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Mech Battle 12 - Just a Regular Guy

Written by BlackPhoenix

He was one of the many that were never noticed behind the scenes of any Great War. Not a famous general, or a man of unfathomable heroics. He was a cog in the giant machine that had become Pendragon. But with out the thousands of cogs the war machine would grind to a halt. His name was Dragon, A fierce name for a man kept deep inside the lower levels of clan headquarters. He was a communications transcriber. He sat in a cubical day in and day out. Listening to the hundreds of transmissions from deep space and making a paper copy of them. Then passing them on to his supervisor whom judged them for content to see if they should be passed higher up or discarded. Dragon had become a creature of habit. He left for work at exactly the same time everyday. Followed the same route, arrived within minutes of the same time every day. He had the same lunch at the same spot in the mess hall and returned exactly three minutes before the buzzer sounds to his desk. His job spawned regularity, but while setting at his station for untold hours his mind would wonder into day dreams of glorious battles and heroic rescues of lovely maidens, like the mind that is left to ramble by a mundane job. It was if the war and life its self was passing him by.

Today was just like yesterday and is what tomorrow would be, why should today be any different. 45 minutes until quitting time. Almost done for yet another day. But as he sat at his desk transcribing the cargo tonnages of Carrilian transports in the Altier sector, his ear caught something in the background of the transmission. He rewound the tape and listened again. He repeated this step a number of times. He was sure there was another transmission riding on top of this standard report. There had been orders not to do that in order to save time, it messed up the tracking computers. Knowing the Carrilians and their miserly ways this was more than likely a way to try and save power. Then the want a be spy hiding inside Dragon kicked in. He made a copy of the recording and put the disk in his desk drawer and locked it. Then headed home at the proper time. For the first time that he could remember he did not fall asleep at precisely 10:15 standard time. That recording was eating away at his concentration. He was 1 minute and 30 seconds early the next day. This went unnoticed by all but him. He got to his desk and broke the rules, (something he had never done), and called a friend in receiving. She agreed to re-route all Carrilian traffic to his terminal, but it had cost him half of his private stash of home made fudge from his mother back on Earth, but this might be something. (In his mind he knew that it was a dream to break the boredom). His work output increased by 30 percent that day, again noticed by no one but him. But inside the message of about every third shipping manifest was a 10-second burst transmission riding on it. He diligently recorded all of them in order and placed them on the same disk and locked it away. The shift change whistle blew. Dragon took the disk and placed it in his shoe for concealed transport out of the building and walked passed the troopers at the door. He almost fainted away when the man scanned his badge and waved him on, then called after him, Dragon stopped and stood there. The guard rescanned the badge and looked at him.

"Pass expires next week better get it renewed." Was all he said and he waved Dragon on.

By the time he was on the street Dragon was in a cold sweat. This cloak and dagger stuff was cool, and scary at the same time. Home 7 minutes early, no time for dinner. He put the disk in his computer and turned on the translator, setting it to its work. After 5 hours it was still working. The translator program covered more that 700,000 forms of transmittable communication and could take a while. A fitful night was the only thing Dragons attempt at rest could be called. Tossing and turning, seeing spies around every corner and running around in his black ninja costume trying to save the world from destruction. For the first time he could remember Dragon was wakened from sleep by his alarm. He NEVER had to depend on it before. He was always up ten minutes before it rang, but today he was jarred from sleep by its incessant clanging. He leapt from the bed and raced to the monitor screen. It was blank with an error message flashing on the screen.

"This form of language is unknown. Do you wish to add it to database for further study?" He clicked the "no" icon and headed for the shower. No known form, but it was a regulated signal inside of another transmission. Who would do that if it wasn’t some kind of code. Then it hit him - it WAS a code! Not a language, but a coded transmission. That would explain it.

Quite pleased with himself. He showered quickly and got dressed. He grabbed the tape and was out the door 15 minutes early. The ground transport seemed to crawl along the course to clan headquarters. Every stop that he had made a thousand times was an annoyance today. After a trip that seemed like hours he arrived. They security screening passed as slow as possible. He finally made it to his desk and called a guy he knew in de-coding. They had been in training together and Dragon had carried him through mathematics. This guy owed him a favor. After vague references to test scores while they were in training and promises of assistance on his promotion exams the deal was made. The poor fellow even agreed to stick it on to a top priority message for speed. A clear violation of procedure, Dragon thought about the way he was easily starting to break rules and was a little worried. But this COULD be something, it COULD be. The idea that this was still nothing but a cheat to save power was in the back of Dragons mind, but the chance for intrigue was a hard one to resist.

More hours of waiting while the de-coders did its work meant more hours of transcribing radio traffic. No messages from the transports he was looking for but that is how it went. A flood of messages and then weeks of silence as they made the long trip through the darkness. It was hard to concentrate and mistakes were made that had to be re-typed before submitting. Just before lunch his comlink beeped, it was his friend. He asked Dragon where he was taking him to lunch. Dragon told him of a quiet park that they could meet at and ended the conversation. Broadcasts could be monitored. The 24 minutes until lunch dragged past slowly. When the bell sounded Dragon jumped up from his desk. It took all of his dwindling self-control to keep from running to the park to meet his friend.

The park was empty when Dragon arrived. The empty benches stood guard over the grassy areas. Thirty yards of open ground in every direction, no one could observe them with out being seen. Trees rustling wind blowing, and birds singing. This would make long distance recording a tough job also. To eavesdrop, the person wishing to do so must be close and that would let him be seen. All this crossed Dragons mind as the little voice nagged at him, "It is nothing, it is nothing…"

His friend’s name was Ryota he worked in decryption. No one knew more about codes than he did. He approached Dragon and sat down. He handed him a small packet just big enough for a floppy disk.

"Very funny Dragon." He began. "This is a old letter replacement code from 100 years ago." Dragon just looked at the disk like it would move or something, it just laid there in his hand.

Ryota reached into his pocket and pulled out a printed page,

"Here is a print out of the text, Its just gibberish, talking about lore and history, means nothing." At this Ryota walked back toward the building. Dragon’s mind raced, thinking it was nothing and KNOWING it is nothing is a big difference.

Work held little interest the rest of the day. Dragon preformed the functions but his mind was else where. He rode the bus home and followed the same path he had for years. His body knew the way home his mind was dropping into depression. He fixed dinner but just pushed the food around the plate. He showered and put on his robe. He sat on the couch and stared at the papers on the small table at his feet. Dragon pulled the paper from his pocket and tossed it onto the table under his feet. He sat there staring at the end of his intrigue. Life was back to the hum drum existence of work. Dragon snatched the paper and tossed it toward the wastebasket, it hit the wall behind it and bounced into the center of the room. Well if he could shoot baskets he would be a pro. He got up and retrieved the stray paper. As he headed for the basket he opened it on a whim. The typing was neat and tidy, as was Ryota.

"Very funny dragon. An old code I did not even use the computer because it is not in there. I learned it in training. Here is your message:

1. Cyruis ready proceed as ordered.

2. The gesture on schedule.

3. Time table running on its own no way to cancel now, for the future."

Dragon looked at the printing again as if it would open up and reveal the thinking behind the cryptic writing. No matter how hard he studied it never gave up its secrets. It was consigned to the wastebasket and dragon turned on the video for noise as he tried to clear his head. The news was giving its usual blend of the days events as dragon headed to the WC to brush his teeth.

….. and this gesture of peace was unexpected from the Templars but was accepted by Pendragon high command….."

At the word gesture, Dragon ran to the video to watch the report. Toothpaste dripping on the floor. Leaving his toothbrush in his mouth he retrieved the crumpled papers and read it once again. This was too much to be a coincidence. Dragon broke the land speed record for apartment running as he headed for his computer. He pounded the keys and entered the name Cyruis in to the search engine. He spit the toothpaste on to the floor and faced the screen. From the cabala of old Earth:

"Cyruis was a ancient Greek Hero who was sent by the Gods to slay the Red Dragon of Hades who stood guard over the condemned souls of man and prevent them from reaching heaven."

Looking at the screen Dragon wondered of what great value this information was. So the guy killed a red dragon. Then it clicked not a red dragon. But the Reddragon, the Khan, and the gesture, the peace gesture. Crap they were going to kill Reddragon. "

Who to tell" was the question racing through his mind, "Who to tell"

He called the Klan Headquarters and spoke with the security officer in charge who assured him that when the offices opened he would report it to his superiors. This did not satisfy Dragon in the least. The news said that the ceremony was at 8 the next morning. His only hope was that the security man had taken him seriously. A fit full night followed. No sleep and it was amazing that he had not noticed how uncomfortable this bed was.

The alarm went off a 6:15. Dragon was up dressed and hailing a cab at 6:30, he reached his office at 7:02 and was on the phone almost before his shadow managed to keep up. The same officer answered the phone. Yes he remembered him, and yes he would report this to his superiors. Yes he was sure Dragon was serious and don’t call again. 7:21 and still no action being taken, Crap. Dragon remembered that there was a security detail on the 4 floor of the building. Damn this elevator was slow. The door opened on to the main lobby of the fourth floor. A large reception desk faced the elevators. Behind it was a cute little blonde with big boobs and a small brain. She spoke to dragon as he got off.

"Good morning welcome to Pendragon administrative offices. How may I be of service." She blindly asked.

"I want to talk to security right now." He demanded.

The bimbo with the big hair looked toward the Service center where 3 men in dark blue uniforms stood talking to what appeared to be the clone of the girl at the front desk.

"Never mind I see who I need to talk to" Snapped dragon and he moved away.

It was Gully talking to the girl, dragon and he were in training together, now dragon was a clerk and Gully was a warrior in security. Dragon managed to get Gully’s attention with out causing a disturbance and pulled him to the side. Gully listened intently before speaking and took the papers offered. One was the printout of the message and the other the printout of the name Cyruis. He told Gully of the news broadcast and of his beliefs that this was a plan to kill Reddragon. Gully looked at the papers before he spoke.

" This is all conjecture Dragon, this could mean anything. Talk between to scholars bored in space flight. Did you report your ideas to the main security office?" Dragon shook his head.

"Then they will handle it trust me they take threats against the Khan seriously. What do you want me to do drop into the meeting in a mech and stop this attempt. They have security there pal and they can protect RD, don’t worry." Gully patted Dragon on the back and moved back to the counter. Dragon looked at the floor deep in thought.

He was right he knew it but how to stop it. He looked out on to the observation deck at the brightening sky and it hit him he would stop it and worry about right and wrong later. He walked past Gully who didn’t even look up from the young ladies cleavage. The reason for having security on the fourth floor was that there were three DireWolves mounted into the facade front of the building, every school child has seen them, but these were the main defense for the populated area. These three mechs were fully operational and armed. That is why there were always three top pilots hanging around in the lobby of the fourth floor. In an emergency they would protect the city center.

Dragon moved on to the observation deck and looked at the big steel killers in their beds. He walked around to the one that had Gully painted at the edge of the cockpit. Gully had use the same access code since high school, he was a creature of habit. Looking around for witness’s dragon pushed the buttons on the access pad. The hatch hissed and started to open. Dragon was in and started the start sequence before the hatch had closed. As the cooling fans gained speed alarms went off. The loud scream of the launch siren drowned out all other noise. Dragon heard a pounding and turned his head to see Gully pounding on the clear Endo-steel of the cockpit mouthing words but they were going unheard. The green lights were starting to appear as the Dires systems came on line. Gully looked down at the exhaust jets and ran for cover. To his left Dragon saw the other two pilots pushing the access pads of their own mechs as he started to move. With just two steps the Large Dire was airborne and headed for the reception field.

7:50, Dragon had not been in a mech for almost three years and it was a talent that required constant training. He was all over the sky up and down and side to side. A few of the controls had been modified from the original locations for easy access of each pilot and Dragon had to hunt for some of the controls. At one point AC’s hammered into the side of the main library, when the wrong button was pushed. With an unheard apology Dragon continued his erratic flight path.

7:55, the parade grounds was coming into sight. Then the Dire jerked hard from impact. A rack of LRM’s (long-range missiles), had slammed into the Dire from behind. Thank the maker these Dires were tough. Dragon cleared the bleachers into the stadium. From ground based mobile launchers missile after missile slammed into the mech from every direction. The jets were over heated and the big mech was coming down hard and fast. The system warnings were going off for just about every system. This was going to hurt.

Reddragon, with SaKhan Dark Wizard, and Lore Master BlkPhoenix walked out on to the parade ground to receive the peace delegation from the Templars. It was with great surprise that the message was received of their arrival. But stranger things than this happen in war. The Templars were about one hundred yards away and walking toward the Pendragon reception. From the south sounds of explosions could be heard All eyes turned toward the noise. Except the Templars they quickened their pace. A Direwolf cleared the wall and was coming toward them. The automatic defense systems opened fire. Missiles screamed from their concealed locations to intercept this threat. An arm blew off in a shower of debris. The mech was still coming but from the lack of correction movements it could be seen that it was out of control. DW and BP both dove at Rd to get him clear and all three hit the ground.

The mech was smoking from damage as it headed to the parade ground. The Templar committee saw the incoming mech and all but the ambassador drew hidden weapons and tracked them in the direction of Reddragon. The large mech hit the ground hard, it slide in between the two groups. Hand held mini-guns started to sing their song of death. The large mech was in the way and did not permit a clear shot at the downed Khan. The slugs were slamming into the body of the now useless Direwolf. It seemed a lot longer than it actually was but in a matter of seconds the two Dires that were pursuing the runaway Dragon dropped on to the field. This made them the instant targets of the Templar hit squad. The enemy guns spit fire at the massive machine, but these were not heavily damaged machines piloted by a clerk. These were machines of war with the best pilots in the quadrant at the controls. In a split second the situation was examined and action taken. Heavy Automatic cannons joined the fight and the Templars were now covered by 100 tons of the highest grade Endo-steel available. The fight was extremely one sided. The human body was not designed to be hit by .80 caliber depleted uranium slugs travel at 3700 feet per second, and Dires were. It was over before it managed to gain momentum. The Dires were stamping around looking for targets. The pilots were still in blood lust trying to work off the adrenaline. A squad of elementals arrived just in case close tight combat was called for, they found Reddragon on the ground DarkWizard was holding him there by placing his foot on the Khans back. Black Phoenix was swinging a small auto cannon at anything that appeared to be a threat. He tracked to the approaching elementals and held target until he could see the Pendragon crest on their chests. He then helped RD to his feet after slapping DW’s foot out of the way The SaKhan was still watching the downed mech for possible threats. RD looked at his Lore Master and said.

"It would seem that you two might be a bigger threat to my safety than an enemy division." He got to his feet and brushed the dirt from his dress uniform looking around at the destruction.

It was three days before Dragon came to. The papers were found in his pocket with the translation printed on them. Ryota about had a heart attack when the entire command staff walked into his cubical and held the papers out for him to see, and asked him to explain them. He took them and then about fainted again when he saw the bloodstains. He told what he knew and made sure not to leave out anything. The Khan listened, then turned and left with out a word. The night security supervisor was just as shocked when it happened to him. He was asked why he failed to report a possible threat on the Khan’s life to his superiors promptly. He had no answer. When asked why he did not report the second call from Dragon either, there was still no answer. The Captain in a act of honor offered to "resign at once". The Khan just turned and left. Black Phoenix looked at the Captain.

"I would expect nothing less, have it on my desk in an hour." He then turned and left the office.

Dragon woke to the sight of the command staff looking at him from the foot of his hospital bed. He did his best to try and rise in the presents of his Khan. A doctor stopped him and a man he had heard of but never seen in person spoke.

"Warrior Dragon, the circumstances of the past few days have been brought to my attention".

"Sir I can explain" was the weak reply. Reddragon held up his hand for Dragon to be quiet.

"Your actions were more than justified with the information at you disposal. You showed the greatest justification in everything you did. It is with great honor that I thank you for your defense of my person." Dragon managed a pained smile. He hurt in places he had forgot he had.

The Khan saluted and left Dragon to rest. DW remained behind and stood beside the badly injured warrior.

"You can have your pick of assignments Dragon. Is there a dream job you have wanted son?"

Dragon thought for a second before answering. "Sir I heard through the grapevine that a crew is going to the Beta sector, I would like to be on the crew. They are going to need a paper shuffler sir and that I am good at. Flying on the other hand……"

This time DarkWizard managed a smile. "You got it Warrior, Now get well so you can leave." DW saluted and patted Dragons leg and left the room. Dragon drifted to sleep dreams of adventure filling his dreams. He had dreamed of adventure and found to be careful what you wish for you just might get it.