M I S S I O N I N P R O G R E S S
Western Continent, Espia
NPDRE Outpost F-10
18 April, 3030
Park checked his watch. They would at least make the departure time. Not by much, but they’d make it. He gritted his teeth. Sending the forklift operator to the medbay and taking a man off the job probably wasn’t the best move for their time, but that bastard could have killed them all. Unbelievable stupidity. He shook his head. The rest of the dim lot had got the picture though and loading was moving along at a newly found, fast pace. Still, something felt off. He couldn’t place it. He shook his head observing the fear in the laborers faces as they glanced at him unsure of what new trespass they had committed. However, his suspicions were confirmed when another lift operator rolled up in front of him outside of the designated travel path. His hand almost involuntarily moved for the whip at his side, but this man had a more seasoned appearance and knew the rules. Park stayed his temper.
“System’s down boss,” The operator said, pointing at the small screen attached to his machine. A simple program kept the receiving and shipping organized and monitored the inventory for the small depot.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Park growled. He marched up to the large machine furiously; however, another twinge of something familiar struck him, just for a fleeting second, like something moving under his foot, just as he stepped up onto the large forklift. There was not enough time to even consider it as he looked at the screen.
“Stuck on the staging screen sir,” The operator said with a shrug. “I can’t get my next pick.”
Park hammered one of the large buttons on the keypad with his thumb furiously, but the screen was frozen on the driver’s previous order from the system. His eyes darted around rapidly at the small screen while his hands tried various combinations of commands to reset the computer to no avail. His heart rate accelerated. They couldn’t afford a system outage at this time. It would take days to get someone from Balya Gora out to F-10 and his superiors wouldn’t be interested in tech failures as excuses for not making his shipments on time.
Something stirred beneath his grip as he steadied himself on the machine. Something under the handhold, under the machine, more than just the idling of the engine. He was sure of it this time, though as he looked up he immediately noticed the whole operation had come to a standstill. None of the equipment was running. All stopped with operators trying the same reset commands he was attempting. A grotesque wave of nausea swept over him briefly and It felt like he could literally feel minutes of his life being subtracted as the work had come to an abrupt halt right in front of him.
He jumped down and keyed the mic attached to his lapel, but a screeching tone of piercing feedback erupted from the small speaker directly into his face and across every other radio around him before he could get a word out. Almost like he didn’t believe his eyes and ears, he cautiously touched the small button again, sending another blast of painful distortion through all the speakers on every piece of equipment and every handheld on the channel. It was deafening and a roar of shouts and curses went up as soon as he let go of the mic again. For a moment he was at a loss. Nothing made sense. What the hell was going on? The realization struck him broadside as a solid tremor stirred the ground under his feet, shifting the dust on the prefab construction and causing ripples in puddles of saltwater rain.
The situation had gotten much more exciting outside the walls of F-10 for the small quartet of Strikers and Scorpions. Sensors had taken a dump all at once, along with all comms. Unaware the other units were having the same problem, the commander of the lead tank, a Striker, had slowed and popped open the hatch to get a look at his antenna array, however instead of finding trouble with his equipment, he instead found a rapidly approaching full lance of mechs on the horizon. Panic quickly set in so much so that the commander completely overlooked the much lower to the ground Von Luckner and instead wheeled around rapidly firing signal flares in an attempt to get the others attention amidst the dead comms.
The reaction among the rest of the column was poorly inadequate with the Green Knights bearing down full bore. The other Striker continued on unknowingly at first, however, the trailing Scorpions had seen the distress flares from the head of the patrol and began quickly maneuvering back towards the supply depot. Their turrets rotated quickly, but getting steady aim off their regular, compacted patrol path was difficult. Of the mechs they could see in the dense morning mist, both the Raven and the Phoenix Hawk moved too fast to track along the rough terrain. A shockingly rare Ostroc and a Shadow Hawk were at a better angle as they turned, but were still moving at a rapid pace in their own right. What looked like an Archer brought up the rear but the best shots were going to be towards the Shadow Hawk and Ostroc. The pair opened fire as they retreated closer to the perimeter of F-10.