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MECHAPOCALYPSE! TEARS OF THE LOST


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Max relaxed, and nodded.   "I was wondering what the situation was."  It wasn't quite a question, more 70/30 split between statement and question.   "Seemed odd to me to get shipped over after the main forces leave,  and without my machine."   He pulled over a chair and took a seat, nodding to his fellow troopers. "Unless that's changed too."

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Melvin smiles at the new guy, and shakes his head, "I thought we were all left behind due to situational screw ups, but apparently not. I'm Melvin Grahame, but you can call me Harvard if you want. What sort of machine do you have?" As he lets the smile fade from his face, he turns toward Hogan, "Sir, What was the reason we were held back? I know with my skill set it could be that my talents were needed here for some research, but I can't fathom why a scout or combat pilot would be left behind from the big push. Then again, it could be that you needed some units to defend the base, in case some Kaiju came around the big wave aiming for HQ." Harvard shrugs his shoulders, "Whatever reason it was, I'd just like some more Information." He then adds "Sir."

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“Oh, Harvard laddy, you were, you were,” replied Hogan in a sing song way, “abandoned by the fates, left with the forlorn and damned but… I have seen the spark in yer particular sets o’eyes.   So here I am, at the behest of the great man hisself, General Sir Weslley, to give you the chance to die for the cause and place your names in the annals of history among the heroes of myth and glory.”

 

Hogan smiles broadly at each of them, “And that is as much as I can tell ye until you volunteer. The General says to me, Hogan,” the captain tucks his chin and makes his voice much deeper and more British, “ pick your men but they must be volenteers,  That’s what he says he does,” that last in his regular voice.

 

“So,” again the smile which now reminds everyone of a shark, “ whats it to be lads and lassies, do ya Volunteer or do I have to go with my second best choices?”

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Delaney raised a hand, without looking away from the personal data tablet she held in her other hand. She'd been completely absorbed by whatever she was doing with that since exiting the simulator.  Even now she frowned a little at something on the screen and quickly tapped and swiped it before re-raising her hand.

 

"I'm in," she said. "If I have to spend another day re-doing maintenance and playing with sim code, I will go insane and I will take all of you with me."

 

Finally Del put the tablet down on the table and looked around. She did a double-take on seeing Max. "Oh. Hey. You weren't here before. I'm Delaney."

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Katarina had a choice comment about soldiers being like mushrooms in being kept in the dark and fed shit primed on her tongue when the Captain dropped his little volunteer speech. The other MEKA model users were out there kicking ass and taking names in the big offensive already, and there was no way in hell she was going to be sitting here with tales of shit guard details to compare to theirs. This way she might not even have to go a court martial in the process of earning her wild stories.

 

"I'm in. No way are you going anywhere without my Hot Potato to trail break for this disaster," she replied with a laugh and a flash of an insolent smile. 

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"I'm in too."  Max smiled   He'd been about to reply when asked about his mech, but the Captain spoke up, and he let it go.   "Rangers are automatic Volunteers, sir.  Much like SAS."   It was well-known that Special forces were expected to Volunteer en masse for pretty much any assignment.   Even if he wasn't boots on the ground like he'd been during his training, he was still a Ranger, no matter what.

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Melvin clears his throat a little bit, "What the hell. I'm in as well. Sage will probably get a workout.   So, care to fill us in on the details of the job, or are we just going to pull a charge of the light brigade?" He shudders at the thought, but doesn't withdraw his volunteering.

 

He smiles at Katarina's eagerness, and then he looks over at Max. "So, you get to be in one of the direct line of fire mecha, right? I should be able to help you out with Sage. He's a support-class mecha with some interesting sensor and attack systems."

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“Of course, I will not be left out, you can count on me, but I do not have a mecha, it shipped with the fleet. I did not,” said trooper David.

 

Hogan nodded thoughtfully, these will do god help them, he clears his throat, “Right then, you four,” indicating the three women and Harvard, “Download those sim tapes and gather your kit. Meet us at Load bay three, building seventeen, in…, he looks at his watch, “two hours. You have that much time to make personal arrangements for a long deployment.”

 

“How long,” asked Croft?

 

“Eternity, lad, eternity,” He stands abruptly, “ You four get moving, Croft come with me.” Not waiting he marches out of the room with Croft following, leaving the four troopers wondering what they have gotten themselves into.

 

Hogan led Croft outside the building to a waiting car. The trooper at the car had been reading on a tablet which he immediately put aside to hop out and open the door for the captain. Croft let himself in on the other side.

 

As the car drove through the base Hogan remained silent and watched the bustle of the miniature city go by. It was like any other military base pretty much anywhere in the world, or like how they had been before the invasion. And, with a glance at the artificial hills erected to screen the base from the bay and the silhouettes of the dozen Mecha patrolling that wall, unlike any other military base in the history of the world.

 

They arrived at building seventeen a massive Mecha hanger, mostly empty now, Hogan and Croft left the car and went inside and to one of the bays at the far end where Hogan keyed ina code and a door swished open revealing a massive Mecha. A Mecha Croft recognized.

 

“The Tessaract! How did my Mecha get here,” Croft asked and edge to his voice.

 

“Not quite, laddy,” Hogan chuckled, “This is the Tessaract-X. When you all over there in America started working on it we were sent the specs an schematics and well we just decided to do a little modifications ourselves. It is fully operational, and I thought it best if the one most familiar with be it’s driver on the upcoming mission.”

 

Croft looked it over and as Hogan told him about the additions and modifications they had made he saw the differences…

 

Two hours later all of the troopers were seated in bay three which had been turned into a briefing room the bay was huge and made the 5 troopers seem very small indeed. Captain Hogan came through a side door pushing an I-board.  He positioned it in front of the troopers and clicke a remote and a map of Inda appeared on the board.

 

“Alright then,” Hogan started, “as you can see this is India. Five years ago, the second wave of Kaiju bastards marched out of the Indian ocean and rolled over the subcontinent. The world was struggling with the aftereffects of the two meteor strikes as well as the first incursion in China and well, probably to the shame of all, India was left to fend for itself.”

 

The board went through a slide show of images of the fighting in Indi and the devastation left in the wake of the monsters.

 

“The Indian forces put up a brave fight but the numbers were against them and they just didn’t have the arms to fight the beasties effectively. We wrote them off, a billion humans, just like in China, we simply assumed they perished victims of circumstance. Until a month ago.”

 

The board switch to a image of a mountain fortress, ancient, crumbling. download.jpg.f5a5ddb470524f80fa82ef8024e1be67.jpg

 

“We received intel from a source in India that a large group of survivors had made their way to an ancient mediaeval fortress called Gawilghur. It’s a huge place located at the top of a goddamn plateau with only two routs up to it and the Mountains behind it are to put it mildly, unforgiving.

 

According to our source there are roughly eight hundred thousand refugees in the fortress, with at least three times that number in the mountains. That is about four million people give or take, and their starving.”

 

Another click and another slide show showing the terrain, the mountains, and the plains below.

 

“Now we have been able to verify only a portion of the intel, and it was too late to halt the Offensive on China. The beasties must know that the people are up there yet have made no assaults on the fortress or into the mountains. And that worries the General and I. We have started dropping supplies from altitude, but it isn’t enough.

 

 We need to have a firsthand look at the situation. In 24 hours we will deploy a regiment of PPA to reinforce the fortress and begin assessing the number of refugees and how best to work at getting them out. But the General wants to know what the beasties are up to and why they haven’t slaughtered those people like they did in China.

 

That is where you five come in. You and your Mecha will go out with the PPA, and air drop onto the plain before the fortress. You’re to recon the countryside and assess the number and make up of the Kaiju present and try to figure out what the testy little fuckers are up too.

 

In all encounters to date the bastards have simply killed and destroyed usually going in a straight line, showing no strategy,  no intelligence beyond that of animals. This is different and frankly a bit worrisome.

Any questions?”

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Max looked at him, then at the T-X.   "Kurosawa-San would kill you with his bare hands if he were standing here.  Reproducing Tessa before we had all the bugs out..."  he trailed off, then remembered he was with a senior officer.  "... Sir."   
 

The captain chuckled.   "He probably would.   We did make some modifications, including Phase II on the Overdrive system."  Max stared at him.  "That was purely theoretical."   
 

"Well you will be the first to pilot it and test the system in Combat.   Just like you wanted."  The Captain replied.  "This is all part of that."
 

Max nodded.  "I'll go get my kit squared away, and then come back here, and the tech crew can give me the full rundown on all the modifications."   He smiled  "At least you guys came to the same conclusion I did before shipping out, that the shoulder armor baffles needed to be abit more rounded inside the joint.   The last round of tests had me nearly ripping the arms off when the armor got in a bind and pinched due to the stress."
 

The Captain excused him to take care of his arrangements, which didn't take much time, and was there with the head of the tech crew for the T-X.   Together they ran down the list of new equipment, and how to operate Phase II of the OverDrive system.  The Captain excused himself about halfway through, and when it was done, Sam thanked the crew chief, and then laid a hand on the foot of the mecha.  "We should get along just fine."
 

He made his way to the Hangar they were meeting in and sat quietly as he briefed them on the situation on the ground, and their mission, a recon in force.  

"Several Questions sir.   Going in with a regiment of PPA sounds great, but what is our command structure?   Are we using integrated command, supporting the PPA on call, or true detachment, to accomplish our ground recon?"
 

He had no problems either way, it was just good to know ahead of time so they didn't lose a step to command snafu in the field.
 

"Second question, do we have any recent comms to the refugees in the fortress?  I know you stated you'd been dropping supplies, but dropping troops is going to be something else entirely.   Do they know we're coming, so as to not cause panic among the civilians there?"
 

"Third, sir, What, if any, support can we expect on the ground?   A regiment of PPA, and 5 mecha isn't a small force, but the people there are already starving.   Correct me if i'm wrong,  but we can't carry down enough supplies for them, and for us.  Not just food, but equipment to keep the PPA and our mecha functional.  Do we have any indication they have any of that there?"

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Hogan shakes his head, "The PPA and your missions are separate, they will be concerned with the refugees and the situation on the plateau. You will be dropping at the base of the plateau and once you have secured the immediate area will put in a support unit for the Mecha if it's feasible. Your only concern are the Kaiju."

 

He faces the board and the map of India returns. 

 

"With the atmospheric conditions still playing hell with satellite recon, we have to have feet on the ground. That is you. Our goal is not retaking the subcontinent it is protecting the survivors and finding a means to either making that place there at supportable or developing a means to evacuate them. But that is not your worry all you job will be is to gather the necessary intel on the kaiju activities."

 

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"Alright," Del said, more than a little miffed at her greeting having been ignored, but soldiering on. "So we find the local kaiju, scout them out. Depending on what we find we'll either engage to destroy or lure them away so the ground teams can evacuate the refugees."

 

She shook her head. "That's a lot of people to evac. It's either going to take a TON of resources, or a TON of time. Or both. It'd help us plan if we had some idea what to expect. We need to give them cover after all."

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Katarina sat perched on a crate of supplies as the Captain gave his brief, fiddling with her very sharp knife. Her expression hardened as her country's own abandonment was skimmed over. The kaiju weren't dumb, never had been. Dumb didn't win a land war in Asia, build antinuke quantum shenanigans fields over their hives, or crash land a successful beach head from nowhere. It took all she had in her not to spit or ruin the tip of her knife carving something obscene into the wood of the crate she was sitting on. Good on these Indians for finding something that forced the brains behind the beasts to turn aside for 4+ years. She'd have a handshake and half a contraband chocolate bar for the first Indian survivor she had the privilege to meet. Packed a half-dozen in her kit bag alongside extra socks, underwear, and her second-best knife. 

 

"Seems pretty simple to me. Drop in, don't get in too much trouble, see what's up, and brag to the expedition how it's done when they catch up," she chuckled darkly, making her knife dance between her fingers. Beneath the seething indignation, part of her was itching for this. Couldn't be a hot shot pilot without surviving hot shot missions and looking good doing it.

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Max's face was neutral after getting the answers, he was satisfied mostly, though, the fact they'd have no support until things were secure was normal, it meant they'd all need to be much more careful, since any damage wouldn't be repairable.  

"Which regiment's going in with us, Captain?"   He wondered if John had shipped out on the offensive.   He knew from what letters he'd been allowed to receive, that his unit had been pulled back recently, though with how the invasion was said to be, he wouldn't have been surprised if they'd been deployed once again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Melvin smiled in a crazy grin, "Oooohh. A chance to show what Sage can do, both in recon and in support. I hope that we can find some, or make some, Kaiju corpses so I can test how the bio-scan systems work, too. " He then looked over at Max, David, Katarina, and Del. "I can't wait. The downtime has been the worst. Plus, we have jobs to do." 

 

Harvard then rubs his hands together, "Dibs on the corpses, if there are any we can carry out. Let the other scientists know I called dibs. It'll annoy them. " He chuckles and stretches, "How long until we hit the zone?"

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Hogan grinned “Feet up, as they say, at zero two thirty. Your mechs are being prepped and loaded now. Flight will take approx. 24 hours, with a midair refueling, to the drop point. You need to be aboard at midnight, so you have the rest of the day to get your affairs in order. Needless to say, this is all top-secret hush-hush sort of stuff, so keep your mouths shut and do your duty.”

Everyone took this as a dismissal and they also noticed the several questions he did not answer.

 

The flight was like most, uneventful, the only bit of action to break the monotony was the refueling which shook the big plane with turbulence. Four giant aircraft made the flight, three with the Mechs, equipment, and supplies to be dropped, and the fourth with the mech drivers. Of the PPA regiment that was being sent with them, nothing.

“But why wouldn’t he tell us who the PPA were?” It was about the third time David had asked the question none of them knew the answer to and the same one each of them had asked, in one form or another, the others at least once during the long flight.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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.

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David was quiet, she was not fond of flying, but her curiosity overrode her anxiety. This new trooper she did not know. She had trained with some of the others or at least had seen them on the base, Mecha drivers were a small community and while your may not know someone you at least knew of them. Not so this Max Croft.

 

"Trooper Croft," she almost had to shout to be heard over the sound of the engines, "why is it we have never seen you on base before today?"

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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.

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Melvin looked over at Max, "I guess someone decided that the Tesseract needed a full field test. After all, without real world data how can you see if it stacks up? Data is key to anything we can do to defeat the Kaiju. That's why I'm glad they are letting me and Sage come along. I need first hand data to help my research. I may even get my hands on some Kaiju parts to take back with us." Harvard grinned, "Who knows what I'll get?"

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"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.  

"So what sort of things can Sage do, Melvin?"

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Katarina had been sleeping, sprawled out over a few seats. No way of knowing how much sleep they'd be getting once they were boots on the ground, and her Hot Potato was not one to pack in creature comfort frills. Yeah, sure the mystery of the missing power-armored troopers sucked, particularly as 'run and lure the kaiju into a trap by massed troopers' was a valid tactic. Fun guys, too, drawn from the same refugee camps she'd spent too much time in. Still, soldiers were like mushrooms, fed shit and kept in the dark. Nothing for it but to hope for the best.

 

Past tense emphasis on that *had been sleeping*.

 

The Russian pilot sat up, strands of hair escaping out of the neat confines of her ponytail in sleepy discord. Her eyes betrayed that same veil of melting confusion, a frown lingering on her lips. Then she finally understood the American's question and grinned, "Oh, do tell. How many fried Kaiju bits can you lug around in the belly of your beast?"

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Melvin chuckled, "Sage was a SAR Mecha at first, but then i got my hands on it and helped change it to a hybrid support and assault mecha. He has a phased array laser, a plasma blade, repurposed from a simple plasma cutter, and a shock mine launcher. The shock mine launcer is a tool of my own creation, but with input from military engineers. It's a mine dispensing system, but instead of explosives they function as large-scale Tasers. The mines deployed by the Shock mine missile cover an approximate 200 by 200 foot area. Sage has four missiles. The sensors on Sage are beyond state of the art. The package includes x-ray, ultrasound, thermographic and 3-d cameras with a holographic display inside the cockpit. Oh, and because Sage was designed to operate in areas with possible building collapses as a risk, he's pretty durable. "

 

He turns to Katarina, "Enough. With the four legs and large body, the cargo space is rated at a few tons. As for chunks, it depends on the size. There's also a cargo hoist to help get the samples into storage. What do your mecha bring to the table?" He nods to max and Katarina as well as David and Del.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

David grunted as the plane hit a pocket of turbulence which bounced them all around a bit then she gave Del a look  to see if she were going to reply but she seemed to be dozing. She glanced back at Mel , “My Mech is on the way to china, while I am not. Capt. Hogan assigned me this.” She pulled a standard data pad from a pocket on her utility uniforms top and passed it to Mel.

 

“It is designated the IKT Combat Mech, Capt. Hogan says IKT stands for Iron Knight Tactical, but I am unfamiliar with this machine. I have never seen it in any of the simulators.” David gives Croft a smile and nods at him, “I suppose I am a test driver too now.”

 

Before any more can be said, the Flight Sergeant comes up to them, “We’re thirty out from the drop zone, best get your gear and harnesses on.”

 

With that announcement Mel hands the pad back to David and the five troopers suit up for their upcoming jump. It takes then most of the thirty minutes to get squared away and check each other during which they are mostly quiet. The Flight Sergeant returns and does his own check of each of the trooper and gives them last minute instructions.

 

 “The Carrier planes are pulling ahead, and they will drop the mechs first, once all of the mecha are away we will enter the zone and circle while the mecha go down. Once we have ascertained that the mechs have landed and are intact they will broadcast a tight beam beacon which your helmet coms are tuned to. Just follow those beams down and you will land at the mechs. Once you hit dirt, you will automatically broadcast a signal to your corresponding mech. That will initiate the unboxing sequence to release them from their drop frame. Do not approach the Mecha until they clear the frame. Once they are clear you can mount and initialize them. Once you have the Mechs operational and send the all clear signal, the last plane will drop your supply pallets.” He glances at each of them “Any questions?” The drivers absorbing all the unfamiliar procedure can just shake their heads negative. “Good, take your positions here and when the yellow light,” he indicates three round lights set into the bulhead of the plane, “comes on that means the mechs had dropped, I will then open the jump door, but you don’t go until this light turns green.”

 

Ahead of the plane carrying the mecha team, three large aircraft, based on the venerable C-130 but specially re-designed to carry mecha for airdrops such as this, entered the drop zone area and went into a tight circling pattern. The large rear doors of the three craft opened and then one by one the Mecha, encased in specially designed drop Frames rolled out and plummeted toward the ground.

 

Down the dropped from a height of twelve thousand feet, the frames steering pinions extended and retracted guiding each mech in its freefall to the designated landing spot. At six thousand feet compressed air jets fired slowing the mechs through the next three thousand feet when multiple chutes on each frame suddenly deploy and slow the mechs even more until they make contact with the ground with a jarring crash which the frames shock absorbers protect the mechs inside from.

 

Aboard the Troop plane the light had turned to yellow and the flight sergeant had opened the door only a minute had passed when the light switched to green and Croft and Katarina pushed themselves out into space. David and Del were next followed by Melvin.

 

Each of the troopers were certified paratroops and the jump was nothing unusual. Their com unit picked up the guiding beams and the adjusted their freefall accordingly less than a minute later their own chutes opened and in less  than another minute and they too were on the ground. As they landed, they could see the boxy frames containing their mechs and a signal sent as their feet touch ground caused the frames to begin unfolding and the rumble of the carrier mechanisms rolled the mechs free. The  frames would now  provide a cradle for future maintenance and were built to be movable with minimum effort of the operational mechs.

It was now time for the troopers to get into the act.

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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.
 

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Someday they'd figure out how to drop a scout mech with a pilot inside it, jumpjets flaring as they came down, weapons at the ready. Someday.

 

Until then, she'd get to jump out of a perfectly good airplanes, which was one way to get it done. Hell of an adrenaline rush. The brunette smiled at her mech where it crouched like an oversized rabbit, silver armor contrasting with the dull-red eye dominating the front of her Hot Potato. The main thrusters of it's jumpjets hung like stubby wings over the twin tesla coil arms, still and sleeping and hungry with potential. She permitted herself the indulgence of one land round of stretches as the new guy rushed into his machine. Left arm. Right arm. Both arm arms over head palms out. Roll the neck. God knew she was going to wish for more once she was a few hours into her hunt.

 

She grunted and hustled over to Hot Potato, climbing monkey-like up the side and to the hatch on its back. Another grunt and pull hat it open for her to slip feet first into what she'd call a command couch if it didn't take up most of the cylinder compartment it sat in. The Russian brunette braced her feet enough to reach up and pull the hatch shut behind her, the faint glow of back up lights illuminating the silvery walls around her. Long practice had her fingers deftly typing in the password to wake up the system more, a coms headset liberated from it's storage compartment to crown her head.

 

Silver walls flickered around her as the Argus system flooded them with layers of audiovisual input, black to polychrome to endless numbers and then to the world outside her metal womb sharp as her own eyes or better. She strapped in, filtered air playing across her skin, giving her actual goosebumps to go with her goosebumps of excitement. There was a faint whir as the couch shifted below her and Cyrillic characters popped up front and center on the HUD, statuses green green green across the board. Perfect for the premiere performance of her flawless combat career to come. The letters blinked needing just one thing from her before they were ready.

 

"Pilot Katarina Balasnikov. Start up code: God Loves Man Kills," she intoned, smile blooming into a smirk as the faint shudder of Hot Potato's reactor on stand-by rose to a purr and the characters on the HUD blinked out and popped up again scattered purposely across her view exactly where she needed them. Jumpjets. Integrity alarms. Sensors. Tesla capacitors. Friend or Foe Identifiers. There was a click as the twin trigger guards unlocked from the arms of her couch, articulated links ready for her to reach out and take them, foot pedals giving slightly under her feet in sensitivity for her future commands.

 

Oh Hell Yes.

 

She took the grips in hand and rotated first the left control and then the the right, the motion mirrored by the gargantuan metal limbs of the mech, only the toggled safety keeping her from tightening her grip and charging electrical death towards thunderous readiness. Tch. "Hot Potato, all systems green," she put out over the radio, smirk audible as she suppressed a cackle. Just barely.     

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