(For those of you who don't know what this is all about, it's the culmination of a brilliant collaborative project between myself and the good Mordian7th - basically a unit swap. Thargadd's Thumpers have just arrived to take up their place in the illustrious ranks of the 122/7th Pioneer Company ... read Mordian's post to find out the first half of the fluff!)
The party hurried down the corridor.
First, there was Antonius, the Q.M. He was a worried sort of fellow. He was the sort of fellow who usually looked most worried if all was well - his brow was permanently furrowed and to avoid other people's gaze, he buried his head in the Company Roster and muttered under his breath about missing trigger guards, or Laces, Boot, For the Doing Up Of, One. He wore his green tunic like a poncho, and his hat looked like someone else had perched it on his head as he left a room without it.
The next man was the Armsman. He looked so different to the Q.M. that they looked as if they should be on opposite sides. For every three of the Q.M.'s shuffling, abortive steps he took one graceful, measured stride of exactly 33 inches, as per the Drill Manual. It was widely believed that he didn't need to iron his trousers; the razor-sharp crease was in his leg. Whatever this calamity was, he knew he'd need to be there to keep the Q.M. calm.
The last man running light-footedly behind the two was Captain Nero. As the Company Principal he didn't really need to be there at all, but Lieutenant Antius' message had intrigued him - inasmuch as it could be understood. Something about the rations shipment. There seemed to be the most awful interference in the background - a sort of rumbling, roaring, belching noise. The transmission terminated with a feminine, melodramatic shriek - either Antius was being eaten alive or tickled.
They shuffled, paced and ran respectively until the bulkhead door swept in to view. All three rounded the corner at the same time.
A large, malodorous Ogryn drinking ship-issue amasec from a barrel was the first object which was noticed by all three. Four more large, malodorous Ogryns were a close second. The third was what appeared to be Lieutenant Antius sobbing quietly against the side of an opened rations container.
The Armsman stepped over to the opened rations container, and the prostrate figure of the Lieutenant. His stride was almost - almost - upset by the ungodly stench emanating from inside the container. As he approached, he came to suspect that Antius had been pelted with said rotting foodstuffs by the Ogryns. "Lieutenant Antius, sir? This is the Armsman. You'll be alright now, sir." He cradled the man's head in his arms and took to comforting the poor wretch.
The Q.M. stood - just - in the doorway and trembled.
Captain Nero approached the Ogryns. The largest had abandoned drinking out the barrel and had now submerged his head entirely in the amasec to expedite consumption. The other four watched with interest as Nero stood behind him and politely hammered on the Ogryn's shoulder to get his attention. It was like hammering on a canvas bag full of blocks of wood.
"You! Who are you?! What are you doing to my amasec?" Then, as an afterthought, "And what have you done to my Lieutenant?" The Ogryn stopped, slowly withdrew his head, and turned round. He brought it level with Nero's - and was secretly impressed that this "little 'un" didn't seem to mind the Ogryn-stench and amasec combo. "Wot's that you say?" He rumbled. He glanced at Antius. "Oh, 'im? He not gonna tell us where to gets our 'sec! So we's just decides to persuade 'im a bit wiv some of our spare foods ... hur hur hur ..."
Secretly, Thargadd was a bit disappointed that the little man in front of him didn't seem that scared. He reached out an enormous finger and tapped it gently on Nero's shoulder (Nero just about managed to remain standing up). "Wun ..." counted Thargadd with enormous mental effort, as he ran his fingers along the pips on Nero's shoulders, "Tooo ... three! Then you's .... Kap-tin! Look out, boys, this is tha boss!" All five Ogryns leapt to their feet and crowded round Nero, chanting "Boss! Boss! We's gonna look afta you, boss! Where's the fighting, boss?!" And so on, as they led him out of the room.
They passed the Q.M, who managed to utter his first words as Nero was shuffled past him. "Sir! Sir! We can't accept these onto the roster! They aren't ours!!"
As Nero passed him, he leaned out and shouted over his shoulder, "Are you going to tell them, then?"
It looked like Thargadd's Thumpers were here to stay.