Laurel stood with her helmet in hand, waiting for the lift to arrive at it’s destination. Clad in her ability enhancing armor, her pistol at hip, kinetic scout rifle attached to her back, she was ready to get their recon mission started.
Behind her stood the rest of her squad, the twins Tappen and Tarren, and Ben, her second in command. His wide build and heavy AE armor made him look like a tank of a man and that was what he was. The twins took care of tasks that required a quick nimble touch to them and Ben took where there was sure to be damage dealt. His armor showed scars of past missions and his contribution to the team. Laurel served as the long range member of the team, coordinating and taking out targets from a distance.
They’d been through hell and back together under Jayko’s command before he vanished. Somehow though, they’d come full circle and the old bastard had shown he was alive and kicking no worse for the years he’d been gone, and they were under his command once again.
The lift doors opened and Laurel stepped out onto the Combat Hangar as it was labeled and stopped dead, the rest of the squad mimicking her, all of them gazing in awe at the scene before them.
Ben let out a soft whistle, impressed at the view.
They’d come onboard the Arcayan Advance Vessel through one of the hangar bays that housed smaller ships. Since their time onboard though, their drop ship had been moved to the Combat Hanger. Having had limited access aboard the ship this was the first they’d seen of the hanger and their drop ship.
“I’ll be damned,” said Violet softly. “So this is what they were hiding.”
“Not sure how they can hide these things in the first place. That is a good size of firepower they have,” chimed in Ben.
Laurel shook her head and scanned the hangar for their ship. It sat in the center of the floor on a raised launch platform, waiting for them.
Starting down the steps Laurel strode toward the drop ship resting between the rows of giant mechs standing tall on either side of the hanger in their respective bays, scaffolding and restraints wrapping around them. Each torso the size of a large drop ship, standing on two double jointed legs. Four arms, to large and two half-size adorned the broad shouldered torso, and resting on top a the elongated form of a head, optical sensor suite staring menacingly ahead. Set in racks on either side of the bays was a single large kinetic rifle the size of a starship’s cannon.
Evidence of battle scared the mechs and each one seemed to wear it’s set of scared and pitted armor plating like a badge of honor. The Arcayan Advance Vessel had obviously seen battle in the past.
The crew of the Advance Vessel bustled around preparing the mechs for combat. The song of war had been sung, and they were prepared. However, Jayko had asked them to wait until a recon of their objective had been completed. He’d told Laurel in the briefing that he believed they would need the combine strength of all the ships he could muster and Helios Station if they wanted to take out their target in one strike.
As the squad reached their drop ship, climbing the steps up to it’s launch pad, their pilot met them at the open hatch. She tipped her shaved head toward the mechs lining either side of the bay. “Quite a sight, ain’t they?” she said as way of greeting.
“That’s an understatement,” said Ben under his breath looking around.
“These Arcayans sure know how to project their power. Aside from dropping into orbit around the planet unnoticed, they have these things prepped and ready for battle,” she said expanding on what they already knew. “And they said they’re going to insert us under the radar too.”
“Good, all without our target knowing we’re here,” said Laurel with smirk. “Just the way I like it.”
The pilot snorted a laugh. “Climb aboard honey and let’s see what they have in store for us.” She reached up and grabbed one of the hand holds, hoisting her self up into the drop ship’s bay and heading for the door to the cockpit. “Mac! You ready?” she called up to her copilot.
”All in the green! Jus’ waitin’ on you.”
“Well fire it up and give ‘em the go signal. They haven’t told me what’s in store, so let’s be surprised, shall we?”
Laurel followed with the rest of the squad, stepping up into the bay. She slung her rifle off her back and secured it overhead before dropping into of the crash-seats on either side of the bay, pulling the harness over her chest and putting her helmet over her head. She sealed it and looked up to see Ben Across the way with the twins doing the same.
She flashed him a thumbs up and he nodded back. “Comm’s are in the green,” she heard him say in her ear.
“Glad to hear it,” she replied.
The pilot came over the comm and the bay doors slid shut with a hiss of compressed air. “Engaging seals. All green. We are go. Repeat we are go.”
An Arcayan voice came over the channel. “Affirmative. Begin drop sequence.”
“I read you, but I don’t know what you want me to do.”
“As you humans say, ‘sit back’.” The connection went dead.
“I’ll be damned, what stuck-up fool—“
The pilot’s sentence was cut off as drop ship suddenly jarred and Laurel felt herself being pressed into her seat at the ship was moved suddenly from where it had been resting.
“Well I’ll be, they got us in one of their cargo grapplers. What in the hell are they doing?” Laurel felt the world turn sideways and she queued up the outside camera’s on the drop ship’s hull on her heads up display.
“Shit! We’re in a drop chute!” called out Ben. He’d queued it up as well.
“Yeah I can see that,” said the pilot.
The Arcayan voice came over the comm again briefly. “Extending cloak. Prepare for drop.”
“They can do that?” asked Ben quizzically.
“Brace yourselves!” called back the pilot as the connection cut.
Suddenly the pulse of electricity shot past the outside of the drop ship and in the next second they the ship was accelerated past the mach barrier and in the next instant they had exited the drop chute and were rocketing into the atmosphere.
“Holy shit! They were in hella low orbit! We’re already in atmo!” called out the pilot.
Laurel felt more than heard the drop ship’s thrusters fire over the roar of their descent. They’d gone through several cloud layers and were coming up on the ground very quickly. The world leveled out and suddenly skimming the grassy planes of the continent they’d landed on. Ahead in view was their target.
The massive ring of mountains pierced through by multiple spires reaching up toward the heavens dominated the view before them.
“Alright, squad. Once we hit dirt and we’re in position, we send the green light to orbit. Here’s hoping our commander can pull off his wild plan by that time or it’s going to be us against an Ssin army.”
“I think we can handle that,” said Ben confidently rapping his thick chest-plate with a gauntlet. “There’s no way they’re stopping this beast.”
“All that fat you mean,” jabbed the twins in unison.
“Shut it!” snapped back Ben. “Or I’ll throw you out of this bird.”
“Only one doing the throwin’ in going to be me,” shot back the pilot. “LZ’s coming up, so get your arses in gear!”
“Aye, ma’am!” called out Ben releasing his harness and standing up.
Laurel followed suit. “Let’s do this!”