A few years ago I wrote a pitch for a Warhammer 40000 anthology called “Fear the Alien”. In case you don’t know, Warhammer 40000 is a huge SF franchise that has grown around a tabletop wargame set in a distant future. A universe where humans, elves, orcs and other races were fighting a never ending war with super technology rather than magic, although this scenario was equally fantastical. I must admit I was not a player or collector of the series, nor had a read any of the earlier books. However it was an open submission window, and after doing some research on various Warhammer fan sites I felt confident enough to pitch my idea and included the sample below. The story was about an orc engineer who fancied himself a filmmaker and who was trying to make a propaganda video.
I think you can guess that I never heard back from the publishers Games Workshop. However recently I came across the sample again and not only still liked it, but I performed it at local open mic evening in Bolton called Georges to a good response. So I thought I would share it here:
A shell exploded above them, illuminating the trooper’s furrowed brows in orange light. He gaped at the foreign looking object in BlastGud’s hands.
“Wot kinda gun izzat?” he asked, his yellow eyes flicking between the Lookbox and his own shoota. His weapon had a huge front barrel leading back into a lump of crudely welded together powerpacks, with a metal frame wrapped in leather strips making up the butt. Before the Mek could answer, the soldier’s eyes had glazed over. BlastGud’s gun was lighter, obviously less powerful that his own and not worth haggling for.
BlastGud raised the Lookbox to his eye. “Iz not gun. Iz Lookbox. New mech.” His thumb pressed the red button. The top of the troopers head was blurringly framed in the viewfinder. BlastGud frowned and squeezed the button until the picture was sharp. Now he had a perfect view of the soldier’s disappearing back. He lumbered forward to keep pace with the ShootaBoyz, who ignored him.
“Can memorise wot you can see. See it again,” he explained. He did a quick pan of the mountain ridge ahead of them, catching two more colourful shell bursts. Then stopped the LookBox and presented the viewer to the trooper.
The orc scowled but nevertheless looked into the viewer. He glanced up and glared at BlastGud, confused for a moment. Then he looked at the mountain range and shrugged.
“See better with mi eyes. Your mech is garbage!” he advised.
BlastGud’s explanation was cut off by a horn blast. Immediately the ShootaBoyz were jostling with each other to find a space on the ridge that looked down into the valley. The signal meant the humans had been spotted entering their patch and everyone wanted to be first to get a shot in. BlastGud raised his Lookbox, drooling a little in excitement. This was what he had come for – combat. Seeing the glorious Boyz in action. Best fighters in the clan, thanks to his shootas.
“There dey are!” shouted Fista, waving his blaster-harpoon kombi. Through the viewfinder, BlastGud zoomed in on a column of marines, cautiously clambering over a rockfall to the far east. One of them seemed to look straight at him.
“WAAAGH! Let ’em ‘ave it!” cried Fista. The air was alive with radioactive beams and streams of hot metal as the Orks poured death into the valley. The clacking, barking, roaring sound of the shootas was wonderfully painful in BlastGud’s ears and he considered adding some kind of mechanism to Lookbox to make it work louder. People would really know he was working then. It would make the film better too. The ground around the humans exploded into a dust cloud. A few shots came out of the brown mist but none reached the ridge.
After two minutes of this Fista howled to them to stop firing. A few minutes later, they did. They peered into the dust as it cleared. To their joy several burnt human bodies were revealed, sprawled on the ground. The Boyz roared in approval. Fista was the first over the ridge, greedy to scavenge the human weapons for himself. BlastGud followed him as he lolloped down the slope. A shadow moved behind the rockpile beyond. Fista’s comrades got one cry of warning out before a column of angry red plasma struck out from a human trooper’s rifle, hitting Fista square in the neck. Instinctively, BlastGud followed the arc of Fista’s severed head as it flew backwards over the ridge and landed with a metallic thump on the rock. He filmed it as it lay there smouldering, wondering if this moment counted as a funny or a feel bad.