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1) This thread is intended purely for the use of fiction written in Synchro Frame's setting, and as such anyone who intends to write should be familiar with that RP and the characters in it before they do so.
2) Not everything contained within this thread will be canon to the story of Synchro Frame. Fics that are canon should include "Canon" somewhere in the title.
3) Consequently, fics that are not canon to the story of Synchro Frame should include "Non-Canon" somewhere in the title
4) Most of all, the point of this is to have fun exploring aspects of characters and the world that aren't touched on during the RP.
As a child in the era of 2220, you come to not expect much. Explosive shells rock your home, and debris clutters what used to be your sidewalk, but when the only thing you can feel is curiosity, you tend to ignore it. When, instead of playing with a new toy or reading a book, your childhood consists of learning braille and sensing things solely by smell and sound, you appreciate things more. You'll lose a lot of things, sure. It's to be expected, since you're blind. But you? You're hard headed. You don't care how often you lose something or misplace it. You scramble for it time and time again, until those places you would often stumble over become second nature, and those things you used to accidentally misplace become more and more precious. You adventure more, and more, and soon you're outside. And though the world is dark, you can feel the warm light of the sun, the coldness of the ruins that would have been your home town, and the danger that surrounds you.
But because you're in a new place, you quickly decide you're not going to expect much. Your parents urge you to come back inside, but you're hardheaded. And they know this all too well. As rockets scream past your little bubble of solitude, you begin to feel around. You're ready to explore again, and your maturity comes a little bit sooner than most. You don't care to play much. Right now, you're working. You've managed, somehow, someway, to convince someone that your disability won't prevent you from being a merit. And its true. You've got the heart of a lion, the stubbornness of a child, and the determination that can't compare to others. But why are you doing this?
"Why were you doing this, Melissa?"
"Because I didn't want to be handicapped all of my life."
This beautiful young lady,--her brown hair, her big eyes, her soft demeanor--knew that this was all a facade. She didn't care about the formalities or obstacles. She was not phased by a lost sense. Rather, she was strengthened by it. She had made up her mind. Just because she was blind, didn't mean she was going to let everything that came her way topple over her. She didn't have friends. She had family. She didn't have the same opportunities as others, but she climbed out of the pit that was so determined to keep her pinned. But she was sacrificing so much. Her father. Her mother. Her peace. She would throw it all away at the chance to make something more of her situation.
"And where did you sleep?"
For a while, she didn't sleep in a bed. She would lie on mounds of hay, rolled animal skins, or sometimes the ground. But they had a saying, if you were humble enough.
"Close to heaven."
And when that opportunity from heaven came knocking, she took the chance. Melissa was granted the opportunity to join SAF forces, thanks to her sacrifice for a fallen soldier. She studied, day in and day out. She fought her damnedest so that her sacrifices would not be in vain. She graduated in the top twenty-five of her class, and her mother backed up everything she did. And after Melissa finally gave her mother away to heaven, she wasn't sure she had anything else to give. But heaven opened up once more for her, when she was transferred to a newly created division, called T.R.A.P.
She was taken in quickly, and her new found family took to her without hesitation. But before she would discover anything further about her assignment, she had to explore the world one last time. Melissa was to be assigned a Synchro Frame of her own.
"I wasn't sure I could pilot it."
But to use it, new technology had to be created. The boundaries of her dark world had to be broken, in order for her to become the pilot she is today.
"They called it, 'the Visual Feedback Module'. First of its kind."
A bit painful, but it connected straight to her brain. Of course, she wasn't inside of her frame when they first tested it. Instead, she was surrounded by other pilots, curious as to the results that would come from this test.
"And I broke down, for the first time in a long time. I just--I wasn't sure how to handle it. I was happy, sad, excited, and confused. There were so many emotions running through me, that I just couldn't help but cry."
There were five pilots surrounding her. Heinreich and Johan, the twins. Adelheid, the Commander. Gavin, who was the Lieutenant Commander. And then, Lauren, another Lieutenant, and someone she would become friends with quickly. When she looked into their faces, and they looked back, it was a very frightening, unsure feeling. Melissa couldn't explain it, but she knew how her allies 'looked' for the first time. And now, there was so much for her to do. So much for her to 'see'. With the clunkier, more large prototype VFM attached to her head, Melissa ran off, with the Saviour design team and the rest of TRAP trying to stop her.
But then, Melissa was hardheaded, wasn't she?
"Where were you going?"
"And what were you looking for?" Melissa laughed. This was a question I should have already known the answer to.
That's when Melissa stumbled across the hangar of TRAP. And in the center, a beautiful white frame was being built. Melissa looked up slowly, analyzing it from its feet, on upwards. Its head was being attached, and secured in place. And when the TRAP squadron and Saviour design team finally caught up to Melissa, they stopped, and smiled.
"What were you thinking?"
"Yeah. What were you thinking?"
"At the time, I was wondering how the heck I was gonna fly that thing. I had never flown before. I mean, I'm blind." She had a great smile. Even in her old age now, Melissa was still the cheerful, loving person that her squadron had described. She hadn't changed a bit.
"And what about now?"
She smiled at me, trying her best not to cry again. A tear escaped her anyway. She was reflecting on everything she had been through. She had lost her father. She had lost her home. She had lost her mother. But now, she was able to do things that possibly no one else could say they did in their lifetime.
"Right now, in hindsight, I'd say it was all worth it."
Gavin Decker gave the officer sitting across from him an incredulous look.
"You heard me correctly. Its called TRAP."
"What the hell kind of name for a unit is Trap?"
Thomas Renner laughed. This foul mouthed, laid back lieutenant was exactly like Alex Dornik had described him. Completely devoid of the professional attitude that characterized most of his peers, LT. Decker was quite obviously ill suited to the desk work that came with his rank. Yet, he diligently muscled his way through the gigantic stack of paperwork and orders forms laid out before him, which likely consisted of all of the necessary documents for the week at the very least. All the while he was inhaling what had just a few minutes prior been a rather large meal of steak and eggs, while simultaneously holding a conversation with the unfamiliar captain who'd sat at his table.
"Its an acronym. Tactical Response Advance Platoon. T-R-A-P."
"That sounds f***ing silly... sir."
"You can drop the formalities, Gavin. It really doesn't suit you." Captain Renner replied half jokingly.
"Mind if I call you Tom then?"
"I prefer Thomas."
"Alright then, Thomas. So let me get this straight. You're putting together a special squadron..."
"And its entirely SF units."
"And its purpose is... what exactly? That much AMS hardware in one place is going to be a huge target, and the maintenance on those things is going to be a nightmare. The techs here hate my guts and Skunk is just one frame."
"In layman's terms, you and your men will be a readily available force multiplier. TRAP will be rapidly deployed to any theater in need of reinforcements or high priority sorties, while at the same time minimizing manpower and resources. 'Tactical response', get it?"
"So its the fallback for whenever operations go south." Gavin's face soured. "An all SF cleanup crew so that command can avoid getting mud in its eye."
Renner smirked. Now he understood exactly why Alex had recommended this particular lieutenant to him.
"With an attitude like that, its a wonder they ever made you an officer in the first place."
"I'm sure they still regret it." This time it was Gavin's turn to laugh. "And you want me of all people to help lead this 'special squad'? What's your aim here, Thomas?"
"You've got experience testing synchro frame prototypes, as well as the recommendation of a senior officer. You seemed like a good choice is all."
"So 'Lex is looking out for me, is that it?"
"You're pretty perceptive, Gavin."
"You're full of s***, Thomas." Renner raised an eyebrow. " I flew under Dornik five years ago, yeah, but he never would have sent you my way for something like this. Not in a million years. What are you really playing at?"
"You're absolutely right. No one at high command would choose you for TRAP, not with your reputation... which is precisely why Alex Dornik recommended that I come down here and interview you."
"Ok, now you lost me."
"You have a problem with authority, value the safety and success of your own men over operational integrity, and eschew SAF combat doctrine entirely in favor of ad-hoc tactical maneuvers. You're gruff, overly casual, and a little too independent for your own good. Your superiors hate dealing with you as much as you hate dealing with your superiors, and your synchro frame is very difficult to maintain and fit into standard combat formations. You never would have been promoted in the first place were it not for your charisma and kill record."
"But, your men look up to you, you're an undeniably talented pilot, and you bend over backwards putting up with the system around here to make sure that your pilots are taken care of and your jobs are done. Command dislikes you precisely because you refuse to play their game. You, Mr. Decker, are precisely the kind of man I'd want at TRAP. With you, we can turn command's little 'cleanup crew' into something that will bring this war to an end."
Gavin swallowed the last bite of his breakfast; he'd long since stopped stamping forms. "So what you're saying is, you want me because it'll throw a monkey wrench into high command's idea. What are you getting out of all this?"
Thomas Renner grabbed the cane he had leaning against the mess hall bench, lifting it up so that Gavin could see it. "This is what happens when command focuses on cleaning up its own messes. Terra Firma has a chance in this war because the guys upstairs are too worried about saving face instead of saving lives. I'm sick of it, and Alex tells me that you are too."
"So its a 'Tactical Response' then."
"Now you've got the picture."
Gavin grinned. "When do I start?"
"As soon as I clear it with Commander Schwarzchild."
"You said Schwarzchild? As in Adelheid Schwarzchild?"
"You know her?"
"We flew together at the AMS development project. She got dropped because she wasn't compatible. I thought you said TRAP was for SFs."
"I said mostly. I'm grabbing whatever i can get my hands on, and Avalon's more than capable of keeping up with the new frames. Besides, she's a talented officer."
"If a bit rough around the edges. She's easy on the eyes though."
"Hardly a prerequisite for your superior officer, Lieutenant Commander."
"Uhh, chief, you've got my rank wrong."
"Oh, I forgot to mention, as one of TRAP's commanders you'll be promoted."
"We could have avoided this whole conversation if you just opened with that little nugget of information, Thomas."
Both men laughed and shook hands.
It was chaos.
They thought they had been prepared for it. They thought their training was all they would need. They thought that it would be just like the simulations. It wasn’t. Nothing they had done in their lives could have prepared them for what a real battle was like. All around them their friends, the men and women they had spent the previous months training with and growing attached to, were dying. They weren’t supposed to come under attack. This was supposed to be just another patrol through the desert, near what used to be the southern border of Sudan. Command had told them that there was no risk of coming under attack, so when they had come under attack by a flight of Myrmidons they had been unprepared. Other patrols had closed on their position, and now it was a mess of combat all around them. So many frames were moving in so many directions that the sand of the desert was churned into a cloud. More forces kept pouring in every minute, and the air was thick with the sounds of gunfire and metal shearing. It was all that Johan and Heinreich could do to keep together.
“I don’t wanna die I don’t wanna die I don’t wanna die…” Johan repeated that over and over again as he fired about almost at random. There were just too many signatures around them. He was shaking in the cockpit, twitching this way and that as he struggled to come up with some idea of how to get them out of this.
“You’re not gonna die, rookie!” Lieutenant Jensen, the commander of the SAF forces in this battle, shouted over the comms. Every few minutes he shouted another order over the comms, half because of the energy of the moment and half so that he could even be heard over the sheer noise.
“You heard Herr Kommondant,” Heinreich said, hoping to calm his brother as he squeezed off shot after shot with his rifle. He’d crippled a few frames so far, but they were still outnumbered and outmatched. His brother’s panic wasn’t doing them any good either. Of course things were rapidly made worse, as the wind picked up and the sand and dust around them cleared for just a moment. Less than fifty meters from them stood the distinctive shape of a Command type Myrmidon, its gleaming red paint sticking out like blood against the pale sand. It wielded a Heated Combat Blade in one hand, and was presently busy tearing it from the wrecked corpse of a Gladius that lay upon the ground. As the sand cleared its head turned towards the two of them, and time seemed to freeze for a moment. Here was a foe that must have seen hundreds, maybe even a thousand, battles just like this one. In the time it took Heinreich to raise his rifle towards it, the thing was nearly upon them with its blade held high. Johan saw it rushing them, saw it nearing his brother, and he somehow found the strength to act.
The thunderous crash of metal striking metal rang out as the TF commander found a shield being slammed into his frame’s head. His strike was knocked off course, and Heinreich was able to retreat before it could strike again.
“Bruder!” he shouted over the comm as the red frame rounded on Johan, who had dropped his rifle and since drawn his heat knife. He swung, and found the blade stopped by one of the commander’s own wrist-mounted variants.
“Move, Heinreich, move!” Johan shouted back as he twisted his frame’s left arm about. He threw it forward into a punch, hitting his foe’s shoulder with the leading edge of his shield. As he began his duel with the commander, his brother grabbed the rifle he had dropped and wielded it in tandem with his own. With Johan fighting the commander, he set himself moving. He strafed about the pair in a circle, firing on any Terran frames that tried to intervene. It took some getting used to, but he found himself able to compensate for the recoil of firing one in each hand.
Meanwhile, Johan was doing everything he could to out-fight his opponent. Experience was winning out though. Every jab he made with his knife was parried, every kick dodged, and it was all he could do to keep from being cleaved in half by that heated blade. One careless move, and his Peacemaker was thrown down onto its back with the Myrmidon planting a foot on its chest. He saw that blade raised above his frame, and an insane idea came to mind. As it was brought down, he slashed his knife at its side. The weapon was driven into his frame’s chest, but it missed his cockpit and spared his life. The knife was turned upwards, and slashed at the commander’s wrist. The Myrmidon’s hand came off easier than expected.
As the Terran commander staggered back from the loss, Heinreich turned one of the rifles towards him and fired a shot. It blasted through the back of the Myrmidon’s knee and forced it down, while Johan rose from the ground. It took both his damaged frame’s hands to pull the blade out without doing more damage, but it only took one to drive it through the Terran’s cockpit. Heinreich came to a stop, the two exchanged a look, and they dove back into the cloud of sand and smoke.
Neither of them would ever be exactly sure how long after that it was when they found themselves in the mess hall of a Bigbox that had been set up as a temporary command post. The battle they fought that day was just one of several along the southern Sahara, where Terra Firma had tried to make their push north. It didn’t look like things would be ending soon, and the two of them were going back out tomorrow.
“I...I can’t do that again…” Johan muttered, staring down at a plate of food without really seeing it. Heinreich wasn’t doing much better. His fingers kept twitching like they were pulling a trigger, and both jumped to their feet when another figure sat down at the table.
“Sit your asses down.” Lt Jensen said plainly, looking at the two pilots that had snapped into a salute. The twins shared a look, before they managed to do so. “How ya holdin’ up?” When they didn’t answer, he let out a sigh and looked each of them in the eyes. There was a thin smile on his face. “You two did good today, alright?”
“I-I c-c-can’t d-do th-that again, sir.” Johan stammered, opening his mouth again but without any sound coming out.
“We can’t-” Heinreich had to stop before he said anything else, looking at his brother and then back to the LT. “How do you do it? How do you risk your life? How do you kill people?” Jensen’s smile widened, and he let out a laugh when he noticed the twins’ confused faces.
“I don’t kill people. I kill Terrans.” When the Drackenmoores kept staring at him, he rested a hand on the table. “They taught you about Shell Elysium in school, right? Blown to shite by the Terrans’ big guns. There weren’t any soldiers on it ya know. Bunch o’ civvies, bunch o’ kids. That’s not something people can do, ya know. Kill 150 million people that ain’t done nothin’ to ‘em. Terrans aren’t people, they’re monsters. Beasts. Demonic li’l shites that’ll do terrible, terrible things to ya. You don’t wanna see what they do to prisoners, trust me. So just think on that, boys. If you don’t kill ‘em, what’re they gonna do to the shells?” The Lt. looked each of the twins in the eyes again, before he stood up and left the table.
The next morning, Lt. Jensen was in the hangar with the pilots he’d selected for a flight in front of him. Well, most of them. In particular there were two empty spots he’d hoped to see filled. With a sigh he was about to start the briefing, when a familiar pair of blonde-haired faces showed up. Out of formation no less.
“Reporting for du-”
“Shut up and get with the others!” He shouted, startling the twins and sending them running to fill in their places in the lineup. He waited another few seconds, before he smiled and pointed to a map on the wall behind him. “Now then, we’ll be flying south southwest at 0942…”
It was strange being inside of an enemy frame.
The controls weren’t that different, in truth the only real differences were some buttons were in subtly different locations and one or two of the switches required more or less force to toggle than in his Peacemaker, but it was strange all the same. The simple fact that he was piloting a Myrmidon across the blasted expanse that lay between the Terran and SAF held territories in Africa was surreal in and of itself. Here he was, mimicking the preferred Terran tactic of retreat along with seven other pilots from the unit, his brother included. It was hard to believe that they were doing it, and harder to believe where they were going.
“Johan,” the voice over the comm was Lt. Jensen again, his commanding officer, “relax, or at least fly like you’re relaxed. Well, not relaxed but you get what I mean. We’re supposed to be retreating.” He just nodded his head, in spite of knowing that Jensen couldn’t see him, and did what he could to “fly relaxed” as it were. “Alright, we’re coming in range. No further radio contact from here out.” With that, things became much more silent in the cockpit as he shut off his comm and the ever present electric buzzing went dead. They were still several minutes out from their objective, and he was given a chance he would have preferred not having.
“A damned prison camp…” he muttered to himself, recalling the details of the mission. Using a collection of captured TF Combat Frames the eight of them would enter the air space around the infamous Camp 17 in South Africa. They were to broadcast the IFF codes associated with the machines and impersonate their pilots, hopefully to traffic controllers who were unfamiliar with them, and enter the camp under the excuse of needing emergency repairs. The fact that they’d left their machines armor intentionally damaged didn’t help with that. Once they had entered the camp, they were supposed to head to their hangars and, once they’d entered them, destroy every single inactive frame they could while taking up positions to defend themselves against the enemy’s counterattack. There was also supposed to be a sizable force coming in after them, who would use the evidence of battle as their signal to move in, but they couldn’t rely on their arriving soon. So, for the foreseeable future, they would have to rely on just the eight of them to handle the entire garrison of the camp. He didn’t like those odds.
The sound of his comm cracking unbidden back to life shook him out of his recollections. It buzzed for a few moments, before a smooth, calm female voice came across it.
“Incoming frame, we have received your IFF code but need confirmation. What is your callsign?” That was something they’d anticipated, considering the frames and their pilots had “gone missing” anywhere between four days and three weeks prior. From the question, he assumed that this one had been gone for longer. He had to stop for a moment and think what Heinrich would do, before he managed to reply.
“Callsign Mamba 63,” he said with all the bravado, however false it was, of a veteran pilot, “and it’s damn good to hear a friendly voice, I’ll tell ya.”
“Roger, Mamba 63,” he could have sworn he heard a smile creeping into her voice, “welcome home. Betcha got one hell of a story.”
“You bet your sweet ass I do. Hows about you meet me down in mess and I’ll tell ya about it?”
“I’d like that. You’re cleared to enter. Proceed to hangar 2, stall 16. They’ll take care of you there.” With that there was no more said, and he was able to let the facade fall. It was strangely calming to fake being confident in a situation like that, but that was enough about that. Their objective was now perfectly visible before them.
Camp 17, the most infamous prison camp TF controlled. While that was probably because it was the one they knew the most about, it didn’t change the fact that it was a symbol of dread to SAF pilots and soldiers. The conditions prisoners were subjected to inside were out of literal nightmares, and just now one of the rumors he’d heard about the place was proven true. The concrete walls surrounding the place were taller than the frame he was piloting, and they were topped with great spools of razor wire. The worst part, though, was that he could see bodies in the wire. Rumors told that some prisoners were subjected to being thrown onto the wire as punishment, and were just...left there. It was a sight that only became more gruesome as they approached, seeing that the brown staining the outside of the walls was from more than just paint. Probably the worst thing he saw, though, was one of the bodies moving weakly as a vulture picked at its back as if they were trying to fight it off but were too weak to do so.
Things weren’t much better when they entered the compound, and were treated to the sight of the housing for prisoners. Dozens of incredibly long cinderblock structures with only single doors visible lay behind a chain link fence topped with more razor wire, and more bodies wrapped in the wire. Some prisoners ambled about around the structures, most of them unhealthily thin and few of them properly clothed for protection from the sun. The worst part of it though was a large concrete rise across the fence from the housing. It was circular in shape, roughly fifteen feet tall so that its top was clearly visible from the holding area. At its top was a ring of what looked like medieval stocks, the exact number he couldn’t be sure of, and every one of them held someone. Each of them was hooked up to an I.V. drip, presumably so that they would not die of dehydration up there, and completely naked. From what he could see of them, much of them were horribly mutilated about the chest, back, and groin. He didn’t look long, but around their feet he saw a mixture of blood, human waste, and other fluids that he actively avoided considering the nature of. He nearly vomited in his helmet at the sight.
Thankfully for his stomach, the path towards the hangars took him away from the holding area. Still, when the initial disgust at what was being done had faded, rage began to simmer inside of him. All he wanted to do right then and there was start tearing this place apart, but he had to stick to the plan if they were going to have any chance of actually managing that. So he, along with two others from the group, proceeded towards the hangar marked with a large number 2. The doors were opened before them, and they entered while moving towards the stalls they’d been directed to. Things were looking good for them, considering most of the stalls had frames in them and there were a great many loaded weapons lying about for quick re-arming of frames. He was just eyeing up a rocket launcher when the order came over his since reactivated comm link.
“Alright, let’s move!” Jensen’s voice sent him rushing into action, and he rushed towards the launcher while another frame, which he guessed was his brother by the look of things, grabbed up a heavy machine gun. The sounds of weapons firing and the confusion surrounding the unexpected nature of this attack from within reached him just as he had brought the rocked to his machine’s shoulder and chosen a target along the wall. A quick pull of the trigger, and he explosively announced his intentions to the entire camp.
It had only been three minutes, and he was already out of ammo. Three minutes, and the fighting had been so fierce that he had exhausted the ammunition he’d picked up for that HMG. Heinrich was feeling the pressure as he rushed back in the hangar to reload, the burning remnants of unoccupied enemy frames slowly setting the rest of it ablaze. Really, this was not a good situation to be in. Given the fact that the hangar was steadily burning down around them, it was suicide to stay inside. However, given the amount of fire pouring in through the hangar doors it was suicide to leave. He thought about that as he exchanged the HMG for a Combat Rifle and more ammo, before returning to the door and firing out.
“We are going to die if we just stay here.” There was no mistaking Johan’s voice, though his brother seemed much calmer than he would have expected. Probably just the adrenaline. Though the fact that he was actually wreaking havoc on the enemy with that Rocket Launcher might also have had something to do with it.
“Right, right. I’m workin’ on that.” It was Jensen that time, and he sounded less confident than expected. Not exactly what he wanted to hear, but he went about laying down as much fire as he could through that hangar door. They had one advantage: the fact that they had split up and were in three separate fortified locations. It meant the enemy couldn’t just pin them all together and kill them that way… but things really were not looking good. A quick glance out the door between volleys of fire showed that the other two hangars were burning as well. Some good news, though, was that the fourth hangar, which none of them had been sent to, had also caught fire. Less chance of enemy reinforcements coming at them.
“I’ve got an idea.” That...was also not something he wanted to hear. His brother had turned his Myrmidon away from the door, and was now aiming his rocket launcher at the wall of the hangar.
“Johan that’s-” he was interrupted by the thunderous sound of the launcher’s back blast, and then the explosion as the missile struck the wall. “-crazy.” Well, at least his brother had done...something. He’d gone and blasted a damned hole in the side of the hangar… a hole that was just big enough to- “Johan, are you-?!” Yup, he was. The roar of thrusters was followed very shortly by the sound of concrete breaking and the steel reinforcing bars grinding against the Myrmidon’s armor plating. Rather than wait for an order from Jensen, he rushed out the door and set about opening fire onto the group of enemy frames he saw. Johan’s attack seemed to have taken them by surprise, and their hesitation allowed him to land a string of hits on something vital. An oil line by the look of things, as the frame began hemorrhaging black liquid which ignited shortly thereafter. For his Johan’s part, he saw his brother drive the Myrmidon’s in-built daggers into the cockpits of two of the enemy’s frames.
Of course the moment of surprise only lasted so long. In a few moments one of the remaining frames had drawn his own daggers, and set to dueling with his brother. As for himself, well Heinrich was rudely reminded that there were enemies coming around from behind the hangars as well. The sound of rounds striking the armored back of his stolen frame had him turning about just in time to see an enemy Catapult, armed with a pair of rail guns, rounding a corner and joining with the trio of myrmidons that had been taking advantage of his newly exposed position. He was just about ready to accept his death, when the other members of their little infiltration force burst out to engage them.
Things rapidly took a turn for the chaotic after that. His brother kept running about the field, cutting down enemies where he could and dueling them where he couldn’t until his Myrmidon was eventually brought down. Both arms rendered useless, and a trio of enemies surrounding him with weapons aimed at the cockpit. The rest of them didn’t fare much better. Some of them were left with frames that could barely be considered functional at all, Jensen for example was forced to crawl out of the blasted hulk of his and lay on the ground while an enemy aimed a weapon larger than his entire body at him. Heinrich had ended up in a face-down mech without functioning legs, a large dent in the back of the cockpit where a weapon had been forced against it. By the sound of things, much of the rest of them had been rounded up. He wondered why it was that they hadn’t just been killed.
“Now I don’t know what you lot were thinking,” a voice came over the coms, and Heinrich forced his frame up enough to look around for the source. He found what he believed to be just that when he saw a heavily customized Command Type Myrmidon standing with a duo of heavily customized standard types. The lot had been modified to bear a stronger resemblance to medieval knights, and the commander’s even had a white tarp hung from its shoulders like a cloak. “But whatever you thought you were going to accomplish by turning on your comrades is being put to a stop. And you know, I think we’ll see how you all do with a turn up there in the stocks. Might make you regret-”
“Oh just get it over with already.” He murmured to himself. Sure, it was probably scaring the others, maybe even his brother, but that was probably because they’d forgotten the reason they had come here in the first place. Heinrich hadn’t. In fact, the presence of a little red dot right over the commander’s cockpit was enough evidence that things were going to work out alright.
“And you will serve as an example of what happens when you cross Captain-” the base commander never got the chance to finish that question. A well-places sniper round, one of the newer Rail Cannons by the look of the impact, struck the center of his frame’s mass and sent chunks of it flying in seven different directions. Some time after that, the sound of frames hitting the ground around him rang out. The distinctive whine of a Rail Cannon firing reached him a few seconds later, just ahead of that of a number of SAF frames crashing down around them. A hard-link was attached to the armored exterior of his frame, and a serene female voice spoke to him.
“Knock three times on the cockpit wall if you’re conscious.” He did as he was ordered, and shortly afterwards felt the frame lurch violently off the ground. A bit of looking around told him that the crippled Myrmidon was being pulled out, along with those that his companions were in. Everything seemed to be going well, and he even closed his eyes to get a little shuteye on the way out of there.
Heinrich was rudely awakened from his nap when the ruined frame he was in was dropped onto the ground, and the damaged hatch wrenched open by a frame-sized knife that came just a little too close for comfort. He unstrapped himself from the seat to the sound of turbine engines sending his rescuer back to the battle and, with a fair bit of effort, pulled himself out and skidded down the side of the machine to stand on the ground. It looked like he was in a hastily assembled staging area, given the large crates of weapons and ammunition lying around. There were also a number of inactive frames standing before where he’d been dropped, and an unfamiliar man in a flight suit in front of them. As he turned around, Heinrich noticed the Captain’s insignia and snapped to salute at attention. A glance left and right showed him that the rest of the squad had gotten out of their damaged mechs and done the same, Johan included. Of course his brother must have smashed his head into a panel somewhere in the machine, because a large gash on his forehead was seeping blood down his face.
“At rest.” The captain said, and at once the lot of them fell into varying positions on the ground. Johan finally took notice of his wound, and tried to staunch the bleeding with the sleeve of his flight suit. “Now, I know you all were just in there fighting for your lives, but I would like you to fight for us a little more. The Terrans are almost certainly sending reinforcements, and we’ll need everyone ready that we can if we’re going to stop them re-taking the camp.” It was silent for several moments, and it looked as if they were all going to refuse the captain. However, things took a somewhat unexpected turn. Johan, terrified, shaken Johan who had either taken a wound in the leg or wet himself if the dark spot on his thigh was anything to go by, stood up and looked the officer in the eye.
“Just…” he hesitated for a moment, looking over at his seated brother who rose to stand alongside him. The somewhat unpleasant sensation of an elbow being shoved in his side shook him back to the matter at hand. “Just tell us which frames are ours...sir.”
He drew back the blood drenched knuckles of his right hand, as the boy spat up blood.
"I'll hit you a lot harder than that next time. There will be discipline among my men. You're not special. So you better put you best God damn foot forward. And if it's broken, you better put the other one forward. And if you're handicapped, you better stick out some fucking casts. Because you're going to work," he proclaimed, stretching his right arm backwards, waiting for one of his men to hand him his coat. He slipped his arms inside of the jacket, and buttoned it, straightening the pins on its breast pocket.
"Clean him up," he ordered, tugging neatly on his jacket and turning to walk away. The boy's head held low, he bobbed in and out of consciousness, as a bucket of warm water was dumped over his head, and over his bruised and battered bare chest and back. On his knees, it appeared as though he was a prisoner. Both arms chained and spread wide, as he dangled with his wrists. His drenched hair fell over his face, covering his black eye, swollen cheek, and cut forehead. He was barely recognizable, his body covered in lashes and open wounds. He hadn't eaten in two days, and he wasn't sure how much longer he could last.
The older gentleman placed a hand on the shoulder of one the guards, who watched quietly as the boy's body was scrubbed rapidly with washcloths, and a nurse slipped past the doorway, into the room. Whispering into the guard's ear, the older man patted him on the shoulder and walked away, without a worry in the world. The guard nodded silently in response, as his commanding officer vanished.
The nurse raised the boy's head, shining a light in the one eye he could open.
"Blink if you can hear me, son," she said, stiffly.
He blinked twice, acknowledging the nurse's request.
She nodded, jotting down some notes in her electronic tablet as she examined him. "Last meal time?" she asked, standing up straight. The boy attempted to speak, but the nurse shushed him. "Not you, son," she said, turning to the guards. "Last meal time?"
The guard nearest the door looked down to a wrist watch, then back to the nurse. "Forty-seven hours."
She nodded, taking down more notes. She took a stethoscope to his chest and listened to the beat of his heart. He was nervous, but he hadn't managed to piss himself like most others who had been in his situation. She examined his head thoroughly, also checking his stomach, chest, and back in a very detail oriented fashion. Pressing two or more fingers to apply pressure to certain areas to see if the boy felt any excruciating pain or if she sensed any swelling or obstruction. But, not including the obvious scrapes and bruises, this young man was doing well.
"Elevated heart rate, but no broken bones, no internal bleeding, and no notable trauma. You do need to feed him though. What were your orders?" she asked, to no one in particular.
"0600 hours he'll get a meal. No sooner," responded the guard nearest the door, again.
The nurse nodded, standing up straight and showing herself out. "Don't over do it," she called back casually to the guards.
As the nurse retreated for the evening, one of the guards noticed the boy chuckling to himself, his breathing harsh, but his stifled laughs were full of excitement.
"What's so funny?" a bald headed guard asked, putting his foot in the boy's back and shoving him to the ground.
His face in cold concrete, the boy continued to laugh, now outright instead of holding it in. The guard kicked him in the back again, demanding an answer. "I asked you what you were laughing at! You scrawny little son of a bitch!"
His laughs immediately subsided, as he lifted his mouth off of the concrete floor and tilted his head upwards. "I . . . .was just thinking," he said raspily, through a bloody mouth. "For the first time in years . . . . I'm looking forward to breakfast," he said calmly, laughing out loud to himself again.
The guards all sighed in annoyance. "Stupid kid," the bald one mumbled, kicking him in the back a third time.
The cell was still dark, despite the sunlight slowly creeping upon them. Lacking in windows, he was starting to lose a sense of time, but he had to remain calm. He heard the door creak open, as it was the only thing that managed to wake him from a rough slumber. He remained with his head down, but raised his back as he sat on his knees, and three guards entered the room, one of them carrying a silver tray of unknown slop.
Two guards sat at the back of the room, uncuffing the boy from his shackles, as the third slid the tray of grey slop to the boy. A plastic spork on his plate. "Eat. Can't have you dying before the old guy is through with you," the guard taunted him.
The guard closed the door, shadow setting into the room again, as only a shimmer of light beneath the door identified his plate and his plastic utensil. He slurped at his meal, swallowing harshly, and wiping his face as he spat at the floor. "Disgusting," he groaned.
The guards all let out a laugh, as they had just finished stuffing their bellies with eggs and sausage, while their "prisoner" gratefully ate what ever gruel he was given. But the boy joined them in their laugh, his being notably more lengthy and a bit confusing as the guards barked at him again.
"What are you laughing at!? Shut up!" the bald one called from the shadows.
The boy's laughter dulled quite suddenly, as he went quiet, and they could no longer hear him eating. "I was laughing . .. " he began, standing up straight with a spork in his hands.
He snapped off the end of the plastic utensil and held each half in a different hand. "I'm finished with my breakfast."
The bald guard shrugged his shoulders. "So sit there and shut the hell--mmph!" Hyis last words were filled with blood, as three sharp plastic ends were lodged in his throat, and the prisoner dropped the plastic spork. He continued laughing in the dark, as he heard the large guard fall, choking on his own blood.
"What the hell!?" one of the guards replied behind the boy. "Get him!"
The two guards scrambled after the boy, but he was quick, stabbing one of them in the eye immediately and forcing them to back down. The other grabbed him from behind, but the boy took off forwards, using the momentum to kick up the wall and flip out of the guard's grip. He quickly grabbed one of the chains in his room and kicked the guard in the back of his knee, forcing him down. Wrapping the chain around the guard's throat, the boy pulled tightly as the third guard went unconscious on the floor behind him.
"If you weren't going to kill me," the boy said, as the guard desperately gasped for air. "You made a mistake." The boy pulled the chains tighter, as he felt the life slip away from the guard in his arms. Finally, he gave the chain a tight, two-way pull, and snapped the man's neck.
And for the next two hours, he sat in the middle of the room, finishing his meal with his legs crossed, as he awaited the next person to open the door.
And it happened to be the nurse, who let out a shriek of terror, and dashed away quickly. Turning the corner behind her was the commanding officer from the previous night's events. He stopped, initially shocked. Taking off his hat, he watched the boy stand, and kick his silver tray aside, his head held low as he faced the commanding officer. But the man's shock wore off quickly, as a frown took its place.
He tucked his hat beneath his arm and folded the other arm behind his back as he approached the boy.
"Have you anymore weapons?" the Commanding Officer asked
"No," he replied flatly.
"Good," the older man snarled. He raised a hand to slap the boy, with his full strength. But the boy caught the man's arm, gripping it tightly as they both struggled, before the older man finally snatched his arm away.
"You ever hit me again," the boy started. "I'll kill you."
A smile replaced the older gentleman's frown, as he placed his hat back on his head. "I'm looking forward to it, Zalwara."
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