Prologue

Alpha Zeta is a non-canon story set ina different world and timeline. it has nothing to do with BHotR, but is quite a fun read, and a good place to unwind. JP's are spur of the moment and last hours, resulting in way too many words, and way too much fun.
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Kai
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Prologue

Post by Kai » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:20 pm

Shaoran stood in front of his 13 foot-tall ExoFrame, the Ganesa Thera, and looked over the new recruits. Each had chosen themselves a frame from the three beginner units, the Martina Nekane, Lander Onida, and Kali Pazia. The units were extremely technologically advanced, and each held the power of a much larger conventional weapon, However, they were no mere playthings, and a pilot needed to have skill and dedication to fly one. Training was extensive and difficult, and failure was common, with death a real possibility. The commander gazed into the eyes of each recruit, and then smiled. "Welcome to training. This is what we call the baptism of fire, your first sortie in a MAGE unit.

Approaching the Martina Nekane Neaw didn't think the MAGE's looked that impressive. Thinking that not that much could be different about the units, despite their names, he jerked his finger at the MN. "I'll just take this one then, Chief. So, do I just hop in and we start going at it or-?" The recruit left his question hanging, an expectant look on his face.

"Well, you've taken the proper classes, right? You should know how to do basic maneuvers in a MAGE unit." Shaoran answered, looking at Recruit Neaw's choice. the Martina Nekane was the first type of MAGE unit ever made, and while revolutionary at the time, was a very simplified and altogether mediocre unit. Still, it was more reliable and easy to pilot than any other unit around, due to several decades or so of tweaks to the basic unit. "Once you've chosen an ExoFrame, Mount up and do some walking around the tarmac to get used to moving around."

Neaw shrugged and mounted up,climbing in through the back. While the recruit hadn't really payed attention to each unit's details he believed that he could pilot one rather easily. Following the instructor's orders he walked the ExoFrame down the walkway. It was rather easy, even if he didn't push the unit any, he got if up to a decent trot and stopped again in front of Shaoran's Ganesa Thera.
"Anywhere I can pick up a spear Chief? I would rather practice movements with my weapon than without." As he spoke Neaw made the MN salute the instructor.

"There are training weapons inside the hangar, Recruit." the Commander said, pointing to a nearby hangar. "They are all non-lethal against MAGE units, but because they are balanced and weighted like real weapons, they can do a lot of harm to unarmored people." The Commander looked over at the other recruits, to see if any were progressing as quickly as Neaw was.

Marcus stepped up from the rest, and decided it was better to have initiative than to just sit it out and gain no experience. "I'll have a shot at it." He finally spoke out from the ranks. He was surprised he had been the first to speak out of all of them, considering they all needed training and Marcus wasn't really a very gutsy guy to start them off like that. "I'll take the Martina and a double-handed sword." There wasn't much more to choose from, and the Lander was going to be a bit too specialized for the job. Since he was completely new to this, he might as well start out with something that was balanced, regardless of what kind of weaponry he chose.

It seemed that a couple of the other recruits had chosen their units, the recruit Marcus having chosen another Martina Nekane, and a female recruit, Zali, haven chosen a Kali Pazia unit. A couple of others sat around the ExoFrames, intimidated by the machines. Shaoran smirked, knowing they would either flunk here and now or get in a unit soon, and so he mounted and activated his Ganesa Thera. "Alright, you two. since you've decided to grab melee weapons and identical units, you should spar. There are a few ground rules, namely, do not go for the head, and you win a round by knocking your opponent down. For now your in-built weapons are locked so you cannot use them." the Commander announced.

Inside his ExoFrame Neaw smiled as he hefted his spear. "How about a little demonstration first Chief, both me and him against that fancy unit of yours." He had the MN point towards the group of recruits milling about. "Give 'em a bit of motivation or so, if you wouldn't mind that is?" Neaw turned towards the other pilot's Martina Nekane as he spoke.

An eyebrow raised, Marcus walked out on the ExoFrame and took hold of the padded zweihander resting against the wall. This Neaw guy was a bit too excitable for his tastes. Why would anyone go out of their way to challenge the boss? Did he really want to get his ass kicked? Regardless, he wouldn't complain. He walked up to both of them, ExoFrame towing the great sword in hand, and then looked at their superior. "I'll do whatever is ordered of me. It's your call, Chief."

Shaoran smirked at the two recruits, then looked at the third whom had mounted her unit. "Zali, what do you say about joining these two in an exercise against me?" the Commander asked.
Zali paused in her movements for a moment and asked "My weapons will work, correct?'
"Yes, but on a reduced power setting for training." Saoran answered.
"Then I will fight."
"There you have it. Three against one should be fairly even." The Commander simply stood his ground, and his unit's head slowly looked at the three recruits "Well? Are you going to start?" the Commander taunted.

Neaw took a good look at both his partner's ExoFrames. "Well, you both seem to be of a good sort. Do whatever comes to mind, but I think I'm gonna charge him." Getting his suit to move was easy enough and charging wouldn't be too hard.
Gripping the spear the recruit rushed at the Chief, stopping just out of what he thought was his target's range and sweeping out at its legs, hoping that either the Commander's ExoFrame would be knocked down or that the rest of the team had started their attacks too.

As Neaw moved to the their Commander, the ExoFrame with the zweihander moved carefully to the right of the spear-wielding one, running while keeping an eye at the Commander's movements. "Kind of a newb move to go for, Neaw!" The Martina Nekane raised it's arms and made the blade of the huge sword be perpendicular to the floor, and then wound up for a slice. Once the Commander was in the air, should the Commander jump, Marcus had set himself to unwind the powered armor to have the last few feet of the padded oar-like weapon against the airborne ExoFrame. If the Commander didn't jump, then Marcus would proceed with a different tactic...

Zali, behind the other two Exoframes, had raised her arms and begun firing the built-in weapons on her forearms, attempting to hit the Commander with the low-powered training blasts, but as the Commander moved faster than she and the other recruits did, her shots ended up hitting the great sword and knocking it out of the way, as Shaoran avoided the spear's swipe by simply hopping backwards.
"You'll have to try better than that." The Commander said, simply, once again standing in place, and waiting for the other three to move.
Zali apologized profusely to Marcus "I'm so sorry I didn't see you there!" she stumbled, feeling bad for messing up.

Neaw pushed the attack feinting a stab at the Commander and then pressing forward, attempting to grab one of the enemy's arms. Then, once more trying to bring the commander to the ground, he kicked out at the other frame's leg.
"I hope you find this a bit more than our last try Chief." The recruit said as he inwardly cursed the Commander for being a much more effective pilot than the whole team combined.

Thought so, now all I have to do is-- THUMP. The sword was literally shot knocked to the side, making the ExoFrame pilot inside become somewhat frustrated. Zali eventually put the blame on herself, and then he realized what had happened. "Ah, great. There goes my plan." Marcus sighed and began to stalk after the Commander.

As Neaw moved toward the Commander, Shaoran was more than ready for the recruit. As the Martina Nekane tried to grab at him, Shaoran grabbed it instead, and then kicked a foot up to Neaw's torso, completely turning the recruit's attack around on him, flinging him up into the air, which, with a stroke of luck, he managed to be used as a shield from Zali's blasts, and then Neaw found himself flung over the Commander's head and onto his back, behind the Ganesa Thera.

"Christ woman!" Neaw yelled as his ExoFrame slammed into the ground. With a sudden burst of anger he forgot the rules and pushed his MN back to its feet and came behind the Commander, trying to attack him with a giant bear hug so the others could - well at least hopefully with Zali - hit their target.
"Now! Hit him!" He roughly yelled to the rest of the team, refusing to give up.

Zali timidly tried to fire again, so far she hadn't been too useful and knowing her luck, she would knock Neaw off of Shaoran, freeing him to take out Marcus, too. However, the girl finally made up her mind, and shot- the blast hitting Shaoran's Ganesa Thera straight in the chest and pushing him and Neaw back a few feet.

As this happened, Marcus saw his chance and charged at Shaorin, pointing his sword for a powerful stab at the commander.- He was interrupted by a series of warning alarms going off, signaling that an enemy Exoframe was approaching the base. In fact, there were several enemy Exoframes approaching, but, oddly enough, one of them was being fired upon by its supposed allies. A number of the recruits ran back to the barracks, abandoning their training in favor of safety, but a few mounted MAGE ExoFrames, ready to help defend from any invaders.

"Crap crap crap crap!" Tristana kept cursing as she fled from her former allies as fast as her frame could possibly take her. Fleeing for as far as she had, her ExoFrame wasn't in particularly good shape, but the nice thing about the Ramla Ivar is the prediction software. Any time the enemies were about to do something big and nasty, she would be able to get out of the way, if only just barely. "How much further are those freaking MAGE people anyway?" The defector took a moment to turn, firing a couple salvos of missiles, before doing another 180 to resume her flight.

Neaw quickly let go of the Chief as the alarms went off and they continued to skid backwards from Zali's shot. As soon as they stopped his Frame was running towards the armoury. "Moving Chief, I assume we'll be sallying?" He asked as he replaced the practice spear and claimed a real one.
Checking over the built-in weapons, all of them were loaded and ready but still locked. "I promise I won't shoot you if you let me go fight Chief." The recruit stated jokingly.

"Of course. All recruits, your weapons are now live. Do NOT try anything more than you think you can handle, these may be real enemies!" he warned, setting in the commands to unlock weapons. The Commander's next priority was to hail the incoming ExoFrames
"Unidentified Exoframes, State your identity and purpose!" he demanded, in a very authoritative voice over the radio, moving from the tarmac toward the base's fence, which looked out onto the field outside; they could just see the three Frames in the distance, growing dots moving toward them.

The Neci Mara frames pursuing Tristana fired their spread-fire rifles at the incoming missiles, knocking most of them down, but one still took a minor hit and slowed down for a moment before regaining its composure and rejoining the chase. The two HARM ExoFrames ignored the commander's hail, so intent were they on their prey. The nearer one launched a small sphere from a cannon on its back, which landed near Tristana and exploded in a shower of small fragments of metal and phosphorous.

"Thank you! This is Tristana, requesting assistance against these two Neci Mara pursuing me. If you want information on HARM emplacements, I suggest helping me!" Tristana replied over the comm, before letting out a grunt and stumbling due to the mortar, taking some damage, and falling to all fours. She quickly righted herself, took aim, and let loose her own retaliation from the cannons built into the RI's forearms.

"Recruits. Guard the base, I will go out and assist this person." Shaoran informed his charges, running toward the fence and vaulting it, making his way toward the HARM ExoFrames. "Miss Tristana, this is Commander Shaoran of MAGE. I am coming to assist you." still, it would be more than a couple of moments before he made contact with the girl.

Speaking of which, the NM unit that had hit her with its mortar closed in, the spread-fire rifle on its forearm pointing at her, while the other took its time avoiding the shots fired at it. The closer of the two showed signs of obvious damage, but the pilot seemed to be skilled at holding it together. "Just give up, Girly." the man in the suit demanded showing his dominance over the defector. However, Tristana's ExoFrame informed her that he was going to shoot her in four, three...

"Chief, you can stick your orders where the sun don't shine and then stick a court martial on me. But, for now, all I see is business in front of us." Inside the cockpit the recruit was smiling savagely, an odd look on Neaw's mule-like face as he following the Commander and even trampled over a section of the fence to get outside.
Looking back as he started towards the enemies, he saw the timid KP pilot Zali loitering around where he had exited. "Get out here and show that you can be even slightly useful!" He yelled as he turned and continued to move.

Tristana's frame reached down to the ground, one hand digging into the dirt, the other digging up dirt. With the system giving its prediction, she threw the clod of dirt at the visual sensors of the NM in front of her, while pulling and jumping to the side to avoid the inevitable shots that would come from the shotgun.

Her move came just in time, as the sudden clod of dirt threw the NM's aim off just enough that her desperate move was successful, and the closest NM suddenly became helpless as the helmet sensors were clogged and he couldn't for the life of him get the dirt off. One foe incapacitated, the other realized what was going on and made his move toward Tristana but she already knew that, thanks to her ExoFrame's predictions.

Shaoran nearly stopped to force Neaw back into the base, but thought better of it. He continued on, making his way close enough to face a standoff with the two NM frames, who both stopped moving when they realized he was there.
Zali nearly jumped when Neaw yelled at her, but did as he said anyway, following after the MN and trying desperately to adjust her sights so she didn't miss and hit an ally.

Neaw moved forward, running in front of the one different Frame out of the three HARM units and taking up a guard position with his spear. "Chief, I assume killing these two would be bad? What about the defector, do we defend her or-?" Realizing this could end being a particularly sticky political problem the grin slipped from the recruit's face.
Turning towards Zali, Neaw tried to quickly grasp the situation. "If you have to shoot try to just disable them." This time his voice was much less rude, remembering that she had pulled through at the end in their match with the Commander.

Back in the armory, where many had recruits fled for safety, one unlikely man was clambering into an Isaac Risa. This man was Roland Gilly, a 32-year old technician and janitor. He'd never before been inside a MAGE, but his job had brought him within their vicinity every day of his life. He fixed them, ran diagnostics, and everything else... except piloting. He had failed the entry tests more times than he had fingers, but still he believed he was perfectly capable. Now was his time to prove it.

So he ran the start-up procedure, made sure everything was running in the green, and started moving. The feeling was... phenomenal, and brought a huge grin to his face. He even vented a small, irrepressible giggle. Thankfully the communications weren't open or his moment of glory would've come to an end before its beginning.

Now came the choice of weapons. He opted for a automatic rifle and a one-handed sword. Then he was out the door, looking eager as ever.

"Nice and timely, I suppose. Could've been better, but good enough." Tristana's frame slowly stood, as the pilot herself kept a close eye for any predictions regarding any stupid moves that her former colleagues might make. She grumbled at bit as her frame made some not-very-good sounds from all the damage she's taken thus far. She really hoped that these MAGE pilots wouldn't just kill her, and would let her join them.

Shaoran looked down at the frame they had saved, it was a Ramla Ivar, a rather uncommon enemy frame. Why its pilot might have defected was beyond the commander, but he supposed it was something that would have happened anyway. The NM that had been blinded was finally able to clear its sensors off, and leered threateningly at Shaoran.
"Give us the girl, MAGE Fool" he began "and we won't kill you. We'll even let you train your little morons in peace" he sneered.
"You're not all that polite." Shoaran answered calmly.

Unfortunately, all was not well with the MAGE pilots, and Zali, in her mussing with her unit, accidentally shot off a blast; it was harmless, only hit the ground, but it was a trigger that caused much worse happenings. The far NM frame fired a blast off at Neaw, the Spread-fire rifle pelting his frame's armor with small metal balls, and the other NM rushed forward to attack at Shaoran; who was for once off guard. The Commander was pummeled to the ground, and the choice was made. "Disable them if you can!" he ordered his recruits, grappling his immediate foe.

Neaw heard the familiar discharge from behind him, and the next thing he knew he had found himself on the ground and hurting. He didn't even have any words to say to Zali, at least not yet. Struggling to get up, he found it much harder than when he had been tossed by the Commander, and understandably so as he hadn't been shot that time.
"Zali, don't shoot, not again today at all! Just surge and grab the bastard!" He yelled to his fellow recruit as his MN's leg gave out and he collapsed again.

"Idiots," Tristana mumbled to herself, as she took a step back, away from the pilot who had just fallen, and drew out her bow and fired off an arrow. A nice, explodey arrow, but an arrow nonetheless. And, this explodey arrow was trained on the far NM. There was no kill like overkill and it would also be a bit of revenge after the number of shots they'd taken at her.

The order to disable the enemy rang loudly and clearly in technician Gilly's head. He'd never been called single-minded, but as soon as an objective had been implanted, Roland already felt like he was a soldier. The adrenaline was flowing, his face was contorted into a determined grin, and he was sprinting full speed to close the distance. He considered taking shots, but that would just be stupid, especially at this range. Neither of his weapons was meant for anything like this, especially with friendlies in the mix. He'd just have to work something out once he was closer. [SPRINT ROUND]

The NM tried to take a shot at Neaw's falling unit, but was interrupted when his world exploded. The HE-tipped arrow made a deafening sound as it caused a concussive blast that blew the unit a few yards back and peeled and boiled away some of its armor, causing the suit's HUD to read the entire front half of the suit as red. systems began to shut down, but the suit wasn't all the way out, and stood back up.

Zali tried to stop it, but her attempt ended in failure as her nervous shots missed, she apparently hadn't heard Neaw, but at least she didn't hit a friendly this time.

Shaoran continued to grapple his foe for a moment, but the Ganesa Thera came out on top, the slightly larger ExoFrame gaining an advantage and throwing the NM off, landing it on is posterior. Both units got back up, but didn't immediately go for one another. Shaoran fired a bolt of plasma at his enemy while the NM fired a mortar, trying to do as much damage to the group as he could.

Supporting his ExoFrame with his spear, Neaw finally got up off the ground. Snarling at the badly damaged suit that had tried to attack him he attempted to target the enemy right when the other NM's mortar went off; flinging him back a few yards and back onto the ground.
As he landed he felt a sharp pain in his leg where shrapnel had pierced the Martina Nekane's damaged leg and lodged itself into the flesh of his. Wincing and gritting his teeth against the pain the recruit tried to both push himself up and find his fallen spear.

A pained grunt escaped from Tristana's mouth as her frame was thrown to the ground from the explosion. A few curses also came from her lips. "Why can't things STOP BLOWING UP AND BEING BAD?!" She tried to get up, but all the punishment her RI had taken up until this point was catching up to her. It hardly moved. "Come on!"

It seemed things were turning rather sour. Up until now, nothing serious had happened, and then BAM! Some fool blasted them all with a mortar! They really needed help, and Roland was entering the proper range now. His right arm came level with the mortar-carrying Neci Mara, and he squeezed the trigger tight, with no intention of letting go until the clip was empty. However, that NM was not the target of his charge; the other was, and the Isaac Risa came into melee range with a mighty battle cry and the shortsword primed for a bull rush stab. "RRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!" was what came out of Roland's mouth, although he had been thinking something more along the lines of, "You all die now!" In retrospect, neither was quite as eloquent as the mechanic had hoped he would be in the line of fire.

The closest NM unit went down, first as Shaoran's plasma bolt took out its shoulder, and then as a small auto rifle was unloaded on it. The damage to the unit was about equal to what had been spread about the NM's enemies.

Shaoran was blasted forward, landing on his frame's front end, a few shrapnel holes in the legs showed signs of leaking blood, but aside from that the Ganesa Thera seemed okay.
Zali was thrown backward, but the stronger armor in the front saved her from taking much of any damage.

However, the farther Neci Mara, damaged as it was, was helpless against the Mechanic's rage-induced rush, and the sword sliced right through the unit's side, cutting two neat holes in the armor, both of which leaked crimson. Without Roland telling the Isaac Risa what to do, however, it began to punch at and brutally maul the now deactivated NM.

Staggering and barely supporting himself with his spear, again, Neaw was surprised to see one of the enemy frames being savaged by a new ally. The pain in his leg cooling him down, the recruit decided that this was probably on the list of unwanted outcomes. Limping over to where the Isaac Risa was butchering his target he ground his staff into the dirt and clutched it tightly before grabbing the other ExoFrame and attempting to pull him off his victim.
"C'mon now, Chief's orders, stand down pilot." Neaw tried to keep his voice as friendly as possible, as he wasn't quite sure whether or not the pilot wouldn't turn on him next. Then looking back towards Zali he remembered that the Commander had been fighting the other unit. "Support the Chief girl! I got this side under control!" He yelled to her.

"Move, you piece of-" Tristana grumbled, making rather futile attempts at getting her frame to move. "You MAGE guys better not be screwing everything up...."

Roland's plan was executed flawlessly. He gunned down the one NM, and tackled the other just as he had expected. Then the strangest thing happened. The hand that once clutched the sword rose and fell repeatedly upon his opponent, and without his direction. Feeling his limb act of its own accord was quite simply the most bizarre sensation to ever experience, but he knew it had to stop even before Neaw tried to intervene. He could feel his other hand dropping the gun and rising to join in on the fun. Immediately he recalled from the myriad of manuals he'd devoured over the years that the Isaac Risa was prone to acting of its own accord. So he began bellowing commands. "Stop! STOP! The fight is over! We have won! Stand down, Isaac Risa!"

Salvation came in the form of Shaoran using command codes to lock down the Isaac Risa Exoframe, and then open the back of the unit, exposing its pilot. "Who are you?" the commander questioned over the radio, as he made his way to the less-damaged NM, his face scrunched in pain with every step. Zali made her way to Roland, then to the Ramla Ivar. "Umm, Miss. do you need some help?" the recruit asked, her unit's hand stretching out to help the RI up.

Shaoran grabbed the damaged NM unceremoniously, turning it around and forcing the back of it open. He roughly pulled out the pilot; thankfully alive; and held him up by the scruff of his pilot suit. "Miss Tristana. I believe we have held up are end of the deal. Shall we take you into the base so you can hold up your end?"

As the Commander spoke, a transport could be seen making its way through the hole that Neaw's Martina Nekane had made. it bounced across the field, and behind it two smaller vehicles with the Military Police Insignia followed.

Neaw was relieved to see Roland's unit deactivate, but when he had managed to slowly turn back around all that stress came back two fold. He looked from the hole in the fence, to the MP vehicles, and then at Commander Shaoran. Gritting his teeth, shrugging, and then limping over to the Chief's unit he - just like when had first stopped after the walking exercise - pulled off a crisp salute.
"Reporting some, I would like to stress that word, damage to all units but no fatalities Chief." After he spoke the recruit paused for a second then begun again, not as loud as before. "I see you'll be talking to the MP's..rather hope the discussion goes well, Sir." Then, trying to force a bit of humor into the situation he forced a chuckle and shook his head. "The base was needing a new gate anyways."

Tristana finally got her frame to move. A bit late, but better late than never. The hand reached up to grab Zali's. "That would be lovely," she replied to Shaoran.

Roland was at first elated, thinking the IR was responding to his commands. After a couple seconds, however, he realized it wasn't moving at all. Then the hatch popped open, and with a sigh, technician Gilly climbed out. It was obvious what he was by the jumpsuit he wore that signified his position as part of the Engineer Corps. Once both boots were on the grass, he turned, offered a salute that would have made any drill sergeant proud, and answered curtly. "Mechanical Petty Officer Roland Gilly, sir. I heard your... call for assistance, and responded." That was obviously stretching the truth quite a bit, but he already knew he was in trouble. What the hell did it matter now? "Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?" This was mostly to change the topic, but Roland figured it was probably pointless by now. Still, here's to hoping...

The Transport and the MP's arrived soon, and a crew hopped off the large vehicle and used its forked crane to pick up the destroyed NM that had been shucked of its pilot. Another group freed the unconscious pilot from the second NM. Although unconscious was rather a weak description. The poor man was bleeding from one side, had all sorts of broken ribs, and if his mother had been present she wouldn't have been able to recognize his face, mangled as it was by the Isaac Risa's mechanical fists. Needless to say, he was rushed to emergency medical attention. The other, far luckier pilot was immediately taken into custody for interrogation and the Machines moved onto the transport. All of the MAGEs were ordered by Shaoran to dismount aboard the transport's suit bay. Shaoran personally escorted Tristana, despite his injuries, while the rookie pilots and technician were ushered onto the transport by military police, where a couple medics began treating injuries with temporary remedies until they returned to the base for proper care.

Zali was curious as to the big fuss, and asked Neaw "Do you know why they're making such a huge fuss?" idly, she waved at Roland, not really knowing who he was, but not wanting to be rude. For now, the pilots were being left alone, but they would not be spared interrogations, reports, and all the funny business that went on after an event like this happened...

"Well, I'm sure they are reviewing all of our personal actions in this incident, purely for official reasons mostly." The mule-faced recruit stated nonchalantly as he breezed over both his and Roland's less than approved of actions. Eying his bound wound and giving it a few experimental taps with his other foot, Neaw winced from the sharp pain and put that on the "don't do" list for now. "But, the main big to do getting them all stirred up is that we found ourselves a defector. Pretty nice ExoFrame too, not sure how good but I'm hoping it is enough for them to excuse what damage we did to our frames." Then, nodding confidently he continued. "Yep, don't you worry nothing got done wrong here and benefits can come from all this." At least for you, the recruit thought as he watched an MP out of the corner of his eye.

Roland offered a meager wave back to Zali, but otherwise kept staring at the floor of the transport. He sat forward, his hands were clasped before him, elbows resting on his knees, his mind deep in thought of all the possible consequences. Mostly he thought about the answers he'd give to certain questions. MPO Gilly thought that maybe-- just maybe!-- this might be his unorthodox way into the MAGE Corps. Yes, extremely unorthodox to be sure, but he couldn't help all the hoping and praying. This had been his dream since he was a little boy, as early as he could remember, and any possibility of him finally getting in- however slim- was a glimmer of hope in Roland's eyes. Every so often his thoughts were speckled with the fresh memories of what it'd been like to be a pilot: the surge of adrenaline, the split-second combat, the sudden end. It had been the best ten minutes (had it even been THAT long?) of his life.

"Oh, Okay." Zali said, looking down at the floor for a moment. She looked back at Roland once more, wondering about the strange glimmer in his eyes. Curious, the girl asked "Hey, are you a MAGE Pilot?" She had seen him in the hangars during their training sessions, but had never really seen anyone other than Shaoran and the recruits piloting the MAGE units. of course, that had only been today, as before they had only taken tests and gone through classes on the subject.

Neaw remembered the man saying he was a Mechanical Petty Officer, but he didn't see that it much mattered anymore. "Course he's a pilot girl, you saw him pilot, so did I and did the Commander, he can't be nothing but a pilot." Then he shook his head. "Now, that HARM man he beat up on for trying to kill us, well he did him right and I'll doubt he'll be a pilot again even if he gets back." Then he stopped and paused for a second, his voice came out hostile. "Now you -" He stopped, calmed himself down and just shook his head, chuckling. "I'm gonna see you get work, yah hear me Zali? Just like him," Neaw pointed towards Roland for emphasis. "All of us pilots gotta do our best or otherwise you might never see the inside of your cockpit again."

He looked up and laughed awkwardly, obviously a little nervous. What the IR had done, while shockingly gratifying and empowering, had also made him realize just how careful he needed to be in the future- that is, if he had a future with the ExoFrames. "I didn't mean to beat him into a pulp," Roland answered. "The Isaac Risa has a habit of acting on its own, based on prior user input, however little. Without stern commands, it can be rather wild and unpredictable, and I didn't remember that soon enough." He sounded apologetic and a little upset, but that was mostly due to the fact that MPO Gilly's mind was elsewhere still. It was hard to focus on the here and now when something so amazing had happened to him.

It took a second for the girl to take all the talking in, but she finally understood it, and felt uneasy about the Isaac Risa, she never wanted to pilot it if she had the choice. "Well, hopefully they'll let us continue to be pilots... I don't think we failed, did we?" she seemed a bit scared for the moment, partially because of what Neaw had said, and then it dawned on her that the whole confrontation could have probably been solved peacefully if she hadn't goofed up. "It's all my fault..." she muttered, and suddenly broke into tears.

Putting a hand on the girl's shoulder Neaw lowered his voice and tried to make it as comforting as possible. "In no way was this your fault. Them HARM pilots aren't good men to nobody, they would have attacked when we had our backs turned if not sooner." Then looking up he eyed Roland too. "That goes for you too, you ain't killed nobody yet and you've managed to permanently put an enemy pilot out of action. We've all done good to boot is what I say and I think it is what the Chief believes too." Then, chuckling, the recruit shook his head. "Now, after saying that I'm expecting him to ride us every minute of training he can get in, so you might not be thinking kindly of his approval in a few days."

Roland offered a gentle smile and reached across the small aisle to pat Zali's knee. For a brief moment she reminded him of his younger sister. "No reason to play the blame game. Besides, you can't let a little something like that hold you back; if you want to keep flying, you've got to keep improving. If you really want it, it'll be yours." Then he sat back, withdrawing his hand. "And thank you, pilot...?" he was looking at Neaw as he spoke now. "I appreciate that."

Zali's tears slowed and quieted, finally stopping as the other two assuaged her. "Thanks guys..." she sniffled, wiping her face on her shirt, a slight smudge of light makeup showing up on her pilot suit. "It's just that all I've done today is mess up... But I guess you're right. that doesn't matter right now..." she tried to smile, and gave a weak one, sitting up a little straighter. The Transport Bumped into a hangar, and all of a sudden the doors were opened and people were offering to help the occupants out, a few more MP's and another commander or two standing outside as a sort of welcoming committee.

"Alright, alright. They've put out the red carpet for us, dry that face, hold that head high! Your gonna do yourselves and the work you've done today proud when you step out of this door, eh?" Then stepping out the door, Neaw gave the nearest MP a casual nod and a friendly smile before moseying over to a clear spot and waiting for the others.

"No, it certainly doesn't," Roland reassured Zali. "What matters is learning and living. If you've done your learning, well we've got a bit of living to do." He stepped down from the transport of and offered a helping hand to Zali, and Tristana as well. She wasn't a member of the squad- hell, she wasn't even a MAG- but mother had raised Roland right, and respecting the women-folk was second nature to him. Then the MPs moved forward, looking their menacing look- you know, the one they use to intimidate folks into cooperation. It worked well enough on MPO Gilly who was already anxious about the near future and what it might entail. "Sir, allow us to escort you to debriefing," one said. "It's critical we debrief you immediately."

"Sure. Sure, sirs. Lead the way." He gestured forward, and they led on. Rather, one MP led the way, while two followed Roland- probably to make sure he didn't get any funny ideas.

Seeing the MP's lead Roland away and another group forming, most likely to come pay him a visit, Neaw quickly scanned the small crowd for Zali. Finding her just as the group of MP's approached him with a hard, expectant look on their faces he gave the men a slow nod and then motioned towards his squad mate. "Mind if I take a second?"
The leading MP hesitated a second before nodding, following the recruit closely as he closed the gap between himself and Zali.
"Zali, they seem to have some pressing questions for me and -" Neaw stopped to recall the name that had been on the mechanic's coveralls. " - Gilly, you go find the Chief and then get some food or some sleep. And remember what the both of us said, you did good and with a bit more training you'll be even better." Turning away he walked with the MP's, who like their companions who had attended Roland quickly took up a cage like formation around Neaw.

As it went, people were being rushed about, all of the pilots whom had been engaged in the combat were sent to either debriefing or interrogation rooms, depending on the circumstances of their participation in the event. The ExoFrame suits were unloaded from the truck, the MAGE units to be inspected and repaired, the HARM units to be studied for their secrets. Tristana, the 'guest' had been ushered into the base, with Shaoran following to ensure his promises would be upheld. An investigation committee would be sent to look over the field of battle, to add to the understanding of what had gone on.

The recruits whom hadn't taken part in the fight were ushered into their barracks, to be debriefed later as many had observed it, but were for the most part left alone and unaccosted. Little did everyone know, except perhaps the insightful Commander Shaoran, that this small skirmish would be the beginning of a much larger conflict.

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Kai
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Re: Prologue

Post by Kai » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:21 pm

A Transport carrying a Ganesa Thera, a Martina Nekane, and a Kali Pazia trundled its way through the forest surrounding the base. Inside, three people sat. A Commander and two recruits. Before too long, the transport slid to a halt just outside of a large clearing. the doors opened, allowing the three to exit and climb back towards their frames. Commander Shaoran stood by the Ganesa Thera, and looked at the two recruits. Zali, a somewhat nervous female recruit, stood by her Kali Pazia, waiting for instructions.

Thomas was really not sure he wanted to be going out with the Trouble Commander and his little friendly fire pet, but he had been complaining that training had gone lax after the incident. Next thing he knew he had been roughly awakened before dawn by "Chief" Shaoran and the big commander had ordered him on a transport.
Looking at his Martina Nekane and then at its two companions, Recruit Doverreck wondered what kind of exercises they would be doing. I swear if he wants me to fight him like that idiot of his Neaw - well I'll just let him throw me and stay down, the young man thought dourly. Honestly, when he compared his clean and pristine NM to the repaired but still clearly used and abused visages of the Commander's and Zali's ExoFrames it was a bit intimidating.
Deciding to get it over with he loitered over to where the frames would be offloaded and gave Shaoran an "I'm ready" look.

"Alright. We're going to be doing a shooting course against automated turrets, they only shoot paintballs but your suit will register realistic damage. The one of your who makes it out with the least 'damage' wins. First you have to make your ou have to make your way across the clearing and then pass the actual course through the woods." Shaoran ran a hand through his hair for a moment, before stating "Understood? Mount up." Shoaran mounted his Ganesa Thera, and detached it from the truck, dropping the couple feet to the ground and waiting on his recruits.

Zali mounted her Kali Pazia as well, making sure she was comfortably in the suit before following the Ganesa Thera down to the ground, a very short drop for the frame. "I'm ready to go, Commander!" Zali said, moving a fist into the air, her other arm busy holding up an oversized sniper rifle.

Climbing into his frame and then taking a bit to get used to the confined interior, Thomas settled himself in and then turned on the MN. Detaching from the transport, the recruit stumbled slightly as the frame hit the ground below him. After straightening up he pulled his semi-automatic "grunt issue" rifle from the back of the Martina Nekane.
"Right behind you two Commander." Doverreck stated as he plodded after the team, his eyes scanning for any kind of early trap set to teach them a lesson.

Shaoran stopped a few yards into the clearing. "Actually, you two go ahead. I'm in charge of the drones." Shaoran grinned, but neither of the other two pilots could see this behind his Ganesa Thera's faceplate. "Since I'm nice, I'll bring up the first Drone now, so you know what they look like." he said, and suddenly a form rose up from the tall grasses, it looked like a small Martina Nekane, but it lacked a normal head, instead having a simple set of optics. It also lacked most of the built-in weapons, and the joint systems were obviously simpler. It held a gun, which was obviously the paintball gun that would be used to fire upon them.

Zali looked over the drone, taking in what they looked like, and having her ExoFrame mark down the appearance as an enemy target. "I got it." she told the Commander, looking and sounding ready to fight, if emotions were actually visible through the stoic visages of the MAGE units. With a sudden quickness not unlike that of a MAGE unit, the drone disappeared, scuffling off into the distance and hiding itself in a place it could better harass the two recruits.

Oh, great. He's having Friendly Fire shoot things that look like me, Thomas thought sarcastically as the drone scuffled out of view. He had tried to track it with his rifle, but the abruptness of its appearance and then disappeared had only given him a few seconds to try.
And he had failed. He grimaced as he thought of how this exercise would go. "I'm as ready as I'll be today Sir. And long as the only thing that I got hit with are the paintballs I'm sure it'll be a learning experience." Thomas' voice was resigned and slightly nervous as he looked at the size of Zali's sniper rifle. Yes, hopefully the only thing hitting him would be paintballs.

Paintballs were what his and Zali's rifles were loading, so that wish would probably be fulfilled, even if the girl missed. However, if she used her inbuilts, he would also (possibly) get hit by weak energy blasts. In any case, Shoaran grabbed their attention, announcing "The exercise begins in ten seconds." with that, the Commander activated the drones, and numerous whines of electronics and reactors starting up were picked up by audio sensors before going quiet as the drones' systems got to operating parameters.

Zali raised her rifle and aimed it in the direction that the drone they had seen had disappeared off to, she had no idea whether or not it would be there, but she made sure it wouldn't get the jump on the two recruits if it was.

Thomas scanned the area not being watched by Zali, thinking that the Commander would most likely attack them from a different spot, or even the greater likely hood that they would be hit from multiple sides at once.
"I got my eye on this side, if too many of them come we'll need to find some cover, but I think we should stay together. Otherwise we'll just get picked off alone and our frames will receive a new paint job." As the recruit spoke he tensed up, his nerves jerking at even the slightest sound.

Staying still was not the best idea the two recruits had ever had, and now they found themselves, just as Thomas had predicted, under attack from multiple sides. two drones showed up to Thomas' left, and two to Zali's right, all firing their rifles. at this point in the exercise, however, the drones weren't exactly accurate, and the spatterings of paintballs mostly fell short or exploded on the ground around the two ExoFrames, with very few actually hitting. The Damage registered as very light cosmetic damage for now, but the drones seemed to learn that they were too far and moved in, each pair staggering their advance so one could support the other.

Zali was quick to react, her sniper rifle spitting paintballs at a higher velocity than the drones' guns, allowing her to hit them better from a distance. She scored several torso hits on the nearest drone, and even a hit on its camera gear. That registered as a 'kill' for the recruit, and the drone halted its advance.

Thomas' Martina Nekane dropped to one knee as he began firing his semi-automatic at the closest of the two drones coming towards him. He took his time before his first shot, trying to line it up directly with the target's torso and then pulled his trigger in rapid succession letting off a cluster of six shots that would hopefully take the drone out.
This is going nowhere, the recruit thought as enemy paintballs burst around him. "Pull back - hell or forward if it that looks better , just try for anything defensible - and find some cover, then cover me and I'll do the same! We can't take them out in the open like this!" Thomas grunted over the com as he maintained the awkward position of one leg straight forward and the other just standing required to make his ExoFrame kneel.

"O-Okay!" Zali responded, crouching her frame a little bit to present a smaller target. as she did so, a mid-sized energy cannon on her shoulder folded down, pointing at her other enemy, and firing along with the sniper rifle. The combined fire kept the enemy down long enough for Zali to start her dash toward the forest, where there was the cover of trees.

Thomas' enemies kept coming, his shots only registering as damage to the enemies, but not a kill, his rifle didn't have the required 'power' to take them down so quickly. Shaoran interjected, giving the recruit a tip "The Martina Nekane has in-builts, including a light plasma gun in the left forearm and a small bore rifle in the right forearm. Use all your resources!" The Drones stopped for a moment as Shaoran spoke, then continued moving, but the pause could be just enough for Thomas to take advantage of.

If there was one thing Thomas hated it was inbuilts, but he knew he would have to use them. He mumbled something over the coms about the Doverreck's being a hands on family and how he preferred to use his rifle. Still, he only fired ten more shots from his semi-auto before placing it back onto the Martina Nekane's back with its right arm and trying to aiming the plasma gun in the left at one of drones, not firing yet but taking his time to get a good shot.
Having got up from his kneeling position, Thomas was now slightly stooped over as he walked forwards to the woods. Hoping Zali had picked a good spot and could take out a few of the drones that were firing upon him.

Zali's firing wasn't quite enough to actually hit any of the drones, but she did distract them enough to have made it to the woods in the meantime. Thomas, on the other hand, found himself to be continuously pelted with fire from the drones, his 'light cosmetic damage' spreading and turning into 'minor structural damage' on his pauldrons. He would have to try harder if he wanted to pass this exercise, especially since he obviously didn't quite have a handle on the unit yet.

The Three remaining drones were nice enough to follow Thomas, keeping far enough away that they couldn't easily be hit, but that their shots were fairly effective. Zali found herself yelling at her partner "Come on Tom! You can do it!" she cheered, not paying attention to the forest behind her...

Thomas nodded to himself as Zali spoke, not really listening as more and more paint balls hit his frame. Finally comfortable with his aim, he stopped for a second, letting loose a ball of plasma at the closest drone. Then, aiming with his other arm he fired a shot from the rifle built into the arm, attempting to damage one of the first drone's companions.
All of a sudden the recruit remembered that the Commander might not go easy on them, and if Zali was talking to him then she wasn't - "Zali! Check your rear screen, he might send more drones around back!"

The Plasma bolt sang true, singing its way through the grass and impacting on the opposing drone. It didn't actually damage it, training power was little more than enough power to keep the shot in a coherent ball, and the built-in rifle's paintballs sang downrange, doing more simulated damage to the drones. One of them deactivated, knocking the number in the clearing down to two pursuers.

"What?" Zali said, checking the rear view just in time to scream as she saw the shape of a drone's sensor array appear in her field of vision. the drone grabbed her in a bear hug, holding her Kali Pazia's arms to the sides, making her suddenly stationary and vulnerable to other enemies.

"You should be more aware of the battlefield, recruits." Shaoran's voice soothed over the comms, but the attacks did not let up. in fact, it was obvious to Zali that there were two more drones behind the one that was grabbing her, and they were getting ready to take care of her, execution-style.

Thomas had almost made it the forest, and he swore as his rear view showed Zali being grabbed by one of the drones. Ignoring his targets he swiveled, and fired a burst of shots from his the left arm rifle at the other two drones attacking her. He snarled as rounds pelted against his backside and then, lifting his right arm, he shot another ball of plasma at the third drone, the one that was farthest from Zali.

Zali struggled where she was, but the drone's mechanical strength was greater than her frame's, as her frame had been specialized for ranged combat. However, she did have the advantage of a rotating turret on the opposite shoulder from her cannon turned toward her attacks and added to Thomas' fire. Within moments, the hail of blasts from the MN and KP units decimated the three drones in the forest, and Thomas registered a second and third kill, while Zali registered her second. "Thank you Tom~" the girl said over the comms, now turning around to search into the forest.

Thomas' last two enemies in the clearing advanced, moving into closer range suddenly, moving into melee and beginning to pound on the MN that had been distracted till a second ago. Thomas could hear Zali gasp over the comms, and watched as the damage meter on his frame rose from 25% to 30 in a matter of moments.

Thomas' ExoFrame shuddered as the two drones pounded on him. Then, all of a sudden the MN went limp, falling to the ground and trying to both unbalance its two attackers and roll out of the way. Stopping as he hadn't managed to get too far, Thomas attempted to shoot one of the drones with his arm-rifle as the ExoFrame lay on its back in the dirt.
"Fire if you got a shot Zali! Don't even worry about hitting me if they jump back on, my Martina Nekane won't go down yet!" The recruit yelled to his squadmate as he triggered the rifle again, hoping to at least damage his target.

"R-Right!' she answered, opening up with the energy cannon on her right shoulder as well as the turret on her left. her arm weapons she didn't use, as she had stopped trusting herself with them after the last two fiascos. mostly, her shots missed, partially from nerves, partially because she wasn't quite used to targeting with them.

The drones, on the other hand, had smashed into each other when the Martina Nekane dropped to the ground, and were subsequently caught off guard by Thomas' shot from below. one of the drones registered major damage and backed off, disappearing into the tall grass, but the other pressed its attack on the now ground-bound target.

"Good tactic!" Shaoran congratulated Thomas, but that was simply a foreshadowing of what was to come. Zali would notice the drones showing up behind her this time, once again a group of three, two wielding rifles as before, the third however wielding what could only be described as a minigun.

Finding himself under attack and laying on his back in the dirt was not the best way to win a fight. But, knowing the Commander he would most likely be putting Zali into an even tighter spot at the moment, so Thomas rationalized he would just have to move even quicker. Trying to get an attack in was hard as the drone slammed into him again and again, so, decided a bit of damage was better than what was going in right now the recruit slammed the MN's faceplate into the drone with a brutal headbutt. Following through he pushed upwards, but when he tried to punch out with his right arm it wouldn't move and the left barely responded.
Swearing, Thomas tried to disengage from the drone.

Zali had no choice but to leave Thomas to his battle, as the three drones in the forest began firing on her, the minigun being especially worrisome, as its sheer volume of fire was sure to do tons of damage if the drone could draw a bead. Zali's Kali Pazia hid behind a rather large tree, its sniper rifle sticking out of one side. The Girl fired a few shots, and the drones scattered, but now she had the disadvantage of not being able to see them.

Without a pilot, the drone didn't even seem to register the fact that it had just been headbutted, and continued to pound away at Thomas' unit. His damage level steadily rose, nearing 50%, when Shaoran interjected once more.
"Remember, your entire body is a weapon. Why should a frame be any different?"

Thomas was tired of getting wailed on, your cockpit shuddering constantly starts to get a bit annoying after a while. So, he moved he knee upward slamming it into the droid's chest and pushed the enemy frame off of him. Suitably angry after being so beat up by the drone, he continued his movements and attempted to pin the enemy down and proceed to place a heavy boot into its face.

His attempts succeeded, and his suit's movements stopped just short of a stomp that would have certainly destroyed the drone's sensors. It registered as a 'kill' for Thomas, but now he was left without any very useful weapons, as all the projectiles were either disabled for training or pointed down with his locked arms.

Zali did her best to track the enemy drones, and fund the one with the minigun, as it was moving slower than the other two. A few well-aimed shots caused the drone to drop its weapon, but then it charged at her. Knowing she was bad at melee, the girl retreated back out into the clearing.

Thomas found it quite satisfying to have beaten this last enemy, that particular drone had been a very large pain. But, now he had to help out Zali, and she seemed as if she could use it. Seeing the Drone charging her KP he laughed and yelled, "Incoming!'
Spurring his own frame into a run he rammed the charging drone trying to pull it down to the ground and put a foot through its head as he had done with his previous target. As with what little weapons he had, this was the only option he could see as plausible.

Unfortunately, Thomas had forgotten about physics, and the function known as momentum would be his undoing. both the Drone and the MN crashed to the ground in a heap of metal, a dust cloud billowing up and obscuring Zali's view. A strange thing, however, happened. The MN had a limited ability to repair itself, and Thomas' damage numbers had gone down by 10%, his right arm unlocking in the process.

Zali would have rejoiced this, had she known, but she was too busy being ambushed by the other two drones, her rifle having been abandoned in her rush to leave the forest, so she used the shoulder weapons, each pivoting to fire on a target and hold them back while she retreated further into the clearing.

As Thomas crashed into the ground he was surprised when the MN's right arm responded to his reflexive movements. But, as the drone started to move again he didn't take the time to remember sections from the manuals or the lectures on all the MAGE units' special abilities.
No, he just tried his hardest to get his arm in position to blow a ball of plasma into the drone's face. And as he pulled the trigger and his frame's arm moved from recoil he sincerely hoped that was what he had done; either that or that the arm would hold up for another shot.

Thomas' blast pushed the drone back into the ground and, had it not been at training power, would have launched him into the air and damaged his Martina Nekane. to compensate for this, his damage meter rose and the arm froze up again, but the drone was slowed in its movements, showing simulated damage. Still, it got up off the ground and charged Thomas, intent on grappling.

Zali's Medium laser cannon blast lanced out and hit that drone's optics, the refracted light damaging its internal circuitry, giving her a kill not only in name but also in practice, as the drone deactivated in order to keep from being damaged further. The other drone, however, survived the burst from the ball turret and continued its charge, but managed to miss all of its shots.

From the sounds behind him, Thomas was happy to hear that Zali was most likely doing better than him. Sighing as the frame's right arm hung limply by its side again, the recruit prepared for another round of what would be another round of humorous no-arms melee combat had it not been him performing it. The Commander had definitely ended up making his day troublesome.
Thomas met the drone charge with a sharp kick to the chest that he intended to put his target on its back and then let him get to the business - well not at hand in this case, but would allow him to stomp the drone's head into the turf until not even its design crew would recognize it.

The Martina Nekane proved to be more powerful than its drone brethren, and the kick knocked the smaller foe backwards and toppled it to the ground. Another stalled stomp; this was probably the commander's doing; and another 'kill' was gained by the recruit, adding to his score and making the count Five by now.

Zali, however, was winning the exercise so far, the goal having been to take the least damage, and she was only up to 10% while Thomas was up around 55% Her foe continued its charge, but, as happened at times, the drone found itself tripping over a particularly large boulder called one of the drones from earlier, and it fell to the ground, letting out a spray of paintballs, several of which hit the surprised Zali, her own shots going wide.

"Sometimes, you do not need to kill all your foes to accomplish your objective. continue through the trees before he gets up!" Shaoran suggested over the radio, sounding somewhat amused by the training session thus far. Thomas' left arm suddenly found itself unlocked from the self-repair function.

Seeing in no point in arguing with a suggestion from the commander, and not wanting to needlessly damage his unit anymore, Thomas stretched his left arm and then walked into the forest.
"Alright Commander, I guess we should finish this session before dinner, eh?" The recruit said over the coms as he walked in. "Zali, I'll go first, no point in having you get jumped by anything in front of us while all your weapons still work."

"Sure!" Zali agreed, nervously, quickly following Thomas into the forest, glancing at her rear view to see the drone stand up and start following them, but suddenly stop just before it disappeared frm view. Her weapons were pointed everywhere, but she missed the rifle, it was laying near the edge of the forest and she hadn't bothered to retrieve it.

Thomas would soon find himself coming near another, much smaller clearing, this one with what appeared to be a small defensive wall running in a circle around the center, with a number of drones hiding behind said wall. There was an open path just beyond the clearing, and it looked as if there was another path headed into the clearing, just to their right.

"Should... Should we try and take the fort?" Zali asked, nervous, wondering if it was a legitimate tactic just to avoid the whole fort. It probably was, seeing as none of the 'defenders' had noticed them, but then again, who knew what the Commander was counting towards your score in this exercise.

"Honestly, we are not in the best shape so we have to try and take any advantage we can. And while I don't doubt we could take the wall if you got in some good shots and if my arm didn't fail out again - still I would rather take the other path." Moving towards the other path Thomas was going very slowly, the recruit was keeping an eye out for any sort of trap or ambush. "Keep your eyes peeled as we move and be ready for anything."

The two made their way carefully around... and were not spotted. Stealth seemed to be the answer to that puzzle, and they had bested it easily. It was anticlimactic, really, but as they stepped onto the path that changed. Before them stood what could only be described as Robin hood and his band of merry men, drone-style, as all the drones held bows similar to those of a HARM Ramla Ivar suit. The first raised its bow, and aimed at the duo, but held its fire for a moment.

Zali, somewhat shocked, realized they were at a standstill. While the bow-wielding drones could easily cause a lot of damage, their slow reload time meant that if they didn't 'kill' the recruits immediately, they were goners. "Sh-Should we shoot?" the girl asked, concerned.

Inside his frame Thomas smiled. "Don't worry I have this all figured out." He told Zali. Then, turning towards the drones he made sure to make no extremely threatening movements. "Well, my merry band of metal bound artificial consciousnesses, as you can clearly see I am neither a Sheriff nor do I carry the gold of kings on me. No, I am just a damaged and abused waif such as all of you."
Thomas had been taking small steps forward as he spoke and he quickly surged forward as he ended his speech, dropping into a crouching, dive-like kick that was aimed at the front drone and firing his 10mm at one of the others. "Now Zali!" He yelled as his MN's foot connected with the first drone.

Thomas' attack hadn't quite gone as planned, his 10mm rifle taking out one of the drones immediately via a shot to the optics, but the drone in front seemed to have been ready, and raised its own foot, trapping Thomas' against the ground, leaving the man stranded down low. The Arrow let loose and splattered all over Thomas' leg, the component locking itself, trapping the recruit in place.

Zali had no choice but to fire everything, and she backed away, hiding behind a tree as she did so. The Shoulder cannon and ball turret flashed several shots at the three remaining drones, but they missed in her movements. From behind her cover, Zali apologized "Sorry Tom! I tried!"

Thomas had hoped his "try" would have gone better to and now realized his "great plan' had been, perhaps, inherently flawed in its whole basis. Still he had taken out another drone and his arm still did work. So, he did the only logical thing, raising his arm and firing the 10mm again at one of the Robin Hood-like drones.
"Don't be sorry, just take one out this time and everything will be fine!" The recruit yelled. It would be nice if she could take two though, he thought as he watched the other two drones.

'Robin Hood' reloaded his bow, slowly and with great care, his precise mechanical movements almost beautiful to watch. The other two Fired their weapons on Zali's position, their large paint-filled tips exploding, getting a small amount of splash damage on the girl's ExoFrame, as the tree wasn't quite large enough to fully hide her. She did her best, firing back with her weapons, but only one hit and it did negligible damage.

"You could have solved that peacefully, you know. That is the way things may sometimes happen. However, you reap what you sow" Shaoran's voice boomed in Thomas' helmet, as he helplessly watched the arrow loose on his MN's head. The piece jerked a bit from the force, and Thomas' screen blacked out and read 'DEFEATED'.

Amusingly enough, underneath his kill count moved up to seven, as 'Robin Hood' fell forward on top of him, a victim of the recruit's last minute blast from the forearm rifle. The other drones suddenly deactivated, and all of Zali's weapons powered down, Shaoran's voice once again heard over the comms.

"Zali has won. It is pointless to continue the exercise for now, so I'm unlocking both your suits. Return to the transport." Was all he said, and, as promised, the suits unlocked and Thomas' screens returned, his suit slowly starting to move itself to return.

When the his cockpit had gone black and the MN collapsed onto its back Thomas had just sat there listening to the Commander. When all sound in the cockpit had gone quiet the recruit had begun to chuckle and then laugh. Even with all that happened, he was still proud of all his stupid plans and while the thought of whatever punishment was soon in coming sobered him up, it still hadn't been that bad in the long run.
When the screen reactivated and the ExoFrame started to stir, Thomas just went along with it, pushing himself up and walking back the way he had come. He had been stupid today much more than once, but next time Shaoran roused him before dawn and forced him on a transport he would be a little bit more prepared.

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Kai
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Re: Prologue

Post by Kai » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:21 pm

Katia Minos surveyed the recruits set before her. The Haldis Sakti behind her looked as if were the veteran of many battles, its thick armor scarred and pitted, but still intact, despite the lack of paint in many areas. There were three in front of her now. Thomas Doverreck, Roland Gilly, and Zali Hanya, of which all three had had some sort of problem or another. Doverreck seemed to be headstrong, and only worked with others when it benefited him enough to bother. Gilly was a bit older, and hadn't exactly made it into the MAGE corps, but Commander Shaoran had insisted he be allowed to train. Hanya seemed to be afraid of her chosen unit, and did not trust in herself, and so was lagging behind in training.

It was Katia Minos' job to fix that. She needed to get these three ready to take the final test, because they were far enough along to be useful in the war, but still needed to have certain problems Ironed out. Gilly, specifically, seemed to be dejected that he was unable to pilot the Isaac Risa he had 'requisitioned' for his first sortie.

"Alright, you three. Today, is the day that you will learn to be effective MAGE pilots, and graduate from the rank of Recruit and become Cadets in the MAG. You all know how to pilot, and you all seem to know how to fight, but the combination of the two appears to be the problem. I know the ExoFrames are sophisticated machines, but we expect you to either learn how to be effective, or go home." Katia's stern address ended with what might be a sour note, but the instructor hoped it would spur them into trying harder.

Thomas could accept having to train with Zali again, but to be stuck with some hotshot mechanic that just stole a frame and thought it made him a pilot was a slight annoyance to the young recruit. But, as the memory of the failed fire exercise was still fresh in his mind he didn't dare protest.
His pride was even more ruffled when the instructor made it seem like he couldn't figure out how to both walk and shoot at the same time. At the term "sophisticated" the recruit took another look at Gilly, his anger rising once more. Taking another look at the stern Minos though easily helped him choke down any snide retort he might of thought of as he decided to just buckle down and only say what would be necessary to pass this exam. Because, if there was one thing he refused to do it was to "go home", he had had enough of the Doverreck farm life the rest of his family led.

Gilly stood silent and patient. What she said certainly struck at his very center. The mechanic knew this could make or break his career as a MAG, and knew that he had to give his best. He was in fact disappointed that he would not be able to once more pilot an Isaac Risa, but didn't let it work him over. Instead, he simply made it his short-term goal: perform well enough to reclaim the Type IR.

Zali sat patiently with the two other recruits, nodding along with what the instructor said. "S-So We can't fail today?" She asked. Somewhat terrified of the instructor. Katia Shot back "A MAGE can NEVER fail. How are we supposed to protect the people if we fail all the time? Training is a time of learning, and making mistakes, but once you are a MAGE, you cannot fail. Show me that you will not fail, by surprising me and succeeding."

Zali made a high-pitched noise that cut off sharply, as she tried very hard to keep her self from freaking out in surprise at the Commander's outburst, and managed to keep from breaking into tears, just barely. Katia, on the other hand, simply mounted her ExoFrame, and ordered over the loud speakers "Your task is to defeat me. You have one hour. Good luck." and with that, her frame stood up and walked off, across the tarmac and toward the nearby forest.

Thomas' knuckles turned white as he clenched his fist. Then turning to the rest of the team he eyed each of them slowly. "Zali, Mechanic, if she doesn't drop in at most half an hour, I don't think any of us will be happy." The anger in the recruit's voice was barely held in check, and each step he took was loud and violent as he walked to the back of his Martina Nekane. "We mount up, we think of a plan and try to keep it fluid as possible. Then we destroy her." Jumping into his frame Thomas turned it on and just barely managed to wait for the others instead of storming after the instructor.

Gilly gave a curt salute as Katia mounted up. Then he climbed into his own Type LO. Once the suit was up and running, he turned toward Thomas. "The Type HS is going to be a pain, built as it is. It was designed for counter-attack operations. It's a shield that can take a whole mess of attacks. We'll have to work together and flank her if we want to get anywhere." He turned toward Zali. "It'd be best for you to draw her attention. I'm sure if you fire your angry flashlights enough, we'll be able to work our way around for better angles. If not, I'll hold her captivated at point-blank." Roland wasn't particularly excited about melee combat against THAT woman, but he certainly wasn't going to back down. She needed to be knocked down a couple pegs.

"Okay." Zali answered, having mastered herself by now, a confident look on her face this time. She mounted her Kali Pazia, and hefted a 'medium laser cannon' to use as a main weapon against their foe, who was just disappearing into the forest. Now another obstacle was added; finding her within the allotted time-frame. "S-So who's on point?" She asked, stuttering slightly, her nerves starting to wark a little again now that she was actually in her ExoFrame.

"I'll take point." Looking over towards Roland's LO he spoke again. "Roland, you'll be next if she attacks me first try your best to take advantage of the situation, if we find her first, then we can go with your plan and have the Kali Pazia open fire and the two of us try and flank her."
Walking towards the forest Thomas pulled a familiar semi-automatic rifle from his Martina Nekane's back. "Alright, she told us we only had an hour, let's not disappoint."

Gilly nodded the Lander Onida's head. "Then lead the way, Doverreck." He rolled the shoulders of his suit and punched the knuckles together a couple times. Alright, ready. Let's do this thing. His nerves were alight, and his muscles were tense with all his pent up energy.

"That works..." Zali commented, checking the sights of her rifle and how they synced up with her ExoFrame's display "I guess I'm ready to go then. Like Gilly said, let's get going." she said, starting to move toward the forest. This time, she would be ready. I mean, there's only one enemy, right? she thought, trying to boost her own confidence.

Walking into the forest in front of the rest of the team Thomas kept his rifle still while he intently checked all of his both his front and back view screens. He also kept a tight hold onto his anger, not wanting to look a fool like he had done in the exercise, that also had happened to be in forest, with Shaoran. As he checked the area behind a particularly large tree the recruit wondered what it was with the instructors and forests.
"All clear so far, any activity you guys can see?" He asked as he moved on.

Roland kept his eyes on the move, since the ExoFrame kept an eye on all angles for him. "No, nothing so far." All the while he kept his fists up like a boxer on the prowl.

The Units would hear a rustling behind them, but the rear screens showed nothing, and sensors didn't detect anything more than life signs in that spot. However, from up ahead the distinctive sound of a mortar going off was heard, and after a short whistling, crackling trip down through the branches the mortar shell impacted on the ground, exploding in a glob of paint whose edges managed to splash The MN and LO. A briefly moving shape in the direction the attack came from showed that the Commander was keeping just out of range for the moment, with all these trees in the way. Zali tried to find a bead, but the Haldis Sakti was too adept at moving in the forest for her to track it.

"She's using the trees to block our attacks! Go right off the path and advance and do the same. Don't worry about trying to shoot her now, just avoid another mortar!" Thomas yelled as he sprinted into the trees to his right, trying to keep the instructor within his field of vision, or at least just a glimpse of her amongst the trees.
Seeing a larger than normal gap as he moved up and a decent view of Minos' HS he fired a burst of six shots, more to allow the others time to get into the cover the trees than anything else.

Almost after the fact, Roland rolled away from the explosion of color. Back on his feet, he realized he needed to get moving. He took off to the right with Lander's built-in leg boosters increasing his movement speed. "I'm trying to circle around," he told his partners. "Hopefully I can flank her. If not, I'll keep her attention at point blank like we discussed. Either way, I'm going in. Running around like a decapitated chicken isn't going to do me any good."

"R-Right!" Zali squeaked, shaking off her sudden shock from the mortar round, she charged forward after Thomas, letting Gilly do the flanking. She tried to keep back, but this prevented her from seeing the instructor, until...

Katia stopped in a small clearing which was centered around a large tree, her unit's backside toward the tree, her training spear held out from behind her shield, which obscured a large portion of the frame's bulk, and her 50mm cannon appearing to follow off toward where Gilly was heading. The mortar went off with a distinct 'PWUMF' sound, and whistled through the trees, crashing in front of Thomas, daring him to come any closer.

Thomas stopped abrubtly as the mortar came crashing down, then he finally loosened his grip on his anger by just a bit. With a surge of fury he threw the semi-auto onto his back and came into the clearing. Firing his built-in 10mm as he moved along the edge of the trees.
He quietly commed Roland. "Try and get in if you can, but if I remember correctly the Haldis has some nasty close range abilities, so be careful. Try and not get any limbs locked down."

"I'm screwed if she locks down any of my limbs," Roland replied, fully understanding the situation. Mobility was his lifeline. He finally emerged from the treeline, two-handed sword drawn. He leaped into the air and tossed his sword at Commander Minos. The Type LO was aimed to come down beside the Haldis Sakti. Preparing for this future, he drew the hammer and prepared to drop it with all his might and momentum.

Instead of firing on the LO like what would have been expected, the Haldis focused on blocking everything thrown at her, then she hooked her spear up on a low, thick branch of the tree, swinging her heavy frame up into the branches, disappearing from view. Miraculously, the three held her weight, but shook and shuddered as she moved around, and then the branch dipped, and her frame emerged from the foliage, it's spear and right leg bearing down on Thomas' Martina.

Yelling the word "MAGNITUDE!" she slammed into the ground with a force greater than even her mech's weight, shattering the ground around her and breaking up all of Doverreck's footing, sending his ExoFrame to the ground. Zali, still back in the trees, took advantage and began to fire on her instructor, but the Medium cannon blasts didn't seem to phase the more heavily armored Sakti frame.

Having a sudden view from the ground surprised Thomas again, but during the fight with the drones Shaoran had thrown him enough that he was used to reacting to it. Though, this time it was slightly more of a rough attack then simply being tackled by another frame. Trying to get under the instructor's defenses, the recruit didn't even bother to get up and instead let loose with both the plasma cannon and his 10mm before attempting to roll away.

While his target had moved, Roland still in an advantageous position. He struck the dirt with quite a bit of force, but the suit took the brunt of it well. He was no master of the ExoFrame's maneuvers, but MPO Gilly managed to divert the momentum into another attack rather well. A little boost from the legs increased his attack speed and some Chi gave the hammer extra force as it came flying toward the Commander's presented backside.

For a split second he wondered- if by some horrible twist of fate- if success might mean he snaps the Commander's spine. Too late now.

Doverreck's Plasma blasts seemed to veer off to the sides at the last moment, but the paintballs splatted all over Minos' armor, showing that he was doing something right. Once again, Zali's attacks didn't seem to do much either, and she complained about it "This Isn't fair! Why can't we even hurt you!"

"A Tortoise will not notice something hitting its shell till it breaks through." the instructor answered, using an odd metaphor, but before she could do much more a training hammer slammed into her backside, shunting her frame forward, right on top of poor Thomas. The Commander used her spear to prop herself up, remaining standing on the poor Martina, and swung her weapon at the offending Lander, nearly hitting it, but its speed beat hers by a wide enough margin that she couldn't get it at melee.

Cursing at Minos for planting her unit's foot on him, Thomas placed both arms almost point blank against her sides and pressed down on the 10mm's trigger and the plasma cannon he pulled 9 times in quick succession. Then, hoping the instructor didn't squash him too quickly he yelled to Zali, "Just keep firing, if I can do it from this position so can you, damn it!"

Well it seemed there was nothing for Gilly to worry about; Commander Minos was perfectly fine. Well not perfectly fine; she'd just been beaten and her shielding was dropping rather quickly. And she was quick, but it seemed Roland's reflexes were better than the tests had shown: he dodged. They couldn't back down now, though. No, Roland jumped right back at her, swinging the hammer and following it with a plasma-charged right hook.

Minos continued to be pelted by paintballs, but the plasma and laser blasts still never hit her, however, Thomas would probably note they got slightly closer every time they came within reach of her. Fortunately for him, Minos was forced to back off, jumping away from him in order to avoid the hammer, but the fist came too quickly for her to dodge, so she took the brunt of it with her shield, which she then threw off, it having been 'destroyed' by the damage it had taken.

"Good teamwork!, too bad you're running out of time." Katia congratulated the recruits, moving off toward the forest once again. Zali's blasts kept on her, and just as Minos disappeared into the forest, one of them got past the Vector field. It was obvious that the Haldis was being overwhelmed by the trio of coordinated attacks.

Surging to his feet swore once again, this time at the fact that Minos was running away. Not even bothering to say anything to his teammates he ran after the instructor, trusting to the others' judgment to carry them through. As his faster mech caught up he pulled the semi-auto from his back, steadying it with both hands he began to fire at the Haldis aiming for the back of the leg joints and firing shot after shot at the fleeing target.

Roland gave chase as well, but made sure to keep off to one side. He was steadily gaining on her, using occasional boosts from his legs to shorten the procedure. Gradually the LO came alongside Commander Minos with some 3 yards between them. When he felt she'd been left waiting long enough, MPO Gilly lurched suddenly to his left, the hammer arcing through the air for her chestpiece.

The Hammer would never make it, as the ground suddenly gave way beneath Roland's feet, the ground for considerably more than 3 yards around Minos breaking into clumps from another blast of her Magnitude weapon. The 50mm cannon fired paint rounds on him, impacting all over his chest and pauldrons, damage racking up quickly from the close hits.

She wasn't, however, unscathed by what had just gone on, and Thomas' semi-automatic rifle's paintballs caused both of Minos' legs to lock. However, the mortar on her shoulder pivoted, and fired, slamming into a tree and spraying Thomas with red paint, and even catching the newly arrived Zali, whom had once again been lagging behind the group. However, this time she just took the hit, and began firing from her position on the commander.

"I am not down yet!" Minos yelled, Hefting her training spear and throwing it at Thomas, it flew through the air and caught the surprised recruit in the chest, causing his suit to register heavy damage to its right side, not an immediately deadly blow, but one that would have certainly be nearly mortal had it been real.

However, Zali pulled through, and her laser cannon scored a number of hits on the Haldis' helmet. Katia's suit locked completely, and fell backwards, landing on its back in a heap on the ground. "Now, I am down." Minos conceded.

The padded spear hurtled into the Martina Nekane's chest throwing it slightly off balance. As he staggered though, the shots from Zali flashed by and Thomas smiled as he heard the instructor admit defeat. As he walked forwards with her spear in his hand and looked down at Minos' Haldis all of a sudden that smile turned into a big grin.
Stretching inside his suit, Recruit Doverreck out of nowhere sat down, lightly, on the fallen frame's chest. "Yes, now you are down." He chuckled as he planted the spear by her head and leaned on it taking a portion of the weight off the ExoFrame itself. "And, you do make a rather nice seat if I must say so myself."

Roland smiled, even though he was on his back. The LO rose to a kneeling position and sheathed the hammer before releasing the pilot within. Once out, he sat on its head with his feet planted on its shoulders. It was a familiar position to him, one he'd often used when working on the headpieces of various ExoFrames. Seeing Thomas pop a squat on the Haldis, though, elicited a groan from Roland. "Doverreck!" He shouted. "Get off her! I don't need you ruining everything we worked for!"

As if on Roland's cue, the Haldis Sakti reactivated, and before Thomas could do anything, she had pushed his unit off and stood herself up, taking her spear back. "Since you have been so kind, Mister Doverreck, why don't you clean all four of the ExoFrames once we return to the base?" her voice sounded sweet, but you could tell it wasn't out of joy.

Zali moved closer to the group, and asked the question that the other two seemed to have forgotten. "Did we pass the test?" the girl ventured, tentatively. Her ExoFrame kneeled, and she exited her own frame, approaching the two still-occupied frames, to get her answer.

"Yes, you passed, but it took you forty-five minutes to do so, which is certainly not the fastest time for someone to pass." the Commander confirmed, waiting to exit her frame till Doverreck had exited his.

Doverreck was done, as his Martina Nekane was pushed off the boss and thrown into the dirt, he was happy and had is vengeance. Laughing uncontrollably he even picked up a clump of dirt and let it fall over his frame's chest, no matter that he could be cleaning it later.
"Oh," Gasping from laugh after laugh Thomas took a moment to collect himself. "Oh - for that one moment lady, I'd clean the whole hangar for a week. Frames, walls, floors, windows, and the whole package." As another bout of laughter took over him he pushed his suit off the ground and stood it up, popping the hatch. As he stepped out he was rubbing faint lines of tears from his eyes. "In fact, I absolutely volunteer to do that. It's the least I can do after such disrespect." Thinking about the marker he had back in his room the recruit wondered if he could get away with signing the instructor's chest plate when he was cleaning it, it would be the ribbon on top of the present for him if he could.
"But, despite my antics, it's good to see we passed, ma'am. When you landed on top of me I thought you would crush my head like a melon." Sitting down against the leg of his MN Thomas just shook his head as battle fatigue and frayed nerves finally caught up with him.

So it wasn't a record. No big deal; Roland Gilly could live with forty-five minutes. It meant success for the team, and one step closer to his goal. Well they'd be leaving this area shortly. Glad for the fresh breath of air and feeling reinvigorated, the mechanic resuited and reclaimed his zweihander. Now he was set.

"Suit up, and move out." Katia ordered, walking off toward the base. Zali moved quickly to her Kali Pazia, and followed after the Commander. once everyone had suited up, it was only a matter of minutes before they were back at the hangars, dismounting, dismissed, and de-stressed, it would be a good night of sleep for the three recruits. Idly, Katia wondered if they would have beaten her if she had actually tried to win. She dismissed the thought soon; they certainly had the capability, they just needed more experience. Perhaps, she could see them on the front lines soon, helping to eradicate the HARM from the world; those false prophets that sewed discord among the people, and sought only to further themselves, the were the furthest things from Heaven, as far as Katia Minos was concerned.

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Kai
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Re: Prologue

Post by Kai » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:21 pm

Shaoran's Ganesa Thera stood at idle, next to a Lander Onida and a Martina Nekane, all three MAGE units awaiting their pilots. The wind blew lightly, as the sun set in the sky, and flood lights on top of the hangars illuminated the tarmac. This would be a night run, and Shaoran was personally escorting the two recruits, or, should he say now, Cadets, though they had yet to officially receive the title, the remaining recruits would be inducted into the ranks as real MAGEs once they all passed a last test, and, for these two, this was the last test.

Neaw walk quickly behind the Commander Shaoran as he began to become impatient, he had missed out on an exercise once already and wanted to get this one started. Looking out at the setting sun, the recruit grinned. "Night mission, eh? And no Zali coming along this time. Good I say Chief, she's fine enough now that she's gotten some practice, but she ain't exactly what I would call covert material." Ignoring that fact that he himself was not the best choice for any kind of mission that required subtlety Neaw shook his head.
Then, walking over to his ExoFrame he pat the Martina Nekane's leg. "Gonna mount up Chief, or we taking a transport?"

Isao's eyes narrowed at Neaw before the martial artist shook his head, cloth-wrapped forearms crossed. "I don't see the point in attempting to be stealthy. It would be foolish for Commander Shaoran to send us on a stealth mission. Me and my Lander Onida are best when it comes to melee." The japanese pilot stood, arms crossed as the base of his kneeling LO, waiting to be allowed to mount his frame.

"Do not assume the mission is to be stealth simply because it is night, Recruits." Shaoran pointed out, folding his arms like Isao, and nodding his head. "This is simply a test to see if you can handle real combat, in adverse conditions. Of course, since the war started a week ago, our test will involve your first real fight with enemies who are actually trying to kill you. and no, Neaw, that time did not count." the dark-haired man moved closer to his Ganesa Thera, and unlocked it, the back opening up to allow entrance. "We will be running there, so you will be fighting with low power reserves. Luckily for you, we'll be going to the frontline, so if you do fail, rescue is possible."

With that, Shaoran mounted the Type GT and started its systems, the 13 foot tall ExoFrame stretching to its full height and going through a startup procedure quickly. "Choose your weapons carefully, they may save your life." the Commander ordered.

"Well, I guess a good walk could do wonders for my leg, put a little stress on it to make it forget that shrapnel wound." Neaw told the commander as he climbed as into his MN. "As for weapons Chief, well I'll just be getting my walking stick as usual." The recruit chuckled as he stood up and retrieved a spear, remembering how about the only use he had gotten out of it a week earlier had been to support his ExoFrame after it had been blown to hell and back.
"Now then, should we go out on this stealth - excuse me Chief, "adverse conditions" mission-live simulation, whatever your calling it now?" The mule-faced recruit smiled inside his cockpit and walked the Martina Nekane out of the hangar, his spear thumping against the ground with every stride.

Isao only facepalmed at Neaw's antics as he climbed into his LO, powering up the melee focused mecha, and then performed a series of karate punches and kicks, getting himself psyched and ready for combat. "Recruit Isao Kasshu, ready for combat."

"You are not going to augment your unit's weapon load, Recruit Kasshu?" Shaoran asked, mildly amused. Shaoran himself retrieved a long, straight sword from the weapons hangar, and latched it onto his Ganesa Thera's side, almost like an afterthought. The Commander seemed used to Neaw's antics by now, and dismissed the man's dismissal of what he had just said. The Commander Knew that Neaw had understood him, in any case.

"Remember, recruits. If you fail, you may die, even with the chance of rescue prominent. ExoFrames are large intimidating targets, and tend to draw fire from many places." Shaoran reminded the two, Before beginning to move out towards the gate, knowing that Neaw probably would not knock it down like he did the fence.

"I do not need anything other than the standard weapons of the Lander Onida! My Fists will break the enemy's back upon the rocks!" Isao's LO clenched its fist, crackling plasma surrounding it. "I will knock down everything in my path until the mission is complete!"

"Well then." Whistled Neaw as he watched Recruit "Cashew" activate his plasma fist and jabber on about breaking things. "Chief, would the suggestion that he take point be accepted at this point in time? I've already ended up on my back in the dirt all too often; I would rather not figure out how it feels with rocks this time." Neaw kept his voice serious as he spoke and he silently wondered if it wouldn't have been better to be paired up with Zali for this, as for all his earlier words, the frontline wasn't really a joke.

"That is something to figure out amongst yourselves. I am here to observe and interject only as I see fit." Shaoran answered Neaw, smirking at Isao's passion. "For now, however, We run." the commander stated, and suddenly his ExoFrame began sprinting, considerably faster than a human could ever hope to run. Neaw and Isao had no choice but to follow, and so they did, for nearly an hour, the trio sprinted across the landscape.

As they ran, it grew progressively darker, until the only lights they could see were the occasional hamlet and the sudden peeks of the moon from behind clouds. As they neared the end of the journey, the recruits thought they heard thunder, but the bright explosions in the distance told otherwise. Soon, they had stopped at the edge of a battlefield, somewhat behind the frontlines, pockmarked and cratered, the wreckage of a number of armored vehicles, and numerous bodies littered the field.

Shaoran paused them and called in confirmation, gaining safe passage to not be fired upon by MAG forces, and then the trio proceeded, slowly making their way through the field "Beware stepping on things, some like to explode." the Commander cautioned, but it was unneeded, they made it through the field unharmed. Passing through a stand of trees, however, revealed a lighted area a medical camp, which they passed through, much to the awe of the camp's inhabitants.

Finally, they began to run again, and after about a mile the shells began to fall around them, indirect saturation fire, which had no chance of hitting the fleet-footed frames from this range. However, enemy vehicles began moving, stirring from their hiding places. Heavy autocannons began spraying fire, trying to hit the Exoframes, and a tank burst forth from behind a large pile of debris, firing its main gun at Neaw.

"Take out all the vehicles within one mile!" Shaoran ordered, finally giving them battlefield directions, but just as quickly, the Ganesa Thera retreated into the shadows behind the recruits. Infantry from both sides scuttled away from the two frames, knowing that they didn't really have much of a chance against the war machines.


"It's about time we were let loose!" Isao smirked, actually glad that he was being given the chance to let loose.

"GO! SHINE BUNKER!" Isao's Lander Onida rocketed forwards towards the MBT, pulling the right arm back and leaping into the air, aiming to come down onto the tank from above and drive the shine bunker directly into the crew compartment.

The Lander Onida's attack sang true to it's aim, but unfortunately the tank moved, a quick-thinking crew charging forward, out of the Lander's way. While this exposed it's rear to the ExoFrame, it also gave them a clearer shot on their original opponent, whom had dodged its first shot.

Neaw didn't have time to say anything as Shaoran disappeared, he was too busy dodging a rampaging tank. Coming out of a roll the recruit steadied his frame with his spear and then fired a ball of plasma from his left arm at the tank's tracks.
As the shot went off though the pilot found his voice and yelled out smugly to the battlefield in general. "Not any stealth, eh Chief? What do you call a hidden tank then!"

Neaw's Shot went wild, despite his efforts to steady it, the recoil of the full-powered plasma rifle something the pilot was not used to. However, he had something else to worry about, as his left pauldron was hit by a 50mm autocannon round, shredding the armor and cooking off his mini-missiles, which shot out of their own accord and exploded in midair, harmlessly.

Isao's Lander also took a hit to its left side, but, unlike the MN's pauldron being hit, it was struck in the lower leg, taking out the kick booster and slowing the unit down, making it less able to jump as high.

The tank fired a shot at Neaw, hitting the same pauldron, but it didn't seem to do any further damage, just piercing through and making a nice big hole. Damage to the Martina's shoulder read Orange.

"ONORE TANKU!" Isao yelled, focusing Chi into his damaged leg to keep his speed up, punching both his LO's fists together.

"ONE HIT! SURE KILL! SHINING BUNKER STRIIIIKE!" The Lander Onida didn't bother to attempt to come from above, funneling Chi into the Shine Bunker as he punched out at the rear of the tank, the heavy stake punching through armor and inner mechanisms to actually damage its engines.

The Tank began billowing smoke out the rear, and turned its body, trying to take the damaged engine out of the Lander's sights, its main gun turning around to fire at its present enemy instead, but it could not draw a bead on such a close foe.

Neaw let his left arm fall as it was battered by multiple blows. Then letting go of the spear and leaving it planted in the ground he raised the MN's right, firing the 10mm at the closest AFV. The pilot grimaced, hoping to get a good shot in and take out the target.

Neaw's shots were quite effective, taking the autocannon clean off the chassis of one of the AFV's. With no offensive weaponry left, the unit deployed chaff and buggered out, not wanting to die. Two of the others, however, got lucky, landing hits on both the Lander and the Martina.

The Lander had it worse, with its right pauldron blown clean off, exposing the workings of the shoulder joint to enemy fire, and tearing the mounted weapon off, with it. The Martina, did not fare much better, its own pauldron gone and a shot slamming into the chest, denting it in and causing one of the systems to push back and squeeze on Neaw's chest, making it just that much harder to breathe, but not actually damaging the unit more than that. The Tank continued its efforts to get away, trying to fire on the Lander, still.

The force of the impact made Neaw gasp as something pressed down on his chest. Blinking away the sudden, sharp pain the recruit angrily targeted an AFV and then savagely squeezed the launching trigger for one of the rockets stored in his right shoulder. He wanted to see his target explode this time, those autocannons had turned out to be much more than a mere nuisance and some payback was needed.

Neaw's shot missed, but barely, instead detonating on the ground next to the targeted AFV. the blast momentarily threw one end of the vehicle into the air, then caused it to crash down into the crater, missing a few wheels. Unfortunately, the turret still worked, and autocannon fire continued from the four AFV's.

Neaw triggered another blast of fire from his 10mm before ripping his spear from the ground and dashing towards the large pile of debris that the tank had hid in. Once there, he could hopefully have a better chance of both taking out the enemies and coming out of the fight alive.

Neaw's spray of fire was enough to cause a few of the AFV's to back off, keeping them from getting very good firing lines on the two ExoFrames, but the four units more or less held their ground, concentrating on the Martina's pile of rubble.

Isao grunted as he tanked the hit, and reached to his mecha's left shoulder, and drawing the massive warhammer.

"LEOS HAMMER!" Isao shouted out, rushing in forward and bringing it down on the tank with the force of both hands behind hit.

"HIKARI NI NAREEEEE!"

Tha hammer bared down on the unfortunate tank, smashing its turret in and causing the body to bend a little at the middle. it completely stopped moving, obviously out of action. It's lone surviving crewmember, the pilot, climbed out of his forward hatch and ran, but was taken out by a MAG sniper before he got very far.

"Good to see that tank dead!" Neaw yelled to his teammate from behind the rubble. As the pile shuddered from the enemy fire, the recruit wasn't too sure he would have cover for much longer. Leaping out from behind cover he fired his second rocket at one of the three still mobile AFV's. Then, instead of making for back behind his makeshift cover he ran the other way, already targeting a second enemy vehicle.

The Martina's second missile targeted properly this time, landing on the front end of one of the AFV's, it exploded into a good sized fireball, but appeared to do no damage aside from scorching the paint. until the cannon attempted to fire and jammed, its barrel having been heavily warped by the hit. It, too, exited the battlefield, rushing away as quickly as possible. the three remaining AFV's continued to pour fire on the Martina and the Lander, however, and the tank's burning wreckage helped to illuminate the positions of the two ExoFrames.

"AGAIN! LEOS HAMMER: SECOND STROKE!" Isao boosted after the nearest AFV, swinging the hammer downward at the vehicle. To be honest, he really wanted to fight another ExoFrame, but, too bad. For now, destroying these pitiful vehicles would have to do. At the very least, he would draw more of them to him, and maybe get verified as a real pilot.

His hammer swung again, the much faster ExoFrame catching up to its target quickly. 50mm shells grazing across the armor of his frame, one of them embedding itself in his unit's right elbow armor, not actually doing any damage, but Isao could feel the heat from the transferred kinetic energy on his controls. The hammer continued its journey despite this, smashing the front end of the Vehicle, which slowed it considerably as it attempted to retreat.

Neaw and his Martina Nekane went for an easier, but no less satisfying, close in kill. Charging the crater that held the immobile AFV his ExoFrame gripped its spear with both hands. Moving back and forth, trying to keep the attacks from the autocannon taking him out the recruit finally reached the enemy vehicle and stabbed quickly with his weapon.

The large spear did its part, jamming itself between the AFV's light turret and its body, prying the weapon off and sending it spinning into the air. The AFV's crew was exposed in the process, eyes wide as they saw the emotionless visage of the battle-scarred Martina Nekane looming over their mount.

As the turret from the AFV landed with a heavy thump the Martina Nekane's spear slammed into it with a heavy one handed stroke. The impact of the blow crushed the already broken weapon and made the ground shake, getting Neaw's point across to the enemy crew. Turning away, the frame kneeled as it swiveled and brought its plasma arm to bear. Targeting the last unengaged AFV Neaw placed his spear on the ground and then steadied his left arm with its right most partner.
Inside the cockpit a sweat had worked up on the recruit's face and he stopped, shaking his head violently to try and keep one of the tiny rivulets from running into his eye. Then, checking his aim one last time, Neaw fired.

This time, with the steadied aim and the experience to compensate for recoil, the Plasma blast found its target quite easily, slamming into the AFV's wheel mechanisms, blowing several off and melting the rest. It superheated the air inside the vehicle, and its crew did their best to escape before their burning clothing and boiling skin could kill them, but it didn't seem to work.


"LANDER JUMP!" Isao yelled out, his Lander Onida jumping into the air, acquiring the previously damaged AFV as it' jumped into the air. Isao wanted to end this quickly, and if at all possible draw an enemy ExoFrame into the fight.

"LANDER, BOOOOOOOOOOSTERRR, KEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEECCCCCCCKKKKKKKUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!" Isao's Lander made a boost kick, rocketing downward towards the AFV, the air around the lander Onida's foot and leg sparking and igniting from the force.

The Onida slammed into the AFV, with as much force as the hammer had, but, because the whole body was aiming, it landed on the light cannon turret, smashing the top of the vehicle in, and taking it out in one fell swoop.

It seemed that all the vehicles in the immediate area were gone, but a power signature showed up on sensors; not a combustion engine like the AFV's and tank, no, it was a more sophisticated reactor; an ExoFrame.

About half a mile away, but it was closing in rapidly; two points of light showed that it had some sort of thrusters on its upper half, and a cloud of dust showed its feet were just barely touching the ground. as it approached, night vision kicked in and adjusted, the greenish outline looking humanoid, except for the arms, which seemed to be Amorphous, almost snake-like.

As the enemy ExoFrame came closer, Neaw lifted himself up and slammed his spear into the ground, both hands going around the haft and steadying the Martina Nekane. Working quickly to try and target the HARM unit the recruit finally thought he had a satisfactory lock and fired off two mini-missiles, one from each of his legs.
"Well, looks like all your yelling has attracted the real customers to us Isao." Neaw stated humorously as his attack launched.

"ALRIGHT! BAKUNETSU!" Isao yelled out, rushing ahead following Neaw's missiles, the plasma charge being brought to full power as he rushed at the new enemy. "CHARGE FIST!"

Neaw's missiles were dodged, the enemy unit moving faster than he could quite compensate for, but the ensuing motions to dodge by the enemy frame were enough to give Isao his opening, the Plasma charged fist connecting with the enemy unit; but the experienced pilot knew how to fight melee, and rolled off of the blow, not taking much damage. It wheeled back, its arms extending out and lashing at the Lander, jawed end biting onto the Lander's shoulders and pulling it face-first down into the ground.

Neaw pulled his spear up and followed after Isao, taking advantage of the enemy turning his back on him the pilot opened his attack with a burst from the 10mm. As he got closer though he gripped his spear with both hands and charged even faster, if he could get the spear right through the back that would be the end of it.

But it unfortunately was not that easy, the enemy frame dislodged one of its fanged arms, which flung itself at the Martina, Grabbing the spear and chomping down on it, before injecting some kind of acid, which began burning and bubbling, warping and dissolving Neaw's spear. The other arm dislodged from Isao's shoulder for a moment, and, when the recruit attempted to stand up, it grabbed him by the torso, and began injecting the same kind of acid into the Lander. Isao's screams of agony could be heard, even after his radio shut off from damage.

But, it was enough to summon Shaoran, whose Ganesa Thera came running, and suddenly Neaw found his Martina enveloped in some kind of energy shielding, while the Type GT darted in, knocking the enemy frame's arms away from the two recruits' frames, and then scooping up the Lander.

"All I can give you now is some extra defense, Recruit" Shaoran informed Neaw, as he dragged the limp, lifeless form of the Lander, whose pilot had stopped screaming by now.

Neaw grunted as his spear began to bubble and hiss, the metal itself sounding like some kind of demented snake. Letting go of his end, the recruit guided his MN backwards as the arm relentlessly chased him.
As a pause came Neaw intended to get his bearings again before a horrible scream from Isao interrupted any such plan. All of a sudden the Commander burst from hiding driving back the attacking arm and plopping the Ganesa's defense "bubble" around him. Playing off any nervousness with a chuckle, Neaw's response was full of casual gusto. "Nothing less than you promised Chief, gotta love a Commander who also happens to be a man of his word. Anyway, as a recruit I got a debt to pay, we'll talk more later."
Trying to match the enemy frame's superior speed, Neaw immediately launched into attack firing off a single mini missile before training his 10mm on the HARM unit and slamming down hard on its trigger.

The Stunned enemy pilot didn't quite have time to react, and a number of cannon bullets hitting its lighter-armored shell began doing damage. The slightly slower-flying missile was a near-miss, impacting on the ground and causing a nice display of exploding soil and rock. The snake-like arms received a number of holes, and began spurting hydraulic fluid, their strength disappearing as the pilot retracted them to keep them out of the way. Instead, it boosted forward, closing in quickly on its slower opponent, before launching itself into a spinning kick, the bladed legs coming towards the recruit with a quickness...

Neaw smiled as the opponent charge towards him, for a split second wishing he had lost his spear earlier, then lowering his right arm he maneuvered the Martina Nekane into a crouch. "This one is gonna be straight down the gullet..." The recruit muttered to himself quietly as his frame's left arm came up. Quickly, and rather urgently, bracing the raise arm he triggered its weapon, a ball of plasma aimed directly at the enemy.

The Recoil from the plasma cannon simultaneously dug Neaw's Martina into the ground a few inches, and scorched the foliage nearby, while slamming directly into the enemy frame, scorching its armor into a black charred visage of what it had been before. the unit, knocked off course with the pilot mildly stunned, fell almost harmlessly onto the martina; and would have damaged Neaw greatly had Shaoran's energy barrier not been protecting the recruit. Almost as if on cue, the barrier disappeared as Shaoran's unit moved out of range, carrying the Lander Onida to the hospital to see if there was time for its pilot.

The Enemy, in a heap behind neaw, began to get up, a voice laughing over the Comms. "heheheh...ehehehe..heheheh..HEHEHEHEHE." it went, before the voice actually spoke. "So you think you're good, do you? Well, I'm not defeated YET!" and with that word, it was off the ground again, boosting toward Neaw with a leg forward, the sharpened blade aimed straight for the Martina's chest.

Knowing deep in his bones, that any male with a laugh or giggle or - whatever the hell that was shouldn't be allowed to touch you or any of your belongings, Neaw quickly rolled to the side and swiveled, coming up in a crouch and facing the enemy frame.
His aim still shaky from the hastily executed roll, the recruit attempted his best at aiming, working at an almost frantic pace. Satisfied with what he had, Neaw went ahead with his plan and, with a slightly whimsical grin on his face, fired the last five missiles in his left leg.

The salvo was devastating, and the Enemy frame hadn't really seen it coming, so shaken was he from the plasma blast. Four of the five rocket-propelled explosives slammed into the HARM unit, enveloping it in a sheath of fire that was a brilliant sight to behold indeed, and out of the cloud came a tumbling mixture of charred components and probably some, by this point, unidentifiable body parts, the unit's leg whimsically still flying forward, only to bounce off of Neaw's frame harmlessly, not enough force behind it to do any damage.

Whistling at the light show of an attack he had made, Neaw was solidly smiling as his enemy's remains came tumbling out of the blast. Even though, the leg was still surprising and the recruit looked at it for a second before picking it up as he lifted his frame out of its kneeling position. Making sure the blades wouldn't be a problem Neaw innocently tucked it under the Martina Nekane's right arm.
Opening up the radio all of a sudden the now battle-tested pilot's voice was heavy and tired. "Chief, it is all wrapped up on my side. How 'bout yours, any chance of a nice and happy ending?"

"It is good to hear that you succeeded, Cadet. Unfortunately, Recruit Isao did not make it. He knew the dangers before he joined, but still, the loss of a recruit is something lamentable." Commander Sharoan replied, his own voice sounding heavy as well. "Return to the Hospital, you have passed the test, and our pickup is here, unfortunately, we only have 2 pilots and three frames to return to the base."

Neaw nodded slowly before responding. "Understood, Chief, I'll be in as quick as possible." Quickly heading off, trophy leg still under arm, the Martina Nekane made its way to the hospital. Stopping at the entrance, the pilot pulled a salute out of the battered frame's left arm.
"Cadet Neawson, requesting orders Chief." Neaw announced loudly, before adding a much more casual question. "Need me to dismount or -?"

"Dismount so they can check you over, the MEP will get your Type MN." Shaoran answered, returning the recru- Cadet's salute. Likewise, the commander dismounted his own ExoFrame, he seemed to look a little more stern than usual, but made his way to Neaw and held out a hand for a handshake.

Jumping out of the MN, Neaw met the Commander and grabbed his hand. Then, lunging forward, the freshly-made Cadet turned the stiff shake into a quick and comradely hug before disengaging even quicker with a smile. "It was a good run Chief, tragic but good. I'm honestly gotta repeat myself and say I'm happy the girl didn't come. Wouldn't want her to hear something like that yet, if not ever."
Then turning to his frame, he observed all the pocks and pits from the battle with pride before his eyes fell on the enemy leg tucked under the Martina Nekane's right arm. "Uhh. Chief - about that leg, I picked it up on my way out and..." Neaw's voiced diminished and became almost inaudible.

Commander Shaoran chuckled, glad the man was still in such high spirits. On one hand he was concerned that Neaw didn't seem to be impacted by Isao's death, but on the other hand, he knew that Neaw was able to handle tragedy well. "Usually, we do not allow trophies to be taken, but, I think you deserved this one." He looked at the charred, bladed, broken piece of machinery in the heavily damaged Martina's clutches, and shook his head. "The Ophelia Latika is a dangerous foe, even against experienced pilots. It's a surprise you were able to best it practically alone."

"I don't think he took me seriously." Neaw stated plainly. "And thanks for the favor Chief." Stopping to stretch for a moment the pilot nodded to himself quietly. "Anyway, shouldn't we start packing. Can't really sort things out until we're all back and things are taken care of, can we Chief?" Neaw's voice was tired and he stretched his thin smile for all it was worth, projected a carefree attitude as always.

"Well, now we must have the Medics here check you over, see how the stresses of combat have treated you." Shaoran explained, a medic coming up and taking Neaw by the arm, beginning to ask him questions about how he felt while using various instruments to check things such as the man's blood pressure, pupil dilation, and other various things. In a few minutes, Neaw's medical profile was updated and he was released, the MEP having mounted the frames by this point. Shaoran invited Neaw into the cab, and the large truck departed for its journey back to the base, where Neaw would finish his training before being officially given the rank of Cadet and being released to actual field service.

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Kai
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Re: Prologue

Post by Kai » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:22 pm

IN HARM TERRITORY

Lieutenant Haine fell into the sofa in the empty Officer's Lounge. The wooden toothpick in her mouth rapidly switching from one side to the other in irritation. Three more cadets had taken up her challenge again today, attempting to become pilots for a few of the many Salina Hanans sitting unassigned and unused.

All of them had failed again, their timing for the group work needed to bring out the SH's abilities was delicate and none of them had been good enough to maintain it. The Lieutenant had been speechless for the last month, the war had started and she was stuck in a training base trying to find anyone who she could use to even begin to form her team with.

Oh, none of them are good enough? The thought was a quiet one, it had snuck out from a dark corner of her mind and each word dripped with malice. You are the only person to have been assigned to a Salina Hanan so far, maybe it is you who are inadequate.
“Shuddup.” Haine murmured to herself as she sat up, plucking the toothpick from her mouth and flicking it into one of the rooms many polished and fancy looking brass “wastebaskets”. She shook her head, shine it up and give it a nice name all you want a trash can was still a trash can, but that was another manner completely and the woman turned her attention back unto her black thoughts. “I'm a good pilot and we both know it, so like I said, shuddup.”

That's when a slight cough came from the noticeably open doorway. The man it belonged to was wearing the sash of a headquarters messenger and had his cap tucked tightly beneath one arm. When he saw he had caught the Lieutenant's attention he gave a slight bow before speaking. “Miss Quinn.” The man stopped for a second as Haine glared daggers into him for using her first name. “Ah – the Commander instructed me to inform you of your impending deployment with his unit; I believe he said you had about two hours tops.”

The Lieutenant was on her feet in an instance. “What does he mean by deployment? He knows full and well we have no other operating SH's to make any of their abilities useful in the battlefield!” She had advanced upon the poor messenger, practically in her face and making him wince from her yells.

“Ah – he informed me to tell you the Salina Hanan does have arms and can operate perfectly well as a rifle unit.” The man took a step backwards, no back in the hall, hoping the Officers Lounge would act as some kind of a cage to protect him from the enraged woman.

Haine stopped, her face going sour, but she still thankfully lowered her voice. “A rifleman?” The man sighed as Quinn looked away, but it was only for a second. As the Lieutenant walked out of the Lounge, her face was unreadable, her eyes staring through the man. “The Commander is in his office I suppose?”

“Ah, yes.” Th messenger had barely had time to speak, the Lieutenant already making her way down the hall and towards the headquarters area.

Quinn got their quickly too, opening the door to her Commander's office violently, the fine oak doors slamming into the wall as she stalked in. Her voice was quiet, and heavily punctuated. “What is this. What do you mean by deploying our only - the only assigned SH as a simple rifle unit?” Haine was obviously angry, but more from some, most likely, imagined slight to her unit's honor than anything else.


"Just because I'm making you carry a rifle does not mean I am insulting your capabilities or your Exo unit." Commander Brighton responded, grinning with his bright gleaming teeth. "I simply believe that you're capable of a lot more than you believe. The SH's capabilities are active, whether or not you have more than one. The range is just much smaller, and I think that you are one who knows how to use such range."

The Sharply dressed man stood up and walked slowly to the lieutenant, stopping just in front of her angry figure. He leaned in closer, his face becoming a little too close for comfort and a hand reaching out to caress her chin with a single finger. "You wouldn't want to disappoint me, now, would you?" he asked.

Quinn jerked her head away from the Commander's touch, biting back a curse as she stepped just out of his finger's reach and looked back at him. The man was incredibly clean, his whole uniform covered with creases and his white teeth glowing from a still smiling face. He also held both her job and her life in his hands as the Commander of all HARM units at the base.

"No, Sir." The Lieutenant mumbled, some of the fire leeching out of her as he just smiled back. "I assume we're going to the front to fight MAGE exo's, or are we just going to clean up some smaller units?" As Quinn spoke it was obvious that she was still on edge, but she seemed to be more nervous than angry now, every once in a while her eyes looking towards Brighton's hands with a mixed look of fear and revulsion.

As the lieutenant moved away, Brighton retracted his hand with a chuckle, standing up straight once more. "You are a quick one, aren't you?" he commented, grinning, and turning around in place to look out the huge window of his office.

"We're planning to raid a place known as Blackwoods. Like this Centre, it is a training base, but, It has something more important than instructors there. Not only does it have several of the higher-tier MAGE ExoFrames, it also has someone who may be able to ensure our victory- A Crown Princess." Brighton gave off a bit of a Maniacal chuckle, and turned around, with a manic gleam in his eye. "I need you to capture her, while the rest of us distract the base's commander and other defenses."

Quinn nodded seriously, if they could pull this off it should pull them out of the war, leaving her country untouched and her personally free to get out of HARM, her duty done and her people safe once again.

Despite this, her voice was still dull and lifeless as she spoke to the Commander, if with her goal in sight she somehow couldn't be satisfied around the man. "Of course, Sir. Now, by your leave I must go and prepare." The Lieutenant didn't even wait for Brighton's answer, pulling out before he even had a chance to speak and breaking numerous regulations by doing so.

She didn't care, the man was despicable, but she had a job to do now and it was worth doing. All she hoped was that one of his dirty little chuckles wouldn't follow her on her way out.

As the magnificent Oak doors slammed in on Brighton, He simply chuckled to himself. Luckily for Quinn, it wasn't loud enough for her to hear. However, all his pieces were in place now. They had tested the defenses several times, they had done reconnaissance, they had planted their probes and laid their traps. All they needed to do was get one 'Katia Minos', the third crown princess of Mionaria, alone and within ten feet of Quinn's SH unit, and everything would be golden. They would ransom off the girl, Have Mionaria give up its protectorates, to cease the war and allow HARM to slowly creep its influence around the world again. And then they would kill her at the moment that Mionaria's defenses were down. And they would Cease the war for real on that moment, by ceasing the lives of all of Mionaria's happy little people who were so frustratingly resistant to HARM's influences.

Lieutenant Haine quickly climbed into her Exoframe, once inside she worked her way into the harness and then relaxed for the first time since she had met with the Commander. Somewhere along the way she had managed to find another toothpick, which sat back in its proper place being moved about her mouth as the pilot felt was necessary.

Turning around to look at the force the Commander has assembled, Quinn felt she would have been more impressed if some of them weren't still loitering outside their units. Those few pilots must have felt her gaze, as as soon as she had turned around they started to scramble into place.

Still, it was an impressive force, 20 ExoFrames in all, mostly Neci Maras, but at the front stood five Ophelia Latikas and even two of the ranged terrors that were Ramla Ivars. Thinking of the Commander's unit - of his Van Edna Quinn barely repressed a shudder at how terrifying this force would be once lead by him.

Switching on her loudspeaker the Lieutenant addressed the gathered units, her voice rough and accented slightly from having to speak around the toothpick. "Form ranks and hold salutes, Commander Brighton will be on the grounds soon. The Operation is set to begin in fifteen minutes, stay sharp!" Quinn herself didn't turn, taking the position of watching over the troops would give her an excuse not to salute the Commander unless absolutely necessary. Just being around him had already stained her honor, but she would be damned if she let him sink his claws into her Salina Hanan.

Within moments, Commander Brighton himself appeared, grinning his usual sickeningly perfect smile, and he saluted all of the soldiers, letting them be at ease while he suited up. He approached his own ExoFrame, removing the perfectly pressed uniform jacket and handing it to an orderly, his toned body visible beneath a tank top, before he climbed up into the Van Edna, and activated its systems.

As soon as he was active, Brighton's voice appeared in Quinn's Salina Hanan's helmet, that aggravatingly smooth voice sounding as if he was violating her with his mind. "Wait a moment, Quinn, My dear, I have a slight adjustment to make to your unit." He crooned, and Quinn Haine's suit locked itself due to the Commander's override passcode. From the ceiling, a weapon crane came down, carrying a backpack unit, which it strapped onto the SH, locking it closed.

"It will amplify your range" Brighton told her, soothingly. "You need not worry about it." Though, Quinn probably would worry, seeing as she had no control over whatever it was and could not eject it if she needed to escape her Exo. With another of his trademark Chuckles, Brighton unlocked the Lieutenant's frame, and gave the order to move out.

Quinn was shocked, he had locked down her SH, and then done what ever he had felt with it. Not only that, she was trapped. This mission had become a "do or die" scenario, with her locked in and unable to leave her precious frame even if she wanted to.

Gritting her teeth and holding back tears of rage and shame the Lieutenant moved forward, turning on her loudspeaker and taking some of her frustration out on the grunts. "Move, move, MOVE! This is a raid not a picnic!"

It didn't help, she was still almost maddened with anger, but unable to do anything against Brighton. At least I have the small mercy of not having to fight with him if I'll be going after the Crown Princess, she thought as all the units began to quickly move out.

The Group made their way into a couple of Aerial stealth transports, which continued to fly them the 100 or so miles towards the area known as Blackwoods. The stealth transports descended and dropped into a large clearing within the forest itself, opening their bay doors and expunging the twenty HARM ExoFrames, leaving them to their mission.

Brighton led one group to move around, leaving Quinn's unit and a couple of 'guards' to go the other way, making a pincer move that would hopefully draw out the commanders and instructors, leaving Quinn free to flank them from the rear and take Katia before they could know what was going on.

Quinn turned towards each of the units the Commander had left with her, in his standard style each one was even more disgusting than the last and all of them were firmly in Brighton's pocket. Snorting she corrected her thinking, the whole team was probably deep in the man's pockets the way he worked.

Motioning towards the NM's she started moving towards the rear entry zone, going through the woods at a quiet but quick pace. Coming up short of their destination, the Lieutenant waited for the sound of Brighton started his attack.

It came quickly, the Commander, for all his disgusting traits, was efficient in pre-battle planning. And once he was on the field...he was a monster, unstoppable in attack. Rushing forward, Quinn breached their entrance and hurriedly looked around, getting her bearings and then trying to locate her objective.

Finding the hangar she stopped and took cover, waiting to see the Princess's unit moving out.

The Force brought out by the Attack was rather small, consisting of only about 8 units, but all eight units were level 4 or higher, meaning it was not a slouchy defense. In fact, there might be a couple more that were stealthed, considering the MAG's capabilities as of late.

In any case, the HARM units outnumbered them greatly, and the addition of the Van Edna at the front of the formation had caused the vast majority of the frames to be very tied up in battle. A Ganesa Thera made its way towards the Van Edna, and the two were quickly embroiled in a battle of a much higher caliber than any of the others seemed capable of.

And that was when Quinn saw her target, the caped Haldis Sakti hanging back, its loudspeakers yelling at a smaller figure inside, who then seemed to point out Quinn and her 'guards' and suddenly Katia Minos was on the offensive, her heavier frame thundering towards them, spear raised and Mortar sounding off toward the NM frames behind Quinn.

As the mortars came down Quinn, swore, the NM's would be needed for the brute force work after the capture and if they were gone - the Lieutenant swore again and pulled her rifle up, moving sideways to try and avoid the HS's charge but not get into mortar ranged. Firing off a burst of high powered fire she hoped she could batter down the defenses enough to get the pilot to concentrate just on her, leaving a few NM's left to do the dirty work.

Katia proved to be smarter than Quinn expected, and was able to adjust her course to follow the moving SH, the mortar twisting and turning to sound off against the NM units, the cannon in her other shoulder swiveling to do the same, brass shells clanging to the ground in heavy order as the haldis thundered towards its counterpart. "Why are you attacking us?!" a woman's voice barked over the comms, into Quinn's ear- It was the Haldis' pilot, Haine's target.

The Ganesa Thera matched itself with the Van Edna, but the HARM unit quickly showed that it was a higher-tier unit, and the pilot was unstable enough to pilot it properly. While the Ganesa was able to keep up, the unit's general capabilities could not completely protect it from the violent speed and mono-edged claws of the Van Edna. Crackling Energy fields and Plasma weapons from both units flashing and clashing, lighting up the night as these two truly superior combatants faced off.

Quinn's response was quiet, "To end the war, to rip you out of that cockpit and take you captive. But, honestly, for me, it is to go home. I'm tired of serving with HARM, and the Commander, I hope you guys win after I pull out and put a bullet through his head." She charged her unit forward, weapon on full auto and rounds thudding into the HS, just a few more second and all would be right, she knew the SH like no other pilot and was confident she could pull the defensive giant down quickly.

"Why Would you do something so despicable as to side with HARM? They will only corrupt and destroy your people!" Katia rebuked, grunting slightly as she maneuvered her Haldis Sakti to follow the quicker SH. She closed the range, and jumped her Unit into the air, the screeching whine of some system could be heard as it allowed gravity to pull the bulk of the metal and ceramic machine towards the ground again.

This was the perfect moment, she could activate the gravity control now and bring the enemy Haldis crashing down, pratically gift wrapped and ready for delivery. Her hands moved to activate the SH's ability - and stopped. She rush out of the area around Katia's landing site instead, safe from the magnitude capabilities but ultimately bringing a goal to a screeching halt.
This time Quinn's voice sounded small over the radio. "For my people, what other choice do I have?" She asked her opponent, an odd and almost undetectable pleading quality to her words.

"Easy, Destroy HARM and bring Peace back to the world." Katia responded, smashing to the ground, shattering the tarmac and creating a crater that reached out to the Salina Hanan's feet, her frame straightening up again, the shoulder weapons turning around on their little turrets, still keeping back the NM pilots, whom were obviously too timid to be of much use other than a distraction. "If it weren't for the meek who are so easily swayed by the words of liars, HARM would have no power in this world." the Haldis Sakti began moving again, and Quinn could see the scattered fire from the NM units pinging off of the hard bubble shield around the HS. "You have doubts already, You are not won over by their lies. Why procrastinate?" Katia asked.

A few hundred yards away, the tide of the battle seemed to turn, as the Ganesa Thera was vaulted into the air by an attack from the Van Edna, landing on the outstretched claws of the HARM frame, before being thrown to the ground and cast aside by Brighton. Most of Brighton's minions hadn't fared as well as he, however, and the battle was still a draw.

Katia Minos moved her frame closer to Quinn. After a few moments a warning beeped in Haine's cockpit. Her target was within range.

Quinn finally broke down, she retreated again this time towards the group of NM's, the muzzle of her rifle touching one of the HARM unit's - no one of Brighton's men's heads. With all her pent up fury she pressed down on the firing trigger, turning the mecha and the pilot's skulls into little more than unrecognizable scraps.

Crouching down she moved to activate the gravity control before any of the grunts could react, bringing them all to their knees and ending this fight. That was, if Brighton's forgotten backpack didn't interfere at least.

Unfortunately, the Gravity control did not have enough strength by itself to keep down more than one frame. The NM units, in a fury at their Lieutenant's sudden betrayal, broke free through the sheer mass that they shared together, and began firing on her, but Katia was faster, and her unit was able to come in between quickly, her large shield stopping most of the fire. "You made the right choice." Katia Said over the comms.

"Unfortunately, It looks I will have to kill both of you now." Brighton's voice said, deadly calm over the comms. Suddenly, Quinn's backpack began whining as if it was charging something, a command obviously activated by Brighton. Suddenly, the whine quit and there was a bright flash of light, Katia, Quinn, and a hemisphere of the ground below them disappearing from existence, seemingly.

Katia and Quinn's eyes would soon adjust to the change in light, and Haine would see a familiar sight- the HARM hangar she had departed from. Beneath her feet was a pile of dirt and rubble, and surrounding the two ExoFrames were about 20 other ExoFrames, all their weapons pointed at Quinn and Minos.

They had brought her to her hangar? Quinn could have laughed, this was one of the worse blunders Brighton could have made, he should have just finished her off. She was the sole pilot of any of the SH's she had been assigned to get recruits in, but that didn't mean all she had done was training.

Quinn chuckled, for once satisfied with the way things had gone and opened her comm-link. "Keep us shielded and I'll have this done in a second." Behind the enemy all of the other nine Salina Hanans under Lieutenant Haine's care powered up and began to humm softly. Programs running down their screens as Quinn began to get ready to show the difference between one SH working alone and ten of them all in concert.

-- To Be Continued

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Kai
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Re: Prologue

Post by Kai » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:01 pm

Dusk fell upon Blackwoods training camp, the MAG's premier facility for training of MAGE units, the elite ExoFrame corps of Mionaria. in the distance, birds could be seen flying off, either nocturnal ones heading off to the hunt, or diurnal ones heading off to rest. A late evening course was being held for those who were to graduate, and all the instructors were present, helping each of the recruits learn to maintain their own ExoFrames, which would be a necessary skill with the shadow of war approaching.

Altogether, it was a peaceful time at Blackwoods, no combat training was taking place, and indeed most of the students were asleep or doing private activities elsewhere. Some were even on leave. Commander Shaoran was helping Roland Gilly learn how to remove the armor plating from his unit, while Katia Minos was showing Neaw Neawson some of the inner workings of his Martina's head.

Neaw scratched the back of his head, a bit confused about how the head of his unit could be so complex. Watching as Minos seemed to have an uncanny knowledge of each and every part, the Cadet felt compelled to voice this opinion.

"Wait, wait a second Commander. This part does what exactly again? I thought this thing just had my sensors in it or something, but I'm not too sure now..." The pilot's voice trailed off as he squinted at the internal workings of the head, trying his best to recall what each part was for and how it worked.
Roland Gilly was having a much easier time than Neaw, what with being a Mechanical Petty Officer and all. Normally his position required demanded he sit behind a desk and file paperwork, but in the off chance he actually got to get his hands dirty- like the days before he got this crappy promotion- he was working on servos or hydraulics or the pilot interface. Working with slightly larger tools on the armor wasn't a very large step from his field of expertise. "What do you think, sir?" he asked, gesturing to the shin plate he'd just tugged free.

Katia chuckled at Neaw's confusion. "I just explained to you, these ARE your sensors, they just happen to be rather complex. Also, some of them are used to read your brainwaves and others to hear your voice. In fact, most of the head sensors are output sensors. The input sensors are spread around the body so you don't get blinded so easily." the woman explained, patting Neaw on the back as a consolation prize for being so forgetful.

"For a mechanic, I think your form's a bit rough, but I heard somewhere that you're not usually the one to take the armor plating off when you work, anyway. Don't worry about it, this model's pretty tough, and you'll get used to it anyway." Shaoran answered Gilly, as he moved the mobile armor rack that supported the prodigious weight of the piece they had just removed. "Now onto the leg workings. I believe you're familiar with these..." He began, pointing out some of the larger components.

Neaw's brow was furrowed as he listened to the explanation for what might have been the hundredth time. Then, after going over the information a second time in his head and taking another long look at the parts he turned away from the head.

"Shouldn't we put 'er back together, I doubt I'll be getting anything else into my head tonights. 'sides, I don't like having her uncovered like this for too long, isn't right." As he finished talking, Neaw glanced at his frame, a look of pride showing clearly in his eyes.

He nodded. "Correct. I deal with all the inner workings... sir." He'd almost forgotten the respective term. Gilly then gestured to the parts that had been revealed. "This is definitely my domain. I think we can skip this part, sir, as I can safely say I know this better than most pilots. What's next?"

Shaoran's brow furrowed as he thought for a bit, trying to figure out something he might need to have Gilly do on the fly. Picking up a hammer, the commander smashed one of the components, an easily replaceable, probably fixable one, but still. "Okay, now, can you fix this without power tools? Or find away around it's function to keep your armor in service?"

"Alright, you can put it back together. I'm not helping you, so if it comes out ugly it's your fault" Katia explained to Neaw, handing him the smaller pieces of armor that made up the head/helmet unit of the Martina Nekane.

"Haha, then pilot and frame would be matching." Neaw joked as he began to work with the parts passed to him. "But - nah, that would be a disservice to her to let that come around. I might not know their functions too good, but I think I can fit my puzzle pieces together by now." Neaw shrugged as he had to closely look over two of the parts he held to remember where they went. "Or, at least I hope so."
The pilot chuckled as he turned all his attention to the task at hand, completely set upon having a perfected, respectable, and working frame by the time he was done.

Gillly sighed as he examined the damage. It was one of the main pistons for working the ankle. That was a real pain in the ass, but the MPO voiced no complaint. Instead, he answered, "I can do both. The work-around is easy. If you tighten this all the way..." He cranked the piston's head tight as it could go, essentially locking it. "It's stuck as is, but workable. Or..." He loosened it up, and searched his pile of tools, looking for his old faithful.

"Ha." He withdrew from the mess a second adjustable wrench. With the first he loosened the piston fully and pulled it free of its place while the other served as a placeholder while the replacement was located. He swapped them out in about ten minutes then sat back and sighed- this time a relaxing exhalation. "Done, but did you seriously have to go and break it?... sir?"

"Well, It's one thing removing and replacing working components. it's another to work with broken ones. Most of the stuff here is worn out when it gets to you and easily replaced, but, out in the field, you may have to deal with actual broken parts with no replacements." Shaoran explained, after being impressed with Gilly's ability to manipulate the frame's parts.

Katia stifled a laugh as she watched Neaw put the wrong parts together, upside-down, and a bit off-center. "You may want to take note of the curved parts, Neaw. they all curve out, and most of them simply lock together with a few fasteners. you're making this way too hard on yourself," the instructor said, sounding a bit amused. She was enjoying watching the very homely man failing horribly at what was ultimately a simple task.

Neaw looked at the curved parts suspiciously, he had been ignoring them. Picking one up the pilot followed its curve with both his eyes and his index finger, then he put it down with a grunt. Puzzles were supposed to be flat.

But, he had no time to be regretting the complexities of the task, he had already decided it was something he must know. Taking apart what he had constructed the Cadet approached the job even slower than before. This time cobbling together both the parts in front of him and the curved ones that kept escaping his mind's grasp. After a few minutes, Neaw glanced away from the pieces and towards Katia, looking to see if she had died from laughter or if he had finally got it right.

Roland nodded and wiped his brow with an understanding, "Yes sir." He put the tools back on the pile of utter chaos, and looking at it Gilly realized it was quite the surprise he didn't stab himself with something on accident. His gaze returned to Commander Shaoran as he rose to his feet. "Is there anything else, sir?"
Katia continued to chuckle, and as Neaw looked back, his wavering hands would be rewarded with a series of clicks as the specialized self-fasteners that held the faceplate together aligned and locked, greeting the pilot with the familiar visage of his Martina Nekane. "Well, It appears you have succeeded, recruit." the commander observed, amused.

"Hrmm, Yes, there is one more thing" Shaoran answered, looking at Gilly's pile of stuff. "We need to get you organized, also, you need to compact that tool kit into something that fits in the auxiliary compartment of an ExoFrame. Most frames just need the basics, though, so it shouldn't be too difficult."

Neaw wiped the sweat from his brow, happy to be finally through with all that fumbling around with this piece and then that one, it wasn't exactly what he found to be a cheery evening's pastime.

At being called a "recruit" he turned his head again and cracked a grin, his voice full of mock offense. "Oi, oi! C'mon now, the Chief said it was 'Cadet' now, can't be having Commanders making mistakes, can we?" Not giving Katia a chance to answer, Neaw leaned closer and lowered his voice. "Looks bad in front of the men, right Sir? Don't want to be giving the confused recruits no bad examples or next thing we know they'll be setting the bunk house a'fire."

Roland nodded, and gathered the basics: wrench, vise, hammer, screwdriver- and so forth- and tucked them into a bag. He stowed them in the present Lander Onida's auxiliary compartment without trouble, then withdrew them. He had only wanted to know if the bag, fully loaded, would fit. "This'll do, I imagine. What's next?" Gilly didn't catch himself this time, and should he realize it later would feel awful sore about neglecting the respective.

"Well, I would-" Shaoran was suddenly cut off by the base alarms going off. "It seems something is in Blackwoods. Recruits! Back to your barracks, get into the bunkers and stay out of the way. Instructors, let's get moving, and see what's up!" the black haired commander ordered, gripping Gilly on the shoulder before turning around and heading to his Ganesa Thera.

"Well, it looks like it's time for you to go, Neaw, Come on, we need to get the recruits out of here. will you help? this is important." Katia told to the man before her. "Us instructors will hold anything off, so don't go getting hurt, okay?"

Neaw had already begun to move when Katia requested him to escort the recruits. The man scowled and his response came out angry, the mirth from earlier gone. "You want me to escort a bunch of grown men and women across their own backyard while just a few of our frames go out to fight unknown numbers? Not gonna happen Commander. I told you I follow the Chief and he said "recruits" and I'm a cadet." Turning away from Katia the pilot waved to Roland. "Roland, your an MPO, suit up and get in your machine. We'll both head out when all the recruits are gone!"

Roland nodded to his superior and began ordering the Recruits toward the barracks. "Double-time! Commander Shaoran's orders!" Like the good military boys and girls they were, no problems were had. He then turned toward his colleague looking rather wary. "Neaw, your heart's in the right place, but your head's all wrong. Besides, my Lander needs to be pieced together. It'll take at least fifteen minutes if I start now."

Which is when a recruit sprinted back inside the hangar. "Sirs! Sirs! We can't go ANYWHERE! There's..." He paused to catch his breath. "There's gotta be fifty of them out there, maybe more!"

Gilly was never pleased when someone disobeyed. This situation was no different. "You're a SOLDIER! To your barracks! Now!" The recruit seemed a little surprised and dismayed but jogged off after a quiet salute.

Fifty? Even if that was more than the actual count, there was no way- hard calibers or not- that the less than dozen MAGEs could hold their own. "Neaw, suit up. If you get in trouble, tell them it was an order." Then he turned away, and his eyes fell upon the Isaac Risa. He knew what he had to do.

By now, Katia had suited up, the rest of the instructors were already outside, and the fighting had begun. It seemed to be rather fierce, As one particularly large and vicious frame made its way forward at the head of the pack, but Shaoran singled it out, his Ganesa Thera holding the large enemy at bay. most of the rest were grunt frames, even if there were about twenty or more of them, they seemed to be more than matched by the instructors.

Katia paused before heading outside, and turned towards the two recruits, Neaw especially. "You two need to stay out of the frames! Go back into the compound to your barracks where you'll be safe! I don't want anyone harmed!"

Neaw was stripping out of his casual clothes as he made his way to his locker, yelling at Katia over his shoulder. "I don't care if you're all instructors or not, this whole base won't be safe if they overrun such a small group as you're currently throwing out the window." Ripping open his locker the pilot began to quickly suit up. "Now, neither of us have the time for this right now Commander -" Neaw had turned around and looked out of the open hangar door, right at a group of enemy frames hiding by one of the far building.

"Squad from behind Katia, turn your ass and engage - ma'am!" The last bit was added a bit too late for his statement to be anywhere near proper for, but Neaw didn't care and he began to move even faster, quickly struggling into his suit.

Roland was jerked from his reverie by the sound of combat, and Katia's voice coming through the loudspeakers of her Frame. He saw the approaching enemies as well, and his eyes went wide.

What came next was practically a repeat of the first day Roland Gilly officially piloted an ExoFrame. He clambered up the IR and into the cockpit- still wearing his mechanic's overalls. They were comfortable, though, no one could really blame him. Starting it up, however, was a problem. Something wasn't booting properly. "Come ON!" he hissed. Next came the painful procedure of running diagnostics...
...to discover that no problem existed.

Katia ran off the moment Neaw had mentioned enemies, and her capabilities with the somewhat lumbering Haldis Sakti were very easy to see. somehow, an odd-looking enemy frame began to vie with her, while the grunt NM frames stayed back, mostly due to Katia's covering fire. As Neaw and Roland's frames began to start up, they could hear Katia talking with the enemy pilot, a most interesting conversation, to say the least.

Shaoran continued to vie with the larger enemy frame, his own capabilities and those of his frame stretched to their limits. Something was off about his enemy, not only was it extremely fast, but its movements were erratic, uncoordinated, but somehow extremely effective. All Shaoran had to do was make one mistake and all was-

Shaoran felt five points of burning stinging pain, and the sensation of being lifted off the ground. He grunted, and felt his head grow lighter, as well as his limbs grow somewhat weaker. "Who.. Who are you, and why are you here?" the commander asked his assailant.

"My name is James Brighton, and I'm here for the little princess, if you must know..." The enemy pilot answered. His voice gave Shaoran the chills, and the next second, the Commander was thrown to the ground, like a discarded plaything.

Neaw ignored the Commander's conversation with the enemy and finally finished suiting up. Going through the pockets of his casual wear he pulled a small box which he pushed and then began to yell into as he made his way over to his MN.

Thomas Doverreck had retreated to the comfort of his bunk when the alarms went off and recruits all around the complex had begun to flood in. He was irrated that the one time he had planned to have a lazy evening and get plenty of sleep was right when everything had to blow up.

And, to make it worse, Neaw's voice had begun to shout from under his bunk. "Doverreck, don't bother trying to respond this thing only works one way, I knew you would argue other - nevermind, just suit up and make your way to the hangar. Grab Zali while your at it, the Chief and the whole camp are in trouble. Now start moving!"

Thomas sighed, trying to not notice the strange looks the others where giving him as Neaw shouted, and just grabbed his jacket. Shaking his head, he hoped the girl would be easy to find.

With diagnostics complete, the bootup process went over smoothly. It was aggravating, but Roland couldn't seem to get upset. He was too excited to really be mad at any one or thing just then. He felt like he belonged in that cockpit, and he definitely belonged on the battlefield. He grabbed a rifle to augment his suit's inherent weaponry then turned to Neaw. "Hurry up, Cadet," Gilly said to Neawson. "We need to move."

And that was the moment when night turned to day. from the direction that Katia had run off, a bright flash of light illuminated the darkness of the night, followed by a loud crack-bang, before going away. in the place of Katia and her foe, there was only a crater, perfectly round, and making a slight suction noise as air filled into the void space that had once been two Exoframes and a bit of tarmac. The Grunt frames, seeing their opening, moved forward towards the hangar, to take out whoever was left in it.

Back at the main battle, the large enemy frame was beginning to charge forward at the other defenders, it would come in close, and then blast them back, knocking them helplessly to the floor, maniacal laughter broadcasting from the suit, not only over the communications, but also out of its loudspeakers. Shaoran, for his part, lay on the ground, fading between consciousness and unconsciousness, trying to recover from what had just happened.

Neaw was into his MN as quick as possible and lifted up the familiar spear he always carried. As he watched the enemy grunts move in for the kill he stayed in a crouch, his right arm coming up and sending a burst of fire towards the enemy.

"Roland, how do you want to do this, they only have NM's here, no range, but we need to have them dead and gone quickly." Neaw triggered his weapon again, trying to keep the enemy away until they had a solid plan.

Thomas on the other hand was making another plan; he had to go into the women's barracks and that would be no easy thing. Should I just saunter in and ask around - no that wouldn't work! The recruit cursed himself within the confines of his own mind, this was more difficult then it should be.

Hell, as much as I hate to admit it, I think I'll do it like Neaw would probably do - he always gets results. Yeah, just go in there quick, loudly, and like I own the place! The pilot approached the door and put his shoulder to it, ready to push through as violently as possible - and couldn't do it. He pushed gently with his hand and walked in, clearing his throat as he did so.

"Ahem - excuse the intrusion, but - ah, Command needs recruit Zali Hanya to report for duty." He tried to ignore all the cold stares he just knew he was getting, and just told himself to get it over with. "And, ah - I'll be going with her, escorting her to the hangar where....we both need to...report." Like a car running out of fuel Doverreck sputtered to a stop, just hoping that Zali would show herself and they could go fight.

"You'll lead the charge; I'll follow up and overtake you and sow a little discord while you work them over. Just watch out for my grenades. I'd hate to hit you with one of those." Psychic grenades were the last thing any pilot wanted to experience, and MPO Gilly wasn't a terribly big fan of using them, but it was necessary considering the enemy's numbers. "Essentially, we need to play to our Frames' powers. If I can cause enough mayhem, we should have no trouble cutting them down to size."

Then, off the com, he added quietly to himself and the ExoFrame: "Hear that, Isaac? We need to disrupt the Neci Mara formation, confuse them so our teammates can do the dirty work." It was strange talking to the suit, but it reassured Roland, and also made him feel more... connected to the "persona" of the Isaac Risa.

It was not long after the flash of light and the two recruits starting up that the Neci Mara frames began attacking the hangar, in an effort to destroy it and the Exoframes held inside while the main defenders were distracted by the rest of their teammates. What they hadn't expected were the two Frames defending it from the inside. The fire from the Martina Nekane quickly caused them to keep their heads down, most of their shorter-ranged weaponry useless for now, but they did begin to fire off their mortars in an attempt to bring the building down. The heavy concrete, however, proved that plan to be impossible for the moment.

******

The initial shrieks of surprise quickly died down and turned into glares as Doverreck talked himself into a corner. Soon enough though, Zali showed herself from a bunk near the middle of the room; she had been quickly changing into a pilot's suit as quickly as she could after hearing the other recruit's stumbling. "What's going on? I know you wouldn't come here unless it was important... Does it have to do with the alarms and the banging?" she asked, as she reached the door.
Thomas was overjoyed to see his partner finally come out, now they could leave. But, finding that quite a crowd had gathered, blockading the door and finally pushing the younger recruit off the edge - Doverreck jumped out of a side window into the open.

Rolling as he landed, he somehow managed to come up with just a few scratches and some grass stains Thomas yelled up to Zali. "Neaw and the Commander are fighting HARM, they're apparently all over the base. He wants us to go help clean up or something," Wincing from a slight pain in his hip, the pilot looked at the broken window and the glass on the ground. "You should probably take the door out."

Doverreck's foolhardy choice of exits was not exactly helping the team out - he would have to walk much farther than if he had used the door like a normal person. Still, later on Neaw would probably approve but, right now he had other problems.

Thankful for the heavy concrete used to make the hangars and the protection they offered, Neaw popped out of cover, this time going for accuracy he let loose a ball of plasma aimed directly at a NM's head.

Roland Gilly was probably just projecting, but he felt as if the Isaac Risa was simply humming with excitement; there was a gentle vibration running all throughout, and it served to feed the MPO's own energy. He boosted right after Neaw and his Martina Nekane, and overtook them in short time- just as planned. He tossed a psychic grenade with the right arm before letting loose a brief hail of slugs from the auto cannon. Couple this with the particle cannon, and Roland was well on his way to sowing a little discord; in fact, he thought that might be exactly what the IR was designed to do. Mentally, he was daring someone to get within melee range- he wanted to give the pile another go.

Neaw's ball of plasma flew directly on target and smashed into the enemy's head, melting the faceplate and burning a few small holes in it. The pilot could be heard screaming until the Psychic grenades hit that spot, knocking three of the frames out immediately. The auto cannon rounds would have been more effective, but the overall fact of the NM's being behind cover and then them suddenly falling hampered that fact.

The Isaac's Wave cannon, however, started turning the nearby ground and some of the cover into a fine powder, their very particles detaching from each other due to the weapon's capabilities. For the most part, the two remaining enemies tried to keep their distance, but the complete discord sewn by the IR was making that difficult.
******
Zali sighed at the insane man as he busted through a window, but she knew what she had to do. quickly, the girl made her way down to the hangar, but paused before the door, the sounds of battle outside stirring memories and causing the recruit to freeze with her hand at the door handle. She wasn't sure she could do it, after what she had ended up doing before- Nearly hitting her own teammates, freezing in the face of danger, just getting in the way. The recruit waited, unable to make herself continue.
******
The Van Edna made its way forward, fighting closer to the hangar to meet up with its backup. while his own group had been knocked down to size, it was still fighting, and they did have another mission to do. None of the other MAGE units could compete with it, and took the easy road of avoiding it instead. Brighton was not pleased. "YOU COWARDS! YOU MAGE PIECES OF SHIT COME OUT OF YOUR DAMN HIDEY HOLES AND FACE ME! It's obvious you are unfit to rule and protect this world! HEAVEN has given me the power to take what is mine from the weak! YOU ARE ALL WEAK!" he cried out, over the loudspeakers, the comms, everything he could, cursing his opponents.

Doverreck had taken the shortest route possible to get to the hangar, but it still ended up being rather round about, taking him outside of the compound at one point - where he was now stuck, hiding behind a rock as two frames wrestled not ten feet from him. The one piloted by the instructor was rather damaged, but still had the upper hand against the NM it was fighting.

Still, this was no place for a man-a-foot to be, and Thomas checked out the area behind him to makes his escape - he then quickly did a turn about as the route of his desire exploded in a fiery puff of despair.

That was when the yelling started, and when Recruit Thomas Doverreck's tolerance for the ridiculous snapped for the day and he went out hunting for a frame.
Neaw smiled as Roland and his Isaac just ripped through the enemies closest to them. "Oi! You're doing good with that frame, we should just see if you can get the Chief to give it to yah once this is all over, it suits you!"

The battle was turning now, at least for the group in front of the Hangars, but they still needed to help out Shaoran. With that in mind Neaw advanced behind his squad-mate, and then dashed towards one of the fallen frames, attempting to run it through with his spear before the pilot could regain his senses.

"Leave them!" shouted Roland. "We'll take them; the pilots might run, but an intact NM will be a precious gem." Having cut through the main group, he turned about now. "Stay away from the disabled ones, I'll give them a once over with the sonic cannon." For now, though, he made sure to utilize his particle cannon on the small number still standing, and supplemented the assault with more autocannon fire.

The two still standing continued to dodge, their smaller numbers giving them a bit of an advantage. they split up and tried to pincer-move the now exposed MAGE frames, firing off mortars and spread rifles to try and damage their foes. Neaw, ahead of Roland, managed to get hit by several pellets from the spread rifles, smashing into his armor and tearing holes through a couple of the auxiliary components as they went.

The Isaac Risa would find itself in the middle of a hail of Mortar rounds, each of which exploded into flying fragments of metal, peppering the frame in pockmarks and scratches. It seemed that, with less to get in their way, the two NM's were able to fight to their strengths.

******
Suddenly, Zali heard an unfamiliar voice yelling, calling MAGE weak and some other nonsense, a fearful racket that had her continue trembling for a moment. However, the words angered her. MAGE was not weak, MAGE had honor, civility, they were protectors, while these HARM folk could only cause chaos and destruction. That was why Zali Hanya was here, to protect against evil people like these. Her hand twisted, and she opened the door to see the battle raging on outside. She gazed for a few moments, but then steeled herself, heading toward the Kali Pazia she was now used to using, and beginning the mounting and startup procedures.

Neaw's MN stumbled a bit as his charge was met by the pellets from the HARM Unit's spread rifles. The pilot himself just gritted his teeth, there was no way to get back to cover now and stopping to fire one of his weapons would mostly likely get him even more shot up.

Neaw flipped on his radio as he kept moving, still intending to run the NM closest to him through. "Gilly, you seem to have the situation under a bit more control than I do at the moment, try and help me when you can will yah?" His charge had not been the best of ideas, but hopefully it would leave Roland with more time to use his superior Frame to the MAGE's advantage.

Roland gave a curt, "Wilco," and came about Neawson's right side. A second psychic grenade had been snagged and he tossed it then in the direction of his partner's assailants. A sonic blast followed and that was followed by more autocannon fire. "Let me draw some attention."

Neaw's stumble was all it took to give one of the NM's its chance to dodge out of the way, but that was distraction enough to allow Gilly's move- the grenade was shot out of the sky by a spread rifle, but the Sonic blast and Autocannon fire managed to do a number on the distracted opponent, knocking it to the ground where it shuddered and twitched, the sonic pulse having jolted loose some components as well as rattling the pilot.

The Downed NM's partner, however, did not take his time mourning the setback, instead it grabbed at Neaw's spear from the side and yanked, trying to bring the recruit down forcibly.

******
As Neaw and Roland continued to prove a good distraction, Zali was finally able to get her Kali Pazia up and running, and the Range-oriented frame made it's way from the hangar, the suddenly determined pilot already firing her weapons, which were fully operational for the first time since Zali had been using the Frame. The heavy laser rifle she had picked up lit up the night as she sent a shot at the NM attacking Neaw- the Frame's head disappearing as it was vaporized under the intense heat and energy of the weapon.

Neaw Neawson's eyes almost popped out of his head as the scariest and largest laser bolt he had ever seen passed closer to his frame than he would ever want. The fact that the laser also managed to kill the enemy pilot did little to reduce the impact of his near-death experience.

Shaking the frame's now limp hand off the haft of his spear, Neaw regained his unit's balance and gave the dead enemy a quick and satisfying kick. Switching his radio on again, the pilot smiled. "Ah, good to see yah made it Zali. I'm also happy to see you only hit me when you're wielding a training weapon - and to be fair just about everyone on the team has at least thought about shooting me." Turing his MN to see how Roland was doing Neaw kept talking. "To be honest I'm a bit proud to say I got to have the front row seat for such a beaut of a shot. Now, back to business - oh, and tell Doverreck to hurry up and get out of here, he's with yah right?"

Not waiting for a response Neaw gripped his spear and debated whether or not he should go stab some of the downed units. Walking over to one, he decided to wait until he reached his target to make his decision.

Doverreck, at that moment, wished he was in the hangar still suiting up. But, no, he was hiding behind a rock, on the front lines, on foot. In his mind he had seen him finding something to do, but as he peered over his hiding spot and watched the frames battle each other he wasn't quite sure if that was gonna happen.

MPO Gilly could only hope Neaw did well in his skirmish because he severely doubted his own opponent was down for the count. He drove in quick as he could and sucker-punched the immobile Neci Mara in the gut- "pile-driving" him, if you could excuse the pun. The weapon retracted and Gilly slammed him to the ground for good measure with the other arm before turning toward Neaw to see the NM without a head. Then the chatter picked up, and he joined in. "Nice shot, Zali. If you can keep that up, you'll be giving orders in no time."

"I- What did I do?" Zali asked, somewhat surprised that she had actually hit something. "I was aiming for his torso..." she admitted, somewhat dejectedly, before fire from a Ramla Ivar made itself apparent toward the three recruits- the suit's range and prediction abilities making the autocannon fire land with surprising accuracy, even from the distance at which the enemy was. Rounds slammed into Neaw's main sensors, shearing them off from the side and exposing the man's face to the cold air. Another blew the sonic pulse weapon off of Gilly's shoulder, and the ball turret on Zali's shoulder disintegrated.

******
Brighton cackled as he made his way forward, slamming one of the instructor's frames to the ground in a disturbingly fast punch, one that looked like it should have hurt the pilot, but he didn't seem to care. "So you've brought some backup, they look tasty" the Commander said, venom in his voice. "It looks like today has some other perks than just stealing the princess- We have ourselves a Buffet."

******
Shaoran's eyes slowly regained sight- the man could feel blood dripping from his stomach, through five holes caused by razor-sharp claws. The Commander groaned, staring at his HUD to try to remember what was going on. Oh yes. It was a battle- he had been stabbed. But the fool made a mistake, a dire mistake. He didn't finish Shaoran off. And that would be his downfall.

Neaw's Martina Nekane stopped dead, the cool air hit his cheek and snapped the man back to reality. "Find cover, now! Whatever is closest, do not try to run to something that bastard will get you!"

Following his own advice Neaw rolled to the ground and rolled into the crater left by the teleportation device. His face stung and he could feel blood on it, something must have cut him when the Ivar had almost blown his head off. Smiling savagely the pilot opened coms to the other to pilots.
"Zali, think we can get you to do another one-in-a-million shot?"

The Isaac Risa lilted from the sudden loss of the sonic weapon, but Roland recovered and likewise moved for the crater, firing his particle wave cannon and lobbing another grenade in the direction of the Ramla Ivar. Then he was beside Neaw, hunkering down. The Mechanical Petty Officer glanced at Neaw, and for the life of him couldn't resist the urge to ask, "So, do you come here often?" More likely than not the wry smile was evident in his voice.

The wave cannon, while it had the range, was not accurate enough to hit the Ramla Ivar, instead splintering a couple trees at the edge of the forest, while the grenade instead landed near a Neci Mara, taking the pilot out and confusing the instructor that had been fighting it. however, it was one less enemy for them to fight so the instructor continued in his defense of the base. The RI continued firing, rounds bouncing off the edge of the crater, as the hole was too far for its bow weapon to be useful.

Zali hid back in the hangar, and hunkered down behind the door, putting all that she could out of her mind to try to get a clear shot- she almost had one, when a large intimidating figure made its way into her sights- Brighton was coming straight for her.

******
Shaoran gritted his teeth, grunting in pain as his Ganesa Thera righted itself, standing up despite the damage, blood dripping down the armored exterior from the pilots' wounds. Angrily, Shaoran advanced after Brighton, but was impeded by a Ophelia Latika, the snakelike frame latching onto the GT's pauldrons with its claws- but they were out of acid.

Shaoran smirked, though the enemy pilot would never know it.

"Come here often?" Neaw's smile was actually visible on the side of his face that showed. "I own this bar!" Hoping that the Ramla Ivar would be distracted by Gilly's attacks, Neaw peered over the lip of the crater.

He immediately saw Brighton's nightmare of a frame charging for Zali and swore. Keeping up his strand of curses Neaw did his best to acquire the enemy Commander as a target. Brighton was moving too fast to take such a luxury though and the MAGE pilot discarded exact accuracy in favor of an overwhelming attack. Neaw dumped all the ammo for his two shoulder weapons at Brighton, doing his best to protect Zali with a swarm of mini-missiles and both of his rockets.

Roland rolled toward Neaw to pull him down, but when he saw Brighton- or rather, when he saw the Van Edna, he instead raised his rifle and began firing in regular intervals. At the same time, he was trying to keep his head down- that Ramla Ivar was still out there.

Thankfully for the recruits, the Ramla Ivar and its partner- both out of Autocannon rounds- had decided to move forward to be in range for their bow weapons, and would be a few minutes before they could attack effectively again. However, that didn't make Brighton any less dangerous. The concussion cannons simply blasted Neaw's mini-missiles and rockets out of the air, but it managed to stop the man's progress toward Zali.

"Oh, so you want to play like that little man?" the psychotic commander said, turning his head toward Neaw in a smooth deliberate motion that could give a snake chills. Roland's rifle rounds pinged off the Van Edna's surprisingly thick hide, the angles causing them to graze by leaving only shallow gouges that only served to anger Brighton further.

******
Shaoran Grabbed the Ophelia's extended arms and pulled on them, flinging the frame face-first into the hard tarmac, shattering it's faceplate and knocking the pilot unconscious in one swift motion. Moving forward, Shaoran followed after Brighton as fast as he could, but the enemy man was surprisingly far from the Commander and disturbingly close to the recruits- whom should have been in their barracks and not on this battlefield!

******
Zali had been momentarily frozen by the man charging at her, but when Neaw drew his attention, she was able to breathe a sigh of relief. And then she realized that it was after Neaw and Gilly. Trembling, though the movement did not translate to the frame, Zali attempted to train her rifle on the enemy commander, and she pulled the trigger-only to be informed that the gun needed a little longer to recharge.

Neaw let out a laugh he wasn't really feeling. None of his explosives had made contact with the enemy. He shrugged though, Zali was safe now and that mattered more than his situation, there was no way her frame would ahve survived close combat with a Van Edna.

Sadly, neither would his Martina Nekane. "We hold out for the Chief, Roland." Neaw spoke to Gilly as he climbed out of the crater. "Deal with the Ramla Ivar if it becomes a problem." Watching Zali try to fire on Brighton, the pilot grinned. "Don't ask too much of your system Zali, its good if you give it the time it needs, and I'll see to it that you get it."

Now, standing completely exposed, in front of the enemy Van Edna Neaw stopped talking. He was facing a monster and he knew it. The man wasn't stupid enough to go on the offensive with Brighton, hell he was only planning on dodging as quickly as possible if the man made a move. No, attacking wasn't an option. So instead, knowing that his face was exposed, Neaw smiled a cold smile.

Roland dug in his heel and trained the autocannon and particle-wave cannon on the VE's center of mass; once they started, he wasn't going to stop until they ran dry or the Edna fell. "Neaw, FIRE! He's going to make quick work if he gets down in this crater, and we can't run! ALPHA STRIKE NOW!" An Alpha Strike, as he would have surely learned by now, was the act of opening all the hatches and unleashing everything simultaneously- missiles, guns, anything that had range.
"Alrighty then. Sure I can do that sure as day Gilly." Neaw's morbid smile slipped from his face as a silly grin took over. Looking at his internal ammo counters, Neaw's ordinance accounted for; one burned out plasma cannon, a dry rocket launcher, empty mini-missile bays, and maybe another ten minutes of fire from the autocannon.

Raising his Martina Nekane's left arm Neaw placed his aim for the initial burst of fire on the enemy VE and stabilized his exo-frame's standing position.
"One Alpha Strike coming up." Neaw cheerily called out as he pressed the trigger and opening fire with the MN's 10mm autocannon.

Neaw and Gilly's comms crackled with maniacal laughter from Brighton. "Oh, this is rich. What fools you all are!" he called out, and they could almost see the insane gleam in his eye, if only the frame's mask weren't there. Once again, the 10mm rounds did absolutely nothing to stop his slow, deliberate steps toward the duo, but Roland's larger autocannon hit much harder than Neaw's. Combined with the Particle wave cannon, the Van Edna was forced to bring its arms up in front of itself to protect the pilot, but the pilot simply kept walking forward- In fact, he sped up despite the obvious heavy damage being done to the ExoFrame.

************
Behind the Van Edna, however, Neaw, Gilly, and Zali would notice something approaching. at first fearing it to be an enemy frame, they then noticed familiar markings- with the exception of several holes dripping blood. it was Shaoran, and, having ditched his plasma rifle, the Ganesa Thera was now charging at full speed, with the Charge bunker primed and ready, but he would be a few moments yet before arriving.

"Zali, girl, tell me your charge has gone through now!" Neaw shouted as he caught sight of the Chief coming up from behind the oncoming monstrosity of an Exo-frame. "The situation could benefit from quite the wallop going straight down the corridor quite nicely if I do say so from my position!"

As he spoke Neaw eyed the two Ivar's coming back into range and - leaving the VE situation barreling down on him up to fate and his teammates - the Cadet switched his measly 10mm autocannon fire onto the foremost of the upcoming targets.

Roland choked off his desire to rebuke Neaw. They were both right, really- the Van Edna needed to be eliminated post-haste, but those RI's were nothing to scoff at either. Ultimately, he had the feeling they were rightly screwed. No time for that, though! He kept his weapons firing at top speed. If nothing else, they would soften up the armor for a good pile-driving and serial-killer type stabbing. If he was lucky it might be enough to make it easy work for Shaoran to finish up after the Edna cut MPO Gilly into itty-bitty pieces.

Neaw wouldn't get an answer from Zali- too focused on keeping her rifle trained on target so she could fire the moment it was ready. impatiently, the girl watched as the charge counter rose steadily, but much more slowly than she wished. "come on.. come on...." she muttered to herself, starting to feel nervous as to whether she could get the shot off in time.

"THAT isn't going to heeelp youuu~!" Brighton called to Neaw, in a singsong voice as he turned to fire upon the Ramla Ivar Exoframes whom were suddenly within his range. The two frames easily avoided the shots with their prediction software, but he did succeed in keeping them from firing their bows. Brighton was, however, still somehow focused on Gilly's attacks, and from this much closer distance the MPO could see that the Van Edna's arms were actually shifting and moving to intercept the rounds at great speed, much faster than a normal human or even frame should have been able to move. From it still emanated a maniacal laughter, almost giggling in its cadence.

And then, it suddenly shifted, Jerking to one side and spinning around to face Shaoran- But the Frame's pilot hadn't guessed quite right; Shaoran had feinted with the charge bunker, and now, Gilly could see, a Plasma sword stuck out from the VE's torso, right where the Pilot's kidneys would be.

Zali's shot suddenly rang out, but it missed the Van Edna. In fact, it didn't seem to be going anywhere near Brighton's armor- the shot whizzed within inches of Neaw's Martina Nekane's head, and struck a Ramla Ivar; catching it off guard, despite the predictive software.

Neaw whistled softly, thankful that Zali's shot had been placed to go by the still covered side of his head sparing him the pain of a flash burn from the proximity of the laser.

"Shoooo." Neaw vocalized as he let out the remaining air from the wistle. "Zali, you should see if the chief will let me stand out in the middle of the field whenever you go practicing that marksmanship of yours. Live ammo a'course, the tension seems to do you a wonder of good!"

Switching back to the field of battle that was more important at hand than any future plans Neaw shouted over the communications to Gilly. "No more point in firing on him, it's not that much of a tangle any more and isn't doing much good! You go open up on those meddlers -" Neaw's MN casually rolled its damaged head in the two Ivars direction. "- an' sweep them up with you and Zali working together."

Neaw himself starting moving forward, trying now to get closer to the enemy VE instead of further away. "Chief, you sure you got him good? Man's crazy as any I've seen and y'know how that type is." Neaw refrained from explaining further assuming that Shaoran did in fact know.

Gripping the spear and keeping his remain sensors at high alert Neaw's MN took up position to cut off Brighton from any movements towards his side of the field.

"Predictive software,eh? Let's just see!" And without further warning, the Isaac Risa leaped from the crater and made a mad dash toward the archer units, sometimes bobbing, other times weaving, and generally behaving erratically. The autocannon spat every so often when he felt there was a clear shot, and only in brief spurts. When uncertain, he gave another blast from the particle-wave. He REALLY wanted to put that software on a run for HARM's money.

The Ramla Ivar that had not been hit was swift to its feet, jumping about and easily avoiding the shots coming from the Isaac Risa, however, it could not get a bead on Gilly's suit, and thus kept its arrows to itself for the time being, trying rather to avoid damage than cause it. However, the one which had been damaged by Zali's shot had lost nearly all of its mobility- The laser blast had managed a square hit on the suit's hip and waist area, fusing plates together and completely immobilizing the legs. it was currently hunkered down on the ground trying its best to crawl away from the battle, though the hits it kept taking from the IR's autocannon soon forced it to stop its progress and broadcast a distress signal; it had given up, and was surrendering. The Exoframe opened up, the pilot exiting, and then running away, just in time for the HARM frame to explode into fiery bits of charred metal and singed wires.

Neaw's perspective was quite different. He noticed that Shaoran and the large enemy frame seemed to be locked together- neither one was moving. the ground was pooled with blood from Shaoran, and the plasma sword suddenly extinguished, the commander falling to his knees, and then falling backward. The Van Edna managed to regain its footing, unsteadily, stumbling back and forth- despite its level of damage, it was doubtful Neaw could do much to stop it. In fact, his hopes of doing so were suddenly dashed, as all the remaining enemy frames rushed over, pointing their weapons at him. One rushed forward to grab the enemy commander, whom weakly struggled, but then finally gave in, allowing the group to begin retreating. They had accomplished their goal, and paid the price. with their leader incapacitated, they chose to turn tail and run rather than continue fighting.

Zali finally spoke up on the comms, somewhat quietly "Hey, uhh, Neaw, Gilly... somebody should get the commander- and- and- the other instructors will need help too!" it was only then that the group would notice the field of battle. Outnumbered instructors had all been knocked out, or otherwise incapacitated, and were probably dead, but around them littered the wreckage of a larger number of enemies than destroyed defenders. Not really waiting, Zali ran out from her cover toward Shaoran's limp Exoframe. Gilly's quarry slipped away into the forest.

Neaw sunk the tip of his spear into the ground, and let his MN stand stock-still from just its own power as he watched the last HARM units disappear from his sensors. Reaching downwards Neaw fished out the box he had used to call Doverreck just earlier that day with and flipped one of the few switches on the device.

"This is Cadet Neaw Neawson." Neaw's tired voice came over all the common speakers on the base. "All enemy effectives have retreated. The cap is back on the problem, but the situation is not dealt with. All recruits should report to the scene of the battle to help with the clean-up. Let's do this right people."
Neaw watched anxiously as Zali moved towards the Chief's fallen Exo-frame. He made no move to join her in her effort - he had failed the Chief today, but the rest of the group had picked up the slack and done right by Shaoran's efforts.

"Roland, I'm gonna need you to come back in. We'll need your experience more than likely just to open some a'these tin cans up if we are to have any hope of saving the lives that are left."

On the other side of the battlefield, Recruit Thomas Doverreck rolled out of a grimy, makeshift fox hole. Covered in grit, ash, and sweat - along with a bit of dried blood from the "window incident" - Doverreck stumbled out onto the scene of destruction as the communications box he still had with him delivered Neaw's message to the base.

Climbing atop the closest MAGE instructor's frame the dirty recruit blindly started feeling for the release catches, doing his best to do at least something good for the base while the day's light still lasted.

Sighing once as the first release thankfully responded, Doverreck lamented; today was supposed to have been his day off.

Roland brought the IR to a halt, watching his enemies retreat with an annoyed stare. Neawson drew him from the mental turbulence with a purpose playing to his skillset. The Isaac made a quick jog back to the hangar so he could gather some field equipment, then it was back out to the battlefield.

The battlefield was littered with several frames, but, the most important were those of the instructors. Zali had already started on Shaoran's frame, having gently moved it so that she could access the emergency hatch release with her ExoFrame's hands, the arms spinning around to swiftly undo the release- A hiss of pressure releasing was followed by a large amount of blood spilling out, the commander's unconscious body soaked in its own blood.

Neaw and Gilly could hear sobs over the comms, though they were soon drowned out by wailing sirens as the emergency crews finally arrived on the scene to get to work on extracting and hopefully saving as many pilots as possible.

"Gilly, meet the crews and -" Neaw's voice cut off as his ear once more picked up the sounds of Zali crying. Each one cut him to the quick deeper and deeper. "Just make some sense of the mess, get them all moving, if you can get them to do it with some brains."

Flipping off his comm, Neaw brought his Martina Nekane into a kneeling position. Smiling fondly at the machine Neaw released the control harness around him and opened his machine up. Patting the MN's armour as he clambered out Neaw muttered quietly about how the frame had done well and deserved to hold none of the shame he had brought upon himself.

Stretching his legs for a second. Neaw fished his personal comm unit out again and started walking towards Zali - and Shaoran.

As he thumbed the button opening a direct line to Zali's frame, Neaw's voice was gentle as he began to speak over her sobs. " 's alright Zali. I'm coming over now. Look on your number six sensor and you should have a clear view of me. An' don't feel you have to tell me a word girl, I'll be there soon enough and the day's gone and chewed you up enough already."

Doverreck cheered himself on rather glumly in his little triumph as the final release catch opened up and the Exo-frame's hydraulics took over.
Stumbling backwards and off the frame Doverreck peered in the frame and found a battered, bloody, and unconscious but alive junior instructor - Davis or something short like that, maybe it had been with a "B".

Smiling despite his inability to identify the survivor, Doverreck stood up straighter and began to wave in one of the newly arrived med-teams.
Roland made his way to yet another wreck. Even at a quick glance it was evident the instructor was dead: the hatch had been peeled clean off the suit revealing a body rent in two. He moved on. The next was far more reassuring: the chestpiece hissed and unfurled, releasing a bruised but mobile mech instructor. "Are you alright?" Roland asked.

"Fine, but my Isaac is shot."

"We're trying to round everyone up for cleanup and medevac. Can you help?"

"Yeah." Both the petty officer and professor seemed to have the same idea- the latter stepped onto the Isaac's outlaid palm and clutched firmly onto its mantle. The pair moved onto a third MAGE, which was in dire need of Gilly's particular skills. Both of them clambered down from the IR and got to work cracking open the horribly beaten chestplate of a Kali. Roland took to it like a surgeon, the instructor his assistant. In short time they cut a clean hole to the pilot who was unconscious but evidently alive. So far so good.

Around the other Exoframes, crews were quick at work. those injured instructors were swiftly put on stretchers and moved to ambulances, which were now coming and going with alarming rapidity. Neaw and Zali would watch as one of the strikingly efficient emergency crews took Commander Shaoran, and put him on a stretcher, attaching a bag of plasma, and a breathing apparatus, as well as already starting to try and do something about the multiple puncture wounds in his torso.

Not knowing what to do, Zali dismounted her Kali Pazia, and simply stared at the pool of blood on the ground, not wanting to look at the damaged frame. She sniffled, then wiped a snotty nose with one of her hands, and began shaking a bit, hiccoughing occasionally. it was pretty apparent that Zali was suffering from some kind of trauma.

Walking up to Zali and grabbing her in a one-armed bear hug Neaw crushed the hiccuping sniper to his chest. "Oi, oi, oi! Zali-girl now is not the time to be looking so down - that means you have already given up on the Chief!"

Releasing some of the pressure from Zali but keeping her close by Neaw looked down at her with one of his ridiculous grins. "I want yah to just think for a second. Clear your 'ead and think for just a plain old moment. When has - or will - any of our group ever give up on the Chief?"

Smiling and patting Zali on the back with the arm he had hugged her with, Neaw beamed at the younger pilot. "Never Zali-girl, Never. You remember back to the battle and think on me facing down that monster of an Exo-frame boiling its way right towards my wrecked up ol' MN. Chief came through for us all there, and in a few weeks he'll be walking out of the med bay an' the first thing he'll do is personally find yah to let you know how damn fine of a shot you were today!"
Stepping off the side of one of the slowly moving ambulances Doverreck jogged up behind Neaw and Zali intending to wave to the two and greet them the recruit stopped short as his mind found the position Neaw and his psuedo-partner in somewhat awkward.

Dropping his hand Doverreck instead leaned up against a large column of rubble and contented himself with waiting until he was noticed to engage in any interaction.

Roland and the instructor, whose name he came to learn was Jean-Pierre McCloud, became a two-man metal-shearing machine, moving instinctually from one mecha to the next. The heat of the tools and constant exertion left them in pools of their own sweat by the end of the day. But it also left them with a sense of pride in their accomplishments. The sun had set on a sour note, but they had done their part in redeeming much of what had first appeared to be lost. They would be able to rest knowing they had given their all and needed no medal or commendations; their actions were their own reward.

Neaw would feel Zali's shaking lessen, and the hiccoughing would stop as well, but she continued to sniffle, and didn't say anything. The world, however, continued to revolve around them, and as Gilly and his new-found friend showed, not all that went on was bad. However, they had still taken a lot of damage, not only in personnel, but aslo in Exoframes. It would be a while before Blackwoods was fully operational again, but there was still the missing princess to worry about. Could they wait?

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