Authors: Aer-Ki Jyr
“You don’t think the fleet can start picking off targets without us?”
“I’d rather I be riding the controls when the anti-orbital guns are involved.”
“Same here,” Jack said. “It takes some finesse.”
“I thought it was point and shoot,” Megan said deadpan…then finally cracked a smile that was visible as she retracted her helmet. “Alright, I get your point. I don’t want to lose any drones or hull plates either. Mind if we kick it here for a while?” she asked Paul.
“You’re always welcome on my ship, but the Mario Kart will have to wait. I need to crash.”
“You think we’re going to pull that off again?”
Paul looked at Jack and shook his head. “I don’t know. They lizards had a hard time stopping us, but they’re going to have time to think up something new. If we can take those things out navally, that’s my first pick.”
“Going to need a lot of shields to withstand that.”
“We’ve got plenty of command ships.”
“Until you take off,” Megan commented.
“The only place I’m going right now is to bed. We’ll continue this in…10 hours?”
“Make it twelve,” Jack said, allowing himself a yawn. “I’m going to get something to eat first then zonk out.”
“Twelve then,” Megan confirmed with the three of them heading for the hangar exit, then splitting up to walk to different parts of the ship. Paul headed straight back to his quarters, knowing the other two would eventually end up in temporary versions. The ship always had some set up and ready for visitors, so they wouldn’t have to do anything other than open the door and drop into bed.
But that wasn’t quite what Paul did. When he got into his quarters he split and walked out of his armor, then sat down at his personal comm terminal and got some quick updates on the fleet and the combat still going on within the ring. There were still a large segment that the lizards controlled, but Star Force now owned more than three fourths of it with more ground being gained by the day.
Everything seemed to be normal up there, and the
had already left the surface and ran back to orbit while he was walking from the bay to here. It’d had to run through some anti-orbital phaser and cleansing beam hits on the way up, for Paul’s team had only been able to take out enough guns to create a clear zone near the surface, but the command ship’s shields were strong enough to weather the onslaught briefly. Tomorrow Paul would bring in a lot more command ships and start some fancy maneuvers while they pounded one of those barriers from low near the surface where the curve of the planet would block a lot of the others, but for right now his ship was safely back in orbit and its weakened shields recharging. He sent the Admiral a quick thank you message, then logged out of the terminal and headed for the shower.
He got a good, fast scrubbing that he’d badly needed after so many weeks living in his armor, then walked out towards his closet and grabbed some soft and oh so comfortable clothes, pulling those on and heading for bed.
Paul laid down face first, feeling the blissful softness of the bed and its covering blanket and just laid there like a dead body for a few minutes, running through some mental release tricks he’d learned long ago, and got himself out of battle mode. With his body now allowing itself to feel the stress and fatigue, he rolled over onto his side and slipped his bare feet underneath the covers and out of the frosty chill that the air conditioning was blissfully providing, then curled up into a comfortable pose and let himself sink into a deep sleep, not worrying about anything else besides attending to what his body and mind needed.
When he woke up it wasn’t to an alarm, which he’d set on his way into the shower, but to his normal habits. He’d slept 6 and a half hours in what felt like 2 minutes, which told him how bad the fatigue really was. After some of his extremely intense workouts or long slayer missions he’d be out 8-12 hours, so this wasn’t so bad. There hadn’t been a lot of combat involved, just a lot of sporadic running, sneaking around, and staying alive…with a little blowing things up thrown in.
Blowing out a deep breath, Paul rolled over in bed and got comfortable again, slipping back into a normal sleep mode and resting until his alarm would finally wake him up. Then it’d be time to get back to work and start expanding on the hole they’d just made in the lizards’ anti-orbital defense grid.
June 3, 3108
Menchet System (lizard core)
Casper Jenson ran off his dropship along with a host of other personnel when it set down on the planet’s makeshift landing pad…which was little more than a cleared off section of lizard cityscape that had been blasted away. Nearby some proper ‘floor’ panels had been spread out with prefab structures going up on them, but right now it was a mixture of dirt and rubble that the mechwarrior was having to run across towards the section of the giant assembly area where a massive transport had just landed ahead of them and was already offloading mechs.
His was coming out in 5 pieces, each compacted down into a drone-like cubical rectangle to save space. Each section had limited flight capability, designed for long hauls but with little maneuverability. That was alright, because he wasn’t a pilot. He was a mechwarrior, and short flights were nothing more than travel time from one battlefield to another.
But he wasn’t flying anywhere at the moment, thankfully, as he flinched from the sound of a Keema battery firing overhead. Several actually, in a chorus that could only mean one thing. As he ran he glanced upwards, seeing the dozens of naval ‘donuts’ sitting in the upper atmosphere that were apparently continuing to bombard distant targets. They were taking out the largest threats, the anti-orbital batteries and shield generators, plus some of the secondary surface to air weaponry, leaving the mechs to clean up the smaller stuff and watch the backs of the ground troops.
As well as knocking over buildings if needed. The Tier 1 mechs wouldn’t be much good at that, for all the lizard structures in this area were huge, but the mech he was getting was a massive Tier 4, the largest that Star Force had built to date, with each of the individual segments being bigger than Tier 1 mechs all by themselves.
There were plenty of Tier 1s around, neos mostly along with some support madcats and other models that were somewhat out of date. The maneuverability of the neos was just too much to pass up, though the ‘driving’ mechs had their uses in specific missions. Most mechs Star Force had nowadays were ‘wearable’ in that they responded to your body’s movements, whether they be physical or mentally calculated, instead of having a computer control the mech’s steps and balance.
Staying clear of the areas where other mechs were operating so he didn’t get stepped on, Casper headed over to the area where the five pieces of his mech were floating over the ground with a small tech team outpost beneath. He conferred with them on the status and loadout, then a staircase stretched down from one of the pieces to the top of the prefab outpost. He ran up it, climbing inside the dense segment and into the command shell.
He slid into the loose harness in the center after slipping his boots and shirt off. He preferred more skin contact than others did, which was an old tradition for mechwarriors that had held up through to the ‘neural’ age. He wasn’t an Archon and didn’t have their telepathic skills to interface with his mech, but Star Force technology had advanced to the point where he didn’t have to, allowing him to pull on a headband-like halo that would access his mind directly.
The harness was auxiliary, but Casper was one of those who had found that a combination of neural and physical commands worked best for them, so he got himself latched in properly and checked the status of all systems before closing the hatch and retracting the gangway. He kept the 5 pieces hovering in place, then moved them back from the outpost enough not to crush it as he studied the battlemap.
The landing area was secure with a ring of mechs around it, some of which were chopping down more buildings to eliminate zones of attack for infantry, but there was another reason for that. The rubble would be compressed down into the undercity beneath them, cutting off access to it and burying the upper levels, creating a new ‘ground’ that the enemy couldn’t sneak up at them through. Cleaning out everything down to the rock of the planet wasn’t feasible during an initial foothold operation, for the lizard subsurface structures were usually extensive and the rumors coming back to him had said it was even worse on this planet, the first core world Star Force had invaded.
But that was alright. The packed ground beneath him would block out the undercity and the landing zone would remain safe, leaving him and others to work on pushing that safe zone out further while other teams were busy fighting off waves of lizards coming at them. Suicidal as always, they’d been moving across the planet to the single landing zone and engaging Star Force whenever and wherever they could. There was no natural geography left, meaning that everything was urban fighting and on the lizards’ turf, making things even more complex for the mechs until they redecorated enough to get themselves comfortable.
Aside from the Tier 1 mechs in play, which were essentially infantry as far as the hierarchy in war machines were concerned, there were also quite a few walkers around the base. The hexpeds were the upgrade versions of what used to be the Hoths, and were the only combat walkers still used, with the difference being that these had more than two legs, hence they were referred to as ‘walkers’ more often than ‘mechs.’ They had even less mobility, but were very hardened targets and carried with them impressive firepower. They were basically mobile siege devices, with the largest variety essentially being a grounded warship moving about on six legs.
There were also some anti-air walkers and other supports, but for straight up combat the heavy walkers were it, while everything else was biped mechs that started with the ‘infantry’ Tier 1s and expanded upward.
There were a handful of Voltrons roaming about, which were basically bigger versions of the neos. They were Tier 2s and came in either segments or full units nowadays, thanks to the really big ground transports currently in play. The non-modular ones held the most combat capability, but without the flexibility or quicker aerial movements of the segmented ones. They could still fly, but it was like putting a big boulder on a string and having a cloud carry it across the surface. Not graceful at all, and all combat systems had to be powered down to utilize it.
The Voltrons could fly and, in a limited fashion, fight while in the air in pieces, but put them together and they became just as ungainly, hence most Voltrons were the segmented models…though if you were in a really tough scrape you wanted the singles around for sure.
Above them were the massive Tier 3s, all of which were computer controlled ‘driven’ varieties. The Mk.3 madcats dominated the third tier, but like always Star Force had created many different models at all levels, so you’d see variations here and there. At this current deployment there were no Tier 3 mechs in play, not yet at least, but there were several Tier 4s out there already.
Structured similar to the Voltrons, Casper’s five segments began transforming on his command and a huge bipedal mech was formed. It could be ‘driven’ or body controlled, for its movements were so slow you could fight it effectively either way, but Casper preferred manual body movements and only put it on autopilot when he needed to. When the legs and arms formed they had heavy gauntlets on each, then a head appeared that was atypical of the neos that had nothing more than a short neck stump. Otherwise the
-class mech looked like a huge, beefed up neo.
With all five pieces assembled, Casper began walking the mobile mountain across the crushed surface and into the less paved regions, pushing through a half broken building like he was walking through snow as he headed out to the ‘trees’ that were other abandoned buildings. Infantry had already cleared them, but they weren’t using explosives. It was up to the Megazords to take them down, so Casper took to his assigned waypoints and the buildings that needed to be leveled and started hitting them with punches, elbows, and shoulder strikes with the lizard structures crumbling under each hit almost as if they were made of paper.
They weren’t armored, for sure, and the size of the Megazord would have made the Skarrons proud, so the impacts occurring had a huge amount of mass behind them, with the Tier 4 mech itself suffering nothing more than some surface scrapes in the process.
Casper continued leveling buildings and giving Star Force more room to maneuver…or at least it would after smaller mechs and construction equipment got the rubble crushed down into a new foundation, but after a few hours he got a call to combat along with two of the others. All three mechs abandoned what they were doing and walked further inside the makeshift base and over to a tall prefab structure that was built to house the accoutrements for the mechs.