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Central Europe

© 1999-2001 Imminent Storm of NEWST.

Chapter Sixteen: Hide And Seek

The Commander burst into Ops and started giving out orders before he had even reached his command station. "Inform all U-Borg pilots to report to their machines at once. Get the U-Borg transports fired up and ready to load. Put all ground and air forces on full alert status. And someone get me some more coffee!"

Luckily, the engineers at the VTOL factory had modified the basic cyborg transport design to accommodate U-Borgs. They now have enough transports for all 9 of their U-Borgs to be loaded in and dropped from at once.

A call came in from Colonel Franke. "Hey what's going on?"

"I'll fill you in on the details while you're in transit. Until then, get ready and loaded."

"Yes sir, will do."

The Commander then got in touch with the transport group captain and gave him the destination coordinates.

"Damn," the Commander muttered under his breath, "they beat us to the punch again."

The base coordinator came up to him, "Commander, the U-Borgs are loaded and ready to go."

"Thank you; tell them to launch."

"Yes sir."

One of the "Command Assistants" in Ops walked by and gave the Commander a mug filled with the black liquid that passed for coffee. The Commander watched through the windows as the transports lifted off and headed towards the southwest.

A message came in. "Delta Base, this is Paladin, would you mind explaining where we are going?"

The Commander opened the general comm channel to all the U-Borgs and transport pilots. "U-Borg group and transports, this is Delta Base. We just received a message from one of our southern sector commanders. Several enemy Ultra Cyborgs have attacked and destroyed two forward bases, and have advanced into the southern sector of our defensive line. They were last observed near the former city of Chambéry. That's all that was included in the message. The enemy has switched the focus of their attack from former Belgium and Netherlands to areas of northern Italy and southern France. Since most of our major forces were moved north to defend against their earlier attack, they cannot respond in time. Because of our position near the former Swiss-German boarder, we have to respond."

He paused for a moment to let that sink in. Ops was in dead silence; everyone had stopped what they were doing.

He continued. "Your objective is to drop into the city of Chambéry and determine if the enemy is still there. If enemy presence is confirmed, determine strength and possible intention. If sighted or engaged by the enemy, you are cleared to take whatever action is necessary. If the opportunity to destroy an enemy U-Borg presents itself, you may engage the enemy. U-Borgs Tiamat, Phalanx, and Pandora are not to drop into the city. They are to proceed on to the main rear base of that sector and assist in its defense should enemy forces attack. Now for some details."

The Commander accessed the computer database and brought up information of the city of Chambéry. "The city of Chambéry was a pre-Collapse commercial hub with little strategic military value. After 2050, Southern and Central Europe including Northern Italy, Switzerland, and Southwest France experienced a population and economic explosion. The details of this are not known, but the towns and small cities of the area were transformed into major metropolises almost overnight. Chambéry was one of the few major cities not directly hit by nuclear weapons during the collapse. However, the resulting fallout and nuclear winter killed or drove out most of its inhabitants. According to our data, the city is totally uninhabited but still structurally intact. This causes some problems. With most of the large buildings intact, maneuvering will be difficult. This is why I have ordered Tiamat and Phalanx to another task; their large size makes them useless in this terrain. The buildings will also interfere with your radar and sensors; you will need your eyes for this one. I would advise [b]EXTREME[/b] caution in this situation. Finally, I am making Fenrir team commander for this mission. Take care and good hunting; Commander out."

The Commander closed the comm channel.

Fenrir opened the comm line between all the U-Borgs. "Ok. This is what we've been expecting. After we drop, try to avoid getting too far from each other. Also, keep radio communications to a minimum."

Everyone kept silent through the rest of the flight. Then finally, the transport group leader came on the comm. "Alright, we are approaching the drop point now, descending to drop altitude. Transports for Tiamat, Phalanx, and Pandora will continue on to their destination."

A couple of minutes passed then the Transport Group leader came on again. "Now at drop altitude. Conditions over drop site are low overcast clouds and light winds. Cloud bottoms at 500 feet plus or minus. Drop in 60 seconds. ... 30 seconds." The drop doors started opening. "15 seconds ... 10 seconds ... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, DROP!" The clamps securing the U-Borgs disengaged, and all exited their drop hatches without any problems. They were now free-falling through dense clouds. At around 500 feet they exited the clouds and saw the city below them. Using their thrusters as brakes, all six U-Borgs--Fenrir, Bird of Prey, Paladin, Bahamut, Rapier, and Longbow--landed in an open section that was probably once a city park.

Fenrir spoke up. "Alright. Now, split up but stay close; if you find something, mark the location and get support. Go."

They split up and entered the maze of streets and buildings.

Paladin ran a few checks on his anti-matter supply and his power storage supply. Everything seemed to be working fine. Richard was still trying to get used to being called by the name 'Paladin.' He was walking down a street littered with vehicles of all kinds. The buildings to his right and left were cold and silent. Then suddenly the street gave way under his right foot and he stumbled into a large 20 or so story building to his right. The air around him became filled with small flying black objects. It took him a moment to realize that they were birds. He had disturbed a flock of birds that were inhabiting the building. He was amazed at how fast the ecosystem was rebounding. He then looked down and pulled his foot out of what was once a subway station, now long disintegrated from neglect. Radar and sensors were totally useless in this environment. He was getting ghosts and false contacts from all the buildings around him. Not to mention that the buildings blocked most of the radar field; this was going to be tricky.

Longbow, the sniper U-Borg piloted by Lisa Fletcher, decided to get a higher vantage point. She turned her thrusters on to just enough power to lift her upwards. When she reached the level of the top of one of the buildings, she nudged herself forward and landed on the roof. The concrete of the building's roof cracked and compressed somewhat, but held her weight. She crouched down on one knee and surveyed her surroundings.

The building she was on wasn't the tallest building around, but it allowed her to look down multiple streets without moving much. The low overcast clouds transformed the empty city into a near monochromatic collection of greys and blacks. A light mist reduced visibility and made visual identification near impossible at long distance. She switched to the IR lenses on her eye-cameras. The world became a different set of whites, greys, and blacks; but these had more meaning. Heat emitting objects would appear as light grey or white, cold objects as black or dark grey. If an enemy unit of any kind were to cross her line of sight, it would appear as a bright white object, easily separating it from the cold buildings. Looking around for several minutes, she saw nothing unusual. So she switched back to normal lenses and picked another building not too far off. Using her thrusters and jumping from building to building, she landed on the chosen structure's roof. She repeated the same actions again. She kept doing this over and over.

After about 20 minutes of looking, it was Longbow that made the first sighting. While using her IR lenses she saw a large moving object that registered as hot in her vision as it crossed an intersection. She switched back to normal vision lenses and tracked the object's movements. From her vantage point on top of a building she could see it clearly as it moved between the buildings. She zoomed in on it when it stopped to look around. It was definitely an Ultra Cyborg, and it didn't match the designs or coloring of any of their own U-Borgs. She risked sending a signal. "Fenrir, this is Longbow. I have sighted one enemy U-Borg. What course of action should I take?"

The response came a few seconds later, "Very good. Bahamut is near your location, wait for him before engaging directly. If you find an opportunity to attack it without revealing your location, you may do so. Fenrir out."

The enemy showed no signs of detecting the transmitions. Longbow moved to try to get a better view of the enemy. She zoomed in even further using a telephoto lens to try to find out what its components were. She instantly recognized the 'Redeye' head it was using. This gave her an idea. She armed her Hyper-Velocity sniper rifle and tried to find a particular spot on the head. There is a slightly weaker part of the Redeye head where two armor plates joined together on the side of the head; a highly accurate shot could easily breach the armor and damage the sensitive equipment inside. She sent a command to the FCS (fire control system) and activated the 'Active Firing Solution.' This automatically compensated for her U-Borg's movements, those of the enemy, and several other environmental factors, altering the position of the cross hairs to match. The enemy stopped for a second or two, and that's all she needed. She positioned the cross hairs on the weak spot and pulled the trigger.

As the hyper velocity APFSDS bullet exited the barrel, its discarded the shell casing, exposing the round. The round streaked towards its target and the sabots fell away, exposing a slender fin-stabilized, synthetic diamond tipped dart. The shot hit its mark and ripped through the armor of the head. The immense friction instantly turned the armor to a molten liquid that sprayed everywhere inside the head. The high explosive charge inside the dart went off a couple of milliseconds after penetration. The explosion ripped through the other side of the head. In less than a second after the trigger was pulled, the enemy's head was rendered totally useless.

The enemy was taken completely by surprise. It lost its balance from the impact and crashed into the building next to it. At about that same time, Bahamut showed up. He rounded a turn and entered the street the enemy U-Borg was on and was behind it. The enemy got back on his feet and turned to face Bahamut. Bahamut sprayed the enemy with heavy machine gun rounds but did little real damage to the enemy's armor. The enemy retaliated using a hand weapon machine gun as well. With the enemy standing still, Longbow took another shot, this time hitting one of the enemy's knee joints. The enemy U-B turned his attention to Longbow now and fired a volley of unguided rockets at her. She evaded the attack and Bahamut saw his opportunity. With the enemy distracted he got into firing position for his Big Bertha cannon, that the engineers had just barely managed to fit on his machine. He fired and landed a square hit on the enemy torso. Having never fired it before, he wasn't ready for the recoil kick the weapon had. Even in the crouched firing position he almost fell back and had to steady himself with his left arm. But the effect on the enemy was apparent. The enemy had fallen backwards from the impact and into yet another building. The fall damaged both his back weapons, his torso was blackened and had a large crater where the impact site was. The enemy was not deterred. He got back up and clumsily charged Bahamut, who was now standing as well, while firing his weapon. Bahamut waited for the enemy to get close then he jumped over the enemy U-Borg, turned around in mid-flight, and landed just behind it. Coupled with a forward burst from his thrusters, he activated his plasma blade and slashed the enemy across the back. The enemy, suffering from its knee injury tumbled forward; a large gash now crossing the back of his torso. The blade had cut cleanly through the first kinetic armor layer and had even penetrated the thermal layer below in some spots. Bahamut poured fire from his chain gun into the now weakened back armor of the enemy. The armor gave way and the bullets tore through the enemy torso. The detonation was almost instantaneous and obliterated most of that section of the city block. Bahamut sent a simple message to the rest of the team, "one enemy U-B down."

Paladin was the first to reply, "good work, now we just need to find the rest of them."

But little did he know that the next enemy U-Borg had already found him and was now stalking from above.