Forty-Seven: Sand and Fire

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“Watch your step!” Martin called. “It’s a bit treacherous in here.”

“Are we out of range?” I asked.

“Until they get closer, yes," Karen responded.

“I’ve never seen a plasma weapon that strong!" Kitt grumbled. “Blew a hole in my front shield.”

“Better your shield than any of us,” I responded. “Keep moving.”

The interior of the Dreadnought’s engine lead into a large open space. From the looks of it, we were standing in what had once been a hangar. Any mechs or dropships the Dreadnought had once contained were long gone. Despite looking pitch black from outside, a massive hole in the ship’s top let light into the space, filling it with an uncharacteristically welcoming glow. 

My HUD flashed a warning, informing me that the area was extremely radioactive. We were exactly where we needed to be.

“I can see the core!” Troy said, excitement making his voice uncharacteristically loud.

Situated in what once was the center of the hangar, a short, rectangular shape surrounded by a damaged tangle of pipes marked all that was left of the reactor. Its contents were what we needed.

“We can’t touch it yet," I said. “The radiation isn’t an issue, but the enemy mechs are. We can’t gather any evidence until we clear the remaining dropships in the area. The perimeter teams can handle the rest.”

“Speaking of enemy mechs,” Martin said, “we have incoming to the southeast.”

“Our shielded friends?” I asked.

“Unfortunately so,” Karen responded. 
“Want me to take a shot?”

“Keep our position hidden,” I replied. “I have an idea, but it's risky.”

“What are you thinking, Jax?” Martin asked.

“Those shielded mechs won't take any damage from a distance,” I said, “so we need to get close, fast.”

“We have two Predators,” Kitt said. “I could use the Wedge to shield them while we rush-”

“Not quite,” I responded.
“When does every mech move the fastest?”

“They all move different speeds,” Martin said. “I don't know where you're going with this.”

“Wrong,” I laughed. “All of them move fastest when they're falling.”

Kitt's gasp was audible.
“So you're saying we should literally get the drop on them!”

“The Predators will get around the backside of the Dreadnought and climb it,” I said.

“Karen, Kitt and I will hunker down here and distract them. When they get close, you drop on top of them from above and strike.”

“That's insane,” Karen said.

"Insane is what we need," Troy responded.

"Jackson," Martin said, "you do realize that we'll be leaving you alone and unprotected against two of the strongest mechs I've ever seen?”

“They aren't unprotected,” Kitt responded. His Excalibur turned, menacingly. “I'll make sure they're unharmed.”

"Alright," Martin said, "let's do it."

Both Predators took off through the hangar, heading for one of the gaping holes in the ship's side.

“This is a terrible idea,” Karen sighed.

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