Chapter 1: The Attack on Iota II
It is the year 2164. Mankind has extended it's reach into the ocean of outer space with the development of trans-photonic engines and improved shipbuilding capabilities. The Terran Federation, an alliance of human colonies, spans several planet systems. Greed for monetary wealth is no longer a plague of human nature as humans now better themselves as a whole by motivation of expansion, knowledge and family legacies.
However, in humanity's quick expansion into space, they have also found the answer to the undying question: "Are we alone in the universe?" In 2160, a resource-consuming and technologically diverse entity invades and destroys a colony in the Tau system. When the Terran military had arrived, nothing remained of "New Panama" but charred building remains and heavy traces of photonic energy. Today, this entity has been designated as "The Acadians." From then on, they have waged war against the Terran Federation to invade it's planets and consume its resources. While the Terrans are more strategically and tactically savvy, their lack of intelligence on the Acadians has put them on the defensive front. The Acadians slowly, but most certainly gain ground against the Terrans. Since their discovery of the Helios system, and the humans' home planet, Earth, the Acadians have forced the Terran Federation into an all-out war for survival.
April 20th, 2164
Iota II, Iota system
"New Ireland" Continent
The Stallion Armored Combat Jeep swerved off of the gravel and into the empty parking lot of the New Ireland Defense Platform's planet-side reactor. Major Christopher Scott of the 33rd Special Infantry Squad, otherwise known as the "Trojans," wrestled with the steering wheel to maneuver the Stallion to avoid mortar rounds from Acadian Widower tank fire. As he led the Stallion off of the road, one such shell detonated just 10 meters from his position. The gunner and the two passengers, all in the rear of the Stallion, shielded themselves and grunted in pain. The heat from the blast was more of a concern for them than shrapnel or debris. This was because the Acadians' photonic energy-based weapons normally vaporized most of whatever would become debris.
"Private Martinez! Get your hands back on that gun and keep firing! More of their Asp fighters are closing in on us! I'll worry about those Widower shells!" Scott was much more confident in his driving skills than the Private's marksman skills. Private Martinez had reported in to Major Scott only hours before he had been deployed to Iota II to defend it's orbital defense reactors. The Acadians were trying to disable the platforms by simply cutting their power. Smart, but simple enough that the imitative Acadians could devise it for themselves. And now, here they were, working with the local militia, holding the perimeter around the reactor station.
The Major looked to his right at the Lieutenant sitting next to him. Lt. Weathers was also firing a rifle out of the passenger side at the Acadian infantry. Hordes of Acadians were attempting to enter the reactor station on foot en masse. It was typical of them to use sheer numbers to win fights. However, Maj. Scott had studied and understood their tactics and knew how to hold them off. Lt. Weathers turned her head towards Scott while she reloaded her weapon. "Air support is incoming, sir. It's the 'Myrmidons' from our carrier. They're getting a bit of resistance, but nothing serious. Their flight lead, Major Williams reports an ETA of 10 minutes." Her voice was very feminine, but strong, and confident.
He acknowledged her and returned to the road. "Heads up, soldiers. We've got a few of their Puma hover-platforms moving in on us. I want Stallions 2 and 3 on me. The rest of you, hold the perimeter! Martinez, you concentrate on those Asps. Stallions 2 and 3, you will combine fire on those Pumas." The drivers of each Stallion assigned to his command acknowledged and carried out the orders. Two identical Stallions fell into formation on Stallion 1's (Maj. Scott's Stallion) 5 and 7 o' clock. The combined fire of both Stallion gunners and several passengers washed over a quintet of Puma attack craft. However, their armor was stronger than it looked. Only the two Magnetically Propelled Round Cannons, or MPR cannons that the gunners manned damaged the Pumas. The rest of the fire was meant for their drivers and other passengers. Two lucky soldiers hit the pilots of two Pumas and immediately disabled them. Unfortunately, their gunners were still alive, so the shower of photonic fire from the Pumas did not diminish. Stallion 2's gunner took this opportunity to fire directly at the vulnerable, stationary gunners to assist his comrades.
Private Martinez on Stallion 1 fired relentlessly at the Asps that carved the sky. A flight of four of them circled around the three Stallions, pestering them with fire. Martinez needed to shoot them down before their energy bombs were fully charged. He successfully nailed one Asp dead center of the fuselage. The sloppy formation that the Asps were in caused the debris of the Asp to pepper a second aircraft. Although it wasn't destroyed, it certainly caused numerous fires on the hull, essentially disabling the aircraft. It sputtered away as the two remaining wingmen sought to avenge their comrades. Martinez saw a bright yellow glow begin to emanate from one of the enemy craft's prow, and immediately knew what was coming. "Incoming energy bomb, Major!" The young soldier quickly made a final attempt to destroy the aircraft before the bomb was fired, but to no avail. Scott saw the ball of light head directly towards the rear of his Stallion. The poor marksmanship of the pilot was in his favor, but only to a certain degree. The bomb missed, but hit the ground 3 meters away. The blast pushed the Stallion forward, flipping it end over end. Major Scott and Lt. Weathers were safely strapped in and did not fall from the vehicle, but Martinez and the other passengers flew out of the vehicle, landing on the pavement. Luckily, the Stallion stopped flipping and landed right side up. Scott quickly gathered his senses and looked to the rear of his vehicle. The rear was intact, but the fender was on fire and the rear tires were melted. That wasn't his concern.
"Find them, Lieutenant!" He had a very serious and grave tone. Weathers did not need to know who "them" was; she knew exactly what he was talking about. She found one of the passengers from the rear lying in the dirt on the side of the road face down. Unfortunately, his burned body lay smoking and motionless. She checked her helmet's display and queued the bio signs up. The roster for Stallion 1 had one flat-lining soldier: Sgt. Hughes. She recognized the body, and grimaced in pain for her comrade. No sooner than her realization did the Stallion jerk into motion. Apparently Scott had found Martinez and the other passenger. Just as apparent was the fact that the flat tires seemed to be of no consequence to his determination. "Stallions 2 and 3 cover me! I am moving in on two wounded soldiers!" Two acknowledgements followed immediately, Scott and Weathers did not wait – they were already out of the Stallion running to the two soldiers' aid. Martinez was badly wounded. The armor on his arms was scorched. Parts of it had fallen and bared burned flesh. He was grunting in pain, but not screaming, like a fresh Private would normally do. Scott was impressed, but at the same time, he knew that even the hardest soldiers would need immediate medical attention or their bodies would beat their composure and they would die of shock. Weathers checked the pulse of the other soldier. She didn't recognize him, but her helmet displayed: SSgt Ramon Pleakley. He was alive, but out cold. "Martinez! Can you hear me, son?" The marine nodded, "Yes, sir. I'm sorry I missed, Major!" Scott dismissed the young Private's attempt at redemption, "We can't get 'em all, Private. Not to worry. We're getting you out of here!"
Martinez interrupted Scott's call for Medivac, "Sir! Eyes up!" All three soldiers looked up at the sky to see a flight of six Terran Raven fighter jets. A brief buzz of static preceded an incoming transmission, "This is the 44th Air Combat group, the Myrmidons. Awaiting instructions from Major Chris Scott." Scott's face lit up as the situation looked a whole lot better with those six pilots up there. "This is Major Scott! Requesting CAS (Close-Air Support) near the Orbital Defense Reactor. I am transmitting my coordinates. We have wounded and incoming Acadian vehicles. Keep an eye out for two bogies in the air as well!" The flight lead, Major "Achilles" Williams spoke, "Roger that, Major. Myrmidons are incoming on your coordinates. Don't worry, Major. Nothing's going to touch you now that we're here!" The excitement and anticipation leaked into his voice in that last comment, but it reassured Scott that his soldiers' lives were in good hands. "Major Scott to all Stallions! Assist the Myrmidons by keeping the skies clear! But don't lose focus on the perimeter. That is the priority!"
The six Raven fighters broke formation and attacked at will. Two of them swooped down on the approaching Acadian vehicles and fired a pair of missiles. The two missiles stuck their targets and sent a bone-jarring thud through the ground. The blast wiped out an entire formation of enemy vehicles. "Our tail is clear! Lieutenant, you carry that soldier into the passenger seat of the Stallion." Weathers was more than willing to relinquish her seat of safety for the wounded Staff Sergeant. "Can you walk, son?" Scott addressed Private Martinez. "Yes, sir!" The Private stood up, cradling his wounded arms. Apparently his arms took most of the damage, as he was walking with no obvious hindrance. The soldiers ran to their Stallion. The fire on the fender had died out, but the black tar mixed with gravel that had once been their tires had now cooled and stuck to the pavement. Just as Scott had jumped back into the driver's seat and started the Stallion's powerful engine, he heard another thud. However, this one was much duller than the last, and when he looked around to spot a column of dust and smoke that marked a missile detonation, he found none.
Weathers, manning the MPR Cannon, yelled, "Major! Incoming Acadian mechs!" Scott's heart sank as he looked in the direction that she pointed. On the other side of a distant, red sand dune was a formation of five Acadian robotic war machines called mechs. Each one was a Minotaur-class mech. These 90-meter-tall walking monsters were the titans of warfare in the 22nd century, and Major Scott and his Stallions would have no prayer of a chance against them. Even a thousand soldiers with Private Martinez's determination would be no hindrance to these new Minotaurs.
Achilles in Myrmidon 1 spotted the five Minotaurs from a distance. These beasts could easily shoot him and his squadron down with a few lucky energy pulse shots. "This is Myrmidon 1 to Terran Carrier, The Emancipation. Come in, Emancipation!" His carrier in space had deployed most of the Terran forces here on the surface. "This is the Emancipation, go ahead Myrmidon leader." He sent a non-verbal command to his squad to finish off their last bogies and regroup. He didn't want anyone getting shot down today. "Requesting reinforcements on the surface! We have mechs down here and are seriously outgunned! Nothing we have on the surface is equipped to for mech combat." The Carrier's comm. officer, quickly realizing the gravity of the situation told Achilles to stand by as she relayed the distress call.
The five Minotaurs trudged past the thinning blanket of Acadian armored infantry and quickly approached the reactor station. Achilles could see a collection of Stallions fire MPR shots at the enemy mechs, but they caused little damage. The lead Minotaur turned its bulky torso to face the Stallions and unleashed a hellish red beam of photonic energy on them. The entire cluster of five Stallions burst into flames. Whatever was not vaporized flew into the air as black, charred pieces of titanium with tails of smoke and flame. Luckily for the Trojans, Stallion 1 and their leader, Major Scott, were not among them. Unfortunately for Scott, those Stallions were part of his squad. Achilles could only imagine the pain the Major endured right now.
"Achilles, this is the Emancipation. Reinforcements are on their way, sir. ETA: 2 minutes. Hang tight, Myrmidon 1." Achilles acknowledged and regrouped with his squadron. "Myrmidon 1 to wing, fall into delta formation and climb to an altitude of 9 km. We are going to perform a high-altitude bombing run on the Minotaurs." All of the fighter pilots acknowledged and followed him up. He knew this was a risky attempt at slowing the mechs down. High-altitude bombing runs were typically for stationary targets such as buildings or weapon emplacements. However, the Minotaurs were large enough that it wouldn't be impossible. However, he needed the mechs to be much slower than their current charging pace.
Scott acknowledged Myrmidon 1's request and immediately relayed a new command to his remaining Trojans. He checked his helmet's Heads-Up Display (HUD) and pulled up the remaining Stallion roster. He still grimaced at the crimson red lights that represented the five Stallions that the Minotaurs had obliterated. "Stallions 7 and 10, this is Major Scott. I need you on my six, and I mean now!" Two acknowledgement lights blipped, and Scott launched from pace into the sandy battlefield. Almost immediately, a pair of Pumas engaged Scott's Stallion from his 3 o' clock. However, one suddenly burst into flames as a trio of MPR shots nailed it. Stallion 10 claimed the kill by drifting near the Puma and bumping it with its rear before joining Stallion 1. Stallion 7 was close behind. Together, the Stallion trio approached one of the 90-meter tall Minotaurs unscathed by infantry resistance. Stallions 7 and 10 broke off as Scott neared the Minotaur. They would create a small perimeter around them. Weathers began to fire at the titanic mech with her MPR cannon in the rear of the Stallion. The mech's hide was barely scarred by the shots. While the momentum of the shells was enormous, the mech's hide simply repelled them like air soft pellets on a car. However, the rounds did catch the Minotaur's attention. It stopped its charge on the reactor station and began to pursue the pesky Stallion that futilely attacked it. Scott had to be on the very top of his game to avoid getting vaporized with two melted tires by outmaneuvering this mech pilot's reflexes. Scott felt like he was trying to nail jelly to the wall with the steering wheel. He wrestled with it for his and his comrades' lives. Photonic lasers stabbed the ground all around him as two more Minotaurs joined and fired relentlessly on Scott's Stallion! Debris flew everywhere as he circled the Minotaur again to give Weathers another shot. This time, she successfully penetrated one of the Minotaur's legs. It began to leak hydraulic fluid as the Minotaur "kneeled" in "pain." It was immobilized. Weathers whooped in ecstasy before another photon laser exploded just meters from her. "Stallion 1 to Myrmidons, now would be a beautiful time for you guys to hurry up!" He had had just about enough of the beast's belly, and wanted out. He had pissed these things off enough. "Roger that, Stallion 1. Bombs away. We advise you get the hell out of there now, sir!" He happily obliged and evacuated the area. However, the Minotaurs were having too much fun to simply let him go. He had now become a titan's plaything. He had to get rid of the Stallion to get away from them. "Lieutenant, prepare to ditch!" Scott had to wait for the opportune moment. He let off the accelerator slightly to attract the Minotaurs' fire. Exactly when he heard the scream of the photonic lasers he yanked the wheel to one side while flooring the acceleration. The laser missed be a mere 2 meters, but the blast, combined with Scott's abrupt handling, threw the Stallion onto it's side, throwing the passengers out. Only Scott and Weathers occupied the Stallion before this maneuver, since Scott ordered the two wounded soldiers to stay near the reactor. The two officers escaped the Stallion and it's pursuers. The Minotaurs forgot about the fleeing occupants and simply obliterated the vehicle.
Suddenly a swarm of Terran unguided bombs rained all around the trio of Minotaurs through the clouds and smoke in the sky. Huge flames engulfed one of them, shredding it's super-thick armor plating like it was tissue paper. These bombs, which were designed to damage Acadian space vessels, made short work of the lead Minotaur. The two others survived the attack, but were severely damaged. Their armor was blackened and scorched, and their bird-like, reverse-joint legs limped away from the blast zone. Scott and Weathers celebrated as the Ravens dropped from the clouds and revealed themselves. Scott could not believe what he had just done! Stallion 7 stopped in front of them, and the driver offered them a ride. "Going somewhere, sir?" said the driver jokingly. The two officers, slightly injured from being thrown out of a tumbling Stallion, jumped in and headed back to the reactor station.
Private Martinez, along with a squad dedicated to holding the entrance to the reactor station, fired their assault rifles frantically at a pair of hulking Acadian footmen. These Acadians were humanoid, but stood 2 meters tall and had armor just as hard as that found on their infantry vehicles. They reminded Martinez of enormous, monstrous demons from hell – on steroids.
The combined fire of the four soldiers brought the Acadians down, but Martinez quickly realized he had left the frying pan only to enter the fire. The two remaining undamaged Minotaurs charged the station. One of the mechs stomped on all Terran forces in it's path, including Stallions, infantrymen, and any other vehicles. It stopped just in front of the station and used one of it's club-like arms to bash a hole through the building. It then proceeded to tear the hole down with its feet so that the Acadian footmen could flood in with ease. Martinez and the other soldiers took cover to shield themselves from the falling debris.
As soon as the hole had cleared, the enemy's footmen began to enter the station. "Martinez to Major Scott! We have a breach sir! The Minotaurs have reached the station and have allowed Acadian footmen to enter the station. We are following them in, sir!" Scott acknowledged. He was still en route back to the station from his stunt with the Myrmidons. Terran soldiers pursued the Acadians into the station, but Martinez saw the Minotaur look down to him and charge it's photonic lasers. Just before he began to run for his life, he saw the Minotaur get distracted and looked back up to the sky. Less than a second later, a large gunmetal-gray blur pounced onto the Minotaur. As the dust settled, an enormous humanoid mech stood over it's prey with an energy blade embedded securely into the Minotaur's cockpit! It was a Terran mech! Suddenly a local channel opened, revealing Martinez's savior. "This is Major Jason Tyler, and we are the Knights of the Round Table. All infantry pursue the Acadian infiltrators. We will handle the Minotaurs." The voice was so strong and authoritative; Martinez could feel the pilot's confidence just by listening to him! Martinez followed the order and headed inside.
Major Tyler and his mech, the Hylian Mk. III, stood up and released his dying prey. The smoking carcass of a mech was twitching and sparks fizzed from damaged joints from the massive tackle Tyler had just dished out. The Hylian stood up and scanned the battlefield, seeing the impending Acadian forces converging on the generator station like it was a giant dinner bell. Behind the Hylian, two more massive Terran mechs came to the ground, boosters roaring to keep the multi-ton machines from crushing the ground below.
These three mechs were the only members of the Knights of the Round Table, but they were a highly specialized squad with new experimental prototype mechs. These mechs were different in that they utilized experimental energy shield technology, never before seen on any Terran or Acadian vehicle. The shielding was especially efficient against the Acadian photon-based weapons because they could actually be calibrated to absorb the photonic energy and use it to power it's systems - to a certain degree. And even after the shielding failed, these mechs were much more humanoid and were extremely agile. They could move and maneuver just as well as an actual human would, even with their new titanium alloy plating.
Behind the Hylian was the Enforcer. This massive beast of a mech was the heavily armed prototype. While it's speed and agility was relatively less than the other two, the pair of dual chain guns it wielded, along with the combinations of missile launchers attached to various parts of it's body, definitely made up for this sluggishness. On the other extreme, the speed demon-like Ares mech was the most agile and maneuverable of the three. This engineering miracle was armed with dual energy-blades, a pair of rifles, and a large rack of missiles on it's back. This was a huge payload for such a fast mech.
Together the three mechs entered the battlefield, decimating the remains of the Acadian armored infantry. The Hylian led the trio out to the main field base for the Acadian military here on "New Ireland" to cut off all command of the forces on the ground. The Acadians were poorly prepared for Terran mech resistance, much less mechs of this degree of ability. This became very apparent, as the only resistance that the Acadians gave to the Knights was a handful of weapon emplacements, all quickly destroyed by the Enforcer, and several Widower tanks that fired very avoidable mortars at the trio of mechs. The Hylian destroyed the key buildings while it's companions fought off the "sea of vicious Acadian forces."
Soon, the only remaining Acadians left on the surface were retreating in troopships. Major Tyler opened a channel to all forces on the surface and his carrier ship in orbit around Iota II. "This is the Major Tyler. The Acadian base on New Ireland has been destroyed and the remaining forces are retreating. We have victory!" The Emancipator's captain, also the fleet commander of the 24th battle group, personally replied, "Understood, Major. Spread the word to the boys that they can come on home, now." Tyler had only spoken to the Admiral in person a few times, but he could imagine the smile that was on his face right now.