DR: HI, I've put this here since there is no Earthseige section here on FF. This may grow into a seris of 'snap shots' of the life of Christian Masters (from my 'Ancient Legacies' Story saga) During the war with the Cybrids. First up is one of the pivotal missions in the game.

Landing Challenge

Christian cursed as he felt the shudders run through his mighty HERC. It was something he was familiar with: the clatter of autocannon rounds, their velocity degraded by his HERC's shield, bouncing off the heavy armour. While it was nothing to worry about by itself, it signified something much worse. A Cybrid HERC was here.

Christian kicked the controls, pushing the lumber Ogre HERC behind the Cybrid shuttle, putting it between him and the Cybrid. As he did so, he thought back to the mission briefing.

"Commander, we've got confirmation to go for those Cybrid assault shuttles you scouted out before. This is the chance we've been waiting for. We need you to take out their weapons, without destroying those shuttles. I don't need to remind you that we are losing this war. If he can't strike at Prometheus himself, the human race will be wiped off the face of Earth."

Christian had asked about support, both his and the Cybrids. Intel had informed him that they could get him in there only, no back up. Conversely the Cybrids had no units in the area either.

'Yea, right…' He thought as he assessed the situation. When he arrived, there had been a half dozen Stingrays. The tiny scout Cybrids had easily fallen to Christian's titanic Ogre, the largest and toughest HERC ever built. There were rumours of a new Cybrid model that was even more deadly, but so far no one had sighted one… or survived to report encountering it. All they had on the new model was the name given to it by Prometheus… Cerberus.

But Christian was a soldier, and a damn good one. He had won the Victoria Cross, the first for almost fifty years, when he was barely sixteen. Something like that drew attention. Christian had lost count of the number of Cybrids he had destroyed in battle.

So despite his concerns, he had mounted up. Cutting through the thin defences, he had engaged the shuttles directly. Each one was a prickly opponent, despite being sitting ducks. On three of the six sides they mounted a pair of lasers and a missile battery, good ones too. Many a pilot had underestimated the shuttles weapons… and died.

But Christian had faced them before, and won. Of course, those times he had been intent on destroying them, not disabling them, so he had to place his shots very carefully. Hence the full load of lightweight lasers, rather than his standard load out of medium autocannons, heavy lasers and ELFs.

He had just finished taking out the weapons on the second shuttle when this new Cybrid had crested a nearby hill, hidden from his radar by the rise, and opened fire.

Quickly he switched targets, cancelling his lock on the shuttle and refocusing on the new HERC. His radar locked in as he stepped out from behind the shuttle.

"Oh crap!"

What was approaching him was something he had never seen before. It was a monster, huge missile bays each side of the smaller central body, the baleful blue Cybrid eye staring out. Thin arms were projected out further, the ends of each tipped with weapons.

Just with his visual inspection, he could see eight weapons attached to the Cybrid. Add in those twin missile bays, and this thing had just as much firepower as his Ogre. More in fact, as Christian had switched out the missile pods for additional shields, an energy pod and an advanced targeting module. The computer quickly confirmed his assessment, only adding to it by determining the grades of the weapons.

"Okay, don't freeze up now…" He told himself, fighting back the urge to shiver. But he couldn't push back the cold analysis of the situation. 'I've only got seven 100 megawatt lasers. That thing's packing two 50mm ATC's, two missile pods, four 500 megawatt lasers, and a pair of EMP cannons. The odds are really against me here…"

The Cybrid fired first, the EMP cannons each spiting out a blue sphere of charged plasma. While the plasma was too diffuse to do any real damage to a HERC's heavy armour, the danger came from the charged nature, which delivered a massive electro-magnetic pulse into the target. The blast would strip shields and short out systems, at least until the breakers reset.

The one bolt missed, but the second was dead on, sapping almost forty percent of Christian's forward shield strength. Shifting power from the rear shields, he pushed the lumber Ogre forwards, trying to get in range. A hail of cannon shells rained down on him, degrading the shields as they sapped the rounds speed. One sparked off Christian's cockpit armour, setting off an instinct to duck.

"Commander Masters, report." Trust command to demand an update now! "Have you disabled those shuttles yet?" The men tasked with taking over the shuttles were waiting a few kilometres away, with the rest of his unit guarding them.

"Negative. I've got a situation on my hands here…" Christian answered as he fired off a volley from his lasers. At this range the beams were barely enough to hurt the monster bearing down on him, but it was something.

"Say again…? What is your situation?"

"My situation is neck deep in trouble! Intel screwed up again!" Christian snapped as the Cybrid unleash its missiles. Two warheads slammed into the forward shield, sapping power and rocking the heavy HERC back a step.

"Commander Masters, we can't afford to wait long! Cybrid forces are certainly inbound! We need you to disarm those shuttles now!"

The two HERCs were closing fast, laser flashing between them. Christian's beams stabbed out again and again, each time sending ripples across the surface of the Cybrids shields. In return the Cerberus was pouring everything back, lasers and autocannons, savaging his own shields.

"Hey, you want to dance with this Cerberus?" Silence was the only reply to Christian's bark. "Didn't think so. So shut up and let me concentrate!"

Most HERC battles were not about manoeuvring, but about position, target and weapon selection, numbers. But in nearly all cases, it always boiled down to one battle plan… a slugging match. Who ever had the tougher HERC with the most guns, wins.

Right now Christian felt sweat run down his back. The Ogre was as tough as they come, but it was about as swift footed as a tortoise. So far, the Cerberus was even slower, but it appeared even tougher. Certainly it had strong shielding, as Christian was having trouble seeing if the things shields had weakened at all.

The EMP cannons flared again, and once more one hit. This time however it totally demolished the shields, leaving the Ogre bare. Two missiles followed in the bolts wake, slamming into the human built machine. Christian had to fight the sluggish controls to keep it upright.

Cursing loudly, Christian opened fire, his lasers spitting out their beams as fast as they could cycle. With the demands of both the weapons and the shields, the energy pool was shrinking.

The pounding of autcannon hits resounded around him, but Christian fought to keep his lasers on target. Alarms began to wail when he saw his first beam strike metal. The Cybrid didn't even flinch as the human's laser began to stab into it. It just primed and fired another pair of missiles.

Seeing the flare of the warheads, Christian swung the torso about, turning away from the Cybrid. The move made the one missile shoot by, skimming the Ogre's rear before arcing away to strike a bank of heavy snow.

The second struck square and true on the starboard side, throwing the Ogre to the left and giving Christian a gut wrenching kick.

Shaking the stars from his eyes, Christian swung back around as he checked the damage. Two lasers were down, the right torso torn apart. Autocannon rounds were punching through his armour and tearing into his internals, but Christian had not become a HERC veteran by giving up. Engaging the targeting module, he aimed for the hip joints.

Five laser beams stabbed out, linking the two HERCs for an instant. The combined beams were not enough to burn through the thick armour, but Christian had not banked on that. Instead his aim was a little high, for the armour just above the joint. As he had hoped, the molten metal his lasers had created flowed down into the joint before solidifying in the sub zero temperatures of the Antarctic. The Cybrid lurched as the hip joint was locked in position.

Knowing that the temporary weld would not hold long, Christian refocused his fire, the lasers stabbing out again and again, probing for weaknesses. The Cybrid gave back as good as it got, the autocannons and lasers tearing into Christian's mount. One round punched through the tough bullet-proof glass and raced above his head. Smoke rose from under several panels as systems shorted, and Christian could feel the Ogre slow as the leg motors were damaged.

Two more missiles were launched, this time both hitting, one each side of the cockpit. Due to the flare of the explosions, Christian didn't see how one of his laser beams had gone inside the one missile pod when the hatch was open. Nor did he see how the whole right side of the Cerberus blew apart as the missiles within blew.

Gripping the controls once more, Christian peered through the smoke to see the Cerberus straightening up again, the entire right side gone. Seeing his chance, his peppered the HERC with laser fire, trying to target the right side. Those last two missiles had knocked out his targeting system.

Something flared within the Cybrid, and then a massive explosion tore it apart. Chucks of metal went flying away as the body disintegrated. One leg toppled one way, the hip section and the other leg another.

Sighing in relief, Christian sagged in his seat, exhaustion filling his body. He sat there for a long moment, the cold air seeping in through the damaged cockpit while the air around him was filled with the whining alarms. It was only when the radio crackled again that he stirred.

"Predator 1, this in Command, please respond. Commander Masters are you there? Commander we've lost your tracking signal. Commander, are you there?"

Slowly he raised his hand to the mike.

"Yea, I'm still here…"


Half an hour later the others arrived, the trio of heavy duty snow trucks advancing in column with the three Apocalypse HERCs of Christian's unit formed up ahead of them in a wedge. As such they were the first to see his damaged HERC

"Christian! God what happened to you?"Lt Susan Grayson called when she saw the walking wreck that was the Ogre. Slabs of armour were torn and shredded, the entire right side a twisted mess. Smoke rose in thin streams from within, and a spiders wed of cracks ran across the whole front pane of the canopy. The whole HERC looked like it was two tottering steps away from the scrap yard.

"Oh, not much. Just had a tussle with one of those new Cerberus HERCs…" Christian deadpanned.

"Honestly, you are about the only person I know who could pass off THAT as the result of a 'tussle'!" Auri Kane commented scathingly, her HERC coming to a stop by the smoking remains of the Cerberus. The many autocannons glinted in the light as she turned the heavy body to face him. "I bet you're also injured."

"No, no injuries…" Christian replied before pausing. "But it is a little chilly. I think I've picked up a draft."

Susan shook her head as she stared at the round hole in the canopy of Christian's HERC. 'Oh why did I have to fall in love with you?'

DR: There we go, a little insight into the past. I hope to do more of these in the future, but I can't garrantee anything at this time... If you're not from the Zoids section here on and want to know now about the characters, then please read my story 'Ancient Legacies' located in the zoids section. I always apreciate reviews!