Battletech #3 – Season 1: From the Ashes – Chapter 2

Battletech: A Warriors Tale
Season 1: From the Ashes
Chapter 2 – Scouting Action

Independence
5km north east of Freedom City
10th October 3045
22:12

It was night time. In the distance was a solitary mountain blocking Bannon’s Bashers from their objective. They knew there would be trouble, but Brynjar, Charlie, Julian and Ruby were ready.

“Ok everybody, let’s stick together and move as one.” Julian said in his suave tone, attempting to exert some command authority. The last few weeks had really messed with him, but now he was starting to feel like he was getting some control back.

“I want to use the water, I got lasers and I wanna use ‘um!” Brynjar replied, excitedly waiting to pull the trigger and light up the night sky.

They moved cautiously through the still air, aware that at any moment they could be pounced upon. Almost subconsciously, however, the lance split in two at the water’s edge; Julian and Charlie went left, Brynjar and Ruby went right.

“So… what happened to sticking together?” Julian inquired.

“It’s cool, you got that side, I got this.” Brynjar said in a nonchalant tone.

As the two groups rounded the small lake, a brilliant flash of blue lightning streaked passed Julian’s mech.

“Good god!” Julian exclaimed, “One of the bastards is trying to fry my mech, not for long though, follow my line of fire boys!”

As Julian slowly zeroed in on the enemy mech he realised his sexist faux pas, “… and, urm, girl, of course, boys and girl.” He cleared his throat as one of his AC/5 rounds hit its target.

Ruby threw her mech into a charged to close the distance whilst Charlie laid down LRM fire. As they began their assault on the enemy mech, Julian was targeted again but this time with something very much unknown. He could barely see what it was in the black of the night, but he heard an almighty whoosh as it flew past his mech.

“What in jackanories name was that?!” Julian blurted out.

“What was what?” Ruby replied calmly.

“I heard a… well I heard a whoosh” Julian was half hammering the trigger at this point, realising he couldn’t quite find the words.

“What sorta whoosh, boss?” Charlie said cheerfully, watching his missiles arc towards their target.

“He isn’t the boss!” Brynjar said firmly.

“He isn’t? So who is?” Charlie said curiously.

“I’m not sure that matters right now…” Ruby tried to assert some combat decorum but failed as Julian cut her off.

“Look guys! Urm, and girl… Look, I’ve just heard a whoosh and I’m a little concerned for my well being right now!” Julian said with a wavering voice.

Brynjar, however, was briefly distracted as two beams of blue light it up the wood in front of him. He didn’t know where to look and lost sight of where the light emanated from.

“Hey I recognise that sucker, that’s that fucking Panther from our last op,” Brynjar said with frustration as he realised he was out of range of Julian’s attacker.

“The one you couldn’t kill?” Julian replied,

“What do you mean ‘I couldn’t kill’? What happened to ‘team effort’” Brynjar tried to assert himself as he dashed his sights from the Panther to the wood in front.

“I’m pretty sure it was your fault he got away… twice,” Julian said coolly.

“We’ll talk about this later, Julian, but right now it’s banzai time!” Brynjar had a grim grin on his face as he slammed his Centurion full pelt into the wood and beyond.

Brynjar tore up trees, fired medium lasers in wild arcs, and laughed manically.

“Shit!” Brynjar suddenly yelled. He had to use all of his skill to dodge what was only a brief blur as he exited the wood, “What the shitting hell was that?!”

Brynjar managed to regain control of his mech and paused for a brief moment to gather his senses. But in that brief moment, a silent attacker had him marked. As soon as Brynjar saw a few faint sparks in the far distance, he found himself being jolted into the back of his seat and propelled into the air. He screaming at the top of his lungs as he was ejected from his mech, “FUCK!”

“Brynjar?!” Julian diverted his attention briefly as he repositioned his mech, “Brynjar, what’s going on? Are you dead?”

“Of course I’m not dead, you arse hole!” Brynjar yelled.

“Well, I don’t see the need…”

“Some fucker fucking tore my mech’s head wide open!”

With a sense of real urgency, Ruby cut Julian off before he could even speak, “You ejected? What happened?”

“I don’t fucking know. How could I? One minute I saw something spark up in the distance, the next I’m dangling from some fucking straps like a fucking toddler whose just been told he can’t have ice cream!”

Everyone took a few seconds to figure out Brynjar’s metaphor, and collectively, without saying anything, decided to ignore it.

“Right, Julian, Charlie, keep these guys busy. I’ll be right back.” Ruby ordered with haste.

“Roger.” Julian replied, initially obediently until he realised Ruby worked for him, “Urm, wait, where are you going?”

“To get the job done, we don’t want to hang around here.” Ruby said urgently, as she turned the volume down on the channel Brynjar was using. She needed to focus and not listen to his incessant commands such as ‘fuck them up!’.

*** *** ***

Independence
Freedom City – City Militia Barracks
11th October 3045
05:01

It only took a few minutes of Ruby running her Jenner at full speed to find the pirate’s staging post. Relaying the information and marking the location for later use, the group broke contact. Playing a game of cat and mouse with their attackers even bought time for salvage teams to sneak in and retrieve Brynjar’s headless Centurion.

It was nearly first light as the group returned. Brynjar was brought home ahead of the group and went straight to the range to hurl axes at targets. He eventually heard the thunderous pounding of his lance’s mechs returning to the mechbay.

The mech pilots exited their mech’s and clustered around the Centurion, joining Ady and Isabelle in admiring the damage. What was left of the Bannon’s Bashers mech tech teams were climbing all over where the cockpit of the Centurion use to be, some scratching their heads.

“It tore right underneath the ferro-glass…” Ady husked, his left arm was folded across his chest whilst the right pointed out all the damage he could see to Isabelle, who was less impressed as she had a pair of eyes of her own.

“Bryn’ is gunna be pissed…” She half whispered, having not seen him arrive nor seen the axe-related damage that had occurred to several practice targets.

“Oh I wouldn’t worry about old Bryn’, I would say that he’s finally found a way…” Julian paused for dramatic effort as Brynjar walked into earshot, but his self-impressed grin gave away the punch line, “… to get a head in life!”

As Ady chuckled at the poor joke, and Isabelle rolled her eyes, a ‘Fuck you!’ could be heard loudly approaching from behind the group. Brynjar was clutching a lone axe in his right hand as he joined the group, and Julian’s poor joke brought the anger he had just worked out flooding back.

“Fuck you! Or it won’t just be that other fuckers arse I shove that gauss rifle through!” Brynjar intensified his grip on the axe.

“No need to lose you head Bryn’”, Ady enjoyed seeing Brynjar grit his teeth in anger, “We’ll have the mech fixed up in no time.”

“Some of you guys seriously want me to make a totem out of that gauss rifle huh!?!” Brynjar began to pick at his nails with the axe blade in an obviously threatening manner, his eyes flitting between Julian and Ady.

“Do we have a spare head?” Asked Charlie, somewhat innocently.

“Is it worth it? He might lose it again.” Julian replied, smugly.

Brynjar grunted and went to lift his axe, but Isabelle stepped in front and held his arm down. Brynjar’s stare was squarely on Julian, not that he cared.

“Guys!” Isabelle cried, tried to calm the group down.

“You’re right, Isabelle, at least one of us around here needs to be more headstrong.” Julian replied, folding his arms across his chest, satisfied with his banter.

“I am going to fucking kill that fucking sniping bastard!” Brynjar grumbled as he turned and stalked away. He shouted back at Ady and Julian, “And don’t be fucking surprised if you wake up to find a fucking axe in your head!” Brynjar continued walking away and let out an angry roar, hurling his axe at a pile of spare parts and equipment. The clattering noise made a few of the militia techs jump.

“Probably best leave him a while, huh?” Isabelle said.

“Are you kidding? This is the best A-grade gold I have on Brynjar, I need to milk this puppy for all its worth!” Julian replied excitedly. Ady chuckled as he walked off to begin work on the battered mechs, suggesting that would also tease Brynjar about this for some time.

With Brynjar out of sight and Ady busy barking orders and mech techs, Isabelle’s noteputer lit up with a new message alert. She read it quickly and promptly described it’s contents. Whilst the groups government liaison officer had been mostly quiet, his assistant had been in regular contact. The assistant had instructions for the mercenaries to attack and capture the staging post as quickly as they could, that being tonight. Government spy satellites had detected the post being packed up and they wanted to capitalise on the change in posture. The last part of the message was that because of the hasty request, 75% of the salvage and loot would be theirs.

Satisfied everything would be ready in time, Julian directed Isabelle to gather more information and for Ruby and Charlie to give Brynjar the good news; pay back time! Julian took a deep breath as he strode past the mechbay where his compatriot’s titanic war machine stood, sparks pouring down from the gantry as the techs attempted to rebuild the vehicles perforated cockpit. He felt great, for the first time in a while he had a steady hand on the joystick when the shooting started, and even as the mission turned to shit he’d stayed calm, cool and collected. He even gotten out a few zingers at the expense of that tree-hating lunatic Bryn. He felt as though he was getting back in the groove.

“I’m god-damn Julian Delacroix,” He thought proudly to himself, puffing up his chest, “Debonair Lothario, a slick witted, devil-may-care mech jock, as legendary in the cockpit as I am on the dance floor. I’ve got looks that thrill and fingers that kill, capped off with a winning smile that could make an entire cheer-leading team damp at 400 yards.”

He leaned against a nearby railing and watched the welding crew do their work, slowly lowering a large segment of replacement superstructure into place from an overhead crane before setting about it with their torches. He pulled out his noteputer and typed a message to Ady:

*New Message*
Subject: Tech team
Message: The team renovating Bryn’s mech are doing a bang-up job… of not breaking a sweat. Fire the fat one, he’s a disgrace.
– Julian Delacroix
*Message Sent*

Julian sighed happily. He was in the zone, in command. He tapped the pad again.

*New Message*
Subject: Re:Tech team
Message: I’m not fucking joking, fire the fat one, all he does is stand there telling the others what to do, I don’t want us blowing C-bills on this fuck-holes cream cake obsession.
– Julian Delacroix
*Message Sent*

He paused in deep thought for a moment, carefully considering his next action.

*New Message*
Subject: Re:Re:Tech team
Message: Yes Ady, I’m talking about you, you’re the fat one. I know you’re up on the gantry, because I can see and hear it groaning under the weight of your blubber.
– Julian Delacroix
P.S: Any Chance you can install those AC/2’s onto Yvonne? You can ditch the Jump-jets if you need to, and the lasers, and for god’s sake man, cram some MG’s into that Locust so Connolly doesn’t have to keep fighting like a drunken goat. And do some fucking crunches.
*Message Sent*

Julian stashed his noteputer in one of his chest pockets with a self satisfied ‘humph’. He was fucking crushing it, both as a pilot and as management. Then it came to him. A crushingly witty, devastatingly clever, ruthlessly cutting, ace high, running flush, grand-slam of a joke. This would destroy Bryn in a chorus of ‘Ooooohs!’ and ‘Burn!’. He smiled and pulled his noteputer out once more. He opened a new message, and added the whole company to the list of recipients. He cracked a smile, looked up at the mech and chuckled.

This is going to be brutal, he thought to himself, as brutal as that single shot that has destroyed a 50 ton war-machine and almost killed the pilot… with a single round… straight through a cockpit… like butter… pure luck that he hadn’t been turned into hot jam… pure luck… a few inches the other way… hot…fucked… jam…

An unease took him.

“Could have been worse,” Julian thought aloud, trying not to notice his hand beginning to shake, “could have been me. If he’d been in a Blackjack we’d be cleaning him up with tortilla chips… If he’d been me. If I’d been there, not him… Oh… no.” The mechbay began to swirl around Julian, slowly at first, then a lot. His eyes grew wide and desperate. “Oh god!”

All the techs in the bay turned to see the source of the pained wail.

“I AM NOT JAM!!” screamed Julian as he bolted wildly towards the exit.

The techs mostly shrugged and went back to work a few moments later.

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