REALITY FLUX: BOLO AND DIGIMON
Gregory P. Wong
Part Two: Warriors
I allow the Flamedramon to leave through my rear access hatch. As soon as the Digimon departs, I raise my battlescreens and again enter combat mode.
Unit KRN reports that urban fighting is relatively light, and that I should concentrate on forces attempting to enter the city. KRN's drones are supplementing the militia forces, and should hold as long as no more mobs of sufficient numbers breach the perimeter.
BIST data indicates that the hostile Digimon force has consolidated outside the northern perimeter of the city. Numbers are in excess of fifteen thousand, with the vast bulk Champion-level and less. However, there are still enough higher-order Digimon to make things problematic.
However, it is a better focus of my abilities to engage the main force. In the field I can take full advantage of my tactical knowledge, mobility, and weapons without fear of causing collateral damage to the civilian infrastructure.
It is time.
Using data from my BIST units and long-range radar clusters, I release a heavy salvo of missiles from my vertical launch system tubes, followed by a curtain of steel from my BL mortars. The missiles are loaded with dual-purpose improved conventional munitions while my mortar shells are fitted with proximity fuses.
My dumbfired mortars arc into the air to their apogee and plummet, detonating while still ten meters in the air, sending a circular pattern of razor-sharp shrapnel to scythe into the marshaling Digimon. My DPICM missiles activate a second later, each primary charge sending out three hundred-fifty baseball-sized submunitions that were a core of high explosives wrapped with white phosphorous and notched wire.
However, by the time my first barrage of mortar shells had reached their summit, I had already launched another salvo of VL missiles and mortars.
My treads are fully powered, sending twin rooster tails of torn earth into the air behind me as I close with the Digimon.
I consider channeling some power to my plasma-flux Hellrail cannons, but I discard the thought. Units of my mark, unlike the Mark XXXIII Planetary Siege Units, are Planetary Interdictor Units, which means our capabilities are stressed to interdicting and engaging starships from the planetary surface.
While Mark XXXIIIs, who are orientated to direct planetary assault, have three independently-turreted 200cm Hellbores and four 240cm howitzers as primary armament, I have only two Hellbores and no howitzers at all. However, because of my design, my anti-orbital capability is far superior. In addition to my two 200cm Hellbores—which can strike and eliminate ships in orbit—my two Hellrails can engage starships far from orbital ranges. If I was on Earth, each 90-megaton thermonuclear Hellrail bolt could devastate targets on the Moon.
My designers had not considered the possibility of an enemy getting past my Hellrails and "landing" troops on the planet. Of course, I cannot fault the designers for not considering Digimon and quantum gates.
They had caught everyone by surprise.
My fourth barrage of mortars and missiles slam into the enemy, and I am within range of my direct-fire batteries. My twin 200cm Hellbores thunder, sending slivers of a star's heart straight into the ranks of the hostile Digimon. Dozens, hundreds perish from the thermonuclear hammers, yet there are hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds more.
Enemy missiles barrel into the air, and I swat them down with infinite repeaters and point defense, or confound their targeting systems with ECM.
My main guns complete the 3-second recycle, and I fire again, tearing apart a knot of SkullGreymon that were readying their rockets. I fire twice more, turning sharply to port to give the six 20cm infinite repeaters on that side a clear field of fire.
I subject the Digimon to exactly 24.5 seconds of primary and secondary battery fire, whereupon I disengage and speed away from them.
I note, to my satisfaction, that the bulk of the enemy is in hot pursuit. At 105 KPH I can outrun most of the ground elements, but the airborne Digimon can keep up with me. However, I cannot allow myself to widen the gap with the ground forces too much, since they might lose interest in me and again make their way back to the city assaults. I will be playing a dangerous game with the main Digimon assault force, since I must remain in relatively close contact with it to hold its interest. I calculate to 97.7 surety that my indirect fire ammunition will be insufficient to neutralize the enemy should they disengage and redirect their efforts to the city.
I focus my visual sensors skyward, and note that a collection of enemies—designated Megadramon, Gigadramon, GranKuwagamon, Velgemon, and NeoDevimon—are closing in on me. The other species of aerial attackers are not able to keep up with my drive trains, but the ones that do number over twelve hundred.
Thankfully, they are relatively fragile. Each infinite repeater bolt blows a half dozen of them to chaotic electromagnetic data, while my main guns neutralize five times that.
I detect missile launch, and I match the sensor data to Fla'drek's intelligence. I have been targeted by Darkside Attack missiles.
These missiles are superior to the semiorganic SkullGreymon rockets, and there are hundreds of them. I kill two hundred thirty-four missiles, but one hundred make it past. Half of those defeat my evasive maneuvers and ECM blanket and strike my battlescreens. My energy shields flare in a brilliant lightshow but hold out against the assault. I retaliate with a flight of Icehawk anti-fighter missiles and a sustained Hellbore volley. A hundred more aerial attackers are blasted from existence.
To my chagrin, my sensors detect multiple energy signatures from the other Digimon that have managed to keep up. More attacks.
My screens hold out against the assault for approximately 7.89 seconds before failing, at which point my reactive armor appliqués and endurachrome plating take the energy assault. Damage sensors blare pain signals to my sophisticated brain.
Again, each attack is negligible—attacks range from low kilowatt to multi-megawatt energies—in its individual power, but sheer numbers make them very dangerous.
I turn sharply, throwing off the aim of the attackers, and reply with my own weapons. More enemy Digimon are incinerated by thermonuclear plasma. The airborne Digimon pursue me doggedly
I continue my loop and again head back towards the main swarm of Digimon, noting that the lead enemies are lesser Champions and Rookies. I can deduce my enemy's plans: he seeks to screen the more powerful Ultimates and Megas from my direct fire and engulf me.
I cannot allow that.
I engage my mortars as soon as I am within their maximum range of 9.5 kilometers. This time, however, the shells are loaded with a smoke-producing agent while the second volley contains phosphorous flares and chaff. The mortar rounds detonate and release thick clouds of obscuring haze, followed by intense white flashes and sprays of metal bits.
As soon as I deem the distraction ready, I swerve to my right and cut an oblique angle towards the main force.
The chaotic pulses of energy and projectiles flying towards where I should have been tell me that my disorientating tactic worked.
I withhold my fire until I am running parallel to the army. At a bare seven hundred meters I open up with all available weapon systems. Waves of destruction annihilate hundreds of Digimon.
I peel off again, leading on the enemy on with repeated bursts from my main cannons and infinite repeaters.
I have shaved another chunk from the enemy force. I will have to continue with my hit-and-run tactics until I have reduced their numbers enough for me to initiate a sustained engagement.
It will be difficult, but I am confidant in success.
The shiny monkey with sunglasses was still chasing Cielana and Kiwi.
The monkey was big and scary, and he wanted to hurt her and Kiwi. The monkey and his friends were probably the ones who were making Karen and Jarrod fight.
They were running through the streets ducking into alleyways and stuff to make sure the monkey didn't catch them. Sometimes soldiers fired guns at the scary animal, but the bullets made pinging sounds and didn't hurt the monkey. More soldiers could have stopped the monkey, but they were too busy fighting all kinds of different animals. One looked like a fat purple spider with one big eye, and another looked like a cuddly teddy bear with a cape, except it was big and ugly and scary and wasn't cuddly at all.
"Stop running, you little bugs," she heard the monkey yell from somewhere behind them. "I'll make sure it won't even hurt for long."
She kept running.
It was good that she and Kiwi played around the area a lot, and knew a lot of shortcuts.
"I'm gonna getcha, you little brats!" she heard the monkey scream.
But they still had to run very fast. She pulled on Kiwi's paw and ran faster.
Fla'drek heard screams coming from inside one of the houses. He ran faster.
There were gunshots. Doors weren't open... guess it was time for something drastic.
He dove through one of the front windows, keeping claws up so his gauntlets deflected the shattered glass. He looked around.
Hmm, the upholstery would be expensive to repair.
Screams, coming from a hallway to the right.
He dashed to the hallway, and heard scuffling sounds coming from inside one of the doorways. It looked like the door had been kicked down... violently.
Inside was... oh, again!?
He was really, really sick of Vilemon. He pounced on the one closest to the door, which was grappling with a young woman, and snapped its neck. The body stayed around for a few seconds before it started to dissolve.
The other Vilemon turned to look at him. Luckily, the man it had been trying to bite used that moment to level a handgun at its head and shoot it.
"Are you people—" he began.
The man was pointing the pistol at him. Uh...
"I don't know who you are or what you want, but get out now," the man hissed.
"Right away," he muttered. He raised his claws in what, hopefully, was a non-threatening gesture and left the room.
It sounded like the woman was sobbing.
Well, he couldn't really blame the man. These human didn't know the difference between good and evil Digimon, so he didn't hold it against him.
He also didn't get shot, so there was that.
He left the house.
"The more you run, the more hurt you're gonna get!" he heard a voice bellow with rage from a short distance away.
And then he heard screams from what sounded like... little girls? Argh.
But, damnation, he had no idea where to go! The sounds had come from somewhere to the left, but the only thing he saw in that direction was a solid wall of buildings. Hmm... well, the buildings weren't too tall.
He leaped toward the wall and dug claws into the material.
Uhn, it felt like tough concrete. Claws were going to be smarting for a while after this. He flexed his arms and propelled himself to the top of the building.
Good thing these human built with flat roofs.
Now, he had a good view of the immediate area. From up here, he could see barricades here and there where human and people that looked like a walking dogs were holding off the dark Digimon. The Bolo had mentioned Melconians, so he guessed that's what they looked like. Over to the west a bit more were an assorted group of tracked vehicles that bristled with guns and hovering tanks. To the east of him was—
There. He saw them. A little human girl and a small Melconian—female? He couldn't tell gender with the aliens—were running. They looked panicked, too. He wondered what was chasing... them...
Oh, by the Sovereigns.
It was a MetalEtemon. A Mega level MetalEtemon. Those things were difficult to kill, or so he'd heard, because they were literally covered from head to toe with chrome Digizoid. A strong attack could breach the armor, as well as a weapon that was also made of Digizoid but... he didn't have any of those. He was a Champion with titanium armor.
And then he saw the little Melconian trip over something. The two children tumbled to the ground.
"Kiwi!" Cielana cried as she watched her best friend tip and fall.
"Help me, Cee!" the Melconian pup shrieked fearfully.
The shiny monkey was... where did the monkey go? Did they lose it?
And then something grabbed her by the back of her shirt. Eek!
"CEE!" she heard Kiwi scream.
She looked behind her. It was the monkey!
"Run Kiwi!" she shouted. Maybe the monkey would be too busy with—
"I don't think so, sweetie," the monkey said and—oh no! The monkey had grabbed Kiwi, too!
"Now, you two little brats, I said I was gonna make this nice and painful. Now, lessee, I think I could use a nice fur coat right now..."
She and Kiwi whimpered. The bad monkey was really going to hurt them!
The monkey grinned and dropped her to the ground. She tried to scramble away but the monkey's fat foot stepped down on her. She couldn't escape!
"Now, I think I'll rip that shiny pelt from your face first," the monkey said to Kiwi, "and after that I'll—"
Utilizing hit-and-run tactics, I have reduced the number of enemies to ten thousand five hundred in the last thirty minutes. I have actually killed far more than five thousand, but the reinforcements being warped in seemed endless. However, I am satisfied to note that no more warp junctures appear on my sensors. I only have these to deal with. They still number more than the optimum number I would attempt for a direct engagement, however.
In any case, my dangerous cat-and-mouse game is keeping them occupied. The enemy forces that had threatened KRN and Kilthwani have been eliminated, and she has scrambled aerial transports loaded with Garms and Skolls to aid me. Their ETA is about 143.503 minutes, however; by the time that passes the battle will be decided one way or another.
I pivot my two aftermost portside infinite repeaters and eliminate a trio of large TyrantKabuterimon with pinpoint accurate hammers of nuclear fury. My BIST cloud indicates that the main force is only two kilometers away.
I promptly reverse direction, charging the enemy. My main guns thunder, accompanied by the lesser—but still devastating—hammer of my secondary batteries. I launch a salvo of proximity mortar rounds, decimating the heart of the enemy formation. My point defense lasers and gauss cannons tear out specks from the Digimon army. However, it is not all one-way.
Enemy attacks come sailing towards me, and I jink back and forth, yet the volume is far too heavy for evasive maneuvers to completely counter. My battlescreens fail—again—in a spectacular flash of energy, and again the enemy assaults my warhull directly. My explosive, penetrator-canceling reactive plates are long since gone, and my endurachrome has been taking the brunt of the attacks. In fact, a two-meter wide portion on my left flank, right above my tracks and below my secondary Hellobores, has melted, revealing my flintsteel hull. I have to make special efforts so the enemy does not capitalize on this breach in my defenses. Pain signals screech in my brain more, yet I do not shy away.
For every scratch the enemy places upon me I take from them with exorbitant interest. Already, my guns have taken a thousand of their number from their ranks.
However, I have taken noticeable damage. I disengage and lead them away again.
A lucky shot to my Number One infinite repeater has crippled it by welding one of the rotator cuffs to the mounting. In addition, I detect two more breaches on my endurachrome plating, one near my forward main turret on the right, and another, alarmingly, on my glacis, where my armor is over a meter and a half thick.
These Digimon are indeed formidable in extreme numbers.
I conduct a swift ordinance check. My cryogenic vats are rapidly electrolyzing water to form the hydrogen spikes that are the ammunition for my primary and secondary Hellbores. My conventional missiles are down to 37 capacity, and my mortars are nearing 23. My gauss gun ammunition is holding out reasonably well—considering I am using them quite heavily—at 54. The sheer number of Digimon will force me to rely more heavily on my Hellbores and laser clusters, as I will have to save my expendables in the event that I am swarmed.
Once I am two kilometers from the Digimon—an extremely close distance for my Hellbores, which have line-of-sight range—I open fire again. I have 15.64 seconds, with a deviation of 5.3 percent, before I can be attacked once more. The Digimon reel under my concentrated nuclear-powered salvo. As expected, the gibbering Digimon rush towards me again, as I, the bait, "taunt" them again.
Suddenly, I detect something, something amid the noisy cacophony of the Digimon. I filter the input from my aural sensors. It is a thoroughly alarming command.
"Ignore the machine! Assault the city! Kill everyone inside!"
With that, the mass of Digimon, which still numbers in excess of seventy-seven thousand, turns away from me and gallop off towards the city.
I assume a commander—most likely a Mega-level—has assumed command of the rabble. I am unable to pinpoint the source amid the noisy chaos, so I have no hope of targeting the speaker and forcibly rescinding the order. Unfortunate. My scanners indicate that approximately forty-five percent of the mass consists of high-tier Ultimates and Megas.
It appears I must shift my strategy. I devote a lengthy 4.86 seconds to formulating, analyzing, cross-checking, modifying, and simulating strategies.
I come up with a dozen. After running several simulations, the most optimistic of those has me with an 88.52—plus-or-minus three percent—probability of completely routing and/or destroying the Digimon forces. However, the same strategy has a 75.49 probability that I will be seriously damaged, with a 43.31 probability of fatal, catastrophic damage.
As grim as the odds look, and with the very real possibility of my own "death" staring me in the face, I cannot allow the Digimon to enter the city. I am a Bolo. I do not shirk my duties
I feed power to my drivetrains and I rumble forward, spitting lances of starfire at the Digimon, gouging out ugly holes in their mass.
As expected, the fireballs didn't do much more to the MetalEtemon other than make it angry.
Fla'drek ducked, the cyborg's fist just passing an inch from his face. That had been too clo—
Ugh... what had...? He shook his head and looked around. He'd been... he'd flown, hit a building, and blacked out. Now, why would he fly and hit a—
"Metal Punch!" the monkey howled and threw another punch. He ducked again.
Damn, that could have taken off his head with—
"Uhn!" he grunted. The viral Mega had slammed a Digizoid-plated foot into his stomach. Flying again.
Impact. Hurts. Dizzy...
"Gotcha again, you little ticks! Think you could run off while your dragon pal distracted me, huh? I'll make it hurt even more—"
What was that sound? It almost sounded like guns...
"Drop her! Drop her!" he heard human voices bark out. He opened his eyes. Hmm... it was still dark. Was he half blind? Oh, wait, that was it. He was buried under a slab of something. Slab. Heh. And his head felt all swirly. Swiiiiiirly.
He watched a bunch of humans and Melconians in futuristic armor take up firing positions.
"Drop her now!"
He watched the other Digimon, holding up a kid in each hand, shrug. "Okay, fine."
The cyborg tossed them to the side. Before the two children had even hit the ground, the soldiers had opened fire. The guns made loud cracking noises, but didn't make any muzzle flash. Hmm, they didn't seem to eject any spent shells, either. Ooh, must be magic weapons. And he still felt dazed. Daaazed.
He heard hissing and zipping, and saw sparks fly from the cyborg's body. Armored with chrome Digizoid, the bullets were probably too soft to effect a good penetration. Or whatever the military-speak for good bullets was.
"Oh, Mother of God!" one of the human soldiers cried. "It's one of the armored ones!"
He heard the MetalEtemon sigh loudly and start towards the men.
"Fireteams Alfa, Bravo, get AP rounds locked in!" the human ordered quickly. Impressive. The man—and the other soldiers, for that matter—weren't panicking at the sight of a Mega walking towards them. Brave. "Ra-kalzin, get a Rod up. Team Delta, powerguns hot! Takaishi, set up the M20!"
And all this time, the soldiers kept on firing at the cyborg, and still the bullets ricocheted off. Oh, hmm, one of the Melconians was unlimbering a long tube that had been strapped to the soldier's back. Wondered what that did?
"I don't think so," the MetalEtemon sneered. The overgrown monkey snapped his fingers, and suddenly, the whole hand was crackling with dark violet electricity.
And then he wasn't dazed anymore. Had to warn them, had to—
"Dark Spirits DX!" the Mega yelled, pointing a finger at the squad of soldiers.
And then a stream of dark electricity arced from the cyborg's fingers and played over the soldiers. The troops screamed and convulsed from the shock, and then...
Then it was over. The troops were draped over the wreckage of the city, and they weren't moving.
The killer chuckled, and walked back to where the children were. The Virus picked up the Melconian child.
No! He leaped to his feet, the debris that had been half-burying him flying aside.
"Fire Rocket!" Had to be careful with his aim... didn't want to hit the kids...
Luckily, the MetalEtemon had had turned away from him, so his fireballs impacted on the Mega's broad back. Unluckily, the fireballs didn't do a damned thing. The viral Digimon turned his head and looked back at him.
"Are you through? Good." The Virus turned back to the struggling Melconian child. "Now, first the ears..." The Mega grabbed the child's ears. The Melconian whimpered.
He charged. Slammed into the Mega's back—it felt like a brick wall. Knocked it over. Pinned it down on the ground.
Then he started pummeling the monkey. Sparks flew every time he slashed the Mega's body.
"Oh, please!" he heard the MetalEtemon spit. He saw a fist draw back...
And then a bomb exploded under his chin. Flying again...
"For goodness sakes, I just want to kill them kids, and I can't even do that in peace."
The kids! He shook his head—again—to clear it. He did a quick check on his body.
Oh, damn it. His gauntlets were shattered, most of the claws snapped off. Well, he'd been raking them full strength into a harder metal, so that was expected, wasn't it? He took his ruined gauntlets off. Oh well, at least he wouldn't have to worry about replacing them, since he was going to die. He took a step forward. By the Sovereigns, why did his feet feel so heavy? Oh, because he was taking on a Mega, that's why, and getting knocked all over the place.
His foot brushed against something. What...?
This is most... difficult. I am completely engaged with the enemy now, literally in their midst. My many Hellbores roar lightning at the enemy, while my missiles and mortars send up packages of death into the sky, to have them crash onto the heads of the savage Digimon. My point defense lasers and gauss cannons send stinging fire into the enemy's midst.
My battlescreens have already failed, despite the fact my evasive maneuvers have dodged over 33 of the incoming fire. My endurachrome outer skin is tough, yet even now molten patches are appearing here and there. A large breach on my left flank is allowing enemy fire to peck at my flintsteel hull.
Suddenly, my Number Nine Hellbore infinite repeater goes offline. I run a fast, 0.0005 damage check. One too many lucky shots struck the turret and disabled the traverse actuator.
My main guns bellow, yet, even as a plasma bolt tears apart the enemy, I feel another hole blown through my endurachrome sheathing. To compound that, enemy fire has reduced the bogeys on my Number Three track assembly to wreckage. I blow the tracks, noting that the blast kills dozens of Digimon that are attempting to get a clawhold on my hull.
I am now on bare drive wheels. My overall speed will be reduced but I retain full mobility, unhindered by my locked-up track.
I am wounded, but not defeated. I detect that I have obliterated over half of the enemy Digimon force. As expected, by task is not much easier, as I have killed off mostly Champion and Rookies, while the powerful Ultimates and Megas still attempt to destroy me. I am proud of my heritage as a Mark XXXIV, but over thirty-five hundred powerful enemies can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, though, the rate that I am reducing the Digimon is proceeding at a rate 9.74 faster than my most optimistic simulation projected. However, on the other hand, I have taken 5.9 more damage than I expected.
I am doing well.
I upload a quick tactical update from the command center in Los Santos.
The soldiers in the city are doing quite well. Most Digimon are susceptible to the normal rounds carried in the human gauss rifles and Melconian needleguns, and when needed, anti-personnel or armor-piercing can be used. Some of the most worrisome threats are being quickly countered, which is a credit to their training. Puppetmon are being set on fire by powerguns, Kuwagamon are taken down with concentrated assault rifle fire, and the occasional flyers are immediately fired upon by smart, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles.
The occasional Digimon that are armored with chrome Digizoid—a metal which seems to defy spectrographic analyses and elemental table placement—are targeted by hunter-killer teams with 60mm M-308 LAWs loaded with DSFSLRP rounds.
The M-308 Light Anti-armor Weapon, which can accept most conventional, hypervelocity, and specialty rounds, is a standard multipurpose missile launcher of the EDF. In the urban environment, however, the self-guiding anti-armor Icehawk-4 missiles are switched out in favor of the lower-tech but more reliable DSFSLRP rounds. While a tracking system is lost, the DSFSLRP munition travels far faster than any rocket capable of being fired from the M-308, and is much easier to utilize on the go.
Also, the DSFSLRP can penetrate up to fifty centimeters of solid durachrome.
The principal behind the venerable DSFSLRP (discarding sabot, fin-stabilized, long-rod penetrator) light anti-armor weapons is an old one, but effective.
The shoulder-launched weapon is fired at a target, a swift-burning propellant providing excellent thrust. Upon exiting the muzzle, the sabot, or plastic shoe that keeps the diameter of a smaller round the same as the barrel diameter, falls off, transforming the projectile into a 30mm finned, sharp rod of steel-jacketed tungsten.
The kinetic energy released when a dense arrow traveling at over 3,250 mps strikes a target can easily defeat most modern armored vehicles, much less these Digizoid-armored invaders. In fact, surveillance footage shows some of the Digimon literally shattering upon impact.
I see that Fla'drek is engaging a Mega-level MetalEtemon. Using different cameras, I can see that he is defending two children from the enemy Digimon. He is a brave one, to take on an enemy on a much higher power level than his own, but I had no doubt of that. Fla'drek is brave and noble. I would gladly call him a brother.
I cannot offer any aid to Fla'drek, but I can silently wish him good luck.
That is all I can do, since I have other, pressing, matters to attend to.
Cielana's head hurt. A lot. Ouch. Probably because the scary monkey had dropped her and the piece of duracrete had hit her head. Ouch.
The cool armored dragon had helped her and Kiwi, but it didn't look like the dragon was going to win. The monkey's skin wasn't even melted a single bit from the fireballs the dragon was throwing at it.
"Man, a Mega can't even have some fun in this universe without some high-and-mighty knight's lackey giving 'im a hard time," she heard the monkey say. "Oh, well."
And then she saw a bluish blur hit the monkey. It was the dragon!
The dragon and the monkey flew into a faraway house and knocked a big hole in it and fell in. There was dust everywhere, but she heard hitting sounds and grunts coming from inside the damaged house.
"Metal Punch!" she heard the voice of the monkey scream, and then there was a sound like when her older brother had dropped a watermelon on the floor.
And then she saw the dragon fly out through the whole and back to where the bad monkey had zapped the soldiers. The monkey came rushing out, too, and ran to where the dragon had hit the ground. A dust cloud kicked up, and she could here more hitting sounds.
And then nothing.
She looked back, and the dragon was lying still. Was the dragon...?
"Okay, brat, I've finally gotten that idiot to quit," the shiny monkey said angrily as it began to walk to her and Kiwi. "Now, I think it's time I got my nice pelt."
"We have to run, Kiwi!" she said urgently to her best friend. Kiwi looked at her, and she looked scared. She looked back at the monkey. It was about twenty meters away from where they were. If they could get a running start...
"Cee! I think I sprained my ankle! I can't run! Go without me!"
"No, Kiwi! I'll carry you."
"No, Cee! He'll catch both of us!"
She looked back again. It was only ten meters away.
"I'm not running away from you, Kiwi."
"Listen, brats, this is cute an' all, but it would be easier if you just stayed put. I don't feel like running no more."
Had to... fight the pain... the fatigue... and do it...
One step... step by... step...
Reach for the object... Grab it...
Hold onto it... as he got into a kneeling position...
Take one quick look... at the markings...
The soldier who had... used this... had drawn some interesting words, in both... English and some kind of alien script...
This end towards the poor sucker... May the Nameless One take pity on you...
60mm M-308 LAW...
"Hey, monkey-boy!" Cielana heard a familiar voice say from behind the monkey. The monkey sighed and turned around.
"What now you little..." the monkey's voice trailed off.
She looked past the monkey. It was the dragon, kneeling in the rubble, and he seemed to be hurt very bad. Some kind of mist was wisping out of the cuts and scrapes on the blue skin. Was that how the dragon bled?
"Kids, get down!" she heard the dragon roar.
Huh? Get down? Why should they—oh.
The dragon was holding one of the soldier's weapons to his shoulder.
She quickly pulled Kiwi behind a slab of duracrete and squeezed her eyes shut.
After a thought, she covered her ears, too.
Fla'drek was damned tired, but he had just enough energy to keep the "M-308 LAW" aligned on the cyborg's chest.
"Surprise," he rasped, and squeezed the firing stud.
Fla'drek has apparently set a new record for the shortest engagement range with an anti-armor weapon. At a bare 12.34 meters, the DSFSLRP spear had just 2.3 meters more to shed its plastic sabot before the steel-wrapped, tungsten rod slams into the MetalEtemon.
The results are spectacular. The long-rod penetrator literally shatters the enemy Digimon in half, everything from the upper thighs to the lower chest fragmented into rapidly dissolving metal chunks.
The upper half of the sundered Digimon thuds into the ground, twitches twice, and then dissolves.
It did not even have time to make a scream.
Pain. I feel my Number Twelve infinite repeater go offline, as well as my rear primary turret. While I have reduced the enemy Digimon to a bare three thousand, I have taken heavy damage. Endurachrome plate integrity is reduced to 63.67 percent, and another of my tracks, Unit One, has been knocked out, further limiting my mobility.
I keep my drive trains at full power, and most attacks actually miss, despite my immense bulk. My own drives make their own causalities as I mulch slow Digimon into dissolving paste.
The barrel of my primary forward Hellbore is nearly white-hot, and I must reduce firing for a minute or so as liquid nitrogen is pumped into veins in the barrel to cool it down. My secondary Hellbores, however, are firing at full rate, slamming white-hot plasma into the enemy. My mortars are firing at variable trajectories, either flat or high, and my missiles arc into the sky before they slam back to earth, gouging out enemies with every impact.
Another infinite repeater goes offline, Number Three.
Despite the risks, I resume full firing rate with my primary 200cm Hellbore.
Starfire incinerates more and more of the Digimon with each hellish touch. The resumption of main battery fire tears out massive chunks of the enemy army. I swivel about and accelerate, running down a pack of SkullGreymon that were attempting to enter firing positions. I swing my infinite repeaters skywards and pluck a dozen TyrantKabuterimon and GranKuwagamon with a swift, accurate volley. My gauss guns and laser clusters make mincemeat of any Digimon lucky enough to avoid my Hellbores.
I take more damage. The breach on my forward section has taken more enemy fire, and the flintsteel hull is dangerously close to melting through. Molten endurachrome weeps like tears down my hull, and I feel yet another secondary turret go offline.
However, I detect that the number of enemy Digimon has dropped below one thousand.
Nine hundred. Two of my overheated mortars jam. I redirect ammunition to working tubes.
Seven hundred. I have run out of missiles.
Five hundred. I initiate shutdown on my surviving primary Hellbore to prevent it from melting.
Three hundred. Mega-levels are all that remain. The seethe below my and dance above me, slamming attack after attack into my battered hull. Multiple armor breeches. I feel pain, yet it does nothing more than motivate me.
Two hundred. Three more infinite repeaters go offline. I have a mere four more. One of my missile magazines explodes, causing damage before the explosion can be redirected through blast-venting portals.
One hundred. I slam volley after Hellbore volley into the gibbering mass. They return in kind, and I burn.
I have completely destroyed the swarm of Digimon that had once numbered fifteen hundred strong.
Ooh, his head...
Fla'drek opened his eyes. White lights.
He shook his head and blinked. His vision cleared and he saw... uh...
A hospital room? This might be some kind of alternate dimension, but it looked like all hospitals were sterile white, no matter what dimension they came from.
He shifted his head. His armor was on a table next to a wall, and it looked... polished? Nice surprise. And where those... medals? Oh, goodness.
He shifted again. Ah, this was a very comfortable pillow. And the bedsheets were actually quite warm and...
"Kiwi! Fla'drek's awake!" he heard a voice squeak from beside him. Huh? What was "Kiwi"?
Oh, yeah, one of the kids he'd saved. After blowing the MetalEtemon to bits, he'd lost consciousness.
He looked to where the voice had spoken. It was a little human girl, plus a Melconian pup. They were both leaning on the bed and smiling at him. He heard shuffling coming from behind the doorway where the children had been sitting. Some kind of doctor entered.
"Hey," he said. Ugh, his voice sounded raspy. And it felt worse. "How long have I been..."
"About thirty-six hours, Mr. Fla'drek," said the doctor. "It was a bit touch-and-go to get you out of crisis, but apparently your biology is similar enough that we could keep you stable.
"And, by the way, thank you for saving my niece."
Niece? Was...? Hmm, now that he looked for it, yes, the doctor had a resemblance to Cee.
"My job," he coughed. Wait, hold a moment... "How do you know my name?"
"Jarrod told us."
Jarrod... oh! "What happened to him. Did he...?"
"I'm no Bolo technician, but I understand Jarrod took heavy damage, but he survived. The other Digimon—"
"The other Digimon got blown to smithereens!" he heard Cee pipe up. "You and Jarrod and Karen really beat 'em up good."
He saw the doctor beam at the little girl. "In a nutshell, yes, you 'beat 'em up good.'"
He nodded tiredly.
"Mr. Fla'drek?" he heard a halting voice say. It was the pup. "I am sorry, my Terran good is not. But I to thank you would like for from the Digimon saving us."
"My job, sweetie," he said, grinning weakly.
"Still, thank you, Mr. Fla'drek!" he heard Cee say. "Oh, I almost forgot. I think Jarrod wants to talk to you."
The Bolo? How could it talk to him? It was probably bigger than this hospital!
"Here you go!" Cee chimed, and handed him a small device. "Talk into it."
Er, okay... "Hello?"
I am delighted to hear the voice of Fla'drek again. For the last 2879.23 minutes, I have hoped to speak with the Flamedramon again. He is no Bolo, but his warrior spirit is similar to my own and to that of my human and Melconian friends. I respect that.
"Greetings, Fla'drek. I am glad that you survived."
"Uh, yeah. I'm glad that you pulled through, too. Er, where are you?"
"I am in a Bolo maintenance bay, where technicians and Karen's drones are repairing me."
There is a prolonged moment of silence. It appears that Fla'drek is at a loss for words.
I ask myself how one could react in this situation.
"Fla'drek, thank you for your help. You were right, many people would have died if it were not for you."
"I do what I can," the Digimon says, and laughs. "But when you think about it, you were the one—"
I detect an anomaly, identical to the one that brought Fla'drek to this world. And, though the range is extreme, my sensors tell me the gate is centered on... Fla'drek.
"Oh, this is unexpected," Fla'drek said in surprise. His body was suddenly... glowing.
"I have detected a quantum anomaly within your immediate vicinity, Fla'drek. What is happening?"
To be honest, he didn't have a clue. "I'm glowing all of a sudden."
"The signature is identical to the one that brought you to this world. I cannot find a source for the anomaly."
Oh great, with his luck another Vilemon would... Hold on, identical? "Wait, do you mean...?"
"Perhaps this is a way of transporting you to your own world. I do not know, I can only hypothesize."
"Hypothesis" or not, it made a certain amount of sense. Of course, he could just be agreeing because the room seemed to be glowing very white and—
There is an energetic burst of quantum particles from Fla'drek, and then nothing.
I hastily take control of some monitoring cameras in Fla'drek's room. I pan across the span of the room, and I find nothing except for the two children and the doctor.
Fla'drek is gone. To where, I can only guess.
"Where did he go, Jarrod?" I hear the Melconian pup, Kiweedhar, ask.
"I do not know."
"Is he all right?" This from the human girl, Cielana.
I ponder that question. I know not where Fla'drek has been whisked off to. I know not what dangers he will face, what battles he will fight, what endeavors he will undertake. I know not whom he will meet, who he will save, who he will fight.
But, deep down in what a human would call his "heart", I know Fla'drek will perform whatever duty he has with honor and bravery that is befitting of the most honored Bolo unit.
"Yes," I reply "yes, I think he is."
Had it been just a dream?
Fla'drek rubbed his head and got up from his bed. He looked himself over. No armor.
Oh, that was right, he'd been cleaning it. Maybe he'd fallen asleep?
He reached over and lifted up his cuirass. Better get polishing ag—
Under it were several small, shiny medals.
No, it had been a dream, right? There was an explanation to this, right? Maybe Lord Magnamon had given him this for something sometime again.
But that didn't seem right.
He gingerly picked one up and looked it over.
He felt... stunned. It was a symbol of a hammer striking an anvil made of lightning bolts. And it read...
The Cross of Terra is awarded to Fla'drek, for astounding bravery and selflessness that saved many civilian lives during the Battle of Los Santos.
New Dinochrome Brigrade, 131st Bolo Division, Esperanza Defense Command.