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DaRedOne

Storm Dancer - A story about big machines and reckless pilots

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Hello guys! This story came after I played around with my Raicho a little, and it is based on one of my favorite games recently. It is not 100% accurate to what happened in the game (My Suryat did beat a Domaru in cc, though :D), but my aim was less to make it very faithful to the game and more to tell an engaging story. Hope you guys enjoy it!

 

STORM DANCER

Bullets trailed along the armored bulk of the warehouse, a Domaru Butai lowering his head behind cover and clutching where the heavy caliber projectile had detonated inside his suit, the reactive armor turning what would have been a lethal blow into merely inconvenient. It still hurt like mad, and he knew he couldn’t put his head up again or the alien war machine currently spraying his and his fireteam’s position with heavy machinegun fire would turn him into bloody pulp.

 

A Raizot TAG was not a war machine. It was a tool for hunters, for the more savage and violent of the red skinned alien morats to be able to fight and kill the beasts of their home planet in hand to hand combat. The Storm Dancer, the name etched on the machine’s scarred right shoulder plate as if to announce its name to all humans it was about to kill, was a blood red beast, roughly fourteen feet tall and so extremely heavy its armored dewclaws cracked into the pavement when it moved. Its head was customized to look like a fanged monster, and the skull of some giant reptilian alien hung from its back as a grisly trophy. It made a constant, thrumming roar as its heavy gun shot over and over again, riddling the armored warehouse with bullets.

 

“Oyat, that’s enough!” A gruff voice roared on the pilot’s headset. Inside her armored suit, Oyat Karakot, the young yet highly accomplished pilot grinned from ear to ear, ignoring her commander’s orders and continuing to riddle the human’s last position with high powered bullets, each one the size of her balled fist. She often joked that using a machinegun was like punching the enemy at a distance and some other pilots would even agree with her at that.

 

“Oyat, our time is running out” another voice, this one much calmer and feminine, sounded on her communication device “I can see some more of the human warriors advancing on the left flank. I will create a distraction and you move on, complete your objective”

 

The pilot huffed and rolled her eyes as the clip of her heavy gun emptied. She never let the weapon click as the sound cue was often enough to signal any predators around that she was open for a strike, so as soon as the ammo counter on her visor hit zero, she let the trigger go and slid the magazine off the long, heavy gun of her Tactical Armored Gear. “Okay, sis.” she answered while reloading “I’ve got the humans hunkered down, what was I supposed to do again?” a smirk on her lips as she asked. Oyat wasn’t dumb or airheaded, but she knew pretending to be so was one of the few things that could make her usually stoic sister lose her temper

 

“Ammo dump. Twenty paces to your right. Blow it up” Ren’ehk’s voice was short, crisp and violent. “I see the humans coming. Here’s your distraction.” The packmistress was too far away for even the enhanced optic sensors of the heavy TAG to pick her up, but a loud detonation several hundred paces to her left followed by billowing clouds of oily smoke told Oyat her sister had indeed engaged the human fighters on the other side of the field.

 

There was a hiss and a clack of metal opening as the pilot slid off the armored cockpit, flexing her lean, muscular arms and stretching her legs as if she were on a holiday stroll. Looking around, it seemed the humans had diverted all their attention to the left flank, and even through the smoke she could see flashes of gunfire and flamethrowers as the battle raged on. “Tch. Lucky girl” Oyat smirked to herself, imagining how much fun her sister was having right now.

 

Ren’ehk wasn’t having any fun. She watched as the Ikadron batroid her commander had sent in to flush out the human armored soldiers was completely bisected, head to groin, by a single sword slash coming from an armored human that looked like some hellish beast. He had been using some sort of optical disruptor trick to appear nearly invisible, but the flames had burned it off, even if they failed to actually damage the armored suit.

 

Ikadrons were expendable, but valuable tools. The heavy, lumbering gait of the combat drones was deceptively nimble, and they carried extra ammo and supplies as well as a pair of light flamethrowers that were excellent to deny cover and destroy high tech gear such as the Optical Disruptors the humans were so fond of.

 

There were two of those humans, two heavily armored, sword swinging warriors as nimble and skilled on their feet as the hunting beasts the packmistress had by her side, and she could tell her pets were snarling and eager to be let loose onto the human warriors “Ren’ehk, you are go” the commander spoke with some reverence towards the seasoned Oznat as she readied a pair of smoke grenades, breaking cover to hurl them over the heads of the human warriors.

 

“I told you the Ikadron was not necessary” she snapped as the humans got lost in the oily black smoke. “I don’t need to see to kill these humans” Ren’ehk was, for the first time in a long while, livid with anger. As an Oznat, she was used to hunting in a pack, often with the help of the larger males as she would flush the larger beasts she couldn’t kill on her own or with the help of her pets towards a group of stronger, better armed males to finish the job. The same tactic worked in combat, just swapping large, extremely predatory megafauna for cowardly, armored humans.

 

That meant her team, made up of herself and four of the so called ‘Hungries’, was perfect to deal with dug in forces like the two humans she was about to charge. The Hungries were insect like alien beasts used as terror troops by the Morat Aggression Forces, and as an Oznat Ren’ehk was used to wrangling and controlling these creatures. Her team consisted of a single male, called a Preta by humans, and three females, called Gakis. They looked very similar to each other for the untrained eye, but the huntress could tell the difference merely by listening to how they moved, as the heavier male made a more distinctive sound.

 

If she were the one drawing the battle plan, she would have kept the Ikadron on the back lines, closer to the commander, to serve as a last line of defense should the humans break through her assault. Her team was much better suited for the close combat these humans were so fond of, while the Ikadron, as effective a war machine as it was, had slow reflexes and could only really defend itself up close by blanketing the area with flames or electric shocks. But there was no sense in complaining now. Actions spoke louder than words.

 

Breaking through the smoke cover, the Packmistress pulled up her vulkan shotgun and aimed. She had never been a good shot, maybe that was why she had never tried to hunt inside a Raizot. Or maybe she just felt more comfortable around beasts than others of her own kind. It didn’t really matter, all that mattered was that the first human warrior was quickly turned into molten metal and flesh under her not so accurate, superheated shots. Vulkan shotguns fired shells filled with highly flammable material that erupted into a long gout of fire once they hit their mark, making aiming nearly unnecessary.

 

One of her beasts let out a subsonic growl and the Oznat turned in time to meet the second human’s blade with her own, screeching to call the other three hungries to her side and surround the armored man with her snarling, clawing and biting alien monsters. Ren’ehk was a master fighter, or at least she thought so until meeting these… It took her a moment to think about the different types of humans and which ones these were… The word was Samurai, or so she thought.

 

These Samurai fought like the megafauna from her own world. A single man was almost as deadly as her whole hunting pack, and she found herself clashing blade to blade way more often than she would have liked it. He was just so fast, and his armor made him as strong as her unarmored form, allowing him to shrug off her blows whenever they connected, while she had to weave out of the way when his blades came swinging back down, turning their battle into a deadly dance.

 

An underhanded swing from the human warrior had the packmistress reeling, raising her feet and screaming in pain as the blade tore into her thigh armor and grazed her skin, the cut lacking any real danger but still burning and making her leg kick out in reflex. Another sword came swinging from the opposite direction and Ren’ehk raised her own blade up to block it, only to watch in shock as bone blade met highly resistant, subsonic vibrating metal in a clash that had the Oznat’s blade sheared cleanly through.

 

Letting out a shrill call, the huntress kicked at her enemy’s armored chest, pushing herself and the human in opposite directions. She needed to put some distance between herself and the samurai, so with a series of quick clicks of her tongue she called for her Gaki beasts to swarm the armored warrior, allowing herself to get a small distance between them. The large, rabid creatures were no match for the human warrior, though, and he quickly cut one of them in half just like he had done to the drone not a few minutes ago.

 

The Oznat allowed herself to smirk as the acidic blood of the Gaki reacted with the atmosphere and caused a catastrophic, caustic detonation that even engulfed a few other of her beasts, leaving only herself and the single Preta alive… As well as the human warrior. His armor was half melted and pockmarked with damage, singed from fire, and blood leaked from a few cracks, the human warrior staggering for a moment as the packmistress raised her shotgun again, putting two shots into his chest, ending his life.

 

Meanwhile, far away from her sister’s frantic and nearly unsuccessful scramble for life, Oyat was busy setting an explosive charge on an ammo drum. “And one... two… three” she said to herself before signaling for the commander “This is Oyat, charges are set. Tell the Worm to blow them up, I’m going back to my Raizot” She didn’t even wait for the warrior officer’s confirmation, running as fast as she could towards her TAG even while the whole ammo dump went up in flames, the blazing fire so high it could be seen from miles away.

 

There was a long, siren like call that chilled the bones of the dug in human warriors as the Storm Dancer fired a few shots in the air in ecstasy “Come on, you apes! Let’s finish this!” the pilot called out with her suit’s loudspeakers in a horrible, mangled english accent that was barely understood by the humans inside the warehouse she was about to storm. It was common knowledge between the morats who had been fighting against humans that they were called ‘apes’ or ‘monkeys’ by the soft skinned humans, so, having noticed the similarities between their species, many morats had begun to return the favor.

 

“Oyat, fall back! Keep your suppressive fire position” The commander, a young Suryat who had been away from the fight so far, his only contribution the occasional short, controlled burst of suppressive fire, tried in vain to rein in the even younger pilot. She could even hear his sighing over the communication link as her machine thundered in, gun already firing even before she actually saw the enemy.

 

Kasaro cursed under his breath, tightening his grip around the reassuring bulk of his hemat heavy machinegun as he thought up a backup plan for when the reckless Raizot got herself incapacitated or killed “Ren’ehk, advance on the left, see if you can cover her as she comes up their right. I’ll hold here if they break through.”

 

“Yes, commander.” the Oznat grit her teeth and clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, calling for the lonely male who had survived the skirmish with the two human samurai “Should I go save my sister?” she asked the beast as if it could answer back, running her fingers along its crested head while catching her breath. Her left thigh throbbed and she had a limp, her five beast pack had been reduced to two, and her blade was gone.

 

Ren’ehk looked at her own claws, wondering how they’d measure up against human armor before picking up one of the human weapons from the ground and testing its weight. She took a few tentative swings with it, noting how it was much heavier than her bone sword, and how the gleam of the metal made it easier to spot without the optical disruptor to camouflage it “This will do” she said out loud to fix the idea in her mind, then snapped her tongue again, making the last of the Hungries lead the way as she brought up the rear, shotgun at the ready.

 

Far away from her limping sister, Oyat was euphoric. She rounded a corner and completely evaporated an armored human under a barrage of shots, then swung her heavy machine around a half destroyed container to trade fire with the rest of his squad. Once a Raizot got moving, it was hard to stop, the heavy machine building momentum and rolling like a charging bull, its gun held with both hands to keep it stable as it kicked and roared, the muzzle flash visible even as it dashed into the blazing fire of the now destroyed ammo dump.

 

“Come on! Shoot faster!” the pilot’s voice was amplified by her suit, booming out into the cacophony of the shooting to taunt the humans and whip herself into a frenzy. It felt satisfying, the neural feedback of the TAG making it feel as if she was holding the bucking heavy machinegun on her own hands, arms sweeping left and right as she sprayed indiscriminate fire over the defenders. “The storm has come!” she kept on, roaring and dashing from cover to cover, trying to get closer to use her flamethrower and roast the humans alive.

 

Now, credit where it is due, the four remaining humans did not falter under her unrelenting fire. Two of them closer to the Raizot opened up with a light machinegun and a pistol respectively, drawing her attention while the two further back pulled up a pair of exquisite, long, tube like weapons. Those were called Blitzens, expendable weapons that fired a single, high powered projectile that detonated a short burst of electromagnetic discharge once they hit the mark, perfect for rendering highly complex machinery useless for a short, but decisive time.

 

Oyat didn’t see the two humans line up their shots even as their compatriots were wounded by her reckless fire, but she did feel it in her bones when the burst of energy hit her machine and fried several of its circuits. The TAG seemed to choke, its gun arm bucking and firing a few more shots aimlessly before it went silent and still, turned into little more than an armored coffin with the pilot inside. Even her comms were fried, making it impossible for the young morat to contact her officer and admit her failure.

 

Their base was burning, but the humans had a chance to win the day now. The morats had brought a transponder with them, a beacon to call for extraction that would be very useful if the humans could capture it and reverse engineer the technology. If they could have it. The remaining samurai knew what to do as the four man team broke out of the burning warehouse and started running towards the established command post were Kasaro and a small group of remaining troops stood guard.

 

The gleaming white, skull like mask of the Suryat armor seemed to glower as it reflected the flames, Kasaro’s heavy machinegun barking as he unleashed a short burst, trying to suppress the advance of the humans. They didn’t care, their leader using a lighter, but no less effective weapon to riddle the warrior officer’s position with fire and allow his team to close in from the side, moving to entrap the suryat and end him there.

 

Kasaro cursed and spat on the ground as he ducked, a lucky shot denting his helmet and forcing him to rip it off and toss the horned, skull faced headgear to the ground. He was young, his face red and his white hair and beard cut short and square, making him look very much like an angry, horned ape as he spat again, chewing on his own bile in anger. He heard a call, a challenge, and rose in time to use his gun to block a downwards slash from one of the human warriors, as a single soldier came at him.

 

The Suryat recognized the human’s markings as a commander, and growled as he drew his sword. He hadn’t used it in such a long time, he barely remembered the basics of hand to hand combat. while the human commander clearly had been doing it his whole life, his swings short, precise and deadly. It wasn’t a gracious dance like it had been between Ren’ehk and the two invisible ones, it was short, brutal and ugly.

 

The human swung low, the blade cutting through the Suryat’s armor and shearing off a piece of his stomach and groin plates. Then he swung again, a swift backhand that should have torn the young warrior officer’s head off, but a quick riposte, more luck than skill, saved his life. Kasaro had one chance, and he made it, driving his own blade into the human’s midsection, putting as much strength as his muscles and the enhanced servos of his suit would let him, and felt something give under his weight. There was an ear piercing shriek of metal on metal as his blade tore out of the samurai’s back, covered in blood and coolant fluid.

 

As he shook the human free from his blade, kicking him off it for dramatic purposes, Kasaro saw himself surrounded by the three others, snarling and beating his chest with the bloody blade to dare them to come at him. He knew his luck wouldn’t hold up against three more of the close combat specialists, specially not if they attacked together, but if he could hold them just a little longer, one of the two sisters would complete their objective, and the mission would be done, his life be damned.

 

Inside her silent, cold TAG, Oyat fumed. She looked around the dark machine and then remembered a little trick she would do when trapped under rubble or even the dead bulk of a Demarok collapsing on top of her machine. She just had to hook one of her dewclaws on the lower base of the pilot seat, then wrap her legs around it, this way she could flex and push, growling in a very undignified position that was enough to force the tag to open, allowing her to slip off it. She had to wriggle and squirm, the neural connecting cables on her scalp snagging on the tiny opening and ripping off along with some of her hair, but she managed to free herself from the now useless machine.

 

“I’ll come back for you, big girl” she tapped the thigh of her armored steed to reassure it, then pulled up her pistols. A glance behind her and the sounds of shooting and roaring told her that her commander was getting his ass handed to him, but she didn’t care. There was a mission to be completed after all.

 

The fire in the ammo dump was a distraction, meant to force the humans out of the warehouse, to make them come engage the morats. However, the real prize was much smaller, much more dangerous. When the Raxxora Carrier fell many months ago, it was cannibalized and torn apart, its parts sold, stolen or just plain repurposed, and many of the rescue beacons used by strike teams just like her own had been stolen. Recovering these beacons was a top priority.

 

One of these was being studied in this very same facility the fighting had now reduced to mostly rubble, and Oyat knew it was inside another building, a small office behind the blazing warehouse. The pilot broke into a run, schewing cover or stealth as she knew the humans were either fighting her sister or her commander, and time was running low. Even with her communications link burnt off, she knew they had precious few minutes left before human reinforcements arrived and the fight became unwinnable.

 

She didn’t even use a door. There was a loud crash of shattering glass and splintered metal as a six foot tall, red skinned alien woman burst through the rightmost window of the office, her exposed stomach bleeding from many tiny cuts, and a shard of glass embedded on her left dewclaw as she raised both pistols and cut down the lonely guard of the place. He tried to turn and shoot at her, but she was both faster and a better shot, and soon his lifeless body was slumped, bleeding against a wall.

 

It was fast, the beacon was stowed in a box marked with a Combined Army symbol, and while she couldn’t open it, carrying it on her back was easy enough. Oyat was about to get out when the door was flung open and at the lightly armored form of Ren’ehk stood in the threshold “Where’s your TAG?” the packmistress asked with a snarl

 

“Incapacitated. I had to eject to complete the mission” Oyat answered while showing the box with the beacon “We should hurry, I think-”

 

“You don’t think” the Oznat snarled again, angry, but not raising her voice as she talked “If you had thought, you’d have stayed outside and kept the Domaru at bay while I circled around and got this” Ren’ehk scolded even as she, her sister and the sole preta stalked back, still looking for more humans. “Commander.” she opened her commlink “We got the beacon.”

 

“Good!” Kasaro managed a laugh as he ordered the last Ikadron to put itself in front of the three human warriors, stalling them just enough for the wounded warrior officer to retreat. There was very little of their strike team left, and the Suryat didn’t want to be on the casualty list too. “I’ll pull back with the rest of the team and we meet at the rendezvous point” he was calm, even at the possibility of a bloody and violent death. Suryats lived for war, and this was living.

 

“Can you send the Mechanoid to repair the Storm Dancer?” Ren’ehk asked “If it’s brought back online we can use it to cover your retreat” Behind her, Oyat beamed. She was ready to forsake her machine, but now it seemed like it would not be lost yet.

 

“Not the Mechanoid, but I can send a drone.” he answered while vaulting over a container, then pushing it over to stall the progress of the human soldiers. Behind him, the wriggling, worm like form of the Med-tech Mechanoid bobbed its bulbous head and clicked its tiny pincers in understanding, its mind travelling to command the small, agile drone waiting for orders at the other side of the compound to rush towards the last position of the Raizot.

 

Even when operating through a drone, the technical prowess of a Med-Tech was hard to rival. It managed to get the TAG up and running just in time as the two sisters reached it, and the younger one quickly climbed onto her heavy machine, already feeling herself electrified with the sudden return of her enhanced senses and strength.

 

Oyat moved her arm, and the Storm Dancer moved its own, raising the heavy machinegun and… There was a weight on her arm as something tugged on the long, heavy gun, pulling it down after some effort “no” Ren’ehk said “If we keep fighting, we’ll lose the chance to evacuate. You run now.” she said to the machine, looking up to glare at its glowing yellow eyes, unfazed by its size, strength or fearsome, animalistic looks.

 

The Raizot actually stomped in protest, but a quick look at the packmistress made the machine turn and starting running, its heavy steps smashing the ground whenever the metal claws dug in for balance. Ren’ehk let out a sigh as her sister listened to her for what felt like the first time, then pulled out the last of her smoke grenades for a risky, dangerous shot.

 

She was tired, her leg still throbbed, and her head had this steady ringing on it that meant a headache was coming like a charging war beast. Yet the Oznat had a strong hand, her arm swinging as she sent the grenade flying high in an arc, bouncing off at an angle against a building’s walls to land between the evacuating officer and the pursuing humans, giving him a minute of respite to put some distance between them.

 

The Oznat allowed herself to smile. Then, with a click of her tongue, she called her last pet to her side and began running, pushing herself and ignoring the pain on her leg. She could match the TAG in speed, even if she had to drop to all fours to do so, her claws digging in too as she had to use her hands to compensate for her limping leg. She could already hear the call of their dropship as it came in fast to pick up what was left of the fireteam.

 

“Oyat?”

 

“Ren?”

 

“You’re an idiot, reckless and immature. But good job.” Ren’ehk could swear she heard a little chuckle over her commlink “You’re still getting punished for ignoring orders, though. I’ll make sure of that. How about latrine duty? For the Hungries.”

 

There was another chuckle on the comms as Ren’ehk was the last to board their dropship. Of the entire strike team, only the officer, the med-tech, a hacker, the Raizot and the Oznat with her single Preta had survived, out of fourteen sent in. It had been a horrible, horrible mess, but the mission was accomplished, and that was enough.

 

As she removed her helmet, the gear fashioned from the skull of a Hungry alpha, Ren’ehk looked around the ship, sighing and nursing her thigh. one hand peeling her armor open to finally look at the cut, how it had swollen and looked infected. “hey, Ren?” The smaller form of her sister sat by her side, looking at the cut as if it was some novelty toy

 

Ren’ehk didn’t answer, she was too tired for it and as adrenaline was leaving her system a gigantic headache mounted on, her muscles feeling sore and painful from all the fighting and running. Instead she just closed her eyes and rested her head against the bulk of the ship, feeling the steady vibrations as it climbed out of the atmosphere, back to where their new assault carrier waited.

 

“Thanks. You know, for helping me save the TAG.” Oyat knew they didn’t have to repair the machine, her sister could have covered their escape with her smoke grenades just fine.

 

“Violence without purpose is just savagery.” The Oznat finally said, eyes still closed as she pinched the bridge of her nose “Just because you are the size of a beast doesn’t mean you have to act like one. Next time I might not be here to help.” the packmistress eased her shoulders, not bothering to look at her sister as she talked.

 

“Yes.” The younger huntress nodded, recollecting the lessons from their history books “I will be less reckless in the future.”

 

“You won’t.”

 

Oyat chuckled, a twinkle in her white eyes “I probably won’t, you’re right. But…” it took her a long moment to remember something suitably poetic to say back to her sister. Ren’ehk had a passion for philosophy, and the pilot knew she would never quite earn her sister’s respect if she could not match the ancient words of philosophers like Eugarat to her own actions “Through conflict, we are shaped.” the younger one settled on an easy one for now “Give me time, will you?”

 

Ren’ehk nodded, smiling to herself “Yes. I will give you time. But you’re still facing punishment. Don’t worry, I’m friends with the superior warrior officer…” Finally opening her eyes, the packmistress looked at her sister and their eyes met, both of them had matching white eyes, but Oyat’s looked like two bright stars, while her sister’s had the cold fire of tempered steel “I’ll make sure your punishment is sufficiently humiliating for our enjoyment.” Once more the Oznat allowed herself a smile, her headache making it small, but it was enough.

 

With a smirk, the pilot stood up, hissing as she remembered she had a glass shard embedded between her toes, and decided to go find a doctor. Well, if she was going to face some kind of grueling, cruel and unusual punishment, she was going to make sure she at least had her feet healed first. She didn’t say ‘Thank you’ again, as it felt unnecessary, but she did feel oddly thankful. It was said that the regiment was the only family of a morat, and the pilot was finally understanding why her sister acted the way she did.

 

Oyat sat down in front of the Med-tech Mechanoid and pointed at her bloody feet, the half machine half living creature nodding its odd, multi-eyed head and lowering itself to work on it. Meanwhile, the pilot pulled up her comlog and opened up one of the Treaties from Eugarat on Battle and War. Maybe there was something more to being a warrior, and maybe it was time the huntress started learning about that.

 

END

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