Forty-Eight: Mercury Rising

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It was like nothing I had ever seen. One moment Maxis and his allies were marching towards us, the next there was a massive explosion and a rolling wave of sand.

"We're being bombed!" I shouted.
"Get to cover!"

My comms crackled.
"Not quite, Commander Quinn," Draco laughed.
"I'd like to introduce you to Project Mercury, the TMC's answer to robots like your Spectre and Inquisitor."

Gunfire broke through the dust cloud, bolts of light as Scourges seared the air. Good. It meant that at least one of the Korean pilots had survived. Another flash of light, follower by something that sounded like a clap of thunder, then Maxis Lee's Bulgasari came flying out of the smoke, Tulumbas launchers flashing. A grey and yellow robot lumbered out of the smoke towards it, Ancille absorbing the rockets. Twin Gusts spat at the Bulgasari, clawing at Maxis' shield.

"What the hell is this thing?" Maxis shouted.

"You can't hear Fisk?" I responded.

"What? Fisk? No!" Maxis stammered.
"Just tell me what the hell we're up against!"

Right. Draco Fisk was connected to our comms, somehow, but not the Koreans. He could hear us speaking to them, but not the other way around.

"Fisk called it Mercury," I said, "it's built to counter jumping robots, so you need to gain some distance to get hits in!"

"Way ahead of you," Maxis said. "I'm lucky my robot has a lot of health- I don't know about you, but if I was damaged enough an explosion like that would likely kill me along with my robot!"

"Got it," I grinned.
"Don't take too much damage, and definitely don't be below them when they jump."

I lumbered out into the open and fired, rockets pelting the Mercury's Ancile. Karen followed suit, her Kang Dae beating shells against the weakening shield. We couldn't do enough damage from so far away, but we'd help the Koreans in any way we could.

"You do see it's shielded, right?" Mackenzie asked.

"Not a problem for me!" Martin shouted.

I turned to see no other than the Inquisitor itself soaring through the air, Tarans blazing. The Mercury turned, Gusts flashing, but the red kettle of death bore down on it too fast. A few Taran hits and one Thunder blast was all it took to shatter the shield and send the Mercury toppling backwards.

My comms crackled once again.

"You scrap my Bulwarks, destroy my Mercury?" Fisk snarled. "Fine, Quinn! You want to play? Let's play!"

"More incoming!" Karen shouted.
"Look alive, people! Watch out for their impacts."

Sure enough, numerous impact marks dotted the surrounding desert. Reinforcements. I spun my Galahad towards the nearest plume of sand, but instead of a rising Mercury I was greeted with the beaked head of a Raven, soaring towards me.

"They've got Rav-ugh!"
My shout was cut short as the robot's clawed feet struck my Galahad's shield, pushing me off-balance.

"Jackson!" Someone called.

I pushed back against the Raven's immense weight and it's claws slid down the length of my shield, landing in the dirt. I opened fire, pounding missiles point-blank into it's armored flank. The robot spun, beak swinging like a pendulum, and fired, plasma weapons burning against my weakened shield.

"Jackson!" Karen called, again. "Hold it still so I can get a clear shot!"

"I'm trying!" I responded.
Plasma burned against my shield.

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