Rage of the Machines

 

Trillian used the recoil from her forearm gun to assist her in easing her bike out of its tilt. She took her handlebars in both hands again and sped back to her position next to Havok’s long black car. She took a look across the lightning scarred battlefield and saw Hellskull raging in his car. The masked outlaw leader slammed a gloved hand into his steering wheel while the woman in the car next to him grabbed his shoulder and tried to talk him out of his anger.

Despite the effect of the Mood Stabilizer chip installed in her cranial interface she smiled.

First blood, she thought, grinning with pride. Her report to her leader was properly restrained though.

“Threat eliminated”, she said into her mouthpiece.

“Good work, Trillian”, came Havok’s reply. “Is the bike salvageable?”

“Yes”, she replied. “The only damage is the lack of front armor.”

“Excellent”, said Havok. “Just more scrap for the taking.”

“Bike and the man”, added the biker on the other side of Havok’s car, Ego. “Since we’re out of Plastiskin I could sure use some of his flesh to replace the skin I lost laying my bike down on the way here.”

“I didn’t think you had any skin left”, Trillian told her.

Havok cut into the com and halted their banter.

“Silence, ladies”, he said. “Form up and stick to the plan. Line up and hold position while everyone else loots the wreckage.”

Ego couldn’t be silenced so easily and grumbled into her com.

“Ain’t no ladies here, Unit One”, she said. “Just two of the meanest biomechs with mammary protrusions that you’ve ever encountered.”

“Focus that mean then”, Havok said. “Here comes Mallard One.”

Ego went quiet and Trillian knew why. The unexpected presence of the Duck themed helicopter was unsettling. With its aerial mobility and twin lasers in a universal turret able to adjust to any firing position the flying vehicle could reach out and slice through any car on the lightning blasted plain while riding high out of the reach of most of the land based weapons of the cars and bikes of both opposing gangs.

Havok halted his car and Ego and Trillian took up their positions on either side of him.

“I don’t like this, Unit One”, Trillian said into her com.

“I don’t either, Two”, Havok said back.

“We didn’t know about this helicopter. We need to regroup and reconsider our options.”

“I understand your apprehensions but we need these supplies.”

Trillian shot a look over her shoulder to where the other cyborgs of her gang were sifting through the rubble of the wrecked government helicopter.

“There’s not enough here to make up for the damage we could take in a battle this size”, she said.

“Hold your position and let our people do their job”, said Havok, an edge showing in his normally well modulated voice.

Trillian felt a sizzling from her Mood chip as she watched the cultist gang of Hellskull form a line of four armed vehicles a scant fifty yards away. Havok’s plan had been to let the two closer situated gangs duke it out while they looted the field and fled with minimal contact with either opposing gang. But Hellskull and Ducky seemed to have formed a pact. Hellskull’s cars held their fire as Mallard One and Ducky’s two landed based vehicles passed untouched in front of them.

The helicopter, a thickly armored compact and a trailer pulling truck made their way straight for her gang.

“This isn’t good, Havok”, she said into her mouthpiece. “We’re outgunned here. We’re out in the open.”

“Look at Hellskull’s guns, Unit Two”, Havok called back to her. “They dipped in response to mine. He’ll respond when I do.”

“I don’t like this, Havok”, she said. “We can’t trust them!”

“I’ve amended the plan, Trillian. I want that helicopter down!”

“Have you popped your chip, Unit One? We’re not ready for this.”

“Hold you position and get ready to fire on my mark”, Havok said in a voice loud and harsh with command.

Trillian’s com clicked as a private channel opened.

“T?” It was Ego’s voice. “What’s our play?”

Trillian looked at Ducky’s advancing forces. The trailer pulling truck, the compact car and the low flying helicopter were passing unharmed along the line of Hellskull’s heavily armed vehicles. They were close, too close. It was time for fight or flight.

“We do what we always do”, Trillian said to the only friend she still had from her old mining days. “Obey.”

Dust flew up as the helicopter neared. Both biker women angled their forward mounted machine guns to full upward tilt and waited for Havok to give the firing command. It was Hellskull’s forces who fired first though. A rocket flew from the turret of the devil worshiping gang leader’s command vehicle. It blew chunks out of Mallard One’s bottom armor. They landed in the bed of the truck beneath it.

The rest of Hellskull’s forces joined in, lighting up that side of the killing field as rockets and 30 cal bullets blasted from the cars. A turret mounted .67 Holland Arms on top of a truck battered away at the bird’s bottom armor in a hail of fiery lead. A woman leaned out the truck’s passenger window and fired upward with an AV rifle.

Everyone on that side of the battlefield fired at Mallard One.

The helicopter shook in the air. Pieces of its armor rained down on the other vehicles of the Ducky gang.

“Light it up”, Havok yelled.

Trillian hit the thumb trigger to her machine gun and the 30 cal rocked on it’s mountings as bullets fired in a straight line to add her contribution to the rapid hell pounding into the helicopter’s under armor. She kept her eyes focused on the bird’s twin lasers and was relieved to see them swivel toward one of Hellskull’s car, a thickly armored compact. A turret on the trailer turned to face that car as well.

Ducky’s mad at the betrayal and wants to send a message, Trillian thought, as bright laser light flashed from helicopter. Acrid smoke flowed from the top of the compact car’s roof as the intense heat of the laser melted away armor. The dual machine guns of the trailer added their fury to the barrage and ate up the car’s front armor.

Havok’s big black car rocked as machine gun fire from Ducky’s truck and car slammed into it.

“Ignore them”, Havok yelled into the com. “I want that bird down!”

“We don’t have the firepower for this”, Trillian yelled back even as she kept up her end of the barrage of hot lead and rockets tearing up the bottom armor of Mallard One. “When Hellskull betrays us, we’ll be stuck in the open!”

Trillian’s Mood Stabilizer chip emitted erratic crackling pops in the next long seconds of fire and fury.

The helicopter’s incredibly thick bottom armor was showing a lot of wear though.

This might actually work, Trillian thought.

But then the twin lasers of Mallard One sliced through the roof of the compact car on the other side of the battlefield and pierced the interior. Trillian couldn’t tell what damage had been done but smoke and fire rose from a hole toward the front of the vehicle. Though she thought that it might be a blown power plant she wasn’t sure. The effect of the last laser blast was quickly evident though. The twin lasers swung to face Havok’s black car.

And Hellskull’s gang stopped firing.

“No”, Trillian yelled into her com. “No! No! I told you! You can’t trust him!”

Mallard One rose higher, pulling up out of the range of ground based fire.

The twin lasers flashed deadly hot light beams. They struck home on the roof of Havok’s car and top armor heated up and melted away in waves of rolling black smoke.

“We’ve got to go, Unit One”, Trillian yelled.

“Pull back”, Havok called across the com. “Fall back and regroup.”

His car lurched forward as another blast of light lit up his roof.

Trillian launched ahead and power skid her bike around to head off the battlefield.

“Let’s go, Ego”, she yelled.

She got no response from her oldest friend though.

The hair Trillian had left flew up as she searched the battlefield for Ego. She saw her friend’s bike first, throwing up dirt as it slid sideways across the lightning scarred ground. What was left of Ego lay four meters behind it in a pool of blood and hydraulic fluid. The top of her skull was open and what had been inside was gone, scattered across the field of war.

Trillian’s cry of rage was wordless. Her Mood Stabilizer chip blew out and smoke filled her cranial interface.

She looked to Havok’s car to turn her rage on him and saw that he was past caring. His now roofless car was rolling to a stop.

The three armed cyborg gang leader was thrashing in his seat as body was sheathed in flame.

His blood boiled, his skin crackled, his bionic left eye exploded and hit the windshield.

And then his arms dropped and he sagged in the straps of his crash seat. He burned quietly and in peace.

The other gang members were shouting in Trillian’s ear. They were asking for direction but she had no idea what to tell them.

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