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RANDTS will last a thousand years.

- Albert


A Soldier Dies

The Sky was aflame.

As Axel snapped back into consciousness he noticed immediately two things of urgent importance. The first was the wind rushing around his battle armor, judging by the speed of which it was whipping past his visor and the overwhelming sense of weightlessness he was falling. Also drawing his attention were the spectacular explosions still ripping through his Transport VTOL several hundred meters above his head. Axel came to the immediate conclusion that he was very close to impacting very brutally very soon on a very hard surface. He managed to curl himself into a ball right before smashing through the roof of high-rise office building. He could feel it in his ribs each time he smashed trough a floor, he counted three before he passed out.

Axel regained consciousness again for the second time in several seconds. He was lying on his back staring up at the huge hole he made in the floors and ceilings he passed through before finding a floor that could support his weight. The rapidly fading missile contrails of the missiles that blew him out of the sky were still visible. The Wolves were fighting an uprising in the heavily populated city of New Cyprus. Fighting had gotten too heavy and the small firebase that had been built in the city’s stadium had to be evacuated. The transport was carrying the last of the tech personal and him when it became target practice for some rebels with some missiles and converted Industrial ‘Mechs. Intelligence had suggested the rebels were equipped with several stolen Industrial ‘Mechs, but had not been able to find them. Mystery solved. A wave of pain washed over him bringing him out of his lucid state. By now people were starting to peek out from underneath their desks and down through the elemental shaped hole in the ceiling. With a grunt Axel picked himself up, standing up straight. Rubble and debris fell of his armor in sheets, creating a small dust cloud at his feet. Quickly taking stock of his surroundings he concluded he was in an office building judging from the clothing of the freeborns and the numerous drab cubicles. Axel went through a systematic check of all systems. His suit’s integrity was surprisingly high; almost 95% armor remained unscathed. Damage included a small crack in his visor, both his comm. and radar were completely out, on top of that his ribs felt cracked, but Axel was not sure. Quickly, he summarized he had taken relatively minor damage from his fall.

The office workers had slowly gathered in a circle around him and a shocked silence filled the room. The only sound came from the rain of debris showering down from his hole. Axel tried his comm. in the offset that it worked despite his suits earlier conclusion, “This Major Axel of the 322nd Wolf battalion, of the 181st Assault Cluster, does anyone read me?” as he waited for a reply he picked off a stray piece of insulation off his right shoulder with his massive manipulator claw. No reply. Getting out of the building was his first priority; right now he was in a potentially hostile environment. While he did not consider these freeborns a threat, he did not feel like going on a civilian killing rampage, there was no honor in that. He clicked on his P.A. system and addressed the room, “Which way to the cargo elevator?” There was a long silence. Axel could not use the normal elevator, his elemental battle armor prevented that, but at the same time his fall had not addled his brain enough to have him remove his armor. So besides another long fall out the window the cargo elevator was his only alternative. Or I could just blast my way down floor by floor, he thought idly, he shook the thought away it would take too much time, he would rather jump out the window. He was just about to repeat his question when a man in dark pinstriped suit pointed down a hallway to his left. Axel gave him a nod and trotted down said hallway. He found the elevator quickly, its large orange doors looked more then sufficient to allow his massive bulk. Unexpectedly the doors binged open. “Going down?” The man in the elevator’s voice trailed off. He was wearing overalls and stood behind a large cart stocked with cleaning supplies. Axel stepped onto the cargo elevator and used his battle claw to push the button marked ‘Lobby.’ In the process he inconsequently destroyed several other buttons leaving a large gash spitting out little tongues of electricity.

The doors closed and Axel looked over to the man in overalls who stood with his mouth hanging ridiculously wide. “Sorry about that.” A subtle beep announced the passing of the 112th floor. Less subtle was the incessant rhythmic clinking coming from the ceiling. Music? In an elevator? Axel shook his head, again clearing such idle thoughts. He knew he was out of time, this building more likely then not had some rebel sympathizers and his rough entrance was not an easy one to miss. Someone would have alerted the dogs with the missiles and Industrial ‘Mechs by now and the hunt had already started. They had already shown how resourceful and well organized they were. The destruction of his comm. and radar left his chances of survival very slim. He clicked his claw in anticipation of the only option left to him, a suicidal fight out of a hostile city. His chances rapidly dwindling knew he had to keep moving.

He noticed vaguely that the man had not moved mouth still agape and eyes were impossibly wide. The ‘music’ had gotten unbearable and Axel could not afford the security risk of muting his audio. Why the Inner Sphere deemed it necessary to torture its citizens with this doggerel he could not fathom. Fifty more floors to go. He turned to overall-man “Is there a way to shut this off?” gesturing towards the ceiling. The man just shook his head, his eyes nearly popping out his skull they looked almost in danger of splattering across the walls. Axel did not really care one way or another, but he could not handle the music any longer. He reached up and dragged his massive claw along the ceiling shattering lights, tearing metal, and ripping through the speakers. As the elevator went completely dark for a moment Axel thought he heard the man scream. The red emergency lights flickered on cast a sinister reddish glow. The man would have nightmares for weeks and would never forget the image of burned into his mind.

As soon as Axel ran through the door of the office building he encountered trouble. Two trucks painted all black skidded to a stop in front of the building. The .50 caliber machine guns jury-rigged in the back opened up spraying bullets all round and into Axel. Under normal circumstances the .50 cals would have been a minor nuisance, but it is a war of attrition Axel thought as he dove to his right firing his small laser at the truck closest to him. The laser hit the gunner killing him instantly and destroying the gun. Axel had no time to kill the second truck when three more rebel trucks roared up the street. It went against everything in his body, but he needed to get out, not get caught up fighting worthless machine guns. Axel was not afraid of dying, but to die fighting civilians was not acceptable.

Axel turned down a road to his right as two more trucks pulled onto the road he was on ahead of him. Further up the road three more trucks were gaining on him from his six. Taking the only choice left to him he dove into an alley to his left. He soon realized he was being herded into a kill-zone and considered blowing up the trucks behind him and running in that direction, but he would just find himself in the same position. Running away had pissed him off and civilians or not he was going to kill them all.

Axel came into a large courtyard. He slowed to a walk. The courtyard was surrounded on all sides with tall buildings, except for two small roads to his right and left. A large circle filled with grass and flowers with concrete rimming its borders was the centerpiece of the square. "The perfect place to spring a trap,” Axel thought as switched to infrared to scan a large bench in the center of the garden. The heat signatures of several men hiding behind it burned brightly in his visor. A smile touched his lips as he felt rather then heard the Rocket hurtling towards his back. He lit up his jump jets and launched his own salvo at the bench. The bench and everyone close to it were caught in dual explosions ripping a giant hole in ground. The rocket behind Axel exploded harmlessly where he had stood scant seconds before.

As Axel reached the apex of his jump he twisted back and let loose his sub-machine gun slung underneath his arm. The bullets stitched their way up towards the two men handling the portable Rocket launcher. The bullets caught the gunner in the chest while her loader dove away, but not before having his leg nearly severed by the bullets. Axel landed in the shallow crater created by his own rockets. Glancing to his left he saw a converted Industrial “Mech rounding the corner not 50 meters away from his position. Axel immediately recognized an Autocannon strapped to its left arm and medium laser replacing its right. As it positioned itself into a firing stance Axel’s attention has torn away by an increasingly loud roar. He shot a quick glance to his right. His vision was filled with the front end of a large town car barreling down at him at top speed. Axel had no time to think he simply reacted. He crouched and grabbed the onrushing car’s undercarriage as it crossed the dead space in the crater. At 120 kph Axel corrected the car’s trajectory as he flung it towards the Industrial ‘Mech. Its nose dipped as it started a slow spin. Axel launched his rockets and fired his small laser into the exposed fuel tank on the underside of the car and lit off on his jump jets. The fuel tank exploded, its blast rocking the ‘Mech back on its heels and covering it burning fuel and twisted metal. The rockets, only few milliseconds behind, hit its torso destroying armor and knocking the ‘Mech on its back. To the pilots credit he had already begun to right his ‘Mech when Axel bullets pinging off his armor, came down in a high arc landing directly below the cockpit. The pilot watched in horror as the huge claw drove itself through the glass ripping through flesh and bone as it continued into the seat.

With the Industrial ‘Mech down he turned his attention to the infantry swarming around him in increasing numbers. Firing his machine gun and small laser he ran towards the center of the line. The group tried to scatter, but it was too late and Axel was among them steel claw flashing and splaying blood across the courtyard. Surrounded by decapitated and bleeding bodies Axel started picking off stragglers off with careful, accurate bursts from his machine gun. More rockets launched from a balcony to the west and another Industrial ‘Mech stepping in on the opposite side of the courtyard signaled reinforcements. This particular ‘Mech sported its original heavy mining drill along with a missile launcher and a smattering of anti-personal weapons. Two converted flatbed trucks jury-rigged with more launchers poked out from behind the ‘Mech. As Axel lit up his jump jets he spotted several small hovercrafts armed with small Autocannons and lasers skirting the groups’ flanks. There was no doubt in Axel’s mind that these were the freebirths that had shot him out of the sky.

A small laser through the windshield of one of the hovercrafts served to cook off its Autocannon ammo. The explosion knocked another hover car to its side as the ‘Mech fired all of its weapons at once. Its missiles flying uselessly over his head as he dropped. The small lasers narrowly missed, burning some paint and leaving scorch marks on his right arm. Most of the hovercrafts Autocannon rounds missed save one that hit him square in the chest. Axel grunted, if his ribs weren’t cracked before there sure as hell were now. The pain seemed to increase his focus as he landed on the roof of a hovercraft crushing the gunner underneath his boots. Buried up to his waist in hovercraft, Autocannon rounds, lasers and rockets flashed all around him. Axel drove his claw through the roof and its driver. The small caliber weapons fired by the surviving passengers did nothing to heed his progress. He hooked the wheel with the tip of his gore covered claw keeping the hovercraft steered towards the closest missile launcher carrier. Scant seconds before impact he activated his jump jets, filling the small hovercraft with superheated plasma flash roasting the remaining survivors alive. He fired his small laser at the spare missiles resting on the back on the carrier as he sailed through the air igniting a second larger explosion, which dwarfed the smaller explosion already rocking the carrier. He landed close to the second carrier and dove behind it spoiling the ‘Mechs aim as it reached out for him. As it lumbered over to get a shot, Axel pumped energy into the exposed fuel tanks on the side of the carrier. Sailing above the newly formed orange and black cloud Axel launched a flight of rockets hoping to strike the ‘Mechs vulnerable legs. The ‘Mech pilot was good countering his weakness by blocking the missiles with his left arm which was nearly blown off. The ‘Mech staggered but didn’t go down. Axel landed just short of the ‘Mech and jumped as a rocket blew up close behind knocking him off balance. Crashing head first into the ‘Mechs torso Axel managed to cling on as he shook his head clear. One of the remaining hovercrafts moved in and ravaged his rear armor, raking it over with its laser leaving it paper thin. He extended his arm and shot the engine causing it to retreat smoking heavily. The ‘Mech pilot brought down his huge drill on Axel’s outstretched arm shattering armor and bone.

Axel hissed in pain as drugs pumped into his system, his arm was broken but he was lucky it hadn’t been sheared off completely. He swung himself up underneath the cockpit and used his head to smash through the glass. With half his visor torn away Axel gritted through intense pain as he brought up his broken arm. He pushed the smoking hot laser barrel up the pilots face and pressed hard. The pilot screamed as his head was being crushed and seared between Axel’s arm and the back of his seat. With one final thrust and a yell rivaling the pilots Axel felt the pilot’s skull give way to his arm.

Riding on a plume of plasma Axel jumped away from the slowly collapsing ‘Mech in time to catch a rocket directly in the chest sending him tumbling into a building. His head crashed through a window while his right leg struck the floor breaking bones. Axel skidded through a conference room and into some file cabinets.

Axel lay on his back catching his breath and feeling the drugs work their way through his already taxed system. He was getting tired of being shot out of the sky. The rocket had stripped all of the armor of his chest, leaving it cracked and twisted as MediGel struggled to fill the holes. No question about it now, his ribs were broken. He quickly took stock. Rockets depleted, laser damaged, machine gun ammo low, arm broken, ribs broken, right leg broken. “The question is,” he thought to himself as drew his left leg up underneath him and used his claw to haul himself up, “Am I still combat effective?” He could feel his spine crack and groan with protest as he stood. He snapped his battle claw open and shut. “Aff.” Holding his laser arm against his ribs he limped out of the conference room. “As if it mattered anyway,” he thought idly. The building was empty, having been emptied out in preparation for the trap.

He stopped limping as he sensed enemy infantry nearby. As quickly and quietly as he could Axel limped into a small-darkened office. He could hear them on the other side of the wall. Without knowing how many were in the hallway beyond the wall, but knowing it didn’t matter Axel drew back his claw and punched through the wall and the man standing on the other side. He swept his machine gun to the right as he stepped the rest of the way through the wall. The bullets found easy marks in the narrow hallway, their bodies spewing fountains of blood as they spun and twirled to the floor. With three men still behind him their bullets quickly started finding his armor. As he spun around two bullets found holes in his armor. One struck his shoulder the other grinded its way through the meat right above his collarbone. He rushed forward and sliced his way through the three soldiers.

Axel stood there, breathing heavily as pain wracked his body. The pain made him dizzy the drugs were losing their effect and the MediGel fought its own losing war to plug all the holes drilled in his body and armor. He knew he was dangerously close to passing out again. Hearing voices coming from behind him, he turned slowly. The soldier on point stopped short in horror at the carnage in the hallway. Blood soaked the walls and ran down in rivers to feed the ocean of blood, bodies and parts of bodies. Filling the hall, the damaged Warrior stood menacingly. Its armor pocket-holed and scorched. Its left arm was twisted metal, its fully functional one ended in a claw red and shiny with blood. The woman behind him, a more experienced solider shoved him aside and threw a grenade. Axel shot both of them in quick succession as he dove away from the grenade. The explosion was too much for his suit to take, massive system failures lit up the few remaining warning signs he had left. As his suit shut down around him and black crept up around his vision Axel struggled to lift up his arm at the rapidly approaching soldiers filling the hall. It was heavy, too heavy, as his vision got fuzzy and tilted sideways as he fell for the last time. The world blurry and bloody faded to black.

Suit deactivated…

Self Destruct fusion reactor in…
5…
4…
3…
2…
1…

The Sky was aflame.

6 mad rant(s):



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  1. gungrave1988 said...

    Nice story!!!! I especially liked the ending. "No one can take my life except myself". Is this one of the stories from Armor Core?  

  2. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    Nope its actually a series im trying to start on BattleTech...

    Im Glad u like it...


    *Spoiler*
    Remember our murderous Tech Repairman from When Suppression Yields? Hes gonna make a comeback soon... Stay tuned! ;)  

  3. Comrade Cripple said...

    Come to think of it Battle Tech technology sucks compared to many other sci-fi stories. Elementals are so similar to 2047 tech in Tiberium Wars i.e. Zone Troopers. They fly, heal and extra powerful. Booo Battletech!!

    ~multum in parvo~  

  4. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    When you say weak I'm pretty sure you mean realistic. And i can easily take that as a compliment... ;P

    And besides do you really think we can come up with laser equipped walking war machines in 40 years?
    I think not! ;)  

  5. Henry Yew said...

    The sky was aflame...

    Your opening and ending sentences make me think quite a lot...  

  6. Arbitary Juggernaut said...

    :D
    It is every writers dream to make his readers ponder his work.  


 

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