Operation Liberty- Chapter 1
In orbit directly above the
continent of New Eden was a frigate-class NEMC ship called the
Pandora. Approximately half a kilometer long, it wasn't huge as
far as the ships of the New Eden Marine Corps went, but it was
also not the smallest. It boasted a massive hanger with enough
space to accommodate several drops, and several more
Harbinger-class fighters, the favored single man flying vehicles
of the SHARD soldiers.
SHARD was an elite squad
consisting of nine men, each with unique talents helpful to the
team. SHARD troopers were augmented in dozens of different ways
to enhance them for any kind of mission they might need to run.
Extremely strong, as well as agile, SHARD soldiers were a truly
But their true strength came
from the armour they wore at all times. It was powered with a
super advanced system of hydraulics, and doubled the SHARD
soldiers strength, and speed. Armored, a SHARD could run at
almost sixty five miles an hour, and jump over a single story
On board the Pandora was three
SHARD soldiers; Henlin Jericho, Jeff Ramsey, and Edward Lamarro.
They were running a fairly routine recon mission into the heart
of Prospera, New Eden's neighboring continent. Prospera was
currently occupied by a huge paramilitary organization called the
Iron Alliance, which was comprised largely of parts of Prosperas
official military, as well as many volunteers.
Henlin Jericho stood before a
huge window, hands clasped behind his back, looking out over the
huge planet far below. Every now and then, someone would walk by,
staring at him the whole way. Jericho still wasn't used to all
this attention, as most of the ops he'd run hadn't involved being
in close proximity to other people except the rest of his team.
He turned to look over his shoulder at an engineer staring at
him, who immediately diverted his gaze and carried on with his
Jericho chuckled under his
breath. People were always scared of him, whether they were
allies or not. He stopped chuckling, then sighed, and reached up
to remove his helmet. It hissed as he did, and slid off. He
lowered it, and flipped it over in his hands so the iridescent
blue visor was facing him. The visor, much like the rest of the
helmet, was scratched up and covered with dents from bullets,
rocks, and all other manner of projectile, including the
occasional plasma burn. He looked down to see that all of his
armor was in a similar state.
"Hey, Jericho. We gotta go to
the armory right away.", came a voice to his left. He turned to
see Ramsey an Lamarro walking into the room, each fully armored,
and very imposing.
"You want guns or not, Jericho?
Jesus, unless you wanna face any potential conflict with just
your fists…", Ramsey continued. "Personally, I'd stick with
Jericho chuckled, and agreed,
and followed the two out of the room and into a long
"So. Prospera, huh? Haven't run
recon there in a while.", Jericho remarked. "It's usually just
remote parts of New Eden that raiders have taken
Ramsey nodded. "True. Well,
it'll still be nice to be somewhere different for a
"Nice change of scenery at
least!", Lamarro pointed out.
Ramsey glared at him. "Oh, you
mean to say you enjoy looking at burnt, destroyed cities?", he
asked, a hint of venom in his voice. Ramsey had originally been
from Prospera before he joined the New Eden Marine Corps, back
before the Alliance came and took over. Technically, Prospera and
New Eden were allied, but hostile forces made interaction between
the two difficult.
Lamarro returned the glare, and
retorted, "I didn't say that. But then again, home is where the
war is at. So Markus would say, anyways. Running ops in New Eden
all the time, we don't see much action. It's just nice to not
feel like my talents are being wasted."
Jericho had to agree with this,
and he could see that Ramsey did too.
"So if all we're doing is
running a recon mission, why the Harbingers? Don't you think
they're sending us in a little heavy?", Jericho asked curiously.
Ramsey shrugged his broad
shoulders, and replied simply, "It's an unknown sector. For all
we know, there could be six Alliance fortresses in the area we're
surveying. We might have to fight."
Lamarro grinned. "Not that
that's a bad thing or anything, because we all enjoy it,
Ramsey turned to him. "No, only
you and Markus enjoy it.", he shot back flatly.
Finally, they turned the corner
into the armory, which was as big as it was fully stocked. The
walls were lined with racks of guns and ammo, as well as racks in
the middle of the room. Closer to the back was a rack designated
for the custom weapons of the SHARD team.
There were nine men in the SHARD
team, and nine weapons on this rack. Each weapon was very
different, as were the people that used them.
Henlin Jericho had a huge .50
cal sniper rifle he fondly referred to as The Destroyer. It fired
a bullet at hyper-sonic speed, and the bullets for it were nearly
three inches long… and not cheap. No regular human could use
Edward Lamarro had a
three-barreled rocket launcher. It fired three rockets at once,
each capable of locking on to a different target.
Jeff Ramsey had a Gauss rifle.
It utilized rail gun technology to fire a white-hot projectile
over three miles, capable of penetrating virtually any surface…
and any enemy. It was huge, and inconvenient to carry, however,
so he often times opted for a lighter gun.
Markus Kingsley had the Titan
Revolver. It was, like Jerichos sniper rifle, very powerful.
However, it wasn't too accurate, so he had to get in close for it
to be effective. It fired massive explosive shells, capable of
destroying a tank in one shot, and had a long blade attached to
the bottom of the barrel so he could run someone through or hack
off a limb.
Will Fawkes had a weapon he
simply called Betty. It was a fuel-rod cannon which he'd painted
teeth and angry eyes around the end of the barrel, and painted
the word 'Betty' in red cursive writing on the side just next to
the Fuel-rod intake slide. Fuel-rods exploded big on impact, and
released an even bigger cloud of both radiation and radioactive
fallout. In other words, steer clear.
Alex Wake had a thermite Flak
Cannon. It worked on a simple principle: Thermite melts through
anything. It worked like a shotgun, firing a burst instead of one
projectile… A burst of white-hot liquid metal.
Tom Noble had a
Hellcat machine gun. It was a man-portable version of the
Meatgrinder machine guns the Harbingers came equipped with. His
armour had been modified to accommodate the huge backpack of ammo
that the Hellcat came with, adding several hundred pounds to his
The last actual soldier in the
SHARD team was Sidewinder. No one knew his real name, or what he
actually looked like, or even where he came from. He'd been
assigned to the SHARD team from another team, and was different
in a couple of different ways. His weapons were all attachments
to his armour, most of them of the melee variety.
The last SHARD wasn't
technically a soldier, but still a member of the team
nonetheless. He specialized in creating and repairing and
designing weapons and other technology, for he was SHARDS
engineer. He was about a fifty-fifty split between man and
machine. The parts of him that weren't mechanical were still
encased in armour similar to the SHARD armour, and he had an
elaborate life-support system keeping him alive.
Ramsey, Jericho, and Lamarro
approached the back end of the armory, where Deathforge was
waiting for them. He had his back to them, and he was working on
something on a metal workbench which had several small devices of
various sizes and shapes on it. When he heard them, he turned
around, revealing his armour, which was modified so he looked
like a huge metal skeleton.
"Greetings, soldiers.", he said
in his tinny, metallic monotone. "Gearing up, are
"Yeah.", Ramsey replied. "We
need some guns, and any new gadgetry you might have for
Deathforge turned back to the
table he'd been working at, and picked up the item closest to
him. He looked it over in his hand before handing and to Ramsey,
and explained, "This is a Chameleon Plug-in. It interfaces with
the shield matrix of your armour, replacing the energy that would
normally power your shields with trillions of microstatic
reactions in the shield conduits that serve to bend light around
you, making you invisible."
Ramsey looked over the device he
was holding. It was about half the size of a football, roughly
oval shaped, with a spinning blue power core in the middle. He
turned it over to see a small circle of plugs identical to the
ones on the back of his armour in between his shoulder blades,
directly beneath the magnet that held weapons.
"So we just clip this in?",
Lamarro asked, "How do we use them?"
"Its quite simple, really. Once
it's fully interfaced with your armour, a small readout will show
up on your heads up display.", Deathforge explained. He gestured
towards a small green bar on the device. "As you use it, this bar
will drain, indicating that the system is running out of power.
See, it takes power to convert the power already in your armour,
but that's just a lot of physics I wont bore you
He turned back to the table, and
searched around for something, which he found quickly, and picked
it up to show to the three soldiers.
"This is kind of cool too, I
think.", Deathforge stated. The thing held in his hand looked
like a small purple disk with a black dome on top of it, and a
small keypad. "This is a gravity shifter. It creates a small
black hole that you can control the size and duration of. Handy
in all sorts of areas, too."
He placed the device back on the
table, then turned back to Ramsey, Lamarro, and
"The last thing I have for you
three", Deathforge said quietly, "Isn't something you can bring
with you." He pulled a small handheld device out of one of the
many pouches attached to his chest plate. It looked like a pistol
handgrip with a laser pointer attached to it, and a small camera
lense. "Well… you can bring this. It's pretty simple. Point and
shoot. You'll see what happens."
He handed the small gun to
Lamarro, who took it, and slid it into the holster at his side.
Then he patted it for no apparent reason.
"That about covers it for man
portable stuff. The rest is either modifications to your
Harbingers, or simply enhanced ammunition for your guns.",
Deathforge summarized. "So I think you're pretty much set. Grab
your normal weapons, and head 'er to the hangar."
Jericho approached the rack, and
grabbed his sniper rifle, which he placed on his back. It locked
into place in the harness attached to the back of his armor. He
also placed as many spare clips for his rifle as he could in the
many holding compartments attached to his chest, waist,
shoulders, and legs.
Ramsey walked over, and slung
his Gauss rifle over his shoulder. "Jeez, Jericho, you think
you're bringing enough extra rounds? We're not to engage the
enemy unless fired upon first."
Jericho shrugged, and muttered,
"Just a feeling, Ramsey. I just feel like I'm going to need
Lamarro slid three rockets into
the chamber of his launcher, and stuck six more to his armor.
"You might. But you also don't want too much weight.", he said as
he slid four extra rockets onto his back.
Jericho just shrugged again, and
started heading towards the door of the armory. He picked up a
sidearm from the rack of standard-issue small arms, and holstered
it, along with two frag grenades, and two EMP
Ramsey and Lamarro picked up
similar equipment, and followed him out.
Walking toward the hangar, the
three soldiers were silent. Jerichos ominous premonition had the
other two feeling similarly on edge, and it showed. Normally,
they'd be talking casually as a result simply of how well they
knew each other after the hundreds of ops they'd all ran. This
should be an average mission, with nothing too special about
Jericho did his best to banish
the nervousness. Becoming emotionally or mentally compromised
during a mission could botch everything, and result in
"So how's this going to work?
The area we're supposed to be running recon in is completely
unexplored, except by satellite and orbital ship-mounted imaging
devices. And still, all we have is thermal."
Ramsey thought about it for a
second, then replied, "I guess we're going to have to put down
the Harbingers just outside the sector, then continue on foot…
Harbingers aren't exactly known for their stealth
Suddenly, a voice blasted over
the loudspeaker, "Warning. Incoming target. All hands, brace for
Ramsey and Lamarro turned to
Jericho, and motioned for him to follow, then took off at a
sprint towards the hangar with Jericho close
On the bridge, Admiral Hector
Wallace stood in the middle of a bustle of activity. All around
him, the various bridge officers frantically carried out their
"Paris.", Wallace shouted. "Do
we have eyes on the unknown hostile yet?"
Lieutenant Fred Paris, the comms
and navigation officer, turned to Wallace and, almost in a
panicked tone, shot back, "Negative, sir. Their cloaked. We only
picked up their reactor atomization trail."
Wallace frowned, his forehead
creasing deeply. "I'm too old for this.", he muttered under his
breath. Then, louder, he said, "Hail the ship."
The comms officers broadcasted
an unencrypted hail on all channels, then sat back and anxiously
awaited a reply.
Wallace crossed his arms in
front of him, and joined the other officers in awaiting the
reply. As the minutes went by painfully slow, the tension
building as time went by. Wallace wiped a thin layer of sweat
from his forehead, and continued waiting.
After about five minutes, Paris
turned around. "Sir, the ship responded. Should I play it over
the loud speaker?"
"Please do.", Wallace drawled
without looking at him.
Paris turned back to his array
of controls, switched the out-going audio from his headset to the
loudspeaker, and played the message.
"Admiral Wallace of the Pandora.
This is General Manzanarr, commanding officer on the Iron
Alliance ship 'The Heretic Monarch.' We will give you one
opportunity to surrender, and deactivate all weapons systems as
well as power. If this basic demands are not met after three
minutes, we will first destroy your hangar, so you can't send out
any interceptor fights to engage us. Then, your escape pods.
Finally, we will shoot the Plasmite-fission turbine powering your
ship, killing everyone on board. Am I clear?"
Wallace cursed. "That's
proprietary technology… Classified, too. How does he know the
ship's outfitted with it?", he asked quietly. Louder, he said,
"Manzanarr, we will not surrender. The New Eden Marine Corps
doesn't ever surrender."
The line was silent for a
minute, followed by Manzanarr laughing, then saying, "Fair
enough. Congratulations for being the death of hundred of good
soldiers. Good bye."
Jericho, Ramsey, and Lamarro
were almost at their destination when a massive explosion rocked
the entire ship. They saw the walls ahead of them torn to shreds,
and the air in their hallway was gone quickly as it got drawn out
into space. The automatic blast doors slid closed ahead of them,
cutting off the flow of air.
Jericho struggled to his feet,
and shakily asked, "What the hell was that!?"
"Enemy Gauss round, I'd say.
Only gauss weapons cause that kind of damage. Right through one
side and out the other, causing collateral damage everywhere in
between.", Ramsey snarled. Without another word, he took off
running, back the way they'd came. Lamarro looked at Jericho,
nodded towards Ramsey, then took off after him, with Jericho
As the three were running, the
ship got hit again, almost knocking the three SHARD soldiers to
the floor again. But they continued on, close behind Ramsey, and
not quite sure where he was going.
Just then, Ramsey abruptly
stopped, and darted into a room. By the time Lamarro and Jericho
caught up, he was already walking back out, holding two devices
with an identical one stuck to his back.
As soon as Lamarro saw what he
was holding, he stopped, and said, "No. No, Ramsey. Not
Ramsey nodded grimly. "It's
this, or going down with the ship, Lamarro."
Lamarro gingerly accepted the
device Ramsey was holding, and put it on. "I'd almost rather take
my chances with the ship…", he muttered angrily.
Jericho accepted his, looked at
it, and groaned. The object he'd just been handed was an
Emergency Reentry Pack, or an ERP. It was essentially a super
powerful jet-pack created for SHARD soldiers, designed to slow
the fall of a soldier reentering atmosphere sufficiently so he
wouldn't be killed when he hit the ground. They were sketchy to
use, however, as you had no idea where you'd land, and the
conditions had to be almost perfect for them to work
He put the pack on, then looked
to Ramsey. "So we're jumping, then."
"Yes.", Ramsey answered simply,
and cocked his gauss rifle, aiming it at the window behind them.
"I don't like this any more than you two, but I'm sorry. This is
how it needs to be."
He fired, blasting a huge hole
in the window, which the suction of the atmosphere equalizing
quickly made much larger, sucking the three soldiers out into
As Jericho fell, he was barely
aware of anything except the horrifying sight before him. He was
falling back first, so he could easily see the ships. The
invisible ship shuddered, and a white-hot round streaked out of
the massive gun mounted in the front, ripping through the
Pandora, and out the other side. A massive explosion sounded with
the ship, followed by several more that ripped the ship to
pieces, all before Jerichos eyes, all in less than a minute. And
just as fast, the ship was no more, only a huge collection of
flaming debris of various shapes and sizes joining the SHARDs for
their unexpected journey down to the surface.
Ramseys voice came over the comm
system of Jerichos helmet. "Angle yourself down toward the
planet, and fire your ERP on my mark."
Jericho did, with some
difficulty, as he was instructed, then proceeded to wait for
Jerichos hand moved toward the
small panel hooked over his shoulder…
He gritted his teeth, preparing
for the sudden deceleration…
His finger hovered over the
He hit the switch. The jets
fired instantly, and did their job fine, beginning to slow him
down, but there was still a long way to go, and he was a lot of
weight for two small jets this size to slow down…
He plummeted toward the planet
below, still falling faster than he'd like. Finally, he was in
atmosphere, and he broke through the clouds and caught his first
glimpse of the ground rushing up to meet him. He was still going
too fast, so he closed his eyes, locked his armours hydraulics,
activated his energy shields, and hoped for the
Several minutes later, Jericho
found himself laying in a large crater. All around, flaming
pieces of the Pandora were raining down upon the land surrounding
him. He rose to his feet, grabbing a nearby rock for support. The
jet slowed his fall enough so he didn't die, but it was still a
very hard landing.
The first thing he realized was
that he was completely alone. He scrambled out of the crater,
grateful to see that his sniper rifle had remained unharmed
beneath the jet pack. He pulled it out, then took in his
surrounds first with simply his eyes, then through the scope of
his sniper rifle.
Finding no sign of Lamarro or
Ramsey, or any craters they may have landed in, he set off,
picking the first random direction that looked promising. He
jogged through almost a full mile of barren dirt, and the
occasional burning tree. Pieces of the Pandora were crashing to
the ground all around, lighting small fires often, destroying
everything they landed on.
Jericho entered a small, sparse
forest, the trees all reflecting the war that had been raging
nearby, prior to about two weeks ago. Some trees he walked by
were pockmarked with plasma burns, and bullet holes. Some trees
had even been entirely uprooted by bombshells, and lay next to
the craters in which they'd been rooted.
For several minutes, he wandered
through the forest. He looked around again, then down at his
radar display. No movement for a mile in any direction. Great. He
continued on, torn between trying to find his fellow soldiers, or
continuing on with the mission. Either way, Alliance search
parties would more than likely be on the way, so Jericho thought
the best idea, at this time, was to make himself scarce and hope
for the best. He didn't have the support or the firepower to take
on an Alliance fire team, and frankly, he also didn't have the
The next hour was hell. No
combat took place, or anything else remotely interesting for that
matter, but Jericho was mind numbingly bored, and getting
increasingly frustrated. More than once, he had to duck to avoid
being caught in the spotlight of a passing Alliance ship, which
was the closest they'd sent out to search parties. No ground
units, though, which Jericho was happy to see, but it was still
Finally, he came across a small
settlement. Many people had moved out of the cities and into the
wilds surrounding during the war, as it was safer there. The
majority of the fighting took place where the major economic
centers were located, which, coincidentally, happened to be
cities. So many civilians, decided it would be safer, abandoned
their homes and left.
Jericho walked slowly into the
middle of the settlement. His radar didn't show any movement, so
he switched his visor to thermal, to discover that each small,
shabbily built building making up the settlement had several
people in it. He walked up to the first one, and knocked on the
door. Several minutes later, it opened to reveal a very thin,
gaunt man holding a magnum, eying Jericho
"The war is back in the city,
soldier.", the man told him coldly. "So get there. We don't want
the war to come here."
The man went to slam the door,
but Jericho put up a hand, blocking him. "Wait. I want to go
there, but I don't know which way it is."
The man pointed a bony finger
southeast, then slammed the door fully. This time, Jericho
allowed him to, and turned to run the way the man had
The city was further away than
Jericho had anticipated. By the time that he got there, night had
long since fallen, and the stars were out. The moon was out,
lighting up the ground almost like daylight. And since the
majority of the run here had been over simply dirt and rocks,
Jericho had spent a lot of it being very cautious.
He climbed up onto a large rock,
from which he was afforded a good view of the city. The buildings
were all white metal and glass, the standard of most cities in
this day and age. Many of them, also, had massive holes in them
that spewed smoke and fire. Even from this distance, Jericho
could see extensive damage had been caused to the city, and that
nothing was being done about it. Amidst the huge, towering
skyscrapers, Jericho could make out a couple of aircraft, but he
wasn't sure if it was friendly or not yet.
He sighed deeply, then took off
at a run towards the city. If he was going to find help, this was
his best bet.
Edward Lamarro awoke to find
himself lying on his back in the central foyer of what appeared
to be some huge hotel, staring up through a hold shaped
suspiciously like him that penetrated every floor above him,
giving him a good look at the stars above.
He sat up, and moaned. He hurt
everywhere. When he rose to his feet, he heard something crunch,
and felt his back, to find all of the extra rockets he'd brought
were crushed flat by the impact, and his launcher was no where to
be found. He glanced down at the holster at his side to see the
device Deathforge had given him was unharmed, so he took it
"Just me and you, buddy…", he
said to it.
To his surprise, Deathforges
voice crackled over his comms system. "Yeah, just you and
Lamarro was confused. How the
hell had Deathforge survived the ship blowing up?
"Deathforge! Where are you?", he
asked urgently, "Are you in the city?"
"Affirmative.", Deathforge said.
"Moments before the ship was destroyed, I got in a drop pod, and
dropped down to the city. I'm about six clicks north of your
"Alright. Start moving towards
me, I'll start moving towards you. Will you show up in my HUD
when I get within range?", Lamarro asked.
"Yeah, but since I'm not in the
same armour as you, you might have to get closer than you would
if I were Jericho or Ramsey."
Lamarro acknowledged, and took
off at a dead sprint towards the source of Deathforges voice,
and, hopefully, Deathforge.
He hadn't even made it out of
the building when he encountered trouble. He quickly realized
upon running out that he wasn't on the ground level at all, and
he was actually hundreds of stories up in a skyscraper, and what
he had mistaken for the ground outside was actually a landing pad
for massive passenger transports.
"Deathforge, I have a problem
here. I'm on a landing pad of some sort, and…" He stopped when he
spotted something that could easily prove to be very helpful. The
next building over had a huge smoldering hole in the side of it,
which if he could jump into… The next several buildings looked
like they were connected by sky bridges he could use to
The only problem was, the gap
was almost a hundred feet wide; a long gap to jump even for a
SHARD. Lamarro knew he could probably make it, but he'd have to
do it very carefully, and there was zero room for
He lined himself up with the
gap, then backed up to get as big of a run up at it as he could.
Once he was in position, he took several deep breaths to steady
himself, then took off. His speed instantly rocketing to sixty
miles an hour, he sprinted across the landing pad quickly, and
the next second, he was jumping off the landing pad, into the air
almost a thousand feet above the ground, which was shrouded in a
combination of mist and smoke.
He was in the air for almost
five full seconds, then landing hard, well within the other
building, performing a somersault to lessen the impact, which
still killed his energy shields. He got to his feet, brushing a
small spot of ash off his shoulder plate, and stood still for a
few minutes, allowing his shields to recharge.
"You get that, Deathforge? I
just jumped across a gap almost a hundred feet wide.", Lamarro
bragged. "Beat that."
"So what city is this, exactly?
I haven't been in any cities around here on Prospera.", Lamarro
"I know, and this city is called
Ventizan.", Deathforge explained.
"Is it currently occupied by the
Iron Alliance?", Lamarro asked quietly.
Silence for a minute, then,
"Only patrols. The nearest area of open warfare is Pariah, the
next city over, which is about forty two kilometers away. The
only Alliance you might encounter here is just
Lamarro began trying to make his
way through the building. He approached a door that was damaged,
and stuck slightly open. He firmly grabbed one door in each hand,
and wrenched them apart in a combination of sparks and screeching
Once beyond the door, he took
off at a fast jog down the hall, which was pitch black aside from
the light filtering in through the windows and holes in the other
walls. When he came to the far end of the hallway, he found
himself at a three-way junction. One way went straight, the other
went left, then there was the hall he'd just came from. He could
see that the straight hallway didn't go anywhere, so he turned
left and soon found himself on another landing pad, similar to
the one he'd jumped off to get to this building.
"Deathforge, I need some
transport. Anything in the area?", Lamarro asked.
Deathforge was quiet, then,
"Yes, transport is inbound."
The 'transport' Deathforge was
talking about turned out to be a single Valkyrie-class aircraft
flying by several feet below him, plastered with Alliance
Lamarro smiled. A
He crouched on the edge of the
landing pad, patiently awaiting the arrival of the fighter. When
it was directly below him, he dropped down onto the top of it,
and drew his combat knife. He thrust his entire arm through the
glass of the cockpit, which shattered, and stabbed his knife
right through the head of the pilot, into the seat behind
Sheathing his knife, Lamarro
grabbed the pilots harness, and threw him out of the craft, then
swung himself in and seized the controls.
"Transport acquired.", Lamarro
muttered. "What's your position?"
When Ramsey had
landed, he'd found himself immediately in the middle of a
conflict. He'd been unfortunate enough to land right in the
middle of Alliance occupied land just outside of a huge destroyed
city. For several hours, he'd struggled to keep back the oncoming
troops, but he'd eventually been overwhelmed and taken prisoner,
where he was now.
The thing he was currently being
held in appeared to be some sort of mobile prison cell. It was
just a round dome with a single opening, which itself was blocked
by a force shield that Ramsey had killed his energy shield more
than once trying to break through.
He was completely alone. He had
no weapons, and nothing he could do except wait.
General Augustus Manzanarr stood
before the massive window on the bridge of the Heretic Monarch.
The ship was temporarily dormant, with all power cut off, except
to the lights. He was alone on the bridge, deep in
General Manzanarr was actually a
robot. Or, specifically, a bio-mech. He had a human heart, and a
human brain, but other than that, he was entirely mechanical. He
stood well over seven feet tall, and was built mostly out of
armite, covered with a purplish metal called Sererenite. He was
the closest mankind had ever created to a completely
The door to the bridge slid open
"What is it?", Manzanarr asked
"Among the debris falling from
the destruction of the Pandora, we picked up on a couple of life
forms. There were four of them, three of them having power
signatures matching that of Mk III SHARD armour.", an officer
Manzanarr turned, and stalked up
to the officer. "Why was I not informed of this before?", he
seethed, "We could have already neutralized them!"
He lashed out and struck the
officer, his hand cleaving off the entire left half of his head.
The officer crumpled, twitched twice, and died.
Manzanarr keyed the intercom for
the hangar, and shouted, "Someone, ready me a drop ship. I'm
He got in the elevator on the
other side of the door the officer had just came from, and
stabbed a finger at the control for the hangar level, and the
elevator instantly began to descend.
Within minutes, he was out of the elevator, and
storming across the hangar. He approached the dropship waiting
for him, and climbed into the back. He walked into the cockpit,
and handed the pilot the coordinates for the fortress he wanted
to go to, then settled in for the journey.
Lamarro piloted the aircraft
through the skyscrapers, often narrowly avoiding crashing when
taking corners. Finally, Deathforge showed up on his HUD as a
small blinking green diamond shaped icon with a rapidly lessening
distance measured in meters right below it. The building
Deathforge was on top of had a helipad surrounded by a yellow
railing, and blinking red lights. He moved the Valkyrie into
position to put it down on top of the building.
"Lamarro, hurry up.", Deathforge
ordered impatiently, and started walking to the helipad. As
Lamarro began descending, he noticed Deathforge staring at
"What are you looking at?",
Lamarro asked him sourly.
"Your aircraft doesn't have a
cockpit, Lamarro.", Deathforge commented.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Just get
in.", Lamarro muttered monotonously.
Thousands of feet above the
ground, just below the skyscraper rooftops, Lamarro and
Deathforge flew in their hijacked fighter craft, as they had been
doing for several minutes. They were mostly just searching for
friendly forces, preferably the other two SHARD soldiers in the
"Lamarro, have you tried
contacting them with your comms unit?", Deathforge asked. "If you
were able to contact me, you might be able to reach Jericho or
Lamarro thought, then replied,
"I don't know if that would work. I was under ten kilometers away
from you, and isn't ten the limit?"
"The Mk. III armor has a better
comms system, so I don't know if it'll work or not. It's worth a
Lamarro opened up a new
recording, and said, "This is NEMC SHARD class soldier Edward
Lamarro, service tag D-021. I am broadcasting on all channels to
any available New Eden Marine Corps forces in the area; I am
currently in a hijacked Iron Alliance aircraft with no extra
provisions or weapons, and I won't survive long without help.
Lamarro finished the recording,
set it on a loop, and started broadcasting.
"There we go. Now all we can do
Jericho had finally reached the
outskirts of the city. From the rock he'd been on until here took
him another full hour, but he wasn't running this time. He had
decided a while ago that it would be wise to conserve the little
energy he had left.
Looking up from ground lever,
the skyscrapers were incredible. They were so tall, the tips of
many of them vanished into the sky. Not much happened in the city
at ground level, that much was apparent.
He was about to vault over the
wall surrounding the city when he got a message on his comms
unit. He recognized the message as the voice of Lamarro. He
listened to the message all the way through, then sent a
response, "Lamarro, this is Jericho. I'm just outside the city,
and I'm sending you my coordinates now."
Jericho sent the message, then
sat on a large piece of metal that was half buried next to him,
and started to wait.
About twenty minutes later,
Jericho spotted a Valkyrie-class aircraft descending through the
clouds and down towards him. A quick glance through the scope of
his sniper rifle revealed that it lacked the glass dome of its
cockpit, and Lamarro was, in fact, driving it.
As Lamarro put the craft down on
a small plateau near Jericho, him and Deathforge both climbed
out, and jogged to Jericho.
"Deathforge, good to see you
made it out.", Jericho commented. "Well done."
"Even if I'm not a soldier, and
I don't have the same armour, I'm still a SHARD.", Deathforge
Jericho agreed, then turned to
Lamarro. "Where's Ramsey? Have you found him yet?"
Jericho sighed, then said, "Well
I suppose that makes you the ranking officer around here. You get
to order us around until we find Ramsey."
Lamarro jumped back in the
cockpit of the Valkyrie, Jericho and Deathforge hopping in the
back. They lifted off, and were airborne, in search of their lost
commanding officer. Deathforge had procured a small device that
picked up all signals within scan range, and Ramseys signal was
one of them. It was faint, but it was there.
"Where is his signal coming
from?", Jericho inquired, peering over Deathforges shoulder at
the small screen in his hand.
"Somewhere that seems to have a
jammer in place… So, most like being held prisoner in an Iron
Jericho frowned. "How the heck
did you determine that?"
"Well, he would be able to
notice a jammer if he were within range of it for it to jam him,
and there's no way in hell he'd voluntarily get his signal
jammed.", Deathforge explained, "And the only logical place the
Alliance would put a jammer is in a fortress, so that people like
us couldn't pick up on them."