(PR aerial hangar, Bolivia, 8:00pm, Wednesday 16th August, 2102)
"Cmon Alec, lets get going".
The air was bristle, the sky was clear, dark, only lights were flood-lamps that highlighted the landing platforms. The area was wide and flat, rough concrete spread out for miles. Very few lights were in the pale black sky, moving lights. Not a sound was heard, helicopters in the distance stood out to them, orbiting the dense airfield they traveled across. A small jeep, room for 4, no roof, 20mph, and a punishing amount of rain. He felt it patting on his helmet, pushing down on him, forcefully like a waterfall. Dom in the front passenger seat, next to the driver, Elena, she wasn't in any armor at all, just a uniform and a hat. The vehicles speed was getting ridiculously slow now. Alec, from the back alongside Mitchell stared at The back of Dom, his massive suit covered most of the front row. It must of been what was slowing the car down to almost a halt. "Dom, do you, wear that thing everywhere you go?" Dom did not look back, but he was highly attentive to what Alec was saying. "Well if I wanted to, I couldn't, I've wore this suit for a while, but I got it upgraded so much, it became permanently attached to me".
"What about your helmet?" Dom looked back at him, his helmet was in face lockdown, his face covered under his visor, his facial shield covered metal spikes connecting his headpiece together. Alec stared at the helmet, it always scared him, especially the skull printed on the visor, and the metal representing the teeth and mandibles. The skull reminded him of that skruall that pinned him down back in Wolverhampton, the same hideous face, same expression as every Skruall. He sat there feeling uncomfortable staring, and then he keep watching as the visor slided away and Dominic's dry face was visible. "I take this helmet off at times, but never around other people"
"Because I feel uncomfortable with it off and people looking at me". Hearing that raised Alec's curiosity, what does Dom look like with his helmet off? He thought to himself. Then another voice was heard, the same robotic voice that came from Alec's exo. "I don't know what Dom looks like without it off either Alec, he is most likely a slaphead". Alec stopped thinking, because his exo was speaking his thoughts out loud, Dom gave him a grim look, before rolling his eyes and looking back at the road on the airfield, the open car quickened its pace slightly, the rain still falling, the night was dark, only the trail of small lights across the outlines of the road that went in a straight line seemed to show a little bit of the area around them.
"Besides, when do I get a cool helmet like that?" Dom looked back at him once again, leaning over the seat, he locked his visor back on again, just to show off in a proud manner. "You earn gear through training, which you have not done any".
"When can I do this training?"
"The next time you come back, sometime next week or the one after that".
"Can't I just stay here?"
"Are you mad? If you don't get this issue cleared with Phanix, there is possibility of them pressing their advantage just to find you, they'll claim more territory than us, and if they know your safe and with them, they'll lower their guard, but you cant do anything that'll expose you associated with us! They might kill you on the spot, or imprison you for interrogation and execution. That way, we'll all be fucked".
Alec nodded silently, still thinking of questions to ask Dom, the journey has been long and daunting, and the rain is beginning to dampen the inside of his suit. "So....are Skruall allowed in Phoenix Rising?" Inconveniently, small helicopters and drones began to fly over their heads, Alec heard a huge rumbling noise behind him, he turned round, he saw a huge white tank cross over the road horizontally behind them, 3 tall figures standing next to it, he took a closer look; Skruall. Dom waited for the noise to drop before speaking. "You kidding me?! We bloody worship the very creations they make! After all, this is their planet, the same as ours, we're common sensed enough to share our society with them, this is only one of the very few places in the world where they are accepted, we live together, we fight together, we win together. This world war has been going on for over 50 years, for different reasons. Some fight other countries because they disagree with each other, trying to wipe out their bio dome cities from the inside out. Others simply dislike each other. And its not just countries, mercenarys and private cooperations are the main reason for the worldwide attack in 2041, that year is the most cataclysmic out of all of them, the year the world got nuked. After that millions died, civilizations fell, governments crumbled, military lost , research went rolling, and 20 years later, we finally made our cities safe, worldwide before the radiation spread enough to consume the planet".
More mechanical clanking roared behind them, as the tank rotated in their direction, and started driving past them, disappearing in the darkness ahead. "Your friend Mitchell, his father made that discovery, and he probably told you the truth already, about his death and how his research got taken over. War just would NOT stop, people began joining in because they wanted money, honor, or just enjoyed the sensation of killing people. People fought because they wanted the Skruall off the planet, a very racist community I must say. Rogues who took mercy from nobody are everywhere, huge clans with infamous reputations sprawl this planet. Its like a square with somebody at each corner. Countries against companies, against rogues, and then there is us. You hearing what I'm saying?" Alec nodded again silently, Elana was silent, her eyes focused on the road. Alec leaned forward to speak. "So...miss? Whats your name?"
"Elana" She quickly imputted, still silent.
"Are you a soldier, like most people here?"
"No, I never desired to fight, my sister, Grace is in the exo-corps like the lot of you, but I like to have my job ferrying transport across this airfield, everyday, I always see something new and cool". Alec heard more loud noises, standing on both his legs, he looked up, huge helicopters flew off into the distance, the fog that surrounded them began to clear up slightly, bigger lights seen in the distance. "Whats happening?"
"We are in the war district, this is where our power comes into serious business, my favourite part of the journey"
"Why your favourite?"
Saying that, a huge rumbling noise came from the right of the vehicle, leaning over to see, he saw more of the fog clearing up, the same tank that drove past them slowed down. He had a closer look this time. The tank had two huge plates with caterpillar tracks on each side, 2 sets of legs lied horizontally so the tank can move at a fast pace, each leg could rotate in the same way, making it a lot more responsive and mobile. The center of the tank was the cockpit, it was white, round and had a very straight angeled design, something that looked very advanced and futuristic. The tank moved forward a little more before suddenly stopping, blaring alarms and mechanical shrieks. "What it is doing?" Alec said, turning to Dom.
"That tank just left the armor depot, when built, each vehicle comes to this field to test if their combat efficiency and discipline is eligible for the PR army. This tank right here....is quite unique, just watch".
Alec stared at the tank, suddenly, the quad-counterparts where the tire tracks were suddenly rotated 45 degrees, making the tank look like its tracks are facing outwards diagonally. Alec kept watching, then suddenly, the entire cockpit raised higher a several meters into the air, it looked like it was transforming. The tracks then started to lift UPWARD, lifting the tanks body off the ground, Alec watched in awe, the figure of the vehicle looked much bigger as it raised even higher. The tracks then became "legs" and the tank went from a four-track flat vehicle to a walking FOUR legged behemoth! "Holy crap!" Alec shouted, he was enjoying its transition like it was a show for kids. The tank slowly began "walking" forward on its legs, he watched the mechanics and sliding revs that connected the legs with the body extend outward and inward, they looked very heavy but with the way they were built, the legs were very flexible and moved the tank forward very quickly. Each legged lifted upwards, almost higher than the cockpit itself, and pounded back into the ground, the posture of the tank resembled a spider-like movement, only with 4 legs, not 8.
"That Alec, is the SC4-RB main battle tank. It has 3 formations it can quickly transition into, each one giving it different benefits in different scenarios and can help it gain the upper advantage, what you saw were the first two formations, "Caterpillar" formation, this is used on every tank for the past century, where its just a cannon lifted on heavy armor and some wheels, but the next formation you just saw was "Scarab" the tank is more mobile and can cross more hazardous pathways than caterpillar formation".
"Whats the third formation" Dom looked at Alec, with a wide smile. "Lockdown".
Looking back at the tank, Alec watched it crawl forward, it began firing its long cannon that protruded from the front, a few hundred meters in the distance, he saw a huge wall, with highlights and red ringed paint around it. The shots hit the target perfectly from such great range while moving.
The tank proceeded towards the target, the wall was damaged, shards of fire and ash piled underneath it, as the red deteriorated slightly. The tank suddenly stopped, Alec watched more intensely, the tank began transforming again, into something different. He watch the legs dig into the ground beneath, and as it was drilling itself into place. The legs spread wider out, taking up more space, and standing still on the spot. The cockpit began to unpack, it folded its outer shell outwards, and formed a flat platform, he could see the pilots in a thick glass covering, surrounded by several blast shields. The cannon stopped firing its small petty rounds, then it split into two. Extending further, it grew much bigger, and in between were small generator spikes, running all the way up the cannon, to form some type of railgun. More small cannons grew from the sides, and some pilots were automatically transported to different sides of the tank, operating turrets. "When in lockdown, the SC4-RB MBT unpacks itself and stabilizes itself into the ground, it becomes a huge turret to decimate ground units and is also used as an anti-aircraft battery, that huge weapon was manufactured inside the tank, now it can quickly transform from a lightweight 105 mm cannon to a 420mm rail gun, shooting huge shards of burning metal from an electric mechanism, the damage is up most impressive".
Alec listened to Elana's, words, she seemed pretty proud of what she was saying, turning back to the tank, he already saw it was completely formed into a huge turret, the legs became pillars that supported the tanks upper body and rail gun. It made a huge synthase of electronic noises, of heat building up and plasma colliding together. The linear gap between the rail guns barrel was building up power, but it seemed to be gathering something else. "This is not your ordinary rail based weapon, its also a mass driver, it uses the particles around it and condenses it into heat based cannisters". Looking back, Alec saw the heat building up even more, the blue heat turned into orange, he saw the light mass circling around the generators, electricity flowing. The noise all suddenly stopped, a long silence, the jeep was driving past the turret, Alec leaned forward waiting for something to happen. Then it fired, a huge blast, an ear-piercing cybernetic noise, resonating sound waves rippling the air around it. A huge bolt of energy roared from the rail. Alec felt the wind around him swivel up like a hurricane, his ears hurt, but he enjoyed the thrill. He watch the round sphere of light travel across the other side of the airfield at incredible speed, lighting the area. He squinted his eyes, he saw the target, the bolt impacted with it. A massive explosion, fire and plasma soared through the air.
The explosion was enormous, it screamed blue fire that charged across the ground in multiple directions, all the sudden, the entire airfield became visible, the fog was pushed away, everything was visible. "Surprise Alec" Said Dom, proudly sitting back as Elana smiled at everything ahead of them. Alec heard Dom, he looked away from the tank, and then, he saw everything. A helicopter, a big helicopter, a really, really big helicopter. Gigantic lights, up high, like ones in a stadium, penetrating the mist. He looked around, he felt an exciting chill within him, there was too much to see. From the left, he looked past the turret that fired the rail gun blast, he saw heavily armored jeeps, travelling the opposite direction that they were going, as Elana continued to drive towards the helicopter, he looked closer at the jeeps, he saw they were being escorted by some type of bike, he saw the pilots lying prone, but he also saw that the bikes had no wheels, they were hovering off the ground and moving very swiftly past the jeeps. He looked to his right, he saw several soldiers throwing some type of drones into the air, they were all different, some drones were dual rotors, some drones were quad rotors, some didn't have rotors at all, they just flew around freely.
"You know how those drones work? They are thrown airborne, but rotor drones work in servers. Before throwing and activating them, each drone when made is assigned to a server, the system where they operate automatically. Thousands of drones can be in the same server, and what servers are used for, if you throw a drone that is the first in its specific server, the more you throw that are in the same server, they imitate the actions and movements of the same one. More and more are activated and they became an army of drones that do the exact thing together and work with each other autonomously, do you know what they then become?"
"A death swarm"
"Correct, hundreds of swarms can work together on different servers, an intelligent way of wiping out an army of soldiers".
Everything Alec was hearing sounded scary, it sounded like something he would see in nightmares, as he watches more soldiers throw them into the air, the drones were spinning around in a circle, then started travelling together, making an intimidating buzz like noise. They flew over the jeep, Alec leaned back into his seat, staring at the covered sky of drones. As they cleared up, he something move in the sky. Faint ripples, he stared really hard, he saw the ripples form a shape, like some type of helicopter, but not any ordinary helicopter. Its rotors were on the sides, like a VTOL, like the VTOL that picked him up back at the other side of the mountain, in the jungle.