30 May 2023
Reading Time: 4 minutes
The cockpit smelled of sweat and… more sweat. The seat had a little lump in the lower left that became uncomfortable after too many hours at the stick and while he’d asked them to fix it, or better still, replace the whole bloody thing, here it was. And here he was. Though here was nowhere and for the twentieth time this week alone, he was asking himself just why he was here at all.
They’d come to this backwater of a rock because they were told there was salvage. Some fools got into a scrap and several units had gone down, though their source was not exactly forthcoming on what was up for grabs or even where to find it. But who the hell gets into a scrap out here in the first place? They all knew, better than most, just how far out they were and the complications of being so. Right on the edge and then some from the furthest rock that could even be considered somewhere, equipment, like people, was scarce so people tried to avoid loosing what they had. But hey, people were people and not everyone was smart. So when they got a lead on salvage, they always went for it.
The entire scrapper crew, eight jockeys plus the support, were all self imposed exiles from the inner systems. They’d seen their fair share of combat, had their stories and medals and all had enough of the politics, lies, rubbish. The pointless losses. They wanted out and ended up here, about as far away from there as you could get and just like spinning dust, they had gravitated, as if by magic, to one another and eventually put together the unit that was now perched here, exactly nowhere.
Everything out here was old, used, beaten and repatched ten times over. Nothing new, or even vaguely reasonably used, came out this far; from the inner’s perspective there was simply nothing worth coming out here for, so why haul equipment… or themselves? As a result the locals used mechs that were often first or second generation, dumps picked up from scrounging jaunts inwards or from the odd drop ship on the run and looking to lighten its load. Held together with string, gum and local grit, they were raw machines, coloured in a patchwork of raw metal and whatever colour the panel or part was that was found to replace the panel or part that fell off. But they worked and the better of them, modified and upgraded with local flavours, were not to be trifled with – they packed an unexpected punch and had tricks up their sleeves that caught more than a few off guard.
The comms crackled, another thing that needed fixing.
“You see anything where you are Maxy?”
Bry, the default leader of this little foray. It was his contact that told them about this supposed haul. While everyone liked Bry the same could not be said for his contacts and for some time everyone had thought this particular contact was more than a bit of a clown. Sal liked to point out if it were not for Bry, she’d probably find this guy and stomped him with her Zeus. She had a penchant for dramatic endings.
“Nope. Just more of the same… nothing.”
Another twenty minutes of staring out the windows of the Locust floated by; there had to be a better way to spend one’s time than this but at least it gave him time to add to the growing list of shit that needed fixing.
Then on the horizon, a small dust cloud appeared. Anywhere else and you’d not think twice of it but here they were, nowhere, and there’s now a rising dust cloud on the horizon.
“Hey Bry, you expecting company out here?”
“Not as far as I know, why?” There was an unusual nervousness in Bry’s voice. Or maybe it was the dodgy comms module.
“I’ve got some….”
WTF was that? He popped the hatch and grabbed the binocs to see what was going on, the atmospheric interference on this rock made the scopes next to useless. Zooming in on the dust cloud, he saw them and got that chill he got when things started to go south. Two mechs, looked like mediums, inbound… right towards him. Worse than that, warlord mechs… these guys are complete fuckers.
This time he was showered with dirt. They are ranging in, must be having issues with their targeting systems; yes this place is a shithole but it just saved his backside. Dropping back into his seat slamming the hatch tight, the Locust kicked into life, pivots and floors it. He’s no match for mediums despite, and because of, the fact he’s fitted with an AC20. They rebuilt this Locust for hit and run, it’s fast, has a big punch but it won’t survive even a single hit.
“Bry! That fuckwit contact of yours set us up!”.
“I’ma gonna stomp his arse this time Bry and aint nutt’n you ken do about it!!”
Looks like the support team was going to be scrubbing crunchsludge from the Zeus’ foot… again.
Copyright 2023 Gerard Thomas. All rights reserved.