Ravens of Eternity -
26 Hell Week, Pt The squad leaders and their cadets rushed off to their hangars as the alarm sounded around them.
Eva and Chengli’s squad immediately got into their mecha, powered on, and readied up. They equipped their weapons and got into formation very rapidly.
The two sergeants watched proudly as the cadets rushed to prep for their sortie. To them, it really wasn’t all that long ago that they first saw them. They were soft and weak and could barely fly. Now they were ready to soar.
“I want three wings,” ordered Chengli. “Spears with Eva, rifles with me. The third wing: repair and resupply. Each unit in the repair wing needs a spear and a rifle protecting them.”
“Yessir!” replied the squad.
This split up all the squads into three equal wings of fifteen, led by Eva, Chengli, and one of the repair cadets.
While the cadets moved to get into formation in their wings, Eva studied the battle reports on her MFDs. Her sensors had indicated that there was heavy skirmishing at the western side of their encampment.
It seemed that the few cadets who were stationed there were hit by a surprise attack. Her sensors estimated that the attack force consisted of fifty mecha. Fully mobilized, the encampment wouldn’t have had any problems dealing with this. However, they were caught with their pants completely down.
Grizz’ negligence meant that the encampment’s defenses weren’t fully deployed, and there were few cadets guarding the perimeter. Maybe he thought it was all a game and was just enjoying himself.
Then again, so did Eva, but she took it seriously as well.
“I’m gonna go charge into their faces,” she said. “Who’s with me?”
Her wing cheered as they charged westwards, towards the fighting. Chengli on the other hand took his wing up on the rooftops and decided to flank their opponents from an elevated position instead.
While Eva and her wing went in hot and heavy, Chengli came in cold and quiet.
The support wing followed, but hung back from the fighting, and hunkered down in a highly defensible position on a nearby rooftop. They were the repair and resupply point, and it was critical that they attracted little attention to themselves.
The cadets in the squadron started out green and disorganized, but by the end of the month they had turned into ferocious pilots. Their faces were stern and their brows were furrowed with determination.
All they needed now was to be tempered in battle, and this was the perfect opportunity.
Eva dutifully opened a line to all of the squad leaders on her comms display, and shared the preliminary intel with them.
“If there’s only fifty of ’em,” she said, “we could take ’em out fast. That’ll be a big win for us.”
“Agreed,” replied Sunflower, “I’ll come support you asap!”
“Wait!” said Eva. “This could be a diversion. Hang back and scout the outer perimeter in force.”
The other squad leaders agreed. They collectively decided to split their forces – some were to reinforce the cadets on guard, some were to reinforce Sunflower’s recon squadron, while the others were to reinforce Eva and Chengli.
But they were still forming up, and would take at least ten minutes to arm and deploy.
“Take your time,” said Eva, “though don’t blame us if nothing’s left for you to play with.”
Of course, that riled up the squad leaders, and they got their cadets moving even faster than before. The longer it took for them to get there, the more damaged Eva and Chengli’s squadron was going to get. So they took Eva’s taunt to sarcastically mean that she didn’t want to get too damaged this early on in the week.
After all, no-one would call assaulting a squad of fifty with only thirty combat-ready mecha “playtime”. To them, the only viable tactic was to entrench and defend until reinforcements could arrive. So they assumed that was what Eva and Chengli were going to do.
At the west end of the encampment, a wing of six mecha hid behind some of the encampment’s defensive fortifications as they were constantly peppered with enemy fire. All of the mechs were heavily damaged, and the pilots inside were panicked.
There were only the six of them that were defending this position, and they were getting attacked by dozens of enemies. At first they had tried to fire back like they had trained to, but it only took seconds for them to get torn into pieces.
They were outnumbered, outgunned, and out of their element. What else could they do but hide?
So, they crouched behind their cover, and shivered. Meanwhile, their comms were going off like crazy, and the squad leaders tried to get them to snap out of it.
They wanted the cadets to recover, and hopefully give them info on their situation.
“What’s on your readouts, cadet!” yelled one of the squad leaders. “We need to know what we’re going up against!”
“I-I can’t... It’s a lot... We can’t even look.”
The cadets were completely traumatized by the attack and could barely report anything. Some of their sensors had also been damaged, so not much of their data was useful. But one of them at least transmitted what they had.
What little they did confirm was of some help. Their initial scans showed that there were definitely fifty mecha that attacked their position. They were all armed with belt-fed machine guns and wore ammunition packs on their backs.
The armored fortifications the cadets hid behind had become severely damaged during all of this as well. Each one was pockmarked by hundreds of bullets and was heavily dented and distorted.
The buildings behind them were also similarly reinforced and yet heavily damaged.
The droning sound of their machine gun fire was thunderous, and they echoed in the cadet’s minds. It kept them dazed and unable to think, much less act.
I’m gonna die here! thought one of them. Shredded to pieces during Hell Week!
His eyes were crazed as his thoughts turned dark, as did the others.
But then a voice cut through the din. And like a beacon, lit the way out. Her voice was like thunder in the midst of a roaring fire, and brought things back into focus despite the chaos.
“Freya reporting to the front!” she exclaimed. “Stay down – we’ll take care of these tin cans.”
Eva and her wing vaulted over the fortifications at great speed, and spread out in a flying-v formation as they approached the enemy’s front line. They held their tower shields up and their spears low as they charged fearlessly towards their intended targets.
Alarmed by their sudden incursion, the drone mecha diverted some of their fire towards Eva’s wing. But their large tower shields took on most of that incoming fire. They got pockmarked and dented with each burst that they absorbed.
And it wasn’t as though the shields were all-encompassing. There were still portions of their mecha that it couldn’t cover, and those extremities got chipped away by some of the drones’ weapons fire.
But that didn’t stop Eva’s wing. It didn’t even slow them down.
They crashed spear-first into the enemy front line, and punctured through their armor with great speed. They then performed an intense boost that drove their enemies backwards and pushed the spears in further.
They had done this maneuver hundreds, if not thousands of times during their training. Their charge was absolutely devastating, as the cadets practiced aiming their spear points at the various weak points on a mecha.
If there were pilots in them, they would have gone straight for the cores. Those strikes would have easily penetrated into them, and turned the pilots inside into paste.
But since these mecha were remote-controlled drones, they didn’t have a squishy human weakness. Instead, Eva pointed out their networking array, logic circuit, and primary CPU to her cadets.
A hit on any one of these would cripple or neutralize the drone outright. It would still be functional, but it just wouldn’t be able to receive, make sense of, or process any orders or directives.
Any interruption in this chain of thought would render the mecha neutralized without any muss or fuss. In contrast, if they punctured the core’s power plant instead, it would create a devastating explosion.
Something they definitely wanted to avoid in melee.
And so, depending on their angle of attack, the cadets aimed specifically for one of those three modules during their charge. They all struck true, and in a flash, fifteen of the enemy mecha were rendered inoperable.
The wing pulled their spears out quickly, and immediately dashed away from the attack.
The remaining drone mecha fired on them as they escaped, but they wove chaotically and moved quickly behind cover, which drastically reduced how often they got hit. Had they stayed, they would have gotten shredded to death by the remaining squad’s bursts of fire.
Just as they all sped past a building and out of harm’s way, Chengli’s wing rose up from the rooftop edges and fired their rifles at the unsuspecting drone mecha. They caught them completely unaware, and shredded seven more into scrap with concentrated fire.
They continued firing and rained down hell at the drones, and damaged as many as they could while they had the upper hand.
However, the drones had quickly switched targets and laid down suppressing fire as they engaged their evasive maneuvers. They were suddenly caught in an ambush, so their immediate response was to protect themselves.
Chengli’s wing went back behind cover to reload, and those few moments also gave their armor a chance to regenerate somewhat.
Eva’s wing came blazing around a different corner, and charged at the drone mecha for a second time. The drones were too preoccupied with Chengli and barely got their guards up by the time she and her wing were back in their faces.
Just like the first time, their spear charge was devastating. Their aim was true and just like that, another fifteen mecha were completely disabled.
The six cadets who were behind their defensive fortifications even joined in. They became emboldened after they had just witnessed how easily this squad tore apart the drones.
Despite the fact that they were still shaky, and their aim was all over the place, they still hit the targets that they wanted.
They ended up targeting a couple of the mecha that Chengli’s wing had severely damaged, and lit them up with their own barrage of bullets. They kept on firing until they were little more than smoldering wreckages.
Eva suddenly appeared on their comms display.
“Cease your fighting!” she ordered. “Retreat and regroup for repairs.”
They started to resist. It wasn’t like they didn’t want to leave, it was just that she wasn’t Grizz, and he had ordered them to guard their position, and –
“Now!” Eva ordered.
“Yes, squad leader!” they replied.
“And thanks for the assist,” Eva quickly added.
The cadets immediately retreated and headed to the marker that Eva had sent them to, which was their repair and resupply point. When they got there, the five repair cadets quickly got to work.
Because they hadn’t needed rations on the field, they kept their supply back at the hangar. They instead used that storage space and filled it up with repair materials instead, which was far more useful in a fight. They refilled the damaged mechs’ ammunition and repair mats while they patched them up as quickly and efficiently as they could.
These five had spent countless hours practicing their repair and resupply procedures, and had patched up many different levels of damage. While all of the cadets had training in mechanical support, only these five were ridiculously proficient at it. Others might have been predisposed towards destruction, but they were miraculous with building and rebuilding.
Under their care, damaged mecha could be repaired in half the time. The value of a well-trained wing of battlefield mechanics couldn’t be overstated.
Eva was saddened that they didn’t have more cadets like them.
She and Chengli decided to change things up now that they had torn the enemy squadron into pieces. The remaining eleven were badly damaged and on their last legs, which meant there wasn’t any need for them to do a third charge.
Instead, Eva and her wing engaged a number of them in melee. She guessed that the machine guns would perform poorly while fighting that closely, and was happy to discover how true it was. They could keep them tied up while Chengli and his wing neutralized them one by one.
Eva herself came right up to one and slammed it with her shield. As it stumbled around, she harassed it with spear strikes and kept it from regaining its balance.
Although the spear was incredibly effective against armor in a charge, it couldn’t do much to it in normal conditions. Not many melee weapons could. At least, not if they were the same ranking.
Certainly, something like a B-ranked filament blade could slice chunks off of this armor, but all she had was a C-ranked training spear. It really wasn’t going to do much against C-ranked armor.
So instead of wasting her time wrenching off its armor, Eva instead went for its vulnerable points, such as its joints, neck, and sensors. She struck at its left shoulder joint a number of times until it completely sheared off and flew a dozen meters away.
The drone quickly boosted back and sprayed her with a full round of fire, but she resolutely set her shield in front of her. It bent and distorted as it soaked up most of the damage, though a few struck the outer edges of her mecha where it was exposed. Pieces of her armor chipped off as the drone laid down an unending stream of fire.
Luckily, the drone didn’t get the chance to shred Eva and her shield, as Chengli had quickly sliced it diagonally with his plasma beamcannon. The drone stopped firing as it silently fell into two pieces, both halves of it glowed a dull orange where it was superheated by the beam.
Its ammo pack also split open, and some of the rounds cooked off and burst from the heat. The rest simply fell out of the pack onto a pile on the ground, and pooled around the bisected mecha like blood.
Eva looked up from her shield and scanned the battle. All around her, drones were getting picked apart and destroyed by her squadron. A pair had perforated one with their spears, while another was shredded by rifle fire from above.
She performed a diagnostics check on everyone around her.
Their armor and shields had taken the brunt of the damage, although some shots had slipped through the gaps and hit more sensitive areas. Chengli’s wing was also similarly damaged, where their armor had taken most of the enemy’s fire.
Everyone was still at or above 80% operational efficiency, and everything was repairable to some degree. They had blazed through the opposition quickly, and took minimal damage as a result.
And all they had were garbage C-ranked weapons. Well, except for those beamcannons.
Eva made a note to try to incorporate them more often.
By the time the other squadrons had arrived, there were no drones left to neutralize.
The squad leaders were utterly astounded. They had expected to join a protracted battle, and instead they found Eva and Chengli’s wings picking over the remains like crows over corpses.
They took so long that there was nothing left for them to “play” with. She actually meant what she had said!
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