C.J. Riley looked out of her CN9-D3 Centurion’s view port. Two days before,
her lance had entered the swap, looking for part of a Clan raiding force.
They’d been jumped by a Medium Star, and gotten split up. She’d spent the
last 48-hours playing cat-and-mouse with a Shadow Cat Prime. She’d lost he
left arm and her re-firing medium laser, while the Clan Mech had lost one of its
ER medium lasers and its Active Probe. The lucky hit that had destroyed the
active probe was all that had keep Riley alive: She had been able to lose the
Clan warrior in the many channels and lagoons that made-up the swamp. Here Mech
was shut down, backed into a small side channel, hoping the Claner would go past
without seeing her. She only had two cases of ammo for her LB 10-X left. She had
plenty of LRM’s, but in the confined spaces of the swamp, they where useless.
The silence inside her cockpit started to drive
Riley mad, but if she cracked the hatch, the giant mosquitoes that populated the
swap would be on her in seconds. The air-conditioning unit was run by the
main-power system, and if she turned that on, the Clan warrior would find her by
her Mech’s heat signature. A sudden movement out side had Riley reaching for
the quick start-up button, but it turned out to be an alligator, swimming past.
She tried to relax.
Two hours went by before Riley got her first warning that the Shadow Cat was
nearby. A flock of native birds took flight from a tree 250-meters to he left,
just up-stream. She leaned as far flawed as her harness would let her. She could
see ripples on the surface of the muddy channel. She took the weapons control
stick in one hand, and the power-up switch in the other.
Slowly, the Shadow Cat moved past. She didn’t even dare to breath as the Clan
Mech made its way past her, certain that it would see her and turn, firing a
Gauss Rifle round inter her Mech, killing her.
The Clan Warrior didn’t see her. The Shadow Cat moved off. When it was 10
meter past her, Riley slammed her hand down on the power-up switch. Power filled
her Mech as the reactor came to life. The Clan Mech stopped, the pilot shocked
by the sudden appearance of it pray, right behind it. Riley moved out into the
channel and raised her Mech’s right arm.
The LB 10-X autocannon was less than 5-meters from the back of the Clan Mech.
She pulled the trigger, sending the last of her clustered rounds into the back
of the Clan warrior at point-blank range. The Shadow Cats thin rear armour
disintegrated under the onslaught. The Clan Mech fell, just as the LB 10-X ammo
Riley raised her left leg and slammed it down hard on the cockpit of the Clan
Mech. The Plexiglas shattered under the blow, the pilot killed instantly.
Riley’s view screen went dark. The access hatch above her opened, the face of
her CO appeared: “Nicely done Riley: you’re the only member of the Lance who
managed to survive the ambush AND kill your target.”
“Thanks boss” said Riley, shocked at how real the simulation had seemed.