Tag Archives: Laurel

Random Short #18: Hard Strike

Laurel lay at the crest of the bluff overlooking the valley below.  Set in front of her on it’s bi-pod, was here long-range kinetic scout rifle.  It’s butt snugged up against her shoulder-plate, visor linked into its optics, she scanned the entrenched Ssin.  Their silver-plated arched forms strode about on patrol around the perimeter set at the base of the mountains.

Large ground to air cannons had been set up around the valleys leading in to key points.  Going in by ground seemed to be the only option to Laurel with the gravitational distortion enveloping the ring of mountains, preventing any orbital strikes on the area.  Not to mention the Ssin fleet orbiting high overhead.

The valley below her that they had been tasked to recon was the most direct route into the Gate caldera, as Jayko had called it during their briefing.  The wide opening into the valley from the grasslands was perfect for a joint air and ground attack.  She knew it, and so did the Ssin.

The sun was heading toward the horizon, falling behind her.  This strike needed to happen soon.  Laurel could only hope that the info they’d sent up to the Arcayan advance vessel had made it back to Jayko and the rest of the fleet.

Catching movement through the scope, she saw the two figures of the twins moving quickly, nimbly through the Ssin fortifications in the valley below.  They were heading back.

Good.  They need to get their asses back up here.  Both Tappen and Tarren had opted to set up some sabotage on the massive cannons protecting the valley entrance.  Laurel panned ahead of them a ways to a Ssin patrol that was headed right for the twins.

Letting out a hiss of breath from between her teeth, she sighted in on the lead Ssin, mentally activating her radio.  “Patrol, baring twelve hundred from your position,” she said as calmly as she could.  Just watching them move through the Ssin forces put her on edge.  “The Created”, as they were called by the Arcayans, were some of the fiercest and most deadly opponents that the squad had ever faced.  And if they were allowed to live, they adapted quickly, so the next time they fought, there was no chance of survival.

“Come on,” she hissed quietly.

“Clear,” called back the twins in unison.

She let out a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding and panned away from the lean Ssin looking for the twins.  They had vanished from their previous path and were no where to be seen.

“Just keep it quiet down there and get back up here in one piece.”

There was a double clicked response from their radios.

Now, where’s Ben?  She scanned the hills leading up to the fortifications.  He’d headed off to get a look from a different angle and had sent back some good intel from his recon.  However, he was supposed to be back by now.

As if on queue, her radio came alive with his voice.  “I’m on your six.  What’s the sit-rep?”

“Glad to have you back.  Twins are just finishing up on their end.  Intel’s away, so we should be getting a response sometime soon hopefully,” replied Laurel.  She felt Ben’s presence as he crawled up next to her on his elbows, a scope held in one hand.

“I don’t see ‘em down there,” he said scanning the fortifications.

“They skirted around a patrol.”

“I give ‘em two minutes.”  Ben kept the scope up to his visor trying to locate them.

“Give us some credit,” came Tappen’s response from their radios.

“How ‘bout thirty?” chimed in Tarren.  “We’re on your six.”

Ben grunted.  “Now all we need is the cavalry, then we can really get this party started.”

Laurel reached out and flipped up the bi-pod on her rifle and started a backward crawl from the edge of the bluff, rifle cradled in her arms.  When she was back far enough she sat back on one leg, and checked the charge on her rifle.  Tappen and Tarren came up next to her, crouching.  Ben joined them momentarily.

“Do you really think this is going to work?” he asked.  “They have a helluva lot of defenses.  Just between us.”

Laurel shook her head.  “Don’t start.  Everything is riding on this and you know it.  You saw how serious those Arcayans were in orbit.  I just wonder when they’re getting here.”

Ben nodded.  Silent.  Then, his head jerked up.  “Holy shit.”

Laurel and the twins turned to look at what he’d seen behind them.  At the same instant their radios came alive with chatter.  “Heavies incoming!  Look alive down there!”

“Strike cruisers!  In atmosphere!?” cried out Ben in shock.

On the horizon the clouds had parted into a mist, whisked away by the drives of the array of Gamma-Class Heavy Strike-Cruisers that were descending from orbit onto a path right up the valley toward their position.

“Let’s kick the door in!  Cover your heads!”

A pinpoint of light winked at tip of the cannon slung under the belly of the lead cruiser.  Laurel and the squad threw themselves to the ground, covering their heads as the super-sonic round impacted on the gravitational distortion behind them. The ripple of the shock-wave engulfed the area in a roar of sound, light, and debris.

Even on their perch several clicks out from the Ssin fortifications, the squad felt the full force of the strike.

“I take what I said back!  Who the hell authorized the firing of a Jump Cannon in atmosphere!?” shouted Ben over the noise.

Laurel uncovered her head as a shower of grit rained down on them, the dust from the impact clearing steadily.  The roar gave way to the steadily increasing wine of afterburners.  Looking up into the sky she caught sight of the first wave of starfighters as they blew by overhead, unloading a salvo of missile fire on the Ssin ground forces before pulling up to skim over the top of the distortion.

The Ssin fortifications went up in a hail of fire and explosions

Her radio speaker crackling with static from the initial blast, it alive on multiple channels, with orders being give and status updates coming in from hundreds of places at once.

“Weapons free, you are weapons free.”

“Jump Cannon online!  Charging for another strike.”

“Ssin fighters incoming!  Watch your six!”

Laurel slowly got to her feet as the next wave of fighters streaked by overhead, followed close behind by dropships of all designs.  Almost immediately she picked out a familiar form and a familiar voice as well.

“Yeee-haw!  We’re not missin’ the party are we?” came the voice of their pilot over the radio.  Their dropship came in low, circling around and dropping down, hatches open.  As Laurel watched, she spotted the figure standing in the doorway of the dropship, rifle strapped to his back, pistol at his hip, hanging onto one of the hand panic-bars overhead.

“Jayko!” called out Laurel over the radio.

Raising an armored hand, he waved them on-board.  “Need a lift?”

“Hells yeah!” cried out the twins scrambling to their feet and hopping up into the bay with him. Laurel pulled herself in along with Ben and the dropship started to ascend.

Jayko touched the side of his helmet.  “Recon team aboard.  You may initiate the drop.”

“Drop?” asked Ben quizzically coming up beside Jayko and Laurel.

An Arcayan voice came over the radio.  “Drop initiated.  Impact in thirty.”

Jayko just nodded to the sky above them.

Laurel saw the form of the Arcayan Advance Vessel materialize in the sky high overhead, followed in the next second by twelve flaming comets streaking through the lower atmosphere.  On the crest of the hill where they had been moments ago, the comets struck hard throwing soil and dirt into a cloud around them leaving craters in the green earth.

The twelve heavily armored mechs, stood, their limbs articulating, long heads on the swivel as they pulled out their cannon sized rifles from their backs, cradling them in four sets of mechanical limbs.  Steam rose from their armor as they started to move forward, sighting in on the nearest Ssin ground to air cannon that was turning it’s aim from the sky to fire on them.

With a discharge of energy down the cannon sized rifle, the mech fired and the Ssin cannon erupted in azure fire shattering with a roar.

“Holy hell!” breathed Ben.  “And I thought those things were impressive just standing in their bays.”

“Heck of a landing spot,” said Laurel remembering that they had just been standing on that bluff.

“A tactically sound spot for a landing.  The Arcayans wanted to make sure you were out of harms way before dropping into the fight.”

“Nice of them to make sure we were clear,” retorted Ben.

The dropship juked wildly in the air.  “Hang on,” called the pilot.  “Fire’s getting heavy.  We’re coming in to the LZ.”

“LZ, sir?” asked Laurel.

Jayko nodded looking over to her and un-holstering his rifle one handed.  “You ready to take on some heavy fighting?”

“Always,” confirmed Laurel, checking the charge and ammo supply on her own rifle. Under her helmet, her gin on her face couldn’t have shown with more confidence.

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Random Short #16: Joint Operation

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!”

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