> 7th Squadron - P-TSCSA YEOMAN-2
> CDR Aleksanderin ‘Deadeye’ Danielsson
> 7th Squadron - TTN-001 ‘TITAN’ SOC
> LT. Gansu ‘Eyes’ Mathen
A Garmr down the scope - incoming radio chatter from boss - three Fenrir units bearing down on Gansu - another three on his five o’clock, mark three.
Finger on the trigger, heart beating a million miles an hour, thoughts racing so fast it wasn’t even like language any more - but head as cool as ice, heart stone cold - Aleks grimaced and turned from the Garmrs, twisting on his spinal axis, facing towards the newcomers, engaging reverse thrusters.
“Roger boss, three fenrirs on me. Pipsqueak, I can’t cover you - Grizzly, do it for me. Eyes, I’ll lead these three your way and help you deal with your own. Over.”
“Ooh, ooh, ooh! Bait and switch! Moving into position!” Came the excited reply.
Speed, faster than usual, in the opposite direction, facing retrograde. Enemy approach vector and their own speed in mind, they would catch him eventually - if he wanted to simply run, he’d have to turn around to do it - but they were heavier than him, the older models especially.
His unencrypted channel gave a crackle, and in his peripheral HUD the vision of an enemy pilot’s face, young and beautiful, aged only by the horrors of war, clean shaven and smooth faced except for the remnants of a burn scar across his jaw.
“Huntsman.” He snarled in a tone that was forged of equal parts begrudging respect and complete hatred.
Aleks’ mind ran the numbers almost as fast as his targeting computer. Gansu was behind him, the distance precise but abstract in his thinking - and Aleks’ hailer, speaking publicly through the unencrypted channel, was on the other end of the perfect line drawn from the Titan through the Yeoman, straight to the approaching Coalition squad.
Aleks knew what to do. He’d done it before, and he’d do it again.
A beat of silence, of stillness, and inaction, as Aleks opened the channel back at his assailant and they looked each other in the eyes - perfect equals on the black battlefield of orbital space.
The younger man barely reacted. If anything, he was disappointed - as though he’d somehow thought the Huntsman would look different.
“Prey.” Aleks replied, before killing the feed as the enemy commander’s face hardened with the freezing fury of a perfect, violent storm.
The enemy lit him up, practically dumping their magazines in his general direction as he levelled his own rifle - but they’d waited a moment too long, indulged their anger a second too many, and his firing solutions had already begun to come in.
Fire one, two, and three - raking the shots across the front of their formation, from right to left. The first Fenrir II engaged its ventral boosters and managed to just scrape a miss from his first shot - but having fired low, Aleks was anticipating that movement, and his second shot made a solid connection with the top of its head, driving a tungsten spear down the mech’s spine and straight into the pilot. As his rifle shifted to the other Fenrir II to fire the third round, the PLEBS activated, pivoting on their mounts, and firing a three second burst aimed at the Fenrir’s primary visual sensors.
As the enemy mech was blinded, it reflexively jerked to the side along its flight path, and although the third shot from the Longbow did hit its mark, it struck at an angle and was deflected, taking a chunky streak of alloy armour with it. Aleks juked out of the way as the Fenrir III finished reloading and resumed its hail of fire, a couple of hits striking true - luckily against armour rather than core components - on the Yeoman.
But Aleks had been reloading too, his previous magazine stored neatly away with the rest to the rear of his mech’s body, replaced with a full box magazine of savonite rounds.
As Aleks was making his way towards him, Gansu was still taking fire from his remaining Fenrir’s. Fortunately they were too far away to be doing any real damage to the Titan’s armor, but that wouldn’t last long. He ignored them as best he could, moving in the path of Aleks’ trajectory. This was going to be fun!
As he was moving, the hail of bullets suddenly stopped. Gansu looked around curiously and winced. A squad of UEE Sparrows were attempting to take the fight to the remaining Fenrir’s. It would go poorly for them, but it gave him the opportunity to aid Aleks. And who knew, maybe they would be able to get a kill in.
The Titan settled into position, and Gansu waited. When Aleks was close enough, he began firing up the X34. The large cannon appeared over the Titan’s head, a bright blue glow slowly spreading throughout the barrel. As he aimed at Aleks, an alert appeared across his screen.
WARNING: FRIENDLY TARGET DETECTED.
“Yes, yes I know! That’s the point! Deploy Cyclopes!” Gansu put in the override code and waited as a dozen drones spread out around him, ready to defend against any missile attacks or slow down MAS that got too close.
“Plasma cannon firing up D-eye. Get ready to dodge out of the way on my mark. Five...four...three...two...one...mark!” As he shouted out the signal to dodge, Hyperion was jerked backwards as the plasma cannon fired with a dull roar.
“Roger-wilco-” Aleks started back on the radio, burning hard on his rear thrusters, his ankle stabilisers leaving a fine, almost-glittering trail of manoeuvring jet exhaust particles in their wake as he - to any outside observer - performed a half-twist backflip. His radio cut out as the G-force set in, and he exhaled hard, forming a single word with his hard earned breath, speaking only to the glowing interior of the cockpit.
”Hooooo-” he began, drawing out his breath and tensing his core to resist the strain of the turn.
The plasma cannon fired beneath him, missing the Yeoman by an astrological hair’s breadth, a brilliant glow of destruction, radiant with power as it tore through his pursuers. In the back of his mind, Aleks smiled.
His rifle came up, sighting perfectly the other Fenrir-III as it engaged one of the two remaining Sparrow units, coming into view just over the Titan’s shoulder.
One, two, three shots, as fast as the longbow would cycle and before the X34 had even spun down, straight into the side of the Fenrir commander as it wound up to fire its own plasma weapon. One shot looked like it might have glanced off the caster’s alloy shield, but two others found their mark at the shoulder joint, and all but severed the arm.
“ook.” Aleks finished his hook manoeuvre as the G force subsided, heart pounding and pulse racing.
As the freshly-injured Fenrir III recoiled instinctively from his interdiction, trying and failing to handle its destroyed arm with a renewed sense of panic, Aleks turned briefly to survey the aftermath of Gansu’s prodigious attack.
The Fenrir II was absolutely obliterated by the blast, leaving nothing behind but chunks of superheated metal. The Fenrir III fared only a little better, with its shield absorbing most of the blast from the X34. It’s armor was still glowing red from the plasma and it was dazed, but it was still in one piece.
Gansu’s excited voice came crackling across comms, the grin in his voice palpable. “Ha-ha! That was sick! Bayonet the surviving F3, D-eye. I’ll start trying to save the Sparrows.”
He whirled Hyperion around, viewing the end of the battle between the Sparrows and Fenrirs. As predicted, it wasn’t pretty. There were only two left, and one was in the process of being gutted by a Fenrir II’s combat sword. With the Fenrir III distracted and a Fenrir II stuck in one place, Gansu took his shots. “D-Eye, be aware, one friendly Sparrow left and three hostiles. Firing on targets now.”
At the time Gansu was turning to engage the other group of Fenrirs, Aleks was driving the Yeoman in a sharp corner around the Hyperion’s neck, whirling back towards the single remaining Fenrir III - the one with the scarred pilot - with his bayonet affixed.
The commander unit began moving again, slowly and grindingly, as its sensor readouts normalised and the flight-gait coordination processors on board began recovering from the overload of being hit - and more remarkably, surviving a hit - from the X34. Achingly, it turned to look in the direction of the Yeoman’s approach, and twitched in panic - the pilot activated his own RCS systems, turning the mech to face the Huntsman he had come to kill, willing his plasma-caster arm to obey the commands of the on board targeting computer-
Aleks flicked on the unencrypted channel.
“Huntsman to Fenrir III. Relax, pilot, you did ok.” he at last made impact, driving the point of the bayonet straight through the slowly rebuilding energy shields and directly into the Fenrir’s left shoulder joint, transecting a brief, sharp line through the wiring plexus feeding power to the plasma weapon in its hand.
Unwilling to give up so easily, the Fenrir III’s pilot made a mad swipe with his other arm, trying to bat the Yeoman away and gain distance - but at this range, as damaged as he was, he was never going to be fast enough, and Aleks used his rifle to deflect the clumsy blow over his head, before drawing back and swinging the titanosavonite alloy blade straight into the his opponent’s main ocular array, utterly destroying it.
In the Fenrir’s cockpit, the main viewscreen went dark, and the pilot was left first in a dim, noisy hole as his radio net’s activity peaked, then in silence as Aleks took his antenna and auxiliary sensor units by the fist and ripped them out.
Without sensors or comms, the Fenrir III was more or less dead in the water, the pilot inside drowning in the silence.
Until Aleks’ bayonet drove straight through one side of the cockpit canopy, barely missing the pilot inside, and levered the door straight off.
The coalition pilot’s suit helmet sealed and pressurised automatically as he came personally face to face with the eyes of the Yeoman-2, exposed and open to the vacuum of space.
There was half a second of regard between them, accompanied by another burst of static from the unencrypted band on the Coalition pilot’s radio.
“You came closer than most, pilot.” Aleks’ voice echoed in his mind, as he gave an audienceless roar in his pressure suit and tried one last time to raise his weapons against the Huntsman -
“No!” the scarred pilot cried over the free channel.
Aleks reached into the cockpit with his free hand and tore the enemy pilot straight out of it, crushing their waist in his grip, before slamming them back into the chassis of the mech and using them like a blunt instrument to smash up its insides, rendering the whole machine inoperable - and hopefully, unrecoverable.
As the Fenrir drifted away with its cockpit open and the operator smeared across the interior, Aleks turned away, swapped magazines back to his signature armour piercing rounds, and focused on the next task.
A little way across the battlefield, Hyperion’s Heavy autocannons roared again, this time sending two shells apiece towards their targets. The Fenrir II never stood a chance; in the middle of finishing off a Sparrow, it was ripped in half by the explosion of the shells. The two halves went spinning in different directions.
The Fenrir III’s shield did its job admirably. The two shells smashed against it, albeit only just being stopped from hitting the III’s armor. The Fenrir III jerked back as its shield finally collapsed, and pointed towards the Titan with its remaining arm. The surviving Fenrir and it began to speed towards the Titan.
Gansu headed backwards, bringing up his SAMs, as his unencrypted channel began to crackle to life. Gansu didn’t even look over at the woman as she snarled. “Of course you’re the dogs of the 101s-”
“Shut up! End channel.” Gansu snickered at anger and confusion at such an abrupt end in the enemy MAS pilot’s eyes before the channel was closed. “D-eye, I’ve whittled them down to two and gotten the F3’s shields down. They’re both bearing down on me.”
Hyperion’s SAMs fired, sending two missiles straight towards the Fenrirs. Before they could even get close, the Fenrir III’s laser systems shot them out of space with a dull explosion. Gansu cursed, pulling back farther as they closed the distance.
The Fenrir II fired its spike missiles, which Gansu ignored. They were intercepted by his swarm of Cyclops and destroyed in a hail of laser fire. Allowing him to focus on the bigger threats, like their broadswords.
Hyperion’s minigun came up, spinning up and firing on the Fenrir III. It brought it’s alloy shield up, taking the hail of gunfire from the minigun for both itself and the Fenrir II. “Shit, shit, shit.” Gansu muttered, pushing the Titan farther back. They were getting into uncomfortable territory.
His eyes widened as the Fenrir II appeared over the head of the Fenrir III, with its Sledgehammer missile locking into place. He didn’t have anything that would block a missile of that magnitude, and Hyperion sure as shit wasn’t fast enough to outrun it. Before Gansu could go and join the spirits of the war, the Fenrir II exploded violently as two missiles hit it in the back. Looking behind, Gansu saw the remaining Sparrow wave a friendly hand. It had expended its last Claymore missiles. With that and a burst of speed, it was gone. It was too beat up and out of ammo to do anything other than get in the way.
“D-eye, update, F2 is down thanks to our surviving Sparrow friend. I’ve got the F3 suppressed but it is approaching quickly if you want to take this opportunity to kill her!” Gansu spoke rapidly, almost incoherently, as he pushed Hyperion backwards with the minigun still firing at the Fenrir III. It was close enough now that the swarm of Cyclops had gone to intercept and was harassing the Fenrir III, ineffectually firing lasers all around the MAS armor.
Like a moth drawn to flame, Aleks popped up behind Hyperion’s shoulder, almost perfectly aligned with Gansu’s own firing arc - and he fired two shots at the approaching Fenrir III, suspended as it was, trying to deal with the Cyclops drones.
They ran home straight into its guts, severing the pilot’s control of the legs, and spraying oil, sparks, and glittering MAS components out the other side of the mech. The Fenrir turned to observe the newcomer as it finished beating a cyclops out of the space around it, a little surprised to find its lower modules unresponsive, and even more surprised to be meeting a zero-g bayonet charge when its gaze finally drifted in Aleks’ direction.
Aleks lunged, driving the bayonet home through one of the suit’s frontal shield emitters, before swiping sideways in the same motion to disarm her. The Fenrir kicked on its thrusters and started to push back, reaching clumsily with its dumb, joystick arms to try and seize the Longbow - but Aleks engaged his lateral thrusters at the last moment and effectively sidestepped it, driving the bigger MAS directly into the barrel of one of Gansu’s cannons.
Aleks flicked on the local, unencrypted channel.
“Eyes, kill the pilot.”
The cannon fired once, obliterating the Fenrir before the coalition pilot could do anything. Hyperion rocked back from the proximity of the blast, and Gansu cackled. “I think we did a pretty damn good job for being suddenly attacked on our fucking leave!”
He shifted Hyperion around to face the battle, readying its cannons again. “Now lets see if we can’t drive off-” He was cut off by a flurry of chatter over the comms.
"Roanoke, this is River Styx. I'm going to need an escort as I pass through the battle space. The ISS is too far out to provide support for Sunray. Requesting the 7th's supp-"
"We've gotta move,"
“Did you fuckin’ hear th-”
“Did he say fucking Sun-” Gansu hit the comms at the same as the others, already shifting towards the Styx’s location.
"This is River Styx! Contact! I am being engaged by four times Coalition irregulars! I've lost power to one engine. Sunray is aboard this ship! I say again! Sunray is aboard! I need immediate assistance!"
“Fucking hell,” Ingram, cursing. “Squad, new priority- someone go grab Styx and walk his ass to the Roanoke! Now!”
Gansu hit the local channel with Aleks. “Go get him D-eye! I’ll cover! Hyperion is too fucking slo-”
"Ferryman this is Pipsqueak! Me and Grizzly are coming as fast as you can, could you give us an update?"
"Roanoke, this is Ferryman. Sunray is aboard a lifepod and is ejecting toward Cerol. Send a recovery team immediately."
“Fuck! Fuck! FUCK!” Gansu didn’t open his comms. He just raged impotently. There wasn’t anything he could do, and he hated it.
"Commanders, the Krakono is en route to whatever the fuck is left of the River Styx."
“Pips, Grizzly. “Leave the Styx, Secure the escape pod. Sunray has prio.”
"Boss, elaborate. 'Secure the escape pod?' "Mid-flight, or…? What about the Roanoke - the rest of the squadron?"
“Drop, now! “We’ll catch up, but we cannot lose that pod. Secure the pod, find cover- we’ll figure out exfil when we make landfall.”
Aleks’ eyebrows raised, his head cocked - and in the flickering darkness of space as the destroyed Fenrir’s wreckage floated by, the Yeoman’s eye unit cocked to the side too, mimicking his body language.
"Yessir. Preparing for re-entry. Starting up the Full Echo. Swapping to a private channel to co-ordinate with Grizzly. Have fun out there, guys."
“Will do Pips. Orders Boss? Does Roanoke still have prio?” Gansu flicked on his comm, watching Jakunta and Abigail’s huds fizzle towards Cerol.
Aleks checked his weapon, before scanning the area for new targets - specifically, for anything matching the description of an irregular - while the gears in his mind worked overtime.
“I fucking hate this planet.” Gansu said at last.