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- Albert


Collision of Faith

“Move! Move, move, move!”

The Terran power armor pilot yelled over his loudspeaker as he waved on the Factory techs. As they ran helping their wounded co-workers make it to the Safety of the bunkers he briefly considered helping them in but his training kept him right were he was.

“Damn it!” He spat looking at them as indecision gripped him.

They were wounded and trying to hobble and carry their friends into the building to safety. Private John Collins knew they weren’t going to make it inside in time. His Samaritan thinking was at work again. He failed to excel as a pilot because he lacked good worldly judgment. His face contorted in anger as he watched the techs and other laborers moving as fast as they could to reach the safety of the bunker. Why were they moving so slowly? He turned to face the oncoming Mechs. They slowed to fire at the gun emplacements as they popped up at them from the “Boulevard of pain”. The Boulevard ran the length of the open test fields outside Zurich and was used to check tracking and other Mech and vehicle system. The Blakist Mechs were on a rampage. John knew if the techs could get inside the bunker they would be safe. Safe until the Terran defenders could engage this breakthrough force of enemy Mechs and drive them off but their time was up. One rocket barrage or pulse blast and they would be destroyed.

All his life John Collins had succeeded but never excelled. His size was the only reason he had made it into the power armor project and that by only the thinnest margin. He was the right size but lacked the skills the project looked for. The recent civil war had created a need for power armor pilots so into a suit he went anyway. His mother demanded he avoid the liquor, smokes, and drugs that were readily available in this life. It was this discipline that got him in. It was his indecision that nearly got him kicked out, but today was different. His stout Christian upbringing hampered him in decisions just like this one. He felt a strange sense of emotion wash over him as he watched them running helplessly to the bunker. He was sent here to play traffic cop in a flurry of commands given out when the Factory compound was attacked. He ran here to watch over the techs and wounded as they headed for the safety of the bunker.

They ran so slow.

It was like the world around him was in slow motion, everything was unfamiliar. Even the ground was different. The blood ran in swerving streaks towards the bunker from the wounded and dying. He had to do something, his heart demanded it. Then, for the first time in his life, fate reached down and touched Private John Collins. His face smoothed and a sudden moment of clarity came over him. He spoke quietly,

“Today is a good day to die.”

The loudspeaker and radio carried his voice over the entire infantry and Mech communication grid. Sara Hamillton heard him as he spoke, unaware that everyone else on her grid heard him too.

”Commander Davison,” she yelled as cannon blast struck the new two-man Mech on its left arm, “you must hear this!”

Even through the roar of the missile strike Davison had just let go from the Streak launcher her voice carried through the huge cockpit and his ears heard her voice and the mike feed it through his earpiece at the same time.

”I’m busy Hamillton!” He roared in response. “Enemy Mechs!”

”Commander,” she repeated, “listen!” She played back the recording of his voice:

”Today is a good day to die.” It fed across the command net and repeated. “Today is a good day to die.”

”Who is that?” Davison demanded.

”Private John Collins, piloting one of the new Archangel power suits, number 13.” She winced. Army soldiers were superstitious and this would be another battlefield reinforcement of those superstitions.

”What the hell’s gotten into him?” Davison asked. “Where is ‘our’ resident Christian?”

”He’s on the map 120 meters in front of a set of bunkers listed: ‘Special Projects’.” She said with a creeping sense of fear in her voice. “Commander, four of the Blakist Jihad BattleMechs have broken through and are closing on the ‘Special Projects’ bunkers. The Factory personnel are taking refuge there.” There was a pause. “Brianna Hoffmeier just radioed to me that they are not secure. Repeat. Not secure! They have personnel still outside the bunker!”

”My god Sara, they are going to kill them all!” Davison said. “Dispatch the closest, fastest units we have in that area now Girl!”

”Two Mercury scout Mechs being pulled from the south flank position, ETA; four minutes best speed.” Her heart sank. Four minutes and everyone there would be dead.

”Set my guide marker!” Davison yelled. “We’re going there Girl!”

”Marker set!” Sara yelled at her aged commander. “If you can move this heap we can make it there in 2.8 minutes.”

”Better than that young lady,” Davison yelled as he let the 95 ton war machine start falling forward. “We’re taking the express!”

As the command machine toppled forward Sara screamed at her insane commander. It was worse than every rollercoaster she had ever been on in her entire life. The ground was rushing up to fill the cockpit windows and then the Mech bobbed up again. Davison howled in the pilot’s seat as he then lifted the right leg and unlocked the arms into gyro-swing mode. The foot landed with a 95 ton concrete shattering ‘boom!’ as the machine began, of all things, cart-wheeling! He made a headlong charge to the south along an invisible line drawn straight to John Collins’ position on the map leaving the burning remains of the Kurita Marauder lying on the ground.

”Hold it together Lewis” he whispered to himself, “hold it together.” His brow furrowed with concentration and the sweat trickled down his cheeks as he forced his steed, this colossus of fire and brimstone fury, his BattleMech, to speeds well above its design envelope.

Back at the bunker as the last techs ran past his position on the boulevard, Private John Collins prepared himself for the last minutes of his life. They needed time. Every second he could give them saved a life. They were finally pouring into the building dragging the wounded and the dead alike inside for protection, not knowing if their friends were unconscious or dead, they didn’t care who, they took all.

One tech, and older looking man, kept running back out to grab others who had fallen. John knew him only as Able Manski; the crazed engineer who outfought an elemental in augmented hand to hand combat. Even the others among him all had some glorious personal history before being employed by the Factory.

They were brave. John steeled himself as he watched the incoming enemy. A light lance of Blakist Mechs raced towards him. He mentally identified them without the HUD on his open visor. He had seen these types of machines before all classic Blakist Jihad machines. He heard the sound of the techs dragging their screaming friends into the bunker behind him.

Then it happened.

In every man and woman’s life a defining moment occurs, for some it is in their childhood, others their graduation from college or high school, for some it is marriage or the birth of their children, still others never have that shining moment that gathers their life’s essence into one point and propels them to greatness.

For the first time in his life he knew, exactly, what to do. John reached down and slapped his leg. The override command appeared in the open visor above him, questioning his action.

“Command override, Collins.” He spoke into the mike. He then swooned in his one ton suit as the med-pack punched his blood full of painkilling and rage maddening drugs. He breathed deeply as the powerful live-saving chemicals rushed through his veins. He smelt them, his ears rang, and his brow firmed.

“Command-visor.” He hissed.

Without a second of hesitation the faceplate snapped shut and sealed as Private Collins shook in his suit. Not of fear, not of pain, but of anger, blood pounding hate.

”Curse this life!” He screamed as his voice became a roar inside his suit. He was twisting from the drugs powerful influence, counting the distance between himself and the approaching Mechs counting, blood boiling, heart thundering, furious.

His rangefinder spun down, down, down as the lead Mech reached just the right distance. John screamed a violent ragged roar and he ran franticly towards the 20 ton war machine. Blood boiling, heart thundering, soul burning, furious.

”Get inside move it Anna!” Able Manski yelled to the astech as she limped forward with a wounded comrade clinging to her.

Thundering weapons fire roared in the not so distant distance.

“They are coming, quickly.” He said taking her burden and checking to see if she could make it herself into the bunker.

The attack was well timed. The bomb. The infantry shooting into the crowd with needle rifles, and now the BattleMechs racing across the Factory grounds like crazed killers, it struck him as too much. These Word of Blake Mechs came here to kill them not to attack the Terran unit getting an upgrade and refit. If it hadn’t been for them and their unexpected visit Able would be dead right now along with piles of the other Factory employees there in the main compound.

”Mister Manski?” The wounded man said delirious from pain as he looked at his lower left leg in shock. “I can’t find my foot!”

”Don’t worry Christopher; I am sure Brianna will find it later. Now work with me, we have to get inside now.” Able said as tears welled up behind his eyes. “It was a good foot, with lots of blood in it.” Abel’s voice trailed off as he looked at the smears of blood following him up to the bunker. “Damn it.” He swore under his breath as he handed the tech to another just inside the bay door who yanked a cable tie around his leg just below the knee to stop the bleeding. Able quickly turned to head back outside and help the last few stragglers into the bunker but he slipped in all the blood and fell to the floor. He landed with a bone jarring thud on his knees and hands on the smooth slick concrete.

”Able!” Brianna Hoffmeier screamed as she saw him drop to the floor. “Oh my God, are you alright?”

Able turned to her from on his knees and slashed his blood covered hand at her wildly.

”Get away from the doors!” He screamed almost crazed at her. “I told you child to stay in the back of the bunker! Damn you Brianna do as you’re told for once!”

Rushing, running, stomping, John Collins streaked towards the incoming enemy BattleMechs as they charged forward. The lead pilot watched as the single suit of power armor sped towards him carrying the infidel pilot to his doom. He would send him to hell where he belonged. The MechWarrior aimed his missile launcher spat twin missiles at the armored infantry man. The Incendiary payload the Inferno missiles carried would make a nice little oven out of the Armor suit, all but roasting the foolish little infidel within. Better give him a taste of Blake’s hell before he gets a chance to visit it. The insignificant infantryman would be consumed in Blake’s flaming wrath and burn as so much brimstone.

John ran wide eyed and with his mike open. He charged at the machines that would end his life today. It took all 25 years of it for him to come to the knowledge that his life was, in the end, truly not his own. He was a solider, a guardian of peace, and an avenging angel of death for the just. His religious upbringing seethed into his words as he tried to fortify his will for his last act.

”Human wrath serves only to praise you, when you bind the last bit of your wrath around you!”

He primed the jump jets mounted on his back.

“Make vows to the Lord your God, and perform them; let all who are around him bring gifts to the one who is awesome,”

A single bolt of light from the Mech’s pulse laser struck his shoulder but the drugs had long ago ended his ability to feel pain.

“who cuts off the spirit of princes,”

The Inferno rounds burst in front and above him dousing him with flaming chemicals.

“who inspires fear in the kings of the earth!”

He fired his jump jets and launched into the air burning head to toe with napalm.

“I am your instrument! Strike through me!”

As Private John Collins shot through the burning cloud of napalm the MechWarrior inside the Mech looked into the eyes of the flame shrouded, roaring angel of death.

And screamed.

John collided with the cockpit window of the Mech. His armored knee plate smashed a divot into the multi-layered ballistic glass. John slashed out with his clawed hand and snagged armor plate. He scrambled up the chin of the Mech’s head as if he were followed by the legions of Satan himself. The flames heated his suit but served only to fuel his wrath and fury.

Crazed by his initial dose of the med-pack, John began pummeling the cracked windshield repeatedly until he had punched a hole in the window. He shoved his flamethrower barrel through the hole and filled the cockpit with fire. The Word of Blake MechWarrior inside was screaming his faith as the cockpit lathered with flame. His screams were lost to John; the blood was pounding like war drums in his ears.

He was overwhelmed with pain as the suit was scalding him while it burned. The auto injector fired another dose of drugs into him. John squealed as the potent mix hit his muscles and he felt the veins bulge out on his neck. The drugs burned in his brain and he leapt off of the Mech firing his thrusters to cover the distance across the way to the other two.

As a volley of missiles reached out and lasers seared the sky, he overshot the dome shaped cockpit, hit the ‘neck’ platform of the machine, and crashed into the heat exchanger behind the cockpit hatch. Dazed but enraged he crawled across the neck of the machine as the pilot fired his missiles mounted above John again in some vain effort to dislodge him.

He got his suit sprawled across the narrow distance and grabbed the handhold next to the hatch. With a now mindless roar, Collins began ripping at the door until he peeled the armored hatch up at an edge, then began yanking at it till the shaking and bucking Mech jumped into the air and came crashing down hard to shake or dislodge the insane infantry man from it’s back. The remaining Mech pilots began firing at their compatriot in some misguided attempt to kill the infidel Terran warrior but did little other than harm their own lance mate. Blood burning, skin sticking, mind exploding, heart thundering, furious

Lewis Davison thundered his Command Mech across the deserted grounds of the Factory Mech facility. He went in bursts of speed in a way no engineer intended for the machine to move. He was tipping the Mech forward and dumped the reserve power into the reactor core. Heat was building up. Lewis Davison had felt that kind of heat many times before in his career as a MechWarrior. It was the reassuring sensation that the steady rise of hot, soon scalding, air was coming from his heat exchanger and that the Mech was generating way more heat than simple running would ever produce.

He had sprinted before, in lighter machines. This was one of the heaviest Mechs ever built; it didn’t get any more frightening than this for a MechWarrior. Lewis Davison was in heaven. Now he was trying to stop one of his men from making it there prematurely. As he rounded the building Sara Hamillton yelled out a warning:

”Enemy battlemechs two o’clock, three o’clock, and center point on my mark.”

Davison slid the 95 ton behemoth from between two storage hangers, long unused this far out on the grounds and sparks shot from his toe cleats as they dug ruts in the concrete parking lot. The vibrations shook them in their cockpit as Commander Davison raised the twin ER PPC cannon held in the right arm and aimed at the remaining last remaining Mech.

”Hello ladies!” He called out over the open channel as he fired.

The Blakist mech was just turning to get a better look at the cloud of dust and sparks that had arisen to his left. Just then the spinning double Cannon bolts connected with his Mech and blew the right torso apart and severed the left leg. The Mech went down with a crash and Davison charged his laser batteries while he armed the Streak launcher.

The pilot of the Mech Collins was attacking was praying to Blake. He kept trying to shake the madman off his back but could not seem to dislodge him. When the hatch ripped open he knew his time had come. He reached down to his holster, pulled his Pulse laser pistol, and fired over his shoulder at the demonic warrior.

The last mortal thought he had was interrupted as the demon clawed his face and collarbones apart and swiftly yanked his neck back. He then pulled the ejector lever for the dead MechWarrior. His dead body rose on a pillar of flame.

Private Collins exited the access hatch of the Mech only to an end. The other Mechs seeing their lance mate eject from the stricken machine opened fire on John. The only laser to hit severed his right leg.

The launch of four missiles zipped past him with only one rocket striking his chest plate and blasting him off of the devastated Mech. As John descended, the med-pack fired a different drug into him this time and he heard angels sing as he slammed down to the ground.

His body and suit shattered, he lay there looking up at the sky as the suit sealed his severed leg and filled him with detox.

A second injection slowed his heart rate and placed the warrior gently into a coma. He felt the cool breeze of the heat exchanger draining away the heat from inside his suit. It had stopped burning somewhere back on top of the second Mech but John Collins didn’t care. He was complete.

As he lay on the shattered concrete with his airbags burst and his armor cracked and smoldering, except for the cold fingers of death preparing to take him, John felt at peace. He even smiled with four knocked out teeth. He was numbly aware of the med-pack trying to inject him with yet another dose but was unable to, he had used that dose at the beginning of all this. Now was his time to die. He resigned himself and closed his eyes.

As the next few days went by, the wounded recovered, the dying were saved, and the dead buried. Brianna Hoffmeier recovered too. She sat alongside Able Manski and over a hundred other techs in the bunker and she cried into his chest as he held and comforted her.

They all asked about Private Collins, and after seeing the devastation he wrought and that which was wrought upon him, few wondered to his predicament. It was much to everyone’s surprise that Private Collins was transferred to the Granger Park district hospital in critical condition.

Four weeks later John lay still in his private room. His eyes flickered open. The matter had been wiped from his eyes countless times by the attending nurse and others. He woke with his hair combed his face shaved and he peered out over the room with bleary eyes. Feeling the sting of injury, he quickly took inventory of himself before he cared to look about the room. He was lying in a bed, he wasn’t in any real danger, and your enemies don’t tuck you in before zipping you.

With a groan of sadness he realized things were missing from him. His right leg had been removed up in his hip; he was sans three fingers, one on his right and 2 on his left hand. He had burn dressings on and tubes running out of every, wait, belay that, almost every orifice of his body. He was breathing through a tube and it looks like he had been eating through one for a few weeks too.

As his vision cleared he looked about the room. It was a cluttered mess. There were Mylar balloons and vases of flowers all about the place. Gift baskets were set about the room in general disorder by the nurses as they needed to reach the injured warrior during his recovery. On the table in front of him was a pair of what looked like stainless steel toy Mechs, both complete with busted up cockpits.

On another table sat a plate of steel from the armor of a mech. It was etched with a single word: Awesome.

He lived.

After fumbling around for a while he found his nurse call button and in rushed his three nurses. All of them were talking to him, smiling, and calling other people. The word miracle may have come up over the next few days but regardless of the source, he lived. What appeared to be the entire surviving staff of the Factory Mech production center came to visit him at predetermined times throughout the days.

John beamed with life again as his new fingers and right leg parts were fitted to him a few days later. The scars would take longer to heal and the blur of drug induced haze could be pierced by some relevant battle videos in a while. He grew strong again quickly and learned to walk in a few days more. Soon he was able to pick up things without breaking them with his new fists. In two weeks he was released from the hospital. At his return party he received no quarter from the grateful techs and workers, even his own unit commander was happy to see him this time. But when that older technician and his Factory cohorts wheeled something into the hanger they were celebrating in on a forklift, John was thrown off a bit. They all stood around smiling.

”What’s this?” He asked innocently.

”Take the cover off young man.” Abel Manski said as he stopped next to a middle aged woman in fine clothes and she took hold of his arm.

John reached up and grasped the tarp covering the front of the forklift. He paused before pulling it off. His gaze was fixed on his new hand, just for a moment. Then he uncovered it. Standing before him was a suit, his suit, of Archangel Battle armor. It was clad from head to toe in burnished chrome. Only the rainbows of light that reflected off of its visor’s slit shown any difference in hue.

”We know it’s a bit gaudy and possibly in bad taste, but we were hoping you would keep it.” Abel Manski said as he wiped a pair of fingerprints off of its left hand. “Oh, and you should have these too.”

Another tech handed him a set of four titanium nuts on a braided chain necklace.

”What are these for?” John asked turning them over in his hand.

”Well we figured since you neutered those two Mechs, that maybe you should keep their nuts.”
Abel’s second in command smiled as he shook John’s hand and the four nuts with it.

”Technicians.” John shook his head, smiling.

“I’m alive.” Life was welcome and new again for him.

Later in the evening John managed to break off from the festivities and head outside for some air. The party was going full steam inside but he needed a moment alone. He walked out of the hanger and looked up at the starry sky. The night was warm and a breeze was blowing. His gaze fell eventually to the four BattleMechs on guard duty outside the hanger. He chuckled to himself, had there been 4 Mechs there to stop the imposter Blakist strike force, none of this would have happened the way it did and he might never have had his moment of clarity. As he stood there smiling at the back of the Guard Mech nearest him he heard the scratch and crack of high heeled shoes walking towards him on the gravel littered parking lot.

He slowly looked over his shoulder at a beautiful dark haired woman as she swayed her hips while walking up and standing next to him. She was beautiful and the strange flecks of foil or glitter in her hair were still sparkling in the light of the distant hanger.

”Good evening, hero.” She said with a smile as she sipped her diet soda. “Not very gracious of your hosts to let you escape the party like this.”

”More than gracious, this whole night is wonderful.” John said with his best manners. “I can’t believe all this has happened to me.”

”Well believe it hero. That drug induced, crazed, speaking-in-tongues thing you did really scare the crap out of the rest of the attackers and they thought the Christ had come to judge Blake himself.” She giggled. “They ran like water.”

”Word of Blake fanatics?” He asked of her as she nodded in agreement. “Why?”

”They hate us.” She said plainly. “Ever since they tried to purge Terra of everyone NOT Blake everyone is in a panic over their little Jihad and we show no respect to the robed psychos.”

”What is your name beautiful woman?” John asked with his new smile. “You have me at a loss, you know who I am but I don’t know you.”

”My friends call me Brianna; the rest of the company calls me Mrs. Hoffmeier.” She said with a soft snort.

”You’re the owner.” John said as his eyes traveled up her leg to her shoulders. “And you’re married.”

”You are a very observant boy John Collins. Owner yes, married no.” She smiled through the pain on that one. “He died on Huntress serving the Prince. The official term is widow.”

”Oh, I,” he stammered for a second, “my other name is: stupid. Forgive me.”

”I see it now, hero.” She turned on him. “You thought that if you hurt my feelings you wouldn’t have to sleep with me when I ask you to take me home after the party.”

John’s jaw fell and he blinked. This one was full of surprises.

”Always the clever tactician,” she stalked him like a panther, “thought he’d just save my life and the lives of my people and just gets away Scott free with no gratuitous sex reward from the rich, sexy, unmarried, and excited owner of the company, did he?”

She had been poking each word into his chest as she advanced on him. John in a state of shock worse than what the med-pack had done to him just stared at her dumbfounded.

”Your father is that head tech guy, isn’t he?” John said back pedaling as she slowly continued to walk straight at him.

“He, um, might not approve of you just, you know, just doing this to me.”

”TO you!” She wailed at him. “Oh that’s it buddy! You insult my father and then you whine like a baby about what I’m going to do TO you? I swear. You keep this up and we’re gonna end up doing it right here on the foot of this Mech.” She smiled grabbed him where it hurts and laid the longest kiss of his life onto his lips.

”I don’t have a car.” He said breathless to her as she released him.

”I do and it’s only a short walk over there.” She pointed to her sports car.

”You’ve got to be joking, right?” He said looking at the diminutive auto.

”Well I’m not riding home in that Mech, big guy.” She said with a wink.

4 mad rant(s):



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  1. thwen said...

    Haha, the ending is so funny! Especially the 4 nuts part! This is a good story. You've recovered from writer's block, and emerged better than before. Congratulations. =)  

  2. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    :D
    The Phoenix rises from the ashes only to be reborn brighter than before.
    ;)  

  3. gungrave1988 said...

    Cool story! His believe made him strong. Nice ending too.  

  4. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    :D

    I almost didn't do it 'coz its a religious thing...

    But Albert convinced me so.... ;P  


 

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