he tracked MAV reeled under the combined firepower of the six battle rifles, the armor-piercing rounds shattering armored plates into silvery chunks that fell all over the pavement. Smoldering from a dozen small fires, the large machine pivoted to the left and slammed into a building, which promptly collapsed, covering the MAV in rubble and dust.
Moving among the large warehouses, the large attacking unit twisted the vaguely humanoid torso in search of more targets. Brasswolf III was turning out to be an impressive machine.
Built using captured military parts, as well as some acquired in the thriving black market that spread across Europa since the start of the rebellion, the new Brasswolf was a marked improvement over the previous versions. Standing on a pair of humanoid legs, it was bigger than its predecessors. It mounted drills where its hands should be, and over its shoulders it sported six battle rifles. It was also well armored and mounted enough reactors to feed its massive bulk.
Although the reduced maneuverability when compared with the previous machine still concerned Claire, she had to admit that the improved endurance and firepower more than made up for it.
“We’ve reached the central area, Brasswolf,” Karan’s voice reached Claire through her headphones. The offensive was going well, but it was still too soon to declare victory. If there was something Claire had learned during the last half year or so was that the enemy was always much more resourceful than one could ever expect.
Brasswolf III moved past the warehouses and into the wider venue beyond. That outpost was actually quite larger than she had imagined, even though the briefing had laid out its composition and objective.
Apparently, the base was to be part of a large-scale offensive against the rebels of Belus. As a result, the different cells of the region came to the conclusion they would need to do something about it, and do it collectively.
However, Claire had learned first-hand how difficult it was to make disparate rebel groups work together.
Two more governmental MAVs moved in to intercept Claire, this time coming from the communications array in the furthermost corner of the outpost. High explosive shells detonated around Brasswolf III, devastating the pavement and the walls of the nearby warehouses. Gritting her teeth, Claire turned to use a small building as cover.
“Tristan, this is Brasswolf. You are lagging behind,” she yelled over them radio.
“Sorry, commander!” a male voice with a southern drawl replied. “I’m catching up.”
She would have to trust Tristan to make his way there. Meanwhile, she needed to keep the incoming units occupied.
Before doing so, Claire still gave a quick glance at her sensors to check on the rest of the attack. The control tower and small spaceport to the south were still besieged. The defenders were fighting fiercely, but the attack strategy forced them to divide their forces, and face the much more experienced rebel pilots in parity of numbers.
Another shell fell before Claire could clear the building she was using as cover. The detonation rocked her machine and destroyed one of the battle rifles.
Unwilling to give her enemies any respite, Claire moved into the open with the remaining guns blazing. The second enemy unit, a chicken-walker, was moving to the left, in the direction of the warehouses. It mounted an engineering apparatus, and Claire assumed it was a support MAV with minimal offensive capabilities. That meant the quad equipped with the howitzer was the more dangerous of the two.
She fired a long volley at the chicken-walker, blowing away chunks of armor and some of its equipment. Then she turned to the right and moved right into the larger MAV. Missiles came screaming at her, and although her reaction was swift, another of her weapons was shed away by the volley.
Small weapons fire hit her flank, coming from the support unit, but did little damage, so she kept charging.
“Tristan, where are you!”
“Getting there! Still dealing with some infantry.”
The battle rifles were roaring again, this time punching holes along the hull and legs of the quad MAV. Engaged in that fire exchange, the enemy pilot took a moment too long to realize what Claire intended to do. Brasswolf III’s drills found their way into the two front legs of the lumbering machine.
After the disaster of the assault against the Enuma Mines, the rebels of Belus were left with some hard decisions to make. With most of their command structure destroyed, Claire was temporarily made the leader. Truth be told, she never felt to be the right person for the task. Her calling was to be in the cockpit, not behind a desk organizing logistics.
Eventually Faizan slid into that role with the help of Xoán and others like them, who were better at managing the workings of their rebel army. That allowed Claire to concern herself only with commanding troops in the field. When the other rebel cells accepted to join in the assault, their main demand was for her to lead their pilots against the UEC.
The chassis of the quad machine was sturdier than she thought. As she pulled her drills away, the enemy fired the missiles at point blank range. At that distance the warheads failed to detonate, but still shattered armor plates and made red lights come alive in Claire’s control panel.
She lurched over the other machine, focusing the drills on one of the legs. This time she saw the metal bend and shatter. Pulling away a few steps, she fired the last rounds from her rifles into the damaged hull, punching holes all over the machine.
As the MAV collapsed onto itself, Claire turned around to check on the other enemy. She moved in time to see Tristan already engaging the chicken-walker. Both machines traded blows for a few seconds, and then the military unit simply halted.
“Enough!” a voice said through the open channels. “I’ll come out.”
The cockpit popped open and a young man got out with his arms raised.
Looking the other way across the outpost, Claire also saw the surviving rebel MAVs spreading out and forming a perimeter. All the defenders had been either destroyed or retreated, and the path was open to take over the place.
“Your plan worked, commander,” Tristan said. “There will no attacking Belus now.”
So, the main objective was achieved. Claire inhaled deeply while that reality settled in. She had fought her way through the ups and downs of the rebellion, and survived. She had lost family and friends, and yet she endured.
There was no way to know how for long that war would last. But she would keep taking care of her people. For good or for ill, that was now her life.
“This is Brasswolf to all units. The objective has been taken. Bring in the haulers and start preparing the demolition charges. Brasswolf, out.”