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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, '10, 4:51 pm
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Part 6: The great battle.

The ground was rather rocky. "Harsh and completely desolate" were the only adjectives that came to Sandy's mind. Ryucross looked much more hospitable from space; rather, to be honest, not that barren. From what it looked like, the planet was supposedly highly crystalline. The place was speckled with colourful, beautiful crystal formations here and there, but overall, once you honestly set foot down there, it was a barren place and not much else.

According to the science officer on board the D.S.S. Aeroprism, there wasn't supposed to be any atmosphere down here, yet, not only could they breathe freely, a cold and dry wind kept blowing on everyone's face, a constant reminder that they weren't welcome here.

But that was all beside the point. Colonel Sandy Ryan was there on a mission and whether the wind was harsh or not would not change anything about it.

She was standing on a small cliff. Behind her, where her troops were gathering and organizing the main base of assault laid a narrow, desolate valley. There was not much to see there actually. The cliff was about sixty meters high. Over the cliff, a very sharp wall announcing a deep chasm. Beyond that: darkness. Unless the enemy forces could fly, there were very small chances of being attacked from that direction, and climbing the cliff was of poor strategic value, if not downright suicidal. But even if they did attack from beyond the cliff, her forces would be ready for them. She turned around, her eyes looking down the small valley until she saw where her troops were, some fifty meters away. She stood atop a natural slope, therefore her troops were on a slightly lower ground, between two crystalline walls, "Very much like an oversized natural trench" she thought. It would be easy to defend. All in all, behind them was a cliff which lead nowhere and on both sides, high walls. Easy to defend, a narrow valley with only one entry point.

Adam told her that the enemy would come from the front, so that left any possible attacking force with only a small passage to manoeuvre. Should the general be wrong and should the enemy attack from above, shield generators had been installed. The shields worked both ways of course, they wouldn't be able to fight back, but they would also be impenetrable. Then again, Adam Freeman was seldom wrong when it came to battle preparation. That's why they made him general.

She grew tired of the arrogant wind. She closed the visor of her heavy powersuit, turned around and walked towards the temporary headquarters her troops were building.

Before she lowered her head to have a clear view, she caught a glimpse of the three cruisers floating at a very low altitude. Since the gravity pull was practically inexistent on Ryucross and since it more or less stopped some 100 meters from the surface, the three cruisers had been able to lower to a very low orbit. So low, that she could actually see the shape of crewmembers as they passed behind the ship's port-holes. She clearly heard the hum of the ship's photon engines and to know that the three steel giants were so close while they were on enemy ground made her feel safer. She wondered how the repairs were going. When they last talked, her ship captain told her there were still no weapons, minimal shields and the fighter bays were still unusable.

She lowered her head and started to walk toward her forces. She couldn't help but to be impressed. It was nothing like a major offensive, these were not massive legions of soldiers out there, but only a small force intended to strike fast and hard. She knew that the full might of the motavian army was much greater to behold, but for the current situation, what she saw pleased her greatly. Small, efficient, deadly.

Her eyes first stopped on the fifteen massive photon cannons mounted on heavy titanium railing. Those things gave an output ten times superior to her own armoured suit arm cannon. They required two people to operate, one to maintain its functions, one to aim and fire. The fifteen energy weapons were ready to be used, their operators already concluding some usual maintenance tests. In front of them there were two full artillery platoons. Sixty-six men and women taking strategic positions, preparing their ranged weapons, from deadly sniper rifles to powerful energy vulcans, along with the short range, rapid fire mechgun sections. And in front of them were her personal troops, three infantry platoons, all armoured and equipped with energy melee weapons. The beautiful gleaming energy blades of partisans, broad swords and sabers caught her eye as she moved toward them, not without displaying a smile of satisfaction.

She noticed somewhere to the left behind the artillery squads, the small elite group of Forces getting ready for some action. It reminded her of the latest reports she read on the new TFT program. She had asked Adam to wait until they could take a few of their students with them, she said that if this mission was to be as dangerous as he said it would, TFT backup would be welcome. But Adam declined the offer. He first told her that timing was of the essence with this mission, he was after all leader of the military and he had to plan any long absence in advance, he had his obligations and responsibilities. Furthermore, he told her that the mission was indeed extremely dangerous and that although he had complete faith in the results of this program, he would not risk bringing TFT members that were not completely trained yet.

During the two week trip, Sandy had often wondered why Adam chose not to bring any of his friends from his home planet. Some of them were capable fighters and were extremely reliable. Some like Aaron Kurtz could not be brought along. His work was critical and Adam could not afford removing him from his post. Erad Stern had to stay behind of course, he was second in command of the TFT and was dedicated to train the members as quickly and efficiently as possible. Alexander Zanx was still under testing for his newly installed devices and was undergoing his piloting formation. She also thought of those two women, Rune and Luna. She still felt a shard of jealousy towards Rune. She knew she had been in Adam's arms in another time, another life, but she always dreaded he would never be wholly hers ever since Rune re-entered his life. Rune and Luna, two women who were to be the general's personal bodyguards but their training was not yet complete so Adam had chosen not to bring them along.

So why was she here and not them? Was it because she was dispensable? As she pondered that thought, she felt shame run over her soul. She would rather think that she was there because he trusted her.

"Colonel, forward scouts report a large force marching in our direction; definitely hostile. Scouts are heading back to the base. ETA: 12 minutes."

Sandy was startled by the urgency of that communication. "Acknowledged." She walked faster and reached the command post. She swiftly informed the general of the situation and awaited orders. Freeman's voice was quick to answer. "It starts here. Have your men ready to contain the advancing forces. I'll be joining them shortly." "But! General!" Sandy's voice was hesitant. "That's an order colonel!" "Yes, general."

For some, it was twelve very long minutes. But for most, death was upon them all too soon. They all saw it coming. They all felt dread before an enemy force unlike anything they had ever seen. A wall of huge armoured metal giants wielding enormous swords and axes, carrying shields taller than most soldiers, pulsing with purple energy and staring them down with eyes filled with evil torment. Behind them, what seemed like horse riders were in fact armoured centaurs, completely covered with living metal, armed with energy blades. Above them, floating spectres, draped in living cloth, armed with large deformed metal rods, their face behind hideous metal masks…

It all started at once. Sandy screamed an order and in a great unison, the fifteen heavy photon cannons unleashed their curtain of destruction. After the first deafening explosion, the vanguard of Sandy's troops moved to engage the enemy forces. Before the soldiers could reach the front line, the ground shimmered and dozens of giant, demented wolves appeared. They were one of the very few dark force minions actually categorized by the military after Aaron Kurtz encountered one deep inside Skure space port. The five feet tall beasts, pulsing with veins of purple and yellow blood, charged and rammed the first lines of Sandy's soldiers, beginning the massacre she dreaded.

About a short minute after, all was chaos. The large giants had reached the base, even under the heavy fire of Mota's finest artillery units. The floating spectres sent energy blasts at the machinery, crippling supplies, destroying the photon cannons. The chaotic centaurs ran around, wailing with their hideous voice, killing all in their path.

But for every soldier they killed, the evil beasts paid in blood. Mota's heroes were far from giving up. They fought more violently and passionately with every passing second. The infantry units advanced without fear for they knew that the great light would care for them should they fall on this dark planet. The artillery had more targets than they would ever need, their organised fire crippled centaurs and wolves alike. The spectres remained out of reach, still inflicting damage from a distance, and the giants remained impervious to the ally's fire. Sandy was firing without end, her arm cannon red with heat, her cyber suit under heavy damage. The battle was so violent and intense; she didn't even bother giving orders. The only word to remember for everyone now was "survive".

Then came a scream of joy and hope, the spectres were falling one by one, the Force unit led by Freeman himself was finally here, levelling the ground for Mota's finest. Daringly standing in front of his men, Freeman concentrated all his talent to create a large inertial barrier to shield his troops from harm. His Forces sent wave after wave of Zonde, Foi, Gra, Barta and Wat blasts to cripple down the flying menace.

The motavian forces rallied around Freeman's elite to concentrate their fire and shield them, but even with the forces' concentrated technique fire, the metal giants proved to be too powerful to be stopped by their available means. The first ones finally reached them and as they walked, their gigantic axes fell many, inexorably walking towards Freeman and the forces. Fear slowly followed the giants, creeping into the allies ranks. Sandy moved to shield her husband with her own body. She looked at the towering giant lumbering toward her and saw the large executioner axe slowly raise. It would be over, fast.

Then a huge pulse of energy hit the giant, breaking his shield like tin foil. It fell. And then another. And then one more. A shadow swiftly passed above them, but it was not the shadow of death. Sandy raised her head and smiled. Above them, great birds, wings spread. The bay doors were finally repaired and opened. That was the first of many fighter crafts leaving the D.S.S Aeroprism, soaring to exact vengeance.

Like condors preying on helpless mice, the fleet of Lunaris class fighter jets rained doom on their enemies. Right behind them came the Solaris class heavy bomber. Slower, less manoeuvrable, but filled with enough explosive power to destroy a military base in minutes.

As they crossed the sky, they left a trail of fiery destruction, effectively ending the battle in favor of Mota's military, but not without a great cost.

The whole battle lasted less than three minutes. Still…

More than half of the soldiers Freeman brought with him would now eternally rest on far and empty Ryucross…
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