Man and Machine
McCall clutched his assault cannon close to his chest and gritted his teeth in grim anticipation. A nod in Vargas direction was the signal, and McCall’s partner received it all right. Vargas spun from his position behind an upright steel girder and let loose a steady stream of rounds from his weapon. His power armor whirred as he advanced, an orchestra of hydraulic humming and metal-clanking footsteps. McCall gritted his teeth again, the return fire from their pinned-down quarry had not come yet, but McCall knew it would.
Vargas continued his advance up the narrow corridor, releasing shell after shell from his weapon into the darkness that lie at the end of the hall. There was a pause in the deafening noise and then what McCall had been waiting for came. It was lower, louder, and sounded far more powerful; a larger cannon, the kind only mounted on C.A.I. units. McCall and his partner had found their quarry indeed, and it didn’t look like it wanted to go quietly.
Running from his position behind the steel girders McCall immediately noted the white muzzle-flash at the end of the dark corridor. McCall fired as he moved, aiming for the flashing end of the cannon. The power armor he was wearing seemed to be moving slower than usual but for now he knew he was safe. A C.A.I. unit mounted massive firepower and was deadly accurate, but would not acquire a new target until its current target was surely eliminated.
Bright sparks lit up across the front of Vargas’ assault armor as the large-caliber weapon at the end of the corridor hurled rounds at him. The enemy weapon’s loud report resounded through the tight chambers but inside McCall’s mind was only silence. Any hesitation on his part would result in a quick death.
McCall just kept firing and advancing. Vargas slowed pace and his right leg dipped, he leaned on the wall for support. Further bursts of fire from the enemy impacted with Vargas. His armor relenting, he crumpled, blood and viscera splaying across the walls of the narrow corridor. McCall did not hesitate; he could not afford to.
His rounds began to find their mark and a bright shower of sparks lit up a dark, hulking silhouette. McCall kept the trigger on his weapon depressed and was rewarded with rattling explosion and the sparking of hot flying metal, as the monstrosity’s weapon arm was torn free. In his armor McCall sighed relief.
“Click” his weapon was now empty.
The one-armed assailant stepped into the low green light of the corridor. Its mangled shoulder sparked and hissed like an angry cobra. McCall began to back pedal as he frantically attempted to load a new magazine into his weapon. The beast began to advance, slowly at first, but then more quickly as it realized McCall’s intentions. It moved with in a fashion both alien and human and with a speed beyond its appearance.
McCall grinned as he felt the relieving “snap” of fresh ammunition sliding into its position. Unfortunately he was already too late. Raising his weapon to fire, McCall noticed all too quickly the four-digit talon hand now gripping the business end of his assault cannon. He felt a pull and the weapon was gone, flung into the darkness behind his opponent. His grinning turned into the gritting of teeth.
A mechanical appendage thrust at him and clamped down like a vice on his neck. Panic began to invade his mind as the metal monster lifted him from the ground and smashed him against the wall. He suppressed it and attempted to break the mechanical beast’s grip. It was futile and he gasped, his armor constricting and buckling around his neck. He stared into the single, cold, red eye of his killer and it stared back.
McCall reached for his vibroblade, a weapon of last resort, and with all the strength left in him drove it into the behemoth’s metallic torso. Once again its grip tightened and McCall gasped and squinted his eyes to fight off the pain of death. He twisted the blade and drove it deeper. The monster’s red eye transfixed upon its prey. He pushed and twisted the blade while gasping for life. The machine faltered, its legs collapsing as McCall’s knife tore through the leg gyro systems. Onto the cold, hard floor they fell in a heap but the machine’s grip held firm and McCall felt the life being crushed from his body. The adversaries stared at one another in their deadly embrace.
McCall may have been unconscious when his blade’s final thrust destroyed the beast’s power unit. He didn’t know. He awoke to the sound of voices chattering on the comm.
“Captain McCall are you there? Come in Captain McCall. This is Bravo team. Do you read?”
The steel claw of the mechanical beast still held his neck firmly, however more loosely, and McCall could breath. Its now unlit mechanical eye still gazed silent hatred at him.
“Captain McCall answer me. What is your status?”
McCall still didn’t answer; his eyes turned toward Vargas, sprawled across the metal floor of the corridor, still clutching his assault cannon, a small trail of smoke issuing from its barrel.
“Captain McCall do you read? This is Bravo…”
“McCall here. Tango Two-Seven is clean but Vargas is down. Bring the meat truck. I am switching on my beacon… come pick me up.”