'Till Death Do Us Part
Denver is an important area to the resistance. It is up to Jaina and I to patrol the surrounding countryside and make sure nothing is amiss. It would not do for our forces to be suddenly taken by a surprise attack - reinforcments are not expected should anything happen. It is hard, but orders have to be followed.
As nice as Earth is, I miss the openess of outer-space. To one such as I, born between homeworlds in the middle of a war, no planet can truly be home. Every so often I dream of being able to leave this conflict behind and return to the calming and soothing environ of space. The quasars, the singularities, the pulsars; all a bright and wonderful background to the infinite darkness around each solar system. How can one be prisoner to only one planet or system? I would much rather return to the jewelled skies that can only be guessed at from a planetary surface. I sometimes feel as if a planet's atmosphere is there as much to trap people and hold them down as it is there to provide air to breathe.
Jaina is signalling me. She must have glimpsed something in the distance. We bank and turn, dropping another foot or so towards the packed dirt below us. There is something to be said for ground-effect engines - I'd hate to have tried this with any older models. But this one, this mecha, fits me like a glove. It reacts as I do, almost like a second skin. I'd better not think about it too much, this way lies mental instability.
Well, I'll be! Jaina was right - just over the next dune, sensors register two of their scouts. The scouts are worst of all - the larger mecha pack more fire-power, sure, but these small ones are nimble. If you are not careful, you end up a smear across the landscape. Size is never all - look at how well they have done, and they are nowhere near the size of the Zentraedi.
I power-up my weapon system and engage the battle computer. Jaina sends me the battle plans as soon as the systems are on-line. Looking at them, I once again know why she is the leader - her plan is precise, requiring only the minimum of danger to us as well as almost no expenditure in weapon and energy. Clean, to the point, deadly.
We come up from behind a grove of trees, using them as both visual and sound cover. Surprise is total - the scouts barely notice us that Jaina and I rain destruction upon them. Both enemies disappear in thunderous explosions. One-hundred percent fatalities. I do not enjoy killing, neither does Jaina - but she explained to me the necessity of what was being done. That is why I volunteered to become a combat pilot - to protect the others, so that they do not have to learn of how difficult it is to kill, how hard it is to take a life, any life.
We wait a moment to check and make sure of our kills - wouldn't do to have them come up and shoot us in the back - then resume our search. Odds are, these scouts were not out on their own. They don't think that way. Somewhere nearby will be a larger force, waiting for these scouts to report in. And soon they'll start wondering why they haven't heard anything back.
Denver looks strange, even at a distance. I am more used to the cities on Karbarra, Spheris and Peryton. These buildings look alien to me. It is hard to imagine anybody wanting to live in these concrete boxes. I think I may have developed a bit of claustrophobia from all the time I spent in space - it is hard to think in planetary terms when you are used to roaming the stars.
My sensors come to life. A large concentration of enemy mecha lies to our left, just within the range of our sensors. Jaina has also noticed it and tells me to follow her - we are going in to investigate, then get to safety and report.
We set down near the top of a hill and proceed on foot to its crest. Hinding behind trees and bushes, we peer down into the valley below. I gasp. There must be close to twenty of the enemy's heaviest mecha down there as well as double that number of scouts. This is not good. Jaina orders us both to withdraw to safer positions. I comply and move backwards down the hill before turning around.
Disaster! Five of the enemy's scouts are returning from their search and notice us. With all of our weapon systems powered-down to avoid detection, neither Jaina nor I can silence them in time. We boost our engines and fly away, hard.
Behind us, sensors show that four of the heavier mecha have taken off and are following us. We are outnumberd and outgunned. Fear grips my insides so hard I almost gag. Jaina urges me on and places herself behind me in order to shield me from the enemy's direct line of fire. Jaina, my sister, even in times of danger you think of others above yourself.
All of a sudden, I hear a scream - Jaina has been hit, her mecha disintegrating in mid-flight, her body flung out by the force of the explosion, ripped to shreds by her mecha's debris, her remains thrown unceremoniously to the ground. I do not need to turn around to see this - I have witnessed the same scene too many times during previous battle, I know what is happening without even setting eyes on it. On my board, Jaina's blip winks out as her life does the same.
I know I cannot escape them now. The best I can do is make a good showing of my skills. I turn my mecha hard around and face the incoming enemy ships - they are taken by surprise, expecting me to run. I get in a free shot, destroying the mecha in the centre of the group, scattering them. They do not make the same mistake twice - they start to encircle me, their weapons coming to bear.
Jaina, I will soon join you. Regis, my mother, your daughters have died well.