APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 4 March, 1999


The Tales of the Jolly Rogers - Mission Two:

Nuke 'Em Till They Glow and Shoot 'Em in the Dark!

Bernard David

Previously in the Tales of the Jolly Rogers...

APAGear II, Volume 1, Number 3 contains Mission One: Shiver My Guns as well as a description of Bernard's Jolly Rogers. Check it out!

Mission Two: Nuke 'Em Till They Glow and Shoot 'Em in the Dark

Chapter 1: Finders Keepers, Loser Weepers

Remy Petain. Sous-sergent Remy Petain, the Black Mamba Heavy Gear pilot breathed heavily against his helmet's mouthpiece. Sweat from his forehead trickled down on his face. An occasional drop or two entered his eyes and irritated him to some degree but no matter now as he's facing a formidable opponent in a form of a red Northern Jaguar Heavy Gear. He planted his Gear firmly on where it stood, took aim and fired round after round at the incoming Jaguar. Opposing Heavy Gear swerved from left to right, avoiding his shots easily. Mouthing a heap of curses, he switched his autocannon to full auto fire mode. Squeezing on the "fire" button, the weapon let off a three second burst of slugs after which it settled down to a whining sound. "Oh no! Out of ammuntion!" Remy shrieked. "There's only one thing I can do." He brandished his Gear's vibroblade before the rapidly closing enemy Gear. Throwing all his caution into the wind, he charged towards the Jaguar.

John Ogilvy smiled with glee as his HUD showed before him a charging Black Mamba armed with a vibroblade. Yanking his controls hard to one side at the last minute, his Gear sidestepped. The attacker missed altogether, losing his balance. At this time, John gave him an elbow on his V-engine block and sent him crashing to the sands below. Stepping the enemy Gear's back, he hissed. " The fight is over."

Galahad Lips approached the battle site in his strider. Surveying the carnage, he smiled to himself, thinking of the amount of hard cash he will get by selling the refurbished enemy Gears at Khayr-ad-Din. At the back of his head, he regretted using anti-structural rounds on the bunker. "That shot must have busted everything inside the bunker including precious electronic equipment. Should have told the guys to take the perimeter guards and leave the bunker alone. Then again, it might be armed.......Nah, what the heck. Time to call our Northern allies." he mumbled as he tuned his communicator to the CNCS frequency.

By sunrise, the Northern forces had arrived to occupy the area. "Most impressive. I must say, the odd were on you and you turned the tables on them." The Northern Intelligence officer said. Lips grinned widely, showing his white-washed teeth to him before bending over him. " Yeah, right. Now, may I have the money as agreed ? Oh, yes! The amount of captured equipment also." The officer handed him a briefcase along with a truckload of "salvage". The so-called salvage were no more than pieces of wrecked military hardware. Wincing his face, Lips stared hard at the officer. "What's this ?" He growled. " The captured equipment as promised." the Intelligence officer said smugly. "That's junk." Lips defined. He then made his point clear by throwing the safety catch of his pistol at his side and upholstering it to point at the intact Gears. " That's salvage better known as CAPTURED EQUIPMENT."

Cold sweat began to appear from the officer's forehead, he tried to give a sheepish grin nervously. " R......Right." he stammered. Scuttling away from Lips, he ordered a personnel nearby to hand over the captured Gears to the Jolly Rogers as soon as possible. Without wasting any more time, he boarded a Rock Beetle helicopter. The moment it was airborne, it sped off into the horizon. "What a rat!" Galahad Lips shook his head, walking towards the rest of the Jolly Rogers who were busy talking to each other by his Strider.

At the Jolly Rogers' home, the Doghouse Junkyard. MacDonald Devin and his team of mechanics busied themselves with repairing the Rogers captured enemy Gear while the Rogers celebrated their first mission completed at the Pirate's Den; the team's office. Galahad, Ray, Pierre and Siegfried downed several tankards of beers before Pierre collapsed from one drink too many. Ivy being somewhat anti alcoholic politely refused to drink. Only indulging herself in a "tame" fruit juice. John however was busy mixing with one kind of drink with another: making his own cocktail. When he did came with a drink. The rest stared at his weird concoction: a swirling red potion that fizzles. " Here's to health, gentlemen!" John howled on the top of his voice. Drinking the cocktail in a draught, he gave off a silly smile after that fell to the floor, cross eyed. "Sheeesh......I could have shwon I was in heaven. Hic!" He mumbled. The rest of the Jolly Rogers laughed at the funny spectacle John created. All of them remembered the hard times they went through last time. For past few months, they were hired to serve as escorts mostly for caravans and convoys as deterrence against rovers and bandits. The pay was barely enough to cover the cost for maintenance, repairs and fuel used. Still, it was money after all. " I say, I say my dear fellows. Let's go for some well deserved R & R.." Pierre suggested. " Sharagossha?" John said. "Are you crazy? You wanna get killed in a some crossfire or car bomb?" Pierre snubbed. " How about Skavara? I know a guy that will take us to a place where we will treat be treated like kings." Siegfried says. " What's his name?" Ivy asked. "What's his name ?............wait.......what's that jackass called..? Rafiq!" "That S.O.B is called Rafiq Ghandar. Met him when I was a hired gun about three years back." Siegfried recalled. " What or who the heck is this Rafiq ?" Galahad asked. " Well, I think he's a big shot of some kind at the Eastern Sun Emirates. Got a big house, a private aircraft. Not to mention an army of bodyguards. Let me search for his address and contact number." He shoved his two hands into his pockets. A troubled expression crossed his face as he groped around for his diary in his deep pockets. Finally, Siegfried pulled out an old battered book from his left pocket. Frantically flipping through the pages, he found the number and address of his old contact at the last page. " Well ?" John said with a rather blank expression. "Okay. I got it here. I'll contact him tonight." Siegfried says, scribbling it on a scrap paper. "Hey! Lips! The gears are fixed. Except for two. The Jaguar "Sic" mauled. Her engine is a goner. The other is the bullet ridden Jaeger. Her condition explains it all. They are all damaged beyond repair. But their other parts are in prime condition. We can take them apart for salvage." Devin said over the intercom system.

Lips went over the office balcony overlooking the repair yard, he gave thumbs up as a sign of approval to the tech working there.

Chapter Two: Next Stop---- Skavara, Eastern Suns Emirates

The next day evening, the Jolly Rogers upon packing finish their belongings in their duffel bags, flung them into the cavernous innards of their private aircraft--- an unflattering, battered Bracchus. "Who is going to fly this bag of bones?" asked Siegfried. "Oh no! Not me!" protested Pierre. "The last I flew it, it rattled so hard that I thought it was coming apart......in midair." "That's because you made a turn too tight, Dumkopf !" Siegfried barked. Pierre, looking very displeased made an obscene gesture to the aircraft. "Okay, stop the quibbling! I will fly." Ray Vahn said as he stepped forward to volunteer himself. "Esquire, you will be my co-pilot. Come, let's proceed to the cockpit."

Ten hours later, they were approaching towards the borders of the Eastern Suns Emirates. The Bracchus was on auto-pilotmode for both Ray Vahn and Pierre Esquire were slumped over the cockpit's controls, fast asleep when a warning klaxon was activated. "What the......" Ray exclaimed before he checked the radar for hostile aircraft. " Hello unknown aircraft, this is Roc one. Identify yourself. Over." Peering hard into the view port, he saw a pair of Quetzal fighters coming on fast over the horizon. "Hello Roc one, this is Juliet Romeo eight five. We are the mercenary unit, Jolly Rogers. We are here for R&R. Over" "Roc one, Roger. Over" "Roc one to Juliet Romeo zero five. We have been requested to escort you to El-Jaffha airbase. Over." The Quetzals then maneuvered themselves to the sides of the Bracchus and shepherded it to their air base.

The blinding rays of Helios, Terra-Nova's sun shone deeply into the insides of the Bracchus air transport as it opened it's doors. The Jolly Rogers exited the craft only to see themselves surrounded by Skavaran soldiers. " Siegfried? Is that really you?" a familiar voice asked out. Siegfried's face lit up almost immediately. Dropping his belongings, he saw a middle-aged, portly man with a short, neat beard emerging from phalanx of soldiers. "Rafiq! You old bag! How are you ?" Both men walked briskly to each other and hugged themselves deeply. "Fine! I am now the advisor to the Emir of Skavara. What are we waiting for ? Call for friends out! Hop in!" A convoy of limousines snaked in just then, stopping by the Rogers' aircraft.

The vehicles ploughed through the streets of the Skavaran marketplace at a snail's place. For the past one hour, the drivers were horning frantically at the seemingly stone deaf Skavarans who doesn't seemed care a hoot about their surroundings, they were just too interested in doing their own businesses. "Look!" Ivy cried out, pointing at the window of the shophouse ahead. A LAW tube is jutting out of the window, poised to fire at the lead vehicle. " Quick! Warn Rafiq!" " No time, Ivy!" declares Pierre as he drew his pistol, cocked it and opened the limousine's sun roof. Taking a careful aim, "Damn it!" he swore. "That jerk hid himself too well, leaving only the barrel exposed. Alright, I'll do this." He snapped off shot. The impact of the bullet threw the firer off his aim. In his panic, he squeezed the trigger. The rocket ignited, streaked down like a fiery meteor, hitting the streets below in a billowing mushroom cloud. The street was thrown into chaos, the convoy could not move without knocking down the civilians. Unable to move, the limousines were a sitting duck to any further attacks. Fortunately, there wasn't any. Later at Rafiq's residence, " What the hell was that all about?" Siegfried asked. " Well, these people called themselves the "Holy Warriors of a New Covenant." Fanatics of a new religion, Lusimmism. Their leader is Lusimm. They believe in the extreme discipline of the mind, body and soul. Lusimm declared that Skavara is tainted by "evils" of mankind and therefore should be cleansed by fire. For past few months, they set bombs just about everywhere, causing huge, uncontrollable fires. Not only that he is a very charismatic leader, capable of swaying his followers, making them obeying his most insane bidding. Lusimm has his stooges everywhere in Skavara. No one knows who is a member of the Holy Warriors. A cloud of paranoid hangs over us now." Rafiq laments. " Don't worry, old friend. I have seen my share of mad prophets and monks." Siegfried assured him.

The next day at the Skavaran Emirate court, the Emir, a tall Arabic man with high cheekbones and bulging eyes greets the Jolly Rogers with a curt nod. The Emir had ordered Rafiq to summon them to his palace. "Greetings, I am Emir Gandhar. I have heard much about your exploits, especially you Siegfried Hunter." Siegfried replied, " You are only to kind, sir. Rafiq has somewhat exaggerated...........my deeds." "A man of courage will commands much respect here in the Emirates. I understand that your group is here for a vacation, not a fight. My humble apologies, we are right now in the middle of a political turmoil. The so-called Holy Warrior has subverted much of the lower class citizens. Riots and demonstrations are all too common right now. I have dispatched my military to deal with the problem. However, these riots are a very fanatical lot. They violently overwhelm my men without giving regards their personal safety. Needless to say, it is a very bloody affair to suppress them." The Emir explained with a wry expression. Tilting his head to one side, " Come, I'll show you our predicaments now." Leading the Rogers into a command center located deep in the palace's basement. " This is the heart of the Skavaran army. Here, we have the state of the art technologies to handle command, control & communications. Not only that, monitoring equipment at strategic locations allows us to know if the Holy Warriors were to up something or not." " You didn't just bring us here for a tour of your home." Ray Vahn said nonchalantly with his arms crossed. "Yes, I need your tactical advice on countering these...terrorists The situation is dire. I have lost a quarter of my armed forces to them already. No, not to fights but defections. Not only that, I lost a nuclear plant two days to them." "A NUCLEAR PLANT? I thought Terra-Nova never had that before." Lips said. " It's a nuclear power station built long ago by fore fathers. Now barely functioning, it stood as a relic from our past but the amount of plutonium is barely depleted. A sizable amount is still kept in the plant's store" " And it takes less than one kilogram of it to make a nuclear bomb." Pierre interrupted. "Yes." the Emir hissed.

Chapter Three: Proclamation of Holy Fire " I suggest we volunteer to undertake this mission. Lips? " Pierre asked Galahad. " No. I can't allow that. How many of us are trained in special forces tactics? With the exception of you, of course." "I, too have the experience!" Ivy protested. " In Heavy Gear tactics, not commandos." John corrected her. " Lips! I volunteer this with Pierre." Siegfried declared. " Okay. That will do! Lips! Siegfried and I will do it!" Pausing for a while, Galahad Lips looked at both men earnestly, " Alright but be careful." " Yes, sir!" both Siegfried and Pierre smirked. Turning the Emir, " Sir, what do you want us to do?"

The holotank which occupied the center of the command bunker lit up a three dimensional layout of the nuclear plant. " El-husasin" nuclear plant was its name. " The reactor is barely functioning.........wrong.....it is now no longer functioning. There isn't any radioactive substance or risk on the surface. So it's all right to move around unprotected. The basement is another story. A cache of plutonium is stored in the western wing of basement three. Basement one & two were the accommodation levels for the reactor's personnel." explained the Emir. " How do you intend to insert us in the installation?" Pierre asked. " Underneath my residence, there is disused tunnel leading to the reactor. No one know about it but me." Both of them raised their eyebrows and knodded knowingly. " Give us some time to arm ourselves." " Okay but hurry." Just then the Holy Warriors' leader, Lusimm broadcasted a message over into the monitor. Lusimm, the infamous leader of the fanatical fundamentalist group is a man of Persian descent with jutting brows and baggy face. As he spoke with a religious fervor like Adolf Hitler of the old 20th century Earth, whipping his followers into a frenzy. His crazed men fired round after round into the air continuously. Soon screams, gunfire and an occasional auto cannon fire from a rebel Heavy Gear drowned his speech. With a wave of his hand, he silenced them. Slowly he turned to face the camera. With words dripping with venom, he spoke. " EMIR DOG! You are not fit to rule Skavara. Only the chosen ONE of the new covenant is fit to rule the GLORIOUS city of SKAVARA! Surrender your position within 4 hours' time or else I will cleanse Skavara of your FILTHY influence by the HOLY FIRE OF EL HUSASIN!"

" We have no time to waste. Emir sir, I'm afraid we will have to impose on you. I will be needing weapons from your armory for we don't definitely have time to go back to our aircraft to outfit ourselves." " No problem! On my account!" Emir said with a wry smile.

" Like the old times, eh?" Pierre said as he don the turtleshell armor. " Yep! Yep! Yep!" Siegfried grinned. He picked up a fresh clip and loaded it into his sidearm. The duo helped themselves generously with the Emir's private armory. Both men wore the vaunted turtleshell armor. The armor was heavy and cumbersome but it was the 'Ne plus ultra' of personal armor capable maximum protection from small arm fire. On top of that, they were combat-hardened soldiers, wearing them was like a second layer of skin to them. Siegfried had chosen a Terran-made Gail assault rifle and the famed Desert Eagle heavy pistol. The Gail was rugged, suitable for desert usage while the Desert Eagle was the most pistol used in the military; it's caliber is a menacing 0.44 inch. As for Pierre, he picked also a Terran made AK-47 assault rifle and the Baretta Model 92. The former is a devastating Russian made weapon for the down and dirty rules of close combat and the latter while not as powerful as the Desert Eagle contains more lead; a whopping 30 rounds of 9mm bullets. After that, they were lead down to the Emir's wine cellar. Just as he was about to trigger off the secret door. Pierre halted him. " Let me guess: the barrel marked 'X' " " Wrong. the barrel marked 'Water' " corrected the Emir. Pierre gave the Emir an incredulous look as he turned the tap on the gigantic barrel. The massive barrel swung open with the sound of grinding stone to a reveal a dark, musty tunnel. " Pierre. Switch to thermal vision." Siegfried mumbled into his helmet's comm system. "Okay." Pierre acknowledged. With a deep breath, both men stepped into the tunnel.

"Do you think anyone knew about this?" Siegfried asked. " Let's hope not." Pierre answered. A 'click-clank' sound echoed through the tunnel, this is followed by another similar sound then another. " Oh-no.....my big mouth." Siegfried lamented. Gun flashes lit the tunnel. Both men dived down forward instantly, returned fire. Two of the assailants fell from it. The remainder fell back, firing defensively. Seizing the opportunity, Pierre and Siegfried charged forward, firing at full automatic. Creating a wall of slugs which tore into the thugs. All of them fell screaming. Searching the ragged bodies, Pierre found practically nothing useful on them. The only useful item was their hand-held radio set but the earlier hail of bullets had smashed it. Abandoning the bodies to denizens of the dark, they ventured deeper into the tunnel. Gradually, it evolved into a passageway of twisting, turning and zigzagging. After several disorientating turns, the end was at sight. Throwing the safety catches of their weapons to 'AUTO', Pierre rushed forwards, feeling the edges of the wall for a secret door trigger while Siegfried pointed his rifle at the presumed opening. Just in case the door opened and an angry mob of cultists were facing----with their guns cocked. A click was heard, both held their breaths as the secret opening creaked opened. Beyond the opening was darkness with an occasional red light illuminating a warning sign: DANGER! Radioactive Materials. Using his nightvison goggles, Siegfried surveyed the surroundings. The place was filled with barrels. Plutonium reserves, no doubt about it and this is probably the reactor's fuel storage chamber. Pierre emerged from the dark opening, the door closing behind him. Scuttling like a rat, he moved to the storage massive steel doors. " Can it be opened?" " No, not from the inside. But worry not. With Lusimm's crazy mentality, he will make a bomb enough to take Skavara off the Terra-Novan map." Pierre said. " I suppose we wait till those thugs come in here and....." Siegfried finished his point by moving his index finger across his throat. Pierre nodded in response.

Both waited patiently for the door to open. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes turned to hours. Increasing turning impatient, Siegfried frowned. With an irritated tone, he asked. " Are you sure they are coming? Or have they just took the plutonium earlier ?" Pierre paid no heed to his complains, waited quietly. Giving off a frustrated sigh, he continued waiting. Just then, the doors groaned and opened. They squinted as the light of the outside pierced into the enveloped darkness of the storage chamber. Seven men dressed in old Terran Afghanistan robes with automatic weapons slung from their sides entered. They were escorting two personnel in radioactive suits. Like panthers on the prowl, Siegfried and Pierre sprang out. Two swift strokes from Siegfried's rifle butt knocked the suited personnel out cold while Pierre rolled a grenade across the floor and into middle of the group. The surprised group fumbled with their weapons, attempted to bear them on the two armored soldiers in front of them. They never made it. An explosion blossomed upwards, consuming them in a fiery ball. Stripping the radioactive suits off the two, Siegfried and Pierre took off the turtleshell armor at the same time wore the suit on themselves. Moving a barrel of plutonium onto a trolley nearby, they pushed it out of the chamber towards the elevator. Inside, Pierre asked. " Well? Which floor you think they are from?" Pointing a gloved hand at the third button of the elevator panel, Siegfried mumbled, " Reactor controls, I presume."

Lusimm hovered over the nuclear plant's captured technicians like a vulture, occasionally peering over their shoulders. He nodded knowingly as the deadly nuclear detonator made by them was near completion. Just ten minutes ago, he sent his men and two of the plant's staff, clad in radioactive suits down to the storage chamber to retrieve a supply of plutonium. Speed, he thought is essential right now as the Skavaran military is probably mustering a force to retake the reactor. With the finished nuclear bomb, they will stop whatever they are doing and do everything to prevent him from triggering it. A hissing sound broke his train of thoughts. Turning around, he saw the elevator door opened, two radioactive suited men moving a barrel of plutonium out. A smile slowly moved across Lusimm's face. " Quickly! Insert the plutonium into the detonator!" he barked. " Eh? Where are the guards that were with you earlier?" Pierre flicked his left sleeve and a pistol slid into his hand. Pointing at Lusimm, " Disarm the bomb.........now." he demanded. Lusimm gave off an insane expression as he edged towards the glass view port of the reactor. Behind it was the old and virtually inoperable nuclear reactor. Kept functioning barely by the plant's skeleton crew. It gave off a whining sound to denote it's status unlike that of a functional reactor which gave off a thrumming sound. Training his pistol on Lusimm, Pierre squeezed the trigger. The bullet hit his chest squarely with a resounding 'thud and threw him backwards, smashing his body onto the glass panes. A Heavy Gear head belonging to a Python reared up, surprising Pierre and Siegfried . Lusimm picked himself up, tore away his robe to reveal a bulletproof vest! With a guffaw, he leaped onto the Gear. It raised it's massive autocannon, shoved it into the reactor control room and fired.

The whole room was ripped apart by the resulting autocannon fire. Pierre dived behind the control panels while Siegfried was herding the innocent personnel into the elevator when it happened. As Pierre struggled to get up from the debris-ridden room, he felt left side rather wet. Looking down, he saw a gash on his ribs. Blood was pouring from it profusely. While he pondered on what to do next, an arm wrapped itself around his shoulders. " Don't move." the voice whispered. Lifting his head up, he saw Siegfried. Giving off a weak smile, he stood up clutching his wounded side. " Where's the hostages ?" He asked. " I have sent them the secret tunnel already."

" How touching." Lusimm said as he stood on the shoulder of the Python cross armed. " Even though, you have foiled my plans. But Providence is Almighty! I am not left nothing! I shall cause the reactor to OVERLOAD.................by draining the coolant away."

The cultists wrenched opened the reactor's main coolant valve. A tide of blue colored liquid gushed out. The warning alarm sounded within seconds the coolant was released. " In approximately one hour's time, the reactor will attained critical mass and explode like no one on Terra-Nova has ever seen. Oh, don't be too hopeful about your friends coming hear to rescue you and disarm the reactor. I will make sure that they never make in time." snarled Lusimm.

Chapter 3: Countdown

The Emir was pondering the outcome of Pierre and Siegfrieds' when a servant approached him. Whispering into his ear, his face contorted into a mask of despair as the servant spoke more of the details. Galahad Lips and the rest of the Jolly Rogers team were nearby also. Seeing what happened, Lips rushed to the Emir and asked. " What's the outcome?" "The technicians of the reactor had been evacuated through the tunnel. They said that Pierre and Siegfried had stopped the construction of the nuclear bomb. But it seems that in the process, Pierre was trapped in the crossfire. Siegfried after seeing the technicians to safety, returned back to save him. Both of them never returned back." "Then we must save them! There's no telling a loon like Lusimm will do to them just extract vital information." Lips said as he narrowed his eyes.

" JOLLY ROGERS!" barked Lips. " HERE!" the team shouted in unison. " Our men, Pierre and Siegfried were captured by the enemy. What are we going to do?" he asked. " SAVE THEM!"

" Before you go, I will give you some assistance to your........dangerous endeavor. Rafiq, you are now the In-charge of this operation. Go and call forth my loyal troops." The Emir ordered Rafiq as he handed him a letter of authorization. Rafiq snapped sharply and whisked off like the wind.

The Skavaran task force was composed of Basilisk and Python class Heavy Gears with a number of Naga Striders for support. The commander in his command Heavy Gear, a Razor Fang Black Mamba asked Rafiq who was in an Elan buggy whether if 's time to move out. "No, not yet. Wait. " Rafiq said. Four figures appeared from a distance, walking towards him. Dismounting from the Elan, he approached them. " Sorry. You will have to make do with this. My force only consists of Basilisks and Pythons. As for you, Galahad Lips, I have a Naga specially prepared for you."

Both men were injured. One slightly, the other seriously but the pitiless mob pushed them forward. Standing before a vidcam, Lusimm raised a pistol and pointed at Pierre's head. " I want to read this to the Emir dog. NOW!" Barely conscious, Pierre took the note from Lusimm and started reading. Although, he was rapidly slipping into shock. Pierre used his years of Legion Noire discipline to keep himself together. " This is Perre Esquire of the mercenary unit, the Jolly Rogers. We are now in the hands of the Holy Warriors. We have committed the unspeakably, vile act of attempting to assassinate the illustrious leader, Lusimm. However we have failed. Emir of Skavara, you now have 45 minutes to give up your position before Skavara is destroyed by a plague. A plague of nuclear rain!" As soon as he finished, the mob howled with an unholy ecstasy. Then an explosion in the midst tore mob apart, this was followed another barrage which ripped through cultists' vehicle pool, propelling flaming wreckage and tyres everywhere. Chaos gripped the area. Siegfried grabbed this moment to escape. Pulling Pierre along, both men vanished into the sea of chaos.

Rafiq observed through his binoculars, inspecting the destruction wrought by the Pythons' mortars. Several black mushroom clouds billowed from compound. " Commander, this Rafiq. You may attack now." he spoke into the Elan's comm system. Immediately the Razor Fang Black Mamba powered up it's engine. Other Gears followed on as well. Soon the entire area was filled with an angry roaring noise. Charging forward at full speed in ground movement mode, throwing up huge amount of dust and exhaust in their wake, the Heavy Gear task force was an impressive sight. From positions on the high, ferrocrete walls, the Holy Warriors fired bursts of heavy machine guns at the rapidly closing horde. A few deployed anti-Gear weaponry like AGM or rocket launchers.

A stray bullet shattered a Basilisk heavy gear's sensors head, causing it to stop. It proved to it's undoing as bullets rained down on the poor sap mercilessly, peppering it with holes. Another Basilisk fell back, landing on the V-engine block. A gaping hole gouged on it's torso was seen by all, still smoking. The initial blitzkrieg of Heavy Gears was virtually halted by a withering hail of defensive fire. Undaunted, the commander rallied his men. Unlimbering a panzerfaust from his Gear's back armor, he fired at section of the high wall. The explosive laden round slammed onto the wall with an earthshaking 'bang'. The wall collapsed, taking a large number of defenders to their doom. The Naga striders who practically hung back in the fight fired their vaunted anti-tank missiles or better known as ATMs. The salvo destroyed the remaining walls in a cloud of debris. Once cleared, the force moved into the reactor compounds.

Lusimm, in his Python waited patiently underground. As fighting raged on earlier, he and his squad of renegade Skavaran Heavy Gear pilots had dug foxholes and hid themselves in. Sensing the enemies are near, he sprang out. Firing a long burst at the invaders, he managed to down three gears in a storm of heavy slugs and shrapnel before jumping back into the hole. " Fire at them, my followers! We must not let them get to the reactor! Only 25 minutes more and our work will be done!" The renegades reared out the foxholes, firing frenziedly at the approaching formation of Gears.

Pinned down by the defensive fire, the Skavaran force scrambled for cover rapidly. Ray Vahn gestured to a pair of friendly Basilisks to give him cover fire while he move forth to clear the nearby foxhole. Priming his Gear-sized grenade, he lobbed it into the foxhole and fired a salvo of rockets a few second later. The enemy Python crawled out hastily to avoid the grenade blast, only to blasted apart by the rockets

John Ogilvy who had just emptied his entire autocannon magazine on a trench occupied by a pair of Basilisks dropped back into cover to reload. As he was reloading, a grenade landed on his position. " Oh no!" He cried as a firestorm filled his cockpit's video display screen bright orange. The Basilisk pilot who has thrown the grenade smiled. " He's probably a goner by now." he thought. Then a ragged figure moved out. It was the Basilisk he thought he had destroyed! The Basilisk drew out a vibroblade and held it high in the air before charging straight at him. " Lesson one in warfare: thou shall not assume!" said a very angry John. For that moment, nothing exists between he and the enemy Basilisk anymore. As he closed in, the Basilisk answered his challenge by clambering out of the trench, to fight him. Firing a burst at John, it did little to slow him down. At point blank range, John fired three tightly grouped shots at the Basilisk. All three hit the GEAR squarely on the chest. Diving into the trench, he finished the last defender with the vibro-blade.

Seeing his forces being slowly overwhelmed, Lusimm ordered his remaining men to retreat into the reactor. Only handful of Heavy Gears remained; three Python and two Basilisk. While pulling back into the reactor, one of the Pythons was blown apart and the two Basilisk were reduced to junk in a blink of an eye. A Naga appeared from the corner of Lusimm's eye. Spinning around his Python, he fired at the Naga. The strider took all the shots; huge bottle sized holes were gouged into it's frame. Lips was behind the Naga's cockpit with Ivy as his copilot. Squeezing the autocannon trigger button, he shrieked. " Eat this, false prophet!"

A fusillade of slugs sped towards Lusimm's Gear. Shoving their master's Heavy Gear aside, the one of tthe last two Pythons took the hail of slugs and crashed onto ground. Ray Vahn moved up onto the last Python, pointed his autocannon at it's back. " Don't even think about it." But Lusimm was adamant. " Hah! I may defeated. But look at your time, the reactor will go up in approximately five minutes time!"

" Pierre, how's the reactor?" asked Siegfried. " No good, it's going explode soon! Come on! We will have tell our allies get out of here!" Both men made their towards the nearest exit when a convoy of coolant trucks stormed in. The crews quickly connect the pipes from the truck to the reactor. At a twist of a handle, the overheated reactor was cooled rapidly as tons of freezing agent poured into the system. Both Siegfried and Pierre let off a sight of relief as the seemingly hopeless situation was turned. Finally only then they allowed themselves the luxury of passing out.

Epilogue: Do Not Judge Others Lest That You Will Be Judged.............

The Emirate's hall was deathly quiet when Lusimm and his remaining followers were brought in. They were presented bound in chains from head to toe before the Emir. " Lusimm, you have been judged guilty for crimes committed against the Emir and the state of Skavara. How do you plead?" demanded the Emir. Lusimm spat on the ground, swore and cursed at the Emir in Arabic. " What insolence you display to my lord!" Rafiq scolded. " Very well, since you have shown no signs of repent. Death is only way out for you!" Upon finishing his words, the Emir drew out a baroque pistol from his robes. " You are too dangerous even to be kept in prison. I am executing you myself!" With that, he stood up and fired a single shot. Lusimm fell to the ground with a neat bullet hole on his forehead.

Next Month

The Next chapter of the Saga of the Jolly Rogers - The Legend of the Desert Vikings: John Ogilvy's pasts catches up with him and tangles him and the Norlight Armed Forces together! Watch for it here!

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