Blood and Thunder (Graphic Novel)
|Author||Dan Abnett and Ian Edginton|
Blood and Thunder
The 96th regiment of the Tallarn Desert Raiders is sent to the Forge World of Demaris Tertiary to reinforce the Imperials defending from a massive Ork Waaagh!. From the side of the Orks, a talkative Gretchin explains the "tactical situation" to the Ork Boy whose shoulders he is riding on: the Warboss, Gorgutz, has ordered his three Nobz to storm the Imperials' Hive City, promising execution to the last of them through the breach.
From a high balcony, Colonel Izraell Honor Castillian is watching the battle, remaining calm despite the worsening odds. Looking over the ridge line, he is horrified to see more Orks coming, carrying the severed heads of their anticipated reinforcements, and driving their looted armoured vehicles. The vehicles loose a massive artillery barrage, and Castillian's aide pushes him down a sewage pipe just before the tower is obliterated.
Skyva, one of the Nobz, is upset to see that the other two made it through the breach before him. As he looks around desperately for something to placate Gorgutz, Castillian tumbles out of a drain, covered with effluent from head to foot. Skyva mistakes the slime-encrusted human for some exotic variety of Snotling, termed a "Lanky Grot," and decides to present it to Gorgutz, who collects Squigs and other animals as pets.
As he is dragged in a cage out of the city, Castillian grabs a dropped plasma pistol and fires it, killing the other two Nobz, but the weapon shorts out before he can shoot Skyva. Gorgutz appears and, believing that Skyva "topped" his two competitors, laughs and promotes the Nob to leadership of all three warbands. Gorgutz doesn't like the stink of the "Snotling" in the cage, so tells Skva to keep it with him as a good luck charm.
Months into his captivity with the Orks, Castillian watches as Gorgutz assigns Skyva a mission: to take out a former Nob, Grimbadd, who broke away from Gorgutz' band and "nicked" Gorgutz' prize Gargant.
Skyva has increased in stature to reflect his heightened status within the Ork hierarchy, but the same cannot be said of his intelligence. The closest thing he has to a "plan" for finding Grimbadd is driving his Boyz pell-mell across the desert in Buggys, where they are quickly annihilated by Grimbadd's artillery. Skyva and his "Lanky Grot" are taken prisoner by Grimbadd. Skyva tries to buy time by offering to defect to Grimbadd's band. While no one notices him, Castillian picks the lock of his cage and slips into the Gargant's innards. He detonates some scrounged grenades, and explosions rock the Gargant, killing Grimbadd but not enough to destroy the Gargant. Grimbadd's band find Skyva and declare him their new boss.
In his camp, Gorgutz is surprised to see his Gargant stomping back to him, with Skyva at the helm. Grimly, he concludes that the uppity Nob is becoming more of a threat to him by the day.
Castillian watches helplessly from his cage as Skyva pilots the Gargant in an assault on an Imperial fortress. Skyva's Gretchin adjutant, Gorm, finds it suspicious that Gorgutz has deployed them so far ahead, while Gorgutz himself is hanging back. Skyva sees it as an honour to be out in front, and isn't expecting the ferocious counterattack from armoured units of the Armageddon Steel Legion. When a team of Guardsmen blast a hole in the Gargant's side and board it, Castillian escapes his cage in the confusion.
Castillian meets with the Armageddon Guardsmen and identifies himself, but before they can go further, they are attacked by Orks, since Skyva is desperate to reclaim his "good luck charm." The Guardsmen are cut down, but Castillian trips the timer on their demolition charges before he is dragged away. The Gargant is destroyed in a tremendous explosion, and its head flies off landing with a very fatal crunch on Gorgutz's command roost.
Skvya and Gorm pick their way out of the Gargant's wreckage, carrying Castillian. Skvya is about to run, but is surprised when the warband hails him as the new Warboss.
Skvya, having grown to truly gargantuan proportions, declares Waaagh! on the nearest Imperial systems. But in the months of his captivity, and working in secret, Castillian scrounges parts from the junk littering Skyva's headquarters, and fashions a transmitter with an Imperial code. Just as he activates it, Gorm discovers him, but Castillian kills the Gretchin before he can run back to the Warboss.
Castillian's transmitter allows the Imperial forces to set a perfect trap (aided in no small part by Skyva's blind stupidity). After luring the Orks into a fire sack with a staged retreat, the Imperials unleash their hidden strength: airborne bombers, hidden armour, mounted Tallarn Guardsmen, and even several squads of White Scars on Space Marine Bikes, with Dreadnoughts.
Skyva watches helplessly as his forces are massacred. In desperation he grabs his "Lanky Grot" out of its cage and tells it to "be lucky" and "sort dis out!" Castillian stabs the Warboss in the eye with a hidden shiv, shouting out in High Gothic. Enraged, Skyva prepares to kill this "humie," but one of his disgusted Nobz chops off the incompetent Warboss's head and drop-kicks it over the parapet. The new Warboss declares he has no use for "lucky grots" or humans, and is about to kill Castillian, when he is shredded by fire from an incoming Valkyrie that lands on the platform. Castillian is greeted by a squad of Tallarns, who promise to get him home. Castillian declines, saying he has no home, except one…
A short time later, Castillian – cleaned, dressed, and re-armed – charges into battle alongside the White Scars, slaughtering the Orks with righteous fury. He concludes his account of his adventure by declaring that the Imperium's goal must be nothing less than the extermination of the whole Ork race, for they would surely do the same to humanity given the opportunity.
A farmer on a backwards Agri World recalls the invasion of their world by Orks, and recalls the cold fear he felt at the "Angels" - the Black Templars - sent to scour the xenos. As much as he fears the Orks' return, he fears the Angels' return even more.
A Black Templar lies mortally wounded on a battlefield, left behind by his brothers. He prays to the Emperor, pleading for an honourable burial among the Chapter's heroes, whom he has fought every bit as bravely as. In the final moments of his life, he suffers the indignity of having his body carried away by scavengers, asking why he has been abandoned.
Death from Above
The Black Templars launch an audacious Drop Pod assault on a Chaos fortress, their only hope of victory lying with a single squad getting through the fortress defenses and shutting down the void shields. The assault succeeds, though only one of the squad - Brother Gerhart - survives.