"Humies think they is the smartest, making twisty plans and layin' kunnin' traps like they come up with war. We come up with war! Orks are the best at scrapping, get us close and we'll tear anything to bloody bits. All the Boyz need is a shove in the right direction, and Mork'll do the rest!"
- — Mogrok the Mangler
Mogrok, known as Mogrok the Mangler, is an infamous Big Mek of the Split-Grin Bad Moons tribe. It was at Mogrok's urging, who first convinced the Goffs Warlord Grukk Face-rippa to look beyond conquering one planet, and to launch his Red WAAAGH! into the stars. Big Mek Mogrok was a know-it-all git through and through. He was the kind of Ork who would rather build a giant war engine covered in Dakkaguns than run towards the foe pell-mell, getting shot to bits in the normal Greenskin manner. Though he has often been accused of "not being one of da Boyz," Mogrok is so good at creating big, impressive war machines that not even Grukk himself was dumb enough to refuse him a place in the upper echelons of the tribe. Though none of the would-be Ork warlords of the WAAAGH! liked to admit it, Mogrok had been the power behind the throne for quite some time.
Always close at hand, Mogrok made sure Grukk was attacking the best worlds and keeping the tribes in line. Filled with all kinds of technological inspiration, Mogrok always seems to have another trick in his bag of scrap, often pulling something out at the last minute to turn the tide in favour of Grukk and his Boyz. Following Grukk's death at the Battle of Sacred Mountain during their invasion of the Knight World of Alaric Prime, klanz under Grukk's rule slowly began to fragment as each Warboss vied for supremacy over the WAAAGH!. Mogrok's War of Kunnin' was a new phase in the battle for Alaric Prime, and one characterised by dirty tricks and sneaky plans. The Big Mek Mogrok managed not only to unite the tribes but also to manipulate their bosses into doing his bidding. For much of this stage of the war, the Imperium was slow to react to the plans and plots of Mogrok and he visited terrible ruin upon them for their folly.
For many standard years, the Split-Grin Bad Moons scraped out an existence on the Desert World of Eyrok skirmishing with their rivals the Skullcrackers. Their Warboss, Skagfing, was content to lead his Boyz in the brawl with the Goffs and make some teef in the process, trading with Freebooterz for shiny stuff. The big guns of the klan kept the Skullcrackers in check, and Skagfing liked to make jokes about poor old Krugg the "Tyrant" who couldn't afford a good Shoota. The Split-Grin tribe might not have been huge, but they had the best loot, and the biggest guns to keep other Orks from getting their hands on it. Once an Ork Boy, Grukk fought in the Skullcracker Goff tribe. Even then Grukk was bigger and stronger than the other Orks, and Krugg kept a wary eye on him ready to put him back into place if he stepped out of line. The only thing that stopped Krugg throwing Grukk down the biggest sinkhole he could find was that the Ork was just too handy in a fight. Fate then took a hand in Grukk's life when it sent the Big Mek Mogrok to Eyrok. The Mek had been marooned there by a tribe of Freebooterz, who had decided that firing the Mek at a planet was easier than paying him for the work he did to their ship, and was now trying to build his own ship from scrap. When Grukk came upon the Mek he was going to give him a good kicking, until Mogrok changed his mind.
Mogrok convinced Grukk that rather than fighting a few Orks on some backwater planet, he could be conquering whole star systems. It took a while, but the Mek eventually awoke a spark of ambition in Grukk. The Ork charged back to the Goff fort and smashed his way into Krugg's ramshackle hut, knocking the Warboss from his feet with a roar of challenge. The Tyrant fought back with savage brutality, battering Grukk bloody. The two Orks tore the fort apart in their struggle, and eventually Krugg caught Grukk with a thunderous backhand blow of his saw-fisted Power Klaw, hurling his brutish challenger through a mudbrick wall into the dusty courtyard beyond. As he loomed over Grukk's crumpled form, Krugg prepared to land the finishing blow. Grukk's will to kill drove him to his feet at the last moment, grabbing the Tyrant's roaring saw-klaw and forcing it inexorably backward. Green sinews shook and muscles bulged as the two Orks strained against each other, yet Grukk was stronger. Krugg's eyes widened in horror just before his arm broke with a rotten crack, and the Klaw's roaring saw-blade chewed hungrily into his face. Blood flew in sheets, and with that Warboss Grukk Face-rippa was born.
Skagfing had only recently heard about his rival's death when Grukk and his ladz smashed their way into the Bad Moons camp, the Goff Warlord sacrificing loads of Boyz as he charged in and pinned Skagfing down, he stood on his chest, and messily ripped his face from his skull. In a single bloody blow, the Split-Grins were absorbed into the Skullcrackers and Grukk took control of the tribe. In Skagfing's place a bunch of Nobz tried to bully their way to the top, but none of them could match the raw aggression and prodigious size of Grukk. Within a week, Warboss Grukk had united the Orks of Eyrok, crushing any rivals to his position. As he stood over the fallen Warlord of the Split-Grin tribe, Mogrok was there again, talking in Grukk’s ear, telling him about some nearby worlds where there was fighting to be had. Now with free access to all the scrap he could use, the Big Mek hammered a voidship together and found the Freebooterz that had marooned him on Eyrok. He brought Grukk with him to teach them a lesson, and those that survived the ensuing battle soon joined up with the Warboss. Fragmented and leaderless, the Split-Grin tribe became inferior to the Skullcrackers. Grukk used the tribe for its massive guns and kustom weapons, draining their stockpiles to build up his warband. The Split-Grin tribe also gave Grukk access to the Sanctus Sub-sector's Freebooterz, giving the Ork Warboss a way off Eyrok and out into the void.
Not long after Grukk started raiding the edges of the Sanctus Sub-sector, Gashrakk da Flash (an irritating Flash Git who once served as Kaptin Badrukk's first mate) figured out that as long as he avoided the big Warboss' temper (no small feat) he could talk the single-minded Goff into giving his Split-Grin tribe the choicest enemies to fight and the best bits of a world to attack. On the moons of Palos, while Grukk's mobs cracked their way into the domed cities, Gashrakk plundered the world's diamond mines, allowing the tribe's Meks to use the gems as lenses and ammunition in Kustom Blastaz or Big Gunz, and the Painboyz to give the richest Nobz new sets of "shiny teef". On the prison planet of Night’s End, the Split-Grin tribe made piles of teef running the pit fights, Gashrakk personally blasting one particularly tough prisoner to bits when it looked like he might upset the odds. More than once Gashrakk put Grukk's loot in his own ships "for safe-keeping" and waited for he Warboss' attention to be drawn to another fight instead.
Mogrok would have challenged Gashrakk for trying to use the Red WAAAGH! for his own ends, if the Big Mek wasn't doing precisely the same thing himself. In fact, the effectiveness of the Split-Grin tribe's kustom weaponry allowed Gashrakk to get Mogrok and his Mek followers to make several Gorkanauts and Morkanauts for the Split-Grins. The Freebooter even managed to lay claim to one of Mogrok's Stompas, and the Split-Grins were soon accompanied in battle by an ever-expanding horde of smoke-belching walkers. Soon, what began as isolated reports and garbled astropathic missives quickly built into an avalanche of desperate cries for aid. Grukk mercilessly ravaged the toxic jungle moons of Palos, breaking the great crystal dome of its blessed city and flooding it with poisons while his warriors looted and killed. On the penal outpost of Night's End, the Orks turned the prison into a giant fighting pit, throwing in Squigs, Grots and Boyz while placing bets on how long the prisoners would last against them. When the Imperial Sector Lord Vargan sent his periphery fleet against Grukk, the Orks attacked them in the midst of an asteroid field. Ork and Imperial vessels were hammered with rocks as they blasted each other to scrap, the Orks ramming, battering and boarding dozens of Imperial vessels. With every raid and battle more Orks flocked to Grukk's banner, and his legend took root in the minds of Greenskins across the breadth of the Sanctus Sub-sector. In the space of a few short years, a sector of space considered desolate was teeming with Orks, all bawling the name Grukk into the dark.
The Red WAAAGH!
"Cross me, curse me or even look me in the eye and I'll kill ya stone dead, just ta teach ya a lesson."
- — Grukk the Face-rippa
By the time Grukk reached the Sanctus Reach he had billions of Orks following in his wake. Only a few little obstacles stood in the Orks' way, most notably the Space Marine world of Obstiria, home to the Obsidian Glaives Chapter. Five companies of the Chapter defended their planet, led by their Chapter Master Midnias, a scarred veteran of countless wars against the Greenskins. Despite Grukk's numbers, Midnias assured the Sector Lord that he could halt the Ork incursion before it plunged even deeper into the sub-sector. A little of a week into the fighting, the surviving Obsidian Glaives launched a desperate assault into Black Gulch, one of the few inhospitable passes that led to their fortress-monastery, the Penumbral Spike. Into their midst the Chapter Master brought the fight to Grukk himself, but in end it was all for naught, as the Chapter Master fell before the might of the Ork Warlord. Their commander dead, the Space Marines valiantly attempted to defend their world for a further three solar days, fighting a battle they could not hope to win against the overwhelming numbers of Grukk's hordes. With Obstiria crushed and the Sanctus Reach aflame, only the Knight World of Alaric Prime remained defiant, and the Red WAAAGH! gathered once more for war.
As the planets of the Sanctus Reach crumbled one by one before the onslaught of WAAAGH! Grukk, Alaric Prime girded itself for war. Aid was summoned from a nearby fleet out of Cadia and from the Schola Progenium world of Edificus. Before long the planet was fortified for the coming invasion, though strife still blighted the ancient Knight houses of Alaric Prime. The houses of Alaric Prime had long stood divided. Many of the noble lineages had long-standing feuds, and the years of oppressive tradition had bred frequent civil wars that had blighted the archipelagos and land masses of the world without exception. A tense solar month passed. Just as the houses were on the brink of open war, a reed-thin message crackled out within each Keep's Vox-chamber. Its audiosign was that of one Castellan Stein, a Cadian Shock Troops commander whose fleet had been tasked with reinforcing Ghul Jensen. Though the Cadians had arrived too late to fulfil their primary mission, they had outrun the cumbersome voidships of the Red WAAAGH! and hence were able to bolster the defenders of Alaric Prime. En route they had rendezvoused with a fleet of black-armoured warships hailing from the nearby Schola Progenium planet Edificus, scrambling in response to the astropathic distress call. Less than two solar weeks after the bulk landers of the Astra Militarum had made planetfall, Alaric Prime had been transformed. Each of its cities, fortresses and island penitentiaries had been warscaped, optimised and reinforced by masterful Cadian strategos. Regiments of disciplined soldiery manned every Aegis line and crenellated bunker complex. Those Knight houses that had managed to put aside their differences loomed in support, ready for battle. Here the Imperium would make their stand.
The WAAAGH! Descends
The war against Grukk's Red WAAAGH! was brutal and bloody affair. The shocking impetus of WAAAGH! Grukk’s initial assault was eventually spent, and the Imperial troops quickly consolidated their forces at the base of Sacred Mountain. Wounded and out for revenge, Grukk had bashed together an army larger than his two previous forces combined. Stein knew full well that, at this early stage in the war, the danger had been stayed rather than averted altogether. The scattered holdings of the planet had limited the amount of damage the Orks were able to do thus far, and the actions at Grukk's flagship and the bridges of Boiling River had killed thousands of Orks -- perhaps even tens of thousands. Yet by the estimates of Stein's strategos, the marauding xenos numbered in the billions. The Ork invaders threw themselves at the defended positions in ever-greater numbers, but so far the Cadians and their Knight allies had proved equal to the task of hurling them back. As the mountain slopes became littered with smouldering corpses, Grukk himself entered the fray, and the Freeblade Knight known as Gerantius, "The Forgotten Knight", moved to stop him. In a hail of grenades, the fearsome Ork Warlord was mortally wounded. A moment later, Gerantius' great claw-like foot came around in a sweeping kick, rolling the Warboss' wrecked Battlewagon onto his broken body with a final, resounding crash. The spectacular felling of the Ork Warboss had been so explosive and, most of all, so public that not one single Cadian or Ork could have failed to see it. Waves of dismay rippled through the Orks at the base of the mountain. In response, a thousand Cadians poured from the barricades and boulders, roaring a war cry of their own. Lasfire lit the slopes and bayonets flashed bright. Running down the slopes, they fell upon the reeling Ork vanguard with impressive force. Few of them reached the resultant combat, for Stein had judged his timing perfectly. Robbed of their great leader, the Orks turned tail, and were already in full retreat by the time the Cadians hit home.
The Breaking of the Klanz
As the ordnance rained down and word of Grukk's death spread throughout the teeming Greenskin masses, the cohesion of the Ork invasion began to break apart. Castellan Stein and his men watched the Ork horde erupt into a series of scuffles, then brawls, then fullblown battles as the bosses of each tribe fought to become the new master of the leaderless WAAAGH! and claim the invasion for their own, even as the Imperial bombardment continued. With the death of Grukk, the battle for Sacred Mountain was effectively over, at least for now. Having broken like a wave against the tidal bastion of Sacred Mountain, the Ork horde was easily scattered over the next few solar days by the determined assaults of the Cadians and their Knight allies. Stein's after-siege actions were every bit as inspired as his layered defences. With each bombardment and Militarum Tempestus assault they forced more and more ground in between the Ork klanz and tribes, deliberately driving wedges between those who wore blue warpaint and those who painted their vehicles red, and separating those clad in chequered black and white from those in ostentatious yellow.
The goal of the Astra Militarum's new strategy was not to exterminate the xenos outright, for the Orks still numbered in their billions, but to divide and displace. Castellan Stein believed that, should he succeed in breaking the Ork klanz into separate armies, they would fight amongst themselves. In the battle for ultimate leadership that ensued, the warring Ork tribes would effectively be doing the defenders' job for them. Following Grukk's fall at the battle of Sacred Mountain, the Ork klan rulers scattered throughout the invading armies began a series of civil wars to determine who would lead in the defeated Warboss' stead. There were several main contenders dotted across Alaric Prime, each bashing heads at his own rust-ship in order to steal a march on his rivals.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the Ork Warbosses vying for leadership, there was one amongst them who was already well ahead of the game. Whilst the other klanz and tribes fought amongst themselves, Big Mek Mogrok and his Bad Moons were already enacting their plan to embroil the Imperial forces in the greatest battle Alaric Prime had seen yet. Though none of the would-be Ork Warlords of the WAAAGH! liked to admit it, Mogrok had been the power behind the throne for quite some time. What few of the Ork invaders suspected was that Mogrok had been waiting for his chance to usurp Grukk's rule for many years. Mogrok intentionally steered the WAAAGH! toward Obstiria, reasoning that a Chapter of Space Marines defending their homeworld would be fierce enough to cut Grukk down to size or even, with a bit of luck, slay him once and for all. Amazingly, the Warboss' headlong charge had been powerful enough to smash open the Obsidian Glaives' fortress-monastery before they could turn the tide. With several billion Orks falling upon a thousand Space Marines in a sudden avalanche of violence, Grukk secured victory, and Mogrok was forced to keep to his back seat role for a little longer. Alaric Prime was Mogrok's last chance to see Grukk brought low before the WAAAGH! left the Sanctus System in flames, and the tedious interstellar voyage to the next system put a crimp on his plans. Luckily the Knights of the planet proved up to the task, and the gateway to true leadership soon swung open.
Mogrok’s first act after Grukk's downfall at Sacred Mountain was to muster his forces back at his titanic rust-ship, Toof o' Mork. No sooner had he marshalled his horde of Mekboyz, Lootas, Battlewagons and combat walkers than he had set off across the plains, heading for the largest concentration of humans he could find. Mogrok knew that humies had some weird ideas about who and what was worth protecting. For some reason, the bigger and badder the humie, the more likely he was to come to the aid of the smaller humies when they got into trouble. The Space Marines were proof enough of that, turning up to the fight whenever a WAAAGH! got a bit of momentum behind it. It was exactly the sort of thing that annoyed the Big Mek about these weaklings that had somehow spread across the galaxy -- weaklings who deserved to be slaughtered, not saved. Still, that was why Mork had sent him to grind them into the dust and take their planets for himself.
Whilst his rival Warbosses were still fighting amongst themselves, Mogrok led his Mek horde towards the massed formations of human Imperial Guard infantry making their way across the savannah towards a plateau of crenellated keeps in the distance. Humie runts, thought Mogrok; killing a few thousand of those weaklings should be the perfect bait for bringing the big stompy Imperial walkers out into the scrap -- and, in the process, lure more battle-hungry Orks to join Mogrok's fight. This time, however, it would be the Orks that sprung the traps on the humies, not the other way round. Mogrok's horde had more than enough dirty tricks to take out even the biggest of the humies' war robots, and a few hundred tanks besides. The Big Mek grinned toothily as his fizzing telly-scope brought the human army trekking across the plains below into focus. With all the preparations he'd put in place, the payoff was going to be a lot of fun.
The War of Kunnin'
The sledgehammer tactics of WAAAGH! Grukk had taken a massive bite out of the Sanctus Reach System, but had failed at the last. When Grukk was taken out, his loyal Skull-Nobz were swiftly run off by Mogrok's followers. Led by Bossnob Skrak, they herded together those Gretchin and Oddboyz they could kick into line, before setting off to find somewhere new to plant their bosspoles. Days later, the last survivors of this ragtag tribe washed up on the shores of Blistered Isle. The scrap-skiffs that had borne them to this isolated spot were coming apart, yet they had served their purpose. As Grukk's last Greenskins stumbled up the beach between hissing sulphur vents, their beady red eyes settled on the distant silhouettes of humie buildings. Stuff to kill, stuff to loot, and best of all no Mogrok -- Grukk's ladz shot each other toothy grins before setting off to get stuck in.
The first stage of Mogrok's grand plan was geared more around the Ork mindset than that of his foes. The Big Mek understood what made the Ork race tick, and knew how to use that knowledge to his own advantage. Whilst the other tribes were fighting amongst themselves, Mogrok intended to start a sufficiently large and impressive battle against the human forces to draw the attention of the other Orks. The Big Mek's rivals would kick themselves for not thinking of the same plan, and hurry to join the fighting in order to prove to their tribes that they too were up for a good scrap and not a bunch of skulking wimps. In the process, the rival Ork tribes would concede that Mogrok was the fastest and most killy of them all. If Mogrok's plan worked, and if he could keep the kill count nice and high, he would become the de facto new Warlord of the WAAAGH! before long. Of course, this was only the beginning, but Mogrok wasn't about to reveal the true scale of his plans just yet -- not even to his best mate, the metal-limbed Painboy known as Fourklaw, or his fellow Big Meks taking up position across the planet.
Da Big Scrap
So began a series of ever more unusual battles that unfolded across the hinterlands of Alaric Prime. The first of these displayed Mogrok's typical cunning. On the rolling Auspice Savannah, far to the east of Sacred Mountain, Mogrok mustered his lads together, and mounted up alongside every one of those tribes he could bribe, trick or coerce to accompany him. A massive armoured wedge of Ork vehicles trundled and bounced across the open plains towards the marching Cadians, sending up a cloud of dust so large it could be seen from the Imperial augur-craft in high orbit. Running as fast as he could through the fug of dust behind the vehicles, Mogrok stifled an evil chuckle. The humies had taken the bait. Being a Mek had its advantages when it came to asking favours; he'd personally promised every one of the Wheel Steelas tribe a better wagon with more wheels than they could count if they would lend him their rides for the day. It took some convincing, and a lot of pressure from Mogrok's heavily-armoured mates, the Mekanobs, but it had definitely been worth it. The humans had smashed the tribe's wagons up good and proper, forming a wall of scrap metal right across the plains. What the human army-boys didn't know was that the vehicles were empty of everything apart from the occasional steering-Grot, and the desert rocks that Mogrok had placed on each accelerator pedal. As for those stubborn Speed Freeks who had opted to disobey Mogrok and stay in their driving seats for the big charge; well, they wouldn't be a problem for long.
The advance of the footslogging Ork horde had been completely obscured by the linear junkyard of scrap metal and the clouds of dust and smoke the vehicles had left in their wake. The mainstay of the Ork army was running like hell towards the humie lines, the most resilient of Mogrok's troops at the fore. First to bash their way through the wall of scrap metal were the Feet of Mork, Mogrok's hundreds-strong Dread Mob. Their numbers were bolstered by the primitive steam-dreads of the Kogheads, anxious to get into the fight. Behind the massed Killa Kans and Deff Dreads came the Mekanobs. Mogrok grinned toothily as he watched the armoured veterans advance -– whenever the humie army's missiles hit home, they either bounced off or knocked the Nobs over for a moment, only for them to struggle up and lumber back into the line. Rushing behind the iron-clad vanguard came Boss Raddak's Deathskulls, "lucky" blue paint still dripping from jaws and armour plates alike. Mogrok reckoned the armour was probably more of a source of good luck than the blue pigment, but they'd agreed to the big charge, and that was good enough for him. In their wake came Mogrok himself and the vast mass of iron-armoured Boyz that ran alongside him, their squabbling Gretchin servants holding onto their tinpot hats as they scurried to keep up in the rear. All told, the armoured horde covered the plains in a tide of shouting, whooping maniacs that stormed towards the Cadian lines with Choppas raised. The Imperial Guard held their ground, just like Mogrok had known they would -- the proud humans still had little idea of the dangers they were facing. Massed Lasguns took their toll, but with so many armoured brutes at the front of the line, only the heavy weapons put sizeable dents into the charge. Mogrok's horde hit home with the force of a tidal wave, smashing through carefully deployed formations to careen into the ranks behind. Before the solar hour was out, a dozen square miles of open savannah had been embroiled in a desperate close quarters battle.
Flight of the Morkanauts
The first of Mogrok's big plans had gone off without a hitch, but there were plenty more to come. Dark shadows fell across the savannah as a gigantic rust-ship descended from the clouds above. Fearing the worst, flak-tanks at the rear of the Imperial armies hammered into the skies until their ammunition reserves ran dry, but their volley fire did little more than tickle the belly of the mammoth spacecraft that loomed above them. A shrill whistling sound drifted over the roar of battle for a moment before several massive balls of scrap metal dropped out of the skies, unceremoniously ejected from the airlocks of the rust-ship above. In the war for Obstiria, Mogrok had been most impressed when Grukk's hordes had been struck by the orbital assaults of the Obsidian Glaives. Yet the scrap-pods that tumbled out of the rust-ship's guts held a far more unusual cargo than even the superhuman Adeptus Astartes.
Smashing down into the rear echelons of the Cadian armies, the building-sized balls of iron burst apart, killing dozens of men with each impact. At first the reeling Guardsmen thought that the hillocks of badly-painted metal were intended as blunt projectiles and nothing more. The true purpose of the bombardment only became clear when some of the scrap-hills started to come to life. Fixer-Grots scurried from hatches that had been exposed by ablative layers that had fallen away, taking advantage of the confusion to hammer sheets of metal back into place and spot-weld broken joints. One by one, the Morkanauts that had plummeted into the Cadian ranks crackled with green-white electricity and stomped forward step by hesitant step. The humming energy weapons that formed their arms ratcheted downwards and discharged great blasts of lightning into the Cadian ranks, frying men to blackened stumps wherever they hit home.
Battle tanks and transport carriers hammered shells into the rotund monsters that had dropped into the Cadian rearguard, but with little effect. Though they looked like the illicit offspring of a Stompa and a Mek’s workshop, the beasts had been built to last. As the Cadian headquarters barked frantic orders to re-arm and re-engage, the rust-ship above revealed the next of its secrets. Colossal hangar doors opened in the rear of the giant craft, a profusion of mag-cranes lowering down another metal mountain. The beast looked like some awful deity of the Morkanauts rampaging below, three times the size of the largest of their number, and with guns to match. From his vantage in the big scrap at the front line, Mogrok looked up with paternal pride as Gungutz slowly descended into the fight. As he had instructed, the titanic war effigy opened fire long before its dangling feet crunched into the plains. Giant bolts of energy flew from the crackling Electrokannon that it had in place of its left arm. Some even hit home in the Imperial ranks below, adding to the mayhem in the human lines.
Right on cue, the humies' own walkers were stalking out of the giant stone castle that Mogrok could see jutting from a plateau in the middle distance. Beetle-backed but long-legged, they loped forward at quite a pace. Mogrok wasn't bothered one bit. The big engines were dwarfed by Gungutz -- that much was obvious, even from a distance -- and he had a nasty surprise in store for them, too. The Big Mek snorted in derision, still watching the Knights as he absent-mindedly clouted a screaming humie into the ground with his great-spanner. Their god must be puny indeed if these little walkers were embodiments of the Emperor they kept squeaking about. Though Grukk's vanguard attack had been doomed from the start -- Mogrok had seen to that -- it had at least shown the Big Mek what the humie walkers could do. The war machines hammered their long-range shells into the seething tide of Orks pouring into the big scrap on the savannah, a steady flow of bellowing Greenskin warriors that was even now being bolstered by the tribes of Mogrok's rivals. Not nearly good enough, thought Mogrok -- shooting shells into an Ork horde was like dropping Stikkbombz into a river in the hope of stopping its flow. The Big Mek scanned the skies, but there was no sign of his next trump card just yet. The main event was up ahead.
The humie walkers loped towards Gungutz in groups of three, the ground shaking as they synchronised their attack run. Now was the real test. The Big Mek raised his telly-scope to his good eye, muttering a quick prayer to Mork that his lieutenants could remember what they had been told the night before the battle. As if in answer, the massive gut-kannon mounted in the centre of Gungutz's great belly boomed once. A double whip-crack echoed across the plain, and a spinning bolas made from mooring chain and two boulder-sized cannonballs hurtled outward. It missed the incoming Knights by a mile. "Try and hit ‘em then!" bawled Mogrok, raising his Kustom Mega-blasta and turning a couple of heavily-armoured humies into a fused mess to make himself feel better. So much for that idea.
Attack of the Wreckin' Krew
Up ahead, the humies made a concerted attack now, and Mogrok was forced to focus on the serious business of breaking heads. Such was the din of battle that he barely noticed when the roar of jet engines signalled that Skyboss Wingnutz and his lads had finally made their appearance. And they call themselves Speed Freeks, mused Mogrok as he punched a human trooper's ribcage into his lungs. Surely the whole point of having your own red Dakkajet was getting stuck in nice and early? One of Wingnutz's aerial nutters came in low. The giant wrecking ball that Mogrok's Meks had chained to its tailplane ploughed a furrow through Orks and humans alike as it passed. Stupid git, thought Mogrok; he'll be dead in a moment. Sure enough, the heavy metal lump caught on the wreckage of a humie tank that the Mekanobz had just scragged. A split second later it yanked the cable tight, forcing the cocky Flyboy's jet to take a nosedive into the battle below and sending up a plume of greasy flame. Dozens of Wingnutz's Blitza-bommas took this as their cue for a point-blank strafing run. They peeled off and hurtled downwards at top velocity, many of them failing to pull up in time and slamming nose-first into the ranks of the Cadians scattering across the plains below.
Up in the skies, the rest of Wingnutz’s lads were more or less sticking to the plan. As the human walkers stalked forward, hammering Gungutz with their cannons, the Ork jets veered towards them at low altitude with their wrecking balls trailing behind. As the jets skimmed directly over each of the walkers, they released their heavy iron cargoes so that they hurtled and bounced unstoppably through the Imperial lines. Several careened into the wide carapaces and shoulder-plates of the humie walkers, bowling over some and breaking open others. Wingnutz himself scored a direct hit, the giant lump of pig iron he released from his trail-cable smashing straight into the command cockpit of the walker below and crushing it into mangled scrap. Those Knights that were still standing turned and blazed away with the light-bore Auto-weapons on their carapaces and the much more formidable shell throwers on their arms. One of theFlyboyz was tagged and had his wing torn off, spinning around and around before slamming into the walls of the humie's fort on the plateau in the distance.
Mogrok fought his way clear of the melee around him and clambered atop the ruined shell of a humie tank for a better view. Only a few hundred metres away, a red-armoured walker was storming towards Gungutz in the confusion, lances of deadly energy spitting out from the spiral-painted gun on its weapon arm. One of the blasts took Gungutz right in the head, vaporising it in an instant. The effigy still strode on, raising its guns once more. "Nice try, ya runts," muttered the Big Mek as a double boom echoed across the plains. This time the chain-bolas worked as Mogrok had intended, whipping around in a spinning horizontal arc that took the Knight's legs out from under it and sent it pitching headlong into the ground. The bolas ploughed on across the plains, bouncing and yanking in crazy arcs before taking the knee joint from another Imperial walker and sending it slowly toppling into the dirt.
The battle was going strong, and hundreds more Orks were piling into the fray. It was more than enough to bring the rest of the tribes running, and there was plenty of spectacle for the lads to chew over later. "That ought to do it," thought Mogrok, reaching up to flip open a panel on the side of his Tellyport Blasta. A few deft tweaks of the device's kustom wiring achieved the desired effect, the weapon beginning to emit a bass hum. "Let's see any other zogger pull this off," grinned Mogrok to himself as a teleport flare enveloped him. The coordinates were set, and Mogrok was on his way. There was plenty of work still to be done.
Isle's Under Siege
Mogrok's tellyport jump would carry him away toward the coastlands, the battle for the Auspice Savannah raging in his wake. The human forces would no doubt attempt to bring their own reinforcements to the battle via the natural bridges that linked Alaric Prime's major islands. The Big Mek could not allow this to happen. Luckily, he had a cunning plan. As day turned to night and the carnage on the savannah grew to ever more epic heights, the Knights of House Velemestrin sought to cross the gap that lay between their own island and Sacred Isle. There was but one fordable point between the two land masses, a place where an archipelago of huge flat stones protruded out of the sea. The site was known to the natives as the Knight's Causeway. With care, and assuming the tides were right, a Knight could pick its way across from Isle Velemestrin to Sacred Isle. Mogrok, who had invested a lot of effort and millions of Orks in keeping the savannah embattled, had made it his personal mission to ensure no such thing occurred. Unfortunately, the forces he had to spare were very little -– quite literally, in fact.
The previous day Mogrok had ordered dozens of Runtherdz and their Gretchin teams to mount flat plates of electronic gubbins that he had entrusted to them. The plates should have been in place by now; the horizon was already dotted by the hulking shapes of the human walkers approaching the causeway. As usual, it was the lack of intelligence on part of the Grots that were gumming up Mogrok's plans. After taking his disappointment out on the nearest Runtherd, by throwing him from a high cliff, Mogrok stomped on through the confusion, resolving to root out Mek Dagogg from wherever the useless git was hiding and get his Shokk Attack Gun into the fight.
By the time Mogrok had found Dagogg, the first of the human walkers had picked a path halfway across the Knight's Causeway, slowly striding from one flat stone to another. Dagogg narrowly escaped a beating from Mogrok's piston-klaw when he protested that he had not been sleeping and was merely aiming with his eyes closed whilst he waited for the targets to get into range. Firing up his Shokk Attack Gun, Dagogg called for his Runtherd mate Grabber to get the Snotling mobs nice and close. A thunderous boom interrupted him as the first of the Knights crossing the causeway took a ranging shot with its cannon. The shell detonated on the face of the cliffs nearby, and Mogrok swore in consternation. Dagogg grumbled about how you couldn't rush these things, his black tongue protruding from the corner of his mouth as the Shokk Attack Gun's whirly bits spun faster and faster.
The world filled with noise, light and pain as a Battle Cannon shell detonated right in the midst of the Snotling farm. Mogrok felt the force of the explosion hit him like the hand of Gork, hurling him toward the edge of the cliff. He barely had time to shout in terror before Grabber's runt-catching stick lashed out, its spiked pincers sinking into the pitted metal of Mogrok's armour and arresting his lurching fall. "Gotcher!" wheezed Grabber, straining mightily as he and his Grots hauled Mogrok's Mega-Armoured weight back to safety. "Biggest runt I caught all day!" Half-deafened by the explosion, the Big Mek let the comment slide. He made a mental note to find the Runtherd a nice new electroprod, though he hadn't made up his mind yet about which end of the prod he would present to Grabber first. Down on the causeway, one of the Knights had nearly made it across. Still shaken by his close escape, Mogrok could only watch as the Knight aimed its Battle Cannon straight at him. Then the giant walker put its foot down right on one of the electro-plates the scurrying Gretchin had managed to get into position.
There was a sudden flare of green energy under the Knight's foot, and the walker's leg vanished, reappearing ten feet to the right. It dropped down into the surf as gravity claimed its due. A moment later a blunt shell whistled over Dagogg's head, sailing harmlessly into the distance as the towering warrior's aim was spoiled. As the walker began to tumble sidelong into the crashing waves, Mogrok found his voice. He shouted in triumph, turning to Dagogg, "The plates work! You can have the next one, Dagz -- get 'em inna head this time!" Unfortunately, almost all of the Snotlings that had survived the Battle Cannon blast had scurried away or were running around shrieking with Grabber's Squig-hound in hot pursuit.
Mogrok cast around frantically, seeking any alternative. His gaze settled on several Burna Boyz who were loafing about nearby, and an evil grin spread across the Big Mek's face. "Ready?" shouted Mogrok moments later, his question answered by a thumbs-up from Dagogg. As the gunner Mek squeezed the firing bar, the Burna Boyz let fly, sending a roaring column of flame straight into the vacuum tube. Halfway across the strait, fire blasted from the foremost Knight's eye-plates. It fell to its knees with a clang as the Shokk Attack Gun filled its cockpit with flame, but its corpse stayed upright. The causeway was blocked -- and with it, any chance of swift reinforcement for the Imperial forces.
The Great Lootin' Spree
As Mogrok's big plans got into full swing, the war produced a mountain of scrap metal to be claimed by the klanz. The abundance of wrecked hulls gave the creative Orks plentiful opportunities to hammer out new contraptions, but a good few got their skulls banged together by Mogrok's lieutenants in the process -- time was of the essence. It was clear to Alaric Prime's human forces that the reputation the Orks had for destroying everything within sight was not unfounded. Yet there exist Greenskins of an unusually innovative nature who see war as a time for creation as well as destruction. Much to Mork's delight, they constantly recycle whatever scrap they can salvage in an effort to build even more guns and metal beasts -- and perhaps even get a fight out of it in the process.
With the toll of ruined humie vehicles mounting up nicely, the Deathskulls and the Blood Axes set to work creating new battlefield curiosities on an ad hoc basis. In the pauses between rounds of gunfire, wave upon wave of their ladz scoured the battlefield for some good old-fashioned lootin'. Within only solar hours a whole array of fancy new gizmos, the likes of which had never before being imagined, could be seen rumbling back into the fray. Da Wheel Steelaz, however, found the spoils of war to be slim pickings. Some were lucky enough to stumble upon decent wrecks, and a good number of tanks had their treads prised off and replaced by fat-tyred wheels. Out of desire for greater speed, the Steelaz modified several Trukks to bear as many pairs of wheels on top of their chassis as were usually found underneath. The Steelaz' Meks reckoned that, should any of these things be blown upside down in battle, they could still rumble forwards.
Sadly, as became clear in the heat of battle, no Ork had thought to properly connect these other wheels to the axles or engines. Those few flipped over by incoming fire simply scooted to a halt in the middle of the battlefield. It was not uncommon for some dumbstruck Guardsman or Cadian Whiteshield to witness upside-down Trukks being shoved into battle by grunting (and thoroughly disgruntled) Ork mobs. Before long those same human troops found themselves on the receiving end of the slowest Trukk assault in history. Dug-in platoons were swamped by the tribe's "pushas", Boyz who were keener than ever for the bloody vindication of battle.
Many of the more enterprising Wheel Steelaz looted the wrecks of Sentinels or the towering Knights that had met them in battle. Despite their disappointment in these things not possessing any proper wheels at all, the lads would not give up their loot to the other clans. Their curiosity soon led them to yank apart all armour plates and internal gizmos in an effort to find anything vaguely circular; whether they were dials or cogs, each round object was stuck to the side of their new acquisitions to see if it would make them go faster. Soon, Trukk-treddas, Wagon-walkers and Bigga Kans marched with a mind-bogglingly awkward gait into war. Da Wheel Steelaz were well pleased, hooting with laughter as the juddering movements of the wagons tilted them this way and that. A lot of fights erupted even before they got into the main scrap. When the Steelaz finally got there, many of their contraptions proved unexpectedly useful, allowing the Greenskins to cross broken ground and lob stuff from a great height.
Their newfound delight was momentarily ruined when Gashrakk da Flash rumbled past in his new ride: a massive, gleaming Battle Fortress with the helm of a fallen Knight lashed to its bonnet. Gashrakk himself sat smugly in a central throne bashed together from loads of shiny exhausts, and even as the Wheel Steelaz watched in envy, teams of Gretchin were painting the armour panels hammered to the sides with big yellow stripes. Its highly polished metal was so bright that Alaric's blazing sun reflected from it with dazzling intensity, sending one Trukk-tredda veering out of control and another careening into the side of a nearby rustship. Gashrakk paused only to laugh, pat one fat wheel and hurl an obscenity before speeding away, leaving Da Wheel Steelaz to chug onwards through a cloud of smoke and dust. Yet the smoke-belching wagons that came to life on the veldt were little more than distractions in the greater war effort. Behind the mayhem of the front line, Mogrok was working on an invention that could destroy an entire island in one blow.
The Klaw of Mork
"This here's Da Klaw of Mork. It's going to smash the humies' mountain good!"
- — Mogrok the Mangler
Mogrok had devised a cunning superweapon to utilise against the humies'. He had his Meks construct an enormous Tracktor Kannon called "Da Klaw of Mork." When the gathered horde inquired as to what the weapon was for, Mogrok pointed a gnarled green finger at the sky, pointing towards the heavens at a large frozen comet swathed in clouds of ice and rock. The Big Mek flicked the switches and yanked levers on his huge Traktor Kannon's control panel bringing the weapon online. Shaking and sputtering, the contraption's engines sprang to life, the cables leading to the Klaw arcing with jolts of greenish energy. Even as they watched, a flickering green beam reached out from the Klaw and washed around the comet. With painful slowness the satellite started to swell in size. Each moment, the beam spitting from Mogrok's Klaw drew it a little closer to Alaric Prime. The Big Mek intended to bring the massive comet down on top of Sacred Mountain for a start. Mogrok figured that by bringing down the great comet down into the fight, it would blow up everything that wasn't under a protective force field.
Having identified the source of the strange tractor beam that was drawing the Frozen Comet ever closer, the Tempestus Scions under Tempestor Prime Salem Whitlock made speed to their rustship target. Attacking under cover of night, they mounted a full-throttle assault into the heart of the Ork base, their mission to disable its force fields and destroy the tractor beam. Taking the Orks completely by surprise, the Tempestus Scions blasted their way into the tower's lower level. Through the smoke and chaos the Imperials pushed inside the teetering structure, Hot Shot Lasgun fire scything down anything which moved. Even though none of the Orks had any idea where their attackers had come from, they knew a fight when they heard one. Mobs poured in from every direction, drawn by the sound of combat. The sentry Orks inside the tower fired their Shootas wildly in the confined space, solid rounds blowing holes in the rusting walls or ricocheting off in random directions. Dagogg the Mek had been tinkering with the guns at the top of the tower when the first Scion charged over the perimeter wall below, gunning down the closest cluster of Grots with a salvo of red laser blasts. Growling, the Mek manned an artillery piece of his own invention, kicking protesting Grots out of the way. With a whine and pop the big gun grabbed one of the humies, flinging him into the air and squishing him like a bug.
No sooner had the corpse fallen than half a dozen took his place, fanning out across the lower gun deck. Under the lash of Grabber, the Grots turned their guns on the Tempestus Scions and opened fire. The tower lit up with the flash of zzap guns and the boom of kannons. At such close range, most of the shots went wide, but another Scion was mashed into the deck by a lucky hit from a Bubble Chukka's ball of force. In the bowels of the tower, Tempestor Prime Whitlock fought his way into the generator room, fending off wild Choppa swings and ducking mad Shoota fire. Guarding the controls was a towering Ork Nob. The xenos gave the Tempestor Prime a broken toothed grin and cracked its knuckles. Whitlock didn't even pause as he brought up his Bolt Pistol, obliterating the Nob's head in a volley of Bolter shells.
With a deafening crack of energy and a vivid green flash the force field collapsed. Almost immediately the scream of engines announced the arrival of Whitlock's Valkyrie reinforcements, near-invisible in the darkness as they raced across the sky. The Tempestus Scions fought up the rickety stairs to the Ork gunners and slave-runts up top, throwing themselves into the fray. Whitlock saw a large, brutish Ork lining up a gun on his remaining Valkyrie and emptied his Bolt Pistol's clip in the beast's direction, forcing it to dive for cover. As he fell through the darkness, Whitlock pulled the detonator from his belt, squeezing the trigger and setting off the satchel charge he had left leaning against the pile of ammunition crates. Above and behind him the sky lit up as the gun platform vanished in a cloud of fire.
The Ork comet had been thrown off its collision course with the Sacred Mountain, but Mogrok decided to besiege Fortress Alaric nonetheless. Advancing under the protection of kustom bubble fields, the Greenskins meant to stomp out the Imperium's final fortress. The defenders, spearheaded by the Knight houses of Alaric Prime, surged forth to meet them, intent on bringing the fight to the enemy. But even as they sallied forth, an Ork rustship launched after the wayward comet with a plan to veer it back on target.
The Horde Approaches
During the final assault of the long, bloody war, the Orks converged upon Fortress Alaric in their countless millions. This time, their advance was not the uncoordinated, belligerent thrust typical of Warlord Grukk, but a cunningly wrought series of tactics that led the Orks right to the doorstep of the Cadian defenders. Worse still, the threat from the skies was far from over. Stein's men were still shoring up the defences that had shuddered out of the slopes of Sacred Mountain when the mass of greenish-black on the horizon came into visual range. A great horde of Ork walkers led the assault, ranging from the size of Ogryns to the size of hab-blocks. Each was waving its weapons, be they giant shears, chainsaws, wrecking balls, massive buzz saws, rock-drills, or a profusion of large-bore guns jutting out from their shoulders and arms. Every one of them had a set of wire-coil horns curving around its head, crackling with barely-harnessed energy. At the heart of the walker horde was the giant effigy the nobles of Alaric Prime had encountered upon the Great Savannah, the ruin of its missing head replaced with the tusked cab of an armoured Battlewagon. It was escorted on either side by two captured Imperial Knights. They stumbled and lurched like the dead brought to life, the heraldic devices on their carapaces daubed over with crude death's heads that dripped blue paint into the dust.
To the east and west alike the Ork hordes were spilling around the foothills of Sacred Mountain. Stein gave his aide, the Master of the Ordnance, the signal to commence bombardment and strode to the parapet of the Aquila stronghold he was using as his base. Within seconds the Basilisks stationed on the lowest foothills of the mountain had spoken. Great plumes of smoke drifted up from each of their Earthshaker Cannons. Stein followed the high parabolas of each artillery squadron's barrage, nodding in approval that the next volley had been fired before the first had even struck home. The smile dropped away from his face when the first set of shells slowed and then stopped in their ascent twenty metres above the Orks, hanging in the air as if they had sunk into some thick, invisible jelly. The second volley thundered down after the first, only to suffer the same fate. The castellan raised his magnoculars, a horrible suspicion dawning as a scattering of live ordnance thickened above the Ork horde. The crackling wire horns attached to each of the walkers -- somehow they were creating some kind of electromagnetic field -- one that repelled falling ordnance as easily as a duralumin rainshield stopped an acid squall. The Orks had robbed the Cadians of their long-range advantage in one fell swoop.
A galling half-hour of impotent artillery fire later, the Ork vanguard had piled forward at impressive speed. Mobs of howling xenos had reached the edge of the boiling moat in a dozen different places. As they had covered the last half-mile, Lascannon teams had picked out a few of the largest clusters of artillery shells that still hovered high above the Ork walkers. The resultant chain explosions had taken down pockets of Ork vehicles here and there, but hundreds, perhaps thousands more remained. It felt to Stein as though every tribe, klan and mob on Alaric Prime had somehow converged on his position at the same time. If they could not rain shells down on the foe, they would have to deliver them via a more direct method. The castellan spat an order into his Vox-bead, and the Leman Russ battle tank companies ranged along the length of the boiling moat trundled into position. Three by three they opened fire, each shell raising a wake of white spume across the moat as it thundered towards the approaching Ork horde. Several of the shells exploded amongst the Greenskin ranks with gratifying thumps, but many more detonated prematurely, flame blossoming across invisible hemispheres of force. Guttural laughter drifted up from the plains below, seeming to mock the castellan's pitiful efforts to thin the horde. Somewhere, thought Stein, there was an Ork war-mechanic begging for a priority kill.
The Beast Unstoppable
A high-yield artillery shell whistled down out of the skies, its trajectory taking it straight towards Mogrok's upraised face. The Mek twitched one of the levers on his shoulder-gubbins and chuckled darkly to himself as the shell slowed to a crawl, then a complete stop. It spun in the air twenty metres above him, a metal fist denied its killing strike. Mogrok's netmagnet was working even better than he had hoped. He was fine with the humies' big guns chucking even more of their shells over to his side of the moat. They would be reused soon enough. Up ahead, the bubble fields were working well enough, protecting the rest of the lads from the tank squadrons at the front of the humie line. Just a thin strip of river to deal with before they could get stuck in, and Mogrok already had plans for that little problem too.
Trundling and stomping their way across the plains to the east were the scrapper caravans of Bogrot Bones, the famously irascible Snakebite Warboss. Goaded by Runtherds, his Squiggoths lumbered up to the edge of the boiling river and knelt down, the scrapheaps of useless nick-knacks and badly rusted gubbins they carried on their howdahs cascading haphazardly into the churning waters. Loading wagons and flatbed Trukks acted in much the same way, their piston-raised hindquarters scattering yet more rubbish into the water. Slowly but surely the moat began to fill at its thinnest point, a rough causeway of junk promising a way across. A few hundred metres to the west, a trio of pug-nosed anti-gravitic minelayers dangled the flank of a rustship into place, forming a rough and ready bridge for Bogrot's lads to cross. All the while the scraplord's artillery farms were hurling solid shot into the Cadians that were moving to intercept, forcing them to keep their heads down. To Mogrok's approval, all of the Snakebite tribe's really zappy guns were kept way back, on maximum elevation or just jammed in the earth pointing upwards. They had their part to play too; just not yet.
A series of klaxons and horns blared across the plains as the Wheel Steelas found out that the shiny new rides Mogrok had built for them had no brakes. The Big Mek slapped Dagogg on the back and pointed as the entire tribe hurtled headlong into the boiling waters of the moat, their bellows of outrage rising above the bass thunder of the human guns. Just as Mogrok had planned, the unfortunate Speed Freeks formed another fordable point as their wagons piled in one atop another. Orks of all stripes began to leap across from one sinking vehicle to the next to reach the opposite shore and get the killing started up close. To the west, Tankboss Baddfrag and his coveted looted Chimeras were crossing the moat in twos and threes. To Mogrok's pleasant surprise the Blood Axe Warboss' claims that the humie tanks could traverse water were being borne out. All around the circumference of Fortress Alaric the Orks were closing in on the humie defenders. "That there river's gonna be red come morning," said Mogrok to himself, picking a gob-squig out of his cheek and inspecting it for a moment before biting down hard. Things were warming up nicely. Any time now the humies would take the bait and come out of their hidey-holes ready to be killed properly.
Honour and Death
It was obvious to the Imperials that they needed to crush the infernal beast that was coordinating the invasion to secure victory. Such kills were the specialty of the House Degallio -- lop off the head of the beast, and slay its body in the process. The knightly triumvirates Lord Neru Degallio had named Alabaster Lances were up to the task. With the White Warden at their head, House Degallio's finest would soon carry the day. Ahead of Degallio's striding Knights the legendary figure of Gerantius was storming through the Ork ranks, his shield flickering fast as it blocked incoming fire left and right. The ancient was heading off on some quest of his own, but the White Warden loped after it like a devoted squire; Degallio would be damned if he'd let Gerantius go unsupported. The mysterious Knight's legend spoke of always defending the needs of Alaric Prime, and there was every chance that it instinctively knew what needed to be done. If there was indeed some fiendish mastermind coordinating the Ork assault, Gerantius would like as not be heading straight for him, and Lord Neru intended to be around for the kill. He had no doubt that he could dispatch the beast if it was only identified, and such a prominent part in the victory would cement his position as Alaric Prime's leading patriarch for decades to come.
The waves of Ork infantry that seethed around them were giving way to larger and ever more impressive constructs. Some were almost the same height as the Knights themselves, the fat-bellied war machines that they had encountered west of Boiling River. Degallio blew away the upper half of one of the beasts with a flurry of shots from his Battle Cannon, revealing the torso of the walker behind. Standing on the shoulder of the next Greenskin effigy was a metal-headed Ork mechanic hoisting a strange, whirring contraption that was firing a ghostly green beam right at Gerantius’ helm. Degallio's Battle Cannon was still reloading, so he mind-fired a stream of Stubber bullets at the Ork gunner, but only burst apart some of the runtish creatures that scurried at the Greenskin's feet. Suddenly a terrible shriek pierced the roar of battle. Where the green beam touched Gerantius’ helm, its light was turning white. The tendrils of that light reached back to the Ork mechanic himself, pulling him and a half-dozen of his runt-creatures into the tunnel of ghostly emanations. Degallio watched in fascination as the Ork gunner twisted and thinned, his corporeal form mingling with those of the screaming slave-creatures. His impossibly elongated body bristled with tiny, twitching hands and horribly distended jaws before the tunnel of light vanished with a wet pop. Gerantius strode on.
Across the world, the Ork rustships had been used as ready-made fortresses by the Ork invaders, and Stein had assumed them beached like the megawhales they resembled. He had been wrong. A massive Ork spacecraft was lurching through the skies in a series of bursts and explosions, hoisted aloft once more by the mad science of the Greenskin mechanic caste. To Stein's horror it was curving around on an intercept course towards the comet that even now streaked through the skies. Tempestor Prime Whitlock's Valkyries and Vendettas had veered off to intercept, but their long-range Lascannon fire was achieving little more than searing off the ablative sheets that comprised the thing's hide. Only by boarding the craft could Whitlock have any hope of taking control. Stein still had hope it could be neutralised before making too much of an impact -- if the castellan could choose any men for the mission, Whitlock's Tempestus Scions would be top of the list.
Just as the inverse rain of metal reached the same altitude as Whitlock's flyers, green beams of crackling energy flew skyward from the rear of the Orkoid scrap caravan. The resultant chain of detonations lit up the skies for miles around. The burning chunks of Whitlock's skimmer-borne platoons and Stein's transports fell from the skies to spear down into the chaos of the battle raging below. Stein's heart sank as, above the still-blossoming explosions, the burning rustship rose with terrible, unstoppable momentum, a flaming meteor in reverse breaching the stratosphere of a firebound planet. The castellan cried out in horror as the burning rustship blazed white for a second, then detonated directly adjacent to the inbound comet. The skies were devoured by a great halo of blinding flame that roared overhead in all directions. When Stein recovered his wits, he saw that the sheer force of the multi-megatonne explosion had knocked the frozen comet onto a new course at the last moment. It was heading right for the armoured flank of Fortress Alaric.
The Foot of Gork Descends
Even as the castellan shouted orders to raise shields, he knew it was no use. There was no way the Cadians could withstand the meteoric impact of the celestial body inbound on their position. Even the Knights would be obliterated by its sheer godlike force. The Orks would be burnt from the face of the planet too, a black testament to their mindless need for titanic violence. Despair roiled through his chest. Even those men that managed to get inside the mountain would be buried alive in the very tomb they were trying to defend. In that instant, something snapped in the castellan's mind. He ordered all personnel to attack the Greenskin horde in full force -- they were dead already -- so they might as well face the Emperor soaked in xenos blood. A great roar resounded across the slopes of Fortress Alaric. It was not the guttural heave of a Greenskin war-bellow, but the raw-throated cry of ten thousand human warriors united in desperate bloodlust. The skies burned a dangerous red as the massed regiments of the Cadian Shock Troopers charged over their defensive positions to the Orks spilling across the circumference of the moat. Lasbolts burned open torsos, bayonets speared guts and gloved fists broke snaggletoothed fangs. Within seconds of Stein's order, every man and beast within a mile of the fortress was embroiled in desperate close combat. The screams and roars of battle were eclipsed by an omnipresent roar and a bow-wave of heat that filled the air with the stench of burning hair. The world filled with blinding white light as the comet struck home. Every man, Ork and machine outside the protective aegis of a power field was blasted to ash in an instant. A whole flank of the Sacred Mountain was torn away, crumbling down into the boiling moat to leave the honeycombed innards of the great peak open to the air. Roaring in triumph, the surviving Orks poured forward in an unstoppable mass. Sacred Mountain had fallen.
The Final Hours
In the wake of the clockwork massacre, the war had swept on at a pace that left little time for clean-up. As the Greenskins dug frantically through the wreckage, they soon found the rusted hulk of Grukk's Battlewagon still lying where Gerantius had kicked it all those weeks before. It was one of the Nobs that struck gold, hefting aside a slab of mangled metal and shouting excitedly to his comrades to come look at what he'd found. His grunting was cut short as a massive green fist, scarred and shaking, pistoned up from the wreckage to grab him about his thick throat. Watching the bulge-eyed Ork's struggles with interest, the group's grinning Mekboy brandished a mass of wires, glowy lights and spinning gubbins. The Greenskins braced, several Grots jamming grubby fingers in their ears or pinching their long noses tight, then with another deafening crack the entire mob vanished along with their miraculous prize.
Meanwhile, cradled in Stein's arms, Astropath Zeil coughed blood onto his robes. Of the Command Squad, only Stein's Vox Officer had died in the comet's moment of impact. Using some ancient protocol that Stein would never understand, the Alarican Knights had united their Ion Shields in a great aegis dome that had shielded hundreds of Cadians from death by incineration. It had burned out many of the Knights' number, several of the giant machine-martyrs now pillars of flame that lit the hellish tableau around them as the after-effects of the comet's collision faded. Many of the cannier Ork tribes had erected their own shields too -- the electromagnetic bubble-fields that had protected them thus far proof even against the godly impact of the comet. Thousands of the beasts were roaring unimpeded towards the breach in the mountain's flank even now. Stein felt like he had died inside, even if his body was still alive. Zeil coughed again, and pointed at the skies. Stein looked up. More meteorites, by the look of it; the final blow. Then the flame of hope sparked in his chest once more. They were the contrails of Imperial Drop Pods.
The Adeptus Astartes had come...
A Big Mek has to be both kunnin' and fixy to pilot a Morkanaut, and that goes double for Mogrok's ladz. During the Red WAAAGH!, Mogrok gathered together some of his best Big Meks and unleashed them on the defenders of Alaric Prime by the most direct invasion vector he could devise.
- Rokstik Ironstitch - All Meks like to tinker with things, but Rokstik's enthusiasm includes himself. With the help of his Painboy, the Mek looted three of his four limbs from other Orks. His Morkanaut is similarly patchwork, its riot of colour evidence of many "donors".
- Gutmash Festork - Being a Big Mek is dangerous -- even if the enemy don't get you, your own machines might. Festork has "died" and been brought back more times than he can count (not that he can count particularly high); he now marks his Morkanaut's armour with his own "deaths" rather than his kills.
- Midgit Mogok - Suspiciously small for an Ork, Midgit is rumoured to have been built by Mogrok. Some Orks reckon he is a failed experiment to make a Morkanaut think for itself, while others reckon it was Mogrok trying to make another version of himself.
- Gitfink Hollowskull - Orks are natural looters and are always after bigger and better trophies. Gitfink has taken this to the extreme; anything he stomps ends up hanging from the hull of his Morkanaut. The collection of skulls, hull plates and other shiny stuff clanks and bangs whenever it moves, leaving his foes in no doubt that something big is coming for them.
Though he does not inspire the same terror as his hulking predecessor Warlord Grukk, Mogrok has a swathe of tribes devoted to his rule. From amongst this horde, Mogrok has hand-picked the most inventive or belligerent to act as his personal retinue. Big Mek Mogrok is a veteran of a hundred battles, many of which he started himself. Over the decades since he first began to break heads for fun and profit, he has accumulated a vast number of followers. These are not the usual Orky hangers-on, for Mogrok has never been one to follow the norms of Greenskin society. Instead they are a collection of the junkyard dogs and metal-heads of Greenskin society; scrappers, show-offs, looters, thieves and mechanics to an Ork. The unbridled creativity exhibited by the Meks in Mogrok’s horde means that his Bad Moons are never wanting for large and extremely dangerous machines of war, from man-portable Kustom Blastas to Mek Stompas that blast the enemy to bits with bolts of green energy.
Mogrok's War of Kunnin' was a new phase in the battle for the Knight World of Alaric Prime, and one characterised by dirty tricks and sneaky plans. The Big Mek Mogrok managed not only to unite the tribes but also to manipulate their bosses into doing his bidding. Though Skyboss Wingnutz and Baddfrag the Tank Boss were usually off leading their own formations into the fray, the other bosses would often accompany the Big Mek into battle personally. Amongst their number, Mogrok enlisted Big Redd da Warphead for his mastery of WAAAGH! energy and Big Mek Dagogg for his skill with his shiny Shokk Attack Gun. Gathered together, this motley collection of Ork "kommanderz" not only provided him with a powerful bodyguard, but allowed Mogrok to direct the klanz where and when he wanted them, out-manoeuvring the Imperial forces at every turn. For much of this stage of the war, the Imperium was slow to react to the plans and plots of Mogrok and he visited terrible ruin upon them for their folly.
The Nobz in Mogrok's warband are so rich they are always clad in the best armour that teef can buy. So advanced are the technologies involved -- for Orks, at any rate -- that their wearers have had to master the knack of fixing gubbins and resetting wossnames even in the midst of battle. Some of them even consider themselves to be Meks in their own right, though next to Mogrok, they have about as much mechanical know-how as a braindead Snotling. Still, every one of them understands the fundamental tenet of wearing Mega Armour –- get stuck in as quick as possible and kill anything you can catch.
Da Wheelz Steelaz
Since the triumphant charge of their many-wheeled Battlewagon Big Yella at the Battle of Black Gulch, the Wheel Steelaz have clung to the idea that the more wheels a Battlewagon has, the faster it will go. Because of this belief it is not uncommon for one of Mogrok's tribe to wake up one morning to find his favourite wagon raised up on a stack of rocks and its wheels mysteriously absent.
Da Kannon Krew
For Mogrok, simply shooting the enemy is a waste of an opportunity. Far more fun to test out a few new inventions in the process, especially if the field test results in the foe being blown to atoms in the process. The batteries of Da Kannon Krew are replete with their master's latest inventions, all manner of wild and potentially unstable weapons jostling for position in their ranks. It takes a special type of Grot to crew these guns without getting blown up, but then again, that's half the fun.
The average Ork Boy wants nothing more than to get stuck in at close quarters as quickly as he possibly can. However, Mogrok prefers a certain discerning desire for dakka in his handpicked ladz. After all, charging at the enemy guns is all part of a good fight, but the odds of victory are much improved by the ability to fire back. To this end, the Dakkaboyz all wield the biggest, noisiest Shootas they can get their snaggle-taloned hands on. This is made easier for them by a combination of teef galore and Mogrok's personal patronage. Indeed, Mekboyz in Mogrok's WAAAGH! have been known to drop kustom jobs for greenskins of other tribes in order to get Da Dakkaboyz' work done first. Unsurprisingly, this leads to widespread resentment and no small amount of violence. However, so long as Da Dakkaboyz go to battle with all guns blazing, Mogrok couldn't care less.
Da Burnin' Teef
This convoy of Wartrukk-driving loons is so named for their initiation ritual of drinking a gallon of Promethium and igniting the resulting belches. This is hardly their only peculiarity, for the enduring obsession of these Bad Moon speed freaks is to be at one with their Trukks. They believe that the more in tune they are with their vehicles, the better those vehicles will work. This odd belief sees the Orks of Da Burnin' Teef roaring like Trukk engines, decorating their bodies with hammered in engine-bits, and even eating whole handfuls of oil Squigs before battle. For any other race, such behaviour would be at best eccentric and at worst physically harmful. However, Orks being Orks, this crude attempt at synergy actually gets results. The Trukks of Da Burnin' Teef bellow like wild beasts, responding to their drivers' every deft touch and proving more reliable than any Ork contraption has any right to be.
Da Feet of Mork
The Deff Dreads and Killa Kans of Mogrok's Bad Moons are known collectively as the Feet of Mork, because they are as stompy as Mogrok's Meks could make them. Owing to the Dreadmoon Contests -- regular competitions that Mogrok holds (and always wins) as to who can build the most Deff Dreads over the course of a single lunar cycle -- his hordes boast so many of these clanking, smoke-spewing walkers that the Feet of Mork often outnumber the greenskinned throngs at the heart of their rival tribes.
- Codex: Orks (7th Edition), pp. 62, 67, 69-70
- Red WAAAAGH! Campaign Supplement (7th Edition), pp. 57, 67-71, 73-77, 80-87, 167