Friday, August 1, 2014

Heavy Type - You're Better or You're Dead

by B. Lee Kendall

She was the kind of woman that would "look good wearing a burlap sack", the locals would say; even in her dirty overalls she cut a striking figure. She stood upon the shoulder of her Warrior, looking through battered field glasses at a deserted town, that in the Badland heat shimmered like an ocean.

"I suppose you're going to say we should go in there after him, aren't you?" came a voice from behind. She turned to face the open cockpit of the Hunter behind her; there sat a man of about her age, whose face was scarred from the right corner of his mouth to the lobe of his right ear, giving him the appearance of a demonic smirk.

She smiled.

"How did I know....  Does it interest you in the least that we burned most of our fuel just catching the bastard, and now you want to just roll on into his trap?"

She reached down with her long arms and grabbed her helmet.  As she pulled it on over her short blond hair, the Hunter pilot could make out an ever-so-faint smile.

"I hate it when you get that look." He pulled on his own battered helmet and sealed his cockpit.

The Warrior and the Hunter started their engines and headed across the sand towards the town. Both Gears were painted the same shade of sandy brown and were devoid of markings, except for the Hunter which had the word "Shaboom" in flowing script printed upon the side of the cockpit. They proceeded in line abreast, the Warrior's snub cannon tracking from right to left, and the Hunter's M206P tracking from left to right.

The town grew slowly larger in the pilots' artificial view of the outside world, twenty buildings, all that was left of some ancient dream, would now become the latest battlefield in the endless war of survival that is the Badlands.

"You know, we could turn back to the tower now and we just might make it," said the Hunter pilot in an almost matter-of-fact tone of voice over the radio. He waited for a reply that he knew would never come then clicked his tongue and to himself said, "Thought not."

As they approached the buildings and their maze of streets, the Hunter drifted back into his support role as the Warrior slowed its pace. "He'll try to separate us," he said softly into the comm unit, but it was information she didn't need. The Warrior pilot's ice-blue eyes scanned the artificial world displayed within her helmet, she knew exactly what the raider would do, what she had to figure out was when.

They followed the same routine every time they came across a intersection, she would lean her Gear over till only the head was beyond the cover of the wall, then spin it 360 degrees, ground, right passage, sky, left passage, ground, as the Hunter stood back against the wall, head moving from left to right covering the front and rear.

Now and again they would think they heard engine noises in there audio receptors but nothing definite. "Maybe he went home.... I mean, we did knock out his buddies." The Hunter pilot really did wish the raider had gone, but he knew better. "How many pops you got left in that snub?" he asked.

"One," she replied in a voice made airy and rough by a childhood disease; it gave to her voice a certain sultry quality.

"One... One shot, then what, Chief? Taunting?" But no reply came.

Thirty minutes passed, they had found the distinctive tread marks of the raider's Jager, but hadn't cornered him.  They went street to street until suddenly the Hunter's sensors registered something behind them. "He's in my six!!" he yelled as he pushed his Gear sideways, hoping to crash down a nearby wall , but, as he impacted on the wall, a stream of autocannon shells slammed into the Gear's leg, the knee pad on the front of the Gear's leg exploded as the rear entering shells exited, alarms screamed in his helmet. The Warrior spun with the agility of a cat, she brought the reticle upon the head of the Jager that had assumed a low profile stance at the end of the road, exposing only the head and right shoulder and arm. The Warrior shook with the recoil as the snub cannon fired, she watched as the ammo counter clicked to 0, the shell was right on target, or would have been if the Jager hadn't withdrawn behind the wall. She had missed.

"I thought," came a voice crackling with static, "you only needed one shot." The Hunter pilot struggled at his controls but he could only mange to move his arms.  "Think the impact most have jarred my universal loose, I'm out of it, and you don't have any ammo left, do we make a run for it? I'd sure hate to leave Shaboom to that raider."

"No, hang tight, hit the manual release on your 260," she answered.

"You're nuts. I mean, you were nuts before, this just confirms it. You don't have any of the software, you'd be firing blind."

"Just do it, Dak," she interrupted. She hadn't yelled, but Dak had known her long enough to know this was as close as she came.

"Alright, you got 4 grenades and 15 rounds in the LAC.  Good luck, Chief!" He released the weapon.

The Warrior dropped its snub and hefted the twin-barreled 260, getting used to the weight, another disadvantage--the computer couldn't compensate for the weapon's weight, but her programing was for the heavy snub cannon, and she figured the difference wouldn't be that great.

She started off at full speed, weaving in and out of the streets. The faster you move the harder the target, she thought, all the time committing to memory the lay out of the town. The main Square, she thought, only two roads leading into, it was large enough that she might just have a chance.

For fifteen minutes they played cat and mouse, catching glimpses of each other as they darted around the ruined corners of the ancient buildings.

"Ah...." her radio came to life. "Boss, he just trotted by me heading north." Dak's voice sounded rattled. "I'm popping my hatch and taking cover before he decides to finish me. Dak out!"

Heading north, he had said, this was it, all or nothing.  She slammed her Gear forward at full speed into the square.

The Jager, also entering the square, seeing the Warrior, let fly a stream of shells, fountains of earth followed her as she sped into the square, then nothing, the Jagers LAC was empty, with its rockets and grenades exhausted in the raid on the oasis tower the Jager had one option, it dropped its LAC and started to grab for the hand grenade attached to its waist.

Coming to a halt, she brought the 260 up in the direction of the Jager. She knew exactly what would happen, it was a gift of hers, the kind of impromptu thinking that had made men ignore her looks and pay attention to her ability. She squeezed the LAC trigger on the 260, shells sprayed wildly into the building behind the Jager, she gently moved the joystick bringing the stream closer to the Jager till finally one shell impacted on the Jager's chest, doing no significant damage.

The Jager pilot activated the grenade, but he too had figured out what had just happened.

She had used the stream of LAC shells to aim the weapon's grenade launcher. At this close range, there would be no drop, she had chosen the square because it would give the grenades just enough time in flight to arm. She squeezed the trigger.

Three of the four grenades slammed into the Jager, one exploded externally, but the other two punched neat holes in the Jager's chest, they were followed by two thuds as they exploded inside the cockpit. She watched as the Gear went limp, the hand grenade fell to the ground. The Gear collapsed onto the ground and the armed grenade, the explosion of which showered debris over the square.

She sat a while and watched the smoldering wreck, in some ways she was sorry the Jager pilot didn't make a run for it, he was good, one of the best she had seen, but she was better.

In Badlands, you were better or you were dead.

[B. Lee Kendall] [Heavy Type]

The above article was archived from Heavy Type: A Heavy Gear Fan Fiction Website as part of the Hermes 72 Archive Project. It has been significantly edited for spelling from its original form and is used without permission.

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