Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by pugbutter
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Rose heard them before she saw them, shambling into RADAR range well before the range at which she could squint through her smoked aluminum glass and gawk at the team manually. And she must have noticed them before they did her, as their conversation continued with no real regard for her presence; unless, of course, everyone in this squadron was as rude as that Gan guy ... The terrain was becoming pebbly and uneven and low, her mech swaying as its leg actuators adapted to new deformities in the moon rock.

________________________
"Okay, Chlotho. Your turn."
"I gotta go with phở on this one. No question."
"I've heard of that. It's Vietnamese, right?"
"Yeah, but you don't know until you've had it. It's ambrosia."
"Well? Spit it out already."
"So it's this murky, beefy broth, right? So hot it's almost boiling. Sometimes it's spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and all sorts of stuff. Cilantro, mint, and chilies are negotiable. Onions and glass noodles aren't. And beef. So much beef you could choke. Total harmony."
"Whoa! That sounds scary good!"
"Right? At your typical noodle shop they'll be serving flank, brisket, maybe eye round. Shaving it so thin it's like paper. But if you're lucky——or you know where to go——you can get it loaded up with juicy chunks of tendon, oxtail, even tripe and tongue."
"Aaaaaand you ruined it. Bleck."
"What about you, Commander? What's your favorite hot soup for braving the frozen wastes of Triton? ... Commander?"
"Huh? Oh. I dunno. I like tomato."
"That's our girl. Something finally leaves her mouth which ain't an order, and it's the most boring thing to ever come from a bowl."
"Hey! ...... Okay, maybe the one from a can. B-But I think my dad makes a really good one!"
"How's that?"
"Well, he'd start by roasting the tomatoes and some onions in a pan, to give them some char."
!
"And since that would cook out some of the acidity, then he'd deglaze with a little vinegar, usually red wine or balsamic ..."
!!!
"As for the spices, I haven't figured it out 100%, but I know it involves cumin seeds, caraway seeds, some paprika ... all dry-toasted and then——"
"Hey, chief. Maybe you should cut it out before ya kill 'er."
"... Ana?"
[incoherent drooling]
"Heh heh ... Yeah, MREs and DFAC cookin' don't really cut it when your heart hurts for homemade, do they ..."
"That's for sure. I'd go on a massacre for a plate of my old man's stroganov right about n——"
"BOGEY ON MY TEN."
"What?!"
"Strauss, you sister-fucker, you better not've jinxed us just now."
"Shut up, I didn't."
"And you're not kidding this time, right?..."
"NO!!"

In stark contrast to the Quickdraw which (through no intent of its own) had stomped past Rose out on the plain, the fireteam's A3-37 Phalanx didn't need to take even a single step to zero right in on her figurative forehead. With a scalpel's precision, hip pivot and shoulder pivots collaborated to aim two enormous autocannons dead-on at her center of mass. Supposedly they were for long-range aerial shootdowns, but who was to say they wouldn't tear through a Fire Ant at point-blank?

The others, despite their banter, practically leapt to Strauss's callout in their deadly earnestness. They emerged from their defensive testudo formation. A (relatively) small, agile Fessler-Bagwell "Hellion" was first to appear from behind Strauss's Phalanx, quickly leveling its own arm-mounted guns and missile racks; and so did a weightier, slower AV-84 Hunchback, hobbling forward much in the manner of its namesake, or of an armored tortoise, dragging along under its iron cowl.

But in the center of this formation—its impenetrable iron core—stood the true titan. The thickness of her armor was measured not in inches but in feet, her withers towering over their heads. As for her four cannons, after a certain point there was no point to counting, but comparing the bore of the barrels to the size of the cockpit at a glance, Rosie could estimate that the shells came at least up to a girl's knees when laid lengthways on the ground. Maybe her waist.

Of course Rose had always read about the Armageddon-class mechs, like the Horn of Gabriel, the Apotheosis, the Oubliette, and of course, the MkII Sword of Damocles. But those ... those things had to be at least 900mm in caliber!

Was that mech truly a weapons system, or an artillery fort on legs?!
________________________
"Unidentified pilot, this is R-TAX Three-Zero-Fiver-Fiver-Three with the 5th Airborne. You are ordered to jack out of your 'mech, call out your serial number, and——"
a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a
"... oh."
"It's Rosie!"

Somehow, even the mechs themselves looked slightly bashful as they all lowered their barrels in unison.

________________________
"Nice going, bud."
a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a
"Gimme a break. I only said she was a bogey, not a bandit."
"Great. Now I'm hungry AND wound up."

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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by sassy1085
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Rose sees her team at the base, with their mech staying around in place, almost like staying guard, ready to attacking any enemy who wants to fight....But when she starts to get some connection from her radio, all of them are talking about food. It's seems that they are just relaxing, just telling each other what their favorite food, which sounds really good, and Rose would kill for a phở and tomato right about now.

But thoughts of delicious food was cut short when everyone point their weapons point their at someone. Crap! Is there a enemy here?! Was she and Gan followed?! But there no enemy dot on her map, unless.....Oh shit, they are pointing at her! Rose want to say something, but she is so scared at weapons being pointed at her, that she frozen in fear! Welp, this is it, this is how Rose life ended! Being mistaken as a enemy!

....Only things finally stop when the group finally realize who it actually is.....Well, that was the most intense moment in Rose life....So far. After things calm down, Rose can finally found her voice, and begin to talk.

"...Umm...Hey everyone, It's great to see you guys are all right"
___________________________________________________________________________

________________________

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by pugbutter
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"... What are you slagheaps waiting for? It was a false alarm. Get back in position."

Wordlessly they steered themselves away from the center, these steel giants shambling through the space-snow. Most of them, anyway. They aimed their backs to the others and their guns to the opaque, soupy expanse beyond, sweeping, searching. With a fifth hurrying to sidle in beside them, it did indeed resemble better a testudo, or a wagon-fort; but still, with only five pairs of eyes watching the storm, and the angles of the five mechs still jutting and crowding up against the others, not a one of them could falter in their vigilance. Not when death could come from anywhere.

Clashing up against this vigilance, however, was the rookie. Not only did she have to watch the others to know what they were doing, and ape them to match; she was struggling to even walk in her new machine. Ketherin held her breath, lest it escaped as words too volatile and cruel for someone so fresh to the ranks, and forced her focus elsewhere. She just had to learn their ways, Ketherin convinced herself. The layout inside her cockpit must've strayed too far from those scanned into the simulations. Or maybe it was just first-day nerves. The girl belonged to a fireteam now, after all; a second family, one which she didn't choose and couldn't escape. Not until her tour was up. Five strangers with whom, if they hated each other's guts, she was trapped for the next three years. Of course she wanted to like them, and for them to like her back. Like Ana before Synapse, and Gan before Ana, this bright-eyed newcomer was watching their every move, and soaking up their every way, while trying not to lean too close and trample any toes in the process. She didn't know how to behave around them yet; she was overthinking it, and stumbling over her own two feet as she practically forgot how to walk.

It had been like this with Ana, too: every little thing she did crawled under Ketherin's skin. She never quite seemed to be taking it all seriously. Everything that left her mouth was a happy-go-lucky movie cliché. And that pose she did in photographs, ugh ... that is, until Yrma pulled Ketherin aside and explained it to her. Explained it in a way which made sense.

"You got any kids back home, Lieutenant-Commander?" she said.

"No," Ketherin answered plainly.

"Do me a favor and pretend."

"Alright? ..."

"You and your husband have just come home from a nice dinner, and find your little girl all tangled up in your pearls, and slathered in your lipstick. She's even put a blade to her hair and given it a good lop. Would you be angry?"

"Naturally."

"Angry to the point of punishment?"

"Probably."

Yrma had already crossed her arms and gloated in some show of triumph, though by Ketherin's reckoning she hadn't even reached any sort of punchline yet.

"Why?" she prodded.

"Quit screwing with me. It's obvious why."

But Yrma persisted. "Why, then?"

So Ketherin deigned to explain herself: "Because I was trying to have a calm, relaxing evening with my husband. Now I've got a mess to clean."

"Ah, right," Yrma chuckled, as if she really had forgotten something so obvious, "that's right. The kid has ruined your evening now, hasn't she. On purpose?"

Ketherin didn't want to admit that she had never delved particularly deeply into the psychology of children. She had to walk herself through all the likelihoods: of a child holding a grudge at least for hours, maybe days. Of the child's ability to bide, to scheme, and to execute. "Hmm. Probably not."

"But you're still punishing her?"

"For God's sake, is there a point to this Socratic bullshit or not?!"

Yrma chuckled again. "Alright. The point, then ... " Ana attracted her gaze from across the room. She was speaking to Caledon, recently promoted to Commander and team leader. From the way she dug the toe of her boot into the carpet, and hid her hands behind her back, and swayed bashfully on the ball of her foot, she was enjoying his company quite a lot. "Scyto" was harder to read; he made everyone feel welcome aboard his team, even when it wasn't his to lead. Even when he was troubled, as Ketherin was now troubled, he made sure it never sloughed off onto anyone else.

"You know, all this time you've talked about how it all made you feel. The mess you'd have to clean," Yrma explained. "But not once did you stop to consider the child's feelings in this story. Did you?"

"Of course I did," the new Lieutenant-Commander refuted. "I thought of how it would hurt her——hurt us both——for me to have to discipline her."

"But not one second before that. Not why she did it, because the mess seemed so senseless to you, you never stopped to wonder about the feelings which provoked it."

Ketherin had been poised to refute this. All of it. Not anymore.

"Not even dogs chew the furniture for no reason, ma'am," Yrma continued. "They do it because they're lonely, neglected, pent-up. Because they'd rather be playing with you, and the wooden leg of a table is the effigy of your absence. So tell me what you think. Really. Why would a little girl want to wear your jewels, your makeup, your hairstyle?"

Yrma didn't need Ketherin's answer; she could see that she'd got it. So the former had only one last thing to say to bring it all together. She paired it with a clap on the back, which then slid off Ketherin's shoulder as the elder pilot began sauntering back to the rest of the group.

"I know I'm not the CO around here, and I definitely wasn't much of a mother to anyone who called me one. But if you'll humor one more question, consider what it is that you're punishing right now," she said, throwing the youngest and newest member of the team a second furtive glance. "Is Ana Calypsi ditzy, clumsy, and dumb? Or is she nervous because she's eager to get along with her new team, and prove to you she's worth her scrap?

"That's it. Thanks."

The next footstep told Ketherin that Yrma really had said the last of her piece. She considered giving her the last word—letting the silence hang dramatically over the old woman's thesis—but ... no, she couldn't just let it go unsaid. Not after how she had just been, in a way, rescued. "Yrma."

Yrma stopped, but didn't turn.

"You were a wonderful mother. I'm sure of it."

Ketherin could sense Yrma's smile, bittersweet and forlorn, but not see it. "Thanks, but you're wrong," she replied. "A good mother would've been there for them."

Ketherin glanced over at the second screen in her comms array—Yrma's screen—flickering near strips of duct tape scrawled over with her tail number, callsign, and a few of her machine's specs, all of these old and worn and peeling. The old woman had no chance of noticing the Commander's contemplative and nostalgic glance while sorting herself into the circle; scouring her rearviews and lining up with the mechs beside her and so on.

The new girl's screen, left of Yrma's, was the only one sticky with fresh tape and fresh pen. They were, after all, the only creds in the fireteam which Ketherin didn't know by heart.
"Lt. SYNAPSE, ROSE."
"Model: Talarius RSS9 (Recon, Scout, Skirmisher, Mk9) 'Fire Ant.'"
"Tail #: 3ZE"

"So, Zulu-Echo, how did it look out there?"

________________________

________________________
"HEY! Who just bumped me?!"
(Oops.) "Um, it was smooth enough of a journey. Didn't even get caught! ... Oh! You won't believe what I saw, though: I saw a Quickdraw! Assault configuration! It was ancient!"
(Patience ...) "Glad to hear it. How many?"
"Only one. And it being so old and all, it didn't have hip actuators or anything. It definitely didn't notice me!"
"In total, Zulu-Echo. How many are we up against? I say again: how many bandits in theater? Over."
"Oh! Um, I don't know. Since I was being safe and taking a longer, safer circ route, I didn't keep track of anything like that. Sorry. Uh, over."
"..."
"Well, it doesn't change anything. Listen up. We're going hammer-and-anvil on these sons of bitches."
"Right!" (Oh god we're going to be fighting soon aren't we oh god.)
"Once Gan takes a shot and downs a tango, one of two things will happen. Either they'll group up and sally out to intercept him, or they'll circle around and try to take cover behind the base. Either way, our two groups pinch down hard and hit 'em from behind."
"So we don't know who's the hammer and who's the anvil, huh ..."
"Something like that."
"Will the groups remain this ... asymmetrical? I don't like Gan being alone out there if they're gunning for him."

A good point. Gan had weak armor, slow actuators, and an arsenal comprising long-range weapons almost exclusively. On top of that, most of the weight on the Basilisk was either a giant battery for fueling all those rail and laser systems, or a reactor engine for shoving all that mass around. If he got spotted, and was caught in unawares by more than a light-class patrol or two, he'd be sitting inside little more than a bomb waiting to blow.

But who to send in the Fire Ant's stead? The Phalanx had enough frontal armor to let Chlotho stand up to attack, but its armaments put it in much the same dilemma as the Basilisk: it wanted to weaken armor and pick off pilots from a distance, not get outmaneuvered up close. Ana's Hellion had impressive armor for the speeds she could achieve, but her configuration was meant for unloading a single huge payload quickly and relentlessly before backing off again to re-arm. She would thrive in a brief burst of violence, but languish under attrition. That only left the Hunchback, a versatile and deadly mech, but most of its short-range weapons were lasers, which were both less effective out in this weather, and quick to overheat leaving Yrma unguarded while her coolant flushed and her longer-range weapons sat haplessly quiet and cold.

It wasn't ideal——the 'Team worked best in formation, covering each other member's weaknesses——but Ketherin had a choice to make, and she made it. She called out the reinforcement's callsign while she made adjustments on the map.
"Alpha-Tango."

________________________

________________________
"Goddammit."
"You'll convoy with One-Seven-Juliet and provide him with covering fire. Zulu-Echo will reconnoiter before linking back up with our Alpha group."
"Yes, ma'am."
"At the very least you need to tag stationary targets for the Basilisk's Gauss cannons. But I'd like a way to track them while they're mobile, too. Any ideas?"
"How about sticky bombs? Hollow out the casings and put tracking devices inside them."
"Good idea. Anyone here have sticky bombs?"
"No, but the miners would. They use 'em to blow rock in the ceilings of their tunnels."
"Then can we make contact with the base without blowing through the walls?"
"Maybe?"
"Not good enough. Alright; forget it. You just find an immobile target for Gan, deliver the metadata to him, then RV with us here. And you, Chlotho."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm mobile."
"You two can fire-at-will. That goes for weapons and jammers. The rest of you, I want acoustics up at all times. We move once he takes the shot."
"On it, ma'am."
"I'll go fill him in, then. Out."

They made a breach in the formation, and watched him as he went. Glaring, as the Phalanx trudged southward, was the thinness of its rear armor, especially in the torso. That weakness had plagued Chlotho before, as he was eager to rush ahead into danger and was thus prone to overextend himself. His easily-flanked mech really belonged in the hands of a calmer, cooler pilot, but ... he could also make a shot when it really mattered, just like Ganymedes. And it was too late to talk Chlotho out of trading it in, anyway; now he was nostalgic for the thing. Ketherin only hoped she hadn't just sent her two best shots into a desperate last stand, stranded kilometers away from the rest of the team.
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"Ok.....This is going to be your first fight, Rose...In a mech....Riding it for the first time...." Rose says to herself, as she sits in her cockpit alone. Today is her first mission and already she is getting into her first mech fight....And she is not prepared for this! Calm down, she is just going to track those guys, not fight them. Breath in...Breath out.....Ok, Let's do this.

Rose makes it to the south end of the base, she can Gin dot on her map, he's ready and so is she. Rose moves her mech, creeping closer and closer to the base, from the distance, she can see many mechs, which are Woodsman, and many vehicles. She can feel a sweat drop coming from her forehead and fall to her chin, she really really doesn't want to screw this up, everyone is counting on her....She thinks, she is not sure, she can't read people really well, but still! They are counting on her! Rose finally starts marking the enemies, one by one slowly, trying not to out herself. "One....Two....Three...." Rose says quietly as she counts as she marks every mech in the area. She only stopped when she thought one of them spotted her....But they looked right past her. Maybe she is not in their vision map? Doesn't matter, cause after she marks the last mech, Rose gets the hell out of there!

......Holy crap...She did it...Rose actually did it! She didn't screw up her order! She didn't screw up! She was actually helpful! Yes! Yes! Yes!....After that little victory, Rose was back focusing on the mission. Seeing that her map data have markings on them, it seem that she has all of them. All she have to send it to Gan and-

BOOM!!!


.......What the hell was that?....Was that Gan's cannon? But she didn't send him data unless...Unless.....Oh shit! "Everyone! I think something went wrong! Gan cannon just went off! I didn't send him the data! I don't know what is happening over, I don't know why or how, but I think Gan is in trouble! I think Romeo and I are going to be next! We need backup!" Rose say to her radio

.....Only to get no response. Shit! Shit! Shit, this is bad! Really, Really bad! No connection to the captain and the rest of the team, the enemies are going to investigate the noise, no backup orders from the captain! We are screwed! As Rose is freaking out in her cockpit, she just hopes and prays that the boys come up with a plan soon.....Or else they are done for!
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It was supposed to be an easy op: close in on the enemy, suppress them until they were all bunched together, and then pincer them from behind. An ageless tactic, deployed as far back as Hannibal and Scipio, if not even further, when men bashed each other's heads in with rocks and sharpened sticks. Of course the plan was supposed to go wrong, like any plan, but it should have been the new girl wandering too deep into a nest of the enemy; needing an evac with some pinning fire after they'd trusted her behind the line. Not like this. Not like this. An enemy scouter had forced Gan to make a choice. And now that he'd made it, now that he'd inadvertently sent the signal screaming up into the air, he'd endangered all of his friends. The Commander and the rest of her team were attacking headlong, waiting for an encirclement which would come too late. The new girl was stranded somewhere between the two teams, out in the snow, running a serious risk of being caught once the enemies starting moving.

And here sat Gan and Strauss. They both knew they couldn't keep standing there doing nothing, but how should they decide which one to rush in to help? Could the heaviest armor at the Commander's disposal withstand an envelopment long enough for the boys to pull Rose Synapse out of there? Or could Rose stay hidden and keep herself safe while the boys reinforced the line? Gan didn't know. He didn't know, and he was running out of time.

A few hundred meters to the north, the scrapped remains of a small scouter-mech smoldered and steamed, its back turned to them, still glowing where a tungsten dart had sheared a hole in its torso at Mach 2. The longer the seconds ticked along, the antsier Gan was about the other besiegers hurrying over to check the noise and confirm the status of their missing friend. But right now, his and Chlotho's location was the only one still accounted for on their own battle map; here there was still a chance (albeit a slim one) of being bailed out, but only if they stayed where their buddies knew where to find them. Three would be safer than two, and besides, the new girl knew better than anyone where to find Gan in the chaos. He had to stay the course. He had to trust that his intuition would pay off, and guide the new girl back to him before the enemy.

Of course, it was doing nothing for their nerves ...


________________________
"——would've been ruined ANYWAY if we got spotted by a mech that got away."
"But how do ya know he spotted us?! We coulda let him slip by!"
"YOU'RE 26 METERS TALL. How did he NOT spot you?!"
"Oh, so it's MY fault, is it?!"
"No?! It's just how it happened!"
"And what 'happens' next, buddy? We just sit here until the same thing happens to us, right? Until we're snuck up on from behind and roasted, right?!"
"You know damn well we can't move without Synapse."
"I don't like it. How do you know she didn't regroup with Voldova and the rest?"
"I don't."
"You d——WE COULD BE SITTING HERE FOR NOTHING?!"
"I don't know what to tell you, Strauss. We're operating on limited information here. We have to make a choice. And I've chosen to wait for—"
"Synapse."
"Yes, for Synapse, exactly. Wait. What?"
"There she is; over there!"
Anthropomorphized by its pilot, the towering Phalanx pointed an autocannon arm to the northwest. The smaller, squatter Basilisk twisted on its hip actuator to follow where it pointed.
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"Me, Gan and Romeo are in danger! We need backup right now! I repeat! We are in dange- Oh! Forget it!" Rose said in frustration. she been trying to get in contact with anyone on her radio, but like before, no one is responding! There is where her end is! she jinx the mission and now, her and her team are doom!....She should have stay home. Where she should have know there place in her family. Marry a guy she doesn't met, have kids, do nothing but look like a prize....But at the same time, it was kind of worth it to slap the guy in the face and telling her own father off.

While Rose was contemplating, she starting to hear some static from her radio. Great, is her radio broken now? Before she try to fix it, she then hear something beside some static, It was voices, human voices! It was Gin and Romeo voice! Yes! Her radio finally picking up something! In a hurry motion, Rose try to connect to Gin and Romeo, and after a while, it work!

"Gin?! Romeo?! Thank god for my radio connecting to you guys, can't said the same for the other team. Now, do you guys have a plan? Or are we just sitting ducks around here?"
___________________________________________________________________________

________________________

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"Now, do you guys have a plan? Or——"
Rose Synapse

________________________
"Nope. MOVE!"
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
The others offered up no protest; they turned northeastward and hurried down the hill. Gan watched with a quiet dismay, however, as the rookie's Talarius tucked into a full sprint, kicking up space-snow with every clod of her metal feet as she tore away from the line; and, moreover, when she palpably realized she had abandoned her comrades, coming to a stumbling stop and sheepishly shrinking back into the rank. It was bad enough that they were three in numbers, barely half of an able fireteam, but if Strauss learned that one of those three had never piloted a warmech before, never mind trained in one or fought with one, panic would set in, starting with the rookie herself until it had overtaken the whole detachment. At this rate Gan wouldn't have to worry about letting her secret slip out before they'd had their heart-to-heart back on the ship; Strauss would figure it out by himself. And he wasn't as good at keeping secrets.

Thankfully, it still hadn't come to that. Their best hope, not yet dashed, laid in sneaking their way to the rest of the 'team without being spotted at all, and taking any bandits, with which the others skirmished, in unawares. Because once an enemy caught them in his peripherals, there would be no outrunning him and his cronies; not with the Talarius, and even Strauss's Phalanx limping, crawling at the Basilisk's pace. Gan already pushed his servos as fast and as far as they could go with every cycle of the cyclic sticks, and it wasn't enough. Not to run away, not to flank, and not to hurry to the aid of friends who could be dying right now.
"Hothead to Romeo, Hothead to Romeo."

_______________________

_______________________
"Romeo here."
"I'm going to jam our signals. You got anything to say first?"
"Yeah. Guard my ass, you bastards. I'm counting on you."
[chuckling] "Of course. That ass is Voldova's property, not yours."
"Hey, rookie. He's the only one with armor worth a goddamn, so if we make contact with any tangos, he's taking point. Our job is to make sure they don't get behind him. Because a Phalanx——"
"A Phalanx's torso armor is weaker in the rear than the front. It's a long-range support-fire model never intended for frontlines combat, so when the designers needed to increase speed or make room for more ammo storage, the obvious shortcut was to slim down the endosteel plates or even cut them off entirely. Now in theory this DOES mean the Phalanx's reactor core is a critical weak point, but in practice if it's deployed in the role Margrave Arms intended for it and allowed to lean into its niche, as a provider of pinpoint-accurate anti-air and artillery fire, the thin armor is actually a benefit."
"... Uh ... yes, actually. That's exactly right. How the hell do you know all that? That's not even in the manual."
"..."
"... L-Lucky guess."
"Yeah. A lucky guess. Anyway, you get it, right? I shoot from behind the cover Strauss gives me. And YOU flank anybody who comes after ME. It's the best formation we can hope for in these circumstances."

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Rose clenches on to her moving controls after hearing the plan from Hothead, all she have to do is to flank anybody who comes after him....Flank probably attack anyone who is coming right at them...Right? That probably what it means, Rose really needs to learn some military slang terms after this mission. While getting ready for upcoming attacks from any enemies, Rose noticing that all of their mechs are rusty old first-gens, which means taking them out would be easy...But then she spot one that stands out above the rest, the leader perhaps? It probably has some strong weaponry under it's belt.

Never less, she got something that they probably don't, and that is anti-missile system and badass pilots with their badass mechs! With Hothead mech heavy weapons and her Fireant incredible speed, the two would take out of enemies with no sweat. But with enemies having large guns, they need to be careful if they want to get out of here alive, that include the leader, their mech is probably a wild card.
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And so they watched. They skimmed the surface of the storm like kingfishers, and they plunged deep, deep into its mists, like loons, feeling for even the slightest wriggle from their foe, who they knew now for a fact was somewhere out there, at once the hunter and the prey. For they may have emerged from any angle, the detachment's weaker side or its stronger, or either flank, and somehow the Nine had to put their three pairs of eyes to guarding all of these at once. Gan, eager to outsmart these phantoms, switched to his external acoustics. But of great metallic stomping he only heard Chlotho's and Rose's, and the wailing of the fierce winds drowned out the rest. He tossed the switch back down again, returning himself to the muted silence of the thermosealed cockpit. He was beginning to see the jaws of wolves and tigers in every wisp of smoke; the glittering scales of a barracuda in the glitter of the snow. It wasn't paranoia. The storm, huge and primal and intoxicating, had only stirred something in the dark caverns of his brain, a creature which had been hibernating there in the warm pink folds for 200,000 years. Though his hands still shoved and tweaked the cyclics, and his fingers still jabbed and flicked at switches and buttons and valves, Gan was no longer aware of such technologies. He had already devolved. Now he was a huntsman in Dark Africa, gripping the wooden haft of a spear while he peered into the elusive grasses of the savanna. Then, underwater, and the waters were turquoise-clear, and he held his breath and gripped a coral reef in one hand and wrested an oyster from the rock in another, and all the while there were yellow jaws coiled in the alcoves, and silver jaws flashing in the peripheries of the deeper blue. How long it must have been, Gan pondered, since man had experienced such rudimentary terror. He'd bred it out of the wolves, after all, and turned them into dogs. Until Gan remembered that this was war, and when a wild and ancient moon birthed no animals to hunt them, men were more than pleased enough to hunt each other.

But when nobody had come for them, and the landscape under their artificial feet refused to change in gradients larger than a little hill here and a little gully there, Gan faced a new and antithetical danger, too. He flexed his fingers on the cyclics, and gripped them hard enough to sprain the intricate little muscles within; he blinked hard, as if to bat away the ghosts of the past. His blood had dumped the adrenaline, and soon it was becoming truly exhausting to expect danger from every side and all sides when his senses told him time and again that beyond the cockpit window laid only a cake of rock and snow and the fog smoothed over it like too much fondant. The cold and the shriek of the wind did not reach Gan in there, a caterpillar goo in his metal and glass cocoon, and so once the nerves subsided, all he wanted to do was sleep. Sleep in the cockpit, and then when the enemy found him, sleep in one of their prison cells, then sleep on the shuttle after his buddies broke him out. Basic taught a man how to fire a weapon, how to polish his boots, how to dig foxholes; but it never seemed to prepare him for how very boring war was—until it wasn't.

When Gan wrested his eyes open, having closed them for maybe twenty seconds, his mech and his body cooperating in autopilot, he was met face-to-face with a shape materializing from the mist. He would be thankful in retrospect, that he and this other pilot had paused in unison. As for Gan, his sluggish thoughts went roughly as such: this mech he stared at wasn't a Phalanx, not a Hunchback, and it wasn't an Armageddon-class Mk2. And once he'd figured that, its model and the identity of its pilot no longer mattered.

"FUCK!" Prodded into action like a calf sniffing too close to the electric fence, Gan bashed his cyclic to the right, sending his hip pivot into overdrive and thus his torso into a shoulder-roll. The unidentified mech was close, as orchestrated by the unwavering thickness of the storm; close enough that there was no time to switch, and more importantly, no gain in switching, to his targeting-tracking systems. The other mech shot first, but missed, loosing a volley of explosives which began just over Gan's starboard shoulder, then careened off into the sky with the recoil. Gan shot second, free-floating his arm reticles over a target area almost too big to miss, and not hesitating to pull the trigger. A tremendous booming fireball issued from the barrel, large enough to entirely consume a small mech. Though the railgun used no explosives to propel its projectiles, it launched them so quickly that they ignited the air, even air as cold as Triton-5's, through friction alone. It sent the Basilisk staggering backward as it soaked up the recoil, first in its elbow joint and then its shoulder bracket, designed and redesigned to absorb this recoil without shattering. Finally, a tungsten dart, about the size of a desk lamp, broke the sound barrier, exceeded it by three or four times, and slammed into a target up to 240 kilometers away, farther than most horizons in the solar system; or, as in this case, about 100 meters away, across a short outcrop crusted with a thin sheet of snow.

The enemy mech was reeling and stumbling before it knew what hit it, but before Gan could push through the recoil and center his other arm for a second shot, it had recovered its senses and retreated a good distance backward into the mists, obscuring his line-of-sight. Still, if there was a lance of them out there, he'd know which one he hit by the crater on the center-right side of its torso, representing just over a ton of armor vaporized in a single shot.

Shortly after, an autocannon volley from one of Strauss's arm-guns lit up most of that same area. Like a cluster of cherry bombs compared to the Basilisk's war-torpedo, they pop-pop-popped in too small of a radius to cover a good area, and so Strauss swept his aim across the line of dirt that he wanted to set on fire, and little bursting flames erupted in a crescent along the ground.

Gan switched off the jammer.

________________________
"Shit. Did you hit it?"
"Think so."

________________________
"You 'think so'?"
"I'm pretty fucking sure, okay?!"
"And just who the hell ARE you? That's military-grade hardware you just shot at my boys, amigo. Not exactly the stuff that gets contracted out to a yard like this. What business do soldiers have here?"

Gan realized quickly who it was that spoke to them, if not, yet, why—or whence. Somewhere out there, just out of eyesight. Only that mattered. He looked down at his comm array to see how the rookie was handling all this, and how Chlotho wanted to proceed; but neither of their faces had yet betrayed how their nerves were holding up, or what slapdash plans they were incubating in their brains. Thankfully Strauss spoke first, handling, presumably, the enemy commander on the whole Nine's behalf.

________________________
"Why? If you like our answer, are we all going out for a beer and a blowjob together, kumbayah?"
"It could be that our bone just ain't to pick with you. That's all. As long as you ain't killing my buddies, and you ain't here to stop us."
"This is Phalanx-Alpha-Tango with the Fifth Airborne. Same here. just as long as you stand down and stop breaking OhmCorp's toys."
"So that's what you are. Mercenary scum!"
"You should be more grateful. Whether you live or die, my paycheck stays the same. That means I have no reason to waste my shells on you until you give me one. So stand down."
"That little spray-and-pray you just pulled begs to differ. Besides, what we're fighting for is bigger than you, me, or any of us."
"..."
"Then have it your way."
!
"Gladly!"

Explosions. They went off all over Strauss's frontal armor, the worst of the damage being done to his legs. But Gan had been watching closely; the enemy had launched no missiles. And he believed them when they said they didn't have railguns, coilguns, PPCs, or any other miltech which would let them shoot faster than the human eye could see. He would have heard the sonic boom besides. How? How had they cracked the Phalanx's armor without missile racks, without electromagnetics, without bloop-tubes, hell, without so much as having to leave their cover? Once again he had to stow his questions, however, as once the Phalanx began to stumble backward, its pilot shaken into a stupor, they charged, all of them, three old, rusted, minermechs clearing way for a fourth. And that one was a true and proper war machine, with weapons and tracking systems, armor, and a damn pissed off pilot; not pulled of a yard, but bought from military auction ... or plundered from a guard detail.
As for the three leading the charge, Gan was starting to get a better picture of their weaponry. He thought back to the wreckage he'd spotted en route to the relay point; cranes and diggers burned off and replaced with makeshift gun barrels; crudely welded, and filled with the gunpowder shipped in for blowing out mineshafts and loosening slag-rock.

Miners? Were they miners, Frankensteining their own warmechs out of the minermechs they used on the job? If so, why were they attacking a fellow camp? And why did they have to go behind their employer's back instead of calling in more security, or hell, requesting a transfer?

And why were those three Frankenmechs rushing dangerously deep into their formation?

That last question answered itself before Gan could begin to speculate. Gathering at the Phalanx's meaty legs, they switched on their weapons and got to work burning through pipes and cables, welding through armor, and just about eating the legs off of their mountings. Hurried blue flames licked fibrosteel until it glowed orange-hot.


"Rose! Chlotho! They're using mining equipment for weapo——plasma cutters! Those are plasma cutters! Get them offa him!"

________________________

________________________
"Not so fucking fast!"

The commander leveled his guns—twin PPCs on the primary, still not enough to answer for the half a dozen explosions earlier. His whole mech was a hodgepodge of short and long-range systems—turrets and flamers for infantry, medium lasers, SRMs—a classic corposec loadout, trying to be too many things at once and middling at all of them because it "increased field performance" for an underpaid security officer who didn't know with what armaments or at what distance a hypothetical baddie would want to engage. Those projector cannons and missiles would be dangerous, but Gan wasn't thinking about them at just that moment. If they were using minertech, that meant those explosions which had gone off on the Phalanx were ...
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by sassy1085
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sassy1085 The Queen of Sassy

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It's seems that the leader wouldn't let the trio get out of here in one piece....He wouldn't let them get out of here alive. Rose hold her breath though while the leader and Romeo and hope to god that there got to be a somewhat a good deal that both sides agreed, Rose is not ready to died on some planet she never been before. Let just hope that things work out in the end

BOOM!!!


Oh Shit! Shit! Everything is going too fast! Shit! It's looks like there is going to be a fight! Study the leader mech, it a Hellbringer! It has Forging Omni-H24 armor and high explosions under it belt...Ok, the group is doomed. Rose sees the leader about to fight Romeo, she look at Gan, seeing if he is going to help his friend....Gan is busy with his own fight....Shit, Rose think there is one thing to do....She has to fight. Rose rush towards the leader and start wrestling him.
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