Thirty-Four: Borrowed Time

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The gleaming Exodus was at once met with fire from the approaching Titans. The white TCC mechs leapt over each other in an eager manner, as if each one wished to be the one who claimed the honor of killing the infamous red mech.

However, many, many mechs had tried to claim that honor before, and all had been left in the same state. Broken, thrown aside like discarded toys.

I could hear Laura shout as she launched into the air, a cry of joy. One moment the Exodus was a massive flying target and the next it was invisible, as far as my HUD was concerned. I watched the Exodus plunge into the midst of the Titans, it's radio deadener taking them by surprise. Today Laura had strapped a pair of rocket launchers to the red kettle of death, crowning it with a heavy shotgun. These weapons went to work as the Titans regrouped, turning their mechs and trying to shoot her despite not being locked on. A few leapt up into the air, thinking they'd escaped damage, and were instead greeted by the unrelenting force of my autocannons.

It rained lead.

“Laura, you beautiful woman!” Martin cried, beside himself with relief. “How'd you get approval from Mallet to bring a third dropship here? I thought she said we were conserving our remaining mechs!”

“Oh, we were,” Lehman interrupted. I could hear the grin in her voice. “She ordered her pilots not to go, ” she chuckled, “but I’m not one of her pilots, am I?"

The Exodus' stealth had worn off by now and it had begun to take damage. Laura, clever as always, marched backwards behind a satellite building for cover, playing a roundabout game of weaponized tag with three of the Titans.

The remaining three returned their sights to the warhead- and us.

“So… how's Dan doing?” Laura asked. She sounded as though she were having a casual conversation over coffee and not fighting a war.

Something exploded and she chuckled.

“Dan's doing just fine, thank you very much," Dan responded. The way he spoke told me he was feeling slightly worse than fine.

I eyed the Titans regrouping near us. They clustered around the edge of the main complex as if strategizing. I was lucky Titans were such a new mech. Despite being similar to a Goliath, it seemed the pilots we faced had next to no experience in them. They fought with little coordination.

Martin cleared his throat.
“Any chance you'll be done anytime-”

“Zip it,” Dan barked.

“Fine.”

Martin swung his Sentinel around and raised the mech back into it's turret mode, heavy shotguns smoking as he began firing salvos at the Titans that came within range. One of them leapt into the air, making itself a prime target.

A sudden salvo of plasma splashed off my shield. To my dismay, part of it was crumpled like burned paper on impact, the lead worn down and unable to remain solid under the plasma’s corrosive effects.

“I just lost half my shield!” I called.

“Better the shield than me!” Dan shouted.

Martin laughed.

“I thought you were too busy for jokes!” he called.

“That wasn't a joke!” Dan snapped.

Around the other side of the facility it appeared Laura was finally finding some trouble. The Titans had at last begun to work cohesively, one leaping on top of the facility's tall central building to draw her fire while the remaining two circled around either side. Laura let out a huff as the Titans flanked her before leaping into the air to safety.

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