“So you made it? You’re a Raven now?” I said, a smile on my face.
“Yep.” She answered back, and then held a tape up. “Care to see my test?”
“Sure.” I let her come in, and then closed the door, taking the tape. I walked over to the west wall of my room, and slid back the panel that covered a video screen. I put the tape in, there was no sound to it, but it didn’t need any. The AC she had been given was similar to my own, a bi-pedal with a rifle and dual missile launcher. Her opponents were two MTs that had ion cannons and single missile launchers. When the mission started, one MT took to the air, and the other boosted towards her.
Her first move was good, back up so they couldn’t get behind her, and opened fire on the ground MT. It took three shots before opening up with its ion cannon. An ion cannon was a rapid fire energy weapon, that if allowed to focus would do damage, but other than that it was pretty harmless. She quickly disposed of that MT with little trouble and then brought her sights around to the other one. The MT had hit her with a few rounds of ion cannon, and pegged her in the shoulder with a missile. She let two missiles fly, and one made contact. The MT was knocked to the ground, and Aurora took that opportunity. Her blade exploded into a brilliant red light. The next thing I saw was the MT drop into two pieces on the Arena floor. Once the tape stopped, I turned to Aurora.
“Great job, you handle ACs better than I thought you would.”
“Oh, really? So how did you think I would do?”
“I knew you would pass, just not as well as you did.” I told her, laughing slightly.
“Care to see how well I can fight?” She shot back. I was in my uniform, so I put my exosuit on.
“Let’s go.” I said. “And one more thing, no use of the ‘Tiger’. You use parts from the Nest, and we’ll see how well you fight.”
“Alright, I’ll meet you in the Zearm Desert about noon.” She walked out of my room, and I decided that this battle could be interesting. I left my room as well, taking my new helmet and placing it under my right arm. My AC had been fully rebuilt, I’d had it rebuilt from a data file. Dyne and Kamarya, who had gotten along quite well in the Nest, had altered the weight displacement systems on my ACs legs to allow it to carry more weight without sacrificing a lot of speed. I couldn’t thank them enough. Eleven thirty came, and I left the Nest. Great Lake was beautiful that day. The surface was like glass, and it was hard to believe that the Great Destruction had ever ravaged the surface. From the Great Lake, I headed northeast to the Zearm Desert. There was an ancient city in the center of the desert, ‘living’ proof that that Great Destruction had truly occurred. Buildings, fifty stories or more, lay half buried in the sand. Aurora had obviously left before I had, because she was standing, or rather sitting on top of one of the upright buildings. It looked rather funny, seeing this war machine sitting as cross legged as possible on top of this building.
“About time you got here.” That was the first thing that I heard come across my radio.
“Yeah, well, it’s only Noon just now, so if you were really that interested and eager to lose, you could have contacted me.” I said.
“Well, we’ll see.” Aurora’s AC uncrossed its legs, and picked up a gold square shape and attached it to her right forearm. I could tell what it was when she did that, a grenade rifle. Her AC stood up, and jumped down to the sandy surface of the desert. Sand blew around her AC, and I could already tell that the battle was going to be difficult, because of the interference my radar was experiencing.
“Alright, you called the challenge.” I said. “So what are the rules?”
“None, really. Just last one standing.” She responded. Those seemed okay, so I charged my Karasaw and was ready. I failed to see the extension of the grenade rifle’s barrel, and my right shoulder was caught by an explosion and I was knocked to the ground.
“What!?” I shouted, armor fragments still falling to the ground around me.
“No rules, remember?” She told me, laughing. I got back up and bent my legs to get my boosters as close to the ground as I could, and fired them. They kicked up sand all around me, hiding me from radar. Then, I shot straight out of the could, up into the air, and let two shots fly with my Karasaw. I then boosted over towards Aurora, dropped behind her – the Karasaw bullets had impacted a few seconds earlier – and I sent my left fist into the back of Aurora’s AC. She stumbled forward, and I jumped back to crouch on top of the building behind me.
“Nice shot, by the way, but you might want to use your surroundings instead of surprise in an attack.” I told her. When she got up, she looked right at me.
“Thanks for the tip. I’ll have to remember that.” She dropped to one knee, and let quite a few rounds of chain gun fly. All missed, and I looked at her funny, though she couldn’t see it. I found out what she had done when I tried to jump off the building. It collapsed out from under me! I fell into the rubble, and some of it covered me up. I sat there, thinking, regretting that I had ever told her that. “Thought I had missed, didn’t you?” She asked across the radio.
“Yes, unfortunately.” I said. I flipped up the cover on my OverBoost panel, and pressed the silver charge indicator. It went off, and I broke out of the building’s remains. Then, once I had righted myself, I used the most powerful of any ACs energy ability, the Limiter Release. Panels all over my ACs body opened and started to glow, flowing with energy from my generator. I had 60 seconds to pull this off, otherwise I was as good as dead. I turned on my boosters and shot towards Aurora’s AC. My AC was oozing power now, and I only had about 40 seconds left. I dropped to one knee and my laser cannon came out from its holders. I took two final shots and then I got the OB Drain error message. My power was gone. I slid out of my cockpit to the ACs knee, and then to the sandy ground. “I have to stop.” I said, “I wasted my energy and my attacks on that final run didn’t work as well as I’d hoped.”
“Alright.” Aurora came over my helmet radio. “Do you need help getting back?”
“No, my AC just needs a few minutes to come back online, but wait for me, I have something fun to do.” She could hear my laughing.
“Alright,” she said, “but how long will it take for it to recharge?”
“Not too long.” I said, “About ten minutes at the most.” She jumped down out of the cockpit of her AC and walked over to the building that I had sat down next to. Aurora took a seat beside me, and we both took off our helmets. “Good fight.” I told her.
“Yeah, I guess so. Too bad it got cut short.” She said.
“Well, I had hoped that the Limiter Release would have finished the battle and not postponed it.” I said to her, slightly disappointed in my own abilities in misjudging the power of the Limiter. Ten minutes later, my AC was ready and recharged. I jumped to my feet, and then put my helmet back on after helping Aurora to her feet. “Just follow me. I’ll lead the way.” I said, climbing back into my AC. The exhaust covers to my boosters slid back with the flick of a switch and they came to life with a brilliant flash of blue light. I crouched down, and then leapt into the darkening sky.
Aurora wasn’t far behind me, and I eventually dropped from the sky once we had cleared the Zearm Desert. We made our way back to the Raven’s Nest, and then I went back to my room to change, telling Aurora to meet me in the car garage. I changed into a black pair of jeans and a black shirt. I took my jacket out of my closet and walked down to the garage. My car was off on its own, and I went to open the door. I sat down in the driver side and started the car. Aurora emerged from the north entrance of the garage, wearing a black shirt with iridescent trim, complete with small bows on the sleeves. Long jeans covered her legs, and blue sandals her feet. Her hair was half pulled back with a black bow keeping it tied. She was obviously lost by the look on her face. I drove the car over to her, and rolled down the passenger side window.
“Care to take a drive?” I asked her. She opened the door and climbed in.
“Sure.” I drove out of the garage into a long tunnel. The tunnel would take us south to the region known as Thorn Garden. Before the Great Destruction, Thorn Garden was the site of a nuclear lab. It was a weapons testing facility. The road from Thorn Garden led to another desert, Borough’s Hill. After clearing that desert, and the ruins that littered its sands, we made our way to the Old Avalon Arena, the most famous Arena on Earth. Parking in the decks, I helped Aurora out of the car. The second ranked AC fighter had challenged the top ranking AC for his spot. We had no problems with getting in, because we carried Ravens’ badges.”