She turned away from him watching the monitors dark screens Two then three red dots indicating hostiles near the Lancers popped up. That was no real surprise. She tapped her ear piece. “Hopper, you have incoming.”
“Good copy. We see them HQ.”
Just at that moment she noticed that the red dots were multiplying on the black screen. She spun to check the holo display being fed from the ATgyro’s data. The Lancer’s were being surrounded. She stared at her father. “You warned them, you son of a bitch.”
Pushing on her comm again, she said tensely, “Hopper, they know you’re there, and we’re showing five mechs and multiple drones surrounding your position.”
“Roger”, he answered tightly.
She watched helplessly as the Lancers engaged the enemy. She’d led them here. She’d brought them to this. Her heart pounded.
Bree cut her eyes, first at her father’s smug face then at the Captain’s. “Captain, would you care to lock my father in a cell somewhere until Jacob’s can deal with him?”
The militia commander smiled tensely. Trint didn’t mind her using her authority as he politely gestured to the guards in the room. “I’d be happy to, Ms. Olanti.”
Her father called on his personal guards, but it didn’t help him a bit, as the militia members were just as angry at his betrayal as his daughter was. He shouted something she wasn’t listening to as three guards attempted to pull him away. One thing caught her ear though as she watched the screen anxiously, trying not to think about Atlas out there dealing with the consequences of her father’s duplicity. He said, “You’re my daughter. You can’t do this!”
She had to respond to that. “I’m nothing to you now. You would firebomb children to get your way, turn our world into a nightmare. As far as I’m concerned, you aren’t my father anymore.”
His reaction to her words was strangely visceral as he blinked in shock at her last words. It was perhaps the most emotion she’d ever seen on her father’s face, for her anyway. She thought for a moment it might be regret for the loss of her, but then she forced herself to turn away, returning to her vigil over the screen. His regret was too long coming and meant nothing.
Breena hadn’t felt this helpless in a long time. There was absolutely nothing she could do to help Hopper and his friends or protect the men shortly to risk their lives storming a base that was ready for them.
Atlas hadn’t had a spare moment to think about his shots since the drones appeared. He just took them. One after another, until he found his way out of the mess, only to stumble right back in another one.
His mech smoked from multiple shots above and to the right of the heat sinks. The gauges were flashing red, and he would have to consider ejecting shortly.
The likelihood that his mech would make it was decreasing with each drone encounter. The enemy had been prepared for this. They’d anticipated the Lancer’s attack and countered it with superior firepower. It wasn’t the first time his team had been in this situation, but it was the first time he felt a personal investment in the cause.
They were all angry about the indefensible attacks on civvies, but that wasn’t it. Breena. This was her home. Suddenly, his objectives were more than a job, a target. It was someone’s hope for safety and protection. Someone he hoped to get to know much better. He needed to know her, needed to see if the kiss they’d shared was going anywhere.
Atlas startled as a light brown and orange mech painted to show a growling face around the cockpit appeared before him in the dark. The lights of his mech and the explosions surrounding them illuminated the enemy giving him a brief view of the pilot’s face, just as he fired his laser from it’s position low on the mech.
He used it to slice upward, obliterating the mech’s right leg as it pierced and sliced through metal like butter ending it’s path just below the mech’s cockpit making it go dark inside. He didn’t wait to watch the mech list and then fall. He hurried to help Flyboy where he faced not one, but two heavies.
Tearing her attention away from the mech screens, Bree asked Trint, “How are the ground forces managing?”
“We’re adapting our strategy. Sending in drone teams first, then mechanized infantry.” He referred to the mech-suited designed for urban warfare, street to street fighting. They didn’t have many of either.
“You think we’ll pull that off?”
“I think we have to now”, he said grimly, leaning over his own console. “Henderson, you have bogeys approaching from the south.” He spoke into his comm, directing his teams using drone surveillance of the area.
She glanced back at the mech monitors that had become her station without anyone discussing it. She noticed one dot being thoroughly surrounded by drones, as if they knew destroying the ATgyro would effectively blind the support units and the mechs. The pirates behaved so incompetently up to now that Breena thought there must be someone else running the battle for the other side.
“Atlas, Cowboy is about to run into big trouble. He’s separated from Hercules and being surrounded by drones.”
“Roger, HQ. Where do I go?”
She typed coordinates into his link and listened for his acknowledgment. “Copy, I have him.”
“Good hunting, Atlas.” Even she could hear the difference in her voice when she spoke to the lieutenant.
“I’ll bring you back a trophy, Olanti”, he said cockily, making her smile broadly. It struck her as unusual for the serious man she’d met to be cocky. He had an arrogant side, but not a cocky one. She realized he was trying to make her feel better, relieving her anxiety by not showing his own. She felt an extra tug of attraction for the man. So far, she couldn’t help herself. Maybe it was the adrenaline of the mission, but she didn’t think so. The man himself got her heart going.
Her console showed images of two Lancer mechs bearing down on the eastern cluster of drones to fire a way through for the gyro, which they couldn’t afford to lose. This was going to be tight, she thought. “Captain, do we have any support units near the gyro?”
Her gaze fell once again on the dot she was sure represented the man she worried about most in this battle, and she did something she seldom did. She prayed.