Castle Roland

31st Century

by Hammy

In Progress

Chapter 7

Published: 30 Nov 15

31st Century

Copyright © by Hammy

Planet Outreach, SRE HQ

Adam looked over towards Ray and noted by the very open display of pure anger that was on his face for all to see that Ray was seeing nothing but red. He knew once Ray was like that, all reason left him for a few hours, but until then, he, Adam, was in charge. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temples before finally running a hand through his spiky black hair. Once he opened his eyes, he sighed, "As of right now, and for the next three hours, Ray here is out of it. More on that later."

He looked towards JP, Vash, Mick and Josh and they all nodded some unspoken words before Adam continued on as he finally stood up, "Battle stations!" He then looked towards Merlin and the rest of the FP guys, "Guys, I know we normally start pilots at the bottom, but you guys already had high ranks and we are a big unit. I've been considering putting you in the lances that really needed a leader, but now isn't the time. For the time being all of us will be on Wolf's team. JP, can you…" Adam fell silent as he turned to look towards where JP had been standing, but he had already slipped out. Instead, Vash spoke up in his place.

"He already knew you were going to call on him again, so he went off to inform the guys already out on patrol. His strange ability gives me the chills, but it is useful."

Adam shook his head then looked at Merlin. "I was wondering, do you have a scout lance?"

Merlin nodded, "We do, or at least we did. Gail is still recovering, Sam made sure she was with us. However, I only found out later on that some of the scouts under her lance are with us.

"Good. Have them to join the rest of the scouting party. They can get acquainted on the way, but they're not to be completely distracted."

Tommy stood, "Requesting permission to join the scouts. Josh and I would make a good addition to the team."

Merlin was about to say yes, but before he did, he had to think it over some. Adam was patiently waiting for an answer, but Merlin had to ask a question before he gave the yes or no.

"You guys realize there won't be support in some areas, right? I know a handful of lights can take down a few heavies, but this is different and all of you have a slim chance of pulling off a battle, let alone a full head on battle."

Josh and Tommy both stood at the same time. Josh spoke first, "Between myself and Tom, when it comes to strategies, we surpass those of Sam. Even if he managed to kill one of us off, with the other left it will still succeed."

"You guys know very well that Sam was not your usual warrior. He was extremely gifted in all but a few areas, but to say you both work together to not only completely pull Sam into your trap, but to finish him off after he eliminated one of you is a task you might not be up to. You see, I know for a fact that you both would be dead if he did not have his back to Tom."

Tom found himself speaking as if from instinct, something he normally did not do. "Merlie, don't think for a second that we didn't learn anything from it, I can see that now there were quite a number of other possibilities on how to handle that and I intend to use them to the fullest extent of our ability… and then some."

Merlin smirked as he realized that the two boys were starting to really think and analyze situations that could benefit them on their next time. "I assume you two understand that the next time you met, he will not fall for the same thing twice."

Josh spoke this time, "Oh yeah, sure, we both knew that. His patterns are never the same, unlike someone I know." He looked at JD with an amused smirk then continued, ignoring JD's glare, "That's what made the challenge fun."

"This isn't fun any longer, it's deathly serious." Adam lost his frown and looked at the two earnestly.

Tommy pulled out a pair of blue gloves and put them on, "And so are we. When do we leave?"

There was some stirring next to Adam as Ray finally stood and headed towards the closed door. "Immediately. I'm going with you on the scout teams. There is something I need to go over with the two of you on the way. And Adam, before you start bitchin', you are leading the others. What you do about it is up to you. They probably already know we are underground." He began to move towards the doors and they opened up, but a voice stopped Ray from going any further.

"Wolf, don't be daft, I don't think BD knows we are now underground. We lost contact with him after we discovered this place. How do we even know one of their pilots was looking at the logo properly? For all we know, it could be someone else.

Ray turned partially and gave Vash a sideways glare, "I know because our C-Bills are being dumped on a location that is way out in deep space somewhere. I already changed the account's password, and as of right now, BD's account is suspended, both the main and individual. I have no doubt he has another elsewhere, but one thing's for sure: I do not tolerate traitors or double dippers." He turned to leave, followed by Josh and Tom.

Once the doors closed, Adam fell into his seat with his face in his hands, lost in thought. "We have some planning to do."

The intercom buzzed before anything else was done and Fire pressed the button, since Adam was still facepalming.

JP's voice filled the room with his announcement, "Guys, Stormy's back."

Adam looked up from his hands, "What?! So soon? He wasn't due back for what, another month?"

JP laughed, "That little bit about him joining us for the party was to fool everyone. At least I'm glad the holo-projectors are working as designed. We've got company."

Adam's brain didn't register the last part. "Since when have we started using those? I thought it was made clear by us that they were not to be used except in an emergency. I'm willing to overlook…" He paused as his brain caught up with his mouth, "What did you say on the last part?"

"We've got company. Either Stormy lead them here, or they have someone with them who knows the planet well. Or it's luck."

Chris spoke up, "How are we supposed to get to our 'Mechs now? They could be coming in from all sides, not just one direction."

"I agree, well?" JD added, expecting an answer to follow, but things remained silent.

"Chill dude, we had them brought over while you were in the trial. I gotta say, I'm impressed with the load outs, but I think we need faster 'Mechs, and not slow moving targets."

Simon grinned and stood, "He's right, but what if we mix it up? Mediums, heavies and assaults?"

"We like that idea," Vash said, looking towards the nodding heads of Josh, Mick, and Adam.

"Good, so do I. Stormy's meeting us in hangar two within the half-hour. We need to be ready by then."

JD and the rest of the guys in the room stood, "We will be."

"Good, see you all there shortly. Blinker out." And the comms went dead as everyone started leaving the room.

Vash stayed behind while the rest went on without him. "Are you sure Chris is coming with us?"

Before JD could respond, Chris spoke up feeling insulted, "Dude, what the fuck? I'm coming because someone needs to watch our aaahh… sixes."

Vash smirked and JD frowned, as everyone else who had not seen the rest of the facility were growing impatient and had begun shuffling around, hoping the three chatter boxes would get the hint.

"Right then, follow me." Vash turned as everyone began to follow him to the 'Mech hangar.

Ray's communicator buzzed; he pressed a button near his jumpsuit's left pants pocket, where his mini handheld was. "Wolf, everyone is ready, as well as the three 'Mechs you requested."

"Good. Be there shortly." He pressed the same button and with an audible click, he looked across to his right at Tom and Josh. "I assume you know what we are taking."

"Sure. I mean it's no surprise you favor the Black Knight, but if it isn't that, then I'm in for a surprise. One of the things Gail taught us was always to expect the unexpected. So, not much surprises me these days, except for when…" Tommy almost added Sam's name, but he caught himself as a tear rolled down his cheek at the brief memory that played across his mind. He shook it off and decided to let Ray know at a later time. Now was the time to be focused on the mission and timing was critical.

Ray nodded then looked ahead. "Let's pick up the pace. I want to be in position before they even have a chance."

With a silent agreement, all three picked up the pace to a quick walk towards the 'Mech Hangar. The trip was uneventful. Tommy was thinking a bunch of random things, mostly about Sam and how lost he felt at the moment. Josh was thinking of similar things, but more worried about how they'd coordinate things once the mission was underway. Little did the younger guys know, Ray was expertly watching them out of the corner of his eye, trying to gauge their reactions and moods before heading out. He secretly had an extra surprise waiting for them, but did not hint on it. He was hoping that his surprise would at least help lift their morale to something better than what he was witnessing now.

Within moments of arriving at the hangar, Ray continued moving towards the assembled group, with a line of 'Mechs on the ready behind them. Tommy and Josh simply slowed to a halt at the sheer size of the hangar once they entered it. To them, it was rather massive and it was in ground as well.

After a few minutes of silence, Josh was the first to speak, "This place is massive," to which Tommy agreed.

"It seems like it's about the size of a WarShip," Tommy added as both boys were openly gawking at the sheer size.

"Oh, it's about seven hundred meters long and four hundred across." Scott appeared from behind, catching the last bit of Tommy's statement. "Welcome to Hangar One. Everyone else is heading to Hangar Two. Hangar Two is about the same size, heading in the opposite direction. It's amazing how this place was constructed, but it looks as if our commander is impatiently waiting for us."

That was enough to snap the boys out of their stupor and they jogged towards the group. Once they arrived Ray scowled at them for holding things up, but his scowl didn't last too long, as a woman's voice filled the air with such familiarity.

"How dare you two newbies hold us up when this mission has critical timing to it? I should write you up for this matter, but I'm going to let it slide as everyone's first time seeing such a massive bay like this is excusable."

Tommy and Josh's eyes widened as the brown haired figure before them turned to show her face. A bit of scarring, but otherwise she looked okay, other than her unusually high-pitched voice. Neither boy could help but gasp openly at the shock of seeing Gail for the first time since they left Panthera.

Finding the courage to speak first, Josh licked his lips and instead of speaking, he ran into her arms and hugged her tightly. "Shit Gail, I didn't think you made it."

Before she could reply, Tommy joined them, but kept his hug short, as he knew Gail hated these kinds of things in public, but she probably understood that it was a well-deserved hug.

"Okay, Josh, enough of that." She slowly pushed him away and held him at arms length while looking at both boys. "I didn't think I'd see you again. After I thought I was going to get captured and taken prisoner, Sam and the founders rescued me and forcefully put me on the last evacuating ship off the planet, much to my protests. I'm sorry guys, Sam is no longer with us. I know I sound harsh right now, but we have a situation on our hands."

Tommy looked back and fourth from Josh to Gail to Ray and back, "Before we begin, I gotta know how you made it here first, because there's no way…" He stopped himself as he realized that their retreating fleet was the main fleet that was to be used as a distraction and pulled most of everyone away from the other JumpShips, ensuring their safety.

"So almost everyone made it here without incident since the rest of us drew the fleet's attention?" Tommy figured it was about a correct assumption as he could make.

Gail smiled and Ray's eyes widened as if he was somewhat surprised. "You are correct, Tommy." After getting a smile from the young man, her face turned serious. "Alright, let's get down to business! Normally, I don't conduct mission planning this way, but since the enemy is pushing us to make a move right now, here is the plan: We are to head towards the mountains and, hoping we get to higher ground first, and then scout ahead some on foot so as to not alert the enemy of our presence. There should be a dense forest at the base of the mountain, depending on where you are looking; it should be right in front of you, some fifteen hundred meters away, more or less. We meet at the mountaintop at Nav Alpha. Your computers have been pre-programmed with its coordinates and we will remain in passive radar, except for Wolf, since he will have ECM and BAP onboard his heavily modified BK. We will continue mission briefing on our way, so let's get a move on!"

Ray smirked and nodded his head in approval. "One last thing, while I know you all will be ahead of me, I ask that a few of you stay behind and walk at my pace so I can keep up and not face anyone on my own." Getting a nod in return from the assembled pilots, many of whom looked as young as fourteen, all the way to twenty-five, he let his smirk drop into a frown and with a slight growl in his voice, he let his command be known. "Everyone, 'Mech up! Banshee leads, Cool-Hand, Rampage, and Jinx to remain behind with me." With that, everyone scattered quickly to their assigned 'Mechs wasting no time at all.

The large silver doors slid open letting the group of pilots in the 'Mech hangar. At first, the newcomers were not expecting such a hangar; at its sheer size, they openly gaped with some audible breaths of intake from their open mouths. Rows upon rows of 'Mechs of various states of operation stood about. Some were totaled with only scrap parts being removed as replacement parts for others, some were badly in need of repair, others were getting touch up jobs, and the rest seemed new.

SRE's second in command turned to watch the show unfold in front of him. He had to chuckle as he remembered back when he and Ray first stumbled upon this base. He clearly remembered feeling the same way and gave them a few moments to themselves before at least some sense finally kicked in.

"Alright guys! You best clean up after yourselves, because I sure as hell ain't!" Adam spoke, half-joking, half-serious, about the guys drooling all over his floor. All but JD visibly blushed as a smirk spread across his face.

Simon leaned in to whisper into Chris's ear, but loud enough for JD to hear, "Dude is that crazy, you'd think he'd been given the greatest gift ever."

JD flipped Simon the bird and didn't bother turning into his direction while eyeing the one prize he had his eyes on and Adam caught sight of what he was looking at.

"We apologize in advance for misspelling your name on that one."

That statement brought JD out of his trance with a cocked head and a questioning look towards Adam.

"Hellboy made sure to outfit it to your specs. Surprisingly, it worked, but answer me one thing: How the hell do you handle the heat? Because I sure as hell can't!"

"Pretty easy." JD blushed slightly and scratched his head, "I mean it is for me. I don't always reveal my true self to many people, and Sam was one of the lucky ones. No one else knows but Merlin, but I guess that will be a thing of the past now because a great many others will know and I apologize in advance should SRE get attacked more because of a certain power shift that is most likely to happen. Besides, the first shot needs to hit spot on, then I can do a follow up with a partial blast to finish them off, that is of course if they fall to the ground… and what do you mean about the misspelled name?"

Chris giggled some causing JD to look towards the teen. "Really?"

Chris smiled, not making eye contact with JD, "Yep, I didn't like the way it was spelled and besides, if I ever go through a Trial of Bloodright, I'd have wanted it spelled correctly. Before you protest, I did a bit of research and you had indeed misspelled that word in the first place."

JD groaned as more warriors entered the Hangar and began to form ranks in front of Adam. He knew better than to stick around looking like a tour guide, so he walked towards the rest of the pilots with everyone else in tow. When Vash and the others arrived next to Adam, he silently motioned JD and Chris to join them.

Adam looked at the big watch he had on his wrist then faced JD, whispering in his ear, "Out here, we use callsigns as part of our duty. Any other time when not on duty, we are basically quite informal, just so you know."

JD leaned in with the same hushed tones, "Noted. We also did the same thing, so no worries."

Adam grinned then turned to address the ever-growing sea of warriors. "Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, our unit has grown some and has been blessed with an influx of skilled warriors. While they are your superiors, even they have superiors above them so please do not worry, our upper ranks still have plenty of openings, but more on that later. As of 10:00 hours five days ago, our ally was attacked by a clan by the name of World of Blake. They decimated and captured the planet while its inhabitants took flight by the order of their Khan. During their escape, they encountered resistance while trying to allow the civilians safe passage off world. Everyone from that planet is now with us. Furthermore, it appears as if WOB has followed them here, so now we must take a stand. Before the orders are given, I am offering anyone in this room the choice to march with us to battle or stay behind. I want honest answers starting now."

The room was silent for a moment and before Rampage could continue again, a deep baritone sounding voice filled the air. "Sir, if I may be blunt, I think I speak for all of us when I say, to hell with staying behind! We've gotten this far and I'm pretty sure none of our prides would allow any of us to stay behind. Whether it's the fear of death or otherwise, we would never abandon our leaders." A cheer erupted in agreement, giving the ranking guys a reason to smile.

"Very well, you have been warned! Inside your 'Mech is a mission debriefing pad along with laser pistols and other handy items that you might need. We have been preparing for this day for quite some time, which was why this hangar was sealed off until now. Also inside that debrief, you will find your lance details, as we are spitting up into groups of ten to fifteen. Good luck!"

Everyone scattered about heading to their chosen 'Mechs while the rest up front stood and watched. A young teen approached the assembled guys as Rampage broke into a huge smile. The boy had spiky black hair with piercing blue eyes and filled out nicely in his red and blue uniform. He wore the rank of Major on his left breast, while the callsign Diablo filled his right. He was nearly as tall as Chris, standing at about five-five.

"Welcome back bro."

He grinned at Rampage then looked at the rest of the guys. His eyes almost bugged out as he saw JD, but barely managed to keep his smile. This did not go unnoticed by Rampage and he made sure to ask about it.

"I see you two know each other." Rampage cast a few questioning glances towards JD and Diablo, till JP spoke up as he approached them, catching the tail end of Rampage's statement.

"They do. It just happened that Diablo caught the end of JD's rage in the pods on the jumpship they were traveling on one evening. It was a nasty sight and everyone, newbies and vets alike, have never seen such rage associated with such skill. I mean, how often do you really witness…"

JD growled at JP for a second and shook his head 'no'. "Look, I wasn't in the best of moods at the time and I really wanted to blow off steam before I did some real damage. And besides, what I did should never escape anyone else's lips again."

JP shrugged, "I'm pretty sure everyone talked about it. Including the two WOB spies you took care of, but I'm sure word leaked about that."

JD groaned as Diablo spoke up in a voice that sounded somewhere between childhood and manhood, "Dude, it was cool really. That was something I've never seen anyone do and I really hope that doesn't happen on the field, but we could use those mad skills of yours because, we're gunna need 'em."

JD crossed his arms and stood tall, "I'm gunna have to refuse."

Everyone looked at JD in shock with Diablo voicing their response for them, "What?! Why the fuck would you do that?! WOB already knows! I tailed the one guy to his quarters and listened into their conversation with the leaders of WOB themselves! Your secret of what happened is out for all of WOB to see! I mean, killing a hundred before finally dying is worthy of their attention! I couldn't warn you because JP told me not to as he had caught me getting too close. They had orders to capture you dead or alive, but now I'm sure it's more dead than alive!"

JD's whole demeanor changed as Diablo spoke. He watched as everyone's eyes went wide with shock at the revelation, then his head dropped. He spent a bit of time staring at his feet when a new wave of determination washed over him. At this point, his arms fell to their sides with clenched fists, then he loosened his hands and held his head up high. With a smirk, he started walking to his 'Mech, leaving everyone in silence. He walked till he was twenty feet ahead then turned to look back.

"I hope your lance assignment for me includes at least someone I know."

Rampage smiled, then nodded at Diablo. The young teen began to walk towards JD and starting letting JD in on a little secret, but it was meant for everyone else to hear. "You're in my lance as well as JP and Chris. The rest you will find out."

JD looked down towards the teen and shrugged. He was out for blood, but he also knew he couldn't put his teammates at risk for his carelessness. Thinking back, even when it was a team game, he constantly put his teammates at risk, which was how it earned him the highest kills, even though at least half were fully by his own hand. Little did JD know, at least some of the kills were of top ranking WOB pilots, all of whom had the shit scared out of them. He then continued walking towards his 'Mech, the dreaded Warthog. Only it was deadlier, as it had some modifications done to it. He didn't know it yet, but he was about to find out just how devastating it can be in the hands of the wrong people.

Diablo stood watching JD's retreating footsteps, then turned to look at Rampage. He gave him a nod then ran after JD in hopes to catch up before he arrived at his 'Mech.

Rampage sighed, "Gentlemen, it's time. JP, I know you are normally a sniper, but this time around, I thought you might like to brawl with JD for a change. If his accuracy for brawling is as deadly as your sniping, then maybe we can get him to try sniping later on."

JP nodded and Vash sniggered. "Really, boss, do you think he won't just run off like a chicken without a head in a sniper 'Mech?"

"Actually, the opposite," Chris started, getting everyone's attention. "He actually stayed in one spot during our space battle and barely missed if any."

"So why doesn't he snipe?" Mick finally spoke up after listening.

"Not sure, too boring I think."

JP rolled his eyes, "I'll give him too boring."

Rampage shook his head in amusement, "Lets get a move on guys. We've wasted enough time as is. Everyone's waiting."

Not another word was spoken as the remaining pilots found their 'Mechs and the order was finally given to begin start up sequence.

Chris hopped into his 'Mech, the NovaCat, a smaller version of the Supernova. At one point, the NovaCat was the most feared 'Mech on the field in the hands of a skilled pilot. But with the technology improvements, and several new 'Mech designs, it dropped down a notch or two in terms of threat, but pilots still used it.

He grinned as he looked over the cockpit. The weapons status display was on his lower right along with the right side firing stick. The other side had the left side firing stick, and as Chris sat in the chair, the main screen came to life in front of him. He strapped himself in, then began flipping switches to power up the reactor. Once done, the mission debriefing came to life with Fire's picture talking to a camera as if it were a recording.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I applaud you for your bravery in joining us on this task force to defend the planet from an invasion attempt by WOB. Please be mindful of your navigation points as they have been pre-programmed into the computer. I included both mission briefings to save time as this was done at the last minute.

Nav Alpha in the abandoned city puts us close to their main drop zone, according to the last known report from our scouts. Getting there offers little to no cover, except should you take the long way into the valley, then there is a chance of setting up to overtake any long range snipers hiding in the buildings.

Nav Beta is Team Two's regrouping point. I realize that splitting up happens in the field, but in this case if it happens, no one better not find themselves alone."

Chris could have sworn he heard JD growl, since he remembers JD loved going off on his own, only to get killed over and over in the simulation pods. He shook his head and concentrated on the mission at hand.

"Nav Charlie is Team One's regrouping point at the mountain peaks that are to the west of this base. Should you complete your mission, you are to assist Team One from that point onwards.

Out towards Nav Delta is another of the enemy's drop zone. That section is flat and open like a desert, but it is actually cold and windy. There is very little cover and there are a couple of select weapons that have the range to reach its intended target.

Finally, Nav Epsilon. That is off-limits and must be protected at all cost. Civilization resides there and we are to protect that area. However, the residents have been evacuated into shelters at Nav Omega and would like it if you could protect their homes. The location is in a big crater and you have plenty of cover surrounding the area.

Your Primary mission objectives for Team One are to locate the enemy and report back your findings. Unless you find yourself in a tight spot, do not engage until your support has arrived. So, until the support team has given you the go-ahead, sit and hold steady.

Secondary objectives for Team One are to lure the enemy into a trap as directed by the commander of Team One.

And finally, destroy all enemy 'Mechs."

Chris let out a sigh and watched the front line begin moving out. His 'Mech was fully powered up and ready to go, but was waiting on the go-ahead from the ground crew. Finally, the final bit of mission objectives came to life on his screen as he placed the Neurohelmet on his head.

"Primary objectives for Team Two are to protect and hold Nav Epsilon. We sincerely doubt they have cause to destroy any civilizations, but we are not taking that chance.

Secondary Objectives are to destroy all enemy 'Mechs. More Secondary Objectives are as follows: destroy their DropShips to prevent escaping. Assist Team One.

Finally, this is a personal request from Wolf: Capture BlackDavion."

Chris watched the screen go blank then light up again showing JD's face. Chris smiled somewhat but noted the serious expression on his face and immediately knew it was all business.

"Chris, I made some modifications to that NovaCat you're in. I hope you don't mind the heat, but should you ever get in a tight spot, you have the fastest heavy on your team. Remember what I taught you."

Chris nodded his affirmative, "Hey, Ham?"


"Give them hell!"

JD smirked and clicked a button for general broadcast, "It's HAMMERTIME!"

Chris chuckled and shook his head, as did everyone else. Finally, it was time for him to move out. He knew they would be splitting up into teams and from the looks of it, a lot of the teams would carry a huge squadron of 'Mechs. He eased forward a bit, so as not to pull out so fast. He wondered just how fast his 'Mech could go, but was soon to find out. Once Chris cleared the cell his 'Mech was sitting in, he turned to the right at ninety degrees to the exit doors and immediately pressed the navigation buttons. Nav Alpha was towards the West at over four kilometers. Nav Beta jumped towards the East at a distance of three thousand kilometers. Nav Charlie was to the West again at fifteen hundred meters. Nav Delta was to the North at three thousand meters and Nav Epsilon was to the South at a little over twenty-two hundred meters.

Chris sighed, figuring he'd be on protection detail, but also noted another abandoned base not far from Nav Epsilon. Once he cleared the hangar, he received new orders as the comm came to life seemingly on it's own with JP's handsome face on the screen.

"Chris, meet up with the twenty other 'Mechs already heading to Nav Epsilon. JD tells me that you have the fastest heavy and everyone else has a head start so best you catch up to them."

"Yes sir!" He punched the throttle to full speed and sped off at eighty-eight kilometers per hour, as everyone else watched in awe. "But I thought I was to join JD's lance?"

"That order's been changed and modified after listening in on your conversation with JD."

"Oh" Was the only response Chris could muster.

"And Chris? Do not leave, no matter what happens. We don't expect an attack, but better safe than sorry."

"Noted. Before you go, I noticed an abandoned base further south of the area."

"Damn. Good eye. I didn't think of that, but keep an eye on that area!"


"Happy Hunting, Blinker out!" And the screen went blank briefly then popped to life again with an unknown face that looked like another teenager.

"Hi Chris, we were following your conversation with Blinker and we agree, but we'll still have posts all around the perimeter. Oh and the name's Pain and we need a callsign for you or something."

Chris grinned, "Yea well, it's more or less taken already so I gotta think of something else."

Pain smiled and nodded then the screen went blank. He looked at his radar, which was slightly above the comm unit and noted the blue friendly dots just about five hundred meters in front of him. He then looked out the window and noted the dust trails. Off in the distance, was a huge crater that he could barely make out. It seemed small at first, but quickly grew in size, as they got closer.

Once Chris caught up to the group, he eased off the throttle and slowed down to match his speed with the rest of the team. He took up the rear of the group and turned on his rear view camera to check his six. Satisfied no one was following, he continued to work out a plan in his head should something happen. His thoughts were interrupted by Pain's face, among everyone else in small boxes on the comm unit.

"Guys, as we approach, I want us to spread out and get there as soon as possible. I've got reports of an enemy sighting headed our way and I want to get set up as soon as possible."

Chris grinned as he shifted to the right slightly for a clear path and gunned his throttle forward to one hundred percent. "Aff!"

"Just what the hell do you have on that, a jet pack?" Laser responded with a grin as the NovaCat sped past him at its max speed.

"Chris, be sure to hit passive radar once you're in position," Pain reminded the young teen, then addressed everyone, "Guys, call out targets accordingly! If there is a large group approaching, wait till they're in weapons range and whatever you do, do not shutdown and exit your 'Mech! Finally, switch to channel one point five as that is our team channel for this group!"

"Roger, Cap!" Everyone responded using Pain's Rank and the screen once again went blank. Chris adjusted the transponder to the correct frequency and continued on his current course. He was the first to arrive at the edge of the cliff and came to a halt. He scanned the area for the best possible route, quickly found it, and then sped off, while the others did pretty much the same thing some five minutes after Chris's NovaCat had arrived.

Inside the Crater was a stunning view of scenery. A lake filled the center of the crater at the bottom, which was surrounded by a large town and some tall buildings. The walls of the crater were bare on most parts, except for a section on the far right that was dug out to allow for vehicles to enter and exit at a less steep incline.

In less than five minutes, Chris arrived at his post and engaged his exterior camera. A small orb-like sensor shot up into the sky about fifty meters and stayed there hovering. Chris watched fascinated as his cockpit window somehow transformed to appear as if he was outside his 'Mech. Chris remembered this as third person view, back in his own time while playing the various games he loved to play. Now he was part of the real thing and it made him plenty nervous with thoughts clouding his confidence.

He continued scanning across the horizon till he spotted a white light high up in the sky. At first he thought it was the Sun, but he quickly dismissed the thought. In fact, the Sun was on the other side, and he saw a heat trail from the object that seemed to grow.

Muttering under his breath, "Damn!" He quickly activated team comms and everyone's faces appeared on the screen.

"Guys, we got company at my location looking southwards in the sky."

Pain: "Shit! I'm on the other side, five to ten minutes out."

Chris: "Noted, Pain, I have an idea!"

Pain: "Yea? Sup?"

Chris: "Well, why don't you move towards the right of me instead of coming towards here? You are already in their line of fire without any cover and if the rest of you head towards this side, there's more cover with a small hill to my right. If you head further towards the right, you could flank them from there."

Pain: "Excellent idea, I still want people watching our sixes!"

Everyone wasted no time moving into position as Chris watched the DropShip getting bigger. Suddenly, it slowed and began its touchdown sequence. Chris was able to estimate it was about a thousand meters off in the distance and once it touched down, they wasted no time opening up the huge bay doors. Chris's eves widened at the sight of what came out!

JD groaned in embarrassment at getting ribbed on by the old and new guys on his team from his earlier announcement. "You guys realize that if you run into my line of fire, you're more than likely going to be eating dirt just from the sheer force of the weapons I have, right? Not only me, but Simon here as well!"

Blinker's face appeared on the comm unit, "What the hell could you possibly have on that? I mean you have to be going light on something go attain those speeds!"

JD grinned, "I know, I'm sorry for that, this has two of each of the following: Clan LBX20s, Assault Lasers and Heavy Medium Lasers. Simon has Triple Clan Ultra Autocannon twenties (cUAC20) Double Assault Lasers and Heavy Medium Lasers. While I know very well on paper, these two alone can take on 4, I'm not going to risk it here in the city. I know for a fact that those Railgun 'Mechs are deadly, but if we had another Daishi, two will surely finish off one of those things."

Blinker stared at the screen speechless as Fire's face appeared instead, causing the screen to split in half, "Bloody hell, Hammer, what are you trying to do, take out a building?"

"Nope, finish them off as swift and quickly as possible. At least I'm glad Hellboy is in the other Warthog."

The screen once again split further showing everyone else on their team and Hellboy spoke first, "Shit, JD, I'm not sure I like the idea of being in this thing. I'd rather be in something I'm comfortable with, not this!"

"Hellboy, do you trust me?"

"Well, yea but…"

"It'll be alright, bro. I know you'll do okay."

Hellboy groaned and JD quickly changed subjects, "Fire, what was up with those winged walkers squadron?"

Fire had a confused look on his face till blinker spoke up, "He means the Longbows. Those are our secret weapons. Basically long range support consisting of nothing but Thunderbolts."1

"So they only have two or three Thunderbolts each?"

"At least that; try four each."

"Holy shit! The armor's gotta be on the light side on those, considering how massive those weapons are," JD exclaimed as he did quick math in his head. "Is that the support group for us, and also for use against the DropShips?"

"Yep, imagine forty bolts coming at you in a single wave."

"I don't wanna know. There's a hole in your plan with those things being light on armor."

"I know. I told the guys to make their shots count, as they only have limited rounds, but I estimate you should only need twenty bolts to destroy a DropShip."

"I hope you're right. They just reported a DropShip landing near Nav Epsilon!"

"Damn!" Fire swore, prompting Rampage to announce to the fleet.

"Gentlemen, we have to leave Nav Epsilon to Pain and the rest. The longbows will have to locate any enemy DropShips in the area before heading away."

"Any chance you could split them up into groups of five?" JD asked, suddenly feeling very nervous at the thought of losing Chris.

Rampage smiled and assured him a 'we'll see' response before closing comms.

Fire broke the uneasy silence, "Guys, get your heads in gear, we reach the city within a thousand meters! The rest of us are going to head forward, Sorry, JD, Simon and Hellboy, you'll have to stay with Simon till we reach the city. We'll keep you updated on team channel 2.5."

"Roger!" Was the response from everyone and the screen went blank on JD's comm unit, then he switched to channel 2.5 and activated his comm unit as the three Assault 'Mechs watched the remainder of the group press forward at a faster pace.

1 Arrow IV Thunderbolt is a long-range single projectile weapon that explodes upon impact. It travels via weapon lock in a linear fashion at high speeds. When grouped with more than one, the damage impact is so high that it has the ability to knock over other 'Mechs. The downside to this weapon is it takes up 14 tons of space and six seconds recycle time.

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