Cthulhutech: First Contact
The young mecha pilots saluted their old drill sergeant one more time before they loaded their bags onto the waiting transport. Sergeant Tockett , that lovable asshole, saluted them back and said “you finally got your bananas, don’t let me see you apes cry now.” He had busted their asses for several grueling weeks, but they were better officers for it. He made them earn their “butter bars”, the derisive nickname for the thin golden second lieutenant insignias they now wore on their uniform collars.
“Where do you think we’re going?” Wendell picked up his bags and started for the shuttle.
“I don’t know. I’ll-ask-ya,” Zymani replied with a sly grin, her fangs stark white against her black skin. Akita, walking ahead of her, stiffened. Alaska was the main North American front against the Migou. She remembered Officer Flemming’s parting advice just after he had cleaned them out with a game of dice during their trip to basic training: It’s a real shit hole fellas, pray you don’t pull duty here.
“Ugh, this flight is gonna take forever,” grumbled Nasala. The surly Nazzadi stowed his gear under the seat in front of him and next to Naransa’s neatly arranged gear. Soon everyone was loaded onto the shuttle. The craft trembled slightly as its A-pods lifted it into the air, and it was off to Camp Juneau.
“Hey, is something wrong?” Zymani leaned toward Akita. He had barely said a word all morning. Lieutenant Akita “Moody” Nazza-Dhuni looked at her with dull red eyes.
“...It’s just one of those days.” Akita shifted closer to the window and stared off into the distance. Zymani looked over at Greyson who just shrugged and reclined in his seat. Zymani gave a small sigh and did the same. An AR video console projected down from the ceiling and played a feed from the New Earth News Network.
…And on the North American front a Migou incursion into the Anchorage Alaska arcology has met with stiff resistance from NES Armed Forces led by the battlecruiser NES Victory and her daring mecha pilots! Captain Chip Savage is credited with destroying five Migou Mecha and will be receiving a citation for bravery from the President of the United Earth; this will be Captain Savage’s fifth citation for bravery! The Ministry of Information has scheduled a parade in front of the New Earth Government’s capital of Chicago to honor this brave hero of the New Earth Armed Forces.
Chip Savage. A real New Earth hero. Zymani wondered if a Nazzadi could ever be a poster child for the war effort with their onyx skin, red eyes, tribal tattoos and sharp fangs. Captain Zymani “RoseRage” Barcelona. It had a nice ring to it. But she was fine with second lieutenant for now. She’d see action and get a shot at those dammed Migou soon enough. But she was getting tired of hearing the same propaganda. She picked a song on her PCPU and let the thumping bass lull her to a comfortable sleep.
“Time to get off!”
The air was chilly as Zymani opened her eyes. Sergeant “Bam-Bam” Wynn was waving everyone to unload their bags and line up in front of the shuttle.
“Finally!”barked Lieutenant Nasala his impatience obvious to all. Nasala “Zephyr” Nazza-Dhuni was always the first one reporting for duty. Behind him came the ever prompt Lt. Naransa “FlashBang” Nazza-Dhuni and Lt. Wendell “Ritz” Haversham. Zymani stepped off the shuttle ramp behind Lt. Greyson “Greyhawk” Wright. Akita was the last to drag his bags out.
Sergeant Wynn directed their attention to a small man, trembling in the chilly Alaskan air. The man carried himself with a mousy demeanor. “Welcome to Camp Juneau,” he said. “I’m Lieutenant Bensen.”
“Alright, um, if you…guys…” Bensen looked at Zymani, unsure of how to address her in a mostly male group, “Follow me, I’ll uh, show you to your rooms.” They picked up their bags as he led them into the base.
They followed him into the barracks and he stopped before a door with two AR plaques showing “2nd. Lt. Gregs. The other plaque was empty.
“Lt. Barcelona, this is your room, you’ll be bunking with Shannon “Honey” Gregs. You can set your stuff up in there.” Honey gave her a polite wave and helped bring the bags into the room.
Lt. Bensen led them to another door.
“Lt. Nazza-Dhuni?” Bensen looked at the three Nazzadi males standing in front of him. “Um, you all related?”
Zymani gave a small huff of exasperation. He obviously didn’t know anything about their culture if he didn’t realize Nazzadi take their surnames from their home arcology. She was the only one not from Nazza-Dhuni.
“Kidding…” mumbled Bensen. “Um, Lt. Akita Nazza-Dhuni? Yeah, you’ll be here with Lt. Coccio. He’s probably down at the rec room right now, but you can put your stuff in there.”
He led the remaining group down the hall and opened the door to another room. “And here…oh, these were supposed to be moved. Sorry, I’ll have someone get these out.” The room was empty save for the bags of two other soldiers. “This room was…um…recently vacated…”
Everyone understood what those bags represented. The grim reality of war on the frontlines. “Lt. Nasala Nazza-Dhuni and Lt. Wright, you’ll be rooming together.”
“Best friends!” Nasala eagerly carried his bags in, unfazed by the bags left in the room. Greyson stepped in behind him wondering if this would go good or terribly, terribly bad. Bensen moved onto the next room with Wendell and stopped in front of a closed door.
“And you’ll be rooming with…well, I apologize in advance.” He gave a meek knock on the door. “Chopper…it’s your new roommate”
“I don’t want a new fucking roommate!”
Zymani could hear the shout from down the hall. Bensen’s hand shook as he knocked again. The door opened. “I said I don’t want a f-“
“Too goddamn bad!” Wendell’s fist made full contact with Chopper’s face. A few drops of blood hit the wall. Zymani and the others rushed out into the hallway.
“Sonnofa bitch!” Chopper swung at Wendell, but not with the same force. Wendell just laughed.
“WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!”
Bensen nearly shit his pants as he stood up straight.
“Commander on deck!” Everyone stood at attention except for Wendell and Chopper, still grabbing each other’s shirts.
A grizzled captain that looked like the absolute last guy you wanted to fuck with entered the barracks room. He looked like he ate the soldiers in action movies for breakfast and spit them out for lunch. Buzz-cut, square-jaw, rough looking and scarred, the whole deal. Zymani could see why Bensen nearly shit his pants. Wendell finally let go of Chopper and stood at attention.
“I am Captain Bart Boomhouser and I want to know what the fuck is going on in my barracks!”
“Just reviewing combat, sir!” Wendell let go of Chopper and stood at attention.
“Well review your combat training with the Migou. There are enough of them to fight without fighting amongst ourselves too. New recruits, follow me. Lt. McBane, get yourself cleaned up.”
Lt. Mcbane shot Wendell a glare as they left the room.
“Don’t touch my shit!” Wendell called after him. He joined near the back of the Captain’s group. Bensen caught up with him.
“Hey, sorry about that… he’s never been a pleasant one, but his friend and roommate just died the other day…”
An elbow met Wendell’s side.
“Ow, what was that for?” Wendell turned to Nasala.
“You’re such a prick!”
“How was I supposed to know his friend died?”
Captain Boomhouser led the pilots to the rec room. There were two men leaning over a pool table. The taller one with black hair gave them a silent, polite nod and went back to his shot. The smaller one with glasses waved excitedly.
“You guys made it!”
“I’ll leave you in the hands of Warrant Officer Flemming and Lt. Coccio. I trust there won’t be any more fights?”
Wendell looked around innocently.
“…yes sir,” squeaked Lt. Bensen.
Captain Boomhouser left the rec room.
“There goes the Reaper, biggest, baddest son-of-a-bitch this side of Neptune.” The Logistics Officer eyed the group standing before him, noting Wendell’s split lip.
“Ah, I see you met Chopper. Eh, I don’t care what happened he’s always been an asshole. Wanna play a game of pool after Coccio and I finish up?”
“Hey, you’re the guy who conned us on our ride to basic training!” Nasala did not look amused.
“I didn’t con you. I’m just a lucky guy with good dice.” Flemming gave them a small wink. “If you guys wanna try me again, or if you need anything, just ask for Cookie. I’ll try to get it for ya.”
The door burst open as a sergeant walked into the room. The named tag on his chest read “Gore”.
“I’m sergeant Bill Gore and I am your duty sergeant. New recruits are gonna get their first taste of duty tomorrow. Recon. Your mechs should arrive tonight. Be ready at 0500.” He departed as abruptly as he had arrived. The recruits looked at each other and got settled in.
The pilots were up, ready, and in position by 0500 sharp. Zymani recognized everyone from yesterday aside from 3 pilots introduced to her as Lt. Simon “Cutter” Vaillancourt, Lt. Allan and Lt. Shana “Splat” Nazza-Dhnui. Captain Boomhouser and Sergeant Gore were there to give squad assignments.
“First squad, Lt. McBane, you’ll be taking Lt. Bensen, Lt. Gregs and Lt. Allen. Second squad, Lt. Vaillancourt, you’ll take Lt. Wright, Zephyr and Splat. Lt. Coccio, you’re heading third squad with Lt. Barcelona, Lt. Haversham, and Moody. First squad will do deep recon. Second and third, you’re investigating a nearby settlement. Dismissed.”
Zymani walked over to her Engel. A 30-foot tall man-made organic hybrid of machine and…something else. No one liked to talk about what that else might be. She had her Auphin she named Gir. A Reconnaissance Engel. Those who saw it liked to call it the Hound. She could see that, with its werewolf hunch, hanging arms ending in claw-like fingers, and legs that resembled the hind legs of a dog. The only thing that threw her off was its head. It was streamlined like a dog’s head, but to her it looked more like an ant’s head with its two mandibles protruding in front. At 28 feet tall, it was a damn big dog.
Zymani slid into the control capsule. She felt the warm fluid press against her suit as it filled the cockpit. Displays flickered on the front of her helmet. The Engel Synthesis Interface allowed her to see everything her Engel saw. She moved her head back and forth to get used to the sensors again. Gir started moving his head in time with hers. They were almost one now.
“Starting to regret that whole ESI thing,” Wendell sounded uneasy.
“Don’t worry Ritz, Cherubs don’t have tentacles. I think it’s rather comfy in these engels.” Zymani wiggled a bit to demonstrate her point and was surprised when Gir moved too.
Cutter’s voice sounded loud over her intercom “Enough chatter ladies. Let’s kick some tires and light some fires!” His mech ran ahead of the group.
“Tires? But…A-pods…I don’t even,” mumbled Nasala .
RoseRage chuckled while Gir turned its head to stare down at him; she knew it unnerved him the way the Engel looked at him with its eyeless head.
Nasala quickly piloted his mech away, not waiting for the Engel to creep him out any more than it already did.
Zymani saw nothing but debris outside the high metallic walls of Camp Juneau. It was strange how there were no signs of life aside from the few plant still clinging to existence in this harsh climate . There weren’t even bugs, unless you counted the insect-like remains of the torn Migou mecha lying on the ground. There were even NEG mecha with odd-looking paintjobs. They must have belonged to Blanks. Migou liked to brainwash humans and turn them into permanent mind-slaves; no one had found a way to reverse the process yet. Blanks. Just the thought of having that done to her made Zymani shudder. She knew she would not be that lucky, the Migou despised the Nazzadi for turning on their former masters; they completely destroyed any Nazzadi they captured.
“Zephyr, keep an eye out for blips,” ordered Lt. Coccio.
Nasala’s Eclipse moved ahead at incredible speed. The sleek Nazzadi mech was tiny compared to the other mecha but could probably outrun a bullet.
“Moody, you go on watch too.”
Akita’s Hurricane was the other small Nazzadi mech. It was almost as fast and had more of a pyramid shaped head than the Eclipse class of Nazzadi mecha.
“I’ve got movement,” radioed Zephyr. Zimani cringed as she heard a long wail from Zephyr’s audio system.
”Switching to thermal scan. There’s someone in the middle of the wreckage sir. It scans as a human, sounds female. Permission to approach sir?”
Zymani watched Nasala’s mech disappear as its stealth systems activated. Gir raised its head as if it were sniffing the air. The walls of her cockpit tensed and trembled as it growled.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this too,” Zymani grumbled.
Zephyr edged closer toward the target. His video feed showed her a naked woman chained to a post in the center of the courtyard. The woman was screaming hysterically and didn’t seem to notice the shimmering outline of the stealthed mech in front of her.
“It’s a trap!” screamed Moody.
As soon as the words left his mouth, Zymani saw a purple winged mech uncloak behind Zephyr.
“The masters are coming!” The woman’s wails turned to maniacal laughter.
More blips popped up on Zymani’s HUD; her IFF system identified three more Dragonflies moving out of the village. Past the village, three Migou Locusts scuttled toward their patrol. The Migou mecha each had four insect-like legs with a long neck and long deadly looking pincers.
“Where’s a can of bug spray when you need it?” Zephyr fired his lightning gun, but the Dragonfly swiftly dodged the shot.
Zymani started to fly over to him, but something was pulling her Engel back down to the ground. The Dragonflies and the Locusts were out of range. Why did she feel so heavy?
“Sorry guys…” Moody’s apologetic voice echoed across the comm.
The nervous pilot had mistakenly fired his weapon system and a grav bomb had backfired on the entire squad. One of the Dragonflies turned its attention to Zymani and scratched Gir’s plating with a laser. Greyhawk‘s large Claymore responded with a blast from its lasers, punching a small hole through the Dragonfly’s armor. Somehow it stayed hovering in the air.
The Flies shot back at him, but his Claymore was a heavy support mech and shrugged off the effects of their weaker weapons. Ritz’s Cherub tried pulling away from the ground as it launched rockets at the small swarm. The Dragonflies circled around as they dodged each missile.
Zymani felt the antigrav field lift from her Engel as she sped toward the Dragonflies. She fired her plasma cannon, but her Migou adversary dodged again.
Ritz changed direction and fired another barrage at a Locust. The Dragonflies returned fire at the pair of mecha. Gir’s armor soaked the blast again while Ritz moved out of the way. Another Dragonfly hit Moody’s small mech, still trapped by the effects of his grav bomb. The last fly aimed a blast at Greyhawk. It somehow managed to miss the largest mech on the field. The Migou didn’t live long to regret the decision as Greyhawk’s laser seared it in half.
The Locusts concentrated their fire on Zymani’s squad. She managed to dodge the barrage, but Moody and Game-Over each took a hit. Zymani turned her attention back to the Dragonflies as Gir leapt at one midair. She managed to catch one and sunk her acid-filled mandibles into the small mech. She tossed her head back as Gir ripped the fly in half. She felt a deep satisfaction in tearing her former tyrants into pieces. The remaining pieces were crushed in Gir’s claws as it turned and shot another Dragonfly. The Migou mech crashed to the ground, smoke trailing behind the smoldering metal. One of the two remaining Dragonflies tried to escape.
“I’ve got this one!” Zephyr’s mech grabbed it by a leg and punched it. He swung again, but missed. Zymani and Moody set after the Locusts. A blast from the Locust hit Moody, nearly disabling his mech. Another mandibled mech tried to take a bite out of Zymani. She tried biting back, but only got air. Greyhawk fired at the Locust but they were almost as fast as Dragonflies and scurried out of the way. Ritz took aim and managed to hit one as it scurried back into position. A laser blast hit the other one as Moody returned to the fight. The Locust tried to snap at Zymani again, but Greyhawk stopped it with another blast of his laser.
“Take this you bug-faced freak.” Ritz fired his rocket pods at the Locust in front of him. “I hate you. Die.” As if on cue, the Migou shook and crashed to the ground. Ritz laughed at his impeccable timing.
Zephyr finished off the last Dragonfly with a punch and flew over to the Locusts. The Locust dodged away from Zephyr’s fist and into Ritz’s rocket. Zymani leapt back and fired her plasma cannon at the Locust, but it crawled out of the way. There was a flash to Zymani’s left as both Greyhawk and Moody hit a Locust with their lasers. Then she heard the sickening crunch of metal. She looked back at the Locust in front of her with Zephyr’s mech caught between its pincers. His emergency pod ejected itself from the mech before in the two smoking halves hit the ground. She stepped between the pod and the Locust and tried to fire at the Migou, but her cannon malfunctioned and the blast hit her instead. Luckily, Gir’s armor soaked the impact. Ritz seemed to have the same luck when his gun backfired.
Even without Zephyr, the Locusts were sorely outnumbered and started skittering back. Gir leapt and managed to tackle one to the ground. The other one didn’t get far as Moody’s laser sent it stumbling. Gir rolled off the remaining Locust before Greyhawk blasted it into pieces. Gir climbed back to his feet as Zymani scanned for Zephyr’s pod. Once she spotted it, Gir ran over and picked it up in one claw.
“Don’t worry Zephyr, I’ve got you.”
“Thanks Rose. Maybe next time I should get a sturdier mech, huh?”
“Let’s focus on getting you back to base first.”
“Well be quick about it.”
Zymani smirked and headed toward the rest of the group.
“What do we do with the crazy broad sir?” Ritz’s barbed tail pointed back at the woman laughing and screaming.
“I say we fry her.”
“No Zephyr. We leave her. Let’s get back to base.”
The mechs turned back to Camp Juneau. Zymani could still feel the adrenaline coursing through her body after the battle with the Migou. The crunch between Gir’s mandibles was so satisfying, but as she looked down at Zephyr’s pod she remembered how easily they caught and crushed Zephyr’s mech. This was called the Aeon War for a reason. This didn’t even count as a battle in a war that wasn’t ending anytime soon. But as long as she was Nazzadi, Zymani would tear apart each bug she came across and make the Migou pay.
"If that movie was as good as its soundtrack, it would've blown everyone's mind."