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Mech Battle 14 - Hades

Written by BlackPhoenix

It was finally dawn, if you can call the hazy gray light coming over the low hills of this rock dawn. The brightest it ever got was a deep twilight and that was at noon. The temperature was a balmy -35 degrees a warm spell for Hades. How a planet so cold can have a name that hot was beyond comprehension.

Rasp had been hiding in the jagged snow covered rocks for three days now. The Templars had landed in force on what they thought was a planet with an automatic tracking system on the edge of populated space. Rasp had the good fortune to be repairing a small piece of insignificant equipment when the whine or retro-rockets filled the building. The harsh climate and unforgiving cold of Hades was reasoning enough to stay in your elemental even when inside of a structure. Rasp grabbed what equipment he could along with a few replacement cartridges of air, food, and water. He was in the rocks before the first dropship hit dirt. He had remained completely still as the enemy unloaded their machines of death and searched the area for personnel. A total of 20 large Warhammers were left on this rock. After about 30 minutes a smaller dropship landed. 4 Elementals rushed out and entered the single structure. Why this bleak little ball of dirt would all of a sudden draw so much attention was unimaginable. As Rasp watched the little mechs take crate after crate of equipment inside. What the hell could they be doing? The Warhammer crews were trapped in their machines. There were no faculties for crewmembers so once on the ground you stayed in your machine. This was hard while in the form fitting Endo-steel of an elemental, he could not imagine being trapped in an 80-ton body for extended periods of time. The sun was down, (haha), Rasp decided to take a look inside and see what was up. He waited until most of the Warhammers were plugged in to a power supply that kept the pilots warm. This meant that they were resting, Rasp just hoped they were asleep.

As Rasp approached the building the sounds of work could be heard from the inside. Heavy labor was going on. The quick peek that Rasp dared to risk confirmed this. The Templars were installing some sort of electronic equipment in place of the tracking systems. Rasp worked his way back to the rear of the building. The Pendragon equipment was being put outside the rear of the building to make room for the new systems. There to his great surprise was the entire communication system. Cut wires and a few busted circuits, but it was there. Gathering up all he could of the system Rasp carried it all back to the crevasse he used as a hiding place. He went to work at once trying to bring the equipment on line.

It took three more nights of excursions to gather the components needed to make a broadcast to home world. Batteries were "Liberated" from the Templars storage depot, some wiring from other machines and a roll of cable was used to run a wire from the antenna to the unit. It took a whole night to conceal the cable under the snow so it would not be seen by the relaxed patrols of the Warhammers. The equipment was at last ready. Rasp knew that when the signal started it would not be long until the Templars detected it. Rasp was amazed that he had not been detected yet, with all the trips he had made into their base. On one trip he had turned a corner just as a Warhammer turned in front of him, he had a bag of supplies over his shoulder and it covered his breast crest that identified him as Pendragon. After being startled had passed he continued on walking, raising an arm to the hammer. The hammer bowed its heavy body in recognition and moved on to continue its patrol.

That was the kicker, this had to end quickly, Rasp's luck could not keep up for long. He had pushed it way too far already. Using stimulants to stay alert Rasp pushed him self to complete the communication equipment repairs.

As the poor attempt of sunrise commenced it was finished. Rasp set the remote activation system headed for his new hideout, another hole in the jagged plains of Hades.

He stowed his meager supplies and concealed the entrance as best as possible and got ready for the wait. There was no way of knowing how long rescue would take, or how long the transmission would go undetected. Life was full of chances. Rasp hit the button to activate the transmission. From his concealed vantage point Rasp could see down into the enemy base. After thirty minutes he was amazed to see no reaction. Things moved as always. Warhammers patrolled the parameter and the little elementals scurried here and there doing what ever it was they were doing. Then Rasp noticed the large planetary proton cannon, its large angry muzzle pointed skyward. This was new. He watched all day no sign that they had noticed the repeating transmission. As darkness fell a crazy plan came into the tired mind of a Pendragon warrior. That cannon would cost a lot of lives to men trapped inside landing ships. If it could be disabled then the landing would go unopposed. Rasp had seen no other heavy weapons. He did not even stop to think about it, he was on his tired feet moving with purpose toward the lethal weapon. He walked through the encampment like he was in charge. A quick hand to cover his crest when needed but walked like a man with a job to do. The proton cannon was capable of hitting support ships in high orbit with no trouble. Rasp removed the firing enabler and just for good measure pulled loose a hand full of the delicate wiring. He turned and walked right out of the compound and was hidden with no one the wiser.

After two days it was beyond belief that they had not detected the transmission. His supplies were starting to run low, he had not expected to be alive now and it could be as long as months until action could be take by command on this invasion. His nerves were not up to another "trip into town". Hopefully it would be a lot sooner, but Rasp knew that the chances of being alive for that invasion were slim.

Night came right on schedule, it was hard to tell the difference between night and day, but it was night, (or so the chronometer said at least). Rasp had chosen tonight to try and replace the dwindling supplies from Templar stockpiles, he had done this before, he could do it again and while dangerous it could be done. At the edge of the compound Rasp hid and watched the activity to see if the pattern had changed. After 20 minutes things seemed the same. He moved bold as brass toward the supply depot. A Warhammer walked toward the fast moving little elemental, and bent down to examine it as it approached. Rasp covered the crest on his chest trying to make the movement look as natural as possible, and waved an armored hand in response, and kept moving. It worked again and Rasp started to fill a pack with food, water, and batteries. He put the pack on his back and looked out the door. The coast was clear, while trying to look like he belonged he made for the parameter. He rounded the corner of a large outcropping of the dull gray rocks that were everywhere and literally slammed into another Elemental that was heading into the camp. They hit and both were knocked off their feet. Rasp hit the ground hard, with the gyros screaming to try and hold the machine upright. The two just sat there looking at each other for what seemed like days. The light in the center of the enemy mechs head came to illuminate the chest crest of Rasps machine.

The heavy machine gun appeared from the forearm of Rasps Elemental and tracked to the faceplate of the enemy machine, fifty rounds of hi-explosive ammunition destroyed the enemy machine and its pilot. Well the cat was out of the bag now. It would take no time for the body to be found. The Templars might not be a lot of things, but they were organized, this man had to report sometime and when he didn’t there would be a search. Rasp jumped to his feet. Making the best speed possible he got out of there.

Rasp tossed the supplies into his hole and climbed down, the little mechs arms whined in protest as he drug a heavy stone slab into place, it covered the entire opening and looked like it belonged there. As the rock dropped into place, the alarms went off. They’re high-pitched wail filled the air even in this thin air they could be heard. The lights of the search brought brightness through the cracks in the rock opening. They were getting close. Small explosions and the chatter of automatic weapons were closing as the methodical search progress toward his position. A large explosion was heard and felt, then the light on the little remote activator went out.

"Well that’s that." he mumbled the transmission had gone on a lot longer than he expected it to. But now they had proof that there was someone else on this ball of dirt. They would not stop until he was found. He would make them work as hard as possible to find him, and then with any luck at all maybe take a couple of them with him as he checked out. The sounds grew closer, Rasp checked the ammunition, and powered up his small pulse laser. He wedged himself under the stone slab used as a door. When they found him he would spring out and try for surprise kills to get a few more. As he stood there a heavy explosion knocked his feet from under him. He tumbled down to the floor. Now that was close. Rasp regained his feet and was ready to spring. The sound of jets filled the air, the swoosh of missiles and repetitive explosions followed. This was followed by another strafing run of missiles. They were hot for him. Then explosions, but this time followed by a secondary explosion on the ground. A battle was going on. But who, then it dawned on him. Rasp forced the rock lid off of his hole and peered out the opening.

The sky was full of war machines. Moving in every direction at varying altitudes. Missiles were flying at every angle. Missiles hit a large Warhammer heading in his direction from 4 different machines. They all exploded on the Warhammers back and this caused it to burst into flames one of the legs broke away crashing into the dirt. The machine continued in a deep arc right at rasp, he dove back into his hole and prayed for the best. The concussion lifted Rasp off the floor and then the floor came up to meet him. It was so violent that system alarms sounded from damage caused by the shockwave on the little Elemental. System overrides and re-routing of main control systems brought the little machine back on line.

Rasp carefully peeked out of his hole. The battle was almost over, Piles of wreckage littered the barren landscape. Smoke added to the darkness of the air. A 100-ton Command Dire dropped to the ground about 75 yards from Rasp. The machine looked like a hole in the night. The blackness seemed to eat what little light there was on Hades. Jump jets went over Rasp’s head so close he instinctively ducked. Then another large Dire slammed to the ground within 10 yards of the first. This one was bright yellow. It moved beside the first and stood there. Many things were marked Pendragon but these mechs required no markings to let the observer know they were Dark Wizzard and Black Phoenix, RedDragon’s command staff. This was not a rescue party but a planetary takeover force by the battle-hardened front line troops of Clan Pendragon. A third Direwolf appeared in the sky high over head, it settled between the other two. Both of the other Dires gave the best salute possible in a 100-ton machine. Rasp knew that the new mech must be Reddragon. Rasp rose from his hole and raised his arms high above his head, (he did not want to end his life as an oops). The large Dires spun on their axis and leveled their weapons at him. The large yellow mech sprang into the air and the lock warning inside Rasps elemental started to scream it’s warning. He waited for the heavy autocannon fire that never came. A p.a. speaker with an amplified voice called him forward. He walked cautiously forward. At long last the adventure was over.

NOTE: Research specialists from research and development examined the equipment that was not destroyed. The purpose was never determined. The Templars disavowed any knowledge of the incident or even knowledge of the dead pilots that had captured the station on Hades. But at the same time requested that they be given to a Templar representative for proper burial. The Khan of Pendragon, Reddragon himself signed the order releasing the bodies to the Templars. A hand written note was the epitaph for the fallen, " An Act of Honor for the Honor-less"