"Jeurridam Ch. 15: Wastelands FInale" Pt. 2
The gravity blades flew so high I couldn’t see them. Minutes later the first juggernaut ship came crashing down into the wastelands. The second crashed down too, it’s thrusters lighting up in a huge explosion. The turrets remotely stationed around the base began picking off the patrolling mechs. The Revivalists had no idea where the attack was coming from! It was exactly what we wanted.
“Zeek how you holdin’ up?” I asked over the air.
“It’s surprisingly easy to handle but I’m holding my breath…” Zeek responded, as he and a number of buggies speed towards Area 51.
“You’ll do fine… Just never stay in one spot… always keep moving.” Sandles reassured.
“Okay.” Zeek said back.
“Orb is showing that the third brigate has reinforcement tanks and the second has speeders. You all watch it!!!! I’m coming in from above! The rotor bike riders, you’re gonna have to clear me a path to a brigate when I need one… okay?” I said.
“Roger…” They all said back.
The Revivalists mechs began to drop left and right. The high density pulse beams from the turrets would fry them instantly! However, the mechs were smart! They found cover between the hangars and structures all around the base, not moving considering the vast amount of suppression they were facing.
“How are things looking?” Alistair asked.
“The mechs are taking cover from the turrets. They don’t know where the attack is coming from.” I said back.
“How close are you?” Alistair said back.
“I’m coming in from the west about forty seconds out. What about you guys?” I asked in response.
“We’re about eleven seconds in before we get in tank range… We haven’t been spotted yet but we will be when they see what’s hitting them.” Alistair said.
“Stay safe!” I said.
“Will do!” Alistair said.
The distinct fire of the tank buster cannon let me know the battle had begun. I was nervous, knowing that anything could make this take a turn for the worst. We need to survive! Emann, the manticore, continued to sprint in towards the western side of the base.
“I’m detecting drones…” He said, “Manticores….”
“They’re gonna try and fry you with their EMPs… You stay out the blast radius of those things and shoot them with all your might!” I said, “Big Daddy, watch his back! And Emann, you watch Big Daddy’s back!”
“Okay…” He said.
“I’m going in!” I said over the air, leaping off the back of Emann and landing atop the nearest hangar. Emann wasted no time in charging up his photon pulse cannon. The energy projectile released in a blinding flash, hitting a mech hard!
Now realizing they were under attack by something close range, the manticores began to scatter to retaliate. As they did, the long range turrets began to pick off anyone of them out in the open for too long.
“Big Daddy, flush them out!” Emann said, “I’m going after the hive leader!”
“Alright!” Big Daddy said. The sentinel began to provide air support. He fired his dual one hundred ten millimeter pulse beams at a number of manticores. His weapons didn’t have the same punch as the one hundred thirty millimeter pulse beam of Emann. Still though, the photonic blasts knocked chunks of armor off the mechs.
They’d fling electron bolas at the him, the agile Sentinel dodging them, still laying on the fire. Emman continued to stalk around looking for the hive leader. As he did, a manticore leapt from the wreckage of the ship, flanking Big Daddy from behind. The mech slammed him to the ground, ripping off armor with it’s powerful talons.
“EMANN!!!!” Big Daddy screamed.
“GET OFF OF HIM!!!!!!” Emann screamed, leaping in from a damaged structure of the ship. He tackled the manticore, both rolling to a halt.
Once the manticore realized what was attacking it, it looked on in confusion. Without hesitation, the manticore charged forward, coming forth at Emann at great speed. It was nearly too much for Emann to dodge. Though he tried to outflank the manticore, he was hit with a powerful blow to his sides. He stumbled, only to be grabbed with powerful hands, and slammed to the ground.
“Emann!!!” Big Daddy called out, horrified.
“Make sure no other manticores get involved in this! This is the hive master!” Emann said, driven to defeat it. He drove his hind legs into the hive master’s underside as the powerful mech climbed atop him. The powerful kicks knocked the hive master off balance long enough for Emann to slip free of his deadly grip.
The hive master retaliated by clamping down with those powerful vampire-like jaws. Emann screamed out in agony as he dug his claws into the hive master’s mantle. He began prying the mantle apart, digging into the soft mechanized flesh underneath the exoskeleton. The hive master winced in pain, but didn’t release his bite. The two were locked in a life or death battle, both in life threatening positions and agonizing pain!
The manticores could just stand idly by and watch their hive leader fight to the death. Some rushed forward trying to help out, only to be met by the cannon fodder of Big Daddy. It was then many began to divert their attentions to him. A bold one lept high up, just barely missing his feet. Big Daddy aimed his cannons precisely at the open mouth of the mech. He fired devastating pulse means into it’s mouth, ripping it apart from the inside.
More and more began to leap after him, some being picked off by the turrets miles off while others succumbing to Big Daddy precise aim. A manticore slipped through the defense, clamping its jaws onto Emann’s back. Big Daddy barreled through at an impressive speed, slamming his half ton bulk into the imposing mech. The blow caused the mech to release his grip on Emann. Big Daddy grabbed the manticore by it’s tell, sending maximum power to his thrusters.
He rose up high above the ground, releasing the mech. As it fell, the powerful pulse beam from a turret ripped it to shreds. Big Daddy came back down, diving as fast as he could. He charged his pulse beams for as long as he could releasing a massive blast that obliterated five manticores. Still though, more were finding ways to stay out of the path of the turret and edge closer to Emann and their hive master, both still locked in battle. These numbers were proving overwhelming to Big Daddy. The manticores were doing what they did best, swarm.
Emann could feel them getting closer and closer! However, he knew the hive master was much tougher than a normal manticore. After all, he himself was a hive master before Zanir changed his programming. He did everything in his power to get free of the deadly mech, but it was just too ferocious. As he dug deeper into the mechs flesh, it shook him wildy in his jaws. He could feel its teeth sinking deeper into his exoskeleton. Vital circulatory fluid began to drip to the ground. As he became aware of this, the sudden will to fight harder pushed him further.
He managed to released his grip from the hive leader’s mantle and gripped his face plate. Emann’s claws dug into the hive leader’s sensitive optics as he pried his jaws apart. The hive leader struck him with a powerful open palm but it did nothing to break Emann’s grip. He slammed the hive leader to the ground, causing a massive thud. Emann was suddenly gored deep by the scorpion like skewer of hive leader. He screamed out, in utter agony.
“You motherFUCKER!!!!!” Emann growled as he pinned the hive leader down. He charged up his tail, aiming at the hive leader’s head. The hive leader’s optics bucked wide as it had never seen this type of tail modification on a manticore mech before. The last thing it saw was the arcing light waves escaping the swiftly rotating barrel of the pulse cannon before a powerful blast of warped light disintegrated its head. That amount of power at close range made a large crater deep in the ground.
Damaged badly by the hive leader, Emann collapsed on the ground. Still though, dozens of manticores came screeching towards him. He aimed with his tail, firing powerful blasts of gravity manipulated light at the mechs. Many dropped, a hole melted right through their cores. Big Daddy joined in, charging up his dual beams for a little longer to add more power. It had a similar effect to the much larger cannon of Emann’s… enough to make the remaining mechs retreat. Big Daddy rushed over to Emann who was holding his badly skewered flank.
“You okay?” Big Daddy asked.
“Weld me back up! Nothing five minutes can’t fix… I’ll be ready to fight in no time!” Emann said back enthusiastically.
“Okay, this is gonna hurt… a lot!” Big Daddy said, “Zanir, Emann’s out of the fight… But we took care of most of the mechs! Watch your back…”
“Alright! You both did a good job…” I said back before the blood curdling screams of Emann came in. Big Daddy was soldering his wound close so he could heal faster. I knew he had to be in the most extreme pain.
I lept to a neighboring hangar, wanting to get a good vantage point to make out what was going on. Explosions were everywhere! Several tanks were rolling out of a brigate, engaging in combat with the buggies. To the northeast was the brigate the mechs came from. It was the closest to the hangar the captives were and it was the one I was going to hijack to save them!
“Boss it’s heavy out here!” A soldier said, “These tight quarters are no joke with these racers on our asses…”
Suddenly, a buggy went up in an explosion! A tank had picked it off after it got distracted with the nimble racers making way around it.
“That was Yaky! They got Yaky!!!” The soldier said quite upset.
“I’m on it!” Alistair said back. Alistair’s rotor bike lept up to the roof of a hangar, stalking the racers flanking the mechs in the gulley ways. Hovering high above the ground, he took aim at an unsuspecting racer, blasting it to bits. Before anyone could spot him, he disappeared onto another rooftop.
“I like the way you’re doing things boss!” Sandles chuckled, as he brought his five blade rotor bike to the roof top. He did a high speed pass, taking quick aim at a racer, blasting it before one ever noticed.
“Zanir can you tap their radios?” Alistair asked.
“I’m already on it!” I said, hacking as fast as I could, “Done…”
“How are they doing this? Is someone sniping us from above?” A racer pilot asked.
“No, I saw something leap across the rooftops! What ever they have, it’s fast!” Another pilot asked.
“So they’re attacking us from the roof tops! Third and seventh, get up there now and deal with whatever’s killing us…. This is bad.” The commander said. This made my heart pound.
“Zanir, get out of there!” Alistair said.
“I’m coming!” Sandles said! Within that same split second, he was on the roof behind me with a rotor bike. I hopped on, the boy whipping the aircraft down to the ground just as the racers lept up to investigate.
Now out in the open, the turrets began picking them off.
“What the fuck is attacking us?” The revivalists commander asked, “EVERYONE OFF THE ROOF TOPS!!!! STAY ON THE GROUND!!!! THEY HAVE INCREDIBLY LONG RANGE SUPPPORT!!!!”
“Why are they doing this? They pushed us out of Jeurridam! What more could they want?” Someone asked, the racers scattering in every direction.
“I don’t know. I’m trying for back up at the tower…” Another soldier said.
“All racers, focus on the buggies! Make them easy for the tanks to pick off!” The commander said.
“Roger…” The pilots responded.
“Guys… I’m in trouble…” Zanir said.
“I’m coming. Give me a quick moment!” Sandles responded as he flew the racer back up to the roof, the roof I was trying to reach.
“Thank you!” I said.
“No problem!” Sandles said, the speedy rotor bike disappearing off the side of the hangar.
Zeek had gotten cornered by a number of tanks behind a field of rubble. He couldn’t take aim at one without being within the crosshairs of another.
“I could really use some help!” Zeek said as a tank began to close in. He moved the small buggy out of it’s line of detection but into the path of another cicada. The large one hundred twenty millimeter barrel took aim at Zeek. The lock on warnings blared in the cockpit as he knew the inevitable was coming. He was about to get blown to bits!
“Bingo…” A tank pilot said. Zeek closed his eyes hearing an ear shattering explosion. As he opened his eyes, he realized it was the tank that was about to fire on him. It had been ripped apart by a powerful shell.
“What the fuck was that?” Another tank pilot asked.
“I don’t know! It moved so fast!” A crew member responded.
Still though, there were three more tanks surrounding Zeek. He knew that if he moved, he’d be in the crosshairs of another. It was a risk he’d have to take. He took aim with his cannon, moving ever so slightly to the left. As he did the tank came into view.
“Found him!” The pilot said. The tank’s barrel spun around ready to take aim at Zeek. However it was too late. Zeek had already locked on! Before he could shoot, a black streak across the sky blasted the tank from behind, “Fuck someone hit us from behind!!!!”
“Radar’s picking up nothing!” A crew member responded as he turned the tank to see where the powerful blast had come from. Zeek squeezed the trigger, releasing a powerful anti-tank shell into the cockpit of the cicada. The tank went up in flames.
“There’s something else out here attacking that’s too fast to see! Be on your toes! I bet that Zanir boy has something to do with it! Everyone, have an eye on the ground and an eye on the sky!” The commander said.
Now with only two tanks to worry about, Zeek regained his confidence. He pushed the left yolk forward, creeping up behind one. He fired a powerful anti-tank shell at the leg of the tank, causing it to collapse. The black streak returned, firing a deadly blast at the cockpit. The tank went up in flames.
“I saw it!” A crew member of the last tank said.
“What is it?” Someone asked.
“I don’t know.” The crew member said back.
“You DON’T KNOW?” The pilot screamed.
“It was moving too fast. I just know that whatever it is has the same type of weapons the tanks do.” The crew member said back.
“Oh I could have told you that!” Another crew member responded.
While they argued, Zeek snuck in a few crippling rounds. It was finished off by another highspeed pass on a rotor bike. The tank went up in flames.
“Zeek, what happened to the other guys in your company?” Sandles asked.
“Dead…” Zeek said, not pleased to admit this.
“Okay,” Sandles sighed, “Boss, we pushed off about half of the tanks but still have a ton of racers left… What now? Are we still playing it safe with the rotor bikes and not being seen?”
“Yeah, keep the tug of war going… We need the cue from Zanir… How far are you…” Alistair asked.
“I just got here…” I responded, opening the sun hatch of the hangar. I dropped in, seeing a number of guards surrounding the hundreds of kids zip tied, sitting on the floor. I didn’t have my blades this run, forgetting them in all the chaos. This was going to be tough!
However, I knew this hangar. This was the very hangar with the nuclear fission reactor being built. Of course the process had stopped with the Revivalists insurging. That meant there was a lot of structures for me to climb on to outflank these big clunky soldiers. I did just that, climbing up on the supports for the upper platform. I could see Basil sitting at the head of the crowd. He was in bad shape, having been roughed up terribly. I had to get him and these kids out of here.
“This is like a repeat event…” The commander said.
“We said we weren’t gonna fall for the same trick twice but we did…” A supporting officer said.
“How did they even know we’re here! What’s their motives this time? We’re no longer in Jeurridam so what reason is there to fight?” The commander asked.
“I bet it has something to do with these brats…” A guard said, looking out over the terrified children.
“Those kids in the radio tower were sending for help.” A supporting officer responded, “And help arrived…”
“We still have a few tricks up our sleeves. If they have come for the kids then we’ll let them leave with them… There’s no need for this senseless violence… So much money lost!” The commander responded.
“Are reinforcements on their way? This is the second time in a row we’re getting decimated!” A supporting officer asked.
“I don’t know… I lost radio contact thirty minutes ago…” An officer sighed.
“So we’re stuck here again? We barely got away when the dam exploded! We’re lucky this pace was in the archives…” A soldier sighed.
“No we’re not stuck here! We still have three fully functioning ships we can evacuate on… Two of those ships are filled with some very heavy artillery…” The commander said, growing frustrated.
“If we have heavy artillery, why are we not using it?” A soldier asked.
“Because we don’t know what we’re up against! The bandits are holding back and it’s not making sense right now! Something else is up…” The commander said back firmly.
“What do you mean?” A supporting officer asked.
“Soldiers out there have been catching glimpses of something moving too fast to see with a lot of firepower! It’s been taking out tanks left and right. Not even the racers caught a solid glimpse of it! This could be it but I’m not sure. They may have something else up there sleeves. There’s a lot of money invested into this research and I can’t invest any more assets if I know whatever they have is gonna whipe the floor with us. It’s not worth the engagement…” The commander explained.
“What? Commander, this could keep us alive! No more people have to die! If you have something with the stopping power in those ships, use it! Whose side are you own?” An outspoken grunt said. It made the commander rise from his seat, angered.
“I’m on the side you signed up for! Do you know what you signed up for? You signed up to defend the assets of the nation of the Revivalists with selflessness and without thought! That means defending our military products at all costs! Forty percent of our reinforcements have already been destroyed and that number is creeping higher. The assets in the brigates are our top priority and you as a soldier should be aware of that! If we all die here today, that is okay! We’re defending what needs to be defended… You’re all expendable… I’m an expendable…” The commander said through the grit of his teeth, “No continue your duties…”
Not a single soul liked his comments. They didn’t like his speech on them being valued less than machines. It didn’t matter anyways. Slowly and stealthily, I began taking out the patrolling soldiers one by one. It took me around six minutes to round up everyone, using their very own zip ties against them. Last but not least was the commander.
I ran up behind him leaping onto his back. I slammed his head into the computer terminal, knocking him unconscious, I tied him up along with the rest of his force. He watched as I circled about.
“Okay rotor team, I have taken control of the hangar… clear me a path…” I responded.
“Why are you doing this!” The commander asked out.
“You have allies of us here… We protect our own! People matter… unlike the lives you’re willing to lay waste for machines…” I responded, heading over to the detained kids. The first person I freed was Basil. I broke his zip ties so he could stand. He was hurt mighty badly, barely able to stand, “They pulled a number on you…”
“I thought you weren’t coming…” He said. His eyes were nearly swollen shut.
“They beat you?” I asked, not pleased to see him like this.
“Yeah, me and a few others…” He said.
“And I had the last minute decision not to use lethal force because of the kids in here but damn that makes me wanna reconsider, I said clenching the bridge of my nose. Just help me free the others…” I sighed, pinching the bridge of my nose, “Did they hurt anyone badly?”
“Yeah, they beat Cyclone to death… he refused everything they said for him to do… They did it to make a statement…” Basil said, freeing another detainee.
“Yeah, they beat Cyclone to death… he refused everything they said for him to do… They did it to make a statement…” Basil said, freeing another detainee.
The more there were freed, the faster things went along.
“Just how do you plan on moving all of these kids?” The commander asked.
“If you had any value for your life, I wouldn’t suggest speaking…” I said through the grit of my teeth.
“But I don’t…” The commander smiled. His forces looked on in fear, remembering the night in the BrainEngine control room. Still though, I didn’t want to touch these people. Seeing what could be left in the wake of my anger, it was wise not continue to engage with the revivalists.
The captives were freed. Many of them held up the injured as we all neared the gate.
“Is path outside the hangar clear?” I asked over the air.
“No, there are a few mechs lurking about… We have the tanks engaging us on the south end.” Zeek said.
“Okay, wedge yourself between us and the tanks. Big Daddy, Emann, Orb, clear me a path… Rotor team, you’re gonna be escorting us in! We need to keep this tight…” I said.
“Roger.” Rotor team responded.
“How are you gonna move us? Where are we gonna go?” Basil asked.
“Trust me…” I said, placing a hand on his shoulder before turning back to face the massive crowd of captives, “I want the youngest in the center of the crowd and the eldest members on the outside… There are going to be some big and scary things outside this wall but I won’t let anything happen to you! There will be heroes out there, laying their lives on the line to protect you! All you have to do, is keep moving!”
I was making my way towards the armaments sitting in the corners of the hangars. I began tossing assault rifles to the older kids. These weapons wouldn’t do much against the tanks and mechs but it surely made them feel better. One kid looked at the gun, quite lost.
“You know how to work it?” I asked.
“No…” He said, terrified.
“This,” I said, pulling on the latch just in front of the clip, “Is the safety. This,” I said, pulling back a spring loaded lever, “Is the reload… hold the gun up to the corner of your chest, look down the sights and aim… When you squeeze the trigger, shoot in bursts! It saves ammo…”
“Okay…” He nodded. I patted him on the shoulder, rushing back over the gait.
“We’re ready when you are Zanir…” The radio buzzed.
“Good luck!” The commander smiled. The look on his face showed that he had something up his sleeve… My gut was telling me to hurry up and get these kids as far away from here as possible… Things were going to take a turn.
“I know I should kill you but I can’t…” I said through the grit of my teeth. I pulled the lever on the hangar door, the door slowly rolling open. I squeezed my watch, “When we’re a safe distance away… Blow up the hangar…”
“Roger…” Alistair responded.
Upon opening the door, the wreckage could be seen. Fragments of the juggernaut ships lay everywhere. The fodder of cannons exploded in the distance. Fallen tanks, mechs and racers littered the ground. Sandles came in on a rotor bike, waving the kids forth!
“Come on and follow me!” He shouted over the roar of everything. The humongous crowd began to to make their way out of the hangar, following Sandles. Beth, Heaven and Alistair provided additional support, creating a highly mobile encampment of heavy tank destroying artillery.
June and Julio roared by on their hover bikes, engaged with the number of mechs nearby. They disappeared behind rubble, the distinct sounds of their cannons reverberating across the wreckage. I ran over to Basil, the boy having to be toted between several men.
“How you holding up?” I asked.
“I could be doing better…” He said quite stiff, “Where are we going?”
“THEY’RE HEADING TO THE SHIP!!!!!!! QUICK CLOSE THE GAIT!!!!” Someone inside the hangar screamed.
“Alastair!” I shouted.
“On it!” Alistair responded, blasting the inside of the hangar with as much fodder as he could. Debris began to fall, but the hangar gait still closed. Alistair continued to fire but the outside of the hangar was too structurally strong to succumb to the ferocious blasts. This wasn’t at all a good sign. Those monsters were safe within the confines of that hangar! God knows what they had in store for us.
“The remainder of us have flanked around the tanks… We’re pressing towards you all.” Zeek said over the air.
“How many of you are left.” I asked.
“Sixteen to twenty… We’ve been getting whipped and we have a shit ton of racers on our asses… This is looking grim, Zanir.” He responded.
“Just hold on a little longer! We’re almost there!” I said back.
“INCOMING!” June screamed. A manticore came rushing towards the survivors. As it did, it was blasted to bits by the cannon of June’s rotor bike. The mech fell, the crowd warping around it like a single mass steadily heading for the ship.
More and more mechs began to pop of the ruins, grabbing a kid and disappearing again. We were beginning to panic. The mechs were proving to be too much for our forces.
“Zanir, you know what you might have to do!” Beth said.
“I know… but that’s a last resort! If I have to do it you all get the fuck out of here! For now, you and June pair up! Same with Julio and Heaven. Watch each other’s back and shoot down anything that isn’t on our frequency! Big Daddy, Emann and ORB, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I asked.
“We’re doing all we can, but these mechs are resourceful…” Big Daddy said back.
“Well keep it up! I’m trying to think of something…” I responded.
“Where are your blades, Zanir?” Beth asked, “Swarm protocol!”
“MY BLADES!!!!” I said, quick to activate the program! Swarm protocol sent the blades in mass to attack anything on foreign frequencies. I set up a perimeter around the survivors, the blades quick to act to any threat. All it took was one well placed blade to down a mech, “Done…”
“Okay…” Beth said, her and June rotating around each other. She rode an all black dual blade rotor bike. It was thin and streamlined but quite exposed compared to the heavier duty one June rode. However, it still had just the same amount of stopping power!
On the front was the same seventy five millimeter cannon that the buggies used to destroy the tanks. She fired blast after blast at the fast moving manticores, dropping them with one shot. Still though, the numbers were dense. A bolder one came screeching in, claws outstretched.
“SHIT!” She screamed, jamming the the left pedal. She quickly darted out of the way before maxing out the throttle. The bike leapt up as she pitched the nose of the bike down. June turned around swiftly, firing a debilitating shot at the mech. The blast moved the mech right up under Beth’s cannon. She fired, the mech lighting up in flames. The bike came back down to the ground only to be rushed upon by another mech.
Somehow, the girl managed to dodge this. As she moved out the way, the mech ended up in the lines of sight of June. He blasted the manticore to bits, the anti-tank round taking it’s head clean off! He and Beth got right back into position, covering each others sixes taking out the mechs that came.
“We’re managing better this way…” Beth said.
“Yeah we are!” June added.
“Good, we’re almost there!” I responded, looking forward, “Zeek…” The buggies had arrived! It was so relieving to see them! This meant we had more stopping power to aid in defending the survivors.
“We’re here…” Zeek said, just as a buggy behind him blew up. He quickly turned his buggy around, seeing waves of racers sprinting out, surrounding us all.
“Julio, Alistair… Sandles, engage the racers! Heaven you take up the rear and make sure nothing comes from behind! We’re so close” I said.
“Okay!” The boys said, getting into position.
The racers weaved through the wreckage on the greyhound-like bodies.
“I see Zanir…” A racer pilot said, “Going in!” The racer continued to make his way through the ship wreckage, moving so fast, I only caught glimpses. Just as he came into view, he was blasted to bits by Sandle’s cannons.
“No you don’t…” Sandles said, quick to turn towards the main fight. He pushed the throttle forward, accelerating quickly behind the tail of a racer. A few sharp turns later and he filled the lightly armored craft with the explosive round of the tank buster cannon! It’s parts ricocheted in a bright explosion.
“What the?” Another racer asked, quick to get on Sandles tail. The racer fired his fixed vulcan cannon, “Sir they have some type of hover bike…”
“Take them out!” The commander said.
“RAGH, he’s still alive!” I screamed, quite frustrated. This commander, the same man who captured Zeek, the same man who had me strapped into that machine beneath the lake, was proving to be quite the hassle.
Just as the racer’s bullets streaked past Sandles, he yanked the right yolk backwards. He ascending in a steep vertical climb, forcing the pursuing racer to fly.
“Sir, that thing can fly! SIR IT CAN….RAGGGGH!!!!” The racer pilot said as a bullet ruptured the vehicle. It exploded sending bits and pieces flying everywhere.
“What can fly?” The commander asked.
“The hover bikes!!!!” Another racer pilot asked, “The thing just went up in the air, looped around and shot!!!! These are what have been taking out our tanks! They’re fast! Ungodly fast!”
“Hoverbikes…” The commander laughed, “Oh jesus, these are what these pathetic lowlanders have been using… They think they’ve won? Let them get to the ship…”
“Hoverbikes…” The commander laughed, “Oh jesus, these are what these pathetic lowlanders have been using… They think they’ve won? Let them get to the ship…”
“Zanir, you hear this?” Alistair asked, hot on the tail of a racer.
“I most certainly did. I’m starting to think this was a very, very bad idea. Orb scan the ship for anything… Dormant mechs, a remote detonation device! Anything!” I said. She swooped down beginning the long scanning process. Despite being about the fifth the size of a juggernaut, the brigate ships were still massive and incredibly dense!!!! However they were relatively primitive and easily hacked so stealing one was a feasible idea.
We were a little over halfway there and the battle wasn’t slacking. Sandles continued to make high speed runs, taking shots then disappearing before he could be fired upon. Beth and June continued to engage the numerous mechs. Alistair and Julio both took on numerous ground targets surrounding the area… Anything that gave the dwindling buggies a hard time was dealt with by Alistair.
It made the fight between the two dozen or so odd tanks, several dozen racers and the handful of buggies much more balanced. Julio was really good at driving his tri-blade. It was a matte gray beauty, in between the heft of Sandles’s and the leanness of Beth and Heaven’s. It had downward facing stabilizers and keen agility. Unlike the other rotor bikes, his cannon could move when traveling at low speed and track targets with onboard. It made his rotor-bike incredibly lethal in low visibility.
Julio entered a narrow gully between two ship fragments that had fallen. Even through debris and walls, the sensors tracked the racers. As the racers tried to flank around him at high speed, using cover to their advantage, they’d be blasted. His pulse detection, low frequency sonar warned him of dangers in his surroundings. He’d turn, his tank buster cannon locking on to a target and taking aim. A shot was fired, ripping a hole through the debris. A large structure fell allowing Julio to use it as a ramp.
He sped across it, rejoining Alistair in this battle. Alistair was surrounded by nimble racers but didn’t worry. He had the heaviest built rotor bike, fully encased in an angular aerodynamic armor. His rotors had six blades each to compensate for the extra mass. His stabilizers were also much larger than the other rotor bikes, being variable geometric.
On the nose of his rotor bike stood dual tank buster cannons with a laser lance in the middle. Alistair’s rotor bike was robust enough to carry the extra artillery but just as nimble as the rest.
“Now Cheshie!!!!” Alistair said as he maxed out the throttle. His rotor bike rocketed up in a steep vertical climb, leaving the racers perplexed.
Suddenly a very advanced buggy, one with magnetic suspension, came leaping over the debris with the same agility as a racer. It’s cannon aimed at the racers, taking multiple shots while in mid air. Alistair aimed his massive cannons as well, taking some very lethal shots. Not wanting to be left out, Julio lept of the fallen support, adding the last decimating blow to the racers. The speedy machines scattered, desperate to find another area to regroup.
“Sir the buggies and hoverbikes are too much…” A racer pilot asked.
“Just wait…” The commander responded.
No one liked the sound of this. These wicked people had something else planned.
“Zanir, you definitely hearing this, right?” Alistair asked.
“Yeah… Um, Orb, how are those scans coming along?” I asked in response.
“About fifty percent completed…” She said.
“Please hurry… I don’t like this outlook!” I said.
“I’m trying!” She said.
“Big Daddy, help her!” I responded.
“I can’t…” He responded, prying the jaws of a manticore apart, “Hands full…”
“Fuck…” I sighed, trying to keep my cool. It made me wonder how in control of my powers could I actually be. Could I manipulate things down to a particle level of were they all based on my emotional status! This was important because if I could destroy the hoover dam with my mind, I could save every life here today but only if I was in control. That same power I could use to save everyone here could easily destroy them. Ultimately the risk wasn’t worth it, not yet anyways…
“Shit, Zanir… THEY’RE COMING YOUR WAY!!!! MECHS!!!!” Big Daddy screamed. I turned, seeing three large manticores sprinting as fast as they could. There was no time to react. I put up both of my hand bracing for the impact only to feel a pulse leave my body.
The mechs were flung into a chunk of wreckage, causing the debris to collapse over them. We were engulfed in a wall of dust. Alistair and June came over, clearing out the dust with the rotor bike’s blades.
“I saw that!” June said, “Do you think you can do that again?”
“I don’t know.” I responded, looking around for something else I could test on.
“It can make or break our efforts. Please try Zanir…” Alistair said, circling around for any threats. I looked at a fallen mech on the ground, extending out my hand. With some thought, it began to rise of the ground. As I realized this was from my doing, it fell. These powers were wonky, but seemed to work best when I wasn’t trying to concentrate. They seemed to work as an extension of the body, much like my blades.
“I think I know what to do…” I said, rising off the ground.
“Zanir, a tank’s busting through a wall we knocked down…” Zeek said, his buggy backing over towards us. There was a huge wall of debris that the buggy pilots shot down to make a barrier between us and the tanks. This wall of debris was about to shatter any minute with the heavy tanks pushing against it.
It was a tedious few seconds, seconds that seemed to stretch out for hours. Silence hit us all as we waited for the damn near unstoppable force to break through. They did, firing their explosive rounds at us, knocking down tons of debris. It was reflex to extend out my hand, freeze the debris mid air. I then flung it at the tank, causing it and several others to explode.
Upon realizing what I did, I came back down to the ground. These powers of mine were in incredible challenge to use. They required a free concentration-less mind for them to work, one full of emotion and adrenaline and irrational thought, and right now I was relatively calm and as rational as I could possibly be.
Still though, the tanks came at full force, followed by racers. On the other side, a number of mechs were rushing forth like hellborne beasts! Big Daddy and Emann definitely had their handsful. However, it didn’t matter. We had just arrived at the ship.
“Orb?” I called out.
“Scann almost complete… ninety seven percent done…” She said.
“ZANIR!!!!!!!!!” Big Daddy said, swooping in fast, landing just before me.
“Oh my god…” Alistair said, stopping his engagement with the enemy. The deep whirring of thrusters caught everyone’s attentions. All eyes locked onto the skies as the big invincible frame of a juggernaut came flying over our head. The Revivalist reinforcements had arrived…
“We still have a tiny window of time…” Alistair said.
Suddenly an arcbeam, an incredibly dense laser, fired from behind us. It shot a hole right through Big Daddy! He collapsed on the ground, circulatory fluid draining. We all turned to see a giant mech we’ve become all too familiar with. It was a Valley Mech, better known as a crab scorpion. The massive mech towered above all, with several thick tree-trunk sized legs and a hull that was incredibly armor proof… And it had just… killed… my father…
All I could remember was the ground beginning to quake. A large atmospheric depression formed around the ship. Suddenly it began to collapse in on itself as the crab scorpion walked off its cargo bay. Everything before me began to collapse into nothingness, rising above the ground. Somehow, the crab scorpion fell out of the wreckage to the ground. It landed upside down, legs squirming as it’s soft underbelly was exposed.
Emann came in from a screeching sprint, dozens of manticores on his tail. He lept up, firing a pulse blast at the crab scorpion. It was ripped open by the blast but not destroyed. He fired another, one that tore a hole clean through the mech’s core. The giant monster was dead…
I collapsed to my knees, everything shaking around me. Tears streamed down my face as I scrambled over to Big Daddy. He was fading fast.
“No… NO!!!!” I screamed.
“You carry on! You survive this, you here?” He said.
“DAD NO!!!!!” I cried, seeing the life fade from his cold mechanical remains.
“I feel them coming… You survive! They’re….coming…” Those were his last words before his machinery stopped working. I began prying apart his armor, trying to get to his life support system. It was still on, but failing. He probably only had a few minutes.
Basil came over to me, collapsing beside me. The site was unreal.
“He really was your father…” He said. I couldn’t even come to words, only able to make the ground quake.
“Zanir…” Alistair said, sounding grim. I looked up seeing two more crab scorpions coming out of the remaining brigates. More and more brigates began to land dropping more reinforcements. A hand fell upon my shoulder. It was Basil, tears welling up in his eyes. He slowly nodded, losing every ounce of hope he hand gained.
“You tried.” He said.
“Everyone,” I said, “Get out of here while you can… I’m about to make another crater…”
“Zanir… you won’t be able to escape the radius of your own blast. You’ll die as well.” Beth said.
“...And?” I said back, “I’ve failed… My dad is sitting here seconds away from dying… His vision is gone… lost. I just want to join him…” Heated tears rolled down my cheeks.
“Zanir…” Zeek said.
“You either can leave now… Or die with me…” I said, looking at him as his buggy came to a halt. His canopy opened, tears streaming from his eyes. His fist fell upon his chest.
“You know what I choose to do…” He said, standing beside me. Beth came to a stop as well, standing beside me.
“A world without you just isn’t a world. I’ll leave with you…” She said. Alistair was next.
“I’ve lost my son, my city, my empire, my life’s work, my men… Now’s no better time to give up the ghost. We all can agree that we put up one hell of a fight, though? Can we?” He said.
“Right…” June said, taking off his helmet, “It’s been an honor Zanir. You changed my whole perspective on many things and I know I’ll die happy…” He looked back at Heaven smiling as the boy came over. He grabbed his hand, pulling him in for a kiss!
This was a glorious moment, June and Heaven finally coming to terms with their romance for everyone to see. Despite being moments before our deaths, their union put everyone at ease. It was now or never. I was about to let go of these tightly wound emotions and let these powers free.
“Spare me the sappiness for a moment… No one’s going to die…” A foreign unimpressed voice said over the air, “Anti-mech team! You know the drill!”
“Roger, First Wing…” Another foreign voice said. I collapsed on the ground my body weak with relief. All I could do was laugh and cry at the same time!
“The UCAC…” I managed to get out.
I saw them! Who ever he was, he looked like an angel in that wingsuit. It was white with an elegant and streamlined design. He came streaking in at supersonic speeds, laying waste to the crab scorpion.
“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!” He screamed, “Second Wing and the interceptors… take on the rest. Kites, let’s get these survivors out of here. Bring in the ship!”
“Will Heed, First Wing…” A female voiced responded.
They were coming. I could see the white wing suit pilot followed by a number of others gliding in on out stretched wings. The all white one was the first to land, flapping swiftly with his metal wings as entered a jog to dissipate his speed. Those thick talons sent sparks flying, managing to galge deep into the concrete.
“I am Elanid…” The man said, taking off his helm, “But you can call me Denver!” I was breathtaken! How he could extend out his hand for me to shake while smiling profusely like this wasn’t a warzone was beyond me. I took his hand, shaking it.
“Hi…” I said back, “Um… my father’s in here! His life support is fading! We need to save him!”
“We’ll get him some support.” Denver said, stepping forth, his wings draped around him like an elegant metal cape, “He must have been an important man to be placed within a Big Daddy…” He stroked his chin.
“We’ll get him some support.” Denver said, stepping forth, his wings draped around him like an elegant metal cape, “He must have been an important man to be placed within a Big Daddy…” He stroked his chin.
“Yes… He’s Dumir Aheem…” I said, warranting a serious look from Denver.
“Well we need to get him out of here.” He said.
I began prying apart the dense metal within Big Daddy’s chassis. I pulled out his life support system handing it to Denver.
“Just take care of him!” I said. Denver looked at me with those warm honey colored eyes.
“You can trust me!” He said, taking my father’s remnants in his hands, “El, take him to the ship as fast as you can!”
“Will heed, captain…” She responded, leaping into the air. With extreme nimbleness, she spread her wings, consequently dropping my father’s remnants. With quick talons, she grasped him, flying swiftly out of site.
“How’d you all get into this mess?” Denver asked, looking around at us, “And managed to get this far…!?!?! You all are no joke aren’t you?”
“This guy!” Basil said, pointing to me. Denver leaned down to look at Basil.
“They fucked your ass up good, bruh! How bad are you hurt?” He asked.
“I can walk…”Basil said back.
“We’ll patch you up.” Denver said, looking at the boy from head to toe. He then roughed up his hair, angering Basil. This Denver guy seemed to be quite the daring and bold personality. I’ve never quite dealt with someone like this before. It was… strange.
Seconds later the ship arrived, it’s bay doors opening.
“Everyone get onboard if you wanna make it out of here! Medical attention will be onboard as well!” He said, pointing to the ship. Not a single soul wasted any time getting there, “And you all bring your little doohickeys and gadgets along!” He added, looking at the rotor bikes, “They’re kinda cool!” He then put on his helm, taking off on those massive wings.
Upon getting on the ship, we were greeted by a surprise face… Dale! He was pleased to see us all in one piece which was even more surprising.
“Glad you all made it!” He said, having some truly genuine feelings. A thin, dark skinned curly hair woman stepped out from behind him. Beth, Zeek and Heaven’s eyes lit up.
“MOM!!!!!” She screamed, rushing over. Zeek and Heaven were close behind, all three hugging her tightly.
“I missed you all so much!” She smiled, muffled under all her children.
“I missed you too mom…” Zeek said.
“I got some news…” She said, their embrace coming to an end, “Your dad and I finally decided… to get a DIVORCE!!!”
“Yeah…” Dale said smiling, “We learned we couldn’t make each other happy so it’s better to split mutually… and just let go of the old.”
“Wow, finally…” Beth said.
“That’s crazy how you two can be some bombastic about breaking up when we just got out of fighting for our lives…” Zeek chuckled, happy to take a seat after enduring all of this.
“Zanir!” Mrs. Logatti called out, “Come on over here too!” I did so, a bit nervous.
“Hey…” I waved. She grabbed my face, looking at me intently with those green eyes.
“We’re gonna give your father a new body! He’s gonna be a new man!” She said.
“Wait what…?” I asked, unsure what she meant, “Like you’re building him a new body?”
“More like growing but you can say building.” She smiled. This literally blew my mind.
“I need to sit.” I said, feeling the blood rushing from my head. She sat me next to Zeek, the boy looking at me chuckling.
“You tired?” He asked.
“Hell yeah…” I responded.
“Your father had this BrainEngine schematic the UCM called me in to work on. A few years ago a severe hack let a portion of the leak get out but we cracked down and build several functioning units in Labrador.” Mrs. Logatti said.
“Oh, we’re all too familiar with the BrainEngine… There was one built behind the hoover dam and Zeek and I were the beta testers…” I sighed. Mrs. Logatti looked alarmed.
“Really?” She asked as the ship began to lift off the ground. Big powerful explosions tore into everyone’s ears.
“Guys, you might want to come look at this!” Sandles said, looking out of a window. We all rushed over to see what was going on.
It was the complete and utter decimation of the remains of the Revivalists fleet as well as the engagement with the freshly arriving fleet. The freshly arrived juggernaut ship had been brought down by the winged fleet. Seeing the wingsuit pilots in action was more amazing that I ever could have imagined.
“Nice to finally meet you Zanir.” Someone said. It was Denver standing in the bay of the ship, placing his helmet on, “We were gonna come looking for you anyways but I guess you just couldn’t wait on us… And I thought I wasn’t patient.” He took off on those steely wings, powering right into the fray.
He swooped and banked, blasting a number of targets with his pulse beams. They were incredibly powerful but small, small enough to come from tiny opening on his Helm! His suit was on a level of ingenuity I wanted to understand! Not only that, but he made my fearlessness look like child’s play. Those daring maneuvers and subsonic speed were everything to write home about. Someone placed a hand on my shoulder, Zeek.
“If you don’t bone him… I will!” He said.
“Yeen, boning shit!” Sandles said grabbing Zeek, yanking him playfully over to him, “And besides, you owe me for saving that ass so many times out there!”
“Oh please, I handled myself good… for someone who didn’t know what the hell they were doing!” Zeek laughed.
“Yeah, I must admit! You’re a damn good handler. Makes me curious to what all you can handle.” Sandles said, looking at Zeek lustfully.
“Yeah you would want to know…” Zeek chuckled.
“I do…” Sandles said, not hiding his intent.
I had to leave these two swooning love birds. I went over to Beth who was having a sit down with June and Julio. The situation seemed tense.
“So… you’re gay?” June asked.
“Yes…” Julio responded, unsure how his brother would take this. June sat there, blank… The expression on his face could range from indifference to displeasure. Suddenly, he yanked the boy from across Beth, hugging him tightly.
“You’re still my little bro! This doesn’t change a damn thing!” He said. His words induced tears from Julio. That was the only thing Julio could do was cry! Julio was a very sweet and innocent kid despite his rough and tumble looks. He was nothing but a softie up under it all and Heaven got him a good one!
“And let me guess…” Dale began, walking up behind Heaven, “You and Julio are partners…?” Heaven turned to face his father.
“Yep…” He shrugged, ready to face his father’s wrath. Dale sighed hard.
“Hell if you kids all have the courage to be free, so can I.” Dale said, warranting a bewildered look from all the kids, “Your mom and I have something to tell you.” Mrs. Logatti came and stood beside him.
“The reason why your father and I are gonna get a divorce is because your father, for so long felt the need to live a lie to uphold a standard of being what he thought a father should be. Some how, after twenty six long years, he managed to come to terms with the fact that his happiness shouldn’t be defined by a standard he feels forced to uphold.” She explained stepping back.
“Yeah… I’ve had a really, really fucked up upbringing. I’m from the Great Ruins of the East where mechs ran rampant and humans had to cling for survival. I had a big family up until a certain point when day after day, they were taken from me. Everyone died and I was left all alone for years… years! I became this wild thing that didn’t understand himself. Then by chance, I met your mother and I felt like she was the best thing to ever happen to me. She was freshly in the UCM and her mission was with a rehabilitation team that went to find people like me, damaged and alone. Some how we ended up falling fast for each other, she getting pregnant with twins and we decided to move to the other side of the nation. This was pretty much the start of the end.  and I never really saw each other and I felt the pressure to become this world class husband of hers and hurt… a lot of people in the process. She’d be gone for months even years at a time and everytime she came back, I wanted her to have something new for her empire. I didn’t know how taxing this was on my well being and how one man couldn’t just manage it all. What really made me realize I was out of control was having you all walk away from me, saying the exact same thing! If all of you have the same issue, then it is something I need to fix, and I as a man...as your father, must own up to this so I apologize….” Dale explained.
“When did the love stop?” Beth asked.
“When I realized he was doing all of this for the sake of upholding a title… Everytime I left and came back, there was something else and it seemed to keep snowballing. He always tried to get me to say, disregarding my job saying we needed to be a family, to stick together no matter what! He said he didn’t want to lose me... It also didn’t help he got me pregnant four times…” Their mom laughed.
“For me, it was never really love. More so a strong attracting, a vision to uphold and a terrible past that led to me doing some of the shitty things I’ve done.” Dale sighed.
“Well you’re still my dad…” Beth laughed.
“And you’re still mommy!” Zeek said. Both kids got up to got up to hug it out with them.
They shared their good times before things became quiet on the ship. Dale eventually snuck off the edge of the observation deck where Alistair had been sitting for hours. From up here, he heard the conversations from below. He definitely was the most lonely person on the ship. Dale sat beside him, quite concerned.
“How you feeling…?” Dale asked.
“I’m still waiting for it to hit me.” Alistair sighed, making Dale’s heart sink low into his stomach.
“I’m so sorry.” Dale said.
“I’ve lost everything now… Everything… trying to protect the city I love… Maybe I should just end this… I’ve done all I can. Maybe it’s my time…” Alistair said.
“You can’t be serious…” Dale said, not liking this one bit.
“I am, Dale. Everything seems to be falling into place for you while I keep losing thing after thing after thing… I don’t want to lose anymore. I might fall apart. I feel like I’m this close to just losing it.” Alistair said, holding up a pinch.
“You know why I have you such a hard time for so long?” Dale asked.
“Because you’re an evil son of a bitch?” Alistair retorted, a crude joke that made Dale laugh.
“No… I never stopped loving you. It was so frustrating knowing you were on the other side of the Colorado but my circumstances kept me from you… And when you get frustrated, sometimes you lash out. I lashed out a LOT!!!!” Dale chuckled.
“What are you saying… Dale?” Alistair demanded.
“After twenty four years of bullshitting… I’ve decided I want to be with you.” He said. Alistair’s gaze slowly drifted back to the giant observation glass pane.
“It’s not that that’s not good to hear but I kinda wanna grow old and be miserable and just be plain sad. Have you ever had everything you worked for die all of a sudden?” Alistair responded.
“No, but close. Multiple times, I’ve gambled with my empire. Somehow it’s still intact… Except the dam. I can’t charge people for power now.” Dale laughed.
“Eh maybe you have…” Alistair sighed, realizing that he wasn’t as alone as he wished he could feel.
“It’s so crazy how you I’m currently the happiest I’ve been in decades, come crawling back to you only to find that you’re at your most miserable state to date…” Dale sighed.
“Well… When you lose a child, it’ll do that to you.” Alistair shrugged.
“Oh god, I couldn’t imagine losing any of mine. I want to actually thank you for keeping them alive for me. They’re a wild and unruly bunch… I wish I could repay you with the way I have in mind.” Dale smiled.
“And what’s that?” Alistair asked.
“This…” Dale said, leaning in to kiss him. It was warm and passionate, one with twenty plus years worth of unresolved issues behind it.
I sat in the rear of the observation deck, genuinely happy for everyone! The found partners to get through the end of time with. It surely felt good but at the same time there still was a giant hole in my heart. Then a thin frame, well muscled with an enthusiastic gait came walking down the catwalk. It was Denver, that boyish face with those adorable freckles being so easily recognizable. He sat next to me.
“Why are you sitting here alone?” He asked curiously.
“You know, sometimes you need it. I wonder does this brain implant keep me from coming to terms with a lot of my issues…” I sighed.
“They do. It makes you feel like you’re standing on top of your issues but you can’t quite dive down and deal with them.” He said.
“They do!” I said, surprised he knew how it felt! It was good to know I wasn’t the only one who struggled with emotions having a brain implant.
“So… it seems everyone here’s hitched up except you.” He continued.
“Um… my boyfriend died last Saturday…” I said.
“Sorry to hear that! I shouldn’t have asked.” Denver said.
“You’re good! It’s just… this week has been the craziest of my life… Like, I haven’t had the time to mourn. I don’t even know if I can…” I responded.
“Well you seemed to have gotten upset when Dr. Aheem got shot. What was that little thing you do that makes things crumble into nothingness? Can you teach me how to do it?” Denver laughed, grabbing my hand, looking at him. Despite being the same size as me, he had a bigger more masculine mitt. His hand made mine feel...protected. It was strange!
“I don’t know how to work the powers. I keep getting shot so my body is repairing itself with gravitanium nanites which, for whatever reason decided to give me special powers… It’s weird as hell.” I clarified.
“Well,” He said, embracing my hand, looking at me deeply with those warm and inviting eyes, “What all can you do?”
“So far… fuck with gravity.” I chuckled.
“That’s damn cool. That means you can like fly and shit! What’s the single handed most impressive thing you did?” Denver asked, quite enthused.
“Um…. destroy the Hoover Dam…” I laughed. Denver’s eye’s bucked wide.
“Wow…” He said, “I won’t ever piss you off… EVER!!!!” He made me laugh.
“What about you? You got someone special?” I asked.
“Thought I did but he found someone else. There’s nothing I can do about it… he’s a world away.” He sighed.
“Awe, so sorry.” I responded.
“It’s okay. I’m used to this frail little heart of mine being shattered to little bits… I have tons of spares.” He chuckled, but there was definitely some hurt there.
“Sounds like you’ve been through your fair share… I got my heart broken once and said no more to it. You’re resilient to keep trying!” I laughed.
“I’m a relationship guy. I hate it but I need someone… If not, I can’t keep my head screwed on right and end up being a retard.” He said. This had me all thrown for a loop. His openness, the way he spoke to me… it made me feel as though I’ve always known him!
“Why are you being so open?” I asked.
“I’ve always been an open book. I like to bear it all, especially if it’s gonna be with someone I’m gonna be working with for a while.” He smiled, looking at me with those boyish cheeks.
“What?” I asked.
“Yeah! We’re gonna be working together!” He said.