Death of Arm
Total Annihilation copyright 1997 by Cavedog Entertainment; designed by Chris Taylor
This short story is based on the victory movie at the end of the Core campaign. It is told from the point of view of the Core Commander.
Victory is almost ours. This untamed world that the Arm nests in is now a scorched landscape. Empyrrean is a mere shadow of what it was two days ago, when I arrived through the Galactic Gate with a mere two Pyros and a C-bot.
Debris now litters the landscape; wrecked buildings mar the grassy plains. Just about every forest in the world has gotten too close to a Pyro's flamethrower, and as a result, the atmosphere is smoldering with ash. Clones are collapsing left and right without enough clean air to breath.
I survey my base. A lone Intimidator, powered by a nearby fusion plant, is slowly turning to aim at some distant unit in the Arm base. Instigator 3082 rolls by, narrowly dodging past the hulk of a destroyed Bulldog before it continues on its course. Two spindly A.K.s trot by. One locates a target and spins on its torso to track it. As it passes out of my field of vision, an Avenger flashes over my head, passing closely over some trees in a fit of aerobatics. The leaves riffle in its wake. I begin my march on the Arm base.
It is now two hours later. Night has fallen on Empyrrean. I am patroling the tattered remains of the Arm base, searching for survivors- and most importantly, their Commander.
Following my usual escort of a Pyro and a Goliath, Disintegrator Gun at the ready, I constantly scan the battlefield. Perhaps the enemy Commander has retreated... The thought is not a pleasant one. After all the time spent cornering him here, if he escaped... But no. The only way out is down the main slope, which is literally covered with Core units. I notice several of my missile trucks attempting to target a low-flying Thunder bomber, but it disappears into the fog before they have a chance to fire.
There! Up ahead, about a fourth of a klick away. A small, dimunitive shape. I increase power to my legs. The familiar stretching sound of straining Memcomposite fill my audio pickups as I move into jogging speed. Scanning... scanning... identification established. A lone Arm PeeWee, running as fast as its little legs can carry it. It doesn't seem to have a specific destination in mind; rather, I hypothesize that it is merely trying to escape the masses of Core Kbots and tanks now in the area. No matter.
My ranging shot misses, but my second shot hits the targeted section of the PeeWee almost exactly- missing the intended point by a mere 2.537 centimeters. The laser blast neatly severs the PeeWee's arm, sending it down to the Empyrrean loam with a thump. I can just imagine the desperate PeeWee pilot looking at the burning hole on the side of his suit, and punching buttons in his cockpit furiously as he tries to dodge my next shot. Not that it does any good. I fire my secondary laser again, this time hitting the doomed Kbot right in the back of the head. Its forward viewport pops clean off, and the rest of the Kbot explodes a second later.
I resume my scanning. Most of the red dots on my radar are gone now, a few flickering with yellow as they are pummeled by Core weaponry. I stride past the flipped wreckage of yet another Bulldog. How many of these tanks does Arm have, anyway?
A sound. A quiet buzzing. The whir of servomotors behind me. One of my own men? No, there are no Core units behind me for two klicks... they are all scattered around and ahead of me. Just as I am about to discount the sound, the distinctive voice of a Fink scout plane reaches me.
"Sir! Look out behind you!"
Gears in my torso whine as I turn my upper body a full 180 degrees. In less than a second, I have noted, targeted, and fired a laser blast at the crippled Arm Commander, who had been aiming at my back with his D-gun. The bolt of incandescent light slags the enemy Commander's chest, knocking him onto his back. A secondary explosion sends his ruined carapace sliding backwards nearly five feet. The enemy Commander is jerking feebly. His legs blown off completely, all he can do is wave his arms frantically. Walking over to him, I switch weapons to my D-gun. I place my left footpad over the Arm Commander's chest and smash down, holding him in place. Then, I lift it again, bring it down, lift it again, bring it down, taking fierce pleasure in each stomp... I trample the Arm Commander until his suit is a crushed mass of sparking servos and broken armor plating. Now, I bring down my left arm. The open barrel of the D-gun cannon is aimed directly at the Arm Commander suit's head. I can see the actual person inside, his terrified eyes wide and his mouth open in a scream that I cannot hear.
I fire. With a single, blinding flash of light, the Arm Commander vanishes for good, and the war ends at long last.