Fifty-One: The Gauntlet

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Jump!

I leapt straight upwards just as a massive wall of debris impacted me. Proximity alerts flashed. I was rattled in my seat, jostled around. I couldn't see, but I felt motion.

Martin's voice crackled over the comms. "Oh my God."

"Land it. Please land it."
That was Karen.

THUMP.

My Spectre's feet struck rock, shaking the debris from my cameras. All at once I could see again. The battlefield filled with craters, pockmarks from Mercury impacts. My Spectre stood a few meters from the edge of a crater, one that had been blasted by Fisk's attack. Large skid marks began a few meters farther, made by the Spectre's impact. My HUD flashed.

Armor integrity at fifty percent.

Administer repairs when possible.

Confrontation not recommended.

"Check in," I said.
"Who's alive?"

"I'm ok, but a lot of our Rhinos were decimated," Martin said. "Most pilots ejected in time. I've heard nothing from Kitt, but his Rhino is nowhere to be seen."

"My team is okay," Maxis called.

"I'm fine," Karen said. "I managed to take a few Mercuries down after they landed. They're sitting ducks after they impact, should be less of a problem to you now."

I stared down Fisk's Mercury. He rotated towards me, slowly.

"Nice try," I grinned.

Fisk snarled aloud, sounding less human than ever before.

"You-"

BOOM!

Fisk's Mercury shook, armored head snapping sideways like it had been punched.

"Eat lead, Fisk!" Karen shouted.

Armor smoking, Fisk's robot slowly swung it's head back around, moving as if dazed. This was my chance! I tapped my earpiece.

"All pilots who are still alive," I said, "focus your fire on anyone except Draco."

"What are you talking about?" Karen said. "I've got another perfect shot!"

"He's not stealing your thunder, Karen," Martin responded. "He's making sure Fisk doesn't get close enough to hurt anyone else."

Maxis chuckled.
"Smart, Quinn. We'll clear Fisk's pawns. You go for the checkmate."

My comms crackled.

"Think you can reach me in time?" Draco howled. "We'll see about that! All units, target the Spectre!'"

No. He wasn't going to stop me.
Not now, not again.

"All surviving pilots, clear a path for Quinn!" Karen called.

TMC War Robots surrounded me at all angles, attacking from every direction. I could see Draco's Mercury as it fled through the onrush of robots. Hiding behind his soldiers as always. As the first robot, a Raven, came within firing range, I tensed. This was going to be tough.

The robot exploded, tendrils of electricity scouring it's hull. Webb's Haechi dashed past me, energy shield catching the barrage of rockets that were sent my way.

"Go, Quinn!" Webb called. "I didn't free you in Yamantau just to watch Fisk escape! Run and do not stop for anything!"

I nodded.
"I'm going!"

A Bulwark accosted me from the other side. Again I tensed, trigger fingers ready, but the robot never made it to me in time. Rook's Kumiho darted past me, slipping inside the Bulwark's shield before it could react. I ran past them before I witnessed the outcome of the attack, but the sound of Orkan fire told me Mackenzie would be fine.

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