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Armored Core: Silent Howling

By Zyble

Drama / Scifi

The Silent Howling beckons

Times are bleak, Earth has become so polluted that it can barely sustain life and wars are waged constantly for what scraps remain. Corporations dismantled the old governments and banded together to form the League of Ruling Companies, they then constructed huge aerial ships, known as Cradles, and half of the world's population now live in these floating habitats. It is only in these Cradles, seven thousand metres above the surface, that the air is clean, and safe enough to breath. However, this is only seen as a temporary solution, because, the Arteria facilities that provide a steady stream of power to them causes so much pollution that it will one day reach the Cradles anyway.

On the ground however, it is a different story, the different companies fight against each other for power and control. At the end of the last war, waged by mankind, the League asserted their dominance by introducing Arms Forts. These huge mobile weapons of mass destruction can level cities in minutes. It is a true display of company might at its finest. Then you have Nexts or Next Generation Armored Cores. These Nexts are robots that range between twelve and eighteen metres tall, they have been known to take on armies and survive thanks to their speed, durability and ability to be outfitted with numerous different parts. Their Lynx pilots battled hard during the Lynx war, but now many have succumbed to mercenary work after the Arms Forts were introduced. Some Nexts still work for their respective companies but many of them now work as freelancers, which works in the companies favour. During the Lynx war many pilots died and since then, many have arisen in their stead, and with the introduction of Arms Forts, the mighty Nexts have been co-signed to a dying and barren Earth. One Lynx pilot in particular now sits inside his Next, outside a research facility, surrounded by smaller more fragile mechs... Waiting for something.

Ten minutes had passed and in the distance nothing stirred. Unfortunately those ten minutes felt like an hour and the calm kept Jonas wide awake. The storm Jonas could handle but the calm before it is was terrifying him. The thought of death heading towards you scared him, but ironically staring it in the face, to him, was fine. Jonas was a mercenary under the watchful eye of the League, like many Lynx, during this time, he fought for the highest bidder with no regrets, and the highest bidder today was the Omer Science Corporation. They tasked him with the mission to help defend one of their research centres against the Global Armaments Corporation. Jonas took off his helmet and ruffled his longish brown hair. As he put his helmet back on, the communicator spoke into his ears.

"Five more minutes until they arrive Jonas, Get ready." The familiar voice said.

"Why did you drop me here, fifteen minutes before the battle even begins? I could have destroyed an Arms Fort in that time." The familiar voice over the communicator laughed for a few seconds.

"Destroy an Arms Fort huh? Which one?"

"Uhh, I don't know. How about the Spirit of Motherwill."

"The Spirit of Motherwill!" The familiar voice laughed harder. This annoyed Jonas to a high degree.

"Shut up Jessie. How about we swap places? See how long you last."

"Hah, I'll let you stay on the frontline. I'm just your operator, mission information and tactical analysis is my game. I think I'll stick to it. Oh and about mission information, two minutes until the G.A forces arrive." A silence hung around the cockpit for around a half a minute as he prepared his Next for combat. He was piloting a dark blue and black middleweight design. It sported the mostly older 'HOGIRE' line of the Rosenthal Corporation's body parts with a rifle in it's right hand, a laser blade attached to it's left arm and a missile launcher mounted on his back. Jonas had named his Next, Silent Howl.

"What am I up against?" Jonas asked with a quizzical look on his face that no-one could see.

"A few squads of Normals and a few squads of M.Ts, nothing too fancy. Don't forget, you have a defence force of two squads of Normals working with you. Use them." Jonas looked at his assistance. They were thin, lightweight Normals with laser rifles and a shield. Par the course for the high tech companies like Omer Science. Normals were essentially first generation Armored Cores that had still been in a state of mass production for pilots without Lynx qualities. To the Lynx and their Nexts, they were mostly cannon fodder.

"Will do." In the distance Jonas could see them. The dense mist surrounding the facility made it easy for GA to drop off their forces close to the research centre which was probably why Omer Science hired him to help out. Even though he could see them, Jonas did nothing. He needed them to get closer. This didn't stop the defence force from taking the initiative. As they moved towards the attackers, their commanding unit called to Jonas over the comms.

"Alpha and Beta Squad moving to intercept. Don't let them get too close. They're after the base, not us. Chances are they'll take any chance they have to attack it."

"This is Silent Howl. Get them a bit closer and I'll... Wait, we have additional targets!"

"I see them. Helicopters, big ones too." There was a slight quiver in the commander's voice.

"Confirmed, there's six of them. They'll tear them apart out there.” The moment Jessie finished her sentence, Jonas activated the Propulsion Boosters, on Silent Howl, and hurtled towards them, along the ground, before taking off into the sky, straight towards the helicopters. He aimed his rifle and fired at the one in the middle. It took two shots to take it out. He passed the remaining helicopters who noticed that he'd taken out their comrade. Each of the five remaining helicopters fired a barrage of missiles. Jonas turned back on the spot to face the missiles and he quick-boosted to the side giving him a quick, massive burst of speed at the expense of energy. The majority of the missiles passed him on his left, however, a couple of the last few missiles impacted his Primal Armour Shielding, lighting it up a sickly green colour as it repelled the explosions. Once again Jonas aimed his rifle and flew towards the helicopters and destroyed another two. He was about to pass through the squads middle when he quick-boosted to the left and flanked them on their side. The helicopters couldn't react fast enough to the quick attack. Only one of them managed to fire more missiles before the last three helicopters were destroyed. Jonas cut his Boosters and plummeted towards the surface, causing the missiles to shoot right over him. After the engagement, Jonas had only one third of his energy reserves left, so he would have to limit his Booster use to give his Next time to recharge. Just before he hit the ground, Jonas flared up his thrusters again to stop him from hitting it too hard.

"We've just lost Alpha squad, Beta is taking a beating too!" The commander called to him, panic in his voice.

Jonas turned towards the main force. His allies had eliminated some of the enemies, all but 2 M.Ts had been taken out, and there was still a full squad and a half of Normals. These Normals were big, boxy, slow and equipped with bazookas and missile launchers. Standard equipment from a company that favoured loud and powerful ballistic weaponry. Jonas boosted towards the attackers right flank, taking the remaining MTs out with one shot to each. M.Ts were terribly weak, reverse jointed, walkers with a machine gun on top; ancient weapons for an advanced time.

He was close enough to the enemy Normals now to use his laser blade. A long green shimmering laser shot out of the hilt attached to the left side of the arm. He swung at his prey. The blade shredded through the mid-section, slicing it in two. A small explosion from his enemy signalled its demise. Before the other Normals had a time to react to the attack on their flank, Jonas had quick-boosted to his right and around to the back of the remaining enemies, taking out another three with precise shots to the head from his rifle. Jonas stopped and took to the sky, flying directly over the Normals, destroying another one with some shots to it's torso. He turned on the spot while still in the sky to face them, who in return, faced Silent Howl. He counted four more targets, each one fired their bazookas at him. Jonas quick-boosted to the right and all but two of the rounds impacted his Primal Armour, weakening it a great deal. The force of the shots got through his armour and damaged his Next, denting the armour plating in places. Warning light signalled that his left arm had been damaged.

“Jonas, Silent Howl's left arm is damaged, you've lost access to your laser blade.” Jessie warned him.

Jonas responded to this by bringing his back mounted missile launcher to bear on the last few enemies. Using a combination of missiles and rifle shots, the remaining Normals were dispatched quickly. Jonas hit the floor with a mighty crash. He breathed a sigh of relief. Looking around he saw that three allies from the defence force remained.

"Well done Jonas. Mission accomplished, the base is safe." Jessie said to him. There was a slight hint of relief in her voice just like at the end of every mission.

"This is Commander Beacon of Beta squad. Thanks for giving us a hand out there."

"Wait, there's something else coming. It's... It's a Next!" Jessie's panic induced warning, shot Jonas out of his relaxed state as he readied himself for another fight. Jonas felt the strain of piloting his Next hit him. With his left arm damaged he was already at a disadvantage. The enemy Next was heading straight towards them. Jonas hadn't prepared for this but never the less, it was coming, his possible demise.

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