Robotech: Pyrrhic Wardance-
A Sentinals-MOSPEADA Serial
Chapter Nine: At What Cost Indeed
SK-G: Now that we were able to see what the rank and file were up to back at the home base, let's get back with Angie, Ryan, Abe, and Johnny and see what they have been up to since we last looked in upon them..
A/N: Standard disclaimers, so if you wish to sue, you win the same thing that the Galactic Imperial Army got tried to stop the Rebellion led by Han Solo on the Moon of Endor. Besides, if I owned any part to the Macross/Robotech franchise, beleive me, there would already be a Robotechnology Research Group developing me some kick-ass gear.
A/N 2: Yeah, I know, it looks like I am on a roll here, slamming out three chapters between my two stories in less than a week. I hope that this is not hurting my story quality at this point. Either way, let the dark lord here know what you think so far, what you would like to see more of, less of, and how many more Invid need to get pounded into paste by the end of this mission!
On with the story! :
-Once more, let's roll those Intro Credits and Cue that Macross Inro Music-
The path ahead seemed clear as Ryan and the trio of cyclone riders came out of the mouth of the cave from which they had rendevouzed with Angie Spencer. While Darmouth was glad that his people had not run into anymore Invid since that batch that he had disposed of when he had rescued the downed pilot, the lack of activity did have him oddly on edge. This WAS the Invid Homeworld after all. Shouldn't the place be crawling with the walking, talking Expansionistically-minded slugs or their hellish creations? While he wasn't too much of a talker himself when on mission, he did find it a bit dis-concerting that everyone else was staying just as morosely silent as himself. Usually, most members of his unit were more vocal when they were on patrol, but now, it seemed that everyone had grown introspective during the last mile of trekking, even Zhao, which was really unusual.
'Hmm, this is more than odd. What the hell happened that has everyone this on edge? Is everyone else also feeling that the Invid are being just a bit too quiet.I know that I am running around in this modified armor, and while the veritechs are all equipped with Lang and Burke's Cloaking devices, those aren't exactly area-effect, and we've discovered that even our hand-cannons and Gallants seem to attract them like honey to a bee. So where the hell are the welcoming commitees. The Zentraedi and our other forces can't be drawing ALL of their available forces,' Ryan thought as he watched the speck of light at the end of the tunnel complex expand to the familiar blasted landscape that was the Opteran surface. He tried to push his own mis-giving to the back of his mind so he wouldn't worry the rest of his party.
As they popped out of the cavern entrance and into the harsh evening glare, the quartet of armored infantry soldiers formed a cordon around the less well-equipped fighter pilot. Angelina glared daggers at Darmouth's back as he took the leftward flank, but it softened slightly as she glanced behind and saw the asian doctor smirking slightly at her with what could only be called a patiently paternal look. He nodded knowingly and then resumed his own vigil. Angie watched the tall soldier go a bit in front of the rest of the combat team and check the ground, while the dark complected man on her right side continues to watch an odd hand monitor that is attached via a cable to his powered armor. She decided to take her mind off of what the ground pounders were up to, as long as they were protecting her. She did, however, re-adjust the grip to the Gallant rifle that Ryan had given her back in the cave. While she knew that Darmouth's troopers were among the best in the fleet, it didn't hurt to be able to protect herself. She was able to keep up with the infantrymen, but after they get to the base of the hill and her leg began to bother her again, she had to wonder how much longer she would be able to keep up. Doctor Zhao had been able to re-set her ankle, but that didn't mean that her body was back in tip-top shape. She watched Darmouth once more as he continued to direct the troops over the hill after getting the all-clear from the pointman. While he was acting his normal self in front of his troops, she knew that something was bothering him even more than usual from how he kept avoiding her and was being even more quiet than normal. She also had to wonder why he hadn't told the combat surgeon that he had been injured while rescuing her. She knew that he could be stubborn, no, more like completely bull-headed about some things, but his life should not be one of them.
'I am going to have to make sure that that idiot sees the doctor when we get back to the base. What does he think he is, Superman? Hell, even I don't really want him to die from him playing the martyr complex from rescuing me. While I want to see him dead myself, I am not going to give him the satisfaction of taking himself out that way...stupid Ryan,' Spencer mused as she followed the others up the next hill. She glanced once more over at Darmouth, but it appeared that once more, the man was ignoring her and was focusing his attention keeping his zone secure, although from where she was, all that could be seen was the LEGIOS off in the distance near where her own wrecked Alpha had crashed. She couldn't see any signs of any Invid, other than the scattered remains of the mecha that she had tangled with before. Gritting her teeth, Spencer tried to push any thoughts of Darmouth and his huberic maschimismo aside until she all but rammed herself into the rear of the suddenly stopped veritech power armor pilot. He seemed to be looking at things and the other two officers were scanning in every direction at the same time. The doctor, bringing up the rear, stopped almost at the same time, but was also confused by the sudden level of awareness that the others were exhibitng.
"What's going on?," Angie asked in a low voice to the Corporal in front of her, noticing that while he had stopped, it was more the Major and the other Military Specialist that were looking about to find whatever it was that had disturbed the pathfinder.
"Not really sure, just that it's too quiet, I guess, which would be the only thing that I can say right off."
"What do you mean, too quiet."
"Well," Corporal Martin Elias replied, his voice being kept low inspite of the seeming desolation of the place they were in. "There is always some kind of background noise. Even when we came in, I could pick up some distant noise generation. Now, however, nada. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it doesn't feel...right...I guess."
Angie nodded, not quite understanding what the man was babbling about, but it seemed that the others knew enough to take him at face value, and they were travelling through enemy territory, after all. At that point, Angelina noticed that the other Cyclone Rider, who answered to the name of Joseph, shook his head to the negative, but with some frustration at his machine and Darmouth motioned for the team to go ahead and move forward with a wave of one gauntleted hand. The others all complied without any hesitation, and Angie pushed herself to keep up as they crested the next hill. As they came down the otherside of the outcropping, Spencer noticed that the Beta was one of the Diamondback birds, but the Alpha was colored in the standard black and gray that all of the Shadow Alphas came decked out it, but it oddly had the green pinstriping of the Army Corps.
'Hmm, did they fly in tandem, or was that Ryan's personnal ride? If that was his, how did he get it planetside, and when did he get himself trained enough in one of those for Derringer to have agreed to let him take it?'
Ensign Johnny Whetstone had completed the LEGIOS combiner process not long after the others had gone down into the cave system, and then had killed the time up until now running diagnostics on both components of the massive war machine. He was back in the Beta section and trying to fight off the malaise of boredom from overcoming him when he spotted the team coming over the rise in the distance and begin to make their way down towards him and the ships. Snapping back to attention as the people that he was carrying came into scanner range, along with two more people, one of which appeared to be his wingmate, Johnny decided that now was as good a time as any to get everything activated from stand-by.
'Ahh, it all checks out fine after all. And they said that it would be a hard thing to get these boys connected by myself. Heh,' Whetstone thought as all systems checked back to him in the green. He then kicked over the ignitors to the Beta's thrusters, in case the rescue team needed to make a more hasty egress. Johnny then glanced over to check on the progress of the Cyclone Riders on his external cameras. Everything appeared to be fine and he smiled. That smile then quickly disappeared as the proximity alarms started blaring inside the cockpit and multiple contacts suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Before he could even get on the mike to warn the others outside, the enemy wa salreayd on them. Johnny then cursed their collective luck as he watched the timer for the engines count down, saying that he still had at least ten more seconds before the ship was ready for lift off.
"Oh comon, you piece of crap!"
Abraham was looking over his shoulder for the tenth time in about a minute when all of a sudden things began to take a turn for the worse. They we only about a hundred and fifty or so meteres away from the dropzone when Corporal Joseph paused momentarily, and his face scrunched up into one of that of bemusement as he suddenly started tapping frantically on the hand-held scanner that he had been watching like a television since they had been dumped off. Then he looked up, his pupils dilating.
"Shit, we are so screwed. Everybody, make a break for it! I got contacts all over the place!," Eric shouted to everyone and no one in general as he himself took off for the LEGIOS, un-holstering his own Gallant H-90 energy rifle as he did so. Just as he had gotten his gun free from it's shoulder sling and had replaced the montior back into it's hip holster, the ground around the ground team seemed to explode in geysers of earthern debries and suddenly rampaging Invid Enforcers and Shock Troopers. Eric side-stepped the first Shock Trooper as it lunged at him, and then drilled a series of pulse shots into the Enforcer behind it just as the Enforcer was lining him up for a shot. Joseph kicked in his boosters and tired to slip past their rest of their assailants. This proved to be something of a mixed blessing, as he was able to get out of close-combat range with any of the enemy, but he then drew more than a little un-wanted attention to himself as four of the shock Troopers and a pair of the Enforcers set up a cross-fire which quickly forced him back to the ground seeking any cover that he could find.
Corporal Elias had pulled his own gun free and was trying to back up Joseph when suddenly there was a shadow looming over him. The Cyclone jockey looked up just in time to see the bulbous pincer claw of the Shock Trooper slam into him from above and to the side, lifting him effortlessly up into the air. The young man screamed out as he felt his armor buckling and collapsing into his chest, snapping bone and muscle tissue, and forcing him to cough up blood against his visor. He tried to blink thru the immense amount of pain coursing thru his body and noticed that the Invid was no longer even paying him any attention, now that he had been thrown clear of the fight. Elias tried to move, but even breathing seemed to hurt too much.
Angelina also screamed when Elias was thrown aside. However, she wasn't really given the option of moving to help the unfortunate man, as the Invid had turned it's full attention her way the moment she activated her own weapon's power system. It had fired it's shoulder mounted plasma cannons behind her, throwing Zhao off of his feet, and then swung down at her with it's powerful pincer claws, with every intent of everscerating her. Angie stepped back and squeezed her eyes shut out of reflex, and put the gun up in front of her in the vain attempt to fend off the inevitable for at least a few more seconds.
The sound of something heavy and metal hitting the ground next to her caused angie to open her eyes. Darmouth was standing in front of her, his CADS powerblades out and humming with deadly hunger as he stared down the now one armed Shock Trooper. He didn't even glance back as he dropped into a modified Martial Arts stance, bringing the blades up from his sides to his front, and then effortlessly slapping aside the pulsed energy shots that the Invid threw at him. Ryan then smiled darkly, and lunged forward silently, and rammed his right blade straight into and through the now exposed sensor eye, skewering it and the pilot behind it. Noxious green lfuid burst out from the felling blow, but Darmouth had alreayd stepped aside before any of it could splash out and onto him. He then turned back to Spencer as she was re-covering her senses.
"Don't stop. Make a run for it. Get my Alpha up and get everyone out of here! I'll hold them off for as long as I can!"
Ryan was off before Angie could reply, and had moved to engage the group trying to whittle down Joseph's impromptu defenses and nail Joseph in the process. She made a move to follow after Ryan, but she found an armored fist on her shoulder suddenly arresting her in place. She looked back to see Zhao breifly shaking his head before pointing rather grimly to the LEGIOS. He then let her go to unload a long burst from his own rifle as he made his way over to the downed Martin Elias.
'Dammit, dammit, dammit!,' the woman thought as she followed the doctor's instructions and made a break for the ship while the others put up a sufficient distraction. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Darmouth successfully hamstring one of the Shock Troopers, then whirl around to eliminate one of Enforcers from behind with a CADS blade through it's back. Joseph had popped up from his hiding place and had peppered her path with anti-personnel mini-missiles before ducking back down under a still withering return barrage from the surviving Invid. It was blinding, but the missile barrage had it's intended effect, with both of the Enforcers that were in her way now convulsing on the rubble strewn ground, leaking nutrients from numerous cracks in their grey and black armor. Not wasting any time with pausing, Angie merely looked back once to fire a couple of burst to cover her own egress. As she turned around once more, she felt a sharp pain from her leg, causing her to collapse mere meters in front of the Alpha's cockpit. Steeling herself, she stuggled to her feet just as she was jostled by the concussive impact of something most definitely heavy landing just behind her. Not bothering to identify exactly what it was since the shadow was most definitely larger than that of a Cyclone, Angie whirled and opened fire with Ryan's rifle.
"Take that, you alien bastard! DIE!," she screamed at the top of her lungs as she pumped the entire clip into the Shock Trooper's body, punching massive holes into it's carapase with each deadly shot. She began to hyperventilate as the gun ceased to pour out energy, and the enemy mecha fell down , the top of it's head landing mere inches from her.
"Nice shooting there, cowgirl," Johnny's voice suddenly came thru her head mike, jarring her back to the present. "Now if you are done having fun, I need a co-pilot up front so I can get us the hell out of this party."
"Y-y-yeah...of course," Angie replied, finding her voice after a few moments. "I think we've worn out our welcome anyways."
"Glad to hear it. Everything is waiting for your tender touch, so let's get a move on so we can extract these ground-pounders before they get too much further over their heads out there, eh?"
Angie didn't bother answering as she climbed the retractable nose cone ladder and then gingerly climbing into the cockpit of the Army issue Alpha, sliding the canopy down behind her. She turned her head to see what was going on with the infantry team that had come to her rescue and narrowed her eyes. Zhao looked to be trying to man-carry the still downed and looked like badly injured Elias, armor and all, while Joseph and Darmouth were having the fight of their lives trying to protect the combat surgeon and his charge. There were almost two dozen Invid wrecks littering the field around them, but it did not seem that the aliens were planning to let up. Spencer could not watch what was going on outside for very long, however, as the Alpha confirmed that all systems were in the green very quickly and she turned her attention back to flying the plane.
Abraham had made it about half-way to the LEGIOS when he suddenly realized that the Invid were beginning to focus more of their attention onto him than they were his more combat oreinted teammates. Maybe it was because he wasn't fighting back that hard, or maybe it was because he made a bigger signature between him and the now all but unconscious Elias on his back. Either way, Zhao knew that unless something changed really soon, he nor his wounded charge were going to be making back in one piece. Another barrage of plasma fire came down in his path, and the doctor was only barely able to twist enough out of the way for it not to do too much damage to himself other than to get knocked off of his feet yet again. Unfortunately, he had lost his grip on the corporal, and he was now half a dozen feet meters away from him and face-down. Turning about, the man unloaded half of his payload of chest mounted missiles at the oncoming aliens, then continued to crawl over to the fallen cyclone rider, not even bothering to check if the missiles had merely annoyed the two alien heavy hitters, or if they had struck true and blew the two armored slugs straight out of the air. He had just reached Martin and flipped him over to check his status when he felt a new wash of heat all but envelop him. Looking up and resisting the urge to shield his eyes out of reflex thanks to his visor, Abraham was pleasantly surprised to see the cargo bay doors to the Beta open up just above him.
"Need a lift, Doc?," Whetstone's voice cut into his helmet.
"By all means. Your timing could not have been better."
With that, Zhao tightened his grip on Elias' armor and then jet-boosted both of them up and into the waiting aircraft.
Ryan knew that they were definitely fighting on borrowed time at this point, with the Invid seeming to be able to throw un-ending amounts of troops at him and his teammates. For everyone that he cut down, or one of the others blasted out of the air, there seemed to be another one of these thrice-damned aliens there to replace it. He tried to push the thought that this was all hopeless out of his mind, as he let loose another quartet of Armor Piercing missiles up to knock down a pair of incoming Armored Scouts while he dove under the legs of another Shock Trooper, pushing his CADS into it's less armored underside to punch thru it's crew compartment from below. Darmouth rolled out from under the Invid battlemecha it collapsed in on itself and gushed out a pool of green fluid in the spot that the military specialist had just vacated. Before the Shock Trooper could even hit the ground, Darmouth was off again, slamming himself bodily into another Enforcer unit, wrapping his deadly arm mounted energy blades around the Invid's power shield, cutting off it's head and shield arm in the same motion. Flipping up and over the beheaded Enforcer unit, Darmouth landed close enough to the struggling Joseph to give him enough of a respite to get his bearings.
Eric knew that this was not his cup of tea. He had seen the LEGIOS pick up the doc and Elias just before the Major landed next to him after wiping out the last of the bloody bugs keeping him pinned down. The black man was sweating profusely from a combination of exertion as well as heat build-up that his power armor was no longer able to keep up with. While the Invid had not been able to land any killing shots yet, there was definitely some battle damage that was hampering the suit's abilities to continue performing at operational levels. Darmouth unloaded another quartet of missiles that flew narrowly over Eric's head, causing him to flinch reflexively, then he felt something pick up from his kneeling position.
"Are you well enough to move, Trooper?" the Major bellowed over his mike.
Eric nodded dumbly, his training taking over where logic had shut down.
"Good, then get a move on to the dropship. I'll cover you."
With that, the Major moved off to hold off the remaining Invid power armors that were attempting to shoot down or at least do some grievous damage to their ride. Joseph decided to make good on his commander's orders and sprinted to the waiting LEGIOS as it flew over, then leaped up to the hole in the Beta's under section, his back thrusters too damaged to trust with carrying him anymore. He looked back and down just in time to see Darmouth trying to hold off all four of the still standing Enforcers with just the CADS and his natural abilities. In the time that it took for Joseph to get settled into the re-configured bomb bay, the major had been able to drop the number of Invid still standing from four to two, taking one out with a well placed stab thru it's chest, and another decapitation slash with a vicious haymaker shot to another's head. Eric and Abe were both rocked as the LEGIOS accelerated to where their last teammate on the ground was still fighting a desperate holding action, although he was most definitely making the enemy pay for engaging him, if the growing number of downed armors and smoking mecha were any indication to his damage potential.
Darmouth paused in his personal Search and Destroy mission and glanced up just as the LEGIOS flew overhead, slowing down to pick him up before leaving the area. While Ryan was more than a superior fighter and was considered one of the best hand-to-hand combatants amongst the members of the REF, even he was bound to make a mistake, and he realized that he had just made a critical one as the heat exploded against his already damaged side, spinning him around and down.
"Arrggghh!," Ryan bellowed as he rolled away from the Enforcer's follow-up shots. He was feeling the pain from the plasma blast and shrapnel from the fractured armor eating away at his side and right arm, but he was infuriated enough from being hit that his adrenaline would not let him stop and deal with the shock. Rolling back into a crouching position, he looked at the leader mecha that had snuck up on him and tagged him so effectively with an almost animalistic gleam in his eyes.
"You are going to pay so dearly for that, alien trash…Have at you!," he screamed as he charged at the enemy command power armor once more, both CADS hungrily humming for vengeance.
The Invid brought up it's power shield to initially fend off the nearly beserking human, but quickly found that the shield's power supply was being overloaded from the hard hitting shots from the smaller mecha. It tried to shoot the human off of it, but only succeeded in blowing off one of the steering fans and the wheel hub assembly, and then the weapon arm was effectively silenced as Ryan brought his left CADS down solidly on it, amputating the arm at the shoulder. The Invid fell back after emitting an ear-splitting shriek, but Darmouth would not let up. He followed the Enforcer down swinging his bladed arms and kicking as quickly as he could, taking advantage of every opening that the wounded enemy unit was giving him. He first kicked away the power shield, then rammed the blades repeatedly into the power armor's sides, forcing it to spew out nutrients and hydraulics in a grotesque mirror of Darmouth's own injuries. As the Enforcer landed back on solid ground, Darmouth punched it's right knee once with the left CADS, then power kicked it twice, severing the limb and forcing the Invid down on it's remaining good leg.
"And now you know the price for trying to take what is mine….and for trying to go against me. Now go to hell, you bastard!"
The Invid looked up with it's damaged sensor eye just as Darmouth brought down his blade, cutting off it's head with one severing chop to it's neck. Ryan then began to slash at the body repeatedly, giving in to his anger briefly and ignoring everything else around him. This continued for a few seconds until Angelina's voice broke through the red haze that had briefly consumed the combat officer.
"Ryan, it's over, we need to go now or we are not going to be going at all, " she said softly, but determinedly over the mike, her voice carrying a quiet urgency and concern that he had not heard in quite some time. Shaking off the crimson rage, Ryan nodded and then jumped up into the waiting cargo bay. Before he could topple over, he was grabbed by Joseph and Zhao. Looking over to the doctor, he knew he had to ask.
"Abe, is everyone okay?"
"Well, Martin is going to need emergency treatment, and I am sure that everyone else could use a few days leave, but yeah."
"Good, good job guys," Ryan then said, moving away from the others, feeling fatigue beginning to overtake him. "I think…..I think I am going to take a seat right over..here…for a ..a few minutes….you know…sit down…"
Ryan then smiled at the Doctor and the Communications Specialist, then collapsed in heap while looking at his now bloodied hand that he pulled away from his side. Both of them were next to him in a minute, trying to pop him out of his damaged armor and acertain just how badly he was injured. Suddenly, Eric jumped back, almost as if he was recoiling from something. Abraham paused and looked over at the young man, his face open curiousity.
"What the hell? Why is he bleeding green?," the rattled Corporal queried, not quite sure what to do.
-Fade to Black as Closing Theme Kicks in-
SithKnight-Galen's parting words: And thus, another fun installment out of my head and onto your screens for your viewing enjoyment. Please let me know what you people think of what I am writing. Feedback, both positive and negative are always appreciated. Sorry if this chapter seems a bit muddle, but most firefights and battles have a tendency to get jumbled like this when it is being told and seen from multiple points of view. I hope that it can still be followed, however. And tune in next chapter when we see what happens when Team Darmouth make it back to home base.
Again, this goes out to everyone on the DYRL Fan-fiction list, but especially GP PR, LisaV, KnightTemplar, CiceroPhelps, AdmiralHayes2004, Spherisian, and Carla Fox. I also want to dedicate this chapter to the two true muses in my life, thank you girls for all of your support my dear Ama-chan and my sweet Caitie-bird.