Skwadron Kommanda Zanzag Barga stepped from the hangar, into the outside air. He took a final drag on his squigar, letting the pungent smoke fill his lungs before plucking the smoldering creature from his surly jaw and dropping it to the ground. He stepped on it with a satisfying squish before it could roll away. As smoke poured from his nostrils, he took a look at the bleak skies of the planet and let a grin tug at the corners of his mouth; they got darker every day as Waaaghboss Gargrim's relentless campaign swept across the planet, burning and destroying everything in their path. With one last tug on his gloves to make sure they were on snugly, Zanzag began the walk across the impromptu airstrip to his fighta-bomma, Da 'Eadsploda.
As he neared the craft, the other fighta-bomma pilots nearby became aware of his presence, and snapped to an entirely un-orky salute. Zanzag releived them with a nod, and continued walking towards his bomma, as a diminutive gretchin approached with a map. "Ya gotz da planz wot I asked 'fer, Raydar?", inquired Zanzag, taking the piece of parchment from the grot without waiting for an answer. Scrawled over imperial litanies and praises to the emperor in what appeared to be blood was a crudely-drawn overhead sketch of the surrounding area. Zanzag squinted, trying to glean any useful information from the tattered rag, and wheeled on the grot. "'An yoo'z sure dat 'dis time ya didn't jus' make da map up, yerh?", Zanzag asked, watching the grot's reaction closely. Raydar began to visibly shake, beads of sweat forming on his brow. "Course not, boss! I... I toldz ya dat las' time wuz jus' a mistake, won't 'appen again!" Zanzag let out a low chortle at the grot's distress, turning back to his bomma. "Ya best 'ope it doesn't, ya runt, or I'll see dat ya get strapped to a bomb when I getz back," Zanzag threatened over his shoulder as he walked away.
As he climbed into the cockpit of his bomma, Zanzag called out. "'ey, Fodda, you in 'ere yet?" From behind the pilot's seat, a gretchin head peeked out. "I'z 'ere, boss. S'all set up like ya said ya wanted - da meks put on more dakka on yer gunz, but 'dey sed 'dey 'ad to cut back on da bommz so'z it'd fly proppa." Zanzag frowned, but shrugged it off a moment later. "I'll 'ave Booma take a look at it 'an see if he can't fix 'dat. Let'z get in da sky 'fer now." Fodda simply nodded and pulled down a pair of goggles over his face, returning to his tiny seat behind the pilot's chair. As Zanzag threw himself down into the cockpit, he began to flip the switches to power on the bomma. A moment later, the monstrous ork plane chugged to life, coughing up all manners of ugly smoke and flames from it's twin engines. Zanzag beat the control panel with a wrench, and after a moment or two the bomma settled down into an uneven rumble.
Zanzag picked up his raydee-o and pressed the button, talking into the scrap-made transmitter. "'Dis iz da 'Edsploda, callin' in. Sound off like you'z a proppa ork!" A moment later, a chorus of replies came back over the static-garbled box.
"Big Berfa 'ere, I'z good ta go!"
"Red Meenz Ded. I 'fink me bomma'z not on fire anymore, so I'z reddy."
"Da Led Sled, standin' by."
"Mork's Revenge iz-"
The last fighta bommer'z reply was cut short as one of the wheel struts holding up the plane in question gave out under the weight of all the bombs, and the plane folded in on itself. The engine promptly exploded, and many of the orky weapons strapped to the aircraft detonated prematurely. Moments later, the raucous laughter of the other pilots filled the airwaves, and even Zanzag howled in approval in his cockpit at the sudden fireworks display. As meks and grot orderlies alike rushed to the wreckage to pick over it for parts, Zanzag gave the command. "To da skiez, ladz!"
Funneling out enough smoke and flames to rival their exploded companion, the fighta-bommaz lurched down the abandoned superhighway that formed their airstrip. The planes painfully came free from the ground as metal parts groaned and strained against the pull of gravity, and seconds later the Dakka Skwadron was airborn.
Princeps Aurelius sat at the helm of the Reaver titan, surrounded in the cavernous bridge of the god-machine by his subordinates. His frail body rested upon the chair in the center of the chamber, bathed in the glow of hundreds of displays, each one monitoring a thousand more systems. The moderati were buzzing with activity, but Aurelius had no interest in their affairs - his was a purely meditative state, as he gathered his focus and control for that moment when he would interface with the titan and deliver the will of the Omnissiah upon the Emperor's foes.
His focus was interrupted by the voice of the nearest moderati addressing him by name. "Princeps Aurelius", began the moderati, waiting until he was sure he had the man's attention. "The ork hordes rapidly approach, and we have just received final authorization from the Legio Destructor for the Moirae Infernus to deploy. Shall we commence the mind-link?" Aurelius glared at the man in a manner that would have sent the most staunch Commissar fleeing, though the Moderati was unphased. "The Legio's authorization is nothing more than a formality; we deploy when I say we deploy," Aurelius growled in reply, running his eyes over the databanks surrounding him. He paused for a moment before continuing. "Still, it is time. The xenos have been too much of an irritant to go unchecked. Begin the link."
The moderati's many-fingered machine hands danced across the control panels, and Aurelius felt the comforting sensation of the mind-link cables pressing into the back of his skull. In the background, vaguely distant to his ears, he heard the countdown of the moderati:
"Mind link in four... three... two..."
Aurelius closed his eyes and became a god.
Colonel Hector Penny and Lieutenant Zane stood at the crest of the cliff above the readying Imperial Guard, surveying the vast swaths of armor and infantry stretching out before them. The colonel stared out at the distant horizon with a grim look on his face, knowing that just beyond it waited an ork Waaagh! of monumental scale. Tasked with the defense of the planet due to it's tactical location in a sector replete with a number of Forge Worlds, Colonel Penny had been engaged with these foul monsters for almost three months now. In that time, he had seen his front pushed farther and farther back, and he was rapidly running out of room to maneuver. He had placed an emergency request for the Legio Destructor's assistance in the campaign, and they had responded admirably. Penny wondered to himself if they would have delivered aid slower had their own Forgeworlds not been threatened, but dismissed the thought a moment later, returning his attention to the battle to come. As it was, a response time of nearly a month was breakneck speed by imperial standards, and he was grateful for any support.
At his side, Leuitenant Zane was checking the ready status of the varying platoons arranged in the valley down below over the Vox-caster. A moment later, he rose from his kneeling position next to the heavy machine, and addressed Colonel Penny with a salute. "Sir, I have just been given word that the Moirae Infernus has been deployed and begun to move."
Colonel Penny's grim demeanor evaporated away at the news, a grin breaking out on his face. "Then the day is ours, Zane. Ready the men, we march in an hour."
From the pocket of his greatcoat, the colonel produced a cigar and match, and lit it in preemptive celebration.
Hurtling across the smoke-filled horizon, the fighta bommerz raced one another, jockeying for position to be first to drop their deadly payload on the unsuspecting 'umies below. Zanzag pushed his throttle all the way forward and easily assumed the head of the pack. He called back to his grot assistant. "Oy, Fodda, we'z almost ova da target! Get reddy ta drop da bommz!" Without wasting a second, Fodda crawled into the hole next to his tiny seat, and wiggled his way down through the plane's hull into the cargo bay. He assumed his usual position above the payload hatch and called into the speaking tube "Say da wurd, Boss!"
Zanzag squinted through the targetting reticle on his dashboard, even though it clearly was not pointing at any discernible target. After a moment's pause, he bellowed "Now, ya runt! Show 'em wot 'fer!" Fodda beamed an awful sneer across his face as he hit the big red button above the bombs.
Fodda's smile quickly evaporated when the bomber bay hatch doors sparked and failed to open. The bombs clanked against the hatch, but were not able to begin their deadly plummet. Fodda quickly began to panic, jumping up and down on the bay doors to try and make them come free. From the speaking-tube, he could hear the angry bellowing of Zanzag in the cockpit. "OI, WEN I TELLZ YA TA 'LET DA BOMMZ GO, YA LET DA BOMMZ GO, YA MANGY RUNT! WOT'S GOIN' ON IN 'DERE?" Fodda scrambled back to the tubes, replying in terrified tones. "I fink one a da mekz musta welded da hatch doorz closed, coz dey ain't wurkin', boss!"
Zanzag snarled over the tubes before issuing his next command. "Fine. We'll krump 'em all da same. Get yerself in da turret, Fodda."
As the grot navigated his way through another tight, short tunnel in the Fighta Bomma's hull towards the ball-mounted dakkaguns, Zanzag caught a glimpse of the other fighta-bommerz deploying their explosive payloads. Over the raydee-o, he heard some garbled taunting from his fellow pilots. "Wot, boss, ya changed yer mind er sumfing? Grahahaha!" Zanzag's frustration peaked, as he grabbed the transmitter and bellowed into it, "JUS' YA WAIT 'TILL I'Z GET BACK, I'LL FIND WHICHEVA UV YA RUNTZ SAID DAT AND TEAR YA LIMB FROM LIMB!"
Zanzag smashed the transmitter back down on its post on the dashboard, and yelled into the speaking tubes. "Fodda, give da 'umies some 'uv da dakka!" Without waiting for a reply, Zanzag sent the bommer into a roll, turning it upside-down so that the ball-mounted turret on the top had a clear line of fire to the imperial guard arranged down below. The sound of the guns firing was deafening, even over the roar of the Bommer'z engines, and Fodda began to unload huge-caliber machine gun fire on the 'umies below. Both the pilot and the gunner began to laugh in the cruellest of ways.
The crude ork aircraft had arrived as though from nowhere, but Colonel Penny remained unphased as his lines received strafing fire and the occasional bomb. Leuitenant Zane's vox was lit up with the chatter of dozens of squad status reports. "Sir," began Zane, addressing his commander, "We've reports of at least four squads taking casualties already!" Penny simply shook his head, the cigar still smoldering at his lips as he responded. "These fething planes. How do they even stay in the air?"
Both men watched as one of the Hydra Flak Tanks clouded the air with fire. Seconds later, where an ork fighter had been, there was a huge ball of flame, and then nothing.
"Tell the men that-," Penny began, interrupted by the movement of the very earth beneath his feet. He turned to look at the source and his gaze was met with the towering profile of a Warlord Titan, the Infernus. Next to him, Zane's vox-caster ceased crackling, as all channels went blessedly quiet; the entirety of the Imperial Guard was stunned to silence at the sight of the god-machine's approach.
Regaining his composure a full moment later, Penny continued, "... tell them that this day, we witness the beginning of the end of the campaign."
Zanzag righted his plane above the raging battle, having come perilously close to the ground in his last strafing run. He began to pull up, and as he did he was afforded a view of the clashing armies below. Waaaghboss Gargrim was still individually visible, even from this height, thanks to his monstrous size, and Zanzag's face bore a manic smile as he watched explosion after explosion surround the giant ork's form. His attention was suddenly diverted by an enormous beam of energy sailing just beneath his wing and crashing into a line of greenskin armor, triggering a chain of explosions. Zanzag followed the energy beam's line back to the source, and his eyes widened as he got his first look of the giant Warlord Titan. "Zoggin' 'ell, will ya look at da size 'uv dat fing! I bet Booma'z loozin' 'iz mind down 'dere."
Without a moment's hesitation, Zanzag broke off his strafing runs and began to veer towards the Titan. Da 'Eadsploda closed the distance rapidly, and Zanzag began to circle the giant warmachine, giving Fodda a clear line of fire with the turrets. The barrels of the aircraft's guns glowed white-hot as they spat round after round towards the Warlord.
The shots flared against the Titan's void shields and were dissipated before they could even contact the massive surface of the warmachine's hull. Zanzag roared in frustration and wove the ungainly bommer around another gigantic beam of energy spat from the Warlord's arm-mounted weapons. The beam soared past and struck a much smaller Ork Stompa cleanly in the chest, detonating it in a fiery display.
Zanzag broke off his circling and steered away from the Titan.
Mind-linked to the god-machine, Aurelius weilded the massive Warlord Titan like an extension of his body. As he maneuvered his way towards the battle, he received a continual barrage of information that would have twisted the mind of a lesser man. He experienced each servo, each cogitator, and each sensor bank as though they were the nerves of his own body, and felt the sensation of the ground beneath his feet as the giant warmachine strode foward. Unleashing barrages of indiscriminate fire from the titan's Volcano Cannon and Turbo Lasers, he swept killing lines of energy across the greenskin front, each blast vaporizing huge swaths of orks and contemptibly-designed armor.
Aurelius experienced the giant-caliber shots of the circling aircraft as tiny, insignificant pinpricks against the indomitable strength of the Warlord's void shields. Such arrogance!, he thought to himself, as again the Volcano Cannon fired, delivering death upon the orkish hordes. How can it possibly hope to stand against a god? In the depths of the Princep's mind, the titan's machine spirit raged at the audacity of such an affront, but Aurelius forced mastery over it, focused instead on annihilating the army that stood before him. Moments later, his decision was rewarded as he observed the aircraft pulling away in retreat.
The Princeps' physical body sneered in satisfaction as he continued his war.
"Wot now, Boss?", inquired Fodda, who had returned to his seat behind Zanzag in the cockpit. Zanzag's face was grim as he considered his options. "Da gunz ain't doin' da job, and we ain't got any bommz. Ain't nuffin' else we can do 'fer now." As Zanzag finished speaking, a beam of energy arced out from the titan and carved a line of death through the orks. Zanzag watched as the killing beam swept back and caught another Fighta Bomma pilot in it's wave. The plane was annihilated instantly, but for one of the engines mounted on the wing which escaped the blast and went careening through the air. The stray jet engine curved towards the titan, still operating under it's own power, and Zanzag's eyes widened as he saw it punch through the walker's Void Shields and explode on the Warlord's leg.
"Zog! Dat'z it! I know wot we'z gotta do!" Zanzag exclaimed, manic inspiration taking hold. "Buckle yerself in, Fodda, we'z gonna show dat big 'umie fing wot we'z made 'uv!"
With that, Zanzag banked the plane into a hard 180 degree turn, and rounded on the titan. He pulled his goggles down over his eyes and hunched over in his seat, looking through the targetting reticule on his dashboard once again and lining up the titan's head in the sights. His free hand reached out and punched "Da Big Red Buttun", and the bommer surged forward with a turbo boost of breakneck speed. Watching over Zanzag's shoulder, Fodda suddenly realized the larger ork's intent and began to scream, while Zanzag simply began laughing.
Colonel Penny flexed his power fist and crushed the head of the last ork that had dared assault him. He spat on the corpse around the cigar still in his mouth, and turned to observe the rest of the still-raging battle. He was rewarded by the sight of the Infernus' guns laying waste to more of the greenskin army, nodding to the leuitenant next to him. "That, son, is how wars are won," the colonel began, his eyes picking out the bright-red shape of an ork fighter-bomber turning in the air. "There is no substitute for the application of overwhelming military force."
Penny watched the ork plane with some fascination as it suddenly belched a huge gout of fire and smoke and accelerated through the air. The colonel noticed, almost nonchalantly, that the bomber seemed to be heading right for the titan. "Fething lunatics, these or-", Penny began.
The fighter-bomber suddenly lit ablaze as it came into contact with the Warlord's void shields, turning the aircraft into a fiery comet as it arced through the sky. The colonel's sentence was cut short as the aircraft punched through the shields at an entirely unreasonable speed.
The comet hit the titan cleanly in the neck, just behind the head, and rocked the Infernus with a massive explosion as the bombs the aircraft still carried detonated all at once. With the sound of tearing metal that could only have been the titan's machine spirit crying in agony, the head separated from the body of the Warlord, and began to plummet to the ground.
Colonel Penny's mouth fell agape, and his cigar dropped to his feet. The entire battle seemed to stop as Guardsmen and Orks alike tuned to see the god-machine die. With an earth-shattering rumble, the titan began to lean backwards, slowly at first, falling to the whim of gravity. The Moirae Infernus crashed to the ground with a world-ending smash, smoke and explosions rocking its body on the way down.
After a second more of stunned silence and ceased battle, Imperial Guard began to run.
It was just a few hours after the ork victory that Booma stood atop the still-burning wreck of the Warlord's torso, supervising his Lootas with the 'salvage' efforts. They tore at the machine with their trukk-mounted winches and cranes, hauling burning bits of scrap and debris out from the wreck for later use. The fires that had raged around the Warlord's head had begun to burn out, and Booma himself descended down into the cavernous hole that remained to look for "speshul bitz" to use for himself.
The Lootas that accompanied Booma rapidly tore walls and machinery down with their cutting torches and buzzsaws, and hauled away the giant metal parts. As one of the Bulkheads was torn free, a gush of blood and green issued forth, and the corpse of half an ork in a leather bomber jacket tumbled out of a red-colored wreck. Curious, Booma approached it, and kicked it over so that he could get a look at it's face.
When he did, he was greeted with one angry eye glaring up at him. Zanzag was still alive.
"Zog me, 'dis un'z still kickin' about!" Booma exclaimed in surprise. He turned to the grot oiler at his side and commanded, "Go get Mad Dok Ruzzgut, 'an tell 'em to bring da Blood-squigs. We'z got a live 'un 'ere." With a kick, Booma sent the gretchin on his way, and looked back at Zanzag's body. "So you'z da bomma wot took down da Titan, eh? Well, I 'spoze I gotz ta thank ya 'fer 'elpin me get me 'andz on all da werky bitz 'ere. Don't ya worry much, we'll 'ave ya fixed up in no time." Booma leaned down and grabbed Zanzag by the jacket, hefting the ork's tattered body over his shoulder and walking out of the wreck.
It was a full week after the massive battle, and Zanzag took an awkward step out of the Mad Dok's 'Clinic' for the first time since the accident. He looked at the still dark sky, but found himself only able muster half a grin with the still-orky parts of his face. He flexed his new bionic limbs and stole a glance downward at the mess of his abdomen, looking at the line straight down the center where machine joined with ork. He had lost almost his entire right side, clean down the middle, to his kamikaze antics, but Booma and Ruzzgut had worked hard to reward him for his efforts by producing an incredibly fancy (by ork standards) cybork body. He still wore his old jacket, but exhaust pipes protruded through holes in the sleeve along the right arm, chugging thin smoke as he moved.
He proceeded over to the aircraft hanger where the other fighta-bommer pilots remained, his heavy robotic leg clanking against the ground with each ungainly step. As he entered the hanger, the other pilots looked up in surprise at their Kommanda. "It'z da flyboss! 'E'z still kickin'!" exclaimed one before snapping to an un-orky salute. The rest followed suit, and Zanzag walked by them towards his plane. Booma had seen to it that his subordinate meks had built Da 'Eadsploda II as a replacement for Zanzag's lost aircraft. It was nearly identical to the first in design, though now it bore a charicature of the Warlord Titan's head on it's tail in homage to Zanzag's great deed. Zanzag began to climb up into the cockpit as he remarked to the other fighta pilots, "It'z been too long since I'z been able ta get in da air. I'z gonna take 'dis fing out fer a spin!"
Zanzag tried to sit in the cockpit, but he found that he was unable to. His new bionic half was far too large and awkward to be properly accomodated in the cockpit, and he had grown in size some thanks to his injuries. He began to swear as he attempted to stuff himself into the seat. When he did finally manage to work his way down into the chair, the front wheel strut creaked and groaned, as the nose of the plane dipped down thanks to the weight of his bionic replacements. With one last squeal of tearing metal, the strut finally broke off, and the nose of the bommer smashed into the ground. Zanzag bellowed in anger and frustration, and his bionic fist tore the cockpit apart around him as he smashed his way free of the wreck. "ZOGGIN' IMPOSSIBLE! 'OW'Z I SUPPOSED TA FLY WHEN I WEIGH AZ MUCH AS A FULL-BELLIED SQUIGGGOF!? GRAAAAAAGH!" The other orks watched on in horror; the speed freeks were entirely unable to comprehend the concept of not being able to fly. Zanzag continued to tear at Da 'Eadsploda II, bellowing his rage loud enough for the entire Waaagh! to hear.
It had taken almost all of Dok Ruzzgut's squig-sleep juice to calm Zanzag down enough stem the Skwadron Kommanda's unbridled wrath. In the end, Big Boss Gargrim himself had to come down and restrain the ork, as Zanzag's new bionic parts afforded him a considerable amount of strength. Now, a few days later, Zanzag was despondent, and his mood was seriously unsettling to the other orks. Booma had tried a number of different fighta bommer designs, but none proved properly capable of actually lifting the weighty ork skyward; those that were able to take off would begin to list and spiral to the right, offset by the weight of the dark iron bionics, and none were able to also accomodate the additional weight of bombz or gunz with their pilot. An evil sun at heart, Zanzag's true calling of unbridled speed seemed denied to him.
He had approached Booma instead, asking for the bionics to be removed, but the Big Mek staunchly denied the request. "First, ya go and ya blowz up da new plane I 'ave made fer ya. Den, ya nearly wrekk 'alf uv da bommerz wot I built 'fer da boyz. Now, ya wantz me ta jus' remove da nizest cybork body wot I'z eva made fer a boy? Yer a madboy! Sidez, if I even did, ya'd be ded az nailz inside 'uv a few minutz. We 'ad ta replace a lot 'uv partz ta keep ya kickin', ya ungrateful runt!"
Still, Booma considered Zanzag for a moment. An idea began to form in the back of the Big Mek's mind, and he turned away from the other ork, starting to walk back towards his mekshop. "I tell ya wot," Booma called over his shoulder as he walked away, "Ya come back 'ere dis time tommorrow an' I may 'ave sumfing 'fer ya." With that, Booma dissapeared into the shop.
The following day, Zanzag loped into the mekshop, still unsteady with his new bionic walk. Booma looked up at the clanking sound of the visitor's arrival, and a giant, toothy grin spread over his face. "I'z dun it, lad. I'z got sumfing dat shud make ya quite da 'appy ork." Booma motioned for Zanzag to follow, and proceeded over to the garage of the Mekshop. Zanzag followed close behind, and as he looked past Booma he caught a glimpse of a figure covered in a squig-leather tarp. "Dat dun' look big enuff ta be any fighta-bomma wot I'z eva seen, boss," Zanzag said, approaching the concealed form. Booma chortled in reply. "'Courze it doesn't, ya naff runt. Take a look at it."
Zanzag grabbed the tarp with his bionic hand and pulled away the tarp. As the cover fell away, the visceral shape of a massive ork warbike revealed itself. Covered in exhaust pipes and with a massive engine, the bike was monstrously large by any measure, and painted in the most stunning Go-Fasta Red that Zanzag had ever seen. Zanzag took a clanking step back in shock. "Gork 'an Mork, it'z... it'z... byootiful!"
Booma's pride was evident as he began his explaination. "Since we can't get ya inna air proppa, I figya dat 'dis iz da nex' bezt 'fing, yeh? It'z got da same squigpowa' az wot yer' ol' fighta-bomma 'ad, an it'z plenty fast. I even managed ta dig up yer' ol' dakkagunz from Da 'Eadsploda and put 'em on 'ere. It'z made strong enuff dat it'll 'old 'yer weight an' won't constantly leen to da side while ya ridin'. "
Before Booma could finish, Zanzag had mounted the bike and started it up. The rumble and smoke it made was nearly identical to that of his old fighta-bommer, and the Skwadron Kommanda felt right at home astride the machine.
Zanzag turned his head towards Booma, the orky half of his face split in the most massive smile he was capable of. "I'd thank ya, Booma, but I'z too buzy! WAAAAGH!"
With the roar of a fighta-bomma, the bike accelerated and crashed through the wall of the garage, out into the open. Through the new hole in his mekshop wall, Booma could see Zanzag rocketing off through the camp, a trail of burnt rubber trailing the speed freek. The Big Mek rolled his eyes and grumbled. "Grah! It'z like I'z neva done fixin' 'fings."
Thus, Zanzag is now my Biker Boss.