Abtahka - 01 - Battle in the Park

Abtahka 01

Battle in the Park

Abtakha: A captured warrior who is adopted into his new Clan as a warrior.

August 7th, 3050
Ludvika, Blackjack V
Ludvika Preservation Park

I watched the back of Holne’s Commando recede.

Activating the radio, I said, “Holne, we've got orders to stay here and screen against any units coming our way."

Holne came on, "I'm not dying next to your faggot ass, Proust. I'm with Lykke and Falk. I don't give a damn what you do, just keep your freak ass the fuck away from us. Don't bother begging, I won't listen."

The radio fell to static. I toggled it to standby, and settled back into the cockpit seat. I willed the feelings of rejection to turn to indifference but fell short at disgust mixed with anger.

Holne’s mech disappeared from view through the trees of the park. On the sensor display the blip representing him moved to the edge and vanished from off his sensor screen.

It wouldn’t work calling a second time not that I wanted to. First Lykke and Falk had abandoned their position, and now Holne.

I knew that the three had technically run away from the position here in the park we’d been ordered to. I also knew that they hadn’t left because they were afraid. It was me who they detested and me they were getting away from.

This left me the sole military unit in central Ludvika, 3rd company 3rd lance, fourth mech. The three lance-mates had gone in the direction of the suburb Boden where 3rd companies 1st lance had orders to deploy. This was closer to the supposed enemy we’d face. No that was wrong. I’d face them alone now.

Who were we facing? No one really knew.

An unknown enemy had arrived in orbit early this morning and had smashed through the meager air defense the Lyrans have here on Blackjack. They had already made planet-fall.

Right now I knew local law enforcement and the citizen militia were assembling. According to the Kommandant here at the school, it was the job of other cadets and myself to buy them time if we couldn't outright defeat them.

Over the last few months, rumors had spread like wildfire of systems having fallen to them. Some of them said the Dracs making a surprise invasion by going around the Razzies through the Periphery. Some even said they were the first aliens humanity had met and they weren't friendly.

I didn't know what to expect. So I waited in Ludvika Memorial Park in my Chameleon mech. It was the basic no frills 7V model at 50 tons. Long considered a training mech and used as such, the Blackjack Training Battalion had several of them. It was jump capable and armed with several lasers and machine guns.

The squawk of his mech's alarm for reactor breach, came on for the umpteenth time since I’d left the hangar earlier. I slapped the override.

"Piece of shit." I grumbled at both my lance mates and the machine.

Nothing came on the radio from my lance mates, or any of the other anywhere. Satcom and Satview had gone down a half hour ago on the move to Ludvika. All I could see was what the sensors displayed and the limited field of view out the cockpit canopy. It wasn't much at all considering how much my mech was in disrepair.

The mag res scanner had been broke for over a week now. An accident is what maintenance had said. Something went wrong while attempting to fix the inoperative jump jet in the right leg. Both devices were waiting on parts that should have arrived by now but had not.

I overrode the breach alarm again.

The containment on the reactor was good. I’d inspected it myself refusing to rely on the word of the maintenance chief two days ago. This was after a simulated fire training session somehow made the alarm occur more often. It was only a malfunction in the sensor, one I'd asked to have replaced three weeks ago when it first sustained damage somehow.

That was the tip of the iceberg. All thermal sensor gun sights were inoperative. The ammo rack for his machine guns could only hold a quarter of the ammo they should. Anymore and there'd be a miss-feed. The armor on my Chameleon's right shoulder and arm had remained unfixed. That was from maintenance fouling the right arms laser while diagnosing a suspected power feed issue. The laser had worked the day before maintenance touched it, and hadn't worked since. The right torso jump jet remained misaligned from the work done on the laser. Jumping with the current jet config made the mech slide to the right instead of an arc in a direction controlled by the pilot. These problems had been cropping up now for almost a month.

The target systems calibration tended to drift every few days to the point where I couldn't hit the broadside of a barn. Lucky for me I’d re-calibrated them yesterday morning. Hopefully it would hold in place for as long as it took to stop these invaders.

Somehow with the long shipping time for the parts, other cadets already had their mechs fixed. Some even questionably so. It amazed me, how systems would break on my mech but never sideline it completely. At the same time other cadets with similar issues would get their systems back up and running. Maintenance refused to show me the records of the other mechs. I had my suspicions but never could prove anything.

With the threat of these invaders, every mech available that could be piloted had been put into the field. This included me and my junk Chameleon.

Maybe I could just run away, but to where?

Where could I retreat to? How would I retreat? These were questions I’d asked myself since coming to Ludvika.

I squashed the alarm again.

At least it’s quiet between the stupid alarm, thought Proust. No assholes to mess with me.

A half hour went by with nothing to show, until several smoke pillars reached into the sky. All were from the direction of Boden. It was time.

The radio burst to life. It was an all frequency broadcast with no encryption.

“… overwatch reports one more mech in the forest park at the city center. Belle, Arthur, on me…”

Crap. I didn’t know who the voice was and the names were unfamiliar, but at least they spoke english even if it was with a weird accent. Who ever they were, they knew I was here.

An idea came to me. I needed more weapons if there were at least three of them and nothing said I couldn’t use a tree as a club. I don’t think the city leaders would care about a tree if the planet was saved. The tree I picked uprooted easily. I’d have used two of them but the damage to the right arm large laser also included the release mechanism being stuck. It’d work just as well as a club. If I survived this, maintenance would have to order a new mount and casing for it, either way it didn't matter.

I readied myself. Three blips appeared at the edge of the sensor readout.

The radio came to life again on the same all frequency broadcast. “This is Star Captain Jason Eagle of Clan Jade Falcon. To the lone mech, identify yourself”

The name was a human name. Maybe they were not aliens.

"I am Cadet Proust of the Blackjack Training Battalion.” I responded

The alarm came on again and I overrode it.

“Why are you not with your fellow warriors. MechWarrior Proust?”

“Orders sir. My unit’s orders were to stay here in Ludvika and screen against the enemy, which appears to be you. It would seem that the rest of my lance has run to their fate. Why they left me here and abandoned their orders, I don't have an answer for. You'd have to ask them”

The three blips had stopped out of line of site, and somewhat just outside the tree line of the preservation.

“So you are the last defender of Ludvika? MechWarrior Mendel did not inform us of your existence.”

Proust knew Mendel as the instructor who went with 3rd company 1st lance to Boden.

“That's not my problem Star Captain. I'm here and I stand against you.”

“Are there any other units here?”

“None that I know of. Other than the lance in Boden, and my three errant lance mates, I know of no others here in Ludvika.”

“If that is the case, I issue a batchall against you for control of Ludvika. Do you need an explanation?”

“Yes.” I’d never heard that word before. If I could buy any time at all for the militia being called up I would do it. Having some enemy take the time to talk fit in nicely into that goal.

“A batchall is simple MechWarrior Proust. We bid our forces down to reduce the amount of destruction and damage. At the same time we bring victory and honor with the least resources expended.”

“This is a duel then, but with something hanging in the balance?”


“Then I accept this challenge, how do we bid?”

“As the one challenged, you get choice in where”

“I think all of Ludvika is our battleground. It's what my orders spoke of to defend.”

“Acceptable. I bid MechWarrior Arthur and he will not use his lasers.”

“I can't accept that.” I felt bile rise in my throat.

“Why not? It is honorable. Do you doubt the abilities of MechWarrior Arthur, or deny him the chance to prove himself in combat?”

"No sir. It’s only that I would be disobeying my orders if I did that. My orders are to screen against the enemy. I can't win against one of you and let the others go somewhere else. I have to stop you if I can here, or chase you down.”

“I understand. Honorable, and perhaps foolish. Are you saying you will fight all three of us.”

"Yes. I must.”

“Then so be it MechWarrior Proust, you will face the three of us in battle for control of Ludvika”

The alarm came on again. I ignored the alarm, pushing the throttle to max, maneuvering through the thick forest preserve towards the nearest unit. The dense forest slowed my progress but allowed me to close with the enemy, remaining unseen till the last moment.

It was an ungainly mech I faced, with no torso and spindly arms and legs. The bulbous cockpit jutted forward. It's right arm ended in a box with a protruding weapon barrel. The left arm didn't match and ended in a small hand actuator with a weapon barrel slung underneath.

Four missiles arced out of a launcher in its torso, and the right arm weapon fired, giving away that it was an auto-cannon of some sort. Only one of the missiles hit, gouging a mark into the chest of my Chameleon.

The feedback through the neurohelmet was high as usual. It felt like something had stung me on my chest.

I brought the tree up and used it as a hammer to swing down into the enemy mech’s right torso. The tree broke. Its upper foliage hanging onto the mech, caught in its shoulder joint. The mech attempted to backpedal unsuccessfully through the preserves thick foliage.

Stepping my Chameleon in close, I body checked the mech with the damaged right arm and shoulder, pushing it back. The enemy mech lost its balance and fell backwards, wedged between two particularly large trees.

Damage warnings kicked off, cutting in over the reactor breach alarm for a second. Another mech, apparently the same type had moved up and fired upon my rear with a laser. Thankfully it was the fully armored left side. My adrenaline competed with the pain of neural feedback.

The third mech, same type as the first two but with different arms, moved in front and raised its gun arm to fire.

I initiated a jump. My Chameleon jerked to the right. Lucky the trees I collided with broke rather than catching I was able to maintain my footing. A silver blur streaked by to my left.

Grabbing another tree I ripped it out of the ground and moved towards the mech which had struck at me from the rear. Using the right arm to provide more cover by holding it in front, I barreled my mech through the forest and closed the distance.

The tree lasted two swings before breaking. The enemy mech attempted to fire, only one laser hit, scoring the left leg.

I turned to face the third enemy and fired both medium lasers, trading fire with it. Whatever the silver flash was, it smashed into my right arm’s shoulder shattering it, leaving it hanging limp. I gritted my teeth through the wash of pain from neuro-feedback.

Only one of the medium lasers hit.

I shouldn’t be feeling this type of damage. One more thing wrong with my mech. The dampeners on the neuro-feedback weren’t set to what they needed to or they’d failed. Every diagnostic and motion sensor was feeding back information to me without being filtered.

Needing to put distance between the them and myself, I moved away through the forest. Finding myself at the edge of the preserve, I abandoned it. The perimeter road would allow me to run fast, re-enter the preserve and engage from a different angle.

Moving full out down the road a few hundred meters, I reentered as damage warnings flashed again. One of the mechs followed me out and fired, scoring a minor hit on the weak rear right torso. It felt like something stabbed in and tore through my own flesh.

“Fuck,” I screamed.

My entry back into the preserve broke line of site with the chaser. and it was the same for me. Every sensor but the visual optics and my own two eyes had failed. A warning light flickered on the control board showing there was a fault in the sensor system.

“God damned piece of shit maintenance techs,” I screamed.

I ripped another tree out of the ground and moved back to the preserves edge. Maybe I could retreat further into the city and reengage. Maybe get a better position.

Exiting the preserve again, I found one of the mechs waiting there. The mech did a quick torso twist, firing its medium lasers. One hit.

Attempting to turn and keep myself on target while closing the distance to the enemy mech proved impossible. The conditions caused my chameleon to lose its footing. The mech's feet slid out from under me and the momentum carried it and I with it a few dozen meters down a side street ending on its side.

The neuro-feedback system insured I felt everything. Double vision and vertigo disoriented me.

It wasn’t too bad. I’d taken more at the hands of my fellow trainees during training. It'd been much worse. I started work immediately to upright his mech and get back in the fight.

The tree was still grasped in my mechs left arm. As the only functional arm, I’d need to to stand. I tossed the tree up past the canopy and began using my left arm as leverage to stand.

The mech I’d faced moments before falling, came around the corner. It stepped in a way the tree I’d had thrown caught between its legs, tripping it to the ground sending it's ugly face into a buildings side.

Now or never, I fought the controls of my mech to get it upright with only one hand and succeeded.

The enemy mech struggled as well to upright itself. I moved in and fired all of my remaining weapons weapons into the mechs rear using just visual sights.

Much to my surprise, they worked. I hit with all remaining lasers and the machine gun. Oh what luck.

I moved out from the side street leaving behind the struggling mech, and found myself face to face with another mech.

I fired all of my weapons again, the risk of actually overheating be damned. None of the medium lasers hit. Both were off target by several meters.

The gun sights had drifted.

I initiated the jump jets, hoping to avoid the silver flash which had shattered my mech’s right arm. Not fast enough. Whatever this weapon was, it slammed into my already damaged right torso, spinning my mech and me in it around.

Lucky for me the neuro-helmet didn’t cover my face and I vomited onto the console.

My mech ended up careening into a building, coming to rest on its back, partially against the building.

The neuro-feedback spiked again, disorienting me. The containment warning continued to flash and warble out its tune. I dry heaved then screamed, "Fuck you, you piece of shit. God damn those assholes for fucking me over with this piece of shit mech. All of you can burn in hell for this."

I struggled again to upright my Chameleon out of the building. This only caused pieces of the damaged building to fall on and around my mech.

The last mech moved up where I could see it and it fired. One of the lasers struck the cockpit, cutting off my view as it polarized. Something smashed into my torso, probably another one of those silver blurs.

The neuro-feedback proved too much and I passed out.

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