Chapter 2: Hitting under the belt.

As the gathering Imperial generals, Hostfede included, and their aides gaped at the sight of Lady Lalenael of House Falconus, it was Lord Militant Francis Drake who broke the awkwardness with a preemptive shrike by means of an unexpectedly stern accusation.

"I must say, for a house that had stood since before the Age of the Imperium, I am disappointed by your handling of this planet so far," he proclaimed.

"And what makes you come to such a conclusion?" Lady Lalenael challenged, her face twisting into a scowl. While her voice was melodic, it carried bitterness like honey mixed with medicine.

"You have allowed the xenos infestation to reach a critical level," Lord Drake pressed. "The Orks menace has gone unchecked by the time we arrived. A quarter of the planet lies in their hands. Furthermore, we have received words from the locals that they have been sending calls for help for at least a century or so."

"And your point is?" Lady Lalenael demanded. Since she was, after all, an Eldar, Hostfede wondered how much the lives of her human subjects actually meant to her. Despite being the only human in Warboss Bigstompa's court, Hostfede certainly wasn't discriminated against even if he did catch the occasional unfavorable gazes from the Nobz. His towering master would smash the skull of anyone who challenged his post as the highest-ranking personal advisor. Now, as a human leader of an Astra Militarum-registered regiment otherwise consisting entirely of Ork, he was keen on treating Orks equally.

"Your negligence has caused much suffering to your people," Lord Drake continued.

Lady Lalenael frowned. "My people, not yours. Therefore, it is our duty to ensure their protection. Your assistance is appreciated, but be aware of who gets the final say in this. As far as I am concerned, ancient pacts between our House and the Imperium lends us significant autonomy in ruling our realm."

Lord Drake shook his head, smiling. From his experience serving under the Lord Militant, Hostfede knew he was about to deliver a diplomatic attack akin to ramming a chainaxe to the face of his opponent. "It seems you are mistaken," he said. "Autonomy doesn't mean independence. These people here are still the Holy Emperor's subjects, and so are you. What the Imperium gives you, we can also take it back. Though I speak only on behalf of the Astra Militarum contingent, it is ultimately my reports to the Administratum that will decide whether you are fit to continue ruling it, and so far, my impressions aren't so good."

"You wouldn't dare," Lady Lalenael hissed. Her bodyguard tensed at Lord Drake's comment, looking as if preparing to draw their weapons to cut down the man who just insulted his mistress and threatened to take away the land he thought rightfully belonged to the House he served.

"Then give us a reason not to," said Lord Drake. "It is not too late. Your chance of redemption remains, and I will be the judge of that. Depending on your performance in the upcoming campaign, I will evaluate whether you are fit to keep this plant, and submit my report to Segmentum Command."

"This is an outrage!" Lalanael's bodyguard chimed in with indignation. "Who do you think you are coming to our world and talking down on us? House Falconus has ruled this world for over fifteen millennia, our glories dating back to before the Great Crusade and the Imperium. And we will continue to rule with or without your permission. No one but the Emperor himself can decide that."

"Enough," Lady Lalanael hushed him. The Knight Baronness looked as if she had just swallowed a lemon. While her fingers were clenched, her pointy ears began to fidget, a rather humorous feature that distinguished her race from mankind. "Very well. I assure you will find none of the complacency and introversion that plagued my predecessors within me. Our House has been on the decline for quite some time, but I am here to reverse that, starting by ridding the realm of Orkish filth that has taken hold when we were not looking. You shall not find our spirit nor our skills lacking in the upcoming battles."

"Good to hear," said General Haller. The fellow wasn't about to depart the meeting without uttering a single word.

"Speaking of Orkish filth," Lady Lalenael continued, gesturing at Kommissar Lorek looming behind Hostfede. "What is this one doing in the meeting room? Can we purge it?"

"That wouldn't be necessary," Hostfede replied. "This one is with me. And let me tell you, he's quite a reliable fellow. His purgation would be a great loss to my regiment and the Imperium." Normally, the simple-minded Orks could only be counted on to behave loyally through the display of strength or the availability of numbers. When neither was present, such as the majority of a mob or its Nob leader getting killed in battle, the Orks were prone to panic attacks. Under the circumstance, the third layer of enforcement was required, and that was where the rank of Kommissar came in.

"Ya Eldar think yeself so clean?" Lorek chuckled. His deep voice seemed disconcerting to Lady Lalenael's bodyguard who appeared to be sweating under his armor and placing his twitchy fingers on the hilt of his power sword. The Knight Baroness herself didn't seem to mind.

"I see," Lady Lalenael nodded. Her bodyguard expressed further discomfort at sharing the room with an Ork but didn't risk displeasing his mistress again. "So it was you who commanded those Orks back then. Perhaps I should apologize for blowing hundreds of them to smithereens. I didn't know they were on our side."

"Apology is accepted," said Hostfede briskly. "Just... don't do that again." While he was determined not to discriminate Orks from humans, Hostfede was fully aware of the precarious position his regiment was in thanks to the Munitorum which not only prevented their reproduction through spore but also limit them to missions with the highest attrition rate. The Orks, being Orks, didn't mind too much about this. They were interested in fighting and getting rich - never had topics like the survival and proliferation of their race ever crossed their minds.

Lady Lalenael smiled. "I will keep that in mind then. But also, stay out of our way."

The Emperor's Greenest would take part in three engagements in the coming week while carefully trying to avoid making contact with the Imperial Knights of House Falconus.

The first engagement took place in an open field where a horse of fifty thousand feral Orks charged their Imperial-aligned kin. Hostfede ordered the entire regiment to hold back and let the guns speak. The battle was a one-sided massacre, a shooting gallery like what the Astra Militarum would normally pull off against melee-focused opponents. Within five hours of the battle, the feral Orks had been routed with seventy-percent casualties. At this point, where the Astra Militarum would return to fortify their positions, the Emperor's Greenest surged forward. They pursued with vigor after being denied melee for so long. The remaining feral Orks were either killed or conscripted. Hostfede lost only four-hundred seventy-two Boyz during the fight, which the newly recruited more than made up the number. More concerning, however, was the fact one-hundred and five killed by Lorek for attempting to break formation and charge before the order was given. Needless to say, the reserved tactic didn't impress many Nobz, especially those previously from Goff Clan, but was well-received among the shooting elements of the regiment.

The second engagement was a success thanks to the skills of a squad of Kommandoz led by a Nob who referred to himself as Red Skorpion - how much this name had to do with the Space Marine Chapter Red Scorpion wasn't clear. With the purge campaign by the Astra Militarum and Imperial Knights underway, many Orks had fled their habitat and into large settlements where numerous clans would hobble together. Red Skorpion and his Boyz infiltrated the settlement disguised as fellow feral Orks. They then systematically assassinated high-ranking Warchiefs and sabotaged vital infrastructures such as clan banners and food storage, sowing confusion and unrest wherever they went. As the entire settlement erupted into squabbling, Red Skorpion's mob made their escape. By the time the bulk of the Emperor's Greenest arrived, the only thing left to do was clean up. Hostfede slipped his tea while he watched his regiment descending on the hapless foe like a green tsunami. Though losses were light for the Emperor's Greenest on that day, there were no new recruits, every Ork in the settlement mercilessly butchered to satisfy the regiment's dark lust for bloodshed. Once again, the decision by Hostfede drew mixed responses. The Nobz who thought the first battle was too uneventful praised their Boss for letting them loose, while the Runtmasters in charge of keeping the regiment strength a healthy level were in disapproval.

The third battle saw the Emperor's Greenest taking serious casualties for the first time since the Knight ambush. So far, they had only been expecting a backward and technologically inept foe (even by the standards of their kind). The other Astra Militarum units were thinking the same as they were drunk on victories. Both were caught unprepared when the Ork enemy launched a massive mechanized counterassault that involved thousands of ramshackle vehicles and walkers ranging from simple Warbuggies to giant Battlefortresses.

The Imperial line was pressed hard and many sections were in full retreat. To provide cover for them, the Emperor's Greenest had been called in to withstand huge assaults. Whereas many Astra Militarum regiments considered such duty highly undesirable and could only be motivated at the gunpoint of their Commissars, Hostfede was pleased to see his Imperial Orks met the challenge head-on, many eagerly so. The idea of pulling back without even fighting the enemy first didn't sit well with them.

For three days, the Emperor's Greenest fought back dozens of raids and all-out assaults, with Hostfede finding himself in direct combat no fewer than five times. Two of the five times he was able to stay at the back sniping the foe, the remainder he had to be in the thick of it lest the regiment's entire position be overrun. Not all fights were of defensive nature, however, as teams of Kommandoz slipped through the advancing enemies, striking at supply bases and carrying out ambushes whenever they could. Still, the weight of the assault did not lessen. The fighting was very hard and intense with savage Orks on both sides giving their best to kill as many as possible before dying a satisfying death. With no supply or reinforcement coming during this time, Hostfede ordered the thorough looting of combatants and war machines, friends and foes alike, following each battle, and the Runtmasters to work harder to increase recruit intakes to replenish the rapidly diminishing ranks.

The Emperor's Greenest still had the upper hand when it came to tactics and equipment, but the enemy made up for that with vastly more bodies. Though the booby traps Hostfede ordered to lay out proved brutally effective, they were all but spent by the end of the first day in the face of the ferocity and rapidity of the attacks that was unheard of among the uncoordinated feral Ork tribes. Additionally, where previous hordes consisted almost entirely of poorly-dressed aliens wielding only knives and axes, the enemy infantry now had extensive access to range weapons and heavy armors, and they bore far more detailed banners. All of these could mean one thing: a Waaaagh! had fallen upon Borasis and absorbed the locals Orks. This unholy union, the weapons and war expertise of spacefaring Orks and the numbers of their feral kin, was a powerful one.

Almost as powerful as Ork savagery and physical strength and Astra Militarum tactics.

As the sun rose on the fourth day, other Imperial forces arrived to relieve the Emperor's Greenest. Lord General Jackson Haller and his Alexian armors cut a wedge through the Greenkins who were too occupied with attacking their Imperial counterpart position. Split into smaller groups, the attacking Orks suffered a catastrophic morale loss and were easily routed. Instead of pursuing the fleeing foe, however, Hostfede ordered his troops to withdraw after hearing the Knights were also underway. After the incident on the first day, he had learned to keep an eye out for these pretentious and glory-hungry nobles.

"I can't say I am not impressed," said Lord General Haller, overlooking the field where tens of thousands of Orks laid dead. The battle was beginning to die down as the Alexian 9th eliminated the last pocket resistance while dealing as much damage as they could to fleeing enemy elements. "You and your men did a fine job here, holding your ground in the face of such odds. Most others would have fled by now."

"They are Orks," said Hostfede. He remained behind to discuss with allied forces while Kommissar Lorak "They relish combat. Don't bother telling them the odds. They won't understand."

"They have many qualities the Minitorum would find useful," Haller continued. "They were resourceful and resilient, and they can make do with what they pillage from battles. Do you think this is the beginning of a new history of a more inclusive and diverse Astra Militarum?"

Hostfede pondered. He had heard of regiments consisting of Abhumans and even Beastmen. They were rare for now, but with the Imperium under so much pressure from alien and Chaos threats, it would have to use whatever it could get its hand on. The Emperor's Greenest, in a way, was merely the continuation of millennia of somewhat cordial relationships between the Imperium and the Bloody Axes clan. With the Bloody Axes branded as turncoats by their fellow Orks, they had become more dependent on the Imperium, and that made the relationships even more mutual.

"It's certainly a good start," Hostfede replied. "But I think it will take much more to overcome the millennia of hatred and intolerance." The Orks were more responsible for this due to their brutal and Waaaaagh!-like nature, but the Imperium had been exterminating them since the Great Crusade.

"Commander Edward von Hostfede," came a booming mechanical voice that was still unmistakably feminine and alien. Hostfede and Haller looked up to see the Knight of Baroness Lalenael looming over them. "Your performance is admirable. I must say, I have underestimated the competence of you and your greenish underlings."

At this point, Haller looked frightened and was sweating profusely, much to Hostfede's surprise. The giant Imperial Knight was an imposing sight indeed, but Lady Lalenael was on their side and surely meant no harm to either of them.

"I, uh, just received a call from Colonel Jarek," Haller stammered. "An Ork Warboss has been spotted in the vicinity. He is, eh, rallying the fleeing enemy and causing trouble to my men. I would love to hang around, but my duty to the Emperor dictates that I must take to the frontline."

"What do you mean?" Hostfede asked, frowning.

"The Emperor protects," Haller said and stormed off. Hostfede wasn't sure what to make of that. One of hand, if an enemy Warboss was in the vicinity, then he would love to offer some help. But he knew Haller was probably making it up - the Lord General was a terrible liar. Which begged the question: Why was he in such a hurry to get away from Lady Lalenael?

"Aww, such a boring man," Lady Lalenael mused. Hostfede wasn't comfortable in this position. While the xenos piloting the massive Imperial Knight could not be seen, he could feel a pair of eyes watching his actions and behaviors as meticulously as members of the Adeptus Mechanicus examining a piece of technology they had never seen before.

"I beg to differ," Hostfede countered. "Lord General Haller was first to the fray this morning. His charge was responsible for breaking the Orks. Without him and his men, we wouldn't be having this conversation as the battle would still have been waged at its fullest."

"I have no doubt regarding his competence nor his loyalty," Lady Lalenael replied. "I am talking about a little discussion we had the other day. His input was... unimpressive to say the least."

"I see," said Hostfede, wondering what kind of 'discussion' that led to Haller being so frightened at the sight of Lady Lalenael. Haller was a tough soldier. Hostfede couldn't imagine what kind of argument put up by this xenos that shot him down so badly.

"Maybe you are different," Lady Lalenael continued. "I will arrange a meeting for us. Meet me at my quarter at twenty-seven hundred. When you arrive at House Falconus base, my men will direct you."

"With your due respect, I must refuse," said Hostfede. "For three days, my regiment has endured harsh pounding from the Greenskins. Our casualties are high, but we have also been able to fill in our ranks with additional recruits. A lot of reorganizations are required, and I need to be there to direct and supervise them before the next battle."

"I understand your concern," said Lady Lalenael. "The fighting had been hard and brutal, and all of our men are tired. For this, Lord Militant Drake has already declared that all units are to stand down and rest to restore morale. Meanwhile, commanders like you and I are to reassess the Orkish threat in light of recent developments."

"If you have something to share, please do it at formal meetings," said Hostfede. "I am not open to private discussions with you."

"Well, then, consider it a relationship-building exercise," said Lady Lalenael. "We got on the wrong foot on the first day, and I fully intend to make it up for your regiment. I know that your forces have been avoiding House Falconus so far. That will avail neither of us in the long run. I would like to hold a meeting between the two of us where we can discuss how to best coordinate our forces without resulting in another friendly-fire incident. What do you say?"

"Should we involve other generals as well?" asked Hostfede. If she was sincere, then this was a positive development. Running away from the Imperial Knights all the time was not a strategy he would have favored if not for the safety of his boyz. But knowing this was an Eldar he was talking with, there was no way she didn't have any ulterior motive.

"No, just the two of us," Lady Lalenael insisted. "I want your input only."

Hostfede delegated the jobs to the Nobz he trusted.

Kommissar Lorek would oversee the entire reorganization process. With the exception of Hostfede himself, Lorek was the figure most feared and respected among the regiment. Hostfede repeated no fewer than five times that he expected as few summary executions when he was gone as possible. The regiment had already taken a beating as it was.

First thing first, Painboss Wakamba was ordered to get the wounded back into shape. The Orks possessed remarkable regenerative capability and even grievous wounds to a human could be recuperated within days. But they needed their limbs and organs to be in the right place for that to happen effectively, and the Painboyz were there to ensure that. Prosthetics for irrecoverable parts weren't a problem. The Meks had plenty of them in their stores and a large number of dead Orks around would provide a constant supply of body pieces to replace lost ones. Hostfede told Lorek to keep an eye on the Painboyz to undercover the truth regarding the rumor they were putting Squig brains into Ork heads, which had some members of the regiment frightened and uncooperative. Regardless, with the regiment required to take part in another battle soon, any Ork with crippling wounds refusing to see the Painboyz could be executed on the spot by a Kommissar.

Mek Boss Yazz was responsible for performing repairs on existing vehicles while incorporating as many from the enemy as possible. If said vehicles were beyond repairs, then they should be dismantled for scraps. The battle had exhausted an estimated fifty percent of the regiment's vehicles, but Yazz expected to increase said number before the war was over. Hostfede asked for a shorter term and he gave the figure of around two-thirds of the original numbers before the next battle. The Mekaniacs were a highly resourceful bunch, if not extremely inconsistent. After several detrimental incidents involving the use of Necron technology taken from Dorian 7th, Hostfede had banned most of them from use. As always, the decision's reception was mixed. The majority of Boyz and Nobz agreed with not dying to stupid accidents, but the Mekaniacs protested, resulting in several summary executions. For this reason, Lorek assigned several Kommissars to watch over them. If somebody was making a vortex device that could suck the entire regiment, and a chunk of this planet, into the Warp, they should be *BLAM* immediately.

To ensure the surrounding area was secure while the reorganization was going on, the Nob Urukk was assigned to scout the area with two Kommando mobs. It was a choice between the old reliable Nob who was part of his inner council or the rising star Red Skorpion who had distinguished himself so far in this campaign. In the end, Hostfede decided to go with familiarity.

The job of grouping new recruits and survivors of decimated units into new mobs and companies would fall upon Big Nob Ironskin, a veteran who had fought for and against the Imperium across many warzones in the past. Unlike Lorek who commanded fear and respect, Ironskin was popular with his boyz and possessed an understanding of how a Waaagh! could be structured. His training with the Astra Militarum also turned him into a competent leader who could analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the boyz under his command, rather than just throwing the lot of them into the enemy heedless of their potentials.

Finally, Hostfede talked to Kash Constantin (yep, that was his name!) who was in charge of the Runtmaster, and, thankfully, the conversation was short. He and his lot already knew their things better than what Hostfede could give in advice. Kash promised the Emperor's Greenest would restore up to three-quarters of the losses they suffered. Hostfede understood he should have talked to him before Ironskin, but something about these Runtmasters disturbed him. When the Imperium started recruiting Orks, the Ecclesiarches wasted no time spreading the Imperial Creed to them, just as they had to the Beastmen that came before. The Runtmaster were evolved from Runtherds and were practically the equivalent of Imperial Priests. They worshipped the Emperor in a crude manner and paid tributes by giving Him the heads of fallen foes. Their role was to induct new Orks into the regiment, preach the ways of the Imperium, and sprayed chemicals to ensure that all intakes were thoroughly sterilized. Unlike Imperial Priests, the Runtmasters were of little use in combat. The Imperial litanies used to rouse bravery among the Astra Militarum were meaningless to Orks, not that they required a lot of external motivation to fight in the first place.

But the most unsettling thing about them was the way they talked. "It will be done, Boss," said Kash. He spoke Low Gothic almost perfectly, despite retaining the guttural tone inherent to all Orks. There were rumors that Abhumans and even psykers were becoming more complicated and numerous that they could be on track to replace baseline humans as the apex gene-line of the human race. Hostfede wondered if there were enough Orks adopting the Imperial Creed, how long would it take before one made to to the rank of Warmaster or, God Emperor forbade, High Lord of Terra.

After assigning all the important duties, Hostfede sighed and headed out to House Falconus temporary base of operation at a requisitioned five-star resort in the mountains.

As Hostfede arrived, the guards immediately pointed him to the room where Lady Lalenael was staying. With Kommissar Lorek busy with regimental works, Big Nob Azzben, Hostfede's personal bodyguard in combat, accompanied him this time. While Hostfede didn't like him as much as Grakk at first due to his low intelligence, the simpleton fought well under his command and was utterly loyal to him. Azzben also got on with the Alexian at some point. He was a disgustingly good card player and had won Hostfede a nice bottle of Inquisition-sanctioned wine which he still kept in his locker. When asked how he was able to maintain his win streak, Azzben attributed it to luck.

The fact nobody was bothered by the appearance of an Ork, even though this was the first time Hostfede and Azzben had gotten so close to House Falconus without their Knights, made Hostfede wondered how persuasive Lady Lalenael was. In fact, from what he had seen, the troops and nobles of House Falconus seemed to worship her as if she were an Imperial Saint or something. All the more unnerving.

Alas, only Hostfede was allowed to enter the villa that housed Lady Lalenael and Azzben had to wait outside.

As soon as he entered, Hostfede was hit with a fragrant aroma that lightened his heart and seemed to be soothing to his mind. Against himself, he inhaled deeper, taking in the scent and, for the first time in weeks, enjoyed the nicety of what life had to offer.

Lady Lalenael was lying on a large bed at the center of the room. She sat up when Hostfede approached. Given the situation, Hostdede couldn't be bothered with the formality.

"Nice place," he commented.

"Only the best for the queen," said Lady Lalenael. The Imperium recognized her as a Baroness, the highest title given to any person from House Falconus. However, she was far more powerful than most Imperial Knight Barons due to the number of worlds that her house essentially ruled. The local populace treated the Imperial Knights as their rulers, thus the title of 'queen' was not undeserved.

"Let's get on to business, shall we?" Hostfede got to the point by restating the reason for this meeting. Coordination between the Emperor's Greenest and the Imperial Knights were imperative now that the enemy had turned out to be far more powerful than initially anticipated.

"Alright," Lady Lalenael agreed. She sat up at the edge of her bed with her legs crossed while Hostfede took a chair facing right in front of her.

The discussion lasted for an hour. Hostfede felt like a child being schooled again as any point he made was carefully scrutinized by Lady Lalenael. She was far older and knowledgeable about the geography of this world than Hostfede was. Occasionally, she would agree and praise him, while in other cases she would explain in detail where his flaws lied. Hostfede was half-impressed half-bewildered by the experience. Regardless, the discussion was productive. Their insights together and commitment to certain tactics and the safety of each other would no doubt increase the efficiency of both forces by a magnitude.

Lady Lalenael's background story was nothing short of amazing. She came from an Exodite tribe acceded to House Falconus millennia ago and had been paying tithes regularly for being allowed to live in their lands as well as protection from Orks and Dark Eldar raids since then. When one of the Barons of House Falconus demanded an Eldar concubine and Lady Lalenael was chosen by the elders of her tribe. After holding her early funeral, they based her goodbye as she was taken to House Falconus's main fortress on the planet Sothra. There, for many centuries, Lady Lalenael was the sex object of generations of Imperial Knight rulers, during which time she learned a great deal about them and even knew how to pilot a Knight. When the Baron of House Falconus and all his heirs were slain in a Genestealer uprising, there was a crisis of leadership within the Imperial Knight household that quickly descended into a civil war, all the while the aliens continued to wreak havoc on the population. Lady Lalenael, having served many Barons in the past, rallied her followers and quickly obtained leadership through a combination of charisma and force. House Falconus under her command, with help from the Inquisition and the Sisters of Battle, would go on to both eradicate the Genestealer Cult and destroy the Hive Fleet forces they had called.

"Enjoy your time here?" asked Lady Lalenael, smiling expectantly.

"Better than I thought," Hostfede admitted. "Out time here has yielded interesting results that I look forward to their application in the field. Now, if you would excuse me, I have to return to my regiment for..."

"Not so fast," said Lady Lalenael lecherously. Before Hostfede could react, the xenos shot out with her feet and clasped them at the area right between his legs. She was unnaturally fast, which Hostfede realized he should have expected from an Eldar, as well as their treacherous tendency. Astonished, Hostfede thought about striking back but knew he couldn't - not when she had his manhood part under her paws.

"What is the meaning of this?" Hostfede demanded.

"What do you think it is?" Lady Lalenael replied, smiling at his helplessness.

"Cease this at once," Hostfede demand.

"Not before you agree to give a good account of my house to your masters," said Lady Lalenael. "I must have this world no matter what."

Once against, Hostfede was taken back by her perceptiveness. Lord Militant Francis Drake only mentioned that his report would be sent to Segmentum Command before transferred to Departmento Administratum to decide Taurok's ownership. However, the matter of an entire populated world was too great for the opinion of a single man to decide, so all Lord Generals under Lord Drake including Hostfede, Haller, and Bogger would file their individual reports. Though Lord Drake's opinion would carry the weight of two, theoretically, that could be overturned if all three generals were favorable to House Falconus's continued control of Taurok.

"Are you threatening me?" Hostfede rebuked angrily. He considered calling for Azzben, but the alien in front of him would probably unman him before his bodyguard could arrive. There was no use, for he was at the mercy of this xenos. For all the grace she displayed earlier, her status as head of an Imperial Knight House, as well as her originating from a peaceful, if nor submissive, tribe of treehuggers, this woman was as dangerous a predator as the Dark Eldar he had faced.

"More like proposing a trade," Lady Lalenael replied. "I give you what you want. And you return the favor."

She began rubbing.


Five minutes later, she lost interest.

Lady Lalenael pouted. "You are no fun at all."

Hostfede, who lost his interest in the first minute, replied, "Your concept of fun is horribly distorted" This must be what happened to Haller that made her so afraid of Lady Lalenael. Unlike Haller, Hostfede wore a special armor that protected him from this kind of stuff: his sexuality.

"You are gay, aren't you?" asked Lady Lalenael as she finally let go of his most precious.

"That's a little personal, don't you think?" Hostfede countered. "But since you have been open to me, I suppose I should return the favor by answering you. And the answer is yes." He would be glad to slap his dick with some of his lieutenants if only the Orks had any.

"You will still write a good report?" asked Lady Lalenael. She was getting desperate.

"That remains to be seen," Hostfede replied. Being in an upper position to an alien was a feeling he welcomed. "I must take my leave."

"Wait...," Lady Lalenael insisted. Before she could finish, a loud blast cut her off. It was followed by blaring klaxons and the screams of men and aliens.

Aliens, Hostfede thought. He brought only one Ork to the resort.

A section of the villa wall came down, filling the beautiful chamber with smoke and debris.

"Get back, my lady," Hostfede cried. "Oi, Azzben! Get your arse in here now!"

A group of Orks rushed at them, guns blazing. They wore kommando gears and, for a split second, Hostfede thought some of his units had mutinied. But the Orks here had different markings. Hostfede couldn't possibly remember all the glyphs and symbols employed by the various tribes and clans of Orks under his command, but he was reasonably acquainted with the patterns used by the Kommandoz, in part because the Bloody Axes which made up the overwhelming majority of these elite units were also the dominant force in the leadership. These boyz were no doubt part of the more advanced reinforcement the Orks on Taurok had received.

"Die humies!" the leading Ork shouted. As Lady Lalenael dived for cover, Hostfede quickly drew his las-pistol and fired. The training he had with the Vindicare Assassin paid off and he hit the Nob in its augmented eye with his first shot. The bionic exploded, taking most of the Ork's head with it. Combustible bionics were common among the Orks, though Hostfede would still consider himself in luck for scoring that kill.

The rest of the Kommandoz were momentarily confused by the death of their Nob. By the time they regained their confidence, Azzben had busted into the room, his armor having sustained significant damage from gunfire and there was a chainaxe embedded in the side of his skull.

"Feh da Boss and feh da Emprah!" Shouting, Azzben wasted no time charging at the enemy Kommandoz. Surprised by the presence of another Ork, the Kommandoz wasn't able to react before Azzben was among them. Outnumbered by the foe, Azzben was four times as large as any of the Kommandoz and had the element of surprise. The Big Nob sliced an opponent in half at the midriff with his massive chainsword eviscerator and then bashing in the skull of another with his massive fist.

"Where are the others?" Hostfede boomed. "Human guards."

"All dead, boss," Azzben replied. His fighting style was crude but highly effective thanks to the brute strength behind each blow. As he replied, the Big Nob decapitated two Komamndoz with a single arc of his eviscerator. "Dose sneaky gitz got uz gudd. Me'z the only survivuh."

As Azzben was busy slaughtering the Kommando mob, another group was surging forward. Instead of going after the Big Nob as most Orks would, they let loose a barrage at Hostfede as if they knew he was the more important target. A sizzling energy shield engulfed Hostfede projected by the refractor field and all bullets were harmlessly repelled. At the same time, Hostfede was armed with only a laspistol and, despite his initial success, such a weapon was ineffective against the highly durable Orks.

Then, one of the Kommandoz firing at Hostfede was hit by an error to his shoulder. Hostfede expected the primitive weapon to cause no harm to the Greenskin, but, much to his surprise, the xenos drop almost instantly with its mouth full of foam and blood. The arrow must have been poisoned. Another Kommandoz died in the same manner. And then another. Taking a slight glance back, Hostfede could see Lady Lalenael taking shots at the Greenskins with an ornated longbow. He was impressed to see the Baroness was a capable fighter without her combat walker.

"Don't just look," Lady Lalenael scolded. "Keep fighting."

"Azzben, give me the big choppa on your head," Hostfede ordered.

Azzben didn't waste time thinking. He casually unplugged the weapon from his skull and threw it over to Hostfede. Hostfede caught it and charged the remaining Ork, screaming WAAAAAAGHHHH! as he did.

Between Azzben, Hostfede, and Lady Lalenael, the enemy Orks didn't last long. As soon as all enemies were dead, Hostfede ordered Azzben to be on the lookout while he tried to raise Kommissar Lorek. He got only static in return.

"It's not working, is it?" Lady Lalenael pointed out. "I tried raising my guards as well. It didn't work. The vox channel must have been disrupted somehow. I can sense psychic intervention."

"Ha, data wuz fun," Azzben laughed heartily.

"You fought well," said Hostfede to Lady Lalenael. "I didn't know you could kill Orks with just a bow and arrows."

"I learned it out of necessity," Lady Lalenael replied. She seemed tired and was sweating profusely, even though not a single Ork came within five meters of her. "It's not something I would rather do."

"What do you mean?" Hostfede asked. "You killed thousands of Orks with your Knight. Surely a couple more..."

"They are different things," Lady Lalenael cut him off. "When I am inside the mech, I am someone else. A different persona overtakes me and controls my body just as I control the Knight. This persona is what shields me from dark feelings that wars inevitably brings."

"Like a war mask?"Hostfede inquired.

Lady Lalenael nodded. She was breathing more difficultly now. She wobbled on her bare feet. Hostfede came to support her. She was very frail, both physically and mentally, a far cry from the women Hostfede knew who wiped out a large chunk of his own regiment and held his manhood as a hostage.

"Yes. When I am in the Knight, I am Lalenael the Warrior. Outside, I am Lady Lalenael the Baroness. Tonight, with no choice left, the latter had to adopt the responsibility of the former. A devotee of Isha performing the deeds of Khaine."

At this point, a group of Falconus militia rushed in as the noise of fighting in the background was receding. They were led by Lady Lalenael's personal bodyguard who was drenched in blood - Ork blood, as Hostfede noticed. The militia trained their weapons at Azzben as soon as they entered but stood down when Hostfede signaled that he (Azzben) was friendly.

"Take care of her," Hostfede told him. At this point, Lady Lalenael had finally passed out from the mental strain. Hostfede didn't quite understand how the Eldar's mind functioned, only that they were more capable of extremes than most humans. The Dark Eldar he fought on Laguna had been a vile race, their lives and souls fully devoted to murder and torture. Perhaps the Exodites were the exact opposite and eschewed confrontation at all cost.

Upon seeing the state of the room, and his lady, the man was clearly ashamed that he had not been here when shit went down. Still, his response was rational and he took the unconscious Lady Lalenael from Hostfede's arms.

"Thank you," the bodyguard admitted. "For the protection of our lady, we are in your debt."

"At ease," Hostfede replied. "What's your name."

"Alvin, sir," replied the bodyguard.

"Alvin, can you tell me what in Emperor's name is going on?"

"A raid, sir. Several units of Ork Kommmandoz infiltrated the camps and are causing damage. They seem to be focusing on sabotaging our heavy equipment and assassinating key personnel. Communications are being jammed, as we speak, presumably by some Weirdboyz. Nevertheless, we have beaten them back."

"Dose sneaky gitz ain't so tuff when ya see dem scurrying around," Azzben remarked.

"Interesting," Hostfede mused. The enemy knew the right place to hit to deal the most amount of damage, not something he had expected from any Ork outside his own regiment. Whichever Warlord leading them was one hell of a kunning bastard, and in so threatened Hostfede's position as the most competent leader of Orks around here. "I will not tarry. You deal with the Orks in your base, while I return to mine."

"Very good, sir," Alvin noted.

With that, Hostfede made his departure. For better answers and to ensure that his regiment was still in good shape, he had to travel to their encampment as soon as possible.

Author's Notes: Been a while since I wrote the first chapter of this story. Also been a while since I last wrote a non-crossover Warhammer 40k fanfic. I hope I will be able to finish it one way or another.

Hope you enjoy some heretical fun with this story.