A while back, I finished painting up my first ever Grot Tank, and I loved every second of it. One of the most joyous and characterful miniatures I’ve ever had the pleasure of painting. And while I could take you through all the mechanics of painting it (which could be interesting) I thought I’d do something different here. When you work on something this characterful, your brain starts building a story around it, and boy did my imagination run wild with this one.
So, enjoy some new photos of it, and, if you have the time, enjoy this short story of how, in universe, my grot tank came to be. Onwards.
Grobsnacka was dead. The whispers went round the mekshop like squig-mites through a sack of rusty gubbins. Grot after grot would whisper the words to their fellow workers as they moved guns and gears about the place to the instructions of Mek Zagsnapp. At one point, one slightly new and stupid grot whispered the words to Zagsnapp himself.
“Oo?” replied the Mek as he grabbed the grot who told him in one hand before launching him through the wall “Lissen ya runt, I dun’t giv a zog wot grot gon snuffed it. Get back to werk!”
Eventually, the news reached Ratsnot who was in the process of constructing some new and deadlier dakka spewing weapon that Zagsnapp had come up with. Ratsnot was a young grot, with eyes wider than most of his compatriots and a longer nose too. He had a knack at being cunning, but his dreams of worlds beyond his often lead to him daydreaming and this, in turn, often lead to a clout round the head from his boss.
“Grobsnacka snuffed it”
The words fell into his notched and slightly singed ears like clattering mallets. Not Grobsnacka, he thought. It’s impossible. The fiercest, most cunning grot he’d ever met? Dead? As he continued to hammer away his eyes glazed. Grobsnacka was a legend.
“Wot ‘bout da treasure?” he mumbled to the noisy shop around him.
He peered over in the direction of Zagsnapp who was now arguing with a Nob. The giant brute was gesticulating, though somewhat more slowly than he would have liked as the arms of his mega armour had malfunctioned. He’d normally be able to smash the feckless mek through the ceiling but Zagsnapp had been able to dodge several blows already due to the fact that each took at least 45 seconds to come anywhere near him.
Ratsnot tip-toed behind the Mek as he promised a brand new planet killing weapon to the somewhat animated monster in front of him. Ratsnot knew he had to get to Grobsnacka but leaving the shop before the boss said so was an offence punishable by being told to stand next to the malfunctioning (and suspiciously sentient) Shokk Attack Gun that hung on the wall at the back of the shop. The blasted thing had dined on several of his colleagues over the years. But Ratsnot was good at sneaking, and moved almost soundlessly from work bench to work bench, sometimes nonchalantly picking up a hammer and inspecting it thoughtfully. Unfortunately, he put so much into the craft of looking like he was working, he actually started to do some work on several occasions before remembering that he was trying to get to the squig-flap at the back of the shop.
By sheer luck, and after fixing two big shootas and painting a boss pole, he was within striking distance of the exit when a rather large hand grabbed him by the shoulders. The giant figure of Zagsnapp glared down at him, his gnarled face twisting around his cybernetic eyes that glowed a terrifying shade of bruied scarlet.
“An’ wot is uze doin, runt?”
“Errr… fetch gubbinz, boss?” he pointed to the big pile of said gubbinz not too far from him and grinned the grin of innocence that only the guilty can master.
The hand tightened around his shoulders and he was lifted up to eye-level with the monstrous Mek.
“If I wantz uze to get more gubbinz, I’ll tellz uze to get more gubbinz. I fink uze was bein’ a sneaky git. An’ we don’t like sneaky gitz ‘round ‘ere.”
All the gretchin in the workshop had stopped and were looking in terror as Ratsnot squirmed in Zagsnapp’s vice like grip, his eyes wide with panic.
“Err… boss?” he offered meekly
“Behind you, boss”
“You fink I’m fick, runt? I ain’t fallin’ for dat ol’ lugnut.” he snarled, as a thick, foamy spittle dribbled out from between his enormous fangs. “You fink I woz born tomorrow? I fink it’s da shokk attack gun for-“
Zagsnapp was now aware that he was in the very slow moving vice-like grip of the Nob who was still not particularly happy about his glacially moving mega armour. Slow as it was though, the giant claws it was fitted with still seemed to work well enough. The Mek had just enough time to turn and face his unhappy customer before the claws became a vice.
“Ere!” shouted Zagsnapp as he was lifted off his feet “I’ll build ya a big wagon! Or a stompa or summin’!”
“Maybe” offered the enraged (yet now quite entertained) Nob “You wanna fix dis soot, first, yeah”
“Yea! Of corze! Easy! But it’ll take a bit. Lots to do!”
“I dun’t wanna ‘ear ya excuses ya git!”
“Dey’s not excuses! Mega gubbinz is tricky! Like cunnin’ tricky an’ I gotta-“
It was at this point that both the Nob and the Mek turned to face the tiny grot that was still being held up by Zagsnapp. Ratsnot gulped as their menacing gazes bore into him. He had never been so far out of his depth and all three of them knew it. Then the two enormous orks glared at his finger that was pointing at a small red button on the side of the Nob’s neck plate.
What happened next could only have happened in an ork’s mekshop because only in said mekshop could the laws of physics be bent around the greenskins’ latent psychic ability with that much exposed wiring, weaponry and ammunition. It’s almost impossible to describe in full detail without having to lie down and assess one’s understanding of the universe. However there are some highlights that can be easily relayed, such as Ratsnot pushing the button on the Mega Armour. Then there’s the look of sheer panic on the face of the Mek who probably had more of an inkling than most about what was about to happen and why he was in the worst place possible in the history of anything ever. Shortly after this, there was a rush of steam and a very strange whirling crackling noise. Then the mega armoured Nob did a a leaping summersault against his will. The claw also closed before springing open at such a rate that the individual digits shot off the fist and lodged themselves in various things the shouldn’t ever have been ruptured in such a way. One activated the shokk attack gun which swallowed and then ejected two grots, a missile, several cases of ammo and some fuel. Another cliipped the wing of a bomma that hung from the ceiling and was shortly afterwards swinging around like a pendulum, crashing into anything and everything that went bang in the shop. Four squigs exploded. A bucket of highly prized purple paint fell onto three grots who were never seen again. A strange device the orks had nicked from another world opened and loads of little fiery daemons fell out of it before running amok. Half the roof fell in, and small fissure opened up in the floor that swallowed a deff dred.
Crucially though, as all of this mayhem began, Ratsnot was thrown through the wall and out into the street beyond. He picked himself up and watched in awe as the chaos began to ensue and while other orks ran toward the exploding shop, either looking for a fight or something to steal, Ratsnot ran off into the dusk.
Grot-town was a hovel in the least desirable part of the city. Tiny dwellings that were often sat on by orks who had nothing better to do were crumbling and cracked even before the brutes of the clan placed their backsides on them. Trash everywhere, which wasn’t even good enough to be useful or edible flew around on the winds, and smog from the mek shops choked the air. As Ratsnot scampered and scrambled through the quiet gutters, he could still hear the shop behind him exploding and falling over.
Eventually he reached the centre of the collective hovel and found the tiny hut he was looking for. He ran in under the scrap of fabric that served as a door and saw for himself. Laying on an old tire, lay the body of Grobsnacka. It was a shock to the young grot’s system. Gretchin didn’t die of old age. They got squished, eaten, smashed, exploded and dropped from large heights, but they didn’t die old, and by their standards, Grobsnacka was ancient. No-one knew exactly how old, by virtue of the fact that they didn’t really count much or have a way of measuring time, but everyone knew he was proper old.
Stood next to the old tire was Zitslapp, who had been Grobsnacka’s oldest friend (though still greatly his junior). He looked sadly over at Ratsnot who quietly shuffled into the dimly lit room.
“Snuffed it quiet. Never seen dat. Never wanna see dat again. Not rite. Just sorta snuffin’ it quiet an’ wivowt a scrap” offered Zitslapp
Ratsnot’s ears flattened and seldom has a grot ever looked so sad. His friend, and mentor, was indeed gone.
“Poor git” he offered. They both nodded. “Did he eva tell uze ‘bout da tre-“
Zitslapp’s hand covered Ratsnot’s mouth.
“Shut ya gob.” He looked around shiftily before adding “come wiv me”
They both took one last look at the grimly peaceful old grot before stepping out into the darkening streets.
Ten minutes later, after trying to look nonchalant again, they arrived at the back of a different Mek’s workshop. This one was thankfully not in-mid explosion and the sound of industry spilled out into the streets. Zitslapp went up to a piece of corrugated metal and began to undo one of the bolts that held it in place with a tiny, worn spanner. Ratsnot recognised the implement – it had belonged to Grobsnacka and the old ork had once told him that it only opened one sort of bolt in town, and that only one such bolt and spanner combo existed. As security went, this was almost worthy of legend in the ork community.
Eventually the nut fell to the floor and Zitslapp slid the panel aside smoothly, revealing a tiny space to squeeze into. The two grots only just fit themselves through but eventually they were inside the wall. And it was only seconds later they were falling, though not for very long. They landed in a dark basement beneath the shop above where they could hear the hammerings, shoutings and scurryings they were all too familiar with.
“Zog it’s dark.” muttered Ratsnot as he picked himself up off the floor.
“Dere’s a switch on da wall” came the voice of Zitslapp from the gloom. Both gretchin moved around the dark walls a minute or so before Ratsnot’s hand found a switch. He threw it and light burst into the basement. He turned around and when he realised what he was looking at, his fang filled jaw almost hit the floor.
“I fort it… wasn’t it… teef?” splutted the young grot. Zitslapp grinned.
“It was wunce. Den he spent da teef of gubbins and dakka and now…”
“‘As it got a name?”
“Yep. Grob’s Freedum”
The tank was beautiful. A riot in shades of golden yellow, a massive big shoota sticking out of its turret, and actual exhausts coming out of the back. There wasn’t even too much rust on the tracks. Ratsnot had never seen something so beautiful. This, this was freedom. This was respect. Even the Orks would have to stand aside for this thing. Life in the workshops was done, and now, they could finally join Da Waaaggh!
“We made it tugeva,” said Zitslapp, wiping a tear from his beady red eye “doin’ it for all my life pretty much. It woz ‘is idea. But it took so long. Da scrap just wernt dere for ages. Den wen we finished it, he sed ‘e woz too old. Wanted uze ta be part of da croo insted a him.”
“Croo?” said Ratsnot, still in a daze.
“Yep. I do da drivin’, an uze do da dakka and da pointin’. Wot yu finkin’? Up for it?”
Boss Mek Slugsmash was only vaguely aware of the rumble beneath his feet but this was his mekshop and if something was rumbling it was obviously because he’d told the runts to make something rumble, even if he didn’t remember doing so. It was only when the shooting started and all the grots legged it that he became more interested. He stood up upon his creaking bionic legs and stomped towards the noise, picking up his big choppa from a work bench as he went. Then the back wall of his workshop fell over. When the rubble and dust cleared, he looked over and saw, driving away from his shop, a grot tank rumbling away in the distance. He could make out, through the smoking trail it was leaving behind it, a small grot, wearing a hat, waving and pointing at the throng of grots who were cheering them on.