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A 7OX Story ** Planetside 2: Breakthrough **

Humanity has grown and prospered throughout the many thousands of years since its birth. Large spires reach out to the heavens in challenge beyond the normal reality. Technologies reach levels beyond common comprehension. The existence of a worm hole in Earth space had spurred a race in spacefaring technologies. An expedition fleet had been dispatched and met disaster, being split into two. The survivors on the other side of the wormhole had no way to return home and searched desperately for world to call home.

They eventually found a world which they eventually called Auraxis. Years later, the planet is filled with strife. Three factions of man with their own ideals and philosophies battle for supremacy in the few continents of the planet. On this world of with beautiful lands akin to the home planet of Earth, there is only war. The planet of Auraxis can only weep to the blood that is being shed as sacrifice to the victors.

A black tower stands in dark contrast to the brown sands of the arid desert. Large bones mark the site of once a great creature. Small little buildings cluster around the site with the archaeological zeal. The place is little travelled but those who see it call it the Indar Excavation Site. An artifact had been found within the lowest depths of the excavation site, one that might change the stalemate of the war. That had caught everyones eyes and rushed to claim it.

A force of Terran Republic managed to reach first and is currently defending this location against the other two factions of the Vanu Sovereignty and New Conglomerate. The defense by Aegon Redfield had been spectacular thus far for the Terran Republic, holding the tower in the three way battle which had been raging for days.

In an attempt to weaken the defenders, the New Conglomerate had dispatched an entire force to the Indar Communications array and cut off the nanite lattice networks. Without the lattice networks, no new supplies could reach the tower defenders. Food, medicine and ammunition started to become scarce for the men in red. The situation started to become even more desperate as the Vanu Sovereignty increased the pressure with more reinforcements. It is only the presence of the New Conglomerate that kept the defenders from being overrun. Cut off behind enemy lines with no way to escape in in a three way battle, the commander of the defenders, Captain Redfield has no choice but to call in for emergency reinforcements.

Republic Command understood the severity of the issue and had deployed two platoons of the 7OX to break through enemy lines and reinforce the defenders. The clock is ticking as the noose tightens around the defenders of Indar excavation tower.

**

In the cold midst of space, a large space station orbit lazily around the planet. The Terran Republic Station Thor moved its arms laden with large bulbs of metal. Inside is a constant blaze of activity. In one of the bulbs, Private Blaze felt nervous for this is his first drop. He tightened the grip on his rifle to assure himself. The Drop Pod closed, darkening everything except for the small glows on the few panels.

The engines on the station increased its output, glowing in bright blue. He felt the pod shoot forward as it propelled into free space. The Thors coil accelerator shot the drop pods free towards the planet. Twelve pods surge through the atmosphere. Blaze could feel the pod becoming hotter from the intense friction. Blaze gripped his seat harder as he looked at the earth below him through a camera.

The skies are cloudy in deep red of the arid region. It soothed him as he calmed down. The pod was falling smoothly. Blaze felt it wasnt so bad after all. He regret saying that the moment his pod shot through the clouds. Black smoke and explosions litter around a tall spire. Blaze used the side thrusters to gently guide the pod out of the way from the spire. The pod sensed its arrival and activated its reverse jets. Hot flames shot forth from the bottom of the pod, slowing it down enough for landing.

The impact jarred the private. The pod immediately opened, revealing the true intensity of the battle. He shot off his feet, rifle in hand and stumbled onto the open sand. He could see the few hot trails of incoming drop pods. He felt his breath as he got up. An explosion threw up a splash of sand, forcing him to close his eyes. He looked around the battlefield which was filled with both hot tracers and plasma. He looked around as bullets whiz by his ear. He was truly confused when he caught sight of a man in red armour waving at him. Come on! Get to cover! He ran before something exploded in front of him. He felt himself flying before smacking the ground and everything went black.

**

Planet Auraxis, 1000 hours, Crossroads Watchtower,

Men and machine move swiftly in preparations of a major operation. The airpads are busy as Galaxy unloaded valuable ammunition and supplies. A whiff of smoke billowed quietly in the air. Sergeant Blades stared from the hilltops towards the nearby base of the Crown. He realized how the smoke matched his hair with contrast to his rough skin.

His quiet serenade was interrupted by a ruff voice. Dont you think you should quit smoking?

Major Blades turned to see his fellow officer Ham. He is a bright man, capable of leading Bravo squad of first platoon. He is always direct to the point. He felt that the man was too honest at times. He put his thoughts away before he answered. Whats the problem about it?

Master Sergeant Ham gestured at the burning stick of cigar. I mean you already refused to join the Rebirth system. Surely taking something thatll kill you isnt making things any better. The Rebirth system was what made this war truly possible. The capability of being immortal had truly revolutionized the war. Men were no longer afraid to fight and die. That escalated all national level conflicts quickly into major wars. However, unlike any common norm of denying technology, the Rebirth generators are considered a taboo. Its a no mans hand and not to be trifled with for it will easily bite back in the ass.

The word of Rebirth brought a furrow to Blades eye. Joining the Rebirth makes a man careless. Being careless makes a soldier useless. It wastes too much resource. Winning this war will be down to efficient use of resources. He gestured to the TRAC-5 beside him. This here is what I have and I have been using it for six years now. A serving life of six years is a record to be proud of in this kind of world where one could die several times in a day.

They heard a bugle call on the radio. Thats the roll call. They both stood up from their perch and walked down the hill. Blades observed his forces ready beside the weapons tower. The 7OX platoon stood ready before him in parade rest. 54 men and women stood with pride as their leader stood atop the body of a Prowler. He gazed his eyes across the eyes of his men. They met his gaze with steel determination. These warriors are proud, seasoned and eager for a fight.

He finally decided to speak. Alright, listen up men! Command assigned us to an important mission. Weve got some boys trapped behind enemy lines and they need some rescuing. He caught sharpening eyes at the seriousness of the situation. We have a lot of NC guys blocking our way to them too, a platoon size maybe more. He caught a smile here and there, eager for blue boy blood.

Blades turned around and pointed to the northwest. Bravo Squad, second platoon already went ahead in drop pods. Theyll be helping to buy time for us to break through to them. He then turned his gesture towards the northeast. The 107th are supposed to lend us a hand. However, theyre getting bogged down in their assault at Mao Tech Plant. They did however offer us a small air wing for support.

Right on cue, four mosquitos zoomed by, blowing warm air across their faces. The nearby trees protested by thrashing its leaves. They were not fazed as Blades continued on. Its a three way fight over there so well be crashing the party. Whos with me?

He got an overwhelming response. The men stomped their rifles onto the ground unanimously. WE ARE SEVEN OX AND WE FIGHT FOR THE REPUBLIC!

Blades gave a small nod with a smile. Good! Saddle up and were leaving in 3 mikes! Dismissed! The quiet commotion quickly returned to the chaotic pace.

**

The full force had been assembled and lined up along the northwest lower ridge of the tower. The flight of mosquitoes called in on radio. This is Angel One of the 107th, were your flight wing providing air superiority escort over.

Ham responded. Affirmative Angel one, were glad to have you flyboys on board.

Blade has in his command four prowler tanks, two lightnings and six sunderer transports. He didnt have any air units excepting the four mosquitoes. Those machines along with the needed pilots have been redirected to the 107th. Everything checked out. He opened his radio and ordered. All units, advance!

The strike force arranged in a two file formation advanced. The Lightnings have the point with the sunderers behind. The prowlers under the tank platoon officer moved along the left flank of the task force in anticipation of potential enemy vehicles. The strike force advanced under a bridge by the Crown before passing by Ceres Hydroponics. A small troupe for the outpost waved as the column drove by. The trip had been quiet as Blades watched the advance from the passenger seat of the third sunderer.

It was until the strike force reached West Highland Checkpoint when it started becoming interesting. A lightning at the front managed to catch something. We have visual of enemy aircraft incoming over. Six birds by the ballpark.

Angel One responded. Affirmative. We have visual... four reavers and two liberators. Angel flight is moving to intercept. The flight of aircraft banked right before activating its afterburners.

Blades added his response as Angel flight started firing its guns. Good hunting. He would have to plan his assault without the use of Angle Flight. The strike force advanced very little before they meet the enemy. Rockets flew from the comm array towards the convoy. The entire formation split immediately, breaking up with guns retaliating.

Blades got out of his sunderer and fired a burst up the hill. His aim struck true in the face. Come on boys! We have our first objective to take!

**

Meanwhile Angel flight is having a really hot time in the sky. Their initial salvo of gunfire didnt discourage the enemy force. The New Conglomerate chose to go for a head to head approach. Angel lead ordered as he put power to the thrusters. Break by pairs and engage! The four fighters broke off left and right to avoid a head on ram into the Liberator. Watch for that Tankbuster! Those guns would wreck any Mosquitos day.

Angel two pulled hard as the pair of liberators went past. He pulled around and saw the rear of the bomber. He fired a burst from his gun, peppering the bomber. The Drake tailgun fired back, forcing him to break away from his strafing run on the bomber. This guy can really take some punishment! Sensing danger, he immediately jerked his fighter to the left. A large cannon round shot past his right. He pulled up hard and shot the afterburners for more speed. God damn it! They nearly hit me with a Dalton!

Angel Four warned as a Reaver came upon the rear of his wingmate. Three, watch your six! You got one on you!

Angel three banked hard to the left and right but his sideslip and corkscrew maneuvers proved futile. I cant shake him!

Angel four swooped behind the Reaver. I have him. Hang tight. He pulled the trigger, firing his M18 rotary gun. Tracer fire darted past the Reavers left by inches before his second burst struck true at the belly. The Reaver blew smoke before catching on fire. It dived away out of control at a good kill.

Angel three cheered as he pulled up and away. Nice one!

Lead! Watch your six! You have one on your tail! Angel two dived away as he heard an alarm. Shit! I cant get to you! Angel Lead risked a look back as he pulled up. The Reaver is experienced since he kept his distance back.

Damn it! Angel Lead pulled a full loop before diving for the ground. That however didnt shake the conglomerate aircraft. He saw rather than heard tracer fire went by his right. A bullet struck, cracking his right cockpit window. Angel Lead swore as he pulled up to terrain level. The Reaver was keeping pace with him in a calm cool manner.

From the rear camera, Angel Lead could see the Reaver soaring slightly above him. It fired a barrage of rockets. Lead switched the thrusters to VTOL, changing his vector into a glide. The mosquito shook against the inertia of the change as his fighter turned around but he wasnt done yet! He slammed the afterburners, pushing his fighter up into the air in a Full Thrust Reverse Flight maneuver.

He caught eye of the Reaver and fired a burst. It missed and the Reaver braked hard before also repeating the same maneuver. Angel Lead rolled the entire craft upside down, reversing his upward momentum. The Reaver shot above as Angel Lead pulled on the rudder, trying to get under the Reaver but the Reaver likewise forced its larger body against inertia and pointed its gun toward the Mosquito. The two fighters danced around as they traded bullets.

**

At the Indar excavation site, the battle is furious. Explosions shook the tower from the intermittent barrage of enemy armour both VS and NC. If it was not for the structures automatic nanite restoration system, the tower would have collapsed several times over. Soldiers bunker within the building as they fired outwards at the advancing infantry from the north and south. Remains of a dozen drop pods littered the excavation area. The 7OX reinforcements regrouped at the base of the tower. Staff Sergeant Muffin called on the commander channel. I need a sitrep!

Commander Aegon responded. Everythings bad! Nanite stocks are running low! We dont have enough ammunition for everyone! I can only rebirth two guys every five minutes!! We cant hold out for much longer!

Accepting the grim facts, Muffin assured. Well take some of the heat off you guys. Hang in there. His men were already entering the fray by the time he was done.

Down by the courtyard, a 7OX was scouting on how close the enemy infantry are to the tower. He darted outside the courtyard storage room as he plopped himself against the small embankment of sand. He saw several assault troopers and a medic slightly behind. Kat shot a burst of rounds at the lead guy. The conglomerates shields failed before taking bullets in the face.

The others took notice and fired in response. Bullets struck small clouds of sand around the trooper and they got awfully a lot closer each time. Kat decided enough was enough and turned tail. Bullets pepper the door in front of him, one whizzing by his ear. Oh shit! Shit! Shit! Shit! He ran up the stairs and past a hulk of metal. Its up to you big guy! The pursuing few men ran up the same stairs and were slowed to a halt.

An oversized machine stood calmly. Chainguns attached to each arm. The red MAX unit gestured to its feet. Do you know why they call me Shackled? Shackled raised his guns. Because they had to shackle me down to stop me from killing you all too easily!

**

Ham called out as the guns went silent. Weve cleared the area!

Blade was observing the continent map. The Vanu and New Conglomerate were battling heavily at the Regent Rock Garrison. A sizeable force of Vanu still holds Mao Tech plant but the 107th are making headway, capturing the southwest and southeast gates. The New Conglomerate and Vanu at Indar excavation site are pressing closer. Anti armour and Anti air emplacements of the tower have been destroyed. Nanite supplies have run out and the defenders cant reconstruct them for use. He closed the mapping console on his left wrist and enquired in return. Casualties?

Ham paused a moment before responding. Four men down, six wounded but theyll be back in shape in two minutes.

Blades accepted of the losses. Not bad against two squads. Those four men will unfortunately miss the fight and have to wait for the rest of the platoon to return to the warp gate for pick up.

Lieutenant Soap of Third squad reported. Captain, weve relinked the lattice network to the boys at the excavation site. That should help them a bit. It will still take some time for the nanites to flow through the links and reach the tower.

Even so, Blade is pleased with the news. Good work, everyone regroup at the transports! Were wasting time standing around here!

They didnt have time for the Lead Sunderer warned. We got incoming Harassers, half dozen of them! They are small silhouettes to Blades naked eye but visual enhancement easily identified the buggy attack vehicles.

Blade yelled as he got into the passenger seat. Everyone get into firing positions! Protect the transports! He cursed the fact that his tanks had went on ahead on the left for their next rally point. Infantry took cover atop the hill, behind the transports or large pieces of rock. Blade activated the first gunner console as a second soldier entered the cargo bay for the second. Basilisks went active and began tracking the fast movers. They were still a kilometer away, out of effective gunnery range. Hold your fire until they get in range.

The entire line was silent as they could hear the buggies approaching with their loud engines. Closer

The buggies started firing their weapons. Anti-infantry grenades pepper the area short of the line. Closer The Harassers advanced as they reloaded for a second salvo.

All guns, OPEN FIRE! The entire column fired their weapons, filling the air with hot flashy projectiles. Dust and bright tracer fires blanketed the incoming force. Glass crack, metal sparks as Harassers take the hits. One of the Harassers blew up from the sheer volume of fire. This still did not faze the attackers, charging in as their C85 Enforcers fired back.

Canister shells struck the platoon. Shrapnel burst in all directions on impact, cutting through the infantry armour easily. Men screamed in pain as blood and flesh was torn.

Corporal Sky called with a wave further behind the line. Someone get a medic over here! The Harassers had enough as rockets started to fly their way. They turned tail, accelerating with the infusion of their turbo fuel.

Chronos heard a warning from the console of his Sunderer. Two signatures appeared on the map and approaching fast. Incoming Liberators!

Blades called out. Sky one, sky two, youre up front!

The two Skyguard Lightnings moved up the hill, aiming their high caliber rapid fire weapon up to the sky. Sky one copies! Sergeant Jordan held the spinner, spinning the main gun in ready. Two Liberators popped over the hill into sight. The two Skyguards fired 40mm shells, popping tiny explosions of flak against the two bombers.

The Liberator shrugged off and shot back. Explosive Rounds struck ground with bright red hot explosions. One of the Sunderers took a direct hit, snapping armour off its side and exposing its troop bay. Men were thrown into the air. Rounds struck dangerously close to the Skyguards but they held their ground and maintained their fire. The Liberators continued their flight path and away on a quick escape vector.

The situation calming down, Ham called out to the units for a quick status report. They lost another six men from that quick flyby. Blades quickly rallied his unit. Theyll be back! Lets not waste any more time!

**

The two factions have heard the commotion at Indar Comm Array. It was worrisome for the two sides.

A man in skintight jumpsuit raised his auspex and zoomed into the battle. He could see the tiny ammo casings flying when he was interrupted. Commander, we heard reports of a Republic Strike force enroute to reinforce the defenders.

The man turned to see his associate. I understand brother. Then we must make haste.

A tall man in bulky armour stood on one of the ridges, watching the battle unfold. A young combat engineer saluted before reporting. Platoon lead, word just came in from Veema Three and Four. The Terran Republic is reinforcing the excavation site. Theyre on the way.

The man stroked his goatee. Well need to hurry. Send in the MAX strike teams. Well go all out and bust our way through for that artifact. **

Blaze came too, he stood up groggily. He was left on the first floor near the control node of the facility. He peered out the nearby window and saw the nightmare of any infantry. He took a deep breath and yelled. MAX CRASH! MAX CRASH!

Corporal Capto yelled as he sprayed death from the second floor. The Vanu are making their move as well! The Magrider tanks moved forward as infantry charged across the open plain. Capto pulled back to avoid his head being turned to hot lump of flesh. This is totally a shitstorm!

Aegon was more worried about the walking mechanical death machines. Rocket those bastards before they get close! Heavy assault troops fired their rockets towards the incoming group of MAXes. Some hit among plenty of misses but those hits were shrugged off before being slowly repaired by combat engineers. NC snipers took glee as they snipe several rocket troopers in the head. Even the bubble shield proved ineffective in protecting themselves.

A number of men held the platform overlooking the ground entrances. The MAXes shrugged off the fire being poured on them and responded with a powerful shot of the Hacksaw. Shotgun shells tore men apart into pieces of flesh. Theyre getting through! Capto swore as they were forced to give up the ground level. The lumbering blue machines of death walked up the stairs closer to their goal before being hampered by a toss of several grenades down their way. **

Four prowlers reached the peak of the small hill. The tank platoon commander opened his tanks visors and maximized the zoom. From their position here, they could see both forces charging the tower. He called it in. This is Knight from tank platoon. We are in position.

Blades responded. You are cleared to fire. Well enter the battle once you guys start shooting.

Switching communication to his platoon, Knight ordered. Deploy anchor mode now. He turned a key and let the tank do its work. His HUD updated.

ENGAGING STABILIZING PINS ENGINE DRIVE ONE DISCONNECTED ENGINE DRIVE TWO DISCONNECTED REDIRECTING ENGINE DRIVES COIL ACCELERATOR ACTIVATED SECONDARY RELOAD DRIVE CONNECTED DUAL RELOAD SYSTEM ACTIVE

Knight said to his secondary gunner manning the E540 Halberd. Fire when ready. His gunner aimed before firing, a single rocket streaked across the open desert towards the enemy. The signal tempted a firestorm as the Prowlers launched their first salvo towards the enemy.

Blades ordered the moment they fired. All units; go in. Six sunderers and two lightnings charged at full speed, the damaged vehicle at the rear of the line. The enemy Magriders was occupied in dealing with the defenders of the tower but not the Vanguards. Blade could see their turrets turn their way.

This is Sunderer One, were hit! The shot had sheared through the left side of the truck. An unfortunate man was killed when the round went through him and out the right side of the sunderer.

The second victim was quick to follow. A sunderer was hit in the front tyre, causing it to lose control before toppling over onto its back. Sunderer Four got hit! The Magriders were taking noticed as they started turning towards the incoming Terran charge.

Blade cursed his luck. They had driven right into a crossfire. He yelled as the other three transports zigzagged to hopefully avoid any hits. Get some boots on the ground and get them out! The nearest Sunderer had no time for a large bright plasma round struck the top of the toppled truck and blew up. He swore and directed his attention onto the radio. Wheres our cover fire?!

Knight responded. Id like to say Im working on it but those shields are really a pain in the ass! His tanks have been firing rounds at the Vanguards but the shields proved to be a major stopper. On the seventh salvo, the shield failed and a round managed to penetrate into a Vanguard, shredding the crew. That left another two to handle.

From the tower, Muffin could see the casualties mounting for the reinforcing platoon. He ordered his men. We got to cover our boys! Pop smoke! He went onto a knee as he fired his underslung grenade launcher. It gave a quick pop before flying away into the distance. Black smoke arose between the sunderer column and the Vanguards. Another column of smoke clouded the Magriders as well.

Blade said. Much obliged Muffin! He turned his attention to his drivers. Keep going and dont stop!

**

Shackle had already eliminated half dozen men standing in his place. A worthy foe rose to meet the challenge. A New Conglomerate MAX appeared from the bottom of the steps. Shackle smirked as he fired his twin weapons. A shield appeared in the New Conglomerates arm, repelling the bullets. The NC MAX advanced slowly against the hail of bullets. Shackle disapproved. Try this! He switched his firing configuration to maximum firepower. His rate of fire intensified, eager to overturn the shield and into flesh.

Sparks collided against the energy shield yet it refused to fail. The shield held long enough for the NC to get close to melee range. It moved the shield as it moved the other arm wielding a Grinder for the counter. Shackle slammed the arm away as it fired, sending high velocity shrapnel into the wall. The NC moved the shield arm for a shot but was held at bay with the other arm.

The NC charged, smashing both their bulky masses into the wall. That gave enough opening for the NC to fire three times point blank into the red MAX. Shackle buckled to the ground as the NC max pulled back a step with a smoking barrel. **

Soap slammed the door open. The transports have broken through and entered small arms fire!" The troops disembarked, advancing quickly with weapons blazing. A rocket flew past him and Soap returned fire with his T5-AMC. The Skyguards fired their guns, providing suppression against the enemy.

Sergeant Miken ordered as he and his men charged towards the enemy. GET MOVING MEN! USE THE VEHICLES FOR COVER! Bullets pepper the armour of the transport as they shot back against the enemy hanging back in the nearby ridges.

Second Lieutenant Cobrate noticed a simmer of blue in the distance. Enemy turret! Take cover! Not a moment too soon when bullets peppered against the small rock he hunkered behind. A fellow rifleman from another rock attempted to suppress the turret but fell back onto the ground with a hard smack in the head. SNIPER!

Miken yelled down the line. Someone get eyes on that sniper and take him out!

A voice answered. With pleasure A bang and a large bolt of light shot forth and struck the turret. The gunner could be seen on magnification to have lost his entire head. A figure decloaked slightly behind Cobrate. A skintight black and red suit of an Infiltrator met his eyes. This is Ufemia, weve handled that turret. Well get the snipers in a moment. She cloaked and was out of sight.

Miken had already advanced halfway down the line, being the first few to reach the base. Kill the enemy with extreme prejudice for they will do the same to you!

Ham managed to reach a small bunker at the south. He saw two men hunkered beside an open doorway. Whats the problem soldier?!

The trooper reported. Enemy Max holding down this corridor! An engineers fixing all the damage we can dish out! We cant get through!

Ham snorted. Watch how the veterans do it boys. He tossed a flash grenade into the corridor. He reached for the rocket launcher in his pack as he entered to see the threat. The MAX was blinded as he went onto a knee and fired. The rocket struck gold as it blasted armour off the augmented cyborg. By the time the MAX recovered, he could see a large block of metal as Ham gave an uppercut using his rocket launcher. The MAX fell backwards as the engineer stepped away from being squashed. He threw the empty rocket launcher at the engineer as he reached for the Haymaker. He pressed it onto the eyepiece of the MAX and fired. He then raised it and shot the engineer. Ham turned his gaze back at the two guys who simply were speechless.

Muffin caught eye of a small unsuspecting group of Vanu infantry fleeing. He saw a black case behind held by three of them. He raised his rifle and fired. Theyre trying to take the artifact and run! One of them dropped but two others turned and shot back, forcing him to take cover.

Blades ordered on radio. We have to stop them! Tanks move in to intercept! Make sure that artifact doesnt leave our hands!

Knight cursed. Easier said than done! He switched modes back to default. Two, on me! His partner, Rider two acknowledged as they raced down the hill. Rider Three and four will maintain armour superiority support.

They charged down the hill, their targets are the Magriders now engaging the Sunderers. Their attack wasnt caught unnoticed as the hover tank turned around and shot. The Prowler shuddered from the impact of plasma hitting the left side of the turret.He felt the blistering heat from the armour. Swing around the right! Rider two banked right while Rider One took the left.

Having two directions, the Magrider was forced to decide between targets. It chose to retreat as it aimed the gun at Rider One. That was what the two tanks were aiming for as the two tanks turned right for the Vanu tank. The Magrider was sandwiched between the two tanks. They both fired, tearing the tank apart into an explosion of plasma.

Rider three warned. Those Harassers are back! The buggies will prove difficult to snipe for the two supporting tanks. The four harassers fired their grenades right into the Prowlers weak spot. Knight felt his tank reeling from the combined strike at his rear armour. It held as the buggies turned to flee from the counterstrike.

Dont think of running away! Knight put the tank into reverse, side armour slamming into the front of the Harasser. The Harasser given the high speed simply flipped over before crashing onto the ground to the right of the Prowler. Knight aimed the gun, fired a shot and the buggy was in burning pieces. Rider two pulled a reverse to the right while turning its gun. Rider two fired on brake, penetrating through a Harassers cockpit like a hot knife through butter. It exploded as the two Harassers fled for their lives.

**

Shackle struggled against his injuries. Metal armour and cybernetics were damaged immensely from the shotgun shells. His HUD was already blinking red with major alarms. Seeing the fallen MAX struggling, the Blue MAX spat. Why dont you just roll over and die?

Shackle retorted. How about you roll over and die? With a surge of strength, Shackle stood up and grabbed the arms.

Surprised, the NC struggled to aim his mounted guns. I will crush you under the might of freedom!

Shackle grunted against the blue machine. Leg servomotors whined to anchor the Terran in place. Their eyes meet. You rebels are merely pawns!

The NC scorned. I will silence you so hard that even in the next rebirth you will be mute! Shackle gave a hard head butt, staggering the MAX. He slammed a fist into the gut before firing his Mercy. Armour and machinery was pierced with high caliber rounds. Shackle wasnt done yet. He sprinted and slammed the MAX into the wall. He struck the face again with his bulky arms again and again.

By the time he was done, the visor plate had been broken off. Blood trickled down the mouth. The Conglomerate hissed through the broken helmet. We will be back.

Shackle aimed his gun and spun it. Ill be ready to smash your face again when you come.

**

Blade, Miken and Ham moved in on the artifact site. Several of the Vanu were around to hold back the defenders from stopping their steal of the artifact. Ham yelled over the burst of his TRAC-5. Go Blades! Well cover you!

Blade slung his weapon as he sprinted forward. He reached for his pistol, the Commissioner and fired a shot forward. A Vanu infiltrator lost his face as Blade jumped over a crate and behind a bunch of barrels. Two Vanu soldiers peppered the spot with plasma fire as a third moved to flank. Blade sprinted right before sliding across the sand, gun firing. The two men went down as the third was shot by Miken. Blade reached the northwest edge of the base and could see the artifact case being carried away in the distance. He raised his

pistol and aimed. A shot fired and missed by a large margin. He cursed as he was out of range. Damn it.

The trio of Vanu carrying the artifact was almost at their Sunderer when bullets perforated their armour at close range. They collapsed in their own blood. Ufemia appeared submachine gun in hand. That was too easy. A few out infiltrators emerged, part of her infiltration unit. Her men grabbed the case as another planted a demolition charge on the Sunderer. Platoon lead, we have secured the artifact.

Good work. Bring it back here. Blade caught sight of a glowing object from the corpse next to him. He leapt towards it. Grenade!

BAM!

The two were thrown off their feet as the plasma grenade went off. Miken was first to recover in the midst of smoke. He saw his superior officer sprawled on the ground. CAPTAIN! He turned the man around, revealing scorched and burning armour. The Captains face had been burned badly along with the significant damage at the chest area.

Ham yelled to his men across the platoon commlink. SOMEONE GET US A MEDIC! He saw the nearest medic was to the east. The Captain needed immediate attention. He and Miken began carrying the Captain as Soap joined the group.

Muffin heard Soaps report. The Commander is down! I repeat the commander is down!

The entire unit responded quickly. Protect the commander at all costs! A Sunderer stopped in front of the small group of men, acting as a shield. Ham could see the medic running before the man was sniped in the head. Ham swore as they laid their Captain beside the transport.

The four tanks regrouped in a concave around the Sunderer. Knight called out as his tank drifted to a full stop. Prowlers! Defensive positions around the commander!

Ham grabbed his Captains hand tightly. Dont die on us man! We need you for to lead the unit!

Blade shook his head. Its too late. He knew its his time as he peered around his concerned men. Youve all done well over the years. Im proud of you. He turned his attention back to Ham. Ham, youll be a good Captain. Take care of the 7OX for me.

Ham pulled Blades closer to him. He felt tears in his eyes. Dont do this. You can still keep fighting! He gazed around for another medic. Wheres that heal gun?!

Blades cracked a smile. For the Republic He closed his eyes as his head lolled back. The hand loosened to fall onto the sand.

Silence filled the muted battlefield. Ufemia tightened her fist. Hes gone. She cloaked and was gone once again. The other infiltrators vanished as well.

Ham stood onto his feet. He grabbed the microphone on his helmet and said. I have to regret to inform you that the Commander is lost. His anger poured through the comms. STILL WE AINT DONE HERE YET 7OXES! WE HAVE THE ENEMY TO KILL! FOR THE REPUBLIC!

The 7OX are eager for blood. FOR THE REPUBLIC!

Ham yelled as he retrieved his weapon. FOR 7OXES!

7OXES!

Ham raised his weapon into the air. FOR BLADES!

ALL HAIL BLADES! WE SERVE THE REPUBLIC AND THE ENEMY SHALL DIE UNDER OUR MIGHT! The 7OX troops charged the enemy with a roar of revenge. The renewed ferocity of the Terran Republic came as a surprise and in some cases brought fear to the enemy.

Ham grabbed his rifle and aimed his visors at the enemy. He tagged the objective, the centre of the NC force. CHARGE! The charge was later known in military records as the Wrath of the Red OX. The charge was short lived but the entire push of infantry complete surprise and they paid the price for it. The two platoon strong force was broken by a single platoon of men charging across the open sand. Not to forget a single tank platoon supporting in the background. Sheer guts and reckless battle morale pushed the best of the red men and slaughtered the enemy.

** Five minutes later, a flight of mosquitoes shot by the tower, catching the attention down below. Aegon threw in the good news. The flyboys are here! Four liberators slowed before hovering steadily beside the tower. Two galaxies flew by, troops jumping off before landing on the air pad with jump jets.

A new voice came on radio. This is Eagle flight of the 107th. Were here to reinforce you. Where do you need us?

Ham informed the 107th. Run down the stragglers and reinforcements. We have pushed them back. Vanu in the north and NC to the south.

Wilcopy. Well get the rest. The Liberators moved south as two flights of Mosquitos head north to cull the routed forces. The 7OX is done in this battle for now.

The cleanup work was short for the unit. The platoons had regrouped by the open plains to the east of the tower. The 107th had eliminated all NC troops and have turned its focus further to the north where the Vanu sought to be reinforced. Muffin joined the fellow platoon leader. How did he go?

Ham closed his eyes as he turned away from the fallen commander. Anti-tank grenade. He sacrificed himself to protect us.

Muffin bit his lip with a shake of the head. Thats such a waste.

Ham turned to Capto, now managing the logistics of the unit. Do we have everything?

Capto nodded as he gestured to the sunderers. Weve got everything. Whatevers left thats working anyway. Before you ask it, yes we have brought him along in one of the transports. Theyll bring the body back to the warpgate for burial even if it is not standard protocol.

Ham pulled his helmet down slightly. He didnt want to imagine writing a letter to Blades family. He tightened his resolve, eager to make his Commander proud. This artifact had better be worth it. Alright, lets move out. Were heading home. The engines roared as

they crossed the desert in their travel home. What was once an intense battlefield littered with corpses and burning metal will soon again be turned to desert sands under the tidy winds of Indar.

One may be a victor today but it is only a battle and not the entire war. Victors change sides on a daily basis. This war has no end in sight. It would not be long until the entire planet would be consumed in the tireless tirade between ideals. The rivers of blood shall stain the soil and as the sacrifice reach closer to the millions. Few can only hope that a new peace will arrive to the galaxy.