A take on Ork philosophy, or philosophy in general, as a young Anthrologos adept sees it. Also, squigs and grox...
The disease of mutual distrust among nations is the bane of modern civilization. I object to the teaching of slogans intended to befog the mind, of whatever kind they may be.
- Ferdinand von Boaz before his execution by Inquisitor Habert of the Ordo Xenos
I think I was given this task to be out of Magos Ehrenrei’s way.
Actually, I know I was. I might not know much about technology, and sometimes I daydream about going home to the grox farm, but it doesn’t mean I’m a halfwit.
Nobody wants the adept from the Administratum Anthrologos running around and under their feet. They get annoyed being asked too many questions, and I know I'm viewed as a nuisance. Some fear I’m an auditor or an undercover Arbiter, or worse yet, an agent of the Holy Inquisition. But I’m not. It is my sworn duty, as part of the Anthrologos, to ask questions in order to gain answers. It’s a risky business, trying to identify with people from all walks of life. This might be a heretical approach to some, but to others, it’s a way of life.
The only reason I am tolerated is that Boaz, my mentor, is a generous donator to all of Magos Ehrenrei’s expeditions. To continue having favour with Boaz, Magos Ehrenrei was required to take me on his current outing. Which he did, then promptly forgot about me for most of the voyage through the Warp.
And while planet-side.
Magos Ehrenrei summoned me to the main operations tent after the dig site incident. I still maintained my innocence. How was I supposed to know the crane couldn’t be operated by just anyone? He cut me off before I could finish my sentence.
“There is a specimen we caught on the outskirts of the dig site. I request that you engage its attention and study it.” His voice, sharp and metallic, came through the mechanical grill that replaced his mouth. Most of his body was a mechanical mass hidden under red robes, augmented so completely I was sure there was no longer any flesh remaining.
“Study what sort of specimen, Magos?” My ears perked at the chance to have some actual, meaningful work.
“A local xenos was caught skulking around the site, taking pieces of machinery, befouling the sacredness of it with its touch. I want to know why it came here and the threat it presents. Now.” One of his metallic servo-arms handed me a data-slate. “You will find the xenos along the western embankment. Bring two servitors with you for safety.”
Magos Ehrenrei chuckled, waving me off, and went back to the plans for his excavation. Dismissed, I tightened my indigo robes about me and pulled the hood up to protect against the harsh sunlight. Finding the servitors as my security detail was easy, getting down to the western embankment proved more difficult. I finally made it down to where the xenos specimen was, covered in the fine grit and dust that floated in the air.
Sitting in a large titanium pen, originally constructed to hold grox and now converted into a cage, was an Ork. The ‘supposed’ xenos specimen was a very large, very smelly, and very green Ork. Currently picking his nose and examining the contents. I… suppose he looked the same as any other Ork. His left ear seemed as if it had been gnawed on, his bald pate criss-crossed with multiple scars. Large tusks, a sickly yellow colour, jutted out from a considerable under bite. Red eyes squinted at me under a low brow, cautious and judging.
Like I said, I know I was given this duty to be out of the Magos’ way.
was the xenos I was supposed to question? Granted, I had never been close to an alien in my entire life, but like any Anthrologos, I had dreams. Dreams in which my first encounter would be debating with the advanced Tau, or learning from the enigmatic Eldar. Not a common, run-of-the-mill Ork.
Everyone has a story to tell
, Boaz voice ran through my mind. It doesn't matter their station or birthplace, each has something unique to deliver and which can be added to the Imperium's knowledge.
“Yeah, but not an Ork,” I whispered to my non-existent mentor.
Oh, the sheer embarrassment of it all! If Boaz knew I was questioning an Ork, he would fall out of his chair and die from laughter. Is this what my years of studying had led me to? No, I railed against my negative thoughts. No! I would turn this around. There had never been an Anthrologos who had undertaken an ethnographic study of any Ork. I would be the first. I would make a name for myself.
If this Ork didn't smash through the grox pen and rip me in two. He looked strong enough, even without the metal armour they were known to wear. And the cage, an 83-N model, wasn’t the greatest model the Magos could have used. I knew, from first-hand experience, that the pins in the bottom could give with enough of a solid jar from an outside force.
“Excuse me,” I cleared my throat and stepped toward the cage. “Ork? Can I--”
The bellow he unleashed caused me to lose my footing. The data-slate went sailing out of my hand, hitting one of the servitors on the side of its head. Rattling the bars of the cage, the Ork cracked his knuckles in my direction and started laughing. Spluttering at the indignity of my fall, one of the servitors had to help me rise, handing me back the data-slate. Alright, this would be more of a challenge than I had anticipated. I knew Orks were temperamental, perhaps dull-witted, but I refused to be scared of one. He was in the cage, not I. Dusting myself off, I walked within a few feet of the cage, coughing to get the Ork's attention.
His head snapped up, teeth jutting out at awkward angles. “Oy, wut you want, ooumie?”
I gripped my data-slate, trembling more in excitement than fear. This was my first time being so close to an Ork, engaging in an actual conversation with one. I worried less about the fact it might be heretical over wondering what topics I could discuss. “I-- I was told by the Magos that I n-need to ask you a few questions...”
My voice trailed off as the Ork stood up, his head nearly brushing the top of the grox pen. By the God-Emperor, he was huge!
“Git ta da point and quit mukkin aboot,” the Ork growled, red eyes narrowing.
“They want to know why you were around the campsite.” My voice unexpectedly shrilled, causing me to wince. I waited for another guttural bellow of defiance. Behind me the servitors shifted as though bored.
The towering green skin snorted. “Jus’ lookin’ for bits for me trukk. It’s broke. I can’t go an’ herda squigs wiffout it.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Herda?” It was certainly easy to get the truth from this Ork.
“Iz wot I do. I herda squigs an’ make shure dey git ta their pens. Make shure dey eat an’ stuff. Iz wot I do when dere’s no stompin’ happening!”
“Oh!” My mind connected the information. I smiled brightly. “Like a job!”
“I ‘pose so. You ooumies gotta make everyfing complicated. Now dat yer done the speakin’ wit me, lemme outta ‘ere. I gots ta git back ta mah trukk.”
Looking over my shoulder at the dig site, I turned back to the Ork, shaking my head. “I can’t do that. The Magos is in charge of what happens; I was only asked to come and see why you were running around the edge of the camp.”
“An’ I told ya bleedin’ ooumie why! So lemme out for me ta feed mah squigs! They eat dem other uns if not suppervized! Mah squiggoths will break dem pens an’ I’da be wrusslin’ all dem back home!” Rushing the titanium bars, the Ork grabbed them with fists the size of my head, shaking and bellowing at the same time.
I'm sure they heard him up at the dig site. Maybe the Magos was hoping I would be torn in two. Even from the western embankment, I could hear the mechanical whine of the machines, the crash of rock and debris being dumped. They would never hear the sound of an Anthrologos adept crying for help as the Ork broke out of his cage.
Not that Magos Ehrenrei would really care or believe what the Ork told me. It seemed sincere enough. Ehrenrei wasn’t genuine in my study of the Ork, but I would show him. Orks were
considered a primitive xenos and thus might not have the capacity or ability to lie. I jotted the musing down on the slate before I lost it. At any rate, I had lots of time before I was due back at the main camp. Not that anyone would be wondering where I had gone to.
Sighing, I pulled an empty crate over to sit down on, wondering what to do next. What would a sanctioned Anthrologos do in my shoes? Could I really ask this Ork detailed questions and get coherent responses? I took a chance and chose a subject I knew well, hoping it would give a response.
“You said you herded squigs. Are they like grox? I grew up on a grox farm myself, and ran off to the Schola when I had the chance to do so. I wanted to get away from the boring farm work and see the galaxy. Broaden my horizons.”
The Ork paced the grox cage, muttering to himself. I continued on, remembering the best way to interact with any subject was to be as friendly and open as possible. Not that I had anything sinister or mysterious to hide in my unexciting life, or the Ork cared for pleasant conversation.
“My name’s Margaret. I was named after my mother, who was named after her mother, who was named after her mother, so on and so on. All of them were grox farmers. All of them were born on the same planet and most of them died there. I didn’t want to end up with the same tedious existence, the routine. I wanted to show them--”
I blinked in surprise. “Can you repeat that?”
“Wut, got sumthing in your ears? Da name’s Da Krussha, an’ I be da stompiest Ork outta all da Boyz with the biggest choppa when I ain’t herdin’ da squigs! It takes a big Ork to wrassle down dem gnarly squiggoths, ya know?” He grinned proudly, the ugly face contorting to look even more brutish. “Youse better ‘member it, stoopid ooumie Margot. An’ squigs iz better than dem grox.”
“No, they aren’t,” I quickly shot back, and then groaned. Yes, it was feasible to go lower than interviewing an Ork. Now I was fighting with one over the superiority of a grox to a squig.
“Yeah, dey iz. Dere’s growler squig, hair squig, juicy squig, eatin’ squig,” Krussha licked his lips at the thought. “An’ da best iz da face eatin’ squig. Nex’a dem, grox got nothin’.”
During this exchange of words, I quickly wrote down everything said, noting the differences in squigs. Putting the slate aside once finished, I began my cunning rebuttal. “Well, Mr. Krussha, that’s all well and good, but grox can be processed into many different--”
“Why youse say ‘mista’ ta me?”
“Usin’ a wud for dem ooumies. Mista, like I’ma big ‘un.” He chuckled, and I watched as it turned into a full harsh laugh. “Heh, Mista Krussha. Gots a ring, classie.”
Forget the pre-conceived notion of Orks being dull-witted, at least this one. He’d picked up on my habit of using polite titles quicker than I had. Not only that, he seemed to like it.
We also had something in common. As different as both our races could possible be, I was able to talk with Krussha about herding. From there, who knew how far I could open the proverbial door. This impromptu interview had become more interesting, and perhaps more unorthodox. Not that the threat of heresy was a prime concern of the Administratum Anthrologos. We were accustomed to receiving allegations on a monthly basis. Boaz had dealt with more than one inquisitor who questioned the integrity of his work.
“Oy, ooumie Margot.” Krussha pointed at me through the bars. One of the servitors stepped forward, seeing this as a threat, but I made a gesture and it stopped. “How big yer grox git? Mah squiggoths can eat youse for brunch, I betcha. Da Krussha’s squiggoths have all dem Bosses comin’ ta see me an’ git a proppa squiggoth. Dem grox like that?”
“See the forklift over there?” I pointed behind me to one of the Magos’ massive contraptions. I spoke with pride. “My family bred one that big once. It won a few prizes. The local Arbites judge bought it from us and my family’s name was known in the community after that.” My face soured. “One of the Schola teachers made fun over the whole thing.”
Krussha grunted, then smiled. It was unnerving. “Teach ears, bah. Dem jus’ pinkies who act biggun all, but dem gots nuthin. Kay, ooumie Margot, we’s crunchin’ dem words, but how’s ya let Da Krussha go?”
“I can’t.” The sun was beginning to fall beneath the tree line, and I didn’t want to walk back to the dig site in pitch black. Rising to my feet, and dusting another layer of dirt off me, I shrugged. “The Magos is the one in charge, not me.”
“Da Boss of dis here diggin’?” When I nodded, Krussha grunted. “Youse betta let me go, or you gonna have problems.” He gestured threateningly at me. I crossed my arms and scowled. Now this was verging on the comical. An Ork, trying to strong-arm me, while he was the one in captivity! I made a note of the threatening display, cataloguing it under an authority aspect, before looking at Krussha once more.
“Look, I have to get going, but I’m coming back tomorrow. I’ll send a servitor with food so you can eat, and when I get back, we’ll talk some more.” Boaz would have approved my humanitarian treatment of the Ork, especially now since we were on a first name basis.
My plans... did not make Krussha happy. He attacked the cage again, roaring with all the ferocity his kind was known for. If he was threatening me, I didn’t understand a single word of his garbled speech. I gave a quick wave before I started up the embankment and back to the site.
“Wut’s with dis dubba-headed birdie youse wear?” He pointed to my aquila broach, a family memento I had brought with me.
It was the following morning and I had arrived early at Krussha’s cage. The remains of last night’s meal, along with the servitor who had brought it, were tossed about in the dirt. Magos Ehrenrei wouldn’t be happy when he found out a servitor had been ripped apart, but I would tell him after I presented my report. Which could be awhile with the number of questions I wanted to ask.
I spent all of last night wracking my brain for topics. I looked at reports Boaz had composed in his younger years, taking notes on multiple subjects, and came armed for this day’s interview. I also brought Krussha breakfast, a mixture of fungus and raw meat in a plastex container. Taking my seat on the familiar crate, and watching the Ork squigherder eat his food, I powered up my data-slate, tumbling through folder runes until I found the one I wanted.
“The Imperial Aquila,” I stated matter-of-factly. Of course Krussha wouldn’t know what it was. “It’s the sign of the Immortal Emperor, may He watch over Mankind.”
“Where’s he at?”
“Fighting the daemons of Chaos, who are the enemies of the Imperium. We worship Him for he keeps us safe, continuously fighting--“
Krussha interrupted me with a huge peal of laughter. “So he’s a krumpin’, eh? Betcha he’s tryin’ ta clobber Gork an’ Mork, but they’ze iz thumping right on back.”
“Excuse me?” Hands on my hips, I boldly stared at the massive Ork. “The God-Emperor can take on whoever this Gork and Mork are and win, Mr. Krussha. He is a god, after all.”
“Well, so iz Gork an’ Mork. Dey be da best gods out dere in the univurse. They present th’ epitum of all dat’s best in Orkiness.”
Sitting back down, I opened a new file and labelled it ‘Religion’. I could sense the beginning of something much larger here. “And just what is the epitome of all that makes Orks Orks?”
“Being brutally cunnin’ and cunnin’ brutal.” Tossing his empty container out of the cage, Krussha mimicked his point by slamming a fist into his open palm. “Iz very importunt ta naw confuse da two. I remumber a time,” he paused, thinking. “Yeah, da Boss confuzed da two. It wuz a sluggin’ match, but we gots a new Boss after dat. Gork an’ Mork liked ‘im more.”
“Gork and Mork.” Intrigued, I leaned closer. Krussha’s breath smelt like old garbage and leather, but I bore it bravely. “Then there are obvious references to deities in every day life?”
“O’ course! Dat’s how da univurse works. Iz as iz. An’ ‘Eaven iz a place you go to when ya git dead! In ‘Eaven, you fight all day an’ nevah git tired! And d’ere’s a big party every night wiff,” Krussha leaned back smiling, “more fightin'! Enough dakka and choppas to go around fer everyone. Dat’s the truff. Fer me, dere’d be fightin’ and squidherdin’, cuz dat’s the most importunt thing.”
I tapped my stylus against my cheek. “So just what do Mork and Gork do as your gods?”
“Told ya already, quit mukkin aboot like youse forgit! Gork’s all dat’s brutal wiff Orks but cunnin’, an’ Mork iz cunnin’ but brutal. Easy ta remumber, Margot.”
The difference in the Orks religion was so subtle there had to be a catch. There must have been one. I was raised diligently in the ways of the Imperial Creed, where ornate ceremonies and long processions were for a higher spiritual purpose. How could you show your devotion if not through hours of careful planning and preparation? Piety was worked through the purging of the flesh, the strengthening of the mind, the severity of life lashing away at the soul.
To find a religion, even a very primitive one, based upon such simplistic terms... well, it made my head hurt.
“Okay,” I sighed, rubbing my temples. “So your gods--”
“Gork ‘n Mork!” Krussha crowed their names. “Dey be th’ stompiest out dere, an’ ever Ork wanna be like ‘em!”
“Are ones of brutal cunning and cunning brutality?” Scrawling the information down, I scanned the words over. It still made no sense to me. “But why can’t they just be the same, Mr. Krussha? They follow the same principle.”
That was the wrong thing to say. If an Ork could look aghast, Krussha’s expression did it justice. Krussha shook his head and worked his lower jaw. “Dat’s hearsay, iz dat! Dey each gots his right place ta be. The thing wit Gork an’ Mork iz wot they do! Mork’ll smash ya when you ain’t lookin’, so watch out! Gork smashes ya when you iz lookin’ right at ‘im, so...”
“Watch out?” I supplied.
“Dere ya go!” He clapped his meaty hands together. “Not too stoopid, ooumie. Ain’t hard ta understend. Iz two different things, not th’ same.”
Resting my head in my hands, I considered Krussha’s point of view. Were they not comparable? Gork and Mork were two aspects in Orkish culture that played interchangeable roles. At least, that was how I saw it. Then again, Imperial society was chock-full of twists and turns, ideologies overlapping the next, each striving for dominance. It was easy to see in the multiple Ecclesiarchy teachings, but to say this to a priest was a one-way ticket for a lashing. It wasn’t right
to point out the hypocrisies of the God-Emperor’s chosen disciples.
I never spoke of this to anyone, not even Boaz. Did I believe in the God-Emperor? Undoubtedly. Did I believe in the teachings which the minister shouted from the pulpit? Not as strongly as a pious citizen of the Imperium should. Maybe the Orks were onto something by keeping things simple.
We reached a lull in the conversation. I watched Krussha grab the mechanical arm of the destroyed servitor, dragging it back to his prison. He looked at the metal joints, the various cogs and wires, then with a dexterity which belied his huge size, began to carefully disconnect the mechanisms. I started making notes on Krussha’s activities, where he seemed content to ignore me. It looked like he was making something, but whatever it was, it didn’t suit him. He took the robotic bits and, in a huff, threw them away.
“Worthless ‘tuff,” he grumbled. “Can’t make a proppa anyting from it. Mah poor trukk iz prob’ly looted by now by da Boyz, mah squigs all gone, dey done eatin’ each others.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Krussha,” I apologized, not knowing what I was apologizing for. I knew I shouldn’t sympathize with an Ork or any xenos, as it was a breech of the Imperial Creed, but honestly. I really couldn’t see how the Magos thought Krussha was a threat to the dig site.
“Jus’ tryin’ tag it mah trukk fixed an’ youse ooumies expect ta worse. Jus’ goin’ aboot mah life herdin’ mah squigs. If I’da wanta fight, I’d have raced mah rig into da camp. Wut’s bein’ dug up, anyhow?”
Krussha’s question gave me pause. I had no clue what Magos Ehrenrei was digging up, though I heard it was a relic from Old Night. Or something about a silver tomb buried deep underground with people sleeping inside. I’m not sure which. I was always chased off by one of the Mechanicum when I went for a closer look.
“I don’t really know. Nobody tells me anything. I was almost left behind on the ship because nobody told me the last shuttle was about to launch. I was lucky to be there at the right moment.”
Great plumes of smoke and dirt rose up from the excavation, hidden by the steep rise. The sound of metal crashing against rock, drills ripping at the earth, and the din of commands over vox-speakers could be heard. Krussha grunted, in annoyance or commiseration, I couldn’t say. Probably out of annoyance that I was still there. Not for the first time since joining the Magos’ expedition, I thought about life back on the grox farm. Boaz had taken me from the Schola because my mind was sharp and I questioned everything, but out in the real galaxy, people didn’t want to be bothered with questions.
“Sumetimes, you gets to dakka th’ ooumie, sometimes the ooumie dakkas you.”
The unexpected quip from Krussha surprised me. Chuckling to himself at the saying, Krussha got to his feet and began to walk around the cage, steel-shod boots thumping along. He had neatly summed up my feelings about this whole voyage.
“I guess you could say that.” A thought entered my head. I responded to Krussha’s saying with one of my own. “A questioning servant is more dangerous than an ignorant heretic.”
I wasn’t quoting Boaz; he would never utter those words. It was anathema to him. I had heard it from the inquisitor, one from the Ordo Xenos, while he and Boaz were engaging in a heated debate. I had been packing my belongings at the time, but it had been easy to hear the thundering rhetorical verses. Thinking of my instructor gave me pause. I wondered where Boaz was at the moment. Most likely acting as an emissary to a Craftworld. He was lucky like that.
“Do you have any other… Ork sayings, Mr. Krussha?”
He nodded his massive head. “Nevah shoot an Ork in da back, shoot ‘em in da front, cuz dat’s wut Orks do!”
The remainder of the morning was spent exchanging quotes. I gathered more fungus and raw meat for Krussha when I returned to the dig site for lunch, and the afternoon passed with questions regarding Ork technology. This routine continued for the better part of a week, my data-slate filled with tidbits of information I wrangled from Krussha about Ork culture. Mekboys, Weird Boyz, Da Boyz in general; trukks and the colours to best paint them, ways to become the Boss. It went on and on. I was left alone by the Magos’ crew, never questioned when I left the camp with the two servitors in tow, and given as little thought when I returned.
I never realized just how little I was considered until I returned one evening to my tent.
Even Krussha noticed my mood the next morning. “Youse look like da buggy’s gone an’ trampled you.”
“Thanks for pointing out the obvious, Mr. Krussha.”
After giving the Ork his breakfast, I took my customary seat. How kind of the Ork to note my haggard appearance. My eyelids felt heavy, not to mention itchy. Sleep was at the forefront of my mind, but I had to continue the ethnography. I refused to waste time. Boaz would cane me if he caught me taking a nap. Powering up my data-slate, I nodded off in the middle of scrolling, snapping to when I nearly fell off the crate.
Krussha belched, his noxious breathe hitting me like a slap in the face. It jarred me to consciousness better than the kaffe I had at breakfast, but caused my stomach to roil. He started laughing at me as I waved my hands, trying to clear the air and not be sick. These actions, compromised by a severe lack of sleep the night prior, caused me to slip off the box.
That cinched it.
“That was vile! Absolutely vile and disgusting!” I stamped my foot, voice rising. “Show some proper manners for once, why don’t you, you green skinned lout?”
“Wut’s dat mean, pinkie?”
It was no longer about the belch Krussha had made. It never had been. My pent-up rage, needing to be expressed, had Krussha as the perfect catalyst. “I’m certain you’re thrilled every day to wake up and be in that stupid grox cage, rattling the bars and waiting to get out to rip my head off!”
“I went back to my tent last night and you know what? Guess what?” I barrelled on before Krussha could presume. “The Magos was using it as storage! All of my things had been dumped in a bin, some broken. Gifts, important gifts! When I went to the Magos, you know what he said? Do you know what he said?!”
“Youse gots froth here,” Krussha tapped the left side of his huge mouth. “I'da recommends youse give ‘em a good thrashin--“
“Magos Ehrenrei said ‘We made a more practical use of the space you never occupied.’ He actually said that! I slept against the side of a metal bin last night because the Anthroplogos adept wasn’t worth a cot! One measly, stinking cot!” My tone dropped to a hiss. “There were bugs crawling in my robes when I woke up this morning. It. Was. Uncomfortable.”
Wiping the spit which flew from my mouth, I sat on the crate with too much force. It tipped, sending me face-first into the dirt, my slate skidding away. Beating the palms of my hands against the ground, growling, I stood up fast enough to rip the hem of my robes. My chest felt constricted. It was difficult to breathe as I turned against the crate, wrestled with it until I was kicking at it again and again, the side splintering under the force. Grabbing it in my hands while shouting at everything and nothing, I chucked it over the heads of the ever present servitors.
It crashed into the hard-packed earth, breaking into pieces.
“Dat make ya’s feel better?”
I wiped the sweat from my brow. “Without a doubt.”
“Dat’s why we Orks go for a Waaagh! Iz importunt ta krump ‘unce in a while.”
The word, the concept, was completely new to me. “The Waaagh?”
“Yeah, da Waaagh!” Krussha expressed the word as more of a roar, spittle flying from his mouth, but he made his point. “Every Ork goes on da Waaagh in dere lives! Iz wut bein’ an Ork iz all aboot. If ya don’t Waaagh, then youse can’t stay wit da Boyz an’ herda squigs. Havin’ a life wiff a choppa or shoota means nuthin’ if ya can’t Waaagh proppa. Every Ork knows dis.”
“What is a Waaagh all about?” Retrieving the data-slate, I started to write, and then paused. And turned it off.
He gestured to the remains of the crate. “Like dat! Youse go out an’ krump an’ stomp anyting gits in youse way. Ya exbress da innar bein’ ta wut you iz, nevah mind wot otherz think ‘o ya. When I wuz small, I knew tree things. Gork an’ Mork, squigs, an’ da WAAAGH!” Krussha bellowed the last, shaking his prison. One of the servitors made a disparaging sound, its vox-comm muddled.
I laughed. In my tired state, a Waaagh made perfect sense. I knew a few people I wanted to stomp. “No human would go around and do that. We have laws condemning the use of unnecessary violence against others.” Then I added as an afterthought, “As hypocritical as it sounds in most cases.”
“Ooumies gots dere Waaagh! Goin’ ‘gainst others ta krump an’ smash. Deme armoured guys, dey krump all da time.”
“All right, Mr. Krussha, answer this question. For Orks, the Waaagh is an inner expression of the primordial?”
Krussha shrugged his large shoulders. “Iz a reason fer bein’. All Orks gotta have one. Mebbe ooumies do as well. Wut aboot you, Margot? Got youse ya own Waaagh?”
Mulling over Krussha’s words, I concluded that I didn’t have a ‘reason for being’. That frightened me when I grasped the fact. Being a part of the Anthrologos was just a job, one which had whisked me away from a home I missed more by the day. For all the times I made a disparaging remark about the grox farm, I was only fooling myself. Shaking my head, Krussha’s brow furrowed.
“Iz you shur you ain't muckin aboot wiff your life? Orks do wut we wants wiff dakka and choppa. Ooumies should do wut dey want ta make ‘em want ta Waaagh, else dats jus’ mukkin aboot!” A thick green finger was pointed at me and waggled. I was being scolded.
“Well, excuse me!” I threw back at Krussha. Oh yes, what a witty rebuttal that had been. “You can’t really have a Waaagh while you’re stuck in this cage, can you?”
“Heh,” Krussha waved my words off. “Fer me, I has anudder Waaagh, more importunt. Mah reason for bein’, sides crunchin’ heads an’ stuff, iz squigs. Iz got a talent with ‘em, so I says ta myself ‘Krussha, ya gotta do what ya wanna do’. But I wanna Waaagh as any proppa Ork would, so sumtimes I do dat. Howeva,” and he fixed me with his red eyes, dropping his voice as though revealing an important secret.
I leaned closer to hear. “What?”
“In Krussha’s mind an’ here,” he thumped his chest where his heart was, “I always go back ta mah squigs. Doin’ anyting else iz muckin aboot. I gots mah pershunnel Waaagh waitin’ for me afta da big krumpin’ iz done.”
And just like that, Krussha’s outlook on life made the complexities in my own fall into place. The Ork was brilliant in his own fashion.
I lingered in the operations tent, nervously drumming my fingers against the data-slate. I waited for the Magos to speak, stepping out of his aides’ way when they approached, apologizing when they bumped into me, no less. Craning to see over the shoulders of those who huddled around the medicae table, I couldn’t see why the item was generating so much interest. It looked to be insect-shaped, silver, and covered in odd markings. Ehrenrei prodded at the piece of machinery for long moments, until, satisfied with a result, he told an assistant to box away the sample. When he turned to look at me, Magos Ehrenrei tilted his head to the side.
“Anthrologos adept Margaret,” his voice crackled, “as this dig is now complete on this portion of the planetary system, we are preparing to move on. All loose ends need to be tied up.” Magos Ehrenrei’s bionic eyes regarded me. “Your specimen will be terminated. It is a weight not needed.”
“But my report--“
“I do not require your report. You may leave and prepare for tomorrow’s departure back to the ship, adept Margaret. Perhaps your mentor Boaz would find the inner machinations of an Orkish mind of more interest than I would.” A rasping metal sound issued from Ehrenrei’s body, and it took a few moments for me to realize he was laughing at me.
Mocking the research, myself, Boaz and, to an extent, Krussha. My hands gripped the data-slate, knuckles turning white. The last thing I wanted was for someone to ‘take care’ of my ethnographic study.
“With your permission, Magos, I would like to handle the matter of the Ork’s disposal.”
Ehrenrei gave a minute roll of his shoulders, allowing for it before dismissing me. He never took anything I did on this expedition seriously. One further act made no difference.
“Mr. Krussha?” I approached the grox cage, a large bag of tools slung over my shoulder. The headlights on the truck provided enough light for me to see with.
“Oy, now wut ya want, Margot? Iz dun talkin’ aboot everyfing. Iz late. I wanna snooze.” The Ork looked from the tool bag to me, then back at the tools. He noticed how sharp and odd some of them appeared.
“I know, Mr. Krussha, I know.” I looked at the grox cage. The 83-N models were really horrible if someone knew the faults. Any grox herder worth their salt knew that much. “Look, there’s something I have to do. Trust me; it will only take a minute of your time.”
Sadly, this report will never see be seen by the eyes of my colleagues or superiors, nor will they be able to find me. This is my first time aboard a Rogue Trader vessel, and after I’ve finished writing this, I’ll be throwing the data-slate out with the rest of the crew’s trash.
I let the Ork squigherder go.
Krussha left after I had hammered loose the cage’s pins. Titanium was no match against an adamatium toolset. Krussha thumped me gratefully on the back when he realized the favour I was doing, offering me one of his teeth. Payment, he said. That brutally cunning or cunning brutal xenos, I’m not sure which, hopped into the truck I salvaged from the excavation. He complained it wasn’t red and might not get him away fast enough, but he certainly drove like he knew where he was going. Hollering about feeding his squigs and thumping the heads of ‘Da Boyz’ once he saw them.
How odd. I’ll be missing the conversations we had. They were simple, but they helped me in deciding what was significant in my life. The ethnography I undertook has made me reconsider the Imperium’s view of Orks – I’d be called a heretic if anyone else knew – but still. I laugh more because of it. The universe does have a sense of humour and its green skinned and yellow tusked. Although violent, which xenos out there isn’t? A hypocritical question, but one worthy of contemplation.
Now what to do with myself. I can’t go back to the Administratum Anthrologos. I might, under a moment of pride, be mad enough to blurt out my report and bring the Ordo Xenos to call. I would be killed for the destruction of fieldwork by my Administratum officials. Not only that, I see no future profession for me if I ever did return. Trying to contact Boaz has given me no results. I hope wherever he is, he can forgive me for abandoning a profession I don’t have the heart for.
No, I think Mr. Krussha said it best, and I quote “Iz you shur you ain't muckin aboot wiff your life? Orks do wut we wants wiff dakka and choppa. Ooumies should do wut dey want ta make ‘em want ta Waaagh, else dats jus’ mukkin aboot!”
I’ve been mukkin’ about for too long. I realized what my Waaagh in life really was. I wanted to go back home and just farm grox. Nothing stopped me save the lack of my own Waaagh, but I found it, out on the expedition. I hope that Krussha, wherever he is, is herding his squigs and following his own Waaagh.
Scratch that. I know he is.