21 Oct 2010

Orktober – The Dust Rats – 4. Silent Cartographers

Filed under: Ere Be Stuff

Here’s the story so far:

1. Landfall

2. Lockdown

3. One Small Step

4. Silent Cartographers

With no other experience to go on the men turned to their archives which held accounts of any number of Xenos races their forefathers had encountered. What they learnt of the Orks chilled them to their bones – these creatures were out there. Just one greenskin would mean a swarm of them, and they were aware of at least a dozen. Work needed to continue but firm discipline was required to maintain order. Resources were diverted to producing weaponry to deal with potential threats, as much of the old weaponry had been in the exposed section of the base for a considerable length of time. Over the following decades there were encounters with the Orks but in the majority of cases they were easy to evade, their defining quality being their lack of subtlety.

Nearly 15 cycles had passed before it was deemed safe outside to begin using vehicles on a regular basis. Up until now, foot patrols had always been used for fear of turning their entire vehicle stock into giant radioactive batteries that would slowly poison everyone on the base. Indeed a marked drop in radiation inconsistent with the decay of normal isotopes had been observed in the years since they had begun sending probes and men out to test the levels. No one however was deeply concerned about something that made their lives that much easier. Finally retiring the base’s stock of hazard suits was a momentous occasion and mapping efforts were redoubled with the speed and evasive ability now afforded to the units; wider areas were mapped in a single day than would have been in a month on foot.

With a handle on the surrounding area and with clear orders to avoid the massive Ork encampment that had sprung up during their self-imposed quarantine, the Dust Rats turned inwards again, looking at the shattered remains of their comms equipment. While the archives had data on many important pieces of information to their survival the specifications required for a communications tower capable of reaching the Imperium without the need for an orbiting ship to relay the communications were steep indeed. The pitiful base transmitter they had cobbled together would need to be more than a thousand times more powerful to even hope of contacting a ship nearing the sector. Not to be defeated however, the commanders set the engineers and scientists to their task. Working from incomplete archives and rediscovering first principles, they began their efforts to determine exactly what was needed for a transmitter that would be able to signal their desperate need for assistance. The conclusion was simple: They needed to salvage as many of the parts scattered across the desert as they could. With the greenskins already building some kind of monolith out of junk in the centre of their town, the commanders of the bases issued the order to prepare for war. If the broken remains of the crashed ship were their only hope, then they would fight with every breath in their bodies until it was theirs.

Building up the settlement and acquiring a steady stream of materials became paramount, which began with the authorisation to deploy the SSV class vehicles, relics left behind from their ancestors wish to dig into the earth. Instead, they would become instruments that would take them to stars once again and free them from this terrible, arid wasteland. At the same time, the salvage operation was divided up across the base. The weapons sheds that would become the armoury took a percentage to make new ammunition and weaponry to replace those lost in raids or damaged through neglect. The engineers began to melt down the metal, forging it into the struts and tower supports that would be needed for their new communications tower. The Science Corps, the descendants of the Paleo-team who hadn’t been sealed into the pyramids during the cataclysm, began to sift for the smaller electronic parts that were often discarded by the greenskins for having no immediately discernable purpose, hacking together crude transmitters and experimenting with signal amplification. Anything spare went to fortifications, building up not only the main base, but also the outposts that saw the most frequent assault by the greenskins.

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