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Shipwrecked; The Myrmidon

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  • #21

    Aaron honestly, was starting to get on edge. He waited around and watched Allyn for a while, then watched the bots and members of the crew doing what they were doing with the trees. It was he who was starting to feel out of place. The biggest part of that was just the amount of inexperience that was around him.

    That Kimrith was a competent individual, Aaron was all too ready to concede. It was even obvious that he'd seen some action during the war. But he lacked experience. A lot of it. That wasn't something Aaron believed they needed right now. Competence was one thing. Experience was something else all together.

    For instance, Kimrith had at his disposal a soldier who had seen six full tours. Aaron. Moreover, Aaron was a natural born stalker. Unlike any of the rest of their trio, Aaron, being a cat, was equipped with the perfect natural instincts for stalking prey unawares. And Kimrith wanted to put him to work working on the palisade? They had bots for that, and regular crew. Kimrith should be leaving the work to them, and assigning duties to the three armor-suited individuals to tasks suited to them.

    Allyn should be inside working on the ship's computer and comm systems. Instead, he was setting up defense towers - a task any member of the crew, with any modicum of experience could perform. Kimrith should be making himself the center of everything, a focal point for everyone to look to, and to come to when they needed advice, or orders for when they'd run out of work. Whereas Aaron - Kimrith should have him out scouting. They had incoming radio signals. Those signals were coming from an unknown group. Instead, Kimrith wanted to put all of Aaron's military skills to work hauling logs and digging post holes in the ground. While that unknown group got closer.

    What if they had long range weapons? It wouldn't take anything for any one of them to stand off a few kilometers from a vantage point in these mountains, have himself a look through a pair of binoculars or a good scope and decide to lob a few mortars into their perimeter. Or for that matter, it would be just as simple to spot with a laser, and the next thing Kimrith and crew would know, is that they had a laser-guided missile howling its way onto them.

    For anybody, with any amount of skill, and just a little bit of equipment, doing such a thing would be just as easy as breathing.

    Aaron's face set within the air-conditioned confines of his helmet. It was always better to ask forgiveness than it was to ask permission. Maybe Kimrith would skin him alive later. Or maybe he would thank him. But Aaron was going to find out who these people were and do his best to ascertain their intentions.

    A hundred and sixty-thousand credits worth of state-the-art aggressor suit built specifically to augment all of a cat's natural prowess, skill and instinct... Aaron would be damned if he was going to let an inexperienced commander put it to work digging holes - when out there, right now, a possible threat could be approaching them.

    When next Allyn or Kimrith would look up, they might ask themselves where that cat in the bronze armor had gone. If they asked around, not a single person would be able to say they'd seen him leave. Nobody would have any idea. For his part, Aaron was half a kilometer away from the ship in under ten minutes, making his way in the direction from which those signals were coming. Not a single bird stirred from a single tree at his passage. But he was fast. Electromuscle-enhanced legs powered him from rocky crag to crag, cliff-let or boulder with a grace and dexterity that made him seem almost like he was floating - each plant of a foot as sure as any mountain goat's, each spring-off as graceful as a lynx leaping.
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    • #22

      When Kimrith looked up to find Aaron missing, his jaw immediately clenched.

      “That idiot!” he snarled, before opening a channel to the cougar, “Aaron Cartwright, you are absent without leave! Return to the Myrmidon immediately!

      “Wynd,” He said gravely, “If you’re still linked into his suit, let him know it. Everyone else. If he returns, detain him for insubordination.”

      He ground his teeth.

      “If he’d just asked, I’d have let him go scouting,” he muttered, “The fool. I told him that the ship’s weapons are still working. If he’s out there looking for an enemy…”

      He snorted.

      “Thank you, Allyn,” he said after a moment, remembering that he’d looked up to answer the avian’s report, “We’ll need to configure them later. For now, we have an glory-hounding fool to track down.”

      He was silent for a moment.

      “He’s probably headed for the cave,” he growled, “Of all the stunts to pull, it’s the one he told me not to. The hypocrite. And a veteran should know the consequences for this...”

      He shook his head.

      "Allyn, with me," he called, his visor snapping down, "Alpha squad, with us. Fan out and shadow us in the treetops."


      :::


      The birds didn’t react as Aaron ran through the forest, but just after he went past, something paused on his trail, and sniffed at a leaf he’d damaged in his haste. A thin, clear sap dripped from it, which gave off a faintly cloying scent.

      The creature rumbled softly, before sniffing again, and starting to follow the scent trail that a small patch of sap, unnoticed on the elbow of Aaron’s armour, was giving off…


      :::


      Aaron would emerge on the other side of the forest to find more sheer cliff, broken only by the occasional handhold. He would be able to get down, but it would be a laborious climb at best, and getting back up would be problematic.

      Worse, the predator pack was still present, barking at the “Mega-Gecko”; now that they had slaked their thirst, it seemed that they were hungry.
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      • #23

        Kimrith was replied to by a grim cougar's aging face, its features subtly alight with green lines and purple symbols from the luminous interior readouts of his armor suit's HUD.

        "Begging your pardon, Sir," Aaron replied equitably, "but this isn't the military and I'm not beholden to you as a commander. I haven't even signed a contract with you yet." A soft sigh, accompanied by a pause. Aaron's eyes held Kimrith's. "But that's splitting hairs," he said. "My apologies if the suddenness of my absence alarmed you. But you need me to do this. Now please, back off and let me do this alone. I've had twenty-two years experience doing this. Some of it on worlds more hostile than this."

        There was another pause, Aaron's amber eyes scrutinizing something in his HUD's readouts.

        "I've got what looks like that pack of predators tracking me."

        There was a small smirk.

        "Sauce for the goose," he remarked cryptically.

        "I'll be fine, Commander. It looks like it is those beasties we saw down by the water, but nothing that this suit won't be able to handle. Also, if nothing else, I am drawing them away."

        Aaron's eyes flicked back up to Kimrith's.

        "If I am forced to kill them, it will be some place out here. Not somewhere near the ship. Whoever was trying to find us will be drawn to the sound of fire, so in that way I may be able to draw them away from the ship for a while, at least until we have better understanding of their intentions."

        Aaron just looked at Kimrith for a moment. "I know this probably makes you angry. I apologize. But to be frank, Sir, you have assets you weren't using to their full potential. Not bad decision-making on your part, just lack of experience. Let me do this. I know it probably seems rash, but I promise you it's not. I'll be careful, and I'll report everything I find. This is what I trained for, Commander. It is what I'm best at. If one were to ask any of my previous commanders, they'd be told I probably even excel at it."

        Then, there was another small smirk, Aaron looking into his HUD again.

        "I need a moment here." His eyes flicked back up. "I'll be fine, Commander. I promise. My life is mine, besides. If I get killed doing this, then I get killed. Don't risk any of your men to try and come find me. That said, if you hear any shots, it'll be me. Those predators are scoping my trail hard. I may need to deal with them in a few minutes."

        Aaron's held Kimrith's eyes again. "I'll be fine," he repeated, then signed off.

        Aaron then took in where he was.

        "Not the finest places to find one's self in with a bunch of what-ever-in-Bastet's-name-you-are on my trail, but.." he muttered.

        Aaron leaped off the side of the cliff. It was a long way down, and Aaron felt the thrill of free fall as his suit plummeted. But his body responded with its natural instinct. He flattened out, letting the air brake his fall. Then, landing, he let the forward parts of his boots take the impact, his body immediately rolling forward, converting the momentum of his fall into a roll. It sounded a bit like a boulder crashing. He rolled a good half a dozen meters through the forest. An arm reached out, its hand grabbing at the trunk of a tree. Swinging around it, Aaron's armor suit came to a perfect halt behind it. He hugged himself to it. He wasn't even breathing hard.

        A lot of people thought they understood armor suits. They were supposed to make one more effective in combat. Which they did, to very great degrees. But Aaron understood their potential to a whole new level of degrees. When an armor suit was properly designed and engineered, they were more. They made the wearer so much, much more.

        Aaron's camouflage effect came on. His armor suit's exterior temperature became that of the tree. Using photo-adaptive diode tech, his armor suit's exterior became the same color of the tree. It even managed to nearly mimic the tree's texture.

        A small panel opened in Aaron's right thigh. Four small crab-like bots emerged. They scuttled swiftly down Aaron's leg, the panel closing. They immediately started transmitting data back to Aaron's suit with low-power directional masers, small antennae-'feelers' coming out of their fronts. They began scuttling swiftly on eight little legs, one forward, one back, one east of Aaron's position, the last one going westward. Each one was about the size of a silver dollar. They took up equal-distant positions from Aaron's hiding spot, each ten meters away from his armor suit. They each had a full a hundred and eighty degrees forward field of vision. Nothing was going to come within their perimeter without Aaron knowing about it.

        "Don't do it," Aaron quietly cautioned the raptor-things. "You'll be wanting to find some easier meat. Track me, and it will be us who's finds out what you taste like tonight."
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        • #24

          He hadn’t noticed the cougar leave. One moment he was standing off to the side and the next he was gone. He shrugged, not paying it much attention. Then Kimrith’s orders came over the comms, followed soon after by Aaron’s responses.

          Allyn readied himself to chase after the cougar, meaning to take to the air, then stopped. He looked over to Kimrith as the squad assembled, “Excuse me, Sir. We could go after him, tearing off through the forest and causing all manner of havoc and drawing out who knows what, but I don’t think that would be a great use of our time.” he said looking around at all the activity happening around the Myrmidon. “I understand he took off without permission, but you just said you would have given him that anyway.”

          Allyn knew he was probably overstepping himself in giving the dragon advice on this situation, but it seemed to him that Aaron had things well in hand and didn’t have any malicious intent. He just wanted to be doing something. Maybe he was impetuous for having taken off, he’d definitely not argue that point, unannounced, but one had to look at the harm.

          “It might not be my place to give you advice, but I don’t see a lot of benefit in chasing after him, detaining him and putting him in the brig. I get the principle of the thing, but still. Put a mark on his record and we’ll sort things out when or if we get out of this.”
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