Chapter 17:

La Costa Mines [Pt.1]

A Moribund Hero

Marcus's rugged dirt bike skidded to a halt at the top of a flat peak, which overlooked La Costa Mines on vast plains. The eyesore of swelling blue-green lights before the shaft entrance seemed like a tiny congestion of energy from his view. It wasn't.Bookmark here

He kicked his bike stand into the dirt and powered down the vehicle.Bookmark here

His field leader had already arrived. The man stood on the cliff, facing the swell. His broad back carried a high laser sniper rifle. He was dressed in khaki pants, steel capped and buckle boots, and a padded version of the army's bottle-green vest. No shirt. His hands and forearm were enclosed in soft metal gauntlets.Bookmark here

"Stromm. Deez day, good for hunting, no?" he cordially said as he stood next to the tall man.Bookmark here

Indeed, Stromm was as tall and a hunk of muscle as Wolf. Dark olive skin, smooth and hardened, adapted to the weather. His black hair was styled in a crew cut. Unlike Wolf, his face had a light carpet of a beard, which served to draw out more of his wide chin, angled jaw, and high cheekbones. Bushy eyebrows framed his green eyes, which twinkled with energy. Just enough roundness to even out his broad nose and full lips.Bookmark here

"Marcus. Always ready for a fight, huh?" Stromm's deep voice gruffed. "Fair enough. These mages are out of control."Bookmark here

It was the first time he was seeing such congestion of magic power. It made him frown.Bookmark here

"That's because he can't get laid." A woman sarcastically noted from behind them.Bookmark here

Marcus scoffed as he turned to see their scout member of the squad.Bookmark here

Silver strutted up to them. Like the others, she wore the colors of the People Army. Her waistcoat gave shape to the outlines of her busty chest and slender waist. The rest of her upper body continued to hold a ladylike charm with her lace-trimmed white cotton blouse made of magic-resistant material. Her hip held a black belt of daggers, lockpicks, and vials. Her khaki shorts, black-gloved hands, and knee-high black boots concealed other hidden weapons.Bookmark here

Most men of the army considered her attractive with her silky brown hair, combed back in a high ponytail, a tanned face that was lightly made up with neutral pinks and browns to keep her brown eyes and slender features appealing.Bookmark here

Marcus knew better. She was the other woman he couldn't charm. Not like he was interested in his comrade, to begin with. No, Lucy was more his type. His heart raced with thoughts that she would be arriving soon.Bookmark here

"Can you control your snake when she arrives?" Silver lowered her eyes toward his groin, making her curled lashes stand out.Bookmark here

"Vile womeen." He turned up his nose at her innuendo.Bookmark here

She giggled.Bookmark here

On cue, they turned to see Bessy trailing dust clouds toward them. Wolf overtook the tank to arrive before it.Bookmark here

Silver's eyes lit up with glee when she saw an armored Rabbit get off Wolf's motorbike. She eagerly went to greet the girl.Bookmark here

Rabbit politely returned the greeting.Bookmark here

Silver understood that the girl was a biodefect, but she was fine with that. Rabbit had no magic, so posed no threat other than her skills as a scout.Bookmark here

Bessy arrived. Marcus stood with aloof and suave airs to impress his lady. Lucy climbed out of the tank. His happiness turned to a frown when he saw a man also exit it.Bookmark here

"You!" He hissed upon recognizing Leon from that time at the bar. He whipped out his silver greatsword from his back and stomped his way to him.Bookmark here

"Hang ten, Marcus. Leon is my gunner." Lucy stepped before him when she saw his angry face headed for Leon.Bookmark here

"Gunner or no. An insult, deez insult." He raised his sword.Bookmark here

Leon blinked, analyzing the swing angle. He sidestepped to easily avoid Marcus's blow.Bookmark here

Marcus was trained enough to calm his reactions and recognize a fact of the moment. Leon was a biodefect.Bookmark here

"Deez isn't right. A biodeefect. No!" Marcus was distressed by the fact.Bookmark here

"He's got no magic, but warrior trained. He'll likely kick your ass again if you test him." Lucy explained and didn't care that Marcus was hissing at the fact.Bookmark here

Stromm sighed and called order on his squad. He and Wolf exchanged their civil greetings.Bookmark here

"Ready to kick mage ass."Bookmark here

"Hell, yeah." Wolf gave the man a hearty nod.Bookmark here

Squad42 and Squad43 gathered to go over their orders and agree on their positions and roles. When all was settled, they got going for La Costa.Bookmark here

When their dune buggies, bikes, and tank arrived at the scene, they saw the local scouts and guards doing their best to contain the magic and fight off the mages fueling it. But, the mages were attacking with weapons and fire, shock, and water-based magic in retaliation.Bookmark here

Leon frowned as he surveyed the mages from Bessy's periscope. They were well-armed in black-green soft leather armor and were mobile on dirt bikes. It wasn't a typical skirmish. They were organized and focused.Bookmark here

He adjusted the zoom and noticed a green painted skull and crossbones on their chests.Bookmark here

"Are they a gang?" He blurted.Bookmark here

Lucy nodded and began fretting. "Flippin breechers! They have mages."Bookmark here

She explained that the skull and crossbones belonged to a rumored group of troublemakers called Punk Bandits. Usually, they were petty thieves and highwaymen stealing from peeps. But she had never crossed any of them with mages before. So, their army never had to deal with them much, other than making sure they didn't get in their way.Bookmark here

"But to have mages in their gang. Crap. Not good."Bookmark here

She slammed her foot on the accelerator and snapped at Leon to prep the gun, but he was already on standby to fire.Bookmark here

A swarm of punk bandits on dirt bikes flocked toward them. They fired an arsenal of firebolts, ice shards, and shock bolts at Bessy. But the machine was hardy to withstand their first wave.Bookmark here

He fired a rocket at the center of the bike hoard to send some flying and crashing to the ground. However, as more fell, more came.Bookmark here

"How many are their numbers?" He calmly reloaded the gun and continued to fire, making sure there was no friendly fire.Bookmark here

"More than I thought." Lucy's eyes narrowed at the oncoming bike masses. She skillfully swerved and navigated around magic and weapon attacks.Bookmark here

Leon was able to adjust his aim to reduce the numbers. But it wasn't enough.Bookmark here

A couple of punk bandits got close to climbing onto the hull.Bookmark here

"Time for air. Keep Bessy's course. I'll do my best to reduce numbers." He released the tank's gun and placed his hat on.Bookmark here

His handguns were locked and loaded. He climbed out of the hatch and used the torque of the moving vehicle to propel him forward.Bookmark here

The punk bandits fired bullets at him.Bookmark here

He ducked and swung around to dodge them. Adjusted his body's gravity settings to keep balance. Aimed and fired. His bullets knocked a bandit off the tank.Bookmark here

He moved toward the other that was scaling the sides to reach him.Bookmark here

Shots were fired and missed.Bookmark here

He docked his guns; did a handstand, gripping a loop ring, and spun his body around to kick and knock the bandit off the tank. The body flew into Lucy's view before it struck the ground.Bookmark here

More on bikes inched dangerously close from behind.Bookmark here

Leon moved toward the back to see two bandits on dirt bikes. They were a few meters from reaching the hull.Bookmark here

They fired a mad round of machine-gun bullets at him. All were missed.Bookmark here

He slowly rose to stand on the tank's roof. His overcoat flapped against the wind; his hat was miraculously stuck to his head.Bookmark here

He stepped back to give him space to run. Arm's outstretched holding his handguns. He sprinted forward and jumped.Bookmark here

Shots were continuously fired as he did a twist and flip to land on the ground on both feet. Boot levels were adjusted to ease gravity density on impact. Bullets had succeeded in knocking off a bandit from their dirt bike.Bookmark here

A quick analysis of the situation and environment.Bookmark here

He docked his guns, he raced for the bike; righted it, and kicked it into gear, driving it for the other bandit.Bookmark here

The other bandit's gunfire was clumsy and with less aim. It was clear they weren't used to firing whilst driving with one hand.Bookmark here

Leon did a snap analysis of his trajectory and angles. Sped up to overtake the bandit then did a sharp turn to angle the bike then reversed. Gripped one gun. Stretched out his arm with an aim. A direct line of sight for the bandit's head. He fired.Bookmark here

It hit the target.Bookmark here

The bandit and bike overturned to crash and cause an explosion.Bookmark here

Leon docked his gun and straightened the bike. He followed Bessy's trail.Bookmark here

Hungry Sheep
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