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Foreword:

 

This is probably going to age like milk, but the new(ish) Leagues of Votann faction has caught my imagination, and when the muse hits - well, you know the drill.  This is tagged as proto-canon, since we know very little of what the faction is about so I try to limit it to what we do.  I hope you find it enjoyable.

 

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A Quick Question.

 

 

He'd offered the question when he was granted the audience.  The Lorekeeper had insisted, his thick white beard kept in place with braid locks.

 

"Only the one question.  The mighty Votann of our Kin has a great deal to consider!"

 

Mikal remembered standing before the face, power filling the chamber with electrostatic force, making his own short beard become rigid.  The braid locks were not just for show then.  He felt the great weight of intellect bear down on him, an impression of engrammic brows heavy with abstract thoughts which did not fit mortal understanding, a remoteness of intellect in the chill presence of the icy blasts released from macro-conductors,  cycling the hyper-cool fluid.

 

Even his breath formed ice crystals in the cryptovault, the great bastion of the Votann.

 

He cleared his throat.

 

Mikal...

 

It was just one, quick question.

 

Mikal!

 

"Wha, whu?" Mikal snapped open his eyes, gazing at the stars above a planet he didn't know.  He shuffled his body, feeling the plating of his combat suit grind and shift against something behind him.  Ah yes.  His bike.

 

The bulky hover-machine matched his uniform, rounded plates of hard plasteel and ablative ceramic.  It was odd to see it sitting on the ground, resting on the levitators.  It wasn't as sleek as the bikes of the Aeldari, but nowhere as brutal as those of Orkish buggies.  It was practical, serviceable and importantly, it would function on any of the Hearthworlds, where heavy machines relying on friction would be snared by the hight gravity that produced Kin like he.

 

His boot was knocked again by a solid kick.

 

"Are you with me yet?"

 

The question was different to the one he'd asked, but no less pertinent.  he looked up into the round, hairless face of Oda, her long blond hair tumbling out of her collar and over her combat suit.

 

"What time is it?"  he pulled the long dustcoat from where it lay over him as a blanket, reaching for the Korthshot, the lightweight, multi-purpose weapon common to the Herrkyn Riders.  He checked it over, another machine which would work in any gravity environment.  Antiquated by virtue of the Votann Idiosyncrasy, it kept pace with human or alien weapons by virtue of special munitions.

 

He broke it open and checked the six cylinders, each unspent primer winked at him from the rims of the .60 calibre shells.  Satisfied, he struggled to his feet, shrugging the long leather jacket over his shoulders like a cloak.

 

Oda ignored his question.  "The League of Iron has reported Greenskin activity near Hellfire Pass.  Theyn Raldrik wants us to outflank them.

 

"Hearthkyn afraid of getting shot up are they?" he offered a wry smile.  "Anything else?"

 

"No Mikal, the answer hasn't come," she smiled at him and retired to her own vehicle, beginning the warm-up process.

 

It was the second anniversary of his request to the Mighty Votann.  Plenty of time yet.

 

The varying warble of levitators and aero-turbines lifted the Herrkyn aloft, the throttle almost begging him to release it to cut over the plains ahead as the outriders left the gully providing them with shelter.  The tall tufts of grass sheared and spattered him, spilling chlorophate across his face, as he buzzed across, eyes thankfully protected from the acrid wetness by sturdy goggles.

 

The column of smoke from the Ork patrol was as good as a signal flare.  Three waggons pelted for the pass, the only gap in the Kurpesh foothills, each vehicle transporting a cantankerous mob of the brutish troops.

 

Mikal opened up the engine of his bike with a throaty roar, angling the levitator discs to kick him into a strange catapulting gait which threatened to pitch the bike over, but the gravity here was nowhere near as punishing as home, so he rammed the machine forward, into the fray.

 

He levelled his Korthshot, over the handlebars, tactical relays aligning the weapon and autosense to compensate for the jink and bob of the bike now the terrain had roughened.  He sighted a pugnacious wretch manning the Big Shoota atop the waggon, and boom the noise rolled over and past him, purple-red gore erupting from the neck of the beast, the oversized skull and piggy red eyes locked in a look of wonderment as it bounced over the carapace of Mikal's bike.

 

He heard Oda laughing as she bombed past him, putting a thunderous shot into the engine block of the second wagon, watching a torrent of oil and greasy slime cover the driver.  He slewed the vehicle towards Oda, but the Herrkyn was faster, sawing back on her reins and lifting up and over the ramshackle machine.  The latter found a ditch, and slammed into the earth with a crunch, spilling brawny Orks everywhere in meaty confetti.

 

Mikal zoomed past, tossing a handful of krak grenades into the bunch.  Their howls and bawdy bawling dwindled as the Riders sped on.

 

Between them, Oda and Mikal pulled up to the second vehicle, the female rider angling for a double strike.  Mikal closed with the waggon, Oda firing rapidly to cover him and he slung the grapnel, a clang-clunk announcing it had purchase.  He heaved back, savagely wrenching the handlebars, and the solid adamantine claw bit hard into the front fender of the wagon, but the vehicle was too heavy and the Ork driver too keen for a shunt, as he laughed and cackled, the shootas and sluggas of the boyz inside now beginning to thump and careen around him, rattling his body with every strike against his combat suit.

 

"Oda!"

 

She gunned in, snagging the line between him and the waggon with a tow hook, and both bikes heaved together, ripping the front axle away from the left side of the clumsy vehicle in a shear of protesting metal.  Mikal cut the line, just as it twanged taut, and the whipcrack snapped back at the Ork driver, making him recoil as his vehicle ploughed a rut into the earth before tipping over, almost in slow motion, and beginning a long bounce and tumble as it toppled end over end in a crumpling, mangled mass.

 

A fireball blossomed into the air with the crackle of cooking off munitions.

 

"One to go!" Oda called over the comms line.

 

"No, peel off!"

 

"What?"

 

"Peel, Oda, now!"

 

Sigils of the League of Iron painted green across his visor and a moment later, brilliant yellow and red hornets painted a pattern all over the Ork waggon as the weapons of E-13B, CMC-17 and OCR-13 spoke.

 

Cannon fire, las and plasma weapons cut in, reducing the trukk to molten slag, still grazing along the land as a sloughing bullet, until it crashed harmlessly into the mouth of Hellfire Pass, effectively blocking it.

 

The remaining Ork tumbled out, brawling and shooting, but the Hearthkyn and their Theyn responded, raining death on the bestial foes with their Boltshots.

 

Oda slowed to a crawl, allowing Mikal to catch up.  He holstered his gun as they made formation, a sedate promenade describing a wide arc to keep them clear of gunfire.  She had her finger to her ear, receiving a comms transmission.

 

"Mikal?  The Votann has answered," her blue eyes were wide with awe.  "You are called."

 

It meant another trip to the Hearthworld, to get his answer in person, the pilgrimage was traditional.

 

He grinned, meeting her gaze.  "Oda...I have a quick question for you..."

 

She revved the throttle and her blonde plait loosed out behind her head in a golden rope.  "You'll have to catch me!"

 

He grinned as she whooped and flew away.

Some answers were worth waiting for.

Edited by Mazer Rackham
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