Dark Ends (Chapter 1.3: Scattered Brawls)

In the grim darkness of the 22nd century, nations fight for domination of a planet that is near-traumatized by countless deaths and screams of agony.

They bleed for a world in which the strong rule with impunity.

They die for the fickle dream of a realm which is barren by the countless firestorms that ravaged Earth over these seemingly endless, dark years.

With the creation of Savior Pods that allow pilots to survive all sorts of hits without being incapacitated or killed, the definition of war is now defined by the economy as much as by the heroism that these common soldiers show.

In this war, there are no winners.

Such is the reality of the world in which they live.

There is only nothing but death and despair…in the 22nd century.


Death. Despair. Determination.


Seneca saw a couple of Boas along the way.

He first fired his Thunder and Pinata to scare the Boas away; even though they had better armor, they knew that they were outnumbered.

At the same time, two squads were flanking from both the Boa’s left and right side, ensuring that the German-made robots were trapped in a crossfire. The Vityaz personnel, armed with Punishers, were wise not to go below the 300-meter mark; after all, most of the Boas were equipped with Orkans and Thunders to create havoc when corner shooting.

Feeling brave, Seneca advanced closer as the flanking elements fired their Punishers at the Boas’ armor, quickly stripping it away.

But then he almost forgot the fact about the Thunders as he realized that two Boas were about to unleash their loads onto him.

With a roar, he charged, thinking that the Orkans and Thunders would miss their mark.

However, he was mistaken as the two Boas ripped the front armor of his Vityaz and destroyed his arms, ensuring that the German-made robots only needed to go for a couple of shots to end his mech career and force him out of his Savior Pod.

The schematics in front of him were quickly turning red, a sign that his life support is almost overwhelmed. He also saw that only one Pinata rocket launcher was left; both his heavy armament and light rocket platform were gone.

Cursing, he moved quickly towards the Boa’s back, hoping to shake off the light robots before they end his mech.

By then, the flanking elements have done their job as two Savior Pods coming from the Boas were seen flying towards the sky.

They have just gained one more block.

Seneca was already getting tired of this endless maze of streets…and his robot already needed critical repairs.

With a sigh, he pressed the giant red button and activated his Savior Pod, blowing away the roof of his near-dead Vityaz and flying towards the sky. After reaching a certain height, Seneca would be able to go back to friendly territory through the use of mini-thrusters and parachutes.

This is crap. We’re still early in the fight and we have already lost two dozen squads of Vityaz mechs? Holy crap, if the rumors about the Strider, Spectre and the Inquisitor are true, then may God help us…for real.

Knowing that the automated systems of the Savior Pod will bring him to safety, he slept, hoping to find consolation for a little while.


Meanwhile, the Kumiho scout teams have been able to destroy the supporting columns of the Transatlantic Federation south of the city.

Armed with two medium slots, the scout teams preferred Orkans for their quick reload and release onto the enemy.

“I can’t believe that it’s as easy as this! We didn’t even have to move a sweat!”

“That’s true,” said another pilot.

“Cut down the chitchat and focus on destroying the other batteries!” barked Commander Arthur Trinidad, leader of the 14th Scouts Division.

His figures had the hallmarks of a serious, grim figure. However, outside the battlefield, he is known to be a father to his men.

In the battlefield, he is a commander – to be feared and respected by friend and foe alike.

“Sir, we have already destroyed 75% of their support structure.”

“That is good, pilot. Let’s keep it up and we could probably have Milan by the end of the day,” remarked the commander.

“URAH!” the pilots shouted in assent.


“O la vittoria, o tutti accoppati!”

The phrase meant “we either win, or we all die.”

Italy has stood under the face of enemy assaults since ancient times.

Colonel Ariel Ventris, commander of the 25th Mobile Tank Division, just looked grimly at the enemy as they advanced along the Raccordo Autostrada de Sole, aiming to cut off Milan from the rest of the highway.

Many of his comrades have died already, as evidenced by the amount of charred tanks, missile vehicles and “super-armed” armored vehicles over the highway.

He had 43 tanks left, facing a force of 250 robots of all sizes and counting.

His task was to delay the advance as much as possible to allow the other Italian forces to strike back.

“Gunner, aim at the nearest robot, that’s some 356 meters away!”

“Loading five shells into the cannon!” exclaimed the loader.

“Firing!”

The Natasha was hit in the chest with a shell; however, for all their accuracy, they knew they need to unload at least 300 shells in order to destroy that robot.

They were running out of shells.

“Damn it, just continue shooting!”

Suddenly, another tank exploded as enhanced Kang Daes got their mark, penetrating the tank’s armor with their melt-impact combo shells. The shells are designed to melt whatever they hit and send the inner payload to explode inside the vehicle or target. While the mechas would have blocked that shell easily, Ventris was aware of the limitations of his tanks.

“I really wonder why the Air Force is unable to support us,” asked the loader of Ventris’ tank.

“God alone knows what those people are doing right now,” the commander answered.

Meanwhile, the driver observed in his UI that their clips were about to go empty.

“Colonel, we need to bail out, we are just sitting ducks here without our shells!”

The Colonel observed the situation and asked the other tanks about their status.

“Storm Leader, this is Storm Nine-Five, going Winchester.”

“This is Storm Six-Six, almost out of ammo here.”

“What in the world are the Air Force doing? Storm Three-Two, we are lucky we haven’t been hit by airstrikes from the enemy just yet. Better fall back, sir!”

After seeing those replies, he gave the general order to retreat.

“This is Storm Leader, smoke grenades up, prepare hard-kill and soft-kill countermeasures, we are Oscar Mike!”

Preferring not to cause unnecessary risks to the lives of his men, Ventris gave the order to retreat to the superhighway.

The road to Italy is now officially opened and there’s no one left to stop the Pan-Asian Union from advancing out of the city.


The Transatlantic Astronautical Command was actually busy interdicting Union air sorties – however, they were ineffective in breaking up the fleet for the most part as the guns and missiles of the Southern Strike Command struck them from afar.

As a result, Major Ross von Holden was limited to doing holding patterns above Milan – even though his fighters are few, they had advanced jamming equipment that prevented Union bombers from identifying positions on the ground.

“Alpha Squad, this is Alpha Leader, prepare for interdiction.”

“1.”

“2.”

“3.”

When the count reached 12, von Holden and his squad prepared firing solutions for the enemy bomber squad. He knows that one less bomb dropped or missile fired lengthens the life of the Milano defenders by a lot.

The missiles flew quickly towards their targets, with the bombers immediately activating their various countermeasures.

Meanwhile, von Holden approached the bombers at extremely high speeds in seconds, unleashing wave after wave of autocannon fire towards the hapless enemy bomber formation.

In a few seconds, another bomber formation was gone and they have just won another aerial engagement again.

Yet, von Holden could not help but notice that something was awfully wrong.

Why is the enemy not fully committing the full strength of its air force towards Milan? Are they actually planning something else?

“Baseplate, this is Alpha Leader.”

“Alpha Leader, come in.”

“Do we have any intelligence on the possible ordnance loads of the Southern Strike Force.”

“Only estimates.”

“Are they able to conduct orbital bombardment?”

“Yes, they can. Given that they already have air-to-ground hard deployment methods through their Drop Pods, it should also be assumed that they have the necessary firepower to support these kinds of assaults. We haven’t observed them going towards Milan yet though.”

“Roger that. Thanks for the info.”

“Good hunting, this is Baseplate, out.”


You can go back here – and read the next chapter here!

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