My Litte Shazbot: Friendship is Going Fast
While waiting to drop to the surface to assist our troops, I was starting to feel anxious. Alright, more like my hooves were rattling holes in my boots. This was nothing like the combat simulations. There, the enemies didn't know a thing about what they were doing, and it was almost too easy to fill them with lead or land a disc on them, in the air or on the ground.
But this was different.
Looking out the window of the dropship, the ravaged surface could be seen far below. There was a blackened line in-between the areas of the planet that were resolutely controlled by friend and foe. The relatively lush continent still controlled by the Tribes of Man, and the blackened wasteland of fire and death that the Bioderms called home.
This was my first battle, as part of the first of the new wave of recruits.
The alarm sounded, warning everyone to put on their helmets; the airlock was opening in 30 seconds. Anyone who didn't would be sucked out and have my lungs ripped out due to explosive decompression before they could gasp for air.
I had already had my helmet on since the beginning, not wanting to be sucked out into the atmosphere without it. Our radio channels were not broadcasting into the atmosphere, so I could hear nothing as I watched the other ponies talk amongst themselves. This ship was full of mares, not a single stallion in sight.
The alarm for 10 seconds came on, and the last helmet was put onto the head of a pink pony who looked elated to be dropping into a decades-long war.
When the airlock opened, we were all swept out into the atmosphere, and it was an almost eerie sight. I was the last to go out the airlock, because I was standing at the windows, and as we fell into the atmosphere, I could see everyone else in formation, legs spread out to control the fall.
I did the same, and leaned forward to catch up, feeling the wind buffet my frame, but at the same time unable to hear it because of the helmet.
Static began to emit from the speakers, and voices began to talk, apparently the others next to me.
"Alright everypony, we've got one mission today, and one mission only! There's a command center about 3 clicks from an aqueduct, and those slimy some-bitches are using that aqueduct to transport troops. They're bombarding that center like it's lunchtime for them. We're landing about 5 clicks behind the Derms' lines, and we're to proceed forward to the structure, killing all the Derms in between. Two Beowulfs and a Shrike are being dropped to our LZ in the meantime.
Pinkie, you'll be the gunner for one, Applejack, you're manning the other. Newbie, you listening?"
I was startled by the voice. They must have meant me.
"Y-y-yes, I am...um, what was your name again?"
The voice chuckled, followed in short by the others.
"You never got it, sweetpea. The names' Rainbow Dash, but that's not too important right now. You'll be manning the chain cannon on Pinkie's tank; just shoot everything big and ugly and you'll be fine.
Now, Rarity, you'll be circling around in the Shrike, provide active air support as we cut through their lines." As quickly as she had addressed me, she was on to another pony, giving out orders. Though she wasn't as gruff or strict as I had assumed my CO would be. In fact, she sounded to be around the same age as myself.
I started to worry when we started to cross over into enemy territory, still falling, falling fast.
Artillery fire started to flare up all around us, whipping by in flashes of red and green and yellow, but never once hitting us, though there were some close calls. We were descending into the no-pony's-land in the middle of the conflicting territories, and it was not a pretty sight.
As we fell between mountains, I realized they were masses of mechanical junk and bodies. Bodies of all kinds, shapes, sizes, and degrees of mutilation. It unnerved me slightly. We had been trained to ignore the suffering and pain of others, and focus on bringing honor to our Tribe and to our families', but this was too much. I almost missed Rainbow Dash's call of "Engage skiing!", but did so out of instinct.
We hit a slope going close to 500 km/h, but thanks to the anti-grav boots, were now skiing along at that speed, before soaring into the air again, putting along with our jetpacks for extra momentum.
In the distance, and growing larger every second, was our supply drop: two hulking hover-tanks and a single-person fighter-craft used for hit-and-run tactics.
As we came upon them, I noted the scorched grass and hard ground all around us. We were in an area that had previously been a farm on the edge of a large city, but now looked like a desert on the edge of an abandoned civilization, the buildings sandblasted and weathered away by the intense combat.
We stopped in front of the vehicles, and I noticed that one of the ponies was wearing different armor than ourselves.
This was less of armor and more of a tight suit that had plates attached to it in some places. It looked much lighter than our suits of armor, and had bulges on the back where its' wings were held. A pegasus; the least common of all the pony types...well, to see one fighting for the Tribes, at least.
The pegasus turned to me, still faceless behind the mask, and began to talk.
"Alright newblood, you're in this tank right here. Just get in through the turret on top and get acclimated with the controls before we set off. The Derms know we're here and it won't be long before they're pelting us with rocks and guns...maybe some skulls too." This was my CO, I realized.
She was just about the same height as the rest of us, and the only distinguishing difference was her armor, which did not have any discerning rank attached to it.
I jumped up on the hulking vehicle, climbing atop the turret, finding the large hatch she informed me of. Opening it, I found the decent-sized cockpit, inside of which a single seat and a set of pedals aligned with a firing group half-way up the side.
Jumping in, I strapped myself into the vehicle, getting snugly set, before closing the hatch, watching the important components light up as the ashen light was blocked out.
"Alright scrub, that gun's got a pretty huge ammo reserve, but to maximize power output and damage, you can only fire a hundred some-odd rounds at once before it overheats. However, that thing is loaded with sabot rounds, and can show some Derms' a thing or two about investing into proper energy armor."
Several view screens came up, both on my helmet and on the panels, showing me a small outside view of the vehicle, currently depicting the others mounting up on this tank, the other tank, and the CO leaning over the Shrike, apparently talking to its' pilot in a private channel, as the current one was only full of chatter from those in the tanks, talking mostly about inane things, and who would frag the most Bioderms today.
They were pretty confident that we would complete our mission without a scratch, but I was politely doubting that. Even as I scanned the area around us, listening for anything outside the dead winds sweeping across the body-mountains and whistling through the skulls of the recently-departed, I felt like we were being watched.
I tapped the rotation pedal with my hoof, becoming slightly disorientated as my crosshairs remained static, but instead the whole world rotated around the screens. The gun turret moved quickly and precisely, and after messing around with it for a few seconds, I located the hand controls for both firing the weapon and moving it vertically. I didn't fire just yet, as I was unsure of what it would sound like, and because I didn't want to waste ammo.
After a minute or so, I heard a metallic CLANK on our tank, hearing it repeat in a softer manner until it was right above me. Glancing on the monitors, it was the CO, who was standing on the vehicle, detaching her disc launcher from her belt. She then came onto the public channel, causing a static rush as the outside environment was picked up through her helmet.
"Alright girls, we're moving out! About seven clicks that way! As soon as we crest the next hill, our target will be in sight, and Derms' will be absolutely everywhere, so light 'em up and make me proud! I'll be off, as soon as you hear the enemy shoot at me, start launching Cannon shots over the hill!"
With that, she jumped up into the air, and was sent rocketing off by the Thrust Pack on her back, she went up the hill at almost 130 KM/H, and while she was still in the air, we began to move forward, a grinding sound telling me the Beowulf's cannon was being moved into place. As she began to come down, I saw the grainy distortion on the horizon, indicating the usage of primitive bullet weapons being used.
With a clang and a boom, the large Beowulf cannon fired, sending a 400mm projectile loping over the crest of the hill, and the ground shook as it impacted.
We began moving forward, and I was surprised at the speed at which the vehicle moved. We were topping 85KM/h, which seemed significant when we were holding enough firepower to level a small town.
Then they began to come over the hill. Their faces, goat-like and grotesque, most of which were hidden behind masks or helmets and exposed to the elements. Some were skiing, some were not; some were holding crude bladed weapons, some had crude bullet weapons, and a select few were holding Tribal weaponry, no doubt taken from the fallen.
I opened fire, feeling the main turret shake from the rapid-fire rounds spewing forth. They kicked up a good amount of dust and rocks as they impacted low, cutting them off at the knees and sending them careening down the slopes of the embankment made out of the corpses of their foes.
I adjusted my aim to hit the line in the chest as I sprayed a horizontal grouping along the line. Our tank continued to fire over the hill, while the tank opposite tank began to focus its' full destructive power towards the hoard. The tank shells would take out twenty of the monsters, but three dozen would rush over the hill in the time it took to reload. It took the same amount of time to reload the tank cannon as it did for my turret, so we had to slow down in order to not come into contact with the brutes.
Their screams and howls were mounting to such a level that I could hear them through my sound-proof helmet, as well as the thick, airtight cockpit, indicating the mass out there numbered in the thousands.
We rode through the storm of bodies, both alive and dead, and managed to outpace the hoard as we drove up the hill, even as we fired behind us into the crowd of primitive creatures.
As we crested the hill, however, we came upon a situation that left me wishing that the numbers we had cut down had been called significant. They weren't.
The hill looked down into a valley. In the middle of the valley, was an aqueduct of enormous size, easily 60 meters tall, and it stretched across the valley, and continued down the side of it on the other size.
Looking underneath the structure, we could see the command center that the CO had informed us of.
Well, we could see the squirming mass of flesh and bone covering it, and flowing through the valley towards it, as incoherent as water itself.
Performing strafing runs and flying through the arches of the pipeline itself was the Shrike, flying close and clipping heads with a clip of the wing, before going into a vertical climb and circling around to attack again. She flew low, too low to be hit by anti-aircraft weapons, but high enough to be out of the maximum ranges of many Bioderm weapons.
Our CO was flying around the edges of the valley at an extremely high speed, launching green disks into the onslaught that was pushing for the command center. We began bombarding the massive enemy force, but my gun was useless at this range.
"Excuse me, my gun isn't doing anything at this range...we need to get closer for me to make a difference." Expecting to get reprimanded by the driver, I received an enthusiastic response, much to my surprise.
"Yippee! We're going in close girls, hold on tight! Applejack, do try to keep up, hm? Keep your hoof on that fire button newbie, you're gonna need to!"
Another voice sounded on the channel, with a very distinct accent.
"Aw, y'all gonna need to keep up with me Pinkie, 'member what happened last time you tried to beat me in this?"
As their banter continued, we suddenly lurched forward as we went down the incline at what I expected to be open throttle, hurtling towards the mass of enemies that either not noticed us, or didn't care. Neither boded well for us.
As we got closer, I started to fire again, getting much better results, watching skulls and skull helmets shatter elegantly as the warrior it formerly belonged to fell to the dirty ground, only to be trampled a split second later by another muscled warrior brandishing a bladed weapon of yore.
We impacted with the mass of trollish looking aliens at over 140KM/h, crushing a few dozen against the sheer weight of the vehicle, and our momentum sent us bouncing into the air, the hover tanks landing smack dab in the middle of the mayhem we had so recently began. As they closed in from all sides as we drove forward against the unrelenting force, I locked the rotation to maximum speed and opened fire, shooting in all directions, mowing down countless nightmares with every deposit of bullets into the body bank, but they never seemed to decrease in number.
The Shrike and our CO were now in the area, attacking forces directly around us, cutting a small swath ahead of us to go through, where we avoided a mass of troops by flying onto a lake that was now stained with blood, but gave us a minute to re-evaluate our plan before launching into the meat grinder again.
The enemy forces were eying us as they stood on the shores of the lake, awaiting our return, for a full-frontal assault on them would be suicide, and they knew that we knew it.
The CO was sitting on the wing of the Shrike, panting heavily. She took off her helmet, even, shaking out her rainbow-colored mane, letting the sweat drop off of it into the water, making diluted clear splashes against the red and green foam.
"Well, here's the deal. That CC is holding up for now, and our little surprise attack put a pretty nice dent in their forces, but we still need to drive through the the base, get their generators up and running, get their shields up, and then call in an Orbital Strike to take these fuckers clean off the map."
I had never thought of the reason as to why we were grabbing the command center. I thought it was tactically important, perhaps, but now it was slightly more clear.
We were going to rush from behind, get inside, shore up their defenses, and then call in the precision big-guns to wipe out the overwhelming opposition. The enemy would never expect it, especially not the Bioderms, who were only capable of space-travel through a fluke, and were more likely to eat advanced technology than they were to use it for its' intended purpose.
"Alright, I contacted a Havok about 15 minutes ago, they're going to be in the area in a few minutes, and they said they have a spare Mortar Strike that'll be brought down on our target. I told them 300m north of the friendly scan profiles, and they have target locked the location. Once they're done bringing the man-portable rain, we'll zip through their forces and get inside."
As she was explaining that, I saw something out of the corner of my eye that probably caused my fur to turn whiter than it was normally.
"...What...is...that." The CO looked up to what I was looking at, and her response confirmed my fear, and made me start counting the seconds I have left.
"Well fuck me with a Gladiator, that's a Dermie Predator...how about we say we move?" Everyone backed up with all due haste as a four tonne boulder landed in the space we had been in moments before, sticking out of the shallow water.
As one, all of the Derms on the shore began pelting us with anything they could find, using their brute strength to hit us with anything from empty ammo canisters to the corpses of their brethren.
Firing back in earnest and pushing forward despite some minor damage, another new voice came up on the local channel, from someone close by enough to be picked up by the short-wave sensors.
"Uhhhh, yeaaahhhh...Havok Four Tio here, we're scheduled for a Mortar Strike...incoming in 10 seconds, hold onto your hats!" A deep voice with an accent that reminded me of that girl Applejack came over the comm, and in a few seconds great balls of green death rained down from above the clouds, exploding with stunning force as the impacted with anything unlucky enough to be below them.
Before it was even done raining death, the CO waved us forward, dropping off of the Shrike's wing and into the mayhem, zipping along while holding our ceremonial sword out, taking off heads as she went by.
We surged forward into the chaos, and watching a mortar explode not more than a few meters in front of us, I had to wonder if today was the wrong day to arrive on-planet.
A/N: Yeah, a bit different. Just a bit. Hope you enjoy it, and a review would be awesome! I'm planning on continuing this, because the concept is too awesome to leave well enough alone. I had a version wrote up that was a lot funnier and less serious, but I decided on this one...this version is more Tribes: Ascend and Tribes 2 based, the other was mostly Tribes 1 based. If anyone wants me to finish and upload the other version, I'm more than happy to do so.