The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch5Pt1

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Rayo Azul
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Re: The Dark Falcons Book 1 + BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empi

Post by Rayo Azul » 2013-01-31 10:48am

Book 3 of the Dark Falcons - Hidden Empire

Prologue



Jonti Dumfries tried desperately not to sneeze. Things were made exceedingly difficult by the clouds of dust which rose with his every movement. He had found this secret passage four days earlier and taken time to prepare himself for the ceremony about to occur below.

It had been sheer luck and a misplaced kick which had opened the hidden doorway. His subsequent explorations had shown him that the palace was riddled with these dark corridors, the thick carpet of dust also testifying to their secret. His happiness had been completed by the discovery of the narrow way in which he now sat. An eye-hole gave him a clear vision of the chapel below and that meant, for once, he would be able to watch the ceremonial salutation to the God.

The priests and Lords kept it hidden, especially from such a lowly personage as he. Every year they brought sacrifices to the God’s receptacle and intoned their prayers and pleas. The priests swore that the God’s spoke to them, but Jonti was more than convinced that it was a lie. Power tended to be addictive, and these men would do anything to keep their privileged positions. Was not he himself suffering because of it? His mother had been high born, relatively speaking for one of the tribes, and the local Lord had decided she would be better off here in the palace. Her death kind of negated that possibility and Jonti, motherless and disowned had remained here under sufferance. Today though, he would be able to prove his suspicions, at least to himself.

After a short while, he heard the priests approaching; their warbling voices singing some nonsense to appease the God. Behind them came the local Lord and his retainers. Jonti hated the man; one day he would revenge his mother’s death. Amongst the retainers were the minor nobles and favoured merchants who worked hard to build the Lord’s riches and importance.

The richly arrayed procession halted. All sat on the benches provided, apart from the priests who fell to their knees in front of the raised dais at the end of the chapel and began to beat themselves with sticks they carried for such a purpose. Jonti snorted in disdain and then caught himself, glancing around to make sure he had not been heard. There was no recognisable change in any of the spectators, so the young man resumed his strained position.

The priests finished and cried for a sign. There was no reply, the blackened receptacle of the God remained silent. There was murmured converstation, smiles and good fellowship as the group filed back out of the chapel. No doubt they would be on their way to a token feast and then they would invent the God’s message; whatever suited them would do.

*

The small craft sped through the upper atmosphere, its mission unknown to all but one. It dived suddenly, dropping like a stone for a long time, before levelling out. Now it hugged the terrain, using the mountains as a shadowy friend as it raced towards its objective. Once close, it lanced upwards, but not before the silvery pods on its wings opened, jettisoning four small parcels. Tiny triangles of metal snapped out, giving the objects a minimal stability. Blue flames sparked from their rear, guiding them to their targets.

They did not reduce velocity, instead driving on until they reached a small lake, There they plunged into the water, small spouts of steam marking their passage, which quickly disappeared. The ripples caused by their entry had long since been absorbed by their wind-driven cousins, when four lights blinked on near the further shore. Their brilliance speared through the darkness and highlighted their strange silvery shapes; they were cigar-shaped, rolling forward on twin tracked wheels. A multitude of arms waved and sifted through the air. As one they paused, as though listening, before moving purposefully onwards.

*

Bang! Jonti kicked the black box in disgust; it was all a lie. He had worked his way into the chapel and had decided to take out his anger on the hated receptacle before he fled the palace. There was nothing for him here.

A nearby candle-stick gave hi an idea and he fetched it with the idea of leaving the false God in pieces as a reminder to the priests.

As he swung it back, sharp lights illuminated him mid-swing. They were of an unspeakable brilliance, blinding Jonti with their intensity. There was a whirring sound, a metallic chatter and then the receptacle of God blinked twice, with a cold green glare.

“I wouldn’t if I were you, matey...” boomed a voice, “it might be the last thing you would do...”

Jonti slumped to the floor, the impossible had happened. The God had spoken and it had chosen him

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk 1+2 COMPLETE+BK3 Hidden Empire Chp1

Post by Rayo Azul » 2013-02-01 04:14am

Chapter One



Jax stared out over the battlements; they had fortified their training camp with an assiduous detail. Recruitment had continued and today they would enrol a new cadre of infantry into the Dark Falcons. He could not afford to slacken the pace as he knew not whether or when the Frigate would return. Local machinery was turning out chemical propelled weapons as fast as they could; Billy had consented to release a number of light tanks and they had the Heavy Mechs which they had brought back into service. The recent fight with the Ice Hellions had also provided a number of Light Mechs and Elemental suits. They were still very reliant on the renegade AI’s favour though, and that made Jax uncomfortable.

Only two of the Ice Hellion Elementals had accepted to join the Dark Falcons; they had a repugnance of acknowledging their inferiority and Jax had ordered them removed from the complex. His plan was to repatriate them on the return of the Frigate. In the meantime, they were just one more problem. The Dark Falcons aerofighter wings were easily outnumbered by the drones and without the unspoken menace of planetary bombardment he felt ill at ease with the AI’s subservience.

Elana had once again chosen an elite of local fighters and they were being trained in the use of the powered armour which was available. Back-engineering of Tech had been halted with the overbearing presence of Billy and this training area was one of the few places where the AI had no direct feed. Flyovers by drones were frequent, explained by the AI as regular patrols, but Jax was not convinced.

His musing was interrupted by the arrival of a column of hover-trucks and Jax allowed himself a small smile of satisfaction. Quickly the gates were opened and the trucks hurried into the covered warehouse. Jax loved giving surprises and here was one he would guard for the correct moment.

*

Billy checked his images from around the training area. He had seen the trucks arrival and had a good idea, or so he thought, of what they contained. His surveillance system was extensive and so he had followed Jax’s collection of the spoils of war with interest. It was nothing he could not deal with though, and so he changed his view.

From cameras in the detention centre, he studied the Ice Hellion prisoners. Arrogant, precipitate; they almost reminded him of himself. He had watched their demeanour change with their enforced imprisonment and had taken a personal interest in their welfare. Now was not the moment to introduce himself; soon though.

*

“What do you think?” asked Elana of her leader.

“Good,” he replied, “but will they be ready?”

“They will be, trust me.”

The four stars of Elementals had demonstrated their prowess; the veterans had tested the new recruits vigorously. There was no benefit of genetic engineering for the majority of the new force. Granted a small number had remained with Jax and the two Ice Hellions had helped, but the rest of these men were locals. At first Elana had gone for the biggest of them, in keeping with her own thought process. That was until Jax had reminded her of the ease with which he had adapted under Walter and she had radically altered her selection criteria.

They were a mixed bunch; the weeding out had been harsh and these were mostly hardened rebels although a couple of the ex-Emperor’s soldiers had passed the tests. Those who had failed would provide the backbone of the non-coms for the infantry.

“Very well,” said Jax, nodding in approval, “accelerate their training.”

A short while after, he found himself opposite a row of light Mech’s their owners making last minute adjustments. These pilots were those from the Hanseatic League who had accepted service and had survived the bitter battle on the planet’s surface. They had proven themselves competent in battle and had taken to their new roles with an energetic pride. He just hoped that they were ready for what might happen.

The lance leader recognised him and saluted.

“Ah, Esteban,” said Jax, “how are the men coming along?”

Esteban grinned, relaxing as Jax took him by the arm and moved him to one side. The ex-League officer was more than content. He could not help but compare Captain-General De La Cruz with his new commanding officer. Jax stood much less on ceremony and was more than willing to listen to his men.

“Men and machines,” here he waved his arm across the silent Mechs, “are just waiting for the word, Sir.”

The Hellion Prime in front of them was Esteban’s own ride and now sported the distinctive crest of the Dark Falcons.

“No regrets?” Jax asked the man.

“No, Sir,” replied Esteban, “top of the line Mech’s, a clear understanding of our purpose and a feeling of worth. What more could a fighting man ask for?”

Jax liked this young officer; he had shown himself quick to learn and his men followed him willingly.

“A mission, I suppose,” he said, “But that’s why I’m here. Walk with me and I’ll tell you what I want you to do.”

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch1P

Post by Rayo Azul » 2013-02-06 10:32am

The exhaust from the Dropship blew dust and stones against the waiting Mech’s pinging against their armour. Inside his cockpit, Esteban pondered a little over his instructions and the vow of secrecy with which he had been entrusted. His men waited, their engines idling as the ship’s ramp dropped to the ground. At his command, they began to move their machines in turn towards the waiting craft.

Esteban waited, scanning the area and smiled as he saw the approaching hover trucks. Infantry clung to the side of them, their kit piled alongside the covered crates in the rear of the vehicles. The recently arrived dropship now sat alongside its sister, to which the trucks hurried. Once all were loaded they would immediately set off for their destination. Training indeed, grunted Esteban with laughter, as he coaxed his Mech up the ramp.

*

“Training you say?” Billy did not sound convinced.

“That’s right,” replied Jax nonchalantly, “we have new men and new equipment. All of them need to understand how to work together. I have decided to ferry them to the large plain we identified on the far side of the planet. It seems uninhabited and will give us an ideal area to see what they are made off.”

“It also takes them well out of my reach...” mused Billy, “although, my survey drones will be able to keep an eye on them.”

“That would be useful,” responded Jax, ignoring the implied mistrust, “You can then supply us with a contrasting data feed, which will be a useful counterpoint to the troops own reports. Anything you can provide us would be useful.”

Jax would have liked no interference from Billy, but he knew it was impossible. Rather he would appear enthused, which just might put the AI off a little. It would also allow him to have an excuse for further troop movements. He did not want to leave any particular pattern for the AI to study; everything must appear random.

*

Esteban had supervised the unloading of the first dropship and now walked into the larger bay of the second craft. The main body of the soldiers had now disembarked, leaving a small knot of men around the uncovered crates. With a crack, the top section of one of the boxes was broken free and a portable hoist brought forward. With much grunting and cursing, the contents were removed and stood upright.

“They seem to have survived the journey with little damage,” grinned the nearest Tech, slapping the metal sheathing the structure.

“Yes,” agreed Esteban, turning to the hulking soldier next to him, “how long will you need?”

“Give us a couple of hours, Sir, and we will be ready.”

Esteban nodded at the ex-Ice Hellion Elemental who even now looked on the recently revealed and repainted power armour. So far, so good. Now came the hard part.

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch

Post by Rayo Azul » 2015-02-09 08:26am

Chapter Two


The wind stirred the long grass in which Jonti hid. He had followed the God’s message to the letter and, in the company of two of the small metallic creatures, was now camped near to the strange humans’ encampment. The noise of the huge objects which had bounded skywards on columns of fire, had almost unmanned him. They were only the first of his many terrifying experiences.

Armoured parodies of humans stalked the earth on their gigantic legs; one had raced by him at an incredible speed, another leaping high into the air, flames wreathing its legs. The God had told him to watch and occasionally spoke to him in a tinny voice from within one of his unwanted companions. It was difficult for Jonti to describe exactly what he saw; he had a limited vocabulary when it came to divine creatures and their works.

Now he waited for night and his horrifying assignment. He was to approach the camp as close as possible, facilitating the God’s minion access. For him, it would have been much easier for the thing to approach on its spindly legs than him on his chattering ones. Jonti was sure that these monsters would be able to hear him at any moment. So, he waited, now and again bobbing up from cover to check what was happening.

A roar of sound made him fall to earth, covering his ears against the onslaught. It seemed to be coming closer and he supposed that another of the monsters was about to pass him by. The sudden movement of the God’s creatures frightened him further; they shot away on tiny legs, trying hard to hide within the grass. One almost made it, as the other disappeared in a boiling cloud of something, but the force of the explosion shattered two of its legs. It was given no other occasion to escape as a shadow whizzed over the prone man, followed by a heavy thump. The air was rent by a chattering roar and then there was silence apart from the tread of heavy feet.

“What do we have here?” boomed an awful voice. Jonti fainted.

*

Esteban had been warned by his Tech that they were picking up strange signals and had immediately redoubled his vigilance. Scanning equipment soon gave the direction and immediate location of the spies and he had sent his Icestorm out to draw the attention of whoever it was. He did have another reason; triangulation of the position and the use of the Omnimech’s TAG. In the meantime, Esteban had mounted a show, with his other Mech’s marching to and fro, infantry pretending training manoeuvres and one Elemental sneaking out under the cover of all the furore.

It had been the Icestorm’s pilot, Santos, who had provided him the signal’s location and his lone Elemental the opportunity of closing in. Whatever could be said of Ice Hellions they certainly moved quickly. Close on the heels of his SRM, the Elemental Moore, had finished off the enemy. That at least had been his brief report. He had also mentioned a little surprise, and Esteban zoomed in on the approaching warrior, a bundle of something slung over his shoulder.

*

Jonti kept his eyes closed; he had already emptied his stomach over the rear of the monster’s shoulder and he truly wanted to die. Without warning he was dumped to the ground, the fall bringing up against an enormous foot. Jonti screamed and fainted once more.

“Now this,” said Esteban through his external speakers, “cannot be our threat?”

“No,” replied Moore, “there were two small robots.”

“Were?”

“They will no longer be a threat,” replied Moore smugly.

“And will not allow our Tech’s the pleasure of investigating them?” asked Esteban, sarcastically.

“That is correct,” replied an unchastened Moore.

Esteban decided that this one would need watching, closely. With a sigh, he popped the hatch on his Mech and began to climb down. He should look on the bright side, they did at least have someone to question.

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch

Post by Rayo Azul » 2015-02-09 08:27am

It was a strange tale, punctuated by references to the God and his minions, which Jonti unfolded once he had been revived and ensured that no-one was going to eat him. Esteben assumed that Billy had somehow activated and antique communication net, and was using it to indoctrinate local inhabitants. What he could not understand was why. These people were well below the level of sophistication of the old Empire and the thought of them presenting any kind of threat to the Dark Falcons was laughable. Having said that, the AI’s use of robots also indicated that there was more here than met the eye.

“What else did your God ask you to do?” he asked carefully, trying to draw the frightened local out.

“He asked me to gather a group of believers who could be trusted,” replied Jonti.

“And how is that going?” Esteban’s interest was piqued but he deliberately took his time.

“Well,” said Jonti, relaxing under the friendly gaze of the young officer, “even now they are carrying out His wishes.”

“Oh, and what would they be?”

“I shouldn’t really tell you,” said Jonti, leaning closer in a conspiratorial fashion, “but I know that I can trust you.”

“Go on,” encouraged Esteban.

“Even now they are searching the Graven hills for the sign...”

Esteban deliberately kept quiet. He assumed the youth was speaking about the rocky outcrop which pierced the far horizon, but he wanted to make sure.

“Ah, the sign,” he agreed.

“Yes,” said Jonti raising one dirty sleeve to show a recently etched tattoo, “the sign...”

Esteban gulped. He wanted to instantly race from the youth’s presence and call Jax, but he knew that would not be possible. Billy would, no doubt, be monitoring for such a message, especially as two of his minions had so recently ceased to function. This was one problem that he would have to deal with on his own.

*
Esteban stared at the crumpled sheet of paper in front of him. He had copied the sign on it a number of times; a manic doodle which he hoped was a mistake. That Billy was looking for it gave him real pause for thought. The Graven hills poked over the horizon in a quietly ominous fashion and he took the only decision left to him. Grabbing his cooling jacket he stalked from his tent, shouting.

“Mount up, we’re moving out!”

*


The group of unwashed tribesmen poked the ground with their sticks, following the commands given by their God. It was late in the afternoon when one called excitedly. His wooden implement thunked against something hard. He prodded two or three times to be sure and then began scraping the earth clear. Slowly, joined by his fellows, he unearthed a grey stone structure. With hard work they cleared a roughly six metre square section and cried with joy at their success.

“The sign! The sign!”

There painted clearly on the opening was what they had been looking for. A small silver machine skidded across the exposed surface and began transmitting a live feed to its Master, who laughed gleefully to himself. They had found it.

*

A token crew had been left at Esteban’s camp-site and they scrambled to their feet as they heard the incoming rumble of the shuttle’s engines. Their officer had been insistent that they could only communicate his message directly to Jax. When the ship landed, no time was taken to discharge any of the supplies, instead the craft immediately lifted off, returning in the same direction from which it had come.

Unseen against the fading sun, a sleek silver shape banked and began to descend rapidly, stooping down upon the fat shuttle. Billy was taking no chances.

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch

Post by Rayo Azul » 2015-02-09 08:28am

Chapter Three


The Hellion Prime topped the rise, its body twisting in human parody. Esteban keyed his transmitter.

“Do you have them?”

There was a moment’s delay and then Moore’s dulcet tones reverberated in his helmet, “Nothing yet, but we have detected movement ahead.”

“Very well, investigate and report back immediately you make contact.”

The lack of response made Esteban grin, as did the whimpering from below him. He had Jonti strapped into a jump chair and the tribesman seemed to swing between religious ecstasy and sheer terror. An explosion registered on his sensors, and he saw a cloud of smoke and flame boil briefly upwards in the distance.

“Moore! Come in, Moore!”

There was no reply.

*

Moore was at that moment too busy to speak. A drone had materialised from nowhere and fired a volley of missiles at the rocks ahead of them. He and his men had hit the ground before they realised that it was not aiming at them. That though was about to change.

“Missiles!” he barked and two of his men knelt to fire. It was a long shot but they needed to do something. Just before he gave the order to fire, a PPC flashed brilliantly and he heard the distinctive sound of a Mech at full run. The drone shied away, presenting its belly to the Elementals.

“Fire!”

*

Jax was perturbed; he had heard nothing from Esteban nor the re-supply shuttle and Billy was just a little too happy. That and the light tanks which growled incessantly as the AI carried out his own training. Flights of drones patrolled the skies over the complex and shadowed any of the Dark Falcon fighters which had the temerity to take to the skies. It was fortunate that Elana continued to reinforce their Training Camp, yet an attack by Billy was not to be ignored.

His latest interview with the AI had been a waste of time; Billy spent more time singing ridiculous ditties than in true conversation. When he did speak, it was with an obvious disdain. It was time to get out of here.

The shuttle that waited for him suddenly looked slow and defenceless. It was, but it seemed so much more so. Jax moved inside, his guard following him on board.

“Are we ready?” he asked the pilot.

“For anything, sir,” replied the pilot, nodding towards the spare helmet he carried in his hand.

“Good,” replied Jax, “get us out of here.”

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch

Post by Rayo Azul » 2015-02-09 08:28am

Boulders showered down upon Moore as he pushed forward; the drone had last been seen streaming smoke as it disappeared behind the hills. Esteban’s orders had been terse; get up the hill and secure the position and use whatever force is necessary. So far they had seen no-one, but intelligence suggested there were at least some of Jonti’s brother tribesmen about. Another rock spanged off his armour and Moore opened up with his machine gun. There was a satisfying shriek and the thud of a falling body.

Being precipitous by nature, Moore was loath to wait any longer.

“Missile. There!”

An answering roar signalled that he had been obeyed and a huge hole was blown in the covering rocks. Two more bodies were thrown away and he urged his men on. Lasers fired, machine guns stuttered and soon there was nothing but bleeding and broken tribesmen sprawled ungraciously in death. A flash of silver caught Moore’s attention and he reacted automatically, bullets smashing into the small robot. It squealed and fell over .

“Position secured!” he reported and turned, ready to vent his displeasure on the small mechanical device, but it had disappeared.

*

“Elana, we are on our way,” transmitted Jax, careless in his haste. Billy would hear anyway, and he was more concerned about getting back, than being overheard. Only static answered him.

“We’ve got company, Sir,” said the pilot, indicating the points on his tactical display, “and they are not friendly.”

“What can we do?” Jax was calm, if nothing else, he needed his people confident.

“If we can reach the low hills, then we have a chance.”

“Do it,” Jax agreed, “and tell me that we at least have something with which I can fire back.”

The pilot grinned at him and then passed him his pistol.

“Well, that’s something…” grunted Jax.

*

Esteban climbed down from his Mech and walked over to the exposed structure. It was a stone archway, which had been filled in with rubble and the tribesman had begun the laborious work of uncovering it.

“It is over here,” Moore indicated what appeared to be part of a metal door. On it was etched in much clearer lines of black and yellow the sign. There could be no mistake.

“They will be coming for this,” he said to Moore, “we need to hold this position until we can get in touch with Jax.”

“Who?” The question was asked in a flat, unconcerned voice and Esteban was at last relieved he had Moore with him.

“Whoever and whatever Billy can throw at us,” replied Esteban.

Moore nodded and began shouting orders.

*

The shuttle pilot was good. He held the unwieldy craft as close to the ground as the rocky terrain would let him, but Jax knew it would not be enough. His men had helped him into his power armour, even though they were only equipped with light body armour. Now all they could do was wait. At any moment, Jax expected to feel the shuttle shudder with the impact of laser or missiles, but not one of his men showed fear. Rather, they were angry; they wanted someone to kill.

“Prepare for disembarkation,” the voice of the pilot reverberated in Jax’s headset.

“What?” The word was forced from Jax in surprise.

“You will have ten seconds to get clear once we round this next outcropping, I can give you no more.”

“And you?” asked a concerned Jax.

“I have my own plans, and your weight is slowing me down!”

Jax knew better than to ignore the man’s sacrifice; he and his guard would stand a better chance on the ground, and just maybe Billy could be fooled into thinking them dead.

“We will make them pay,” he said through gritted teeth.

“I’m counting on it,” replied the pilot calmly, as he held the shuttle level, the engines cycling down, “Now, get out of here, Sir!”

“Move!” shouted Jax, as the side door cracked open. He waited until all of his men were out, before jumping clear; his jets at least making his landing a little easier. Engines roared back into life, as the shuttle began to move away, a small hillock providing it with sparse cover.

“Down!” screamed Jax as he picked up the approaching drones, long before the sound of their passage echoed through his suit. He watched the shapes flash by; predators intent only on their kill. It was at that moment he swore a terrible oath of vengeance against the AI. Shortly after he heard the roar of missiles, the telling thump of their impact and watched a cloud of smoke and debris boil into view.

Jax took a short while to stare after the remnants of a brave man, before ordering his men into line. They had a long march ahead of them. He alone could not hope to face the AI; he needed men and machines and he knew just where to get them.

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch

Post by Rayo Azul » 2015-02-10 11:24am

Chapter Four

Elana was troubled: no word had been received from either Jax or Esteban’s force. She was certain that the AI was to blame and had put the whole of their forces on alert. All outlying personnel had been recalled and Mech’s were patrolling the approachs to the Fortress. What fighters they possessed had been recalled and their ship had been moved out of close orbit. It would be ready for when they need it, but she wanted to avoid any action on behalf of Billy.

Shuttles were waiting, powered up, to rapidly move her Elementals wherever they would be needed and a drop ship was also standing by. Where were they?

*

“Interference, Sir,” Jax nodded, it was as they had feared.

“Keep trying for a short while, although I really want to avoid any surprises from our erstwhile ally.”

Jax and his men were still within the shelter of the foothills; it would have taken him a lot les time if they had all been equipped as he, but that could not be helped. They needed to re-enter Billy’s complex with as little fuss as possible. Drones would be able to pick them up on their scanners, so they needed some form of diversion. As much as his men wanted to protect him, he was the only one who could do this job.

“Wait until you see the fireworks start, and then come running..”

He did not wait for an answer, but began to run. The exhilaration of the suit’s movement overtook him, and he soon forgot about the danger. Billy had made his first mistake in leaving him alive, it would not be his last.

*
The rubble was cleared away and Esteban could see the entrance clearly. Beyond the attempts at camouflage, a large tunnel stretched away. It was easily tall enough for his Mech to pass, but in the first instance precaution indicated that the Elementals would have to scout out any hidden dangers.

“Moore,” he said quietly, “the job is all yours.”

Moore and his team activated their external lights and moved inside, scanning as they did so. The walls were clearly man-made and a double metal track cut through the rock of the floor. Lights dotted the ceiling and walls, but they were inactive. Whoever had left this facility, had one so after shutting down all power.

“Nothing so far,” said Moore, as he led his men further in.

The floor sloped down, leading to a large circular chamber. Abandoned machinery littered the open space and they had to take some care to avoid the obvious pitfalls. On the other side of the chamber, another tunnel mouth could be seen and he motioned his team towards it.

*

Esteban was the first to receive indication of an approaching enemy; tactical information rolled across his screen, identifying the red dots as SLDF equipment. He had no doubt that they were unfriendly forces, but he tried hailing them anyway. Silence was his only reply and he ordered his men to their stations.

“Drones and shuttles,” he muttered, “what surprises to do you have tucked away, Billy?”

They had little time to wonder as the first missiles screamed towards them, blasting huge chunks of rock from the hillside.

“Return fire only when you have a lock,” he ordered. Esteban was more concerned at what was coming next. They had little ammunition and a long fight would be a serious disadvantage.

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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch

Post by Rayo Azul » 2015-02-13 08:53am

Moore continued into the tunnel. His suit’s meagre lighting allowed him to at least see where he was going. Switching to infra-red had done him little in the way of a favour and now he insisted that his men split up and find some form of light. He was blinded briefly as light flooded the available space, and automatically switched from assisted vision to normal.

“Power on…”

It was a little late, but welcome. The tunnel stretched on, finally terminating in a double set of doors. A mess of wire and metal to the right-hand side, indicated where the door controls had been shot away. Scarring around it also seemed to show that someone had tried desperately to break in. It was curious that there was no other evidence; no bodies or spent weapons littered the area, it was as though it had been swept clean.

“Sir?”

Moore moved to see the where one of his men pointed. The damned sign was highlighted clearly on the left wall, a large arrow pointing towards the double doors.

“Looks as though we will have to do this the hard way,” Moore muttered and motioned the explosive to be brought forward.

“This had better be worth it, “ he said, as he saw the charges placed. He tried to contact Esteban, but received no reply.

*

Billy monitored his force’s movement as they approached the installation and began firing. It had been unfortunate that Jax had moved his training force into the area, but that would soon be taken care of. He had ferried a number of his drones there, both to give him air-cover and to allow signals to be relayed directly to him. Larger craft were now approaching, they had lifted light tanks to join the push.

It had been a shame to have had to kill Jax, though in reality Billy was incapable of feeling remorse. Once in control of the Complex, he had been able to reactivate many of the dormant installations and as each hour passed, he felt more secure. There was still the threat of the Frigate and the potential arrival of other external threats. It was because of this he had determined it necessary to open the warehouse; its contents would make him almost invulnerable.

Troops were mustering in the main warehouse of the complex; not all had remained loyal to the Dark Falcons. Those from the local populace had been torn between respect for Jax and his people and worship. They were of little consequence, but it helped. The next phase was the neutralisation of the Dark Falcon Fortress. Air strikes would be the most effective, however a ground attack would give him a chance to field test his awakened equipment.

The AI was still congratulating himself when he mentally shuddered as a number of his external sensors were destroyed explosively.

*

Jax had abandoned caution. He needed to draw fire so that his men could get close. His suit was flat out as he hit the open area in front of the entrance to the complex. The scream of a lock allowed him to use the precious missile in his launcher. It spat forth in a flat trajectory, smashing into the guard post and destroying the gun emplacement. Still on the same course, his machine gun began to hammer incessantly, bowling over any figure rising from the rubble and shattering local sensor arrays.

His radio crackled as his men reported their progress. They were taking too long! Icons flashed onto his screen and he began to curse.

*

The door finally gave in after the third charge; not only had someone sealed this side, they had also walled up the other side of the door. Moore was beginning to lose what little patience he had when the signal was passed that they were through. No-one had dared to be first and the Elemental used his power claw to tear the hole a little wider. At last he had sufficient room and he forced himself in. Freebirth! Another tunnel. Would this never end?

“You two,” he pointed at the nearest of his men, “with me, and the rest of you get on with widening this entrance.”

He did not wait to see if they obeyed him, merely moved on, his light faintly illuminating the way ahead.

*

A missile slammed into the building behind which Jax sheltered showering him with rubble. This was not going to plan; no relief was possible as his men were pinned down, even worse than he was. It was time for him to do something stupid.

Cursing, he activated his jets, they gave him added momentum as he shot towards the nearest emplacement, firing his machine gun incessantly. He had not quite reached the position when everything turned upside down.

Missiles bombarded the whole defensive line, straddling the enemy positions with frightening accuracy. Billy was crazy! He was sacrificing his own troops just to get Jax!

“I assume that you are still alive?” Elana’s voice boomed into Jax’s headset, “We realised you were suited up and decided to get this over with quickly. Sorry for any damage to your paintwork.”

“Elana, how...” began Jax, then, “never mind. I assume you brought a few people with you?”

“We did, and a few spare suits,” she replied, “where do you want us?”

“Right down Billy’s throat,” responded Jax, “He has some explaining to do...”

*

There had been one more door, which had needed a small charge to open it. This time due to the lack of power to activate the lock. Strange symbols had begun to appear on the walls, once they were beyond the door; writing but of an unfamiliar king to Moore. More pictograms were seen at each junction of the corridor, or at the entrance to any of the many rooms which they found. Above all, the recurring symbol was seen; it was that which had sparked off Esteban’s concern and was the only thing which Moore recognised.

“Follow the sign,” he ordered, they needed to determine exactly what risk they were facing and quickly. Moore was not sure how much longer Esteban could hold out.

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Rayo Azul
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Re: The Dark Falcons Bk1+BK2 COMPLETE + BK3 Hidden Empire Ch

Post by Rayo Azul » 2015-02-17 06:54am

Chapter Five


“What can you see?”

“Nothing, give me more light…”

“Stop. What’s that?”

Moore turned and peered more closely, the boxes lay haphazardly against the wall, each one seemingly left where they had fallen, as though an undue haste had galvanised their former owners.

“Take care,” growled Moore, “experience tells me that this is just a little too easy.”

As if in direct response to his comments, the overhead lights flickered and were followed by a grinding noise.

“Contact!” screamed one of his men, “We have movement. Metallic and…frak!”

Moore had no need to ask for any explanation as a squat shape trundled into the corridor, arms extended towards him. He saw the puff of flame, followed by the roar of igniting gas. His sensors were blinded by the brilliant display and he heard a scream to his right, where one of his less-shielded men took the full brunt of the boiling discharge.

“Oh, no you don’t,” he said, aiming his auto cannon and firing.

*

Billy was unprepared for Elana’s arrival. None of his sophisticated spy network had warned him of the threat. As far as he was aware, she was still entrenched in the fortress awaiting his pleasure. There was only one real explanation and that was not all of his loyal troops were so. Weapons fire from outside, was mirrored internally. He switched his feed to the main warehouse area and was greeted by the sight of a pitched battle. Explosions ripped through his parked equipment, as shapes flitted forward, muzzle flashes stabbing forth. Well, he could deal with that.

“You said that you were willing to listen…”

All turned to watch the small screen which flickered into life. One man moved forward and nodded.

“Your freedom will be the reward if you provide me with a small service.”

“I am listening,” Star Captain Norizuchi growled, his deep voice expectant.

“I have a little trouble with some wayward Dark Falcons. Deal with them.”

“With pleasure,” said the Star Captain, and the cell door clicked open.

“Follow my directions to the letter. There are weapons awaiting you. Do not fail me or try any tricks. Your lives depend on it.”

Norizuchi smiled. He had been waiting for a chance, some way of regaining both honour and revenge. It seemed as though someone had been listening.

*

They were trapped. Esteban knew that there was no way down; light tanks and attack drones would tear them apart, the moment they stepped out from their defensive positions. However, he smiled to himself, the tanks still needed a way up here.

“All missiles will fire on the co-ordinates I am transmitting…now!”

He waited for the confirmation of his men then gave the order. With a whoosh, a volley of SRM’s arced upwards, their trajectory’s short and deadly. Almost at once they struck, their detonations tearing huge holes in the hillside and sending rocks tumbling down. The avalanche of stone gained momentum, a second volley striking at the now pockmarked hillside. With a groan, one side of the hill peeled away and added its irresistible force to its bouncing brethren. Slowly, the dust cleared and Esteban was satisfied. No tank could get through that. The only problem was that neither he or his men were going anywhere.

*

Elana hunched down beside Jax, her Elementals firing continually at the entrance way into the complex.

“Well, I would think that he knows that we are coming now?”

Jax laughed, “I’m sure that he does. The real question is how are we going to get inside?”

“Our fighters are airborne and our dropship and Mechs are on their way. They will land once we have neutralised his defences.”

“No,” said Jax, clear for the first time on his plan of action, “there is somewhere else we need to be.”

“What of our people inside?” asked Elana.

“Can you contact them?”

“Yes.”

“Okay,” Jax said, determination in his voice, “they are to cause as much damage as possible and make their way to us. We will form a beachhead in this entrance and hold it until they reach us.”

“And if they cannot?”

“Then they will make us proud,” replied Jax through gritted teeth, “and we will make sure that they are remembered.”

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