Battletech #5 – Season 1: From the Ashes – Chapter 3

Battletech: A Warriors Tale
Season 1: From the Ashes
Chapter 3 – Raiding the Raiders

80km north of Freedom City
12th October 3045

Slouching in his leather clad command chair of his Blackjack battlemech, Julian let out a deep yawn, slapping his lips together afterward to exaggerate his effort to fight off tiredness. He looked at the half empty bottle of diazepam in his hand, he wondered why hadn’t he thought of this before? He felt so calm… so loose, so ready for anything. He chucked the pill bottle onto the floor with the others, and set about trying to get his eyes to focus on a single point.

“If you’re gunna yawn like a pussy, could you at least turn off the fucking comms!” Brynjar insisted angrily.  His tempers were running high since his Centurion’s cockpit bought a supersonic gauss round the night before, and his grip on the controls was tight. He occasionally loosening his grip before constricting once again as the constant noises from the comms grated his nerves. Brynjar cracked both knuckles as he scanned the horizon. The group were fast approaching the pirate staging area.

“This call sign does not operate well in the early hours. I’m still even waiting for the wine to chill.” Julian stretched out a sigh.

“I can’t believe you have a wine cooler in you mech…,” Ruby muttered.  She was on point today, and after the mess last night she felt it was her responsibility to ensure the rest of her lance didn’t screw things up again.

“It’s not a wine cooler, it’s a rafraîchissoir.” Julian murmured, then cut his mic. “… Bloody commoners.”

A slight grin crept onto Brynjar’s face as he thought about the people in his group,

Ruby has impressed me a lot, he thought, she has the right mind set to keep the group from tearing itself apart and as long as she’s here, I can enjoy ripping enemy mechs apart. Charlie, well, that mad little fuck has done more damage using the mech as a weapon than actually shooting with it. On the bright side at least he’s saving Ady and Isabelle money and ammo.

Brynjar paused for a solemn moment as his thoughts wondered to his former boss.

Huh, wonder if the boss’d be proud of how well me and Julian ‘get on’ now? He always did get aggravated when we were at each other’s throats. I really should try show him how much of a lazy bastard he is! His grin widened as he looked out towards Julian’s mech.

“Early morning? You know, I smashed out 50 push ups before we left today and that was after my 2 mile run.” Brynjar bragged.

“15?” Piped Charlie, who was wide awake, energised and happy, much to the annoyance of the rest of the group.

“No, 50!”

Who gave this guy comms? Brynjar thought.

“Yeah, 15, like I said.” Charlie replied curiously, not understanding why Brynjar was getting angry.

“No, you fucking idiot, 50, five zero!” Brynjar yelled.

“Sounded like 15 to me too.” Julian teased, chuckling to himself as he fondly reminisced about the last time he lied about whether or not something had been 15.

Oh no! You don’t get to say anything, you were yawning not too long ago, Brynjar mentally argued as he gritted his teeth loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Yo…” , Ruby called out. She followed her interruption by rapidly barking out target identifications as a Javelin broke cover from the edge of a forest, and as her sensors began lighting up with 3 other red dots.

“That’s the same bloody mech from last night!” Julian decried. His tired vision knitted immediately back together as his heart began pounding in his chest. He grabbed the throttle and jammed it forward. He had been worried that too many sedatives would have cost him his aggression. Thank god he’d had the foresight to neck that bottle of Crème de menthe, he thought.

“Round on the bastard!” Brynjar growled.

I knew he’d be here, Brynjar thought, but this far forward? He’s going to regret that decision, cocky bastard.

The lance of mechwarriors from Bannon’s Bashers’ started to make short work of the Javelin, until an eerily familiar sound slammed into Julian’s mech.

“What the blazes was that?!” Blurted Julian, knowing full well what it was. The chemical fog he had been operating under poured out of the cockpit as damage indicator lights went from ‘everything is rosy’ to ‘shit’s-fucked-yo’ in the blink of an eye.

“HAHA, Mother Fucker! How does it feel now?” Brynjar thoroughly enjoyed the karma far too much and far too early.

“Shit, Shit, Shit, fucking shit!” Screamed Julian.

Julian backed his mech up to gain cover whilst Charlie and Ruby ran at full tilt towards the 35-ton sniper.  However, the sniper was calm, focused, and knew the threats. As Brynjar pushed forward and melted the Javelin with the full complement of his mech’s weapons, a second gauss round sliced through the forest and hammered into the Centurion. Along with the Javelin’s final laser alpha strike, the collective damage forced Brynjar’s mech onto its back.

“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Brynjar yelled as the memory from his last encounter flooded his memory.

“Ha! Get up you pansy.” Lauded Julian. “get up, Get up! Get up! GET UP! GET UP!”

Brynjar cursed under his breath and gritted teeth, wondering why he was taking the brunt of the fire, again. He growled back at Julian, “Well, maybe if you weren’t hiding, he would have had a harder time picking targets!”

Although his blood was boiling with anger, Brynjar composed himself long enough to issue orders, “Charlie, Ruby, while Julian hides keep that sniper busy enough so I can get my mech up to smack him.”

“I’m not hiding, I’m taking cover!” Barked Julian as his damage control system began squealing away like a guinea pig fuck-party. He bit down on his tongue and yelled. Knowing it was his only hope, he turned his mech on his enemy and then, like an aging 70’s porn-star, he thrust his withered titan through the dense foliage, unloading his guns in an inaccurate flurry of pent up desperation.

Brynjar eventually got his mech back to his feet and seeing the Javelin was a smouldering ruin, ran towards the sniper whilst letting out a scream of “Fucking come here ya little bitch, let me shove that fucking gauss rifle somewhere it’ll be more useful!”. Ruby could not help but roll her eyes as she positioned for an attack on the opponent’s rear armour. The massed fire power of the lance quickly panicked the sniper. He finally met his end when Brynjar unleashed six medium lasers, finding weak points in the armour and making their way through to the gauss rifle. Electrical feedbacks, blown magnetic coils, and ruptured capacitors sent shock waves through the battlemech’s circuitry and directly into the pilot via his neurohelmet. Brynjar let out a roar of glee and victory as he saw the pilot spasm, burn, crisp and smoke from the weight of the electricity coursing through him. Brynjar’s grin grew larger when he saw the cockpit completely filled with smoke and sudden splatters of blood hitting the cockpit canopy; the pilot’s eyes had just exploded under the electrically induced pressure.

“That’s it! Burn you fucking camping slut! You take my head, I’ll take yours!”

“We got two more mechs approaching guys,” Ruby sounded off, “a light and a medium.”

“Oh, fuck off!” Brynjar yelled, “You guys know what to do!”

Ruby paused briefly as she studied her sensors, “Looks like there’s a convoy making tracks too.”

“We’ll handle the mechs, especially that fucking irritating Panther, you go stop the convoy, I want max salvage from this mission.” Brynjar said in a moment of focus.

“What?! No! Get in the fight, you work-shy bitch!” Barked Julian.

Just as Ruby was about to copy her orders, the lance heard a not too unfamiliar sound of a cheery mech pilot, “I’m going in guys… Charlie Connolly!” announced Charlie, following an odd battle cry. Odd enough in fact to make Ruby pause and wonder what she had let herself in for when she joined the unit.

Not how most people would use a light mech, Brynjar thought to himself, but look at him, enjoying himself, he really grows on you. Although it probably wouldn’t hurt to get him to a psychiatrist.

Charlie slammed his little Locust into the Panther whilst Brynjar and Julian unloaded into it, then he ran around to slam into an enemy medium mech that had been waiting in the wings, crushing a freshly deployed squad of soldiers in the process. All the while screaming, in an oddly deeper voice with a slightly different accent than normal, “Charlie fucking Connolly!”.

“… Yep, very much needed at this point.” Julian said, half to himself. He stared blankly as the 20 tonne mech smeared the squealing outlaw against the concrete. “…Jam…” Said Julian, dry retching loudly into his mic.

The Panther was finally destroyed when Brynjar punched through not only the armoured casing, but also the internal shielding of the mech’s fusion reactor. Brilliant blue and orange fire arced from the core of the reactor as it finally shutdown, for good. Brynjar retracted his mech’s fist to see it scorched and smouldering from the fusion fire.

The battle, however, continued to rage as the last enemy mech began unleashing large and medium laser fire into Bannon’s Bashers. Julian bore the brunt of this as his mech began to heave under the sheer weight of punishment it had been suffering. A luck hit from the enemy mech sheared off the Blackjack’s right torso and arm along with it, and still under fire from squads of anti-mech infantry, Julian was caught completely off guard.

Julian was wrenched violently inside his cockpit as the entire right side of his mech detonated. The scream of tearing metal filled his ears, supported by the thumping of AC ammo cooking off. He coughed violently against the choking smoke, he could feel a warm trickle of blood pouring down the inside of his helmet, he battled against the chaos in his mind, trying to focus. A vision appeared in front of him, a figment of his distraught mind, it was a figure of a person, it was dancing, happily, as if at a disco, bathed in an aura of divine light. He focused on it with all his might until it resolved into the image of Brynjar, wearing nothing but a Viking helmet and a pair of fur Y-fronts, it pointed at the damage to Julians mech, “I hear you like to get penetrated…” It said.

“Aaah!” Screamed Julian, snapping back to reality with a lurch, dispelling the vision with a shake of his head and taking stock, “Oh… god!”

Seeing his beautiful Yvonne suffer such damage, he panicked at losing one of his most favourite AC/5’s and began to hyperventilate.

Brynjar knew how distraught Julian would be at this moment, but for the jabs he suffered about his ejection last time he deployed, he was not about to let this go, “Hey Julian, mind if I use your arm as a club?” Brynjar followed with a hearty laugh.

“Not like this!” Julain wailed, seemingly not even registering Brynjar’s question, “I’m Julian god-damn Delacroix” He grabbed the control column with both hands. “I am the one who penetrates!” He threw the throttle open and pounded his battered war-horn like a pervert at a petting zoo.

Managing to regain some sort of control, a red rage befell Julian and he uncharacteristically charged forward. A successful kick to the enemy mech brought it low. Which made it easier for Brynjar to unleash a flurry of lasers and finish the last enemy.

As Charlie, still screaming “Charlie fucking Connolly!”, reduced the infantry to piles of red goo, Julian turned to finish off the remaining resistance; his red vision only lifting as he heard Brynjar, who was keeping well out of the way, say “I think you got ‘um buddy.”

“They’re dead when I say they’re dead…” Julian snapped, then went back to shooting the blood-soaked dirt.

Meanwhile, Ruby sat atop of her Jenner and lit a cigarette as she watched the drivers of the convoy run for their lives. She drew deep on her cigarette as she listened to the cacophony of screams, whelps, and hoorahs of her lance making a mess of things.

“How’s it going out there? Are we winning?” Ady questioned over the comms, trying to understand everything that he was hearing back at base.

“I really hope so,” Ruby replied dimly.

“Whadda mean, ya hope so?” Ady shot back.

Ruby twisted in her seated position and looked over towards the ensuing battle, seeing Brynjar uplift a tree, throwing it 100m, and accidently setting it on fire in mid-air. She would have found this mildly impressive had it been intentional and of any use, but the fact she knew it was a random act of rage had her rolling her eyes.

“No, seems we’re doing fine…” Ruby responded as she lay back against her mech.

She drew another lung full of her cigarette to the sound of, “Charlie fucking Connolly!”.

“Ohh yes! That fight was invigorating wasn’t it?!” Brynjar said loudly over the comms. He revelled in the high of the adrenaline coarsing through him. He took a moment to review his mech and let a laugh as he realised that his SRM ammo was nearly hit.

What a RUSH! He thought.

*** *** ***

Freedom City – City Militia Barracks
12th October 3045

Julian powered down what was left of his mech and sat for a long moment in quiet contemplation, being snapped out of it only by the loud clank of the gangway falling into place by the cockpits hatch. He unfastened his harness and teetered to his feet.

“Good job old girl,” He said as he patted the half-shattered control panel.

“Game faces on baby, got to meet my adoring fans…” He said, gazing into the full-length mirror he had had installed at the rear of the cockpit, “Ooh, I guess that was a bit of wild night, huh sweetie?” He said looking at the dishevelled mess that stared back at him. He punched the release on the emergency wall mounted medkit and grabbed one of the 18 pearl handled combs which made up the entirety of its contents.

A few well practiced stokes of the comb later and he was ready, “Julian Delacroix… you sexy bitch…” Said Julian Delacroix, shooting himself some hellacious finger guns in the mirror.

“Don’t be too sad baby,” he said, addressing the empty cockpit, “It’s not like you’re the first woman Julian Delacroix has devastated from within.” With that, and a final barrage of finger guns, he stepped through the hatch onto the gantry. Almost immediately he caught a glimpse of the true extent of the damage and threw up over the railing.

“Fucking clean that up!” He screamed, through the burning sensation in the back of mouth, at the nearest tech.

“What the fuck have you done to my mech’s?!” Ady bellowed across to the hanger, more in pain at the terrible sight than in anger. Moving at a pace akin to a freight train towards the heroic mech pilots, Isabelle following close behind.

Brynjar, cigar in his mouth, and Julian, wiping his mouth clean, shared a knowing glance as they sauntered across the hanger away from their mechs.

Here we go again, Brynjar thought.

“Calm the fuck down Ady, it’s war after all, there are gonna be damages.” Brynjar said as he drew a long puff and waited for Ady’s complaints before releasing it.

“Just how do you explain this fucking mess?!” Ady pointed at the Centurion and the Blackjack. The former missing whole chucks of internal structure and components from the left side, and the latter missing an entire right torso. Ady continued, “When you have tweedle dee…” pointing at Ruby’s undamaged Jenner, “… and tweedle fucking dumb…” pointing at Charlie’s Locust, “… practically brand new!”

“Oi watch who you’re calling Tweedle dumb, you fat bastard,” Julian said indignantly before realising his error, “… oh you’re talking about… never mind…” He raised a hip flask filled with 30-year-old scotch to the head tech and extended his finger accusatory, “And why do we only keep Pinot grigio in the mech bay? You know I’m a Chardonnay man.”

Brynjar released a large ball of smoke, managing to disguise a long sigh as an exhale, and tried to move the discussion forward, “Well oh glorious tactician expert, me and Julian were riding the biggest threats on the field. Why would you waste a Gauss shot on a light mech when there are 2 mediums running down the field? Especially when those lights are running 4 medium lasers and 2 LRM’s, which may as well be confetti cannons at this point. Not that that’s an issue.” Brynjar clapped Charlie squarely on the back and gave him a sidelong grin.

“Huh, Charlie Connolly,” Charlie chuckled to himself.

“Also, good call outs on the field Ruby, spectacular fucking work, and the way you bullied those drivers out of the vehicles, fucking genius.” Brynjar chuckled at the idea of tiny figures in the distance fleeing as far and fast as they could.

“Yes, well done on being brave enough to use a 35-ton war machine to stop those terrifying vans… While we almost died…” Julian shot Ruby and Brynjar a devastating look, “Just fuck already…it’s pathetic.”

Julian turned around to look at each mech before setting eyes on his Yvonne. Having not seen, or perhaps not registering, the damage to his mech, he broke. His hand twitch and his hip flask hit the floor, spilling its contents. His eye also began to twitch before he cried, “Oh GOD! How does it look even worse from further away?!”. He span back to Ady and grabbed him by the shirt with both hands, shaking him, “You’ll fix her right?” Julian pleaded, “You will fix her!” he then demanded.

“Yes, yes!” Ady replied almost dismissively, “Now get off me.”

Ruby couldn’t bare the awkwardness any more and put an arm around Julian. She spoke softly trying to calm him down and ushered him off the hanger deck. She intended to get more alcohol into him at the crew lounge.  Drunk to the point of being asleep was preferable to anything else right now.

“Unhand me wench… I’m Julian Delacroix…” He said quietly as he was led away, only half making an attempt to resist.

Charlie looked at his Locust, impressed with himself. He looked back, firstly to Brynjar then to Ady, “I don’t know about you but the Locust with LRM’s suck, happy to hear your thoughts.”. Charlie gave Brynjar a wink and Ady a thumbs-up before marching off towards the crew lounge, muttering to himself, “Charlie fucking Connolly.”

Brynjar reciprocated the wink and threw in a hearty smile, still puffing on his cigar, “So!” he started loudly, “Let’s prioritise Julian’s mech first and get him back into a better head space.”

Ady grunted a response as Brynjar drew back on his cigar again, “Isabelle, work with folk to get me a full count and status of our haul from that mission. I’m expecting great things here!”

“No worries Bryn!” Isabelle replied with a tiny jump and a big smile.

“Right, now I’m off for a drink,” Brynjar said, slapping Ady on the arm as he walked off. After only a few steps, however, Brynjar stopped and turned to Ady with a deliciously evil smile across his face, “Fuck it, make the right side of Julian’s mech pink, that way they might shoot the left side next time.”

Brynjar laughed to himself as he carried on to the crew lounge, leaving Ady and Isabelle to wonder about everyone’s’ sanity.

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