I don’t know.” Ian slowly responded looking down. Then he looked up again. “The troops that landed to retake the Trading Posts, they said they saw lot of Orks...armed with guns and axes.”
“They were IN the Trading Posts?” Lana needed confirmation.
“Do you know which side fired first?”
Ian sighed. “I have no idea.”
“I’m sorry.” Lana apologized. “I guess there’s no way you could’ve known that.”
He was not offended. “I think the mortars fired just as the troops started to land.”
Lana nodded her understanding. “Of course.”
Daphne tried to smile. “We lost our little girl. But, even today, we can’t find it within ourselves to blame the Orks.” Then she seemed to have hope, asking Lana directly. “Do you think you can find out what really happened?”
Lana sighed. She knew what needed to be done: Find proof of a Savage Ork. But how? She thought a second longer, then asked. “You know, Prime Minister Lancaster told me there were people that were very close friends with the Orks...that from them they learned about the Orks saying it was Savage Orks that attacked the Trading Posts. Do you know any of those people?”
The Cottrells sat and thought awhile, then Daphne spoke up. “There’s Willy--”
“No, it’s Whiley.” Ian corrected. “But, I don’t know about him.”
“Who’s Whiley?” Lana was curious.
“He lives in a small cabin on the coast about ten kilometers south of here.” Ian explained. “But, I don’t know how to reach him.”
“He comes to town once and awhile.” Daphne continued.
“He’s one of those guys that, like you said, was very close with the Orks, said he used to live with them long ago.” Ian explained. “Even today, I hear he’s able to communicate with some Ork friends of his...even though I don’t have any idea how he does it.”
“Is there anyway I can reach him?” Lana almost smiled.
The couple looked at each other, then shrugged like they didn’t know. Then Daphne mentioned a store she saw him in...only a couple days ago. That’s all they knew.
Eventually, Lana stood up and thanked the couple, saying how sorry she was for causing them to bring up the loss of their child.
When Lana left the City Hall, she proceeded directly to the store Daphne mentioned, which led to a tavern. There, she was able to get enough directions to where Whiley lived that she was able to fly her Special Ops shuttle along the coast, then using the bio-scanner, find the elusive cabin.
Officer LaFong landed her shuttle in a small clearing about fifty meters from the cabin. The noise made Whiley, a portly man in his late middle age, come running out, startled, stubbing his toe; she saw him hopping, looking angrily at the shuttle.
But, Lana had no time to be subtle. She had no idea when the Orks would attack and had to get down to business as soon as possible.
The man looked a little rough around the edges, but was far from looking like an old, bearded, hermit. When Lana walked up wearing her Space Marine camouflage-colored trousers and blue-grey tank top, he stopped holding his foot and smiled to greet her, eventually inviting her to sit down at a small table just outside the cabin, offering her a drink.
The Space Marine got right down to business, explaining who she was and what she was trying to do, which at first, he found hard to believe...then became glad someone, ANYONE, was trying to do something to stop the war between the Terrans and the Orks.
“So, you want to find proof of what the Orks call a Savage Ork.” He smiled and made a good-natured laugh. After which he thought a second, then answered. “Well, it’s very simple. All you have to do is go into the Ork lands, find a Savage Ork.” He pointed at the scanner Colonel Dempsey had given her to use. “And use that thing to take his picture and make a scan.”
She smiled, wryly. “Yeah, that’s what I need to do.”
He waited, looking at her...
After a few seconds, she leaned forward, explaining her choice of how to do it. “I was thinking...the only way I’m going to be able to do that is with an Ork escort. If you know--”
He slapped his hand on the table and smiled. “For a pretty little thing, you’re smart as an Old Earth owl. Yep, in my opinion, that’s the only way you’re going to be able to get the job done. And if you know that,” He looked her over, “you’re the man, or, rather, woman for the job.”
She waited for him to continue. When he didn’t, she asked, “I’ve heard you’re still in contact with some Orks? Friends of yours?”
She took another small drink of some liquid he had poured for her a moment earlier. He pointed at it. “That mead your drinking there. I get it from the Orks. Like it?”
She took another drink; it tasted sort of like a very spicy wassail. “Not bad.”
“Yep.” He grinned. “Not bad at all. Just don’t ask what it’s made from.”
She grinned back. “I wasn’t planing on it.”
He laughed approvingly, then became serious. “If you go with these Orks to where I think they’re going to take you, you’re going to have to eat what they eat, drink what they drink, piss where they piss. They eat fried grubs--”
She leaned forward and interrupted. “I love fried grubs...especially when they’re nice and crispy.”
He laughed again. “By all dark matter in the Universe I think you just might have a chance to pull this thing off.” Then he became serious again, deadly serious. “You know...I’ll give you almost a fifty-fifty chance of coming back alive from this.”
“Thanks.” She smiled.
He looked her over again, remaining serious. “I’m just glad I don’t have to see what happens to you if you don’t make it.”
She remained unperturbed. “Well...when will you be able to contact your Ork friends and make this thing happen?”
He rubbed his unshaven chin. “Well, it all depends on where they are right now. He gestured to a couple aquatic mammals lying underneath a perch where a couple bat-like creatures sat contentedly. “I’ll send a couple messages to them, and...in, hopefully, twenty-four hours I’ll get a response.” He looked directly at her. “I’m assuming you’re in a hurry...I mean to stop this war...even though I’m not sure how you’re going to do that even if you do get everything you want.”
“Well, let’s take it one step at a time.” She smiled, hopeful, then mentioned, “I have a couple friends in Fort Marathon. What do you think--”
“No, honey.” He interrupted, assuming. “It’s better if you go alone. Don’t take anyone with you. In my opinion you’re just perfect for the job.”
She gave him a questioning look.
“You’re size. Your sex.” He smiled. “You’re about as non-threatening as you can get. And in this situation...that’s good.” He became serious again. “You go tromping through the forest with a team, even with an Ork escort, any Shoota Boyz that spot you are going to fire first and ask questions afterwards.”
She paused, then started to ask about weapons she should take.
“And don’t bring any Terran weapons with you. Let my Orks friends give you anything you need.”
“How should I dress?”
He looked at her clothing. “Are you a Space Marine?”
“Just wear basically what you have on. The Orks respect Space Marines.”
She held up the small scanner Colonel Dempsey had sent her, and he assumed her question.
“Yeah...that’s okay. In fact, anything that will fit comfortably in your pockets will be fine...even a small knife.”
She breathed deeply, then smiled. “Well, I guess I’m almost ready, then.”
He got that serious look again. “No...you’re never gonna be ready.” He smiled. “But, I think you got a chance.”