Copyright © by Hammy
JD simply shrugged at the viewer. "Fate will decide whether we are to meet or not." He narrowed his eyes to slits after looking outside his cockpit, and he snarled at the movement below. "I'll be seeing you eventually, Maverick!"
The figure on the screen started snickering then began laughing. "Mav? That disgrace? Oh please..." he rolled his eyes, "my name is a legend that strikes fear in my enemies, makes mere cadets tremble in fear and piss their pants. I'm sure you could guess better than that, but I sincerely don't think you ever will."
Something flashed on the screen, it was only brief, but JD caught it. At first he wondered why as he searched his cockpit controls to make sure his 'Mech was nominal, then he stared back at the screen with slitted eyes and a slight growl. "I don't give two shits who you are, whether you are way above anyone else in the galaxy skill-wise, you haven't met me, and finally... I will never give up looking for you, Meltdown."
The figure looking back at JD lost all composure as his eyes slowly widened and stared agape.
"Good. Now that I have your attention, I'll be generous if I give you a day's head start or so." JD sneered as he exited his 'Mech without waiting for any more replies, other than the fading "Hey wait!" coming from the cockpit.
JD climbed down his 'Mech with ease and grace. He made it look so easy, when it took years of practice. Sam made sure JD learned how to quickly descend from his cockpit as if his life depended on it. In no time at all, JD reached the ground and sprinted after the lone figure he saw enter the dense forest growth. JD's focus became sharper as he concentrated on his senses for anything amiss. Upon finding a slight dimple in the ground and several broken branches, he rapidly moved towards that direction only to walk into a spot where the intruder went off into three different directions.
JD growled to himself and closed his eyes, hoping to sense any movement of some sort, but was having no luck till he slowly opened his eyes and ducked quickly, narrowly missing a thrown blade at his head. In the next moment as JD stood back up, the intruder pounced on him, taking JD by complete surprise.
JD hunched forward and took the intruder with him, pinning the guy into a rock with a loud crack, followed by a groan.
"You really have a lot of balls showing up here like you did, Black Davion." JD didn't hesitate; he knelt down fast while bringing his right fist to connect with Black Davion's face. Pure rage took over JD as he continued to shout and pound the shit out of Black Davion. Before he could do one more, suddenly a hand appeared out of nowhere and grabbed JD by the wrist, preventing any further poundings.
At the same time as the events above, we switch to Wolf's 'Mech:
Wolf growled loudly as he heard JD's communication to Meltdown. While he has heard of the name, Wolf had to fight off a shudder as a slight chill ran down his spine. "Colonel Rampage, fire up the shield generators! I hope they hold before reinforcements arrive!" Wolf had intentionally used rank to separate the two guys with same callsigns.
"But Ray! The planet isn't ready to handle that kind of strain!" Adam shouted over comms in disbelief.
"We've no choice! But limit power to 75%!"
"Even so, there is still a possibility tha..." Adam was cut off by Ray abruptly, preventing any further comments.
"Dammit, Ramp, trust me."
"Fine. Activating shields," Adam sighed. "I hope you know what you are doing."
Wolf clicked several buttons to activate the shield. The shield generation didn't take long to form and within thirty seconds, huge translucent domes formed around the allies and surrounding cities. Most of the wastelands would be hit heavily, but at least most of the planet would be protected from a concentrated fire by many WarShips from a singular location.
After a moment of silence while watching the shield performance, Wolf continued as if he had never finished talking.
"I do. But how the hell did JD know that?"
"Perhaps I can answer that question." A familiar sounding voice suddenly appeared on comms as if he was waiting for this very moment.
Cool-Hand: "Nice of you to join us, Merlie."
Merlin ignored Cool-Hand's comment as Wolf growled in response. "Wolf, you do know this experimental shield won't exactly work at 75%, yet you could save the planet in doing so, however the losses would be astronomical."
Wolf: "What would you have me do?"
Merlin: "Nothing. I will handle it."
Cool-hand: "Merlin... you can't be serious?! You'll die!"
Merlin: "Ah, death... doesn't scare me, but you know... I've been here for far too long. When I am gone, all magic will cease to exist. This however does not include JD's special ability, yet Thor's Hammer will too, lose some of its magic, but not totally. JD will eventually figure how to re-use the Hammer, but for now...farewell. Oh and Tommy, Chris is still alive, it's best you hurry with rescue attempts."
Wolf shouted 'wait' but it was too late. Merlin had disappeared from comms and just before the combined firepower from the WarShips hit the shield, the shield strength grew well past a hundred percent and held strong.
Wolf slumped in his seat as he now felt helpless, but that changed when he caught a little of JD's yell when he said the word 'Black Davion'. "Ramp, take over, I've got a personal matter to attend to."
"Now what, Ray? Are you going to run off like Merlin, too?"
"Fuck no! I swore I heard JD mention 'BD'."
"That's MY line!" Wolf added with a slight chuckle as he exited his 'Mech.
Wolf wasted no time climbing down and was just as fast as JD. One of the greatest assets and flaws of SRE's leader was that he's seven feet tall and can move fast and silent, yet with the height came the awkwardness of being in a 'Mech cockpit. Naturally, the cockpit was never intended for total comfort, but at least it provided some up to a certain height. Engineers never imagined someone at seven feet tall would pilot a 'Mech, let alone fit in one, since some cockpits have been know to cause claustrophobia. Except Wolf managed to find an engineer to work with him after he reached his full height at the age of twenty-one. It was a small price to pay, but it made piloting his 'Mechs all the more worthwhile.
It didn't take long for Wolf to locate JD, as he was close to him before JD exited his 'Mech. Once Wolf spotted JD, he took off in a faster sprint just in time to grab a hold of his balled fist, preventing JD from making the killing blow.
Cool-Hand slumped in his cockpit after he heard Merlin's farewell and final revelation. "Is it really possible?" he asked himself out loud.
Rampage (Josh): "Anything's possible, Coolio. You would think we'd have picked up an ECM field this close, but someone crazy or extremely clever had to be piloting. I'd bet a million C-Bills on that."
One of the RAGE pilots responded after listening into the conversation, since there was open comms, "You aren't far from the truth."
Rampage (Josh): "Say what?! Seriously?!"
Epi chuckled over comms, "One of our guys tagged an ECM Raven with a tracking device. We can track people up to two hundred light-years away. I hope that range is enough."
Blinker: "Impressive. I too hope they stay within range."
There was a chorus of agreements being said on comms as everyone watched in awe as the bombardments continued from the WarShips in space.
Wolf had to fight to maintain his balance as he wasn't prepared for JD's strength as JD almost took Wolf with him, but fortunate for the helpless Black Davion lying on the rock. 'Damn, he's stronger than I thought.' Wolf thought to himself, as he moved JD away from Black Davion.
"Real cute, you two." Black Davion carefully spoke as he staggered, trying to stand up, pointing a laser pistol at the pair. "Let me just put you out of your misery and spare my master the pain." He began to press the trigger only to find a whip suddenly taking ahold of the laser pistol and yanked away from him.
"Give me an excuse to use this once more. Please, I insist." Rampage spoke emerging from a bush from Wolf's left side.
Black Davion just growled while the rage in JD continued to build, Wolf felt he had to do something to calm JD down and the only thing possible was a small tranq of knockout juice that lasts for an hour tops, but it gave the person one hell of a headache afterwards.
"Calm down JD. I don't want to have to use a tranq on you."
JD quietly complied as he relieved his tense muscles and crossed his arms. Wolf grunted, then turned to face Black Davion, only to shoot him in the chest with a tranq gun.
"Jeez Ray, shoot first ask questions later?" Rampage rolled his eyes at Wolf's decision to tranq their captive.
"Yep, only I will be the one doing the questioning."
"Not by yourself."
"You aren't the commander here."
"Weren't you the one who insisted on this rule no matter what? Need I remind you there is video proof and written proof as well in the unit doctrine?"
Ray groaned, rolled his eyes, and then gave his 2nd-in-command a hard look. "Fine. Bring whomever you want."
"Thanks Ray. You remember the last time this happened, a captive died 'cause you went overboard."
"Don't remind me."
JD raised one eyebrow at the two then continued staring a hole into BD. Before he even knew what he was doing, a plan began to form in the back of his mind.
Rampage chuckled as comms beeped. "Guys, Stormy has returned and our allied forces in space have successfully driven away all opposing forces. Epi is continuing to monitor the tracking device and it is heading in the same direction Stormy reported, but where it ends at is anyone's guess."
Adam looked at Ray then surveyed the area. He then looked up as the energy shield began to dissipate. Touching the general communication switch on comms, he announced his orders. "Guys, debrief in 30 in hangar two. We need to gather our bearings and assess damage." Adam sighed heavily as he really didn't want to deal with JD's silent anger. "JD, I'll need you to come with us. I promise you this: we will get him back."
JD shot him a hard look, "Who? Chris? I saw an explosion..."
Ray knelt down to pick up his captive, "Speculation at best, RAGE is tracking an ECM 'Mech. It is possible Chris was captured, not sure why."
JD growled, "Then I'm going after him." He turned to walk, but stopped short as Josh and Tom appeared from behind burning debris.
"Not alone you're not." Tommy spoke first, crossing his arms.
"I agree." Josh too, crossed his arms.
"First we go debrief, then we'll decide from then on. At first glance, just heading into WOB territory is suicide at best. This is where Gail's specialty comes in and we need the best to take on the best." Adam spoke, making sure JD understood, then turned to depart only to stop abruptly as JD spoke.
"As a team, we are too big of a target. As an individual, there is a way to enter their territory. My mind is made up."
"How about I lock you in a cell instead to see if you co-operate?"
"How about I quit the unit before you do so? That way you hold no ties to my actions and my actions will not be the responsibility of SRE, but my own," JD rapid fired back at Adam, hoping he would take the bait, but Wolf spoke up preventing any further arguments.
"Guys, enough! I see JD's point, but I also see Adam's as well. We'll discuss this after I deal with this bag of bones on my shoulder and not before!"
JD growled and made his way past Josh and Tom. He didn't look back as he climbed into his 'Mech. Once he was in, he immediately took off in a random direction, but not before unloading his weapons on a nearby tree, completely obliterating it.
"Damn him." Adam complained.
"Let him be. He does this more often than not." Tommy replied. "He will be at the debrief, this I know for sure, but after that is anyone's guess."
Josh nodded in agreement, "He's right. JD is often unpredictable, but predictable at the same time."
Ray and Adam shared a look and grunted their acknowledgement, then headed off towards their 'Mechs. Josh and Tom did not stay much longer, as they headed off towards theirs.
Thirty Minutes later - Hangar bay #2
Ray sighed as he looked at the sea of humanity across the bay. Repair crews were busy at work, yet it was slightly noisy, but that would be soon corrected when the General spoke. There was a ton of chatter going about, some bad and some good. Wolf continued looking till he spotted JD and sighed. ‘At least he showed up' was one thought Ray had. The other thoughts were much darker.
"Ray, you're thinking too much." Adam poked Ray in the ribs to get him to focus on the matter at hand.
"You know I do." Ray let out a sigh and continued, "None of the thoughts are positive. We have much planning to do; but first, we gotta clean up the mess or find salvage out on the field. On top of that, in thirty minutes time, Epi reported the target had already traveled at least a hundred light years and continuing. Another hundred and fifty and we lose him. JD's barely keeping it together from the looks of it, and if I were in his shoes, I'd be on the first flight out, with or without my comrades. On top of all that, we have a traitor to interrogate."
Adam let out a heavy sigh with a nod of his head. "While I might agree, I still don't like it. I think it's time."
"Alright." Ray stood up from his chair and approached the podium. "Warriors..." He waited a moment or two till the chatter died down then continued, "I thank you for your efforts in pushing Blake off our planet. I also thank our allies for joining us as well as covering our sixes when we needed it the most. Anyone wanting salvage on the field, feel free to let our techs know once they return with a complete inventory of all salvageable parts. I'll keep this short. Commanders, feel free to join with me and my command staff immediately after this. I want to kick Blake's ass while they're still down. RAGE has a tracking device planted on one of Blake's ECM 'Mechs, hopefully we pinpoint it's final destination. Finally, lets all take a moment of silence for those who lost their lives." Everyone in the hangar bay looked down and closed their eyes for several minutes in silence. There was no formality during this briefing, as the sea of humanity was a mixture of colors of different uniforms. It was quite breathtaking to behold. Ray noted this as he was the first to look up and observe. A small smile appeared on his battle hardened face. He truly liked what he saw, only if he could call each and every warrior his own, but sadly that was not the case. Finally, he decided to break the silence. "Ladies and gents, you are dismissed. All command officers please meet me near the double doors behind me and we will have our meeting as well."
The tall warrior then looked across the bay and found JD to be missing. He sighed then turned around and nodded at Adam. Adam then stood and as Ray approached, he whispered something in his ear, "I want JD tracked. Something tells me he found a way to get the tracking information. Don't ask me how, but he's pretty good with electronics. We might be a few days behind him after he leaves... but hope he saves some for us."
Adam almost giggled, "Ray, you know damn well my decision would have been quite the opposite, but I'll support you no matter what, you know that, too. I don't like it, the plan, but I agree... JD better leave some for us. I think we better get moving, looks like everyone is waiting for us."
Ray grunted, "Yep."
The pair made their way down the steps then towards the double doors where a large gathering of officers was waiting.
Ray stopped and spoke first, while Adam kept moving. "Please follow us; I hope this won't take long." His words were met with nods of approvals then Ray continued walking and everyone followed.
Five minutes later, the group arrived at the conference room. The double doors opened automatically to reveal a massive elongated table with about a hundred chairs. Ray didn't stop at the closest chair; he kept walking towards the furthest end and was pleased to note a tablet has been placed on the table indicating the unit involved, and where they were assigned to sit. Both sides began filling up, yet they didn't cover half the table and everyone was seated towards the end of the table where Ray was seated.
Ray started the conversation without any delay, nor formal opening, "First order of business: Epi, status update on the tracking?"
Epi was the leader of RAGE (Rapid Assault Ground Elite). He had golden blond hair and gold eyes, which wasn't an unusual combination, but they made some people wonder about him. He had numerous scars on his face and he appeared way older than his current age of twenty-nine. He was all business when relaying information. "Still moving. Now at a hundred seventy-five light years. They seem to be pushing the limits on our tracker."
Ray nodded, "Your current range is two fifty, yes?" Epi nodded his answer and Ray continued, "Are you aware JD has somehow been able to get the tracker information?"
"Actually, he requested it. I'm surprised you even know about it."
Ray sighed, "I guessed because if it were me, I'd do the same thing he is."
"That explains as much. RAGE will pursue JD. No way I'm letting that guy out of my sight. I mean he's scary good when we have our CTF (Capture The Flag) tournaments, it makes it very challenging and fun. No one else has ever come close to him in skill and it makes me wonder if he is using something to enhance his aim."
JP laughed. "I've seen first hand what JD is capable of and I'm just as good as he is. We just never played against one another yet."
Epi smirked, "Well then, that's fine. We also placed a tracker on him and sometime during the speech you were giving, Ray, he bailed so he has a ten to fifteen minute head start on us, which is fine and all. I just hope he doesn't lose the tracker that's getting dangerously close to the edge of our range. As a side note, this route takes him past his old home-world, Panthera, I believe?"
Ray face palmed immediately after hearing Panthera. "Damn. From our intel, the place has been blown to bits."
Another voice that has been silent the whole time spoke, "Actually... that is not entirely true."
JD looked around in his quarters on the JumpShip, after having successfully avoided his unit's patrols. He had thought there was an order placed from one of the higher ups preventing his planetary leave. Somehow, he thought it was intentionally done, but he at least accomplished two of his goals; get the tracker information and secure a passage on a JumpShip. He knew the route somewhat, but it had him puzzled as to why the ship taking him past a blown planet where there were sure to be a ton of planetary debris, but he didn't think anything more of it. He then looked at his pad and touched a button to view the tracker information. It was now nearing two hundred and fifteen light years, but it had slowed somewhat. A few tears escaped JD's eyes as he thought of Chris. This in turn caused some of his rage to build and as much as he wanted to throw the pad at the wall, he exercised restraint and fell onto the bed. At the same moment, the ship made its direct jump to Panthera, which was its first stop. Clearly the ship had some of the newest jump drive engines and JD was pleased, ever so slightly. Several moments later, the ship exited its jump space and JD stood up to walk towards the window. Once a planet came in view, there was an eerie feeling of familiarity and nostalgia, yet some confusion appeared as well.
"That's impossible!" JD exclaimed. He took a look at the tracker and was pleased he covered at least some distance, yet the target came to a full stop. He began to wonder if he should investigate the planet or continue his pursuit. He growled as his thoughts were playing tug of war over which decision to make, but he decided to stay on board and will look into those matters later. Chris had been his top priority and he wasn't changing that for anything.
Ray looked up from his hands, not hearing the newcomer enter the room. "Stormy! You're back!"
Stormy sighed and ran his hands through his black hair, "I've been back, you should know by now how I cling to the shadows. JP knows this quite well."
Adam giggled as Ray growled. "Don't mind him; he's having a bad day."
"Brandon, it's not like you to just walk into a meeting, ya know." JP spoke, using Stormy's name for the first time.
"Naturally, Brandon began, "All data on Panthera was misleading and false. I investigated this thoroughly, hell I visited the "remains" and there is still a planet!"
Ray slammed his fists on the table, "Bullshit!"
Stormy ignored his outburst and continued, "Even as we speak now, the one known as JD... his flight path takes him past Panthera. I would imagine he is feeling the need to rescue Sam on his own."
Ray glared at Brandon, "No, I am getting constant updates from whomever is tailing him. He remains on the ship."
"That ship will take him directly into WOB space. I have seen it myself; it isn't very homely out there." Brandon reflected on his experience and continued, "In fact, you could say the universe's worst scum resides there. It's easier to get in than get out."
"How the hell are you getting communications when WOB destroyed all communication arrays?" AV asked in surprise.
Epi spoke up next, "Well AV, we have our own private communications array and of course, it has limited range. Plus we have tracking beacons, also limited range." Seeing AV nod his approval, Epi looked at Ray, "Ray, what is your next step?"
AV responded before Ray had a chance to, "I suppose a better question is, ‘What is our next move?'"
Ray sighed, "We concentrate on whatever repairs we need to make, then haul ass."
As if on cue the comms beeped and Ray pressed a button for all to listen, "Repairs will be complete in 10 hours."
Ray growled, but AV spoke up before Ray could, "Make it five, I'll have my guys work with yours."
Epi also spoke up, joining the others, "As will RAGE."
Ray smirked for the first time, "Hellboy, please accept any and all help from other units, we depart when repairs are done and weapons re-loaded and replenished. Please prepare The Scorpion for departure."
"You can't mean that massive Warship in Hangar 3?!"
Ray's smile got bigger, "Oh yes, that one. I'm taking our prisoner with us."
"And what of Panthera?" Tommy asked with concern in his voice.
"The elders and Sam, if they are still alive, will be of help, a shit ton of help that is..." Josh added
"Oh hell, that doesn't sound like a good idea," Vash swiftly responded before adding, "But if we take minimal damage in this rescue attempt, that should work."
"Well, last I looked, there were minimal forces on Panthera. I did overhear one of the senior WOB commanders making a comment of reinforcing that planet. He did not say when."
"Thanks, Brandon, you've been a huge asset to our unit. How do you feel about joining us? It's been a while since you did," Adam asked Brandon directly as Ray and the others looked on.
"It's fine; at least I get to eye the battlefield once more." Brandon grinned, showing his willingness.
"Well, Ray, what have you decided?" Vash and JP asked at the same time.
"We have decided to leave as soon as repairs are done. Let's start planning this before it's time." Ray spoke for everyone, then looked to each leader and got a nod of affirmation in return.
WOB Homeworld -
Meltdown threw his mace towards the weapons case and caused a huge clattering sound once the mace came in contact with the case. "Fucking Hammer! He will pay dearly..."
A buzz interrupted his thoughts and Meltdown walked over to the console and pressed a button, activating comms, "What?!"
"Your prisoner has arrived."
"Good, take him to the torture chamber. I will personally oversee this myself."
"Umm, but he is only..."
"Never mind his age, I want information and I want it now!"
The screen then went blank and Meltdown smiled to his reflection. "There'll be a time and place for everything, and your time is rapidly approaching, Hammer. I simply can't wait, in fact, I'm orgasming with ecstasy for that day I have your head on display in my trophy case, but first... time to torture the very person you care about." He left the room and made his journey to the torture chamber, which took all of five minutes.
The boy had sweat coming down across his forehead as the place was hotter than the gates of hell. He was naked and in shackles, from head to toe. The shackles were hot, burning into his skin, yet he couldn't struggle, as he was bound securely. Hearing the doors open, he looked up to see a well dressed man with a scar running down his face. Fear spread thru Chris's body and he visibly trembled.
"Good, good, how I love seeing young boys tremble in fear before me. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Meltdown. I lead all of WOB. Now..." He slowly walks toward Chris, picking up a red hot poker, "how about you tell me any and or all weaknesses of your allies, then maybe I'll spare that pretty face of yours."
Chris spit at his foot, "Never."
"Spunk... I like that." He swung the poker and it made contact with bare flesh, causing Chris to scream. "This is only the beginning. Many have broken down and so will you."
"I... am... not... like... others." Chris breathed hard and spoke haltingly.
"Ah hahahahahahahhahaa, we shall see!"
Chris's screams were heard all across the torture chamber as everyone looked on with smirks across their faces.