The Last Ride

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Still my first draft. No spell checks, no grammar checks. Just me throwing words on paper. Hopefully it's not too unreadable.

Chapter 1 (v.1) - The Pale Riders

Submitted: May 07, 2016

Reads: 480

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Submitted: May 07, 2016

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The shocks in the sunderer’s weal wells screeched as Tiger continued in his never ending quest to hit every pot hole on the long drive to the crown. I sat in the back of the vehicle staring out one of the gun ports. It was sweltering, sitting in a pure titanium rig, with a hand full of other soldiers I didn’t know. And of course our great wise squad leader Tiger always demanded we put proximity repair in our sunderers instead of air conditioning. Saying it was an overrated modification, and that the only way to win was with proximity repaired.

I glanced up at the driver’s seat and smiled as Tiger began yelling at someone over the radio… probably Bumble Bee in the sunderer behind us. It was something about Tiger’s Max loadout. I learned long ago that when on a long drive with Bumble Bee, you turn off your squad coms. But Tiger never shy about telling Bumble Bee that he was a fucking idiot, and it became an attitude the entire squad adopted. I smiled as Tiger called the other person on the line a fucking idiot and turned back to my gun port.

Driving alongside our cheerful little sunderer was a brightly colored magrider with a large Australian flag painted on the side. It was the symbol of the Pale Riders, our squad. Command had refused Tiger’s request to use a picture of the Grim Reaper, on the grounds that it didn’t look professional enough. “It’s because command hates us” he’d say with a groan.

I turned my coms back on and signaled the driver and gunner of the magrider. Moments later I saw the hatch open and Dacubara poked her head out, gasping for air. “What’s wrong Dacu” I said trying to hold back the laughter in my voice?

Ginga ait Mexican food and now I’m dying” she said back with a hint of amusement in her voice.

It’s not that bad” said Ginga, in his ever quiet voice. “I can barely even smell it”.

He who smelt it dealt it” Dacu retorted as she reached down into the tank’s inside to give Ginga a punch in the arm. I’ve said it too many before, Dacu and Ginga are perfect together. No one seems to know what they did before they joined the Vanu but as far as I could tell, they were joined at the hip. If they weren’t driving around in a tank or airship together, they were working as a tag team of a Max and an engineer. And as a symbol of their affection, their prized magrider always sported a golden snowman on their front. I’m not entirely sure why they chose a snowman but Dacu always referred to it as the Golden Dildo.

I never denied I dealt it. I’m saying you’re overreacting” Ginga said in a slight chuckle.

Oh God it’s in my mouth” She said as she went limp, hanging out the top of the tank.

Hey, it’s not the first time you’ve gotten a bit of him in your mouth Dacu” I said teasingly. As I heard I light chuckle come from Ginga, Dacu propped herself up on one arm and gave me a sarcastic smile.

You’re just jealous because I don’t share him” She said, sticking her tongue out at me.

I keep offering to send him nudes of me but you keep cock blocking me” I said earning an awkward glance from the guy next to me.

Oh God. Is Foobloo trying to have sex with people again” came Marshall’s familiar voce? As I looked up through the gun port, I saw a Australian flag on the wings of a low flying scythe, orbiting our little convoy.

Hey Marshall! And yes he is” Dacu said as she waved enthusiastically at Marshall’s scythe, who did a little spin to greet his squad mates.

Hey Dacu” Marshall said before dropping altitude enough to hover three metres over Ginga and Dacu. “I see you two are in the tank, Tiger is driving the sundy with, I assume Foobloo riding in the back. Where’s Doc and Tuna?

They’re riding with Bumble Bee in the sundy that’s dilly dallying behind us” Came Tiger’s gruff Australian voice. “And by the way Marshall. Didn’t I tell you to pull a repair sundy? What are you doing flying one of those”?

Ah, excellent question Tiger” Marshall said before taking off to circle the convoy again.

Well” tiger demanded after waiting for an answer?

Well I could have pulled one… but I feel like Indar’s hot enough without us roasting our guys in the back of a giant steal creat on weels”. The whole squad broke out in laughter as I saw Dacu give a salute to Marshalls scyth. I even heard Tuna and Doc chuckling in our new squad chat. Even Tiger gave a grin grinned and shook his head at Marshalls comment.

I still wanted three sundies. But some air support cant go amis" Tiger said as her motioned me to the front of the sunderer.

I reached for the bus railing at the top of the sunderer and pulled myself to my feet.

The back of a sunderer is possibly the worst thing ever. Eleven people crammed shoulder to shoulder with scarcely any room to rearrange your leg when it inevitably falls asleep. If you were lucky you got a seat next to a gun port that allowed for the chance for fresh air and a view of something other than the other grumbling faces around you. What made it worse was the sunderer has two top mounted machine guns controlled remotely from two chairs placed in the center of the vehicle; making it an ordeal to crawl your way through the titanium belly of an already packed armored vehicle. And heaven help you if you had a Max or two in there.

I reached for the bus railing at the top of the sunderer and pulled myself to my feet.The back of a sunderer is possibly the worst thing ever. Eleven people crammed shoulder to shoulder with scarcely any room to rearrange your leg when it inevitably falls asleep. If you were lucky you got a seat next to a gun port that allowed for the chance for fresh air and a view of something other than the other grumbling faces around you. What made it worse was the sunderer has two top mounted machine guns controlled remotely from two chairs placed in the center of the vehicle; making it an ordeal to crawl your way through the titanium belly of an already packed armored vehicle. And heaven help you if you had a Max or two in there.

I pulled myself along the handrail, over chairs machinery, grumbling soldiers, and men staring intently at the readouts for the sunderer’s gun readouts. As I reached the front of the sunderer, I settled into a cubby hole in the entrance to the driver’s cabin.

The front of a sunderer was designed with for a driver and someone to ride shotgun and still have plenty of space. But like Tiger’s sundy, you almost never saw that. The passenger side is almost always gutted and replaced with readouts of the vehicle’s radar, weapon amo, hull integrity, vehicle occupants and mobile repair readout. It’s designed to show the driver everything he needs to know about his sunderer without him having to say a word or get out of his chair. Which, as Tiger always said, is perfect for an old, fat man covered in cat hair? But it never stopped him from complaining that he couldn’t fit in the driver’s seat in his prized Max suit.

“How ya doin back there Foobloo” Tiger said as he silenced him squad chat.

“It’s hot back there but we’ll manage” I said as I brushed some sweat from the tip of my chin. “What do you need boss”?

“Have a look at this” Tiger said indicating toward one of the readout on his right. “The squad is rolling pretty heavy right now. Mostly engineers and heavies. You and Tuna are going to be the only medics out there”.

“You sure that’s wise” I asked as I checked my medical tool to see if it was still working?

“We need to hit fast Foob” he said before pointing to another readout showing a digital layout of the Crown. “The Wild Cards are already there” he said pointing to points Charlie and Bravo. “They have a firm hold on Charlie but the NC are constantly pushing them off Bravo. If we can fly in and take out Alpha” he said, pointing to a cluster of two large buildings at the west end of the base. “We can cut off their reinforcements and secure the main structure” he said, indicating the most coveted structure on Indar. The Crown is giant spire that reaches into the sky with four aerial landing platforms christening the top of the spire.

I wasn’t entirely sure what Tiger had in mind. The Crown had not stayed in NC hand as long as it had for no reason. It was built atop a single tall butte surrounded by canyons on all sides. There were only three ways to approach it by ground. One was the East road. It was a wide rode that curved around the butte’s southern slopes. At first glance it looked even and gave the armour excellent field of view for oncoming enemies. And more importantly the two of the three shield nodes for the spire were located. But in truth, the road got narrower as it grew closer to the top, and by the time you reached shield node bravo on a manmade bridge suspended over a shear drop, your road had turned in to a tight corridor with bullets raining down on you from above.

The second road was short and led from a neighboring base called TI Alloys, right up to the spire. But the anti-armor turrets placed around the spires see you coming from miles away. It can be done, but similar to the path the Wild Card took, it could not be done without serious losses.

There was a third option on the crowns northern slopes. A series of foot paths wind up it’s length, allowing ground troops to quickly scale the rise to the top of the butte. Similar to the other approach, there are down sides. The narrow paths are easily locked down. A small group of seven good men could hold back an army. And unfortunately for the attackers, it’s almost impossible to drive a sunderer up the paths to reinforce the infantry. In short, it was good for flanking and harassment, but could be shut down easily. There used to be a fourth approach over a naturally formed suspension bridge from TI Alloys, but it during an attempt made by the TR to take the crown a liberator crashed into it, sending the huge chunks of rocks to the canyon below.

“What’s your plan” I asked, hoping he wasn’t going to suggest the second road?

“In a minute, you’re going to hop in with Tuna, Doc, and Bumble Bee” he said as the excitement grew in his voice. “The three of you will drive to the northern approach and stop off there. The NC will be so busy with the Wild Cards at Bravo; they won’t expect a small strike force from there. Everyone will go light assault and pack C4 to deal with the anti-armour turrets”. I smiled at Tiger’s enthusiasm as the plan starting to take shape in my mind.

“What about the rest of you”?

“We’re headed to TI Alloys. We’ll hold tight until Doc sends up purple smoke just before he blows the turrets”.

“And we just leave the second sundy at the bottom of the north slopes”?

“No. Doc will hand it over to Bumble Bee and he’ll drive it back to TI Alloys to meet up with us. Unless you little shits can blow the turrets before he gets there. I which case, he’ll proceed on to the crown.”

“Sounds like a plan. But tell me Tiger. Why did you need to tell me in person. You could have told the entire team on squad chat.”

“I did tell them over squad chat. But a certain someone decided to turn off his coms so he could dilly dally around. You little bitch” He said as he smiled at me out of the corner of his helmet.

“Point taken” I said as I saw Marshall swoop in front of our sunderer. “I suppose I could have just muted Bumble Bee. That could have solved the problem.”

“That’s another thing” Tiger said as all seriousness returned to his voice. “Stop muting him. Call him a little bitch, tell him to shut up but don’t mute. I want all coms open for this one. No mistakes because people weren’t listening” he said as we approached the familiar site of TI Alloys. “There’s a reason we are one of the top squads on this planet. Understand?”

“Crystal” I said as our little convoy pulled to a halt.


© Copyright 2019 David M Beatch. All rights reserved.

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