Classified Location: Chad
Time: 9:24 AM
Operator: Ace Kyloth
Operation Armored Finale
“10 seconds to target”, the Ranger yelled, opening the 260’s rear hatch as I pressed in the clutch of the M4, made sure the shifter, my link to the 11 speed Tanker transmission, was in neutral and gave the key a turn. Te 36 Cylinder Detroit Diesel in the back gurgled to life and roared to 11,000 RPM when I gave the pedal a press, shaking the entire plane. Rachel was sitting beside me, strapped into the Recaro Tanker seat with a 5 point harness, keeping an eye on the radar that would be provided by the drone the tank came equipped with. Nina, who was at my back, was manning the 20mm cannons and the machine guns while Hunter, at Rachel’s back, had free reign with the 155’s and the Coaxial 762s.
“When this is over”, I said putting the parking brake down and releasing the clutch, “pizza’s on me.”
“We’ll hold you too it”, Rachel said as the Ranger in front of us released a level.
“Releasing the Devil!”, he shouted as the tank flew out of the back of the plane, Calen’s tank following us closely. The feeling of the tank being in mid air was like none other. A feeling of pure adrenaline, even more so when the tank’s suspension compressed with an ear splitting hiss when the treads touched the ground. As soon as the rocking stopped, Alex spoke up.
“Time to work Tier X.”
At the ending of his sentence, the pedal was on the floor. The tank lurched and the RPM Needle jerked from it’s 450 idle to over 2700 and the diesel in the back screamed a scream that would put the Honda’s V6 to shame and give the supra a run for it’s money. The MPH climbed in such a way that I thought I was back in my Van when I first had my license. It was frighteningly quick for weighing more than 70 tons. The tank tached out at 12,700 Rpm and forced me to shift to second gear. The needle jumped down to 4500 and the acceleration once again resumed.
“Are you sure this ain’t the Civic?”, Nina yelped, as much out of fear as it was pure joy.
“Positive!”, Rachel giggled, “coming on the first target now, Hunta! Those guns ready!?”
“You better fucking believe it!”, Hunter said as the M4 flew over the ridge, surprising every single Reborn below it. The X-01s simply charged at us, but Nina turned the 20’s on them, which turned them into paste. Not too long after I flew the tank over the sandy ridge, the first shot rang, vibrating the entire tank.
“Power substation down”, Hunter said, “Next target is the AA batteries and back up generators.”
“We got that shit on lock down”, Calen said as his and four other tanks came flying over the ridge, “you take the AA turrets, we got the generators.”
“And I’ll hit the monorail”, Hawk said as she flew overhead with four other Warthogs, “Thunder 1-1 is established in the overhead and ready for tasking. Take out those AA guns so’s we can lay waste to these fucks once and for all.”
“Rodger that Thunder 1-1”, I said, “Overlord this is Devil 2-2, am I cleared for Secondary targets?”
“Affirmative Devil 2-2”, Morningstar said, “you are cleared for the AA Turrets and the monorail.”
“Fuck yes!”, Hunter said as he turned the 155’s on the nearest AA Turret, which was a Seaspray that had turned it’s sights on Hawk and her team of Hogs.
‘Boom goes the cannon!”, Hunter said ringing the round off. It smashed into the Seaspray almost instantly, like it was firing a hit scan and not a steel slug.
“155 magazine at 75 percent”, the Dozer’s computer said.
“Hunter”, I said, “Save those shots for something important.
“Got ya”, he said, “switching to the Coaxials.”
I took the tank on a round trip around the Black River complex, a giant dome like building that reminded me of the Sat Com array from Ghosts. The Dozer made short work of the AA emplacements and Enemy armor, but not the Missile Trucks. We’d been focused so much on the AA turrets and the Monorail that we hadn’t seen them roll out and target us.
“Devil 1-1”, Calen said, “be warned, you got a couple of enemy AT trucks targeting you, take ’em out or your about to get a half dozen Tomahawks dropped on your heads.”
“I got something for them”, I said kicking down to ninth gear as I power slid, yes, I drifted the tank, around the corner where the trucks were, catching them from behind, with everything pointed at them.
“Light ’em up!”, I said as Nina spun up the mini’s and Hunter let the Coaxials rip. The Dozer made short work of the trucks, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a train pulling a shipping container and a car full of barrels, as well as one with what looked like a laser cannon, making a get away. It was the same Turbine Hybrid engine that had crashed back in California. My guess was they kept a back up line hidden in the sand, and if that was the case, I’d run right over it.
“We got a train making a get away!”, Calen said.
“Moving to intercept”, I said flooring it. The Diesel engine screamed to 12,700 as I shifted back into 11th gear, topping out at 140 MPH. I knew the train was faster, as the one in California had been doing 203 when it crashed, but I didn’t need to catch it. I just needed to hit it, one shot was all I needed.
“We only need one shot!”, I said, “Hunter, get the big guns reloaded, we get one chance and if we lose this train we’ll never catch it again!”
The Diesel was wailing and crying for the 12th gear it didn’t have as I made a desperate attempt to get close enough to the train for an accurate shot. A normal Abrams probably could have made it, but the targeting system on the Dozer was made to fire the 155’s only on the move, which was what this tank was good at, running and gunning. The tank flew over random bumps in the dusty ground like nothing. I could see on the my screen that we were almost lined up.
“Little more”, Hunter said, “little more.”
The cross hair turned red as the train noticed us and readied the laser cannon to fire.
“Send ’em!”, I shouted.
“Firing!”, Hunter said as he let the two 155 slugs go. One of them hit the shipping container, the other hit the tanker car full of the train’s natural gas reserves. The result? One hell of a fireworks show.
“BOOM BABY!”, Hunter cheered, “SCREW! YOU! THAT WAS FOR RILEY!”
“For Riley!”, Rachel said
“For Riley!”, Nina and I said as I slowed the tank to a stop, “Morningstar, it’s done. Black River’s history.”
I could hear cheering on the other end of the line, “what you think of the tank son?”
“Handles like a dream”, I said, “Screams like V-Tech and packs enough firepower to sink a Battleship.”
“Pack it on up”, Morningstar said, “come on home.”
~~2 Days Later~~
Wearing the Venom Dress uniform, up until now, made me feel a part of something bigger, something that was worth losing my life for. It was an elegant Uniform, a USMC Style Jacket, pants with a special dress camo that was just for us. White rings around the sleeves, the wound para cord on each side, our ranks and names on the collars and our medals on the side of our dominate hand and the fancy, carbon fiber toed, Kevlar and leather combat boots. Our Venom Pins just below our right shoulders.
We were behind the dome, saying good by to Riley and Void, who’d succumbed to his injuries on the way back to 29. There wasn’t anyone without dry eyes as the Priest, Father Daniel, a man I knew quite well, said the funeral. All our families were here, Sam and the broad members had flown them out to see us. When Father Daniel finished with the prayers, I stepped forward, pulling the Venom Pin from my jacket, setting it on Riley’s casket.
“I’m gonna miss you brother”, I said, “see you on the other side.”
With those words, I jammed the pin into the casket and returned to my seat. Nina, Carlos and the others stepped up as well, much to my surprise, doing the same with their pins as I had. The funerals were quite possibly the worst experience of my life, even more so than getting shot, stabbed and blown up. Venom recruits had been invincible, right up until we weren’t.
And you wanna know something werid? Father Daniel flew out here to do my wedding with Nina, but he ended up doing a funeral instead. Funny how shit works out sometimes ain’t it? I wasn’t in the mood to talk to him about getting married right now, all I felt like doing was hitting the road. I changed out of my uniform into an old shirt and jeans, grabbed the keys to the Civic and went to the hangar. I grabbed the car, let myself out of 29 and stopped in front of the high way, turning the Go Pro on, setting up a live stream.
“Hey guys”, I sighed, “Josh here. As you can tell, I’m not in the best of spirits. Why? Well….that’s quite a story. Shall we?”