Wight sped around the rock outcroppings, being careful of the occasional obsidian outgrowth. Ricky grinned as he twisted his joysticks, and got a nasty idea. Entering a few commands into the console, his Raiju's backplate slid open. A large barrel protruded from the opening, he halved his screen, then realized there was no need to. He could fire at will and be sure of a hit.
The bombs fired out into the crowd of creatures, taking out large groups as the explosions went off. Ricky smiled in satisfaction as he watched body parts and green fluids go splattering in all directions behind him. This battle might be more fun than he thought. Sharp cracks rang out ahead of him as his squad mates' Gauss cannons fired, punching holes into the mob. These low class creatures couldn't stand up to much, but they were dangerous in large numbers.
Ricky let more bombs fly, his grin growing wider as the explosions buffeted his back. At last he made it to his squad and took up a position between Mojo and Crusader. He took a firmer grip on his large laser rifle and followed their example, firing at the wall of craggy, spidery, purplish flesh surging towards them. He noted their proximity, and with a small hint of nervousness in his voice asked, "Boss, should we let Zerstörer take a shot at these guys?"
"Good idea, Wight. Zerstörer? You're up. Make us a hole."
The heavy accent cut in, relish evident in his tone. "Copy that, Mojo. I will teach these creatures what a Howard-Class is capable of."
The tank with legs marched forward, cannons on either shoulder aligning with the targeting reticles on Burkhard's screen, and began firing explosive shells. The other three Raiju calmed themselves, knowing Zerstörer could handle this.
The enemy line quite suddenly found itself meters in the air, rent apart by the force of the 18-inch shells. The guns alternated, and Zerstörer stomped towards the enemy as he ripped a hole in their advance. When Burkhard was wondering if there were any end to these creatures, because there was an end to his ammunition, they vanished. He cooled his guns, instead taking up the heavy laser repeaters on the arms. However, they didn't charge in.
"I think they've stopped, Captain," Burkhard said. He scanned a mile out, but could find no evidence of life.
"Then we go forward," Jazz replied. "We've got to find a way to stop that thing. Besides, other squads are losing men. They're sending in air support to back us up. We should have a straight shot towards that thing. Everyone stick close to Cataclysm. I don't want him wasting his ordinance until we get within spitting distance of the big one."
"Aye, Sergeant," they responded, advancing in tight formation. Wight ran out front, with Crusader and Mojo to either side. Zerstörer stayed in the middle, ready to unleash phosphorescent hell on any monster unwise enough to get close, while Cataclysm brought up the rear. Jets flew over them, carpet-bombing the enemy forces. The guns of Hell's Mouth still rang out, hoping to find a weak spot in the giant's armor. They got another energy blast for their trouble. Jazz didn't know how many more of those the shields could handle, but he imagined it wasn't much.
As they advanced through the field of blasted rock and shattered bodies, they began to feel nervous. As though something was waiting for them. Ricky, always perceptive about such things, radioed, "Boss? I think there's something out here. Can't explain it, but we're being watched."
"Glad I wasn't the only one picking up those vibes, Wight. We need to save power, though. Can't have them deploying the mobile refueling stations this early. Keep an eye out, let me know if you see anything."
"Let them come," Crusader said, spoiling for a direct confrontation with these beasts. "I will show them the light of our Lord & Savior as I send them to Hell where they belong."
"Be careful what you wish for, Crusader," Patton growled. "You might get more than you bargained for."
"Agreed," Zerstörer backed Cataclysm's assessment. "We do not want to get into something we cannot get out of. Not before the mission is complete, at least."
They continued on for a minute, and as they came into a clearing ululating cries sounded around them. Malformed demons sprang out of the rocks and rushed the Raiju squad. Spider-like legs broke stone while muscled arms swung towards the mechs. Crusader and Mojo were ready for them, however, and leaped into action. Their swords flashed in the lightning as they cut limbs from bodies and heads from necks.
As the cries rang out, Wight blasted forward on his jets to get around them, turning on a dime and harrying them with laser fire. This sewed enough disarray for Mojo and Crusader to dispatch them while their attention was split. Wight wasn't trying to kill any of the creatures, that wasn't his job. He was a scout and a distraction, and he knew it. He served his purpose well, keeping out of the scrum and making sure the monsters never knew where the next hit was coming from.
A hulking brute ran at Cataclysm from around a boulder. It had to be an Ogre-Class monster, but Patton was ready for it. The cannons on the end of Cataclysm's arms split and became large claws. Patton chomped down on his pipe as he turned to meet the thing, and the hands of the Raiju met the hands of the beast in an impossible contest of strength.
They struggled as the battle raged around them, neither able to overcome the strength of the other. This creature was powerful, though, and Cataclysm wasn't built for long-term close quarters combat. Patton wasn't worried. He wrenched his right joystick and Cataclysm threw the beast's arm to the side, cocked back, and smashed it in the face.
The toothy maw collapsed in on itself, and Patton grinned around his pipe as he heard carapace and bones shatter. It roared at him and brought its now free arm around, slamming it into the side of the Raiju. The force of the blow put Cataclysm off balance, and as the mech hit the ground Patton's head hit a side console, and everything went black.
Burkhard saw this and turned his laser cannons on the creature about to peel Cataclysm open like a ripe fruit. Natural armor fractured and chipped under the onslaught, and the thing screamed defiance at its new opponent. Zerstörer changed over to a grappling claw and beckoned the creature closer. With a final shout it left Cataclysm on the ground, and as it advanced on Zerstörer Burkhard only hoped that Patton would collect himself soon.
Zerstörer had no jets to speak of, it was too heavy, but it could run. Burkhard charged the creature, getting in under its guard and delivering a punishing punch to its underbelly. The wind gushed out of it in a fetid cloud Burkhard was thankful he couldn't smell. He punched upward with the laser cannon and let fly, and the creature screamed as white hot light turned its insides to mincemeat.
Mojo and Crusader were finishing off their opponents as they heard the cry, and turned to help their squad mate. They each rushed the thing, blades shining as they sliced limbs from the grotesque body. The creature flailed, wrenching about to try and gain some distance from the things that were killing it. It was to no avail, however, as Wight appeared from thin air behind the thing and began firing into the side of its head. This drove it back into the blades and lasers of the attackers, and soon it was done, a perforated husk on the blasted rock.
As fluids from the thing pooled around their feet, the four considered Cataclysm, still prone. Wight came close and put a mechanical hand on the cockpit.
"Patton? You there? You can't be out this soon..." his voice sounded choked. Ricky was new, and hadn't had to see a squad mate die on the battlefield.
Jazz grimaced, cursing himself for not providing backup sooner. No matter that the situation hadn't allowed for it. It was his responsibility. His head jerked up as Burkhard's voice sounded on his radio.
"Mojo? What do we do? I doubt we can complete the mission without Cataclysm. He has all our heaviest ordinance."
A coughing sounded out over the radio, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief as Patton's gruff voice admonished them. "Hope you don't think a little thing like that could take me out. I've got plenty of fight left. Just let me get back on my feet..."
As Cataclysm rose ponderously, a burst of static squealed out of the radio. A voice cut in, panicked, harried.
"This is Sergeant Burneki of Squad 4! Requesting assistance! Repeat, requesting assistance! We won't last much longer!"
If you enjoyed this story, you can find many more like it here on my Steemit, or in the anthology Darkest of Dreams from DimensionBucket Media on Amazon. You can also find more of my work at my website, jimfear138.blogspot.com, including my weekly podcast and audiobooks I've produced. You can also throw me a tip if you like at Ko-fi.