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Almost a Military based story... based on futuristic Military Units.
Consists of the good and the bad. Operation Liberty is a group of well trained soilders fighting for good and trying to get rid of the Iron Alliance.

*If you read this first chapter and are interested in it, please leave a comment so I know if I should continue posting it!!!*

Submitted:Nov 21, 2010    Reads: 37    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

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 formidable force.
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 building.
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 business.
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 guns."
Jericho chuckled, and agreed, and followed the two out of the room and into a long hallway.
"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 over."
Ramsey nodded. "True. Well, it'll still be nice to be somewhere different for a change."
"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, right?"
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 it.
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 weight.
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 you?"
"Yeah.", Ramsey replied. "We need some guns, and any new gadgetry you might have for us."
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 with."
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 Jericho.
"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 it."
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 grenades.
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 it.
Jericho did his best to banish the nervousness. Becoming emotionally or mentally compromised during a mission could botch everything, and result in fatality.
"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 capabilities…"
Suddenly, a voice blasted over the loudspeaker, "Warning. Incoming target. All hands, brace for impact!"
Ramsey and Lamarro turned to Jericho, and motioned for him to follow, then took off at a sprint towards the hangar with Jericho close behind.
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 duties.
"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 close behind.
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 those!"
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 correctly.
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 space.
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 Ramseys signal.
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 button…
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 best.
Then, impact.
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 patience.
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 an inconvenience.
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 suspiciously.
"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 indicated.
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 out.
"Just me and you, buddy…", he said to it.
To his surprise, Deathforges voice crackled over his comms system. "Yeah, just you and me."
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 current position."
"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 travel.
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 error.
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."
Deathforge just laughed.
"So what city is this, exactly? I haven't been in any cities around here on Prospera.", Lamarro pointed out.
"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 patrols."
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 metal.
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 insignias.
Lamarro smiled. A challenge.
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 him.
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 thought.
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 indestructible object.
The door to the bridge slid open behind him.
"What is it?", Manzanarr asked without turning.
"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 explained.
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 going planet-side."
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 him.
"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 area.
"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 Ramsey."
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 shot, though."
"Good plan."
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. Out."
Lamarro finished the recording, set it on a loop, and started broadcasting.
"There we go. Now all we can do is wait."
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 replied.
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."
"Lucky me."
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 Alliance fortress."
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."


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