Da Mek Wot Played With Fire, Chapter One
Finally written some Warhammerish fiction. Do hope you enjoy.
Da Mek Wot Played With Fire
It was quiet. That was the first thing which made Skarlok wonder if this Mek was a different sort of Ork.
He’d entered dozens of different workshops during his long, violent and illustrious career as the chief driver of the Doomkrump gang. The boyz would pool their Teef (sometimes accepting chipped, still-bloody “donations” from rival gangs) and Boss Aghozak would take a vote for the next upgrade they should buy for Bloodbelcha. Everyone voted for Boss Aghozak’s favourite, of course, unless they wanted their teef to add to the pile. Then Skarlok would take the swollen, lumpy sack of riches, bring it along to the nearest Mek, and watch them go to work on his beautiful machine with their screamin’ saws and hissing weld-guns, making her bigger and better and badder than ever.
Bloodbelcha was the Doomkrumpz’ battlewagon, a clanking, groaning juggernaut of rusted metal and bolted-on scrap plates. She’d been their chariot, their backup, and their rolling, rumbling home. She was the finest Battlewagon a gang could have, and so when the Scarribdiz boyz set a trap during a dune race which blew her into a thousand pieces, Skarlok and his gangmates had sent two dozen of them to the Painboyz himself, and another eight straight to Gork and Mork. He was enraged.
When the red mist receded and the battered, broken Scarribdiz boys had fled their wrath, however, the Doomkrumpz were forced to concede that this was a problem which, for once, violence could not solve. They were a gang without a ride, and in the bloody social hierarchy of Buzzsaw City, that put them only a few steps above feral snotlings.
And that was where this Mek had come in. He wasn’t a simple fixer or gubbinz-adder, like the Doomkrumpz usually went looking for. Vrazugg Da Blistered built his rides from scratch, the gossip went, and he built them tough, fast and hungry. Boss Aghozak, who was all three of these things, decided that a Vrazugg ride would make the perfect replacement for Bloodbelcha. So after a couple of communal teef-collecting sessions, a few punch ups, and plenty of light-fingered stealin’, Skarlok had been sent down to the Mek’s workshop to pick up Bloodbelcha II (Aghozak wasn’t the most inventive namer), carrying the largest, lumpiest sack of teef he’d ever held. A spindly grot had let him into a ramshackle room, handed him a mug of fungus beer, and scurried off. And as he’d drained the mug - not a bad brew, nice rusty tang - Skarlok realised how quiet the place was.
Normally a mek’s workshop, even a small, one-Ork workshop like Vrazugg’s, was in a state of permanent cacophony. Whirring drills, humming saws, and clanging hammers. Grumbling furnaces and bubbling smelters. The occasional reedy scream as a grot assistant got too close to one of the aforementioned hazards. But apart from a distant hum, and the background roar of the outside Orkopolis, Vrazugg’s workshop was nearly silent.
He shifted uneasily, fingering his bag of teef and the choppa which hung next to it on his belt. It wasn’t natural, having all this quiet. Vrazugg had better be worth the teef.
Skarlok started, turning to look at an Ork who had entered without him even noticing. The newcomer was a tall, rangy figure, scrawny by Ork standards, swathed in tattered black robes. Under a dark, dingy hood, two burning eyes appraised Skarlok, and a scowling jaw chomped on a fungus cigar.
“You’s ‘ere about da wagon?”
“Uh, yeah.” Skarlok stuck his chest out, trying to look imposing. “I’s the Doomkrumpz’ driver. Name’s Skarlok.”
The eyes bored into him like las-rays. “An’ ya’s got da teef?”
The bag clinked as Skarlok thrust it out hurriedly, and the Mek snatched it out of his hand. He watched as Vrazugg slit the tough leather with a claw, examining the yellowed ivory riches again. Now he could appreciate the mek’s title. Vrazugg’s bare, wiry chest below the robes was ugly and raw, the greenish-yellow skin raised up a great swathe of angry scar tissue which rampaged across his entire front. “The Blistered” suited him.
“Wot, ya fink we’d stiff ya on the bill?” he offered. “Dey’s good teef. Da Doomkrumpz pay their debts.” He paused. “Mostly.”
“I’m sure ya do,” Vrazugg grunted, his scars creaking. “And da Blistered collectz on ‘is. Alwayz.” He tossed the bag aside, glaring back at Skarlok. “Yeah, lookz gud ta me. C’mon. I’ll show her to ya.””
And she was beautiful.
Vrazugg stood back, sucking on his cigar, while Skarlok capered around the hulking behemoth like a grot around a stolen keg of fungus beer. Thirteen gas-guzzlin’ cylinders. Wheels reinforced with inch-thick plating.Tracks as thick as his skull. A boarding plank, bays for rockit launchas, and a wide open transport deck with clear views of every angle. And the ram, a jaw of solid adamantium hammered into a grinning maw, telling anyone who looked funny at it to “step da hell up and take da shot.” It was glorious. It was bigger and badder and better than the first Bloodbelcha, and it would let the Doomkrump gang finally make a real name for themselves.
“Good, ain’t it?” Vrazugg smirked nastily at him from the side. “Told ya I’d fix ya up.”
“Good? It’s squiggin’ magnifi-” Skarlok stopped, remembering himself. “Yeah,” he said, in a gruffer, more grudging tone. “It’z not too shabby. But I ain’t finished my inspekshun yet. Lemme see da driver seat.”
He laid a hand on the rusted metal, feeling its rough, surface and then the engine snarled at him. Like an angry squiggoth, like a diseased god. Its searchlights flared on, nearly blinding him, and he could have sworn he felt it lunge.
Skarlok gave a guttaral scream, falling back and away from the angry machine. For a second he was sure it was going to open that enormous iron jaw and crunch him down along with its fuel, and then Vrazugg was in front of him, one long-fingered hand placed on the tank’s radiator grill. “No! Easy, easy! E’s yours, ya git!”
The tank growled, grumbled and went quiet again, and Skarlok realised that the Mek was not talking to him. He drew himself up, embarassment turning to anger like only an ork’s could.
“Wot the zoggin’ ell was that? Ya fink yer a joker, huh?” He advanced towards the mek, hand scrabbling for his choppa. “Ya fink you’z funny? I’ll show ya wot ‘appens when ya try ta play wiv-”
“Shaddup, ya worm!” Vrazugg growled, showing no fear.. “Of course it wasn’t me! Ya fink I was in da drivin’ seat dere? I’m ‘ere, ain’t I?”
“Well I dunno! It wozn’t me, dats for shure!”
“Wozn’t me neither, mate. Calm down. We don’t need a scrap now. She’s jus’ a bit excited ta meet ya. Didn’t fink she’d snap like dat.”
“Wot? Snap? Wotchu on about? ‘Ow’d it go with nuffin’ drivin it?”
The confrontation was avoided. Vrazugg grinned under his hood, and patted the bonnet again. This time, the tank growled a little less. “Lemme show ya.”
They hopped up to the driver’s seat, stuffing their hulking frames into the cramped interior of the engine. Dials and wires poked everywhere, flickering and creaking,and though Skarlok didn’t expect to have a clue what most of them were for, he approved of the gubbinz.
“Now,” Vrazugg said briskly, squatting in the gunner’s sear next to Skarlok. “You fink da engine’s da most important part of da whole zoggin’ thing, an’ usually it is. But not with mine.”
“Wot? How’s it gonna run with no engine?”
Vrazugg grinned wider, and silently reached across. One clawed finger tapped the steering wheel Skarlok gripped. In the centre, he noticed, was a large, orkoid handprint. It was printed with what was quite definitely dried blood. “Dis is wot matters. Da ‘eart of da beast.”
“Da ‘eart? Wot? Wot’s dat?”
Vrazugg hesitated. “‘Ow ta say it. Okay, mate. Listen up. My tankz ‘ave… per-sonn-ally-tee, okay? They got a, a, a little bitta ork all to demselves. Dat’s why I’s da best at wot I do. Not ‘coz I make em run smooth - I do, but dat’s not why. ‘Coz I makes ‘em breathe. And dat dere is da heart of it all. You’s can paint all over the wagon, paint ‘er bright zoggin’ purple for all I carez, but you gotta leave’s that print, ya got it? Don’t cover it up.”
“Now listen. Ya treat ‘er right, ya keep her oil clean… well, clean enuff, and ya don’t EVER paint over dat hand dere, and she’ll be da best zoggin’ ride ya evur had. That’s what I do, mate.” He gave the ork a friendly punch which made his bones rattle. “Gotcha?”
Skarlok thought about it, and decided not to think about it. He had his ride, worth twice the teeth he’d paid for it. If all he had to do was not kustomise the wheel too much, that was a deal. Meks were all crazy anyway. Let this one have his superstitions.
The mek tossed him a jagged, dagger-like set of keys and leapt down, his black robes swirling. “Good. Krump some faces fer me, will ya? She’s all yours.”
Skarlok plugged the keys in, and twisted. This time, he was ready when the engine roared. The sound rumbled through his thick bones, down into his guts and back up into his skull. It was electrifying. It felt like fire and blood and screams and all things orky. It felt like… WAAAGH!
“One more fing!” Vrazagg yelled from down below, his assistants already scurrying to crank open the garage door to the city outside. “Oi! I said, OI! ZOGGIN’ LISTEN UP, YA GIT!”
“I SAID - OH, FER MORK’S SAKE TURN IT DOWN!”
Something bugged Skarlok about his upraised hand, but he ignored it, regretfully turning the engine down to something a little less deafening. “Well? Wotcha sayin’?”
“I said,” Vrazagg said, “Get ya boss to pass word along to da Warboss dat I got a speshul job fer him.”
“Big Boss Skullsplitta?” Skarlok swallowed. “Dat’s… dat’s kinda above me, ya know.”
“Just tell ya boss ta tell one’a his nobs, ya git.” Vrazugg pulled his hood back to look up at him more clearly. His skull was bald, and just as blistered as the rest of him, pockmarks and weeping sores staining his thuggish face, and another scar covered his forehead, so thick and pulsing that it looked like whatever had caused it was still in there, buried in his mad weirdboy brain. “I got sumfin’ speshul fer him. He won’t wanna miss it.”
He gestured at something back in the darkness of his workshop - the hand still prickled at Skarlok’s slow brain - and looking back, Skarlok saw a table covered with tools and gubbinz. And in the centre of it, something which sparkled, in a way which everything orkish did not. Something slender and alien and old.
Skarlok swallowed, and gave the mek a thumbs up, ramming the gearstick up to high so he wouldn’t have to talk any more. He manoeuvred the wagon out of the workshop and turned swiftly towards the gang’s hideout, scraping a couple of bikes along the way beneath his fat tyres and treads. He didn’t even care. Vrazugg was mad alright, and not in a good, natural, ork way. Those eyes were sharper and more kunnin’ than any ork outside of Mork himself had any right to be. And his hand…
Now he realised what it was. The handprint on Skarlok’s wheel, the one which Vrazugg had said must never be covered, was a normal orkish right hand. Big and strong, with four long fingers, and a thumb, with talons which had scratched the metal where they’d been pressed to it. Just like Vrazugg’s.
Except that Vrazugg, the sole Ork owner and inhabitant of the workshop, was quite definitely missing one finger on his right hand.
TO BE CONTINUED.
Last edited by TheVelociatrix; 03-29-17 at 03:37 AM.