Disclaimer goes here.
"Coolant pressure low, redirect from lines eight and sixteen to five, seven, and nine. Purge condenser units ten and seventeen and turn over control to launch" atinny voice said to me over the radio unit.
"Roger tech lead" I replied, "Launch control, you've got the ball, orders?"
"Open the deuterium inlets and prepare to take on fuel, final launch preparations will commence after fueling and armament, when the pilot gets there. Your work is done for now Yuki." was the reply over the same radio, though in a different voice.
I shrugged, "If it's all the same, I'd like to sit here during the armament process. I don't like the readings the fire control system has been giving me."
"That's your call, just be ready to receive the pilot when he arrives, shouldn't be too long. We're going to go ahead and move you to the catapult, should save some time later."
"Sounds like a plan control, and on that note, there's a secondary power circuit here that's not on the manuals, 'SPIREACT-A' is there anything to check on that?" I asked, having noticed the control panel under the main instrument cluster, I figured I'd better ask about something I'd never seen in this model before.
"It's not important, that's the prototype model, that power source never panned out so it was replaced with the standard fusion reactor, just ignore it." The voice of 'tech lead' came through over the command channel.
Why bother even having separate lines, the place was so rushed together they were all in the same room anyway. I pulled my right arm backwards in the control harness and was rewarded with the unit's right arm reaching up and grabbing the GATES-35-KXT Railgun mounted in its storage position on the unit's back. Weapon telemetry came up on the HUD as the systems linked between the two.
"Tech lead, fire control is all messed up again, reading lower than normal weight readings, and the projected targeting paths are too generous, can we patch up the system before sending this one out?" I asked.
"Uh, that's a negative Yuki, those readings are normal for this equipment, R&D went all-out on this last unit, top of the line, or at least the best we could come up with, the fate of our entire race rests on that thing, so they pulled out all the stops."
At hearing that, I was filled with a whole new appreciation for what I was entrusted with preparing, this unit, JAK-X92-00. Sure it was the prototype, but with the war going on we had to field everything, and this unit was a shining example of what we could accomplish, especially with most of the major production facilities already destroyed.
Well, this mission was supposed to save the human race, or at least that's the propaganda from command. To be honest I didn't really believe it, but that didn't stop me from giving it my all, fighting is better than just lying down and dying.
Heck, I'd have been a combat pilot myself, but a few factors prohibited that particular notion, the first and foremost which is my less than perfect eyesight. Glasses bring me up to 20/20, but perfect un-augmented vision is required to be a combat pilot.
I suppose the second thing is also worth mentioning, as it also bears some importance on why I was rejected, I fell a bit short of the age cutoff of seventeen, which is the youngest they will take combat personnel for training.
And so, I joined the engineering division, and after testing high enough I was allowed to train in the maintenance and repair of the JAK-X9x line of Armor Slave units. Which is what got me into the cockpit of the X92 prototype unit, first of the line, and from what I'd just learned; the best they'd ever created. The rule of thumb is that prototype and test type units are the best in terms of raw performance, things that end up being cut back on to reduce the manufacturing cost of the production models, the tradeoff is the inherent unreliability of the un-tested technology.
Without any warning, the ground shook violently and I was thrown from the open chest armor of the JAK unit as it pitched forwards and found myself hanging from the safety cord connecting me to the unit, a mechanic's best friend in this case, as the twenty foot drop to the ground would probably end on a bad note.
With one hand I pushed my glasses back up from where they began to slip down my face, and with my other I grabbed onto the ladder rungs built into the leg of the machine and started to haul myself back up into the cockpit.
By the time I closed the JAK's entry hatch the radio was alive with confused chatter.
"What the hell is that! Command, requesting backup, requesting back-" and the line went down, only to be replaced by another frantic call for help.
Quickly bringing the Armor's main reactor online and booting up the interface OS in emergency mode, which would bypass all safety checks, the view from the forward display showed that the catapult was warming up and that 'my' JAK was still aligned on it.
My personal line crackled to life, "Yuki? You okay?"
I punched the button to transfer the call to the JAK and was rewarded with a video line, "I'm fine, I ran the emergency startup procedure, what's going on?"
The old man on the other end of the link frowned, "We're under attack, it looks like this is it for us, and unfortunately the pilot of that machine isn't going to make it. There isn't enough time to tell you everything, so I'll spare you the details. I'm authorizing a launch, the X92-00 is yours now, do with it what you want; there's a data file on the main computer you should read first though. Stay alive, Yuki."
Weather he intended it or not, when he turned away from me he didn't kill the transmission, yet he didn't seem to hear me when I tried to talk to him, and in the end what I heard was far more important than what I could have said.
"Activate the dimensional breacher and fire the catapult!"
My eyes shot wide, the 'dimensional breacher' was theoretical; a last ditch effort… unless this is what they'd been planning all along. "Hey wait, grandfather!" I screamed into the link, but it was too late.
In an instant, the man, my grandfather turned back to me in surprise. The catapult fired. I left my world behind in a wake of highly charged magnetic particles, a side effect of friction on the mag-rails of the catapult.
And so, I burst forth from the end of the launch tunnel, trailing bits of scaffolding that there hadn't been time to remove, and that's when I saw it. I don't even know how to describe it fully, as words cannot do it justice, a collection of geometric prisms, connected, floating above the compound, and reducing it to glass with bursts of laser fire.
Our enemy had found our home and was destroying it, and there wasn't a thing I could do. I'd never felt so helpless in my entire life.
In a moment my sensors came alive as an object approached me from behind at high speed and then passed me, the computer seemed to have been programmed for this, as the armor shifted into flight configuration and flew into the rift that appeared before me, created by whatever object had been fired past me.
At some point I blacked out, but before that I got to 'enjoy' the stomach wrenching acid trip of color that was the end result of trying to see the space between universes using the human eye as your guide, that is to say it is quite unpleasant for trying to keep food down.
The real adventure began when I woke up; the JAK was flying low over a desolate desert landscape, a far cry from the heavily forested area I'd been in only moments before, from my perspective that is.
"The X92-00 is yours now" he'd said to me before he sent me off. Terribly expensive toy to be giving me, I thought. Especially considering that I am a mechanic and not a combat pilot. I could operate the thing well enough, something a mechanic needs to do to do her job, but that doesn't make me a combat expert, not somebody to be giving this responsibility to. On the other hand, at least I'd be able to fix it if it broke… or if I broke it.
The other part of what he said, the computer file, I remembered it and, confident that the autopilot would keep my JAK in the air, I pulled down the computer terminal rack from the top of the cockpit and opened up the file browser, there was one active file. I opened it.
Or, I'd at least planned on opening it right up until I felt the sharp jolt of a weapon impact against the unit's armor, probably high caliber auto-cannon fire. Reacting quickly, I disabled the autopilot and pushed the control terminal back up into its mounting bracket, and then pushed the throttles up against the locks; the g-force applied to my body from the rapid application of full wet thrust on the pair of overpowered flight engines pressed me back into the rather comfortable control seat.
I looked at my radar screen and it showed that I was pulling away from the two… no three… make that six contacts, the angry red dots representing those contacts let me know my targeting computer had designated them as threats, which I could have figured out on my own given the fact that I'd been shot at already.
My reprieve was unfortunately short lived, however, as the red dots started to close on me again, apparently whatever was propelling them could make them move a great deal faster.
Before I had a chance to do anything significant, my cockpit screamed in alarm, a missile was locked onto me and closing fast. Reacting as fast as I could, I deployed flares to try to throw off it's targeting, which was all I could do; at the speeds the JAK was traveling my maneuvering options were limited, stress and hull heating were already high, and the g-forces would turn me into thin watery paste if I tried anything too fancy.
So, it wasn't a huge surprise to me when the missile slammed into my port engine and promptly forced it into an emergency shut down. Jerking hard on a lever beside my seat I started the reconfiguration procedure to return the unit to its combat configuration.
"Warning, flight path is destabilized, deploying airbrakes." I heard the unit's computerized voice announce before a sharp jolt signaled the end result of what was taking place, that being the air brakes opened up and slowed the unit with such force as it was as if the hand of god himself came down and grabbed me.
Gritting my teeth against the stresses of the rapid deceleration I looked over the control cluster. 'Voice interface unit is somewhere around here… there!' finding the button I was looking for I stabbed it down and activated the system.
"Activate sea-whiz and the GATES-35!" I screamed as I reached for the rifle on the unit's back, the hostile craft in front of me moving ever closer to my viewscreen. The shape was familiar but… not at the same time. The shape reminded me of the JAK: there was a face built into the torso of the unit, and it lacked a head entirely. There was no consistency between the units either, other than the face in the middle of the torso.
As the range dropped to two hundred yards the twin CIWS guns mounted on the shoulders of the JAK unit lit up and sprayed a rain of hellfire down on the second barrage of missiles being sent my direction. A series of explosions followed promptly, and the two missiles that survived impacted hard on the torso and shoulder armor of my unit, shorting out a few systems and generally making my day a little worse.
"Dimensional breacher activated"
Okay, I take that back, it made my day a lot worse. Realizing this was going to end badly, I searched for the payload jettison handle. I was pretty familiar with the design of this craft, even being the prototype the basic layout was going to be universal, and in this case the breacher system should have its own discharge handle near the payload discharge handle.
Finding the appropriate lever, I yanked and felt the unit shift as the breacher fell away, only to be jarred violently a moment later when it actived and dragged me along for the ride, apparently the thing was still too close when it went off.
Within seconds I felt my insides twist as the space around me warped and curved or at least it felt like that. Word to the wise, inter-dimensional travel is uncomfortable to say the least and should be avoided if at all possible.
A few seconds after the initial gut wrenching stomach churning color swirl of the inter-dimensional medium, I again saw the real world. It was in the form of a red mecha wearing huge pointed sunglasses, it, like the others before, had a face on it's chest, and was of a design not completely dissimilar to the JAK unit I myself was piloting.
An in-depth observation would have to wait, because it was at that moment that I slammed into the mecha, taking it with me off the deck of the ship it had been standing upon at a rather appreciable rate of speed.
The impact made me slam against the restraints holding me into my seat, but on the plus side after crashing from the deck of whatever ship-like craft it had been standing on, I found myself again on good old terra firma.
With a grunt of effort I pushed myself off of the red mecha I'd fallen upon, my JAK protesting as the damaged joints and servos strained. As I moved back to my feet the screens showing the outside world polarized automatically as a bright flash went off on the deck of the… ship-with-legs? that I'd bounced off of.
I took a look around me and was stunned, all around me all different configurations of mecha were engaged in combat, I'd crashed into the middle of a warzone, which by this point didn't shock me nearly as much as it probably should have.
"I totally needed this…" I said to nobody in particular as I checked my weapon, explosions going off around me and the general sense that the world was coming apart filling the unoccupied parts of my mind.
A quick check over my railgun indicated rather finally that the targeting assists wouldn't be functioning any time soon, being as that the interface to the JAK's onboard computers was completely slagged. The gun itself probably would work though; the firing mechanisms seemed to be okay, but with the optics fried I'd have to use the ironsights.
The next part was perhaps the most fun: as I was deciding what exactly it was I was going to do, somebody else decided for me. My board lit up light Christmas, I was being targeted by what seemed like everybody and their best friend.
The contact at twelve o'clock, standing upon the deck of that massive walking ship, was my first target. I lifted the heavy rifle and lined up my shot, I squeezed the trigger and fired off a sixty millimeter tungsten penetrator at the mecha standing up on the deck… right as it let fly with a wicked looking spear.
The spear and my own shot collided and the spear overtook like it was nothing, deflected only marginally by my shot, it struck my armor and skittered along the edge of my unit before moving past and burying itself in the cliff face.
My console lit up with the flickering red lights that told me my already abused mecha had taken more damage. I flicked my railgun over to full auto and lined up a second shot, leading my target as it rushed on my position.
I squeezed the trigger and watched in escalating panic as my shots failed to do any significant damage to the unit rushing me. 'There's not enough power behind the shots, but there's nowhere else to get…wait…' remembering the secondary power system that I'd found…was it hours ago? I reached under the console and yanked the primer handle for the secondary reactor.
The world turned green.
Alright, trying something a little different here, i've been sitting on this file for almost a year, not sure if i wanted to publish or not, let me know what you think.