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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 23 - The Other War

07/20/3060 Location – Eden, Pentagon Worlds

Cell Colonel Vorgen Wells leapt over the cliffs in his Pouncer not expecting to see the carnage that awaited him. He did not believe the reports as they started filtering in but did when he saw the remains of his infantry battalion staining the gray land with red blood. One hundred Hell's Horses and Jade Falcon Armored Infantry had dropped far faster and in greater force than had been predicted and more were unloading behind him pressing against his rapidly depleting garrison. He had expected the Jade Falcons to fight the Horses after embarrassing them as greatly as he had; not ally and aid them against his forces. Something was missing in his intelligence reports and there was no escaping the inevitable now. All that remained was to take as many of these Warriors down with him as possible.

He zoomed in on the center of the formation and lifted an eyebrow at the sight of the Horse Star Colonel standing defiantly in the center. His heavy suit was scarred with hundreds of bullets and four missiles, “Rhinos? We were supposed to take possession of them. Well you know what they say about military intelligence."

"All Mechwarriors maintain range from the Elementals. Our Pouncers can pick them off at a distance.”

The long range RADAR station mounted atop a nearby mesa radioed to him, the voice filled with static due to the grounding effect of the peninsula but clear enough. “Sir, another flight of Jade Falcon Omnifighters are inbound. Two Points of Visigoths, one of Scythas. ETA five mikes at current velocity.”

“Damn! All Points advance. Make it difficult for those fighters to strafe us into oblivion.”

Eight Pouncers walked forward firing bolts of man made lighting toward the Elementals who ducked behind rocks. Lucky shots shredded power suits and the operator inside with high energy particles. Clan Warriors leapt from cover to cover setting each other up for solid shots on the light mechs. Colonel Wells crushed one of the Falcon Elementals that attempted to take his legs out from beneath him.

Visigoth Medium OmniFighter (In space - IWM Paint by Steve McCarthney)

Visigoth Medium OmniFighter

A volley of SRMs crashed into his mech followed by laser pulses that threatened to knock the Bandit Leader to the ground for removal by the unfeeling claws of Elemental Warriors. He fired his own missiles which scattered across the enemy formation and vaporized another Falcon Elemental that sky-lighted itself on a nearby ridge.

Their missiles expended the suits' discarding their missile launcher. Now unencumbered they swarmed over the enemy mechs rending armor; a Falcon Salamander cracked the cockpit of a mech spraying flames into the helpless Mechwarrior and causing the machine to topple into the earth with smoke rising out of the cockpit.

Like many Omnimechs the Pouncers lacked hands and couldn't remove the Elementals swarming over their machine. They would not be any safer if they dropped and rolled and there was no water nearby to drown them out. However they were 'safe' from the Falcon Aerospace fighters that blazed overhead. Those fighters released their bombs which smashed into the mountainside blasting the remaining Flak guns concealed within to scrap iron.

Magnus Ghost stepped over toward one of the fallen Falcon Elemental suits, the Warrior's ID was lost, charred beyond recognition but their laser was operational. He reached over with his battle claw and removed his damaged pulse laser replacing it with a standard version and looked toward the melee with anticipation. The Bandits had closed to stymie Hazard Flight overhead and kill as many of his fellow Warriors as possible. There was no depth of depravity for these chalcas Bandits that flaunted the Widowmaker name in defiance of the Clans.

The Horseman rushed toward one of the olive drab Pouncers leaping onto it and latching on with his battle claw and crumpling armor panels as his 1500 Kilo mass crashed into the frame. That Pouncer moved ever so slightly with the impact of so many Elementals on it but its gyro adjusted keeping it upright. Magnus crunched into panels ripping them as he approached the cockpit's cowling. Already it was damaged by laser fire and power armor claws and he finished it off ripping through the glass and his claws found purchase on something. He looked over to the Falcon Salamander that was already aboard, “Rip the canopy. I think I have him.”

The Salamander dug both of its claws into the armored mounting for the ferroglaz and allowed Magnus to remove his claw before they lifted the canopy and flung it on the stones. Within the cockpit was a helmeted Mechwarrior reaching for his pulse laser pistol which was knocked aside by the Falcon before Magnus pulled him free from the seat and out of the cockpit. They both landed just outside while the Mech just stood there in its passive stability stance.

Magnus held the Mechwarrior aloft, “Why do you fight us? What have we done to your people?”

His foe lifted his visor, he was an older man with distinctive dueling scars on his weather-worn face. “Because your kind are failures, anomalies, monstrosities. My people will be free to do as we please, not as Nicholas Kerensky demanded.

We are just the Vanguard of a greater movement that will shake the very halls of Strana Mechty.
Your days are numbered Warrior,” He armed a mini-grenade concealed in his cooling vest with a remote trigger, “mine have ended.”

That small amount of explosive was enough to kill him with only minor damage to the armor except for the splatter blinding the external cameras. Reports from the other soldiers were positive as Bandits were breaking contact and scurrying into their underground redoubts. The 232nd Combat Engineers had deployed Sappers but it was going to be a process to dig up and deal with them.

Star Colonels Ravenwater and Zymot agreed to cause a rock-slide entombing the Bandits rather than lose more Warriors chasing them out of an abandoned uranium mine. The Mechanized Warriors, EXO-FIVE units, and Tanks were left behind with the Lion. Elementals collected their fallen and boarded the Sassanid. Magnus' armor had been critically damaged so he and many other battle scarred suits were trapped in their suits until Techs could cut them out of them. They walked back into their racks for transport. Another hour wouldn't kill him he had been on duty for eighteen already with little shut eye.

As soon as the dropship lifted off he drifted away again weightless and thinking over what the Bandit was talking about. He woke to the Falcon pilot alerting them they were nearing their destination. The wounded were evacuated first to waiting MedTechs and the Technicians began to work on the damaged suits freeing their operators from twisted endo-steel and solidified Harjel. Each of the dozen major panels were removable and beneath them was a sub-layer filled with coolant tubes, pockets of Harjel, and the bundles of myomer musculature that animated the frame below.

Magnus' frame was damaged from a rocket assisted fall which required the use of heavy equipment and he queued with others. Techs cut away the armored breastplate with saws throwing out sparks in the repair bay. Damaged sections clattered to the deck and were pushed into a pile of other tortured components covered in black Harjel and dried blood.

The Jade Falcons returned to their Enclave on Rubat with 20 fewer Warriors and 10 new Aerospace fighters comfortable in the knowledge that the Bandit threat was reduced for the time being. Magnus joined the others at Vesta's sole Hotel where the exhausted Warriors were enjoying a quiet moment after showering and eating everything in the kitchen.

He was withdrawn; today was his first major combat and they were back to back grinders with a brief interlude of facing down a fellow Elemental with the success of a mission on his young shoulders. Zigfried walked up to him taking him in and patted him on the shoulder, “You did good work today, kid." He raised a glass and his voice. "Tomorrow will be different Warriors," they shouted back in a powerful unified chant that could be heard down the block, "For better or worse. Through Hell and back again.
Hurrah for Zeta.”


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