Grishnak did not understand why the meeting with the stranger had even been considered. Better to tear him limb from limb. Better still to grind him to pulp and let that be their message. But Harak was in charge and the rest of the council were too spineless to do anything about it. So Grishnak wore obedience like a veil and followed.
The stranger stood next to its sky ship. Grishnak would not have believed the strange black oblong could fly had he not see it descend from the heavens with his own eyes. It was an odd creature. It looked in body like one of the weak, pink fleshy things from the south. Ooomans Grihsnak’s people called them. They bred like a plague but were mercifully short work for his axe.
This one was smooth though, like all its features had been rounded off, and seemingly made from the same strange black material as its ship. It was unarmed and Grishnak snorted in amusement.
Harak stopped before it, resplendent in his war-gear. He beat a thick, green arm against his chest-plate.
‘I am Harak. We are the Great Northern Oruk. Who stands before me?’
The creature tilted its head slowly like a bird. It showed no signs of fear and Grishnak felt a disquiet that was rare to him.
‘Surrender,’ it said simply in perfect Haikian.
Harak looked amongst the other four members of the council with a smile rending his scarred face.
‘You threaten me? Empty handed?’ Harak spat at its feet.
‘If you surrender one-hundredth shall be permitted to survive. The Controller is not without concept of benevolence. If you do not you will all die.’
Harak laughed openly now and hefted his greatsword.
‘You are outnumbered,’ Harak replied. ‘The Oruk never surrender.’
The creature said no more. Before Harak had even begun to raise his sword it began to fall apart before his eyes. Like sand suddenly free of some hidden barrier it dispersed and swirled in the breeze, becoming a vapour, a shimmer and then nothing.
‘Wha…’ Harak begun before he began to choke.
The assembled Oruk stepped back as Harak collapsed to his knees. Inside him hundreds of thousands of tiny nanobots began to liquefy his internal organs. One by one the Oruk spluttered and collapsed as their tiny assailants inflicted their microscopic carnage.
The Elder gripped his son by the shoulders. One hundredth of their number was a steep price to pay. There had been those amongst them that would have fought but he had counselled against it.
‘I will not see another dawn,’ he could only whisper such were the weight of the words.
‘But at least for some of us there will be one,’ his son replied.
Above them the black ships of the strangers were descending as far as the eye could see.
This one was inspired by the fact I am currently playing a computer game that features orks or orcs (or your own spelling). I realised about half way through that it probably also owes a considerable debt to years of reading ‘Future Shocks’ in the comic 2000ad, as the twist at the end is very much in that vein. If it were a comic would I include an image at the end that suggests that the planet in question is Earth? And humanity is the remnants of a extra-terrestrial nanobot induced genocide? (I think the answer is yes!) AM.