Max frowned. They were already being investigated. "Alright they're already here, so Hot Potato, draw them in, Paladin, you and I will play midfield. Sage and Wizard, you're in the back, on overwatch. I don't really want any more surprises, especially from the rear. You're free to engage at your discretion if they make it past us."
Max gave quick orders, even as he began moving further up, bringing up the flechette canon, which was better for dealing with smaller targets. "If we can, we'll save you a sample Sage."
This is going to be rough. Max thought to himself. When he inquired about a space for the service cradles, he was informed there was no room inside the fortress. "Alright, we'll manage. Once we set up camp, we'll set out on a perimeter patrol. Please send us the safe approach through the mines."
Even as the data was provided, Max switched over to the squad coms and let them know, transferring the approach. "So the Kaiju avoid the mountains, and nobody knows why. We're going set up camp here at the base of the plateau, they'll drop the rest of our support gear here, and then we're going to put these machines through their paces in abit of a recon in force. If nothing else, it will serve to let those not inside the fortress know that Command hasn't abandoned them, that help is here, and more coming. They've mined the area, so follow this route in to bring the cradles."
Sometime later, after they'd rearranged their cradles, setting them up for easy access. He really hated leaving them there, undefended, but there wasn't any choice.
"Formation will be as follows. Hot Potato, you're on point, eyes and ears open. I'll go next, leading Harvard and Wizard I want everyone keyed up, we're gonna do some recon ourselves report any anomalous contacts, anything that is outside the norm. Paladin, you bring up the rear, you've got the armor and speed to play rearguard, and move up if we need you to switch to a vanguard position."
Max keyed the secure channel, "This is Saber-1. I copy you Night Tiger Six. We Request Authentication Code and sitrep." While they were all the same rank, Max had much longer time in service, So he took charge.
Max was wary, contact could be faked, but with the proper codes at least they could be reasonably certain they were dealing with the correct people.
Max had looked at the datapad, and nodded. "Looks like an armored Melee type." He smiled "Not bad, we needed one to keep the squad balanced, we should be able to handle most anything."
The explanation of the drop was different than most, but given the nature of what they were doing it made sense. The drop itself was exhilirating, he and Katarina were the first out, and he smiled at the way the frames unfolded and opened, clearly someone else was a fan of a certain series. "God bless the Japanese." he muttered softly, even as he stowed his chute and approached the Tesseract-X.
The mecha was kneeling in a crouch, it's weapons in their stowed position, and he began climbing up, hitting the manual override for the cockpit. Once inside, he smiled, the layout was identical to what he'd been testing. He sat in the pilot seat, and put his hands into the control rigs. "Computer begin registration."
A cold, dispassionate female voice answered. "Request accepted, Confirm Identity."
"Maximillian Croft, Pilot number ID URZU7-X117" he answered, smiling.
"Pilot ID and voice print confirmed, Set code phrase." Code phrases were hard to hack, and often very personal to the pilot.
"Believe in the Me that believes in You."
"Code phrase accepted. Completing registration, confirm System name?"
Max thought for a moment. "I'll spot you the "E." Computer register unit ID as TeX."
"Unit ID confirmed, this unit identifies as TeX. Startup confirmed."
This normally would've been done long before now, but that's just the way it was for this drop.
As the monitors winked to life, the controls lighting up and system readouts showed up. Max smiled. "God I'm gonna love this Machine."
As the reactor came to life, he felt the steady thrum of it surround him, and he nodded. The sensors began relaying data to the screens, and all weapons showed ready for use with full charge and ammunition loads.
Tex came back with a final confirmation. "Reactor Online, Sensors Online, Weapons Online. All Systems Nominal."
The familiar phrase made Max smile again, as the T-X rose from a crouch, the green eyes housing the camera arrays seeming to glow as it did. He lit off the radio to the others, and the planes above. "This is Croft in Tesseract, Systems Green." He was the first up, despite the registration, and quickly moved to cover the others, just in case.
"Careful what you wish for, you almost always get more than you bargain for in situations like this." He sighed. "If I was taking the Tesseract I've been piloting, I'd not be as concerned, but the T-X isn't that one. She's similar, but not the same." He smiled, though he was abit concerned.
Max smiled. "I am an Army Ranger, ma'am. After the initial rush, my older brother John, also a Ranger, joined the new battle armor units, and I was seconded to become a test pilot for General Motors. I missed the GM-5 and the GM-7series, though I did get time in them during my time as the primary test pilot for the GM-9 series mecha." The GM series, while unimaginatively named, were a progressively more advanced series of mass produced trooper style mecha. The GM-9 had multiple variants depending on what was needed, but the technology was integrated, a sniper would always be a sniper unit, and so on. "The new mecha we've designed incorporates everything we learned along with something new."
He wasn't willing to discuss the reactor, though when he used it he knew he'd have to tell them something. "My transfer to active duty came in the day before I did. I was abit concerned, since they shipped me here without Tesseract, but somehow they had a modified Spare." His thoughts on this were not something he was ready to air, knowing his old boss would have some VERY choice words in English and Japanese when he found out.
With the mecha crated up like Cargo, Max and the other pilots were all in a single plane, which seemed abit strange to Max. Still the reason was due to the length of the flight, which was indeed damn long. He'd have liked to get into the cockpit of the T-X and run his own tests before they got there, but that simply wasn't in the cards. The question they all had, regarding their PPA backup, well he didn't have a good answer there, and kept the worst of the ones he'd come up with quiet. He did wonder if they'd actually get PPA backup, without it, they'd never be able to recon any tunnels, or inside any sort of structure. If it took three planes to haul the mecha and support gear, then none of the mecha were all that small.
"No real point in worrying about it until we're on the ground. Not like there's anything we can really do to change it." he muttered to himself, and went back to reading the tech manual file that outlined the changes to the T-X's reactor and special equipment. It was heady stuff, what it was supposed to make possible, he just hoped the frame could handle it, knowing how taxing the standard reactor was.
Deep underground hidden from the humans aerial eyes and bombs, the Audug stirred the primal pool while the smaller Gallu, in segments of three or four carried nutrients and mass, to pour into the swirling viscous liquid.
Deep in the pool something stirred.
Sadeev spurred his mount the last hundred meters into the wood beyond the narrow path before reigning the sweating horse to a halt. He leapt off the saddle and pulled the long barreled high-caliber sniper rifle from it sheath and while the horse panted and shook from its long swift climb, Sadeev ran then dropped down and crawled on his belly to the edge of the wood where he had a clear view of the path.
He glanced to his right his eye following the path up to the slim land bridge still a kilometer away and beyond it to the ancient walls od what was once India’s mightiest fortress and today stood as the last remnant of that once great nation.
The Great mountain fortress of Gawilghur was constructed sometime in the 15th century and was the major stronghold of the Maratha Empire, its walls unassailable it stood supreme and unconquered until it is impregnability was overcome by the British in 1803. The British gave it back to the Marathas after their war but it was abandoned. Still it stood empty occupying the sky above the plain of the Deccan Plateau an impressive, imposing site, only visited by tourists and historians until the Kaiju Invasion.
India had been spared from the devastation of the second meteor strike but that had proven a calm before the storm. As refugees from the islands and nations to India’s east poured in to already overcrowded cities and town, food already in short supply was exhausted, famine and disease threatened but would never get to wreak its foul toll for a greater death dealer was on the horizon. Or rather under it.
Two months after the meteor strike a horde of small Kaiju erupted form the ocean to swarm the coastal cities of India. It was the largest number of the creatures yet seen. Thousands of the eight to ten-foot-tall beasts and hundreds of the larger fifteen to twenty feet, a bestial horde which overwhelmed the army though they fought valiantly. And that was just the first wave. India was over run in less than a week. India was written off by the west.
Operation Stormfront had begun. For five years mankind had been rocked back on it heels, fighting a defensive battle on all fronts in this the strangest most horrifying war the world had ever witnessed.
The Kaiju cut a swath across Asia the middle east and Europe. They dominated north Africa but found the conquest of the southern part of the continent difficult due to natural barriers which slowed even their monstrous progress. In the Americas further ocean meteor strikes devastated coasts and monsters born from the missile from space assaulted the coasts but the numbers were not as great as those in Asia and so the beasts were held at bay for the most past.
Eventually the International Alliance Mecha Corps was established, and devices designed from the ground up to fight the monster invasion were built. Tested and proven in combat the IAMC was to become the forefront of the war against the Kaiju.
Based on French Island in Australia the IAMC built a large state of the art mecha factory and training center. A naval port, air strips, housing, and two nuclear power plants turned the once pristine nature reserve into a futuristic manufacturing and Military fortress. Hundreds of Mecha were built and thousands of the new Personal Powered Armor suits.
On October 1st 2025 those mecha, PPA suits, and the personnel to operate and service them were boarded onto a huge fleet of surface transport ships accompanied by the largest naval force assembled since world war two and set sail for China.
China had been the beginning of the apocalypse and it was from china that the monsters seemed to replenish their forces outside of the meteor strikes of which none had occurred since the first year of the invasion. The location of the central ‘base’ of the Kaiju was known and every attempt had been made to destroy it from long range to no avail. Even the most fearsome weapons in the human arsenal had no effect. Every nuclear weapon fired or dropped into the region failed to detonate with a nuclear yield although the normal explosives seemed to function. There was no explanation. And so it was determined that a strike at the heart of the invasion was needed and so the greatest military operation ever planned was being executed.
But not everyone was involved. As the ships set forth, those remaining at IAMC Headquarters watch as their friends, lovers, brothers, and sisters sailed off into harm’s way. Those left behind were a few fully trained Mecha Drivers and those who had not yet completed their final training but were in the process of being fitted for their machines.
Two days after the fleet set sail Trooper 1st Class Aiya David, former member of the Israeli Defense Force now a recently graduated mecha trooper stepped away from the serving line carrying a tray of breakfast containing eggs, waffles, whole fruits, and juice. She looked around at the scattered people seated in ones and twos across the wide, virtually empty dining hall. She did not immediately see anyone from any of her classes as all of them had left with the fleet. She had been left behind due to a mix-up in paperwork of all things and still the bitter disappointment brought the tears of anger to her eyes, tears she refused to shed.