Chapter 33: "The Rock In The River"

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The USA G-10 "Glitter Boy" Power Armor (PA)

Everyone living in North America knows the term "Glitter Boy." The Glitter Boy Powered Armor is both a relic of the past and symbol of power, hope, and courage. Of all the cutting edge suits of power armor available on Earth, only the Glitter Boy is known to have originated from before the Great Cataclysm and remains one of the most powerful, feared, and respected fighting machines on the planet.

Despite its long and illustrious history, the factual origin of the Glitter Boy armor is something of a mystery. Old myths and legend say the armor was created by the powerful and mythical Nemans. The Nemans (see separate entry for full details) are said to have gifted the armored suits to the human survivors of the Great Cataclysm.

- OUR STORY, PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE? By Erin Tarn, University of New Lazlo Database (Updated 100 PA)

A single day, less than a complete revolution of the Earth, this is the time frame within which the climax will occur and the fate of the world will be decided.

- The Collected Prophecies of Tamara Walker

1

North of Red Rock, the Line

Grandma told me if I started wearing this eyesore it'd end one of two ways, Karl thought, sweat coating his body despite the Glitterboy's internal cooling system. She said once I saddled into the armor it'd own me until I was destroyed with it or I retired like she did, sickened by the death... I was really hoping for the later.

BOOM!

Even with several feet of telescoping carbon nano fiber pylons anchoring him to the ground and several tons of antique engine of war encasing him, every time his main weapon fired the fillings in his teeth shook in response. He was viscerally pleased when half a dozen armored monstrosities charging his position on the small hill were shredded by the Boom Gun's blast.

"Take that, you murdering sons a bitches!" Karl cried out, his voice magnified by the Glitter Boy's external speakers. "You think you can take me? The creature that's gonna kill me hasn't been born yet!"

The Boom Gun roared over and over the auto loader, slamming rounds into the cannon as fast as the man inside could squeeze the trigger. Wave after wave of the rampaging hoard dropped with each discharge only to be replaced by a dozen more. Like a never ending river of death and chaos, the Thorns advanced on the lone defender of the line.

Just gotta hold them back, Karl thought, sweat stinging his eyes. Once the militia and the Bears are behind the towns fortifications... he stopped and a cold chill ran through his system as he realized what would happened then, I guess then my part in all this will done. At least the kids are safe back in Lazlo; Sandra was always the better parent anyway.

Lights flashed on the suit's heads up display indicating low ammunition reserves and rising temperature in the Glitterboy's thorium reactor core. The softball-sized module was more than three hundred years old and Karl doubted it'd been pushed this hard since the Days of the Great Cataclysm.

"Hold together, old girl," Karl pleaded, waiting for the signal that the rest of the defenders were clear of the battlefield, "just a few more seconds and you have my permission to blow into a million pieces." Silently he added to himself with a shiver while firing off half dozen more rounds, it'll be a better ending than having a Thorn shell me like a peanut.

Long ago, Karl was unsure which of its ancestors it'd been, one of the Glitterboy's pilots had rigged the reactor with a self destruct system. Now he was certain he'd be learning if the setup worked and he'd be spared the indignity of dying at the claws of the enemy or if he'd take a final swath of the enemy and a good chunk of the local landscape with him when he passed on to the clearing at the end of the path.

Finally, one of the attacking Thorns reached the lone armored sentinel on the hill and launched itself at him. Never slaking his fire, Karl swung the armor's free hand at the Thorn faster than an observer would have believed the machine could move, seizing it by the throat with a single hand. The crunching of the Thorn's throat was covered by the thundering of the Boom Gun. The first Thorn to get inside the Glitterboy's arc of fire was quickly joined by three, and then a dozen more.

If there was one drawback to the Glitterboy armor, other than its slow speed, it was the lack of close in weapons systems. Karl's grandmother once told him that when she'd been a girl her father had shown her a weathered and faded manual. She said it'd been standard issue with the suit when it was new. Inside the dog eared tome it clearly read that the unit was to never be deployed without ground troops and air support. Neither of those was available to Karl as he blasted a final wave of Thorns to pulp.

Then the iconic weapon of the Dark Age was empty.

Anchored to the ground, the Glitterboy remained upright as the horde piled onto it. Claws gouged and fists hammered at the matte black paint of the armored war machine revealing the gleaming chrome beneath. Developed to negate the damage of energy based weapons, the silver skin of the Glitterboy had always been a bane and boon to the warriors operating the suit. Since the lost days of the Cataclysm, many a Glitterboy jockey had resorted to paint, easily removed in a fight, to allow the armor the freedom to perform its original duty.

"Pile on assholes," Karl laughed darkly. On his heads-up display, the tiny red clock counted down to zero. "The more the merrier; old Uncle Karl has more than enough for the lot of you!"

The sounds of cracking plates and rending metals filled the pilot's compartment.

The clock hit zero.

"Too late, I win," Karl laughed

The reactor detonated.

Command Sergeant Major Karl Harper, formerly of the Ishpeming Defense Forces, never felt a thing.

2

Behind the Red Rock Wall

The sub-nuclear explosion and resulting flash lit up the landscape north of Red Rock, forcing the defenders to shield their eyes. There was no pressure wave of note and the radiation detectors barely registered the detonation. The ground shook and, once the dust cleared, a crater the size of a football field replaced the hill where the lines' final defender had just stood.

The Thorns, shocked by the detonation and resulting losses, paused their advance on the town.

"Randa," James McCoy said into the mic, his voice cold and devoid of emotions, "get your people out there; we need to know what the enemy's doing."

"That's clear, James," Miranda responded colder, if anything, than her friend.

There was no time to mourn. Karl was gone and if they survived, the Grey Bears would hoist a pint or ten in his memory, but at the moment they were still facing an enemy of unprecedented danger. If help didn't come soon they'd all meet a fate similar to, or worse than, their old friend.

As if on cue, thunder cracked and lighting filled the clear blue sky. All heads turned upward and stared as dozens of figures circled high above the besieged town and contested field of battle. As a single unit they drove toward the regrouping Thorns unleashing a torrent of mystical and technological fire.

Miranda was in the lead.


To Be Continued


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