APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 1 December, 1998


Flying, Killing Purple People

Damen DeLeenheer

It was day five of the projected ten day patrol, and it was beginning to show. Sous-Sergant Jiles was beginning to tire of the of the poor performance of the Gear unit after days of blatant ineptitude. Spread out and in no position to defend itself, the section stumbled through the Barrington Basin, just north of Saragasso. One of the Gears, a Jäger, came to a sudden halt and without warning, the pilot popped the vehicle's hatch. This was too much. Jiles flipped on the external loudspeakers of his Black Mamba and bellowed into the mike of his helmet. "Soldat Ky, just what the hell do you think you are doing? You have no permission to leave your vehicle." The pilot looked up, startled by the Sous-Sergants voice roaring over the dunes. The soldier quickly scrambled back into his Jäger, and got it rolling again. "What possible reason could you have for leaving your Gear without first requesting permission during a patrol, Soldat?" Jiles' temper was hot and he had no intention of letting this latest transgression go unpunished.

"But Sous-Sergant, I had to relieve myself, mon dieu, I'm about ready to burst. "

"If you ever leave your vehicle without permission again, I will burst your bladder personally. Never ever again, do you understand?" Jiles was getting ready to blow.

"Yes, Sous-Sergant. I understand." The Soldat's voice sounded suitably fearful over the radio.

"Fine then, prepare to move out. Soldat Ky, you go on point, and I'll be watching you. One more mistake, and will personally see you transferred to the civil garbage service, do you understand?"

"Yes, Sous-Sergant." Jiles watched as the Jäger hurried to the front of the ragtag group and took the lead.

As the section began moving, Jiles couldn't help but wonder what MILITIA command had been thinking when they selected his section for this patrol. With tensions increasing all over the boarder, and numerous sightings of Northern units all over this area, it would be suicide if they were to actually encounter any hostile forces. He had been thinking earlier this month when he had been assigned to one of the brand new Black Mamba Gears that things were looking up in his career, but now he want's so sure. Perhaps this was someone's twisted way of trying to test the new Gear under the duress of actual combat, and someone just forgot to tell him about it.

Either way, Jiles was going to do whatever it took to finish this patrol with as little action as possible in order to get a different batch of newbies. These one were terrible.

It was the terrible screams of a dying human that jolted him out of his reverie; he was getting as bad as his charges. "Who the hell was that, what's going on? Alpha section, sound off by the numbers!" Jiles twisted and turned his gear in order to discover the source of the scream.

"Alpha-1, here."

"Alpha-3, here."

"Alpha-4 here." At least they have that down, Jiles thought. But Where was Alpha-2? Jiles continues to scan, but only Ky's Jäger was currently visible, small dunes had broken up line of sight between the rest of the squad.

"Sous-Sergant, there are gears coming out of the ground, Sergant, they are all around me!" Alpha-3's voice cracked with his last word. A quick scan on the radar showed contacts literally popping up all over the place. The roar of rockets could suddenly be heard from off to his left somewhere, and a column of smoke was rising over the dune in front of him.

"Hold your position Alpha-3, I'm on my way." Jiles recognized Soldat Ky's voice. Alpha-4 broke iinto a run over the hill in front of him. Jiles watched helplessly as the Gear suddenly jumped into the air and sprouted flame from holes that appeared all over the humanoid machine's torso. The Gear slammed back down into the desert sand with a crash. Appearing right behind it was the silhouette of a Northern Gear, a Den Mother. Jiles stomped on the throttle pedals, and unleashed a quick burst of shots from his own Gear's medium autocannon. The much larger enemy gear returned fire with a barrage of rockets and heavy autocannon fire, but luckily the shots were rushed and all went wide. A quick glance at his tac screen showed that a number of other contacts were closing on his position, and none of them were part of his section. If he was going to survive this encounter, he'd better start thinning out the competition.

Moving at full throttle, he burst past the Den Mother and put one sand dune in between himself and the larger Gear. A second contact was closing quickly on his right, so he spun his Black Mamba around to prepare for the incoming target. A Hunter crested the dune, and Jiles opened up with a series of bursts from his autocannon. A few of the shots hit, but failed to do any significant damage. Jiles drew one of the Gears hand grenades, and lobbed the device towards the enemy.

Too late the enemy pilot realized what had been thrown, and before he could move, the blast ripped the legs out from underneath his Gear. The machine collapsed backwards, and disappeared behind the dune from which it had come.

Before he could resume his flight from the pitched battle, a burst of rocket fire slammed into his Gear from behind. Jiles fought for control as he watched helplessly the left arm of his machine be torn from the rest of the mechanical body. Smoke and sparks quickly filled the small cockpit, and Jiles was forces to turn on the vent or risk choking on the fumes. He throttled up the Gear again and moves as quickly as he could from his assailant, which by now had been identified by his taccom as the Den Mother.

"Base, this is Eagle-1, we have contact with enemy forces, please send reinforcements. Have lost rest of section. Repeat, we have contact with enemy forces, request urgent reinforcements." Jiles dodged his Gear back and forth in order to evade any incoming fire. His screens still showed the four surviving enemy Gears close, but only two were appearing to be chasing him. Still, two Gears were still far more than he could handle with this much damage to his machine.

Small eruptions of sand off to his left told Jiles that the enemy Gears had caught up with him. There wasn't any more point to running. He spun his Gear around and dropped into a crouch, and blind fired his rockets. The spread of projectiles went far wide of the closest vehicle behind him, another Hunter. It was enough however to force the pilot to break right and cause his shot to miss. Jiles tracked the fast moving machine with the autocannon, and released a quick burst. the shots connected, gouging the armor, but nothing more serious than that.

Jiles was about to resign himself to a hopeless death in the barren sands of the Badlands when the second pursuit Gear, another Hunter, came to a complete stop as it crested the dune. From Jiles's vantage point, the Gear appeared not to be looking at him, but above him, into the sky above. Air support, mon dieu I hope so. A quick glance to his right showed the other Hunter had also come to a stop, also staring up into the sky. What the hell is going on? Jiles struggled with whether or not to take advantage of the sitting ducks, but something about the odd behavior of the others made him think he'd better see what was going on, I just hope this isn't some weird trap of theirs.

Cautiously, Jiles turned, following his enemies line of sight. At first he didn't see anything, but then he noticed it. The sky was full of small, dark shapes that were slowly getting larger. Seconds crept by, and Jiles set the Gears scanners to identifying the shapes. The computer quickly enough provided clearer pictures, but was still unable to identify the objects. Floating Tanks? What is going on here, who are these people?

Before any more questions could pop into his mind, a thunderous boom shook the desert, followed by an explosion that tossed Jiles' Gear into the air like so much dust. The machine came down hard 20 meters away from it's original location. The force of the landing blasted the air out of Jiles' lungs. He lay there gaping like a fish out of water while klaxons, alarms, and the computer's own annoying voice told him that all weapon systems were off line, and that secondary movement systems had been shattered. None of the information bothered him as much as his inability to draw air. When the first breaths finally came to him, he was able to start to process more of the information. Where one of the Hunters had been previously standing, a large crater now existed. More and more of the mysterious tanks approached the ground. I've got to get out of here. I've got to report this.

Tactics and calm had left Jiles, and once he wrestled the crippled Gear back to it's feet, he fled, full throttle. Behind him, the first of the strange tanks had reached the ground and were slowly spreading out amongst the debris of the previous battle. Fortunately, they did not appear interested in giving chase. He looked over his shoulder one last time, and saw what appeared to be purple skinned soldiers emerging from the hatches of the tanks. Flying tanks and purple people, Command is never going to believe me.

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 1 December, 1998