“Rivers switch to combat mode! Looks like they’ve dropped a Skin,” said the Commander as he moved for the rear hatch of the ship. They had immediately picked up the large heat source falling and the radar was bouncing back a silhouette that they were uncertain about.
“But it’s too large to be a Skin!” commented Rivers when he viewed the data. It was significantly larger than their Skins. Jade’s Skins were known to be the smallest, but even the largest combat Skins were nowhere near the size of what they were seeing. It was nearly six meters taller.
Callein narrowed his eyes as he walked out of the ship with his Skin. “Rivers!” he snapped back to the Warrant Officer to break him out of his momentary paralysis.
“Sorry, sir! Switching from conservation to combat mode now! Five seconds to power requirements.”
“Get this ship flying immediately!” he ordered over the line to the ship. “We’ll draw away their fire!” Now that he was outside the visuals could come in on their target. However, the moment that he got his cameras to find the machine all of the radar and electronic detection systems seemed to fail as it disappeared from the computer’s sight. He could still see it on the camera at a magnified scale forcing him to run a systems check that came back cleared. ‘Does it have stealth technology built-in? What sort of beast have they made?’ However, he had little time to question what he saw as the computer was able to detect a new high energy source coming from the black Skin giant. “A particle weapon…” he declared as he pulled on the controls initiating his thrusters to evade the blue long ranged beam. ‘Can’t stand around here any longer!’
When his Peng came to a rough landing he activated the wings on his back folding out straight behind the machine equipped with several thrusters. Unlike the Jiaolong, the Peng was the only Skin constructed by Jade specifically for combat on the Earth and not space combat. It had a lighter and slimmer frame than the Jiaolong, but it could also fly and had greater mobility. Callein kept the armor light to give him the speed advantage which he needed against this enemy as the readings from the energy beam would have been enough to completely destroy even a Jiaolong. He took to the sky firing all of his thrusters as the next shot came barely missing his legs causing the paint to peal a little.
“He’s fast…he’s moving after I fire… The targeting computer is not fast enough yet,” Aerona said as she fired another shot from her shoulder mounted Heavy Focused Energy Cannon. However, when she saw on her monitor a magnified image of a second machine exiting the downed transport she changed her target. “Switching to the unknown ship.” The unmoving target would be quicker to destroy and then she could focus on the second smaller enemy.
Rivers had just made it out of the ship when his targeting computer announced that the enemy had locked onto their ship. “They’re going after the ship, Commander!” He pushed his thrusters to carry his Skin out in front of the ship to put himself between the black giant and the transport. “I’m defending this spot, sir!”
“No, Rivers! You’re Jiaolong will be destroyed!” Callein ran his thrusters to their maximum feeling the sudden g-forces that slammed him into his chair as he charged for the enemy Skin. He had to get into range with his ‘Pair’ Particle Assault Rifle before they could fire on Rivers and their ship. ‘It’ll cut through Rivers’ armor and hit the ship!’ All around him the rattling of his machine against the stress that he was putting on it echoed through his body as it was being crushed against the seat not intended to be used for such long durations.
The Peng’s arm came up aiming its rifle as it was coming into range of the machine firing off a burst of shots. The small blue beams shot out hitting the mark as well as the ground around it kicking up a dust cloud. Cameras unable to detect the enemy and the computer still failing Callein was left still charging towards firing off another burst not taking any chances.
Ominous clouds held around the machine as the small Peng roared in uncertain of a kill. A sudden flash of light burst from the clouds as a tunnel was quickly burrowed through the clouds as the large blue beam shot from the cannon of the Skadi towards Rivers. As the beam reached the Jiaolong there was a massive explosion rocking the earth. “Rivers!” The Peng flew past the revealing Skadi returning to its normal combat speed making its course over the ground of the debris cloud.
Callein tried to get a reading on the area but there was too much debris that was clouding the radar. He was forced to wait, but he was surprised to find that the beam had been stopped saving the ship from being destroyed. His Peng made a second pass on the area as the wind blew through carrying around the cloud revealing the Jiaolong.
“Commander…I’m still here…” Rivers said breathing heavily from what had just happened. He was sweating under his suit from the tensions and proximity of the explosion. In the last moment before the beam hit him he threw his shield away from him to take the hit. It was coated with an energy resistant material, but even with it the beam completely destroyed it and hit his machine. The energy was dispersed enough that his armor was able to take the hit. He hit the button at his side that detached all of his additional armor, now melted and riddled with shrapnel or holes. “A couple of my cameras are damaged, but otherwise I can still fight!”
“We need to get this foe in close range!”
“Yes, sir!” The Jiaolong pulled out its Triple S from its waist and charged forward with full thrust accompanied by the Peng from above. They forced the Skadi to move from its spot as it retracted its cannon behind it separating into three pieces and held in place. Out of its forearms came rifle barrels that shot out lower energy beams keeping the two Skins from getting too close. The battle was on the move leaving the crash site and stomping into a cornfield.
Distant explosions reverberated through the ground towards Shizuka. It sent a terrified panic through her body that she had never felt before. The feeling was indescribable for her. Sweat dripped down her face and arms as the cold air suddenly felt like it became ice freezing her. The earth shaking echoes ripped at her stomach. Shizuka’s mind went blank thinking only of running to get away as the strange noises became like thunder overhead. Her legs tried to move, but the paralysis still gripped her until a blue beam shot overhead heating the air and whipping her hair around through the displaced air.
Shizuka broke through the rows of corn fleeing from the sounds as the dread reached rapidly closer. Crashing through another row she collided with something solid falling down in the dirt as a large shadow was suddenly cast over her before there was a massive thud followed by the crinkling of corn. Only three meters in front of her a huge metal boot had stepped into the field. Dazed by the thunderous pounding of hydraulics and machinery, Shizuka attempted to pull her head up to look up at the colossus. All she could see through blurred eyes was the blue burst of fire from thrusters as it jumped evading a beam. ‘What’s going on? What is that thing?!’
She scrambled to her feet as the quaking pulses from the heavy footsteps of two humanoid machines giving chase and dueling made it difficult to find the ground stable. The collapse of the smaller of the machines to the ground in a huge crash knocked her back to her knees. Next to her Ed, who she had run into, was gathering his senses still thrown by the mechanized chaos.
A blast nearby in the field from an energy impact exploded followed in quick succession by smaller blasts all around them. It threw the two together reflexively to hold on to each other for courage and support as they were lost in the middle of a battlefield.
“Rivers! Can you move?!” said Callein as he flew by trying to keep the monster machine away from his subordinate.
Rivers’ Jiaolong had been thrown by Skadi when it tried to come in close with its sword. The strength of the machine surprised Rivers leaving him in the state that he was, on his back with the computer running a systems check. He had fortunately avoided direct hits from Callein’s hit and run strikes. “The left arm and leg joints are damaged, but they’ll function!” He fired up his thrusters using all of them on his back and his leg to get himself into the air enough to attempt to stand. However, a direct hit from the Skadi’s forearm beams destroyed his machine’s left arm and sent him flying backwards sliding into the earth once more.
A communication from the ship came in to Callein’s Skin. “Sir let us sortie!” Wells shouted.
“No! The priority is to get the ship in the air! Don’t leave until it is done!” The Skadi aimed both of its arms forward towards Rivers even as Callein hit Skadi from behind trying to interrupt its shot. “Get out Rivers!” It was too late for him do anything as the blue beams released from the barrels hitting the Rivers’ Jiaolong in the chest immediately engulfing it in a reddish-pink explosion. “Rivers!”
“No! Welest!” Shizuka shouted as she saw the machine blow up next to her village taking half of it with in the blast. Her eyes grew wide in shock as she thought she could feel the countless deaths that were just taken. It made her heart stop for a moment before a stabbing pain hit her. Tears started to stream down her face burying her head into Ed’s chest with her hands tightly gripping onto his arms. “My village…everyone’s…dead! Why?!”
To be continued…