Why hello there. My name is Pilot Clark McGowan, pilot of the Dei Gratia, and a captain in the Ø3 company of the Resceantian airforce.
Here is a painting of the Dei Gratia:
I have spent the last three years travelling the stars as a part of a scouting party.
When a planet is found, my company heads in and scouts it out. Does it have
water? Breathable air? Is there vegetation? Is that vegetation edible? Are there natives? Are they hostile?
If the answer to all of those questions is yes, then we begin in earnest. You see, if there is no reason to want to colonize the planet, we leave. But if there is a reason, we clear the planet to the best of our ability. This includes but is not limited to: Wiping out any massive predators (the Massive haurgans of the planet bőoth come to mind). Destroying any outposts placed there by our greatest enemy, the Rawan empire. Making peace with the locals. Destroying any aggressive locals.
That last one is my least favorite. Many nights I have nightmares about that time back on Gabgot, where I obliterated that building that was supposedly harboring gabgotian soldiers that were heavily armed. Well, it wasn't. It was a warehouse full of refugees. Mostly women and children. I can still remember the smell when I had climbed out of my mech.
Things like that happen in war. Things that make it so you can't sleep at night. Things that you swear you'll never let happen again.
And so you find me. My company and I are dropping into the forest planet of Yavéet. We know from the satellite that there are inhabitants, but as to if they are
friendly, I do not know. I can only hold on to my control panel as we descend from orbit, and say a prayer to God for forgiveness.
With an earth shattering smash, Dei Gratia smashes through the foliage, and crashes to the ground. Her claws are locked into the dark earthy soil, so I deactivate the landing mode. Her claws release, returning to that upright position, ready to strike.
I look to my left and right, and can barely make out the outline of my fellow pilots. This camouflage works great! If it wasn't for my scanners confirming their presence, I would think I was alone here.
Then the comms crackle:
"Captain McGowan, this is colonel Haus speaking, come in captain McGowan."
I take a deep breath. "This captain McGowan speaking."
"Alright McGowan, here's the plan. We aren't going to dilly dally in the woods all day looking at bheatiles, but instead we are going to push right up to that clearing on the map 6 clicks north. You see it?"
I check my map.
"I see it sir."
"Good. Now, the scans show signs of life, and a lot of it. If they're friendly, we'll talk peace." "If not..." His voice darkened.
"Well we'll teach them why they should have asked for peace."
I am suddenly back on Gabgot, the screams are rising in my ears and I thi-
"CAPTAIN!!! DO YOU READ ME!?!"
I snap back to reality. "Yes sir, I read you."
"Good. Now, if you are not opposed, why not catch up to the rest of us?"
I look up, and notice that the others have all pushed up already.
"And remember boys, save your jumps til we need them. I want to approach stealthily, not bouncing up and down like those weird things back on that hick
planet called- oh what was it called?"
I roll my eyes. He never could remember names. "It was and is called Earth sir. And they're called kangaroos."
"YES! that's it! Kangaroos. Funny things."
We were close to the clearing. I mean close. As we broke through the forest, we saw a massive wall made of wood. It was almost 200 feet tall. Smoke was rising from within, but there were no lifeforms on the scanners.
"This is odd... I don't like i-"
Suddenly there was a massive explosion, and alarms started to ring in my cockpit. I whipped my bot to the right just in time to see Colonel Haus's inquisitor hit the ground, face first. The fuel pack for her jump booster had been hit, and had erupted in flames.
I scanned the area desperately to find out who was shooting, when the comms crackled again: "I'm hit! "North side north side!"
"What's shooting at us?!" "What the f- *crackle*" One of the blue lights marking where my men are on the map went out.
"Johnston is down, I repeat, Johnston is down!" I saw a sudden flash of red movement in the trees from the corner of my eye, coming right at me. I slammed the jump button instinctively, and soared straight up and over a long sleek bot that was shaped rather like a tube that shot out off the woods. I immediately lit it up with rocket fire, slagging it.
I came crashing back to the ground, and sat gasping for breath. Even though I hadn't moved, the adrenaline was working overtime. Slowly I began to hear the comms again. "I've got two on my six- scratch that 3 on my si- *crackle*" And another blue light went out on my display. I noticed that two others had gone out while I was fighting. So I was down to 13 friendlies.
"I got one! I got on- *crackle*" One less light, one less friendly.
I began to run towards the nearest blue light, and saw a friendly natasha being overwelmed. It was sevens piloting her. Her ancile was drained, and her redeemer had been ripped off, presumably by the smashed enemy at her feet. She was still firing away with her mags, but the end was near. There were four enemies attacking her, circling like wolves.
I took a chance. I had to. I couldn't leave sevens to die.
I jumped up high, and came hurtling down like a comet. A 800 ton comet of death! I blasted the enemy bot that looked almost like a spider off of her 9 o clock, and slammed down on top of another enemy at her 3 o clock. Dei Gratia deployed her claws, and sunk them deep into the metal workings of the enemy bot. Tearing away at cooling lines and energy storage compartments.
I sensed that the blood red enemy bot was about to blow, and activated the second jump which had just come off cool down.
I hurtled away from the smoking bot just as it exploded into a massive fire ball.
Checking the scanners I saw that there were only 10 friendlies left.
Two more had been destroyed.
I looked at the walled compound, and saw 4 more of these long tubular bots rise up on hovers and race out towards my squad mates on the other side of the compound. I knew that my mission had changed. I needed to clear that wall with a perfect double jump, and destroy the enemy base within.
That is no easy feat, as this wall was massive. My jump was going to need to be perfect.
I began to run forward, thumb hovering over the jump button. I forced myself to ignore the incoming fire from a weapons platform on the wall, and focused.
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
NOW! DO IT NOW!!!!
Bam! I was flying, and once again I felt free from the fight below. But no time to think, I had to jump again!
I leapt forward again, perfectly timing it to come crashing in on top of what looked like a communications tower which was covered in satellites. As it crumbled beneath me, a saw some of the bots power off and crash.
Then I knew, these bots were truly that- bots! They had no pilot!
I swiveled, and sure enough, there were 6 other satellite towers, each facing different ways.
I locked onto the nearest, and sent in a salvo. It slagged apart. I did the same to the next, and the next!
I felt a massive thud, and the Dei Gratia lurched forward. Red lights flashed, and alarms rung. I checked my scanners, and I had two enemy bots on my back. Both were tearing away at my jump drive. I knew I had mere seconds before my bot would explode.
I looked up at my scanner, at all of the blue lights, with tiny little names over them. I could see the faces of all of them. I knew what I had to do to save them.
I jerked my head forward, and locked onto the next satellite tower. I slammed my thumb down on the red "fire all" button, and watched it melt. I turned to the second tower, and the Dei Gratia almost collapsing under the weight on her back. I fired. It erupted in flame. I began my final pivot, when the controls locked, and the bot collapsed to her knees. She couldn't take the structural damage to her core.
I screamed in rage at her, and suddenly, I knew the answer. I looked at the faded name written on the hull. Blasted with plasma from so many battles, but still clearly there.
God's Grace. I closed my eyes, and time seemed to stop.
I could see those crumpled people back on Gabgot, and I knew this was my chance to atone for my sins.
I grabbed the controls, and jerked them. They unlocked miraculously, and she began to stagger back go her feet. I felt a sudden surge come from the back, and knew it was my last chance. I slammed that red button, and let loose a volley of rockets. As they impacted with the last satellite tower, a white light began to fill the cockpit. I felt a massive wave of heat on my face, hotter than anything I'd ever felt before. In that last second, with tears streaming down my face, I felt something I hadn't felt in a long, long time. I felt forgiven.
Written by HeirofCarnage from Aurora Nova.