Author : Peter R Jennings

“It’s not going to work, is it”? Gentry gasped out between huge, sucking breaths. He was right next to me so I was getting his panic in stereo through my earphones. The bright, tight lines of lasers and crumping explosions flashed and strobed the night sky above the crater. This was taking too long. Sweat was making my enhancement goggles and my fingers inside the slim gloves slippery so I snarled up at him.

“No, it may not and then we die, OK? Now, shut up”! Even though he towered above me he shrunk back as though more frightened of me than the Skarenji, his young face pushed into cherubic folds by the confines of his power armour. The Tandem masters tended to be a little chubby like the wheel-chair bound. I would have thought the adrenalin shots that were being thumped into them by the field controllers would burn it off. Hell, I could use a pick me up right about now.

“BOOMERANG”! shrieked Gentry a second before he bull-rushed me to the ground. The sizzling ‘wop-wop’ noise dopplered and bang! The white flash was followed by a hail of shrapnel and half the crater collapsing a few feet from us. Gentry’s arms were braced above me so that the weight of his armour, (augmented as it was with weapon pods, jump pack, ammunition and shield/stealth generators), would not crush me beneath him,

“Sir! Sargent Janus, you one hundred”? Gentry was yelling into my face. Damn it, I think the tandem harness on his chest had cracked my jaw. I threw a thumbs up between us and into his face. Grinning, he leapt to his feet. Scrambling back to the pillar of steel I plunged my hands back into the circuitry. The boomerang’s ordnance was anti-personnel so little damage was done to the metal structure. Alright, I just need to bypass the B-line and we are back in business. Forty five seconds maybe a minute.

“I’m getting the Fifty up” Gentry panted as a he palmed the command into his wrist pad. A cylinder rose, whirring, from his back and reaching back he unclipped it with practiced ease. He was battle calm now and that was good. Weird how he got steadier as things got worse. I think I was the opposite.

“They’ll know we are here” I said, looking at him whilst I reached for the impact welder on my belt.

“Uh sir, I think they may know already” Sliding the bolt on the side of the cylinder he braced to lob it over the trench.

“Gentry” I called to get him to glance at me and I gestured with my head back towards where he had covered me with his armoured body.

“Thanks, man” I said simply.

“No problem, Sir. Hurry up” He tossed the Fifty over the crater wall and all hell erupted over our heads as the staccato blasting of the fifty was matched with red flashes lighting up the drifting smoke above. Gentry’s face plate snapped shut and he levitated upwards until he was level with the rim. His repeater thumped against his shoulder as he kept up a steady rate of fire.

“100 metres…closing” his voice was in my ear as the B-line finally thrummed into life. I crashed the hard-plate shut. The War-bot rose smoothly to his feet, raised his fist and fired rapidly towards the horizon.

“Thank-you, sir” boomed the mechanical monster in his demonic voice as he exited the crater, blasting the advancing Skarenji.

“TECH-SUPPORT”! Bellowed another War-bots rasping, dying, voice from a different sector of the field.


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