Part 63: Buena Vista, Part 2: Robots Never EndI have only one New Year's resolution, and that is to finish this LP. If I do that, I'll be a happy man.
Post 63: Buena Vista, Part 2: Hoedown in Robotown
He's dead, Jim.
The Behemoth laid a smoking ruin. The squad was now free to verify the demise of the vanguard but for a left flank that was open to the enemy.
The enemy in this case being a tank bot that was unlikely to fit its wide frame through the small entryway.
The way Stitch saw it, this whole entrance to the reactor was horribly planned and didn't allow for movement of large freight, something that would have been necessary for a facility of such size. However, few things that robots did made sense to him.
Peta, Mandy, neutralize the tank bot and sweep the area for contacts.
The women nodded and headed towards the small entryway, weapons at the ready. Peta advanced with the surety of warrior clad in power armor while Mandy was hunching up, scanning the horizon and keeping her rifle low.
Much like the area that had contained the Behemoth, this too was a large, open field. It would have been perfect ground for the tank bot, if it had had any fight left in it.
It hadn't. The machine was forcing itself into a corner, trying to escape. However, the walls wouldn't budge, so all that it could do was grind snow, dirt and dry barren trees under its treads.
Flashman might have come up with this exercise to raise spirits of both of the women. However, the fight that the robot insisted on not putting up wasn't at all enjoyable. They fired shot after shot and the sturdy primitive design absorbed everything. If anything, the robot was a symbol of the implacable, unthinking nature of Calculator's armies.
This is getting ridiculous.
At least Mandy could see the damage she was doing, as the bullets sheared off bits and pieces of sensors or punched through the armor leaving behind neat round holes Peta was just pouring EMP into the beast with no noticeable effect.
No recoil, no feedback... no fun, really.
Meanwhile, Flashman found himself confounded by the console that actually operated the gate. It had all sorts of screens, dials and buttons, and while Flashman was a smart man, he wasn't really up to snuff on pre-war technology.
Uh, Stitch, fancy taking a look at this?...
Right on it, boss.
Stitch, a doctor by trade, had taken up technological hobbies as a way to unwind after a day of being elbow-deep in blood. What he liked about technology was that now matter how deep you proded and what you cut, the patient wouldn't die. And if the patient died, you had all the time in the world to bring them back.
Not to mention that you could actually improve the patient with the right bits.
Flashman couldn't stay and look. He heard a string of panic expletives over the radio. Peta and Mandy were under attack by scurry bots that had been waiting in ambush in a small enclosure. Melee was, as always, Flashman's forte and he fell on the robots in the nick of time. However, the warrior maidens did get roughed up a little and Mandy got a chance to practice her oft-neglected first aid skills.
Back at the gate, Stitch finally managed to poke and prod the console into doing something. The gates hissed open and released the two halves of a dead paladin.
The troops immediately noticed a turret on treshold of the entrance.
Mandy was the first one to engage the machine sentinel. She started with the sniper rifle. However, Mandy was getting sick and tired of plinking hoplessly at distant targets. She soon switched to the Gauss pistol, hoping it would fare better.
While the pistol was surprisingly light and easy to use, it wasn't nearly as accurate at range as the sniper rifle.
A crown can't change its feathers, and a pistol will always be a pistol.
Ice didn't have any experiments on her mind, so she just dropped down and took aim with her laser rilfe. Her accuracy was something that Gauss pistol could never match.
Flashman took it as opportunity to push forward. He advanced to the only piece of cover between the gate and the turret.
The turret didn't react. Maybe the mounting damage had already rendered it less than operable, as it exploded shortly after Flashman got into cover.
Rank incompetence. What a waste.
With the turret reduced to a smoking column of metal, the team saw it fit to check the bodies of the Brotherhood fallen.
The team must have been great fans of American produce, as the team leader had a 5.56 fed minigun on him.
It had been the only heavy weapon in the squad. All others had to make do with M16s.
Bloody hell, what were they thinking? Those are no guns to take on robots with!
Those would have been terrible against supermutants!
Maybe it's the power armor. Mayhaps it makes you feel invicible.
Flashman turned his eyes from Mandy to his fist. It was curling and uncurling, bone and flesh wrapped in synthetic muscle bundles and armored alloys.
Maybe it was the power armor...
The sadness over the death of his paladin brothers and sisters was intertwined with his anger over how foolishly they marched into their deaths. Heaped together in mound of torn flesh and broken steel, they showed the result of countless hours of training and care - as well as the toil of many hands that had maintained their weapons and armor - thrown to the wind.
Flashman was sure that his squad would not meet the same fate.
Slowly, Flashman advanced on the entrance to the reactor building. He could see a power core inside. However, he was careful not to walk into an ambush. As if a sole turret coul have wiped out a whole squad!
Flashman's instincts didn't lie. Robots hugged the walls on the both sides of the entrance. They jumped to action, their metalic tentacles raised to attack position.
He fired one missile from the hip and turned to run. As such, he didn't see nor feel the explosion that tore one of the robots to shreads.
The combined firepower of the squad tore through the robotic ambushers. Even stitch did his part, melthing robot insides left and right with EMP shells.
However, a pair of metalic sentinels remained inside, unwilling to abandon their positions.
In the end, the squad opted for a distraction. Flashman carefuly made his way to one end of the power enclosure before suddenly exposing himself to fire a missile. The robots took the bait and turned to attack him.
This gave Stitch ample time to flank them. He fired as he walked, power armor stabilizing the Jackhammer going buck wild in his arms. The robots were down, and a beachhead was thus secure.
Now, what do we do with the power core?
I have an idea!
This power core was tougher, much tougher than the ones in the repair center. Maybe it needed to be that tough: when the core exploded (after taking way too many shot from Peta's EMP rifle), there were no signs of a self repair system maybe kicking in to help.
There was only one way to leave the power core room, and that was via a small door on the right. The planning of the area continued to make no sense at all, but Flashman just shrugged it off.
If he managed to be comfortable with room clearing operations while totting an RPG, he could get comfortable with many things.
Sure enough, there was a robot waiting. Just the backblast from the RPG covered a bigger area than that the little room they were in. Flames went from wall to wall and the force of the explosion sent a huge gust of smoke and debris back into the power core area.
Flashman didn't even flinch, as solid as the old pre-war walls.
He did call for Stitch and Toni to back him up while he searched the connecting rooms.
Flashman took the door to his right. It opened to a mostly empty storage room that met him with wafts of musty air. As he scanned the room, ready to turn the RPG on any would be assailants, he didn't find anything more menacing than a regular box.
Uh, boss, I found somethin'!
By all rights, the scene in the other room should not have existed. Shot up scurry bots were strewn on the floor, their black blood staining steel. Among them laid a mangled brotherhood paladin, who had somehow managed to get in there even through the robot ambush.
Yet there was some life left in his broken form.
The man died before Flashman could think of a fitting answer.
The paladin squad did take out a few of them, them being the scurry robots in the room. The reckless loss Flashman couldn't bear to call it sacrifice - of the squad had had no positive impact on the mission. Whatever their task had been, the slain brothers and sisters had failed to carry it out.
In the end, Flashman thought, their story would be one of warning, not of celebration, if the Brotherhood was to survive no only the Calculator, but also the years of rebuilding effort to come.
He's dead, Toni. Let's go.
The tragic, avoidable and unnecessary sacrifice of the other squad didn't have time to take root in Flashman's mind. The complex still needed clearing and there was a corridor ahead of them.
Flashman had taken up the minigun once again to see if the robots would fall to his greater skill if not volume of fire.
Sadly, it was not to be, as the rifle grade ammo bounced off the wide chest of a lifter bot.
Flashman ducked back in as the lifter started wailing against the doorway. It was obvious the machine could not have gotten into the corridor by itself maybe the humanoid bots assembled it there, an eternal warden and a prisoner both?
Toni reacted to the lifter bot and lit it up with the minigun. Invisible lasers gauged deep gashes in the metalic hide of the robot and it retreated, smoking.
Shouldering the RPG once more, Flashman stepped out into corridor and fire at a cornered security bot.
The thing didn't even have time to react before being blown to bits.
He then turned his attention back to the lifter bot and sent an RPG round screamind down the corridor. Toni added a barrage of laser blasts.
This got the lifter to charge them again, but as Toni retreated into the room and poured some more fire on the machine, the automaton retreated.
Toni followed it and raked the robot's back with an another well-aimed burst. The robot's torso was ripped from the chasis by a powerful explosion. The machine finally laid dead.
The warcry echoed in the now-silent corridor.
Meanwhile, Stitch had noticed a console and started fiddling with it during the firefight. Finally, it started playing an audio recording.
The Hellion seemed to be some sort of an aircraft something that the Brotherhood hadn't seen since their encounter with Enclave years back.
An idea was fermenting in Flashman's head: Calculator had gone off its programming probably aided by all the budged cutbacks - and changed its mission to pacify every living thing. The original mission to clean out invaders, mutants and the like - would have been lauded and celebrated by the old Brotherhood. But only in spirit Calculator was still a pawn of the pre-war scientists and politicians that had betrayed Maxon so long ago. And this new Brotherhood had some different ideas...
With the robots in the corridor gone, the squad had to check out the side rooms before moving forward.
Toni lead the way, carefully scanning the darkness. She wasn't nervous, but the gatling laser spun up just in case.
Computer stacks, cases, nothing special.
The room to her left was much larger, with a cracked display on one wall, and a control console a ways down.
Seems clear... oh shit!
Two scurry bots leaped out of the shadows. Tony strafed right, letting Flashman and Peta enter the room to deal with their pointy claws.
There was also a humanoid bot guarding the console. However, this machine valued its erzats life more than the scurry bots, and quickly went into hiding.
Flashman flushed it out with a few rockets. He ever so thankful that the pre-war technology was robust enough to survive direct hits from RPGs.
The console seems simple enough...
He flipped a switch and a door hissed open at the end of the long corridor.
The squad gathered at the entrance. It opened into a massive enclosed space, with ceiling disappearing into the darkness. It had to be a hangar if not something bigger, and the only way from the door lead to a wide but extremely exposed catwalk.
Any volunteers for point?
Yeah, I thought so.
Yes, this mission is a three-parter. Don't you worry, kind goons, I'm already some way into the the mission after this. But writing and editing is slooow.