Expeditious Stories 12-03: Rebirth
Word Count: 1,092
Groynstompa startled at the shout, turned, and blanched. He released the gretchin he’d been holding down and torturing with his grabba-stikk and ran before the approaching runtherd could zap him with some judicious voltage.
Nikappa picked Chiptoof the gretchin up out of the mud. “Youse iz betta den ‘e iz. Youse shmat fo’ a grot.” He slipped the gretchin a knife that was almost a shortsword in its hands. “Go show da lad wot youse made of.”
“You’z now Kitbash! You’z goin’ help me build.” Big Mek Zagdreg prodded the cringing gretchin’s chin, chest, and legs with the head of a mace as big as it was. “Den you’z goin’ be wun pilot.” The gretchin’s eyes never left the mace head of stacked gears and cogs. Zagdreg watched the gretchin for a moment, then seeing that it was sufficiently cowed, stomped back to his shop. “Oy, Kitbash! Git in ‘ere!”
The newly named Kitbash looked around for cover.
“Now!” The bellow shook loose a sheet of corrugated iron from the roof; it clattered against the cracked mud of the flats.
Kitbash ran as fast as his legs could carry him; as he pumped his arms, the basket that was still in his clenched fist scattered the fungus he’d been collecting for the brewerz.
Chiptoof checked the squiggut binding the knife to the haft and then the rope cinched at his waist once more. He only had one chance at this. Holding him makeshift halberd aloft, he took a couple of deep breaths and began running toward a large hole in the ground as rope played out behind him, “Wun, too, tree—waaagh!”
Still screaming, he leapt into the dark, thrust his halberd down, and adjusted his aim. A few seconds later, there was a short, sharp squelch as his halberd impaled the squig that had been eager to receive with mouth agape the falling gretchin.
Breathing hard, Chiptoof undid the rope, retrieved his knife, and struggled with the dead weight of the squig as he tied up its tail.
Climbing the rope, he pulled himself out of the cesspit. Now came the hard part. It took him nearly an hour before he managed to drag the squig up and out.
“‘Ere’s yer bitz. Now where’s me leg?” Kitbash set down a metal tray, grating, and coal filched from around Zagdreg’s workshop.
Chiptoof jammed his knife into the squig’s hip joint and casually dismembered it. He held up the severed leg. As Kitbash reached for it, Chiptoof pulled it back. “Youse wants me to barbeque it?”
“Youse gonna luv it.” Chiptoof grinned. “Can you gets sum beer?”
“Squig onna stikk! ‘Ot an’ fresh! Git yer squig onna stikk ‘ere! One toof only!” With a practiced hand, Chiptoof turned the skewers on his portable grill as his other hand brushed on a thick brown sauce. He was making teef hand over fist. Kitbash and his mates had come by earlier and bought three skewers off him. They had promised to return with more teef. He smiled to himself; soon he’d buy a dead killy blasta. He’d paint it red with his blood afterward.
The gretchin turned and saw Nikappa striding toward him. As the runtherd approached, he flicked a toof over to the gretchin. Chiptoof’s hand blurred, pocketing the toof, and offering a skewer. “‘Ere you go, boss.”
“Dis not wot I tawt you wuz goin’ do.” Nikappa eyed the skewer for a moment and then bit. “Mmm. Tasty.” He bought a couple more and walked off, looking for a good vantage point for the contest.
“Oy, git back ‘ere!”
Chiptoof turned at the commotion. One of the face-biter squigs for the upcoming kissing contest was scurrying around and through the legs of the Ork crowd. Groynstompa was in pursuit.
The crowd began to open up to let the runtherd through. Some Orks pointed and laughed, others exchanged teef in bets.
Chiptoof saw that the squig was running toward him and automatically dropped down into a crouch. As the squig hopped over cowering Chiptoof, Groynstompa lunged, with his grot-prod extended and its voltage near maximum.
Coarse laughter erupted from the crowd at the public failure. Minutes later, unnoticed, Kitbash dragged the electrocuted Chiptoof away.
“Boss, I gots ya wun pilot, so I don gotta be wun, rite?”
Zagdreg turned away from the killa kan to find Kitbash dragging another gretchin into the workshop. “Das stone cold dat iz. Doin’ dat ta wun o’ yer mates.” He nodded in approval. “Put ‘um on da slab an’ giv’ me wun o’ dem wot smells good ya got dere.”
Chiptoof woke to the taste of copper in his mouth. In the time it took him to understand what had happened to him, his systems had warmed up. Gradually, he began to distinguish light from cookfires, bonfires, and random arson. These lent the base camp a ruddy glow.
Zagdreg woke to the reverberating howl and the following tinny, manic laughter; in the darkness, he grinned as he heard the pistons work. Kitbash had also heard and whimpered even as he continued to gnaw on a leftover squig leg.
In the morning, Nikappa stood in the doorway of the gretchin’s hovel. “Wun, too, tree, fo’, fiv’, lots.” A lot of gretchin had been stomped into the mud of the floor and unable to extract themselves had suffocated.
Shaking his head at the waste, he walked over to his fellow runtherd’s hut. He wasn’t about to clean up this mess by himself. “Oy, Groynstompa, ya lazy git!”
Shoving the door open, Nikappa winced at what was inside. The back of the hut was gone. By the light of the morning sun, Groynstompa lay, pinned to the ground at his neck by his own grabba-stikk. His grot-prod had been shoved into his vulnerables. From his rictus and the scorched smell, voltage had been at maximum.
Nikappa pulled the grot-prod free with some difficulty and worked the controls. Electricity arced from the other end. Well, it was his now. Before leaving, he quietly ransacked the rest of the hut.
Zagdreg fiddled with the buzz-saw arm on the killa kan. He was bothered by the fact that an electrical shock had shorted out the control mechanism in the limb so easily; he barely noticed the fact that the killa kan was facing in the opposite direction he had left it last night or covered in mud. “Had fun did ya?” A disingenuous snore issued from the kan’s looted vox-caster. Zagdreg laughed. He was definitely building another one.
Last edited by Dicrel Seijin; 03-12-12 at 01:04 AM.
Reason: Fixed typo.