"As you can see, we are not like other Orks. We understand. We plan, we fight good, we fight better than other Orks because we think. We work and fight we others, for more victory, more teeth, and more fighting. Our machines are the best. Our boyz are the best. We take your tanks and make them more powerful. We respect you as favoured foes. I, Gratzdakka, offer you a chance to join my Mekboyz. War and gold will be your forever reward."
- — Warlord Gratzdakka to the captured Enginseer Brasslock
The Ork Warlord Gratzdakka Wur Mekdakka was an infamous leader of the Blood Axes klan and the master of WAAAGH! Gratzdakka which very nearly conquered the Imperial Industrial World of Kalidar. Doubtlessly one of the most intelligent Warlords of his species, Gratzdakka had learned much from his dealings with the Imperium, even mastering Low Gothic to better intimidate those humans unfortunate enough to have been captured. At the height of his power, Gratzdakka carried various titles such as "Arch-Skarlord General," "King of Hive Meradon," "Conqueror of Kalidar," "the Mighty," "the Powerful," "the Foe-Bane" and the "Git-kicker."
What truly set Gratzdakka apart from his brethren was his understanding of such diverse concepts as trade, bribery, coercion, political alliances and strategic resources. Where other Warlords would quickly have lost interest in such an insignificant world as Kalidar, Gratzdakka understood that its main resource, psycho-reactive Lorelei crystals, could be used to further enhance the powers of his Weirdboyz, and especially those of Greeneyes, the most powerful Warphead ever encountered by the Imperium to that time.
Gratzdakka and his WAAAGH! were ultimately defeated and slain to the last Ork by the Imperial forces deployed to retake the strategic resources of Kalidar.
Virtually nothing is known of the beginning of WAAAGH! Gratzdakka. While records of the Kalidar War are extensive, few sources deal with Gratzdakka himself, and therefore much of the information below had to be pieced together and extrapolated by one of the few eye-witness accounts available: the memory-transcript of Adept Brasslock, Chief Enginseer attached to the 7th Paragonian Super Heavy Tank Company.
From his actions as described by Brasslock during the Kalidar War, it also appears that Gratzdakka was fiercely intelligent, as he even attempted to bribe Brasslock in return for his aid. The Tech-priest was first offered "a treasure" -- in truth a ramshackle collection of both junk and precious objects since the Orks had little understanding for what passed as valuable amongst humans.
When this did not sway the Adept to help him, Gratzdakka offered instead three captured human female slaves, no doubt former courtesans by the make of their torn dresses. Seeing that carnal desires would not convince Brasslock to betray his people, Gratzdakka offered something he thought more tantalizing -- Brasslock could be rebuilt with Ork bionics and serve as one of his most favored Mekboyz, a position that came with great prestige and gold.
Gratzdakka sought to bribe the Enginseer because he wanted Brasslock to teach the Orks how to operate one of the Astra Militarum's most powerful weapons, a captured Shadowsword super-heavy tank and the mighty Volcano Cannon it carried. This fondness for Imperial tanks is a well-documented trait amongst the Blood Axes, but Gratzdakka evidenced a true passion for these Imperial behemoths, for his troops had also tried to capture a Baneblade.
Gratzdakka clearly possessed the wit to surround himself with anyone -- Ork or human -- who possessed the skills necessary to further his goals. His WAAAGH! counted among its numbers several competent Mekboyz who had considerably strengthened his horde by building a variety of combat walkers, from Killa Kans and Deff Dreads to the far heavier Stompaz. WAAAGH! Gratzdakka even counted a towering Gargant amongst its ranks, but the Warlord's most trusted and powerful advisor was his Weirdboy, the Warphead Greeneyes, whose psychic powers further protected the Ork Titan, effectively transforming it into the first Ork Psy-Titan ever encountered in Imperial history.
Appearance and Wargear
Brasslock had the misfortune to be captured in the Kalidar War by Ork Kommandoz during a daring raid on the main Imperial encampment. After being experimented upon by both Mekboyz and Painboyz, Adept Brasslock was brought before Gratzdakka where the Warlord began his attempts at bribery.
Adept Brasslock later described the Warlord in detail, comparing his size to that of an Alpha Ambull, which would make him tower over even a member of the Adeptus Astartes. Whereas most Warbosses wore little more than rags or the hulking shape of Mega Armour, Brasslock's account states that Gratzdakka wore a finely tailored uniform that comprised a dark long coat, a high cap and boots which Gretchin servants spend many solar hours polishing to a mirror shine.
The ensemble was clearly inspired by the uniforms worn by Imperial Commissars, but grotesquely magnified to fit the Ork's stature. On his chest were pinned ranks upon ranks of medals and other military decorations, many made out of precious metal, as were the many rings bristling on Gratzdakka's fingers and teeth.
Gratzdakka had also made concessions to Orkish "kultur" by wearing a necklace of teeth, also capped in gold, as well as affixing a big feather in the band of his cap, which made him a somewhat comical figure. About his neck hung a vulgar pendant bearing the crossed axes of his klan. The Warlord's weapons were a pair of heavy Power Axes that hung above his throne.
Perhaps even more interesting than the Warlord's own appearance was that of his entourage. Whereas most Greenskins tried to denote individuality through their attire, Gratzdakka's attending Nobz were all similarly dressed as their lord, each carrying tall, brutish Power Axes in honour of their klan's emblem. Many of the weapons were still filthy with dried blood, as these bodyguards also acted as Gratzdakka's executioners.
The attending Grots also all wore a mockery of Imperial military uniforms, albeit of poorer quality than that of their masters. Gratzdakka's court also comprised several human slaves, most importantly one eunuch -- named "Dog" -- to act as the Warlord's translator, but free men also walked amongst his entourage. These Renegades were the pirate captains that had allied themselves with Gratzdakka and followed along in the wake of his WAAAGH!.
- Baneblade (Novel) by Guy Haley