|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 9||September, 1999|
APAGear II, Volume 1, Number 5 contains the first five chapters of "The Legend of the Desert Vikings." Check it out! You can find more tales of the Jolly Rogers in Bernard's contribution to Volume 1, Number 3 and Volume 1, Number 4. Check them out, too!
The Badlands town of Tunahra now turned ad-hoc base for the Northern Guard is currently being visited by a landship, the Wolf. The Wolf although smaller than the Vortex class landship is by no means less deadlier. In fact, she is first of her kind: a landship that is capable of "outfighting any enemy it cannot outrun and outrunning any enemy it cannot outfight." Her two turrets, one at the fore and the other at the aft consisted of four 203mm guns each coupled with a battery of ATM and LAM launchers enabled the Wolf to live up it's vaunted reputation. Her commander, Captain Hanz Langsdhorth was a veteran of Baja spoke with an air of confidence to Colonel Kranz.
" I assured you, sir. We can defeat these..........rovers with ease. With my ship as your ally, nothing shall stand against us!"
" I wouldn't bet on that, Hanz. My regiment was badly mauled by those rovers. So don't get too smug. I am aware that you spent four cycles on the Badlands hunting for rover gangs and you were decorated highly for your efforts. Know this, you are fighting a renegade Northern unit. Their commander is Vikter Tykane."
" Tykane! Good Prophet! I am fighting him?" exclaimed Langzdhorth.
Kranz answered his question with silent, curt nod.
" Well, they told me that we will be assisting your unit in clearing out some marauding rovers."
"Some story they cooked up." Mumbled Kranz
" OF COURSE! It's on a need to know basis!" a gruff voice barked.
Both officers turned around and saluted at the figure that was behind them sharply.
" Brigadier General Zugs, Sir!"
" Kranz, I am appalled by your inability to handle the situation. I expect a colonel to do more than just radio HQ for help. You know that the Desert Viking affair has been under wraps for cycles. Under no circumstances will you or any involved personnel leak out this operation. Do you get me?"
"Yes. Sir." Kranz answered.
" Good. As for you, Captain Langzdhorth. I hope your reputation as a legendary rover hunter is not just namesake. I brought the Wolf here as a precautionary measure. Just in case, Tykane turns nasty when I negotiate with him."
" Negotiate?" Kranz asked.
" Yes. Tykane, according to my sources has discovered how to make unmanned Gears. Imagine! An army of robotic Gears at our disposal. We can surged forth and destroy our dreaded Southern counterparts once and for all."
" But Sir, as of now we do not have any news of Tykane's position."
" I know. That's why you sent out the patrols to reconnoiter. The moment we know where it is. The whole lot here move out without delay."
As Lt. Trump dismounted from his battered Jaguar Heavy Gear, Ogilvy approached him. " You sure hanged long enough for help to come. Good for you! The ability to fight and last longer than ordinary troops is a talent much appreciated in the Northern Guard." He praised.
" S....ure, th...ank you for your compliments." Trump answered with a quivering voice. Grabbing his shoulders, Ogilvy stared hard into his eyes. " It's over already. RELAX."
" Yess......." Trump mumbled in reply.
" What happened?" Lips asked John.
" Well. This kid lost his entire squadron except a Cheetah and him to the Vikings. Somehow he survived the fight and he's now reduced to a shaking jelly of a man!"
" Then what about Ivy?"
" YO! LIPS! I got BAD NEWS for you!" Siegfried shouted on the top of his voice as he climbed down from his Heavy Gear.
" What now?" Lips frowned.
" We lost Ivy" Pierre said as he and Siegfried walked towards Lips.
" How was she killed?"
" Nein. She was not killed in action but was captured by the enemy."
" Oh man....just our luck." Lips cursed.
" Alright. Forget about her for the moment. Let's get the recon data to Colonel Kranz right away."
" Very impressive. How can they possibly established such a stronghold?" Kranz stared in awe at the hologram schematics of the Vahallan Keep flashed before him in the holotank.
" Kranz! Might I remind you that we are here to negotiate with Tykane, not to destroy him!" General Zugs thundered.
Taking a deep breath, Kranz nodded. " Good. Tell the men to be ready by dusk. We are setting off once Helios goes down. While studying the holodram, Zugs asked.
" I understand that a rag tag mercenary group called the Jolly Rogers has gotten involved in this affair. Get them out of the way. I don't want any unnecessary interference from outside."
" Sir, but someone you know is in the Jolly Rogers." Retorted Kranz.
" Who is it ?"
" John Ogilvy. Captain John Ogilvy, sir."
Zugs widened his eyes upon the mentioning of this name, he gasped in surprised.
" Good prophet! I thought he went mad after the Devil's backbone incident. He was discharged from the Terror Tigers. Haven't heard from him ever since."
" Well, he's here now."
" Tell him I want to have a chat with him. Ex-Terror Tigers members are so scarce nowadays."
John trotted through the dimly lit corridor of the landship interior. Stopping in front of a door labeled "Visitor" , he knocked on the metal door. " Enter." The voice from within ordered.
"Ah. John, it's been a long time we last met. How are you?" General Zugs greeted.
" Fine, sir. Just fine." Whispered John.
" No need to formal. Come, have a seat. How is your father in Valeria ?"
" He's okay. He misses me a lot. He yearns for my return."
Letting off a hearty laugh, Zugs poured a goblet of red wine from a decanter and offered it to John. Taking the goblet, he drank it in a draught.
" I don't get it. Why must you parley with Tykane ?"
" It's a long story. Now if you could lend me your ear and listen to what I have to say."
" During the Terran invasion, Northco and Shian Mechanics had a joint effort. A very secret joint effort. They had built a secret manufacturing plant in the Badlands. This is to an emergency measure just in case the Earth Forces decided to launch an all out offensive against the Northern war factories using orbital weapons. Should that happen, all our factories on the surface would be gone but the one underground will be activated to ensure an uninterrupted flow of war machines. Best of all, it's completely automated. No human workers or supervision needed. However, of course, the worst scenario did not happened. The factory was never activated, it was forgotten after the war. Well, not exactly. Records of it were destroyed when orbital strikes demolished both Northco and Shian headquarters office. Only rumors of it's existence remained. The factory was codenamed Vulkan's Forge."
" How are you going to negotiate with you? He probably hated the Northern Guard like poison! Considering the extent of his hatred, we are lucky he didn't sent an anti matter missile straight for Valeria!" John reasoned. He made his point by banging his fist on his palm.
" Tykane was not very careful with his transmissions. We have tracked the source to this area. But we couldn't pinpoint his exactly location. When we finally did, a search from old records had confirmed that was where Vulkan's Forge was."
" Which is why you sent Kranz's unit to be mauled by them?"
" Correction. That's just to probe their strength." corrected Zugs
" Then you should know of the attack at Prince Gable that was publicize by the media."
" Yes, of course. Another reason why we are here: To investigate the strange rumor of unmanned Heavy Gears."
" Sir, I understand what's going on now. Now if you don't mind I would like to take my leave." General Zugs nodded in acknowledgment to John's request.
Ivy tried to open her eyes but her eyelids were twitching like crazy. She then tried to move the rest of her body. Her limbs trembled involuntarily and her jaws clenched tight. Slowly they subsided. Must be the after effects of the haywire grenade, she thought.
Turning her head left and right, she found herself lying on a grand bed in a huge, luxurious chamber.
" Tell me, Southerner. What did those Northern scum promise you for your service in return?" Before Ivy could answer, the voice asked her another question.
" The markings on your Heavy Gear denotes that you are a member of the Legion Noire. Are you really one of them or did you just steal the Gear from them? "
" I was once part of them but not any more. I am now a mercenary Heavy Gear pilot." Ivy answered. She searched for the source of the voice questioning her. A blurred figure stood in front of her, she focussed hard at it.
A young woman who looks older than by several cycles with shoulder length, black hair and ivory skin sized Ivy up. Her green eyes betrayed her lack of respect for Ivy. Ivy on the other hand examined her thoroughly. Her surname " Matthews" was embroidered on her Gear pilot suit.
Matthews! I'll bet she's the one Ogilvy once loved. But then again I may be wrong. Didn't she die at the fateful confrontation at the Devil's backbone cycles ago? She pondered.
" A mercenary, eh?" "Why not join us? We are much stronger than them in many ways. Besides your skills as a sniper is a much valued asset to us ."
" Betray the 'Rogers? Forget it!" Ivy retorted.
" Why you..." Matthews snarled. She reached out and grabbed Ivy by the neck with one arm. Ivy choked at her vice like grip.
How can she exert so much pressure? Especially for a woman of her size! Ivy thought.
Frantically, she flailed her hands at Matthews's arm. " Let......go." Ivy gurgled. Then Anna released her grip. Dropping onto the soft mattress, Ivy coughed and breathed in hard. Then she passed out.
Anna moved in closer to prod Ivy's motionless body. Suddenly, she sprang into life. Delivering a leg sweep, she swept an unwary Anna Matthews off her feet; crashing onto the ground with hard 'thud'. Drawing Anna's sidearm, Ivy pointed it at the back of her head. " Fooled you!" she shrieked triumphantly. But her victory was shorted-lived. Anna gave Ivy a backhand blow whick sent rolling promptly. Ivy upon recovering, responsively fired several shots at Anna. She flew back a good few feet from the impact before collasping face down.
" Oh no! What have I done ? I killed John's love!" Ivy lamented. She stood there, dazed and shocked, staring at the body of Anna Matthews. " How am I going to explain to him?"
As Ivy raved and ranted over her 'mistake', the dead body jerked and twitched into life. Anna stood up and stared hard at her assailant.
" What in the world are you anyway! How can you survive mutiple shots!" Ivy asked in horror.
" I don't know......I don't know." Anna mumbled.
" Whatever it is........look, I 'm sorry." Ivy apologized.
" What am I ?" Anna asked herself. Examining where she was shot, she found out that they do not bleed like ordinary wounds. In fact, they don't bleed at all. Unzipping the Gear pilot suit to chest level, she saw four flatten slugs embedded on her chest. It was as if her body was armored. Out of curiosity, she pinched the flesh on her arm.
Strange. It felt flesh. Just like an any ordinary human body. How can it stop bullets? She pondered.
"What are you anyway? Some kind of a freak?" a sharp voice broke her train of thoughts.
Looking at Ivy, she answered. " I don't know."
Drawing a knife from her combat harness, she drove the blade into her chest.
" Hey ! Stop that!" Ivy rushed forth in an attempt to stop her.
Ignoring her, Anna plunged it into her. Only to find it to be blunted upon impact. Confused by what happened, Anna dropped the bent knife and looked Ivy's quivering eyes.
" Er.....look here. I think....someone I know can ....help you. Well, you know him already.....John...John Ogilvy." Ivy stammered.
" John...he's here?"
" Why....yes! Now if you can let me out of here. I can take you to him. Deal?"
" First I will need you to pose as my prisoner while I escort you to the hangar bay."
The way to Gear hangar was wrought with long winding passageways craved from the very foundation of the rock structure itself. Reaching the hangar, both were stopped by a pair of guards at the entrance. " Stop! Greetings, Lieutenant Matthews. Why are you bringing this .....prisoner here?"
" I want her to show me how her Stealth Heavy Gear works."
" Stealth Gear?"
" Yes! She is under my supervision. Let me through or I'll complain to Colonel Tykane about your incompetence !" She threatened.
Taking a deep breath, the gruff guard let them through.
Upon reaching the Snakeye Black Mamba, Anna released the mancles that were holding Ivy's hands together.
Before climbing in the Mamba's cockpit, Ivy asked Anna. " I am ready to move off. What about you?"
" I got my own Gear." She said as she walked towards her personal Heavy Gear, a Cheetah Paratrooper.
The landship, the Wolf along with the ragged regiment, the Rhinos left the fortified town of Tunahra at Helio's last light, heading towards the Desert Vikings' stronghold code named " Thor's Twin" after the two distinct peaks which flanked the Valhallan Keep. Brigadier General Zugs stood from the bridge, observed the heavy gears escorts darting around the landship's hull.
" Captain, inform me when we are 10 km from the enemy's location. I am going to get some sleep."
" Yes, sir." Answered Capt. Langzdhorth with a sharp salute.
Meanwhile deep within the Wolf's galley, Colonel Gunther Kranz called his regiment's surviving staff officers to a secret meeting in the land ship's hold.
" All right, I asked you here to......organize a contingency plan should the negotiation fail. Frankly speaking, I won't be surprised if Zugs gets killed in the process." Kranz remarked.
" Here's my plan." He continued. " If the unthinkable happens, I'm going to lay siege to that fortress. We are going to destroy them once and for all! Some of you were took part at the battle of Devil's Backbone. You should know why and all the more we must eliminate the Vikings."
" Kranz, I think you should follow Zugs' suggestion. All this conflict is senseless. Every time, we fight Tykane, we inevitably lose someone we know well......" said Major Stein, commander of the Rhino's first company.
" Excuse me, Alexis Stein. You were there in the fighting. That conflict was never resolved. Now it's time to resolve it once and for all!"
At the same time, the Jolly Roger were making last adjustments to their war machines. Siegfried had removed his cumbersome 50mm VHAC. In it's place, he used a standard Northern 30mm hand held auto cannon. As a back up weapon, he chose a 40mm frag cannon. 2 medium panzerfausts were stored by the sides of the Razorback's V-engine as a last ditch measure against heavier opposition.
Pierre ordered a combat webbing to be made for his Panther heavy gear. The webbing was used to carry extra ammunition clips and for storing a pair of panzerfausts in it. Ray Vahn on the other hand exchanged his 30mm auto cannon for a paratroop assault rifle, AKG-74. The weapon was basically a 20mm light auto cannon with an underslung grenade launcher. Like Pierre, his gear carried extra ammunition by means of ammo storage chambers built around it's torso.
Galahad Lips and his strider crew, Nelsen Tovey and Alexis Korman were busy installing 'blazer armor' plates onto their Fire Dragon strider. " Damn, this blazer armor is heavy!" complained Lips as he screwed it in with his cybernetic hand. " Tell me, Tovey. What are we doing this? I thought our strider's armor is strong enough to take a pounding from the enemy?"
" Well, it is used just in case if the opposition have really heavy duty weapons. You know, ATMs and such." explained Tovey, the strider pilot.
" Ouch. Now that's gonna hurt....bad." Lips moaned.
" That's right. This blazer armor is some kind of a last ditch defense against HEAT weaponry. Bazookas, laser or ATMs for that matter once explode upon contact on the armor, a series of minor explosion will be triggered. This is due to the small amount of explosives placed inside the armor plates. The explosions would blunt the incoming energy which is meant to pierce the actual armor to the point of impotence. Thus allowing the defender to at least get back a return shot at the attacker." Korman continued for Tovey.
" Well, all this armor plates is making my strider very clumsy but all for the sale for surviving this up and coming fight." Lips comforted himself. Turning to Johnny, he saw Ogilvy staring at his battle scarred one armed Jaguarundi. John felt along the holes and gouges done by hostile fire from the past 36 hours on his heavy gear. " Hey, John." A voice called out to him. " Devin here, I'm here to repair to the damage. Oh my! How did you do that? You lost your Gear's left arm in a fight?"
" Why? You got no spare parts? "
" Exactly! I can patch up your armor but... sorry. You have to fight one armed this time."
" It's alright. I am used to such unfavorable odds against me."
Crazy guy. Lips thought. I always knew he was so suicidal especially when it comes to his past. A crackling sound from his strider's interior. A message was heard from his radio set. " Juliet Romeo Foxtrot Delta, this is India Victor Yankee. Where is your current location? Over."
" India Victor Yankee, this is Foxtrot Delta. Thank the Prophet you are still alive. What's your situation now? Over."
" Well, I just escape from the Viking's hideout about a few hours back."
" Okay. Stay put where you are. I will try to home in your signal."
Half an hour later, the Wolf had located Ivy's whereabouts. As Ivy's Snake Eye Mamba and Anna's Cheetah entered the hangar, John was taken aback by the reappearance of his old flame. " Good Prophet! It's really you!" he exclaimed. " Why I thought you are really..."
"Say no more, John. I am not the same Anna Matthews as before. Ask Ivy what happened."
" Well, John. It's going to a bit hard for you to swallow. We'll have find some really quiet place and..... discuss." Ivy said.
" The ship's observation deck would do just fine." John suggested.
" Great prophet! What did Tykane do to you?" John asked Anna.
" I don't know. I don't even know who or what am I !"
John looked at Anna in her eyes. " Listen, I will accept you no matter what."
" Meanwhile let's go to the doctor to find out what actually took place."
" Well? Doctor, what do you think?" John asked. " I don't know what to say about it. But I say anyway. I think she's robot."
" I gave her a detailed x-ray and the x-ray film showed this." The doctor showed the film to John. Instead of a normal human skeleton, mechanical parts of all shapes and sizes showed up, all insides Anna's body.
" It's amazing. I mean I think she's the first Terra Novan built android."
John gave him a hard stare and with a firm voice. " She is no freak. She's still human deep inside her. I know it."
" Johnny. Enough of this. I just want to spend whatever time's left with you."
As the Wolf neared "Thor's Twin", her crew was immediately put on red alert. Her armaments loaded and ready to fire at a moment's notice. The Jolly Rogers and the Rhinos were deployed around the landship's flanks.
As silhouette of "Thor's Twin" appeared over the horizon, everyone's mouth went dry suddenly as if they were entering the domains of ancient being. It was sleeping for many, many cycles. It was never disturbed in it's slumber until now.
The Thor Twin certainly reminded me of the Devil. Captain Langzdhorth told Colonel Kranz. "Yes, indeed. With the two peaks stabbing the sky, those were it's horns. So aged that one cannot tell were they part of the landscape or something else. And I remember the older folks saying that the greatest lie the Devil told Man was that he never existed."
" Well, we shall now see whether if this Devil exists or not."
" Captain! I am detecting a massive sensor sweep from the enemy. They are locking their weapons on us!" the tactical officer warned.
" Fire the main guns!" Captain Langzdhorth ordered.
The landship sideswiped as her 203mm guns moved into broadside position. Seconds later, they fired. The murderous salvo crashed onto the vicinity of the Keep in a rolling sea of flames.
" To the Northern task force, this is Colonel Vikter Tykane. Lord of the Vahallan Keep. Do not approach any further into my territory. Do so and you will be answered with deadly force."
" Vikter Tykane. This is Brigadier General Tony Zugs. I am here to negotiate with you. The Northern Guard will grant you and your followers amnesty if you surrender the facility called " Vulkan's Forge."
" Ha! I don't believe my Keep is called that. In fact, it is rightfully called the Valhallan Keep in memory of those who were killed during the opening phase of the Earth-Terran Nova war."
" It's rightful name is VULKAN'S FORGE. The rightful property of Northco and Shaian Mechanics."
" Well, if you believe that I am holding your so called rightful property. Then COME AND GET IT!"
What deadly surprise has the renegade Colonel Tykane installed for the Northern Task Force? Stay tuned for the last chapter:
|APAGear II Archives||Volume 1, Number 9||September, 1999|
Heavy Gear is © 1999, Dream Pod 9, Inc. All rights reserved. APAGear is not affiliated with Dream Pod 9 in any way. Submitted material remains the property of the creator.