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Tales Post 21 is the first post of the Battlegrounds chapter which follows a set of battles and an ever-changing map. A group of orcs are led by the intelligent, small and scrappy Potshot, who is imbued with a robo-gauntlet and super soldier serum, as they must cross a carpark and take control of a building where snipers are camping. They are joined by a human knight, named Astaria Bravello'quas, who possesses a supersuit that makes her strong and durable. The two women use cars for cover, lifted over their heads, and the other orcs crawl underneath as they make their way to the building. Vitamins, the biggest orc, goes first into the building but they meet no resistance. Also in the orc group is Potshot's uncle Codswallop. While Shallowlip uses the toilet, Potshot, Vitamins and Astaria enter the engineering room and gather supplies, including energy cells for ammo. A small troop suddenly attacks and a minor skirmish ensues. Vitamins is gravely wounded and Astaria must try to patch her up. Potshot uses her robo-gauntlet to smash through a wall and snags one of the humandoids. She crushes his skull, mercilessly and despite the pleading of both the victim and Astaria. The rest of the humanoids retreat and the orcs make their plan to give chase.

Battlegrounds

Gaining an Entrance

Characters: Potshot | Astaria Bravello'quas | Vitamins | Codswallop | Shallowlip

A powerful energy blast slaps against the sandy mound and sprays dirt and stones over their heads. Potshot blinks furiously, trying to get grit out of her eyes.

Codswollop: "What wes gunna do, chief?"

Potshot: "Dem blokes up der're need t' be taken down. No buts!"

Vitamins: "I'll give um a butt!"

Vitamins starts to unbuckle her belt to give the snipers a good mooning but Potshot tosses a rock at her fat head. Vitamins falls flat with her hands stuck down her pants. Everyone else guffaws before Potshot, again, must rein everyone in.

Potshot: "Shut ya yaps, ya *******! Wes needs cover t' get 'cross the..."

Her jaw just to one side and her teeth grit as her brain struggles to find the correct word to describe the wheeled vehicles the people of this planet use to travel about.

Potshot: "Wheeler park!"

Nobody corrects her because nobody else knows what the word is either and assume that she, as the smartest of them, knows what they are.

Codswallop: "How wes gunna do dat den, chief?"

Astaria Bravello'quas: "We could use those..."

The human glances at Potshot;

Astaria Barvello'quas: "Wheelers as cover. Carry them over our heads."

Potshot: "Dats finkin', humie! Me and you cun grab one each and des fellas can get underneath!"

The human wears that overeager mask of determination and leaps over the ridge of their mound, startling Potshot. The orc chief hasn't met a lot of humans in her lifetime but most of them tended to be smarter than the average orc. Except this ditzy knight.

Potshot: "Oi! Ya daft cow! Ya can't jus'- bugger it! WRAAAAAAA!!!!!!!"

Potshot jumps up too and dashes out. The snipers up in the building were already firing at the human woman but one of them decides the orc might make an easier target. Their mistake.

Potshot, pumped full of super soldier serum, runs like the wind towards the 'wheeler' she has in sight. Energy bolts screech by her head, one cutting it close as the sniper tries to cut her off ahead of her, but she reaches the vehicle with a wild skid as she struggles to stop.

SMACK!

She bounces off of the vehicle's side and lands on her backside with a childish whine. Her wits awake just in time to avoid another bolt as she throws herself against the wheeler's door frame.

Potshot: "Bollockin' hell! Why did I listen to that brain-dead, humie!? All **** and no sense!"

Even as she's scuttering to herself she looks up to see Astaria plodding along the wheeler park with a massive hunk of metal hoisted over her head. The woman might be dense but she does have a supersuit that gives her tremendous strength. When Astaria sees Potshot she moves her hand to wave but, as the wheeler starts to then unbalance, she quickly puts it back with wide-eyes of surprise. Potshot shakes her head in bewildered disbelief. Surely no one is that stupid...

The orc chief herself doesn't look like much either. She was born runt of the litter and is little over her teenage years. Yet she has plenty of tricks up her own sleeves. Or rather her tricks, this time, are her actual sleeves. She puts her robo-gauntlets under the wheeler and lifts. She has a harder time than Astaria did but she manages to eventually get the wheeler up over her head. She hears energy bolts slamming into the metal framework and chuckles as sinisterly as she can - which is about as sinister as a toddler that just stole your cookies.

She stomps across the wheeler car slowly in the wake of the human knight. She has to admit that when her clan joined The Imperium she thought it was the end of her people. She had genuinely expected to be put into slavery, forced to work in mines or quarries or cheese farms. Instead her clan was given what they wanted - war. And this war is a war like none of the Fuqheads had ever experienced even in their wildest fantasies. Potshot can't help but grin with excitement as she keeps moving. When she finally gets close to the mound she barks her orders to the orcs hiding below;

Potshot: "Oi, ya daft tosspots! Get under dese wheelers!"

Codswallop is the first to rear his ugly, dumb head but when he jumps forward he halts as his head reaches the very top of the vehicles. He crouches down to peer underneath.

Codswallop: "Yous gotta be kiddin' me, chief! You two're the size o' babies. 'Ow wes gunna fit under dere, eh?"

Potshot: "Jus' squeeze under it, ya fuqin' clod!"

Codswallop gets on all fours and crawls under the metal canopy. With his backside stuck up in the air, it's too tempting a target for Potshot to not give it a swift boot. He faceplants the concrete. The other orcs comes shuffling up from their hole with a lot of chuckling at poor Codswallop's expense.

Potshot: "Someone get Vidamins up 'ere!"

Vitamins is then pushed up over the mound, still in quite a daze.

Vitamins: "Did someone get da plate o' da rock?"

She is bigger than most of the male orcs and takes up more space in the tiny shielded area. In the end two of the orcs had to stay behind because they wouldn't fit and the rest of them started to crawl across the wheeler park while listening to the sounds of energy fire. At Potshot's orders the two orcs that remained behind provided covering fire by shooting back at the snipers, but the enemy still managed to get more than a fire shots at the vehicles. Fortunately the wheelers provided enough cover for everyone and, miraculously, didn't blow up. They reach the far end of the wheeler park and huddle up beneath a small awning that covers the parking spaces closest to the side of the building. Probably for the bosses of the building so their wheelers don't get dirty, Potshot decided. She then uses her left glove to blast a hole in the only wheeler parked there. Bosses should be down and dirty with everyone else.

Potshot: "Alright, stand back ya louts."

They do so and she gears up her power-gauntlet. She can actually hear the thing whirring as it builds up kinetic energy within it. She throws her hand forward and the metal gloves connects with the wall. Bricks blast apart and the steel rivets bend. She gives it another good thump and the hole is big enough for even Vitamins to fit through with leg room to spare.

Vitamins, who always goes first when entering dark places on account of her being an excellent meat shield, stumbles and struggles as she gets a bucket stuck to her foot. As she tries to fight with the tin on her foot she falls backwards into a pile of cleaning supplies. On cue a mop drops on her head. Seeing the misfortune of others is a particular pastime of any good orc and a raucous of laughter announces their arrival to the entire building.

Potshot: "Reckon we's in da cleanin' room."

Astaria Barvello'quas: "I can confirm that. My map display says this is the janitor closet. Next door is the reception room."

Codswallop: "Ho ho! I love receptionists! Dey da sexiest, I tells ya!"

Shallowlip: "No ways, fella! It's da nurses! When dey stab ya wid da needle. Jus' love dat bit."

Codswallop: "Keep dreamin', ya gimp. Nurses are for humies! Real orcs don't need no nurses!"

Shallowlip: "You wun sayin' dat last week afder da chief knocked ya toof out, wuz ya? You's like 'oh nursie! Me boss punched me toof out! It hurts so much! Wah wah!'"

More bass laughter and Codswallop growls, unable to refute the claim against him. Codswallop is one of the oldest orcs in the clan, having managed to live to a ripe old age of thirty-nine. Because of his age he's often picked on by the younger orcs who not only see taking down their elders as a way to improve their own status, but also question the fact he's not dead yet. Usually the only orcs to live beyond forty are the cowards or the incredibly lucky. Despite that, Codswallop doesn't seem to be either. He is brave and often one of the first to get into battle, but he's also constantly screwing up and is always beaten up by Potshot, his niece.

Vitamins exits the room and enters the corridor. The floor has some kind of cloth material on it, for some strange reason, and the walls are pastel blue. A truly sickening colour that makes Potshot think of chewing on chalk. Shallowlip jumps into the reception and is utterly disappointed to find that there are no receptionists working today. Of course the war might be the reason for that, not that this would occur to Shallowlip.

Shallowlip: "Cor! Dere's a bog in 'ere! Hang on, fellas! I gotta have a dump!"

There's a series of groans as everyone is now going to have to wait for him to do his business in the bathroom. Potshot motions for Vitamins and Astaria to follow her round the corner. To their left, just opposite the reception door, are stairs going up. But Potshot wants to scour the ground floor before they ascend to locate the snipers. Going round to the right they find the doors to the outside they they could have used instead of punching the wall down. Less fun though.

Opposite those doors is another room.

Astaria Bravello'quas: "This is the engineering room."

Potshot: "Fookin' eh!"

She kicks the door in and lets Vitamins barge through, ready to get shot. Nothing happens so Potshot slips in behind the monstrous woman. Vitamins was actually born into the Big Fuqqers clan, a clan of orcs notorious for their immense body size and their feeble brains. Clan Fuqheads had managed to conquer one of Big Fuqqers' tribes. When a clan is defeated, the adults are killed (usually after being brutally humiliated in profane ways) and the children are taken in by the victorious clan to become one of their own. Many of these non-natives can be identified quickly because they will usually look different to the majority of the clan. In the case of Vitamins, she's taller and bulkier than everyone else. In the case of Shallowlip he has horns growing from his head, a trait of the Clan Kleptofuqs.

Potshot scurries through the room, searching through the junk. To an orc, junk is a treasure trove. Especially to one as industrious as Potshot.

She finds a bunch of wires and tosses them at Vitamins who clumsily catches them. The wires are then joined by a horde of more junk until poor Vitamins has a mountain of crap to carry out of the engineering room.

Astaria Bravello'quas: "Do you really need all of that?"

Potshot: "Need or want?"

Astaria Bravello'quas: "Is now the best time to be shopping?"

'Potshot: "I can use it. I could probably use everyfin in dis room, buts I gotta be picky, right? Corr! A buncha dem energy cells!"

She spies several energy cells being stored inside a glass emergency box on the wall. Though the ammo is designed for the energy weapons of this planet, she can easily retro-fit them to suit her own orcish technology. It just takes a little jiggery-pokery.

She crushes the glass with her glove and rips the little door off to give her access to the preciouses. Then she hears a lot of orcs wailing in horror outside. Astaria perks up and is instantly on guard while Potshot shoves the energy cells into her knapsack, which is already filled with other random junk.

Astaria Bravello'quas: "I think your orcs are under attack!"

Potshot: "Nah! If dat were an attack, dere'd be more poundin'. Dat's jus' the stench o' Shallowlip's bum 'ole."

Astaria's face cringes.

Astaria Bravello'quas: "Ew."

Potshot: "Yeah, you bedder not go ou' dere coz your humie nose might fall off! Ha! You didn'd see wha' he woz eatin' las' night! Is gonna be fishy."

Astaria Bravello'quas: "Ew! Again."

Unlike everyone else in Potshot's little troupe, Astaria is, of course, not one of Potshot's clan. She isn't even from Potshot's homeworld. Astaria was assigned to the team when the Fuqheads joined The Imperium. At first Potshot thought Astaria was there to keep an eye on the dangerous orcs in the army and keep them all in line under threat of being wiped out by their Imperium overlords. After a couple of days, Potshot came to the counter-conclusion that they put Astaria in with the most reckless troupe to teach her a thing or two about real war. Either that or they hoped the orcs would kill the annoying humie. So far, they've all resisted the urge. Even if humie's taste damn good.

The powered suit that the girl wears is oddly reminiscent of the technology of Potshot's homeworld though a little more advanced. It is a full plate suit, coloured gold and black and upon the back is a miniature factory that expels gouts of black smoke and everything. Every now and again, someone must open up the pack and put fuel inside to keep the suit working. Once Potshot, having grown tired of the human, left her without fuel for hours. During that time she had been unable to move at all and was stood poised in an extremely flattering pose.

Lucky for her the orcs aren't interested in pretty little things because to an orc that makes you look like a little kid. Humans, in general, look pretty to orcs and, therefore, most of them look like kids. Tasty kids, admittedly. Potshot couldn't make too many jokes about the prettiness of Astaria because she is well aware that she, for an orc, is extremely pretty too. It is also against orcish culture to injure yourself to enhance one's appearance because that would be cheating. All ugliness derived from scars or broken noses must be earnt. Being the chief means Potshot is taken care of by the other orcs. Ergo she is doomed to prettiness.

Astaria Bravello'quas: "I'm detecting a heat signature approaching."

Potshot eyes Astaria dubiously.

Potshot: "It better not be a mouse again."

Astaria: "The past two times--"

Potshot: "Five times."

Astaria: "It's not my fault. I can't tell what it is. Just heat."

The human pouts. She is quite youthful and Potshot can't tell how old Astaria actually is. She has a rounded, somewhat chubby, face and her strawberry blonde hair is cut into an embarrassing bowl shape. The suit is bigger than her body, which makes her face look even more like a little kid stuck inside a suit of armour. Her skin is very white, like she doesn't get out enough, and her teeth are all perfectly straight and bright white. Potshot had never actually seen teeth that look like a row of plastic before. Her own teeth are mostly yellow and a couple are black, destined to rot away to nothing by the end of the year.

Potshot decides to take the heat signature seriously and scurries to the door. She can still hear the others all jeering at Shallowlip round the corner and decides to use their noise as a distraction. Vitamins would be back any minute now, so Potshot just had to wait.

Astaria quietly pushes the door fully open and leans against it, also ready to strike. She looks at Potshot expectantly. When the chief doesn't give the go-ahead Astaria frowns and motions with her head. Potshot shakes her own. Astaria pulls a face with an upturned lip. Potshot still shakes her head. Astaria gives a bewildered shrug, her palms spread wide. Potshot points an angry finger at Astaria to stay still. Astaria points urgently towards the corridor. Potshot holds up a closed palm. Astaria grits her teeth nervously but Potshot continues to hold up her palm. The noises of the orcs seems to grow louder. The two girls think they hear Vitamins say;

Vitamins: "Gonna get more o' da chief's junk."

A shadow reaches the tip of the engineering room's doorway and then opens fire. The blue haze of light illuminates the corridor, making the pastels look white and the dark cloth of the floor turn blue. The light show goes on for a second before Potshot makes her move. She ducks down and jumps towards the far wall. As she goes she spins her body round and fires the small hand cannon she carries with her. The energy bolts of the enemy are thin and blue. The energy blasts from an orcish weapon are big, fat and red. The glob of red splats and fizzles as it hits the soldier. Whatever kind of humanoid he was, he's now half melted and very dead. Potshot looks down the corridor at Vitamins. The big woman is standing there with her arm up. There's a hole that's burnt straight through it, even cauterised the wounds as the bolt passed through.

Potshot: "You dead, ya lanky fuq?"

Vitamins drops her arm to reveal she's otherwise unharmed.

Vitamins: "Not yet, chief."

Potshot: "Ha! Shallowlip will be disappointed. He's bettin' you get snuffed out on dis mission."

The other orcs appear from round the corner.

Shallowlip: "Dere's still time!"

Codswallop: "Dat cheeky liddle basterd fought he could take us all ou' alone?"

Voice: "Not quite."

They all turn as the corridor is suddenly lit up with bolts of biting blue lights. The humanoids appear from within a cloak, which must have masked their heat signatures as well as their physical forms. The fella Potshot just popped was a diversion. Potshot can't help but admire how ruthless these guys are, even more than the orcs! The clan returns fire and Vitamins runs up the corridor like a charging ogre. She is hit by several bolts as she goes but she keeps on moving until she snags Potshot, who was trying to scramble across the floor with bolts flying over her head, and lunges back into the engineering room. They crash into a table of coils, which are knocked everywhere. The big orc just lies there while Potshot clambers to her feet unsteadily.

Potshot: "Damn that Shallowlip. He well cursed her, I swear. Guess he's be 'appy he ges his dough."

Astaria: "She's not quite dead yet, chief."

Potshot: "Cun yous fix her?"

Vitamins: "No fixin', chief! Imma orc! No nurses!"

Potshot: "Oi! Ya daft cow! I's da boss! She's gunna patch you up coz I dun wan' ya dead yet, aright!? No buts!"

Vitamins: "Imma give 'em a butt..."

She makes a feeable attempt to pull her pants down again. But she then passes out, so the world doesn't have to see her big green arse cheeks.

Astaria: "You know I'm not a doctor, right?"

Potshot: "More a doc dan any o' us. Jus' do whaddever ya can, 'kay?"

Astaria pulls a sad face that could rival any puppy or kitten. Potshot wants to shoot it.

Astaria: "I'll try..."

Potshot moves down the room's wall, keep her ear to it. When she gets almost to the end of the room she stops. Listens to confirm and then gears up her left gauntlet for another wall-smash. The big cog on the outside clocks faster and faster until the kinetic power is ready to be unleashed. Potshot pummels the wall. There's no steel in this interior wall, just bricks and plaster. Her fist flies through and she is able to grab the closest soldier, much to the man's surprise as he cries out with shock. Before he can turn his gun on her she's pulling him through the hole head first. She gets most of his torso through before he gets stuck, arms at his sides. As he squirms to get free Potshot smirks with the satisfaction of the coming execution. She, quite slowly, raises her gauntlet to the man's face.

These aliens look like humans to Potshot, but she's been told they're not. They have the same beige skin as some humans do. The same drab hair colours. The same pretty, kiddie looks. Most orcs, though not all, are bright green. Potshot is especially green, verging on luminous. Her hair, though, is jet black and very curly, thick and long. While her teeth are in bad shape, she does still have both of her fangs - albeit very small ones that aren't shown when her lips are closed. Only when she smiles wide do they appear, giving her a devilish grin.

Each finger of the gauntlet curls around his face. The gauntlet is double the size of her actual arm, making her look all the more slender and childish in the eyes of most orcs. They, however, know those gauntlets hurt like buggery when their little chief gives them a clout so they keep their traps shut. The mechanisms inside the glove click loudly as each finger moves into position. The man is squirming harder. She holds on as she feels someone on the other side of the wall trying to pull him back. The man then begs her not to do it.

Astaria: "Chief, maybe you should let him live? Show some mercy!"

Potshot snorts.

Soldier: "Please! Please don't!"

Potshot: "Please don't? Ya sure ya wan' dat ta be ya las' words, fella? Ain't so good, ya know? Is no' gunna look good on ya gravestone, issit?"

He squirms more vigorously, crying out. Astaria starts to cry, only she cries tears not screams.

Her fingers move inwards. Potshot does it slow. His screams of anguish make Astaria start blubbering ever more loudly and she covers her ears, almost screaming with horror herself. Potshot feels the skull fracture, that familiar little snap. Then it cracks. Like an eggshell. One crack and the skull splits quite easily after that, her fingers push straight inwards until the screaming stops. There's an eerie silence that follows.

Outside there are still the hot vape-vape sounds of the orc blasters. A long screech of the beam weapon that Shallowlip uses. The jeers of orcs as they watch their enemies run. The sobbing of Astaria. The groaning of Vitamins. Potshot pulls her fingers free of the skull, allowing the body to hang limp and clumsy in the hole. Not a very dignified death, the poor thing. But what human deserves a worthy death anyway?

Potshot licks the blood off of her fingers. She winces. These humans taste a bit weird. Kind of sour. She shrugs and licks more.

Astaria is slowly putting bandages on Vitamins' wounds but still openly weeping, as though she had just watched her own father die. Potshot rolls her eyes then winces again as she finds a piece of skull in her mouth. She works it to her lips and spits it out.

Potshot: "Ew."

Usually a good 'looks like meat's back on the menu boys' line would come in now, but Potshot is smarter than the average orc and she knows the other humans are licking their own wounds and are going to be seeking vengeance for the brutal death of their comrade.

Potshot: "Less ged packin', fellas! Dem blokes is gettin' ready ta strike back an' wes no' gunna give 'em time! Vidamins is gunna stay down 'ere coz she almost bit it back dere."

Shallowlip: "Aww, boss! Yous ain't patchin' her up are yous!?"

Potshot: "Aye, I am! So tough ****. I wan' da big cow alive. You wanna whine abou' it some more, or you ready ta kick some ass?"

The orcs, other than Shallowlip, cheer. There's a lot of rage between them all now, pumped up and ready for battle. That familiar orc bloodlust curdles on the surface of their tempers. They march on down the corridor while Potshot stands in the door of the engineering room and looks at Astaria. Some part of Potshot does finally surface and feeling empathy for the stupid girl.

Potshot: "Oi, soft arse."

Not much though.

Potshot: "Are yous done fixin' that big lug yet?"

Astaria awkwardly gets up, the joints of her suit whirring.

Astaria: "I guess, sort of."

Her voice wobbles.

Astaria: "You... you didn't have to do that."

Potshot rests her massive pistol on her shoulder. The blood on her gloves slides onto the handle of the gun.

Potshot: "Preddy sure we 'ad dis need an' wanna talk jus' before, Ass'ria."

Though Potshot is more than capable of forcing the t sound into her words when needed, she deliberately goes out of her way to avoid it when trying to pronounce Astaria.

Astaria: "Why are you so... mean?"

Potshot: "I ain't mean! I'm nice ta yous, isn't I!?"

Astaria: "... you are?"

Potshot: "Yeah~!! Now c'mon! I feel bedder wid you around coz ya so pretty. Makes me look more ugly. So stop cryin' and follow me, aright?"

Astaria manages to nod as she wipes her eyes.

Potshot: "Y'know I ain't seen so much cryin' since uncle Codswallop 'ad his last baby."

Astaria: "Don't call me a baby."

Potshot: "I'm no'! It woz me uncle dat woz blubberin'! Shoulda seen 'em!"

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