If An Urbanmech Were Trapezoid In Shape….

The Walking Pile. The Trashcan. Faster than a turtle on a rocking chair. More powerful than a hungry goat on a mountain. You can even hollow it out and put it on a real mech for use as a hat during winter. Yep, it's the loveable Urby. The UM-R60 Urbanmech. An Imperator-B 100mm auto-loading chaingun, a slick Harmon Light Laser, all mounted to a light ‘mech chassis armored only enough to shield the pilot from a heavy rain. And did I mention it was about as fast as a dripping faucet? Gotta love it.

Here, look at this holopic. That’s me leaning on the Urbanmech foot. It is from our last gig on some black hole in a deeper black hole. The city of Lucas on some heat-beaten Periphery world. The world name is not important. Heck, the town name is probably not important, but I guess they had to name it something and the navigator that lead everyone to the dustball did not care enough to name it more than the colony. Suffice to say the place was your typical derelict colony without a hope, waiting for the next meteor to wash it away. Yeah, that particular navigator must have been cursed. I don't want to go back to that place again. After patrolling for days on end and encountering life’s bacterial ironies, I don’t want to step foot in that place again.

A total garbage lot. A few dusted automobiles, ancient candy bar wrappers still blowing in what passed for a breeze, architecture out of a Brothers Grim Nightmare meets Arabian Nights, but with a surreal quality that made you want to touch something to make sure it was reality you were in. Onion domes aplenty between adobe washed blocky buildings, all covered in burnt markings and those strange puncture shapes fast moving autocannon rounds leave. And those were the good buildings. The rest were faulty, agonized shapes that had no business being left standing even to cover a wretch and his family.

Anyway, my team got the bug patrol. Check that, we actually are the Bug Patrol. We aren’t Wolf's Dragoons, obviously. Not unless Wolf decided to dump his five regiments of Battlemechs, skilled warriors, plus ol'Tasha herself to trade for four Urbanmechs, a bunch of worn out coolant vests, and a Leopard we called “The Leper” for the obvious reason she looked like one. Go on and laugh. Hey, Chuckles, show me a place that has better ‘Mechs to sell for the 200 C-bills in the lances' pockets and I'll be first in line leading them there. Yet, something about that dilapidated snowcone with legs just made me smile. Maybe it was the simplicity.

So there we are, in Lucas, in a desert, in our Urbies, buttoned up tight, ready for anything on a planet whose name I couldn’t remember if I cared and would not want to if I did. We had a job to do and we did it. Just like last week and the week before that. Our job was pretty simple. Be the local rent-a-Shamoo and wait for a one-trick pony to show up and try to hit Lucas for the grab money or simply for the grabbing. See, out in the Periphery you have all sorts of morons selling this or that map to some jerkwater that they said had a hidden Star League depot. Yeah, like the one the Grey Death Legion found. Naturally, this burg got picked more than often for its desirable qualities, it was out in Boondock Central, little or no communications aside from local traffic, and the only merchantmen visiting were those that were told Lucas existed. Every so often you got raiders and explorers showing up in Lucas looking for a Kerensky Sierra Hotel. Digging holes everywhere, tripping out on local weed, and generally abusing the environment, all for the lostech grail. What do they find? Nothing. Squat. So what do they do? They take it out on the denizens of this place for no other reason than because they are royally ticked off. They wasted untold C-bills on the gas getting there and they wanted some payback. Like taking over the colony and having their way. Not like there were any cops that could stand against offworld hardware. Greasing a few of the le miserables’, knocking a few more holes in broken buildings, all made the prospecting scum feel tough I guess. Well, we were there to stop that. Short-term contract, terrible pay, and not one of us were even sure the bad guys were ever going to show. The only way to tell the bad from the good in this burg was the bad guys usually smelled a lot better. Amassing stolen funds by messing over your fellow man has a way of carrying certain fringe benefits.

So, the Bug Patrol was on the case, scoping out the city, doing our part to earn a C-bill. Sometimes we’d stop some burglary by zapping the getaway rover with a Harmon shot, sometimes we’d help out some people by shoving their collapsed building off them with careful kicks. Not much was happening today. Just another day in crapville. I ordered everyone to break up into the usual beat. I sent Loop down Northern, Rip onto Hallus Ave., and Fellen on Rugry Road. I backed up Loop as his beat was the main drag and led directly from the spaceport to what passed for the planetary capital building. Loop was a good 200 meters out in front of me while we patrolled up Northern.

Lucas had its share of debutantes, oh sure real lookers too, walking up and down the street, looking all tasty. Yeah. Except for one thing. They would only be attractive if you liked seeing festering sores and seeping puss on a wraith-thin body. Lucas’ travel brochure neglected to state that on this world if you went outside; it was mandatory you sprayed yourself down with a Zeep repellent; assuming you could afford it. The native Zeeps were akin to a Terran mosquito and just as small. Except when they bit you, it was not this neat little red bump your immune system could fight off. Nah. The Zeep bite was a whole different story. The initial bite dumped the usual load of nerve-desensitizing mucus into your dermal layer. The Zeep mucus was also heavy with pre-digestive crap though. Once it got in, it jellied your skin into this congealed see-through mass-leaking pus that would just slough off. Human T-cells would eventually cut down on the number of damaged skin cells, but not before expending an enormous amount of energy doing it. When you got the bite, you did not want to eat, drink, move, or relieve. Instead, you just sort of moaned while your body fought a really nasty cellular battle. Of course, if you were one of the street flotsam, you moaned and wandered. A still body in the open, particularly a smelly one, attracted Zeeps like a glowing targeting reticule. One bite could take you down for a few days with the proper medication. More than one bite, well, some of that street flotsam had ceased wandering or caring how many Zeeps hovered around. At least that is what it all looked like from my cockpit. None of the lance ever went beyond our quarters except in our mechs. And if we did have to visit somewhere in person, we put on protective rainwear bought for the Spican jungles that was actually thick enough to stave off the Zeeps’ attempts to get at our skin.

So we were on patrol and trying not to watch too much for anything but another mech. Loop was still on ahead of me. Rip had finished on his Hallus Avenue sweep and was moving to join Fellen on Rugry Road. Then…yeah, like some 10 C-bill novel with an author craving applause…all hell eventually broke loose.

“Loop here. I am getting some strange readings. Mag scan keeps getting ghosts. Seismic is inconclusive. Anyone else pick this up? Hello? C’mon guys, wake up out there.”

I frowned. Being near enough behind Loop meant I was picking up the same strange readings. “Loop, hold position. Let me join up a bit closer with you. You might be picking me up.”

“Nein, Boss. I have you behind me clearly. The ghosts are to our right, no, our left now. Moving. Vanished, Lieutenant.”

“Okay, Loop, just stop right there. Don’t move. Keep scanning. Rip, Fellen, anything in your area?”

“Nothing here, L-T. I am coming up on Fellen now.”

“Fellen here. I got a few traces at thirty off center then vanished.”

“Lieutenant, there shouldn’t be this kind of interference in this area. The ground is chalk and most of the metal in this place is so aged I don’t even know if it could handle enough background charge to disrupt a datalink.”

“Okay people. Let’s assume someone is here. My guess is they do not want to be sociable. Form into sections. 1st Section, Fellen, you and Rip meet us at Verson Way. Set up shop there. Loop and I will take one more turn out here and see if we can flush them out. If they head up the main drag, Verson Way positions should give us crossfire on’m.”

“Roger, L-T. Let’s go Rip.”

Loop, take point.”

Verson Way was this grand boulevard just a block over from the main drag of Lucas. With the way the buildings were built and the rest of the city lay out, Verson Way was actually better than simply defending the main drag Seven Samurai-style. The street was raised on large bulwarks and I guess Verson was intended to be a trans-planetary link to another colony that never got settled. Verson was the name of the intended colony so it made a heck of a lot of sense to name it Verson Way. Okay, so much for the treatise on Verson. You can consider yourself a Verson expert now. The point of using the road as our first defense point was because it was raised and helped give our lowly UM-R60’s a truly sophie view of the whole city. Not to mention, because designers of the Urbanmech neglected to give it a whole lot of fancy speed, an elevated position in the event of trouble meant our screamin’ meanie AC’s could fry just about anything that stood over 4 meters without needing to move around the city at a full trot.

“Anything yet, Loop?”

“Nothing, sir. Whatever was ghosting my screens is gone now.”

“Okay, well, let’s head over to Rip and Fellen and we’ll…”

The next few seconds all seemed to squash into a long-drawn minute, almost like stuffing a wrist chronometer between the gears of a larger clock, everything was a babble.

“L-T! We got Battlemechs in the city!” yelled Rip.

“What? How? No way they got past us…” Loop puzzled.

“Quiet, Loop. Fellen, report.”

Fellen, calmer by half, counted them out. “One, two, four…four farside, sector 2. Definitely inside the city, I got a solid read right now. Rip, lock up from your angle and…looks like they see us too, I’m getting pulsed by active here.”

I tried the usual garrison schpeel. “Unknown Battlemechs, unknown Battlemechs, this is the charged defender of Lucas. Cease your activity, shut down, and prepare to be questioned. You are trespassing in patrolled territory without given license. If you do not follow this directive, you will be engaged.”

After waiting the predetermined time for a response as outlined in the Official Patrolman’s Guide To Garrisoning Cities, I called in to The Leper crew to fill them in.

“Leper, Leper, we are on alert. Button up and charge your weapons. Fire on anything that comes near and looks at you crosswise.”

“Roger, sir. Fusion pile is running up. We’re set.”

“Fellen, once you or Rip gets a lock, drop’em. We are not going to wait around to ask questions.”

“Here, L-T. They aren’t moving.”

Yeah, I know what you are thinking. You are probably thinking my little garrison command speech actually stopped them dead in their tracks. The unknown Battlemechs were probably so shocked at finding a lance of Urbanmechs defending this city, they had to stop to collect themselves and ramp up the courage-for-battle-o-meter. After all, they were facing Urbies. Yeah. Right. Maybe those guys were just laughing their asses off at the temerity of some pipsqueek Urbanmech actually challenging them.

“Parafuso fora da kabeça do lixo do pattie da vaca!”

“Sugue meu canhão enorme porque nós lestamos rindo chew fora de sua kabeça para o temerity de tentar nos desafiar, jovem um.”

“Silêncio no commnet! Defender surbano, nós sugerimo-lo licença este
lugar. Nós estamos indo dar-lhe 30 yegundos para indicar algum
método do recuo. Ista cidade e seus voatos enganarão ninguém mais
outra vez. Licença. Agora. Dossa discussão não é com você.”

“Uh, Boss, what the hell is this guy babbling? Fluch! Doesn’t everyone speak Standard?”

“Not sure, Loop. I have not heard this language before. Rip, what is he saying?”

“No clue L-T. Sounds like Crucis Spanish, but its way off, like something from Marik space. One thing is for sure; this guy is not calling for our aid or to just say hi. He is giving us thirty seconds for something. Surrender? Leave? I don’t know.”

“Fellen, can you see what models they are running?”

“Here L-T. Valkyrie, Quickdraw, and what I think is a Scorpion. Can’t be sure, MAG shows it behind a building, but the building is too short to hide anything not a Scorpion…damn thing must have ripped off its pockets to get that low. Last one is only showing MAG, light class by the look of it.”

“Alight people, same plan. 1st Section. Continue to hold Verson. Pound’m when you see them and try to pin them down. Avoid through building shots. We can’t afford the casualties. 2nd Section. Loop, with me, we’ll flush’m out so the guys can fry’m.”

A series of “rogers” carried the line. Rip finished moving his Urbanmech up to Fellen’s position. Seconds later, long range missiles left either the Quickdraw or the Valkyrie, or possibly the fourth unknown mech, and blew portions of Verson Way apart. Immediately in response, almost simultaneously, the report of Second Section’s autocannons could be heard over crumbling ferrocrete and successive explosions.

“L-T, no worries, just some cover. We’re good. We scored on the Valk. Missed the Quickdraw. They’re heading your way down McSorley.” Fellen reported in his usual casual flare. McSorley ran to the left of where Loop and I were right then. If we split up, we might be able to catch the bandits in a crossfire from numbered avenues.

Loop, break off down Twelfth, head up Northern, and we’ll link at Ninth. We can trap the Quick and Valk for section fire at the intersection of Ninth and McSorley.”

“Roger, sir. See you there.”

I continued my mech down Western en route to meet Loop at Ninth. I was moving along at best speed, which is not best at all where an Urbanmech is concerned. I was about to turn onto Twelfth, only to see the Valk round the corner up ahead. Immediately I fired, only to see my Harmon small laser fry a street sign. Cursing my toggles, I switched to “AC” and was about to fire when the Valk responded with its medium laser. The Valk was too close for missile fire and must not have expected an Urbanmech to appear on the next street. The Valkyrie’s laser flashed over my mech’s torso, melting a significant portion of the armor between certain death and me. While the laser impact itself had no recoil, superheated armor blowing off your machine does make itself felt. I steadied my Urby, lined up the helmet-display cannon reticle, and fired a full burst. The Imperator-B chattered away, spewing casings all over the street. Rounds flashed in and around the Valk’s torso and right arm. Depleted uranium gouged out chunks of torso armor before the autocannon bucked onto the Valkyrie’s arm. The Valk’s medium laser housing splintered and there was a blue-white flash of discharging electricity. I continued to depress my trigger. The right arm was hammered and hammered until it simply was chopped off, as if some giant lumberjack came up with a powersaw and just swiped it. The impact shock and the simple loss of so much mass sent the Valkyrie to the ground. The war machine landed in a heap, cracking pavement and throwing dust all over the place. The pavement shook as I again steadied the Urby.

“Boss! Fourth bandit is an OTT-7J Ostscout! I’m over on Twelfth and…shitahh!”

“L-T, I see Loop, he’s down on Twelfth. I’ve sent Rip down to help and am providing cover fire, but I can’t get a proper angle.”

“Rip here! Dammit, I am not going to get there in time! They’re going to double team him!”

“Steady, Rip. Just get there.” Fellen was grunting now. A sure sign he was not getting hits.

“Hang on guys, I am on the way.”

The Valkyrie appeared down for the count, at least for the time being. Leaving behind a potentially functional enemy is not a good idea, but unless I did, I would not make it to Twelfth in time to prevent Loop getting torn to shreds. Even running would not get me there very fast. I decided to try a jump to a second story building in hopes that I could get cover fire over to Twelfth. Fortunately, the Pitban 6000 jump jets on the Urby are very powerful and can clear 60 meters easy. The thrusters on the Urby’s back ignited and lifted my mech to the top of a three-story building. The building managed to hold, but the groan as my mech touched down certainly indicated displeasure with so much weight.

I got a good view. But the picture wasn’t pretty. Loop’s mech was down, his left arm destroyed and right leg torn up. While trying to get up, he was still getting sporadic fire from the Quickdraw and the Ostscout. What worried me was the distinct absence of the Scorpion. The particle beam cannon the Scorpion carried could drive straight through an Urbanmech’s defenses without even stopping. At the time, I should have guessed at the strategy the bandits were using, but during the heat of the contest, I didn’t quite get the idea. I lined up a shot with the Imperator. The Quickdraw was moving forward, probably to unleash close battery on Loop’s fallen Urbanmech. My targeting crosshairs glowed a steady green, no lock. The Quickdraw could not have been more than a few seconds from Loop. Loop was still down and smoking from the destroyed arm pod. I started to line up my shot at the Quickdraw.

You know when you are about to do something really important how the world always seems to go quiet? As if your hearing shuts down and the drama of the moment is captured in still? Almost as if the Zen master spirits see your attempt and bless you with the total quiet of utter righteousness, if only for those few seconds. Those who achieved perfect mastery often spoke of hearing some long past pilot tell them the shot was good or some strange omen appear to make their aim true.

I did not get any quiet. No Zen master spirits. No drama. No message telling me everything was going to be sophie. Everything sounded as it normally did. All the sounds of my own heart beating over my held breath, plastic and metal of the control waldos straining, the irritating sensor beep going shrill with target lock and blinking madly, the creaking of the building below me, the whine as the Imperator built from speed zero to so fast you couldn’t count the barrels, yep, heard it all. Then the cannon fired and even through my helmet, I couldn’t hear well. Shell after shell after shell after shell was spit out of the spinning death. Initially, the shots started to hit. The impact actually stopped the Quickdraw while countless explosions, little rose petals of red and orange and black, opened and died. With every hit, the heavy mech shuddered. A terrain sensor cracked and blew off, a small electrical panel ceased to exist, the armor itself roared indignation. Or maybe that was my roaring, I forget.

Then the damn roof collapsed. Then I didn’t just get the hearing, I got the screaming yell of bending metal and cracking ferrocrete, the heaving. Yeah, that was it, the heaving. The heaving sigh of total resignation. Like the roof that at first cared about what it was doing to help our cause just gave up and decided to throw its lot in with the thoughtless. I lost the target lock and the rounds in the last part of my Imperator’s burst threw themselves off into the nether regions. My whole world tipped upside down and into the dark insanity inside that building. I screamed in frustration at the roof just deciding to collapse and even the normally subdued fear of Dispossession welled up inside me. While the helmet took a good share of the shock, I still whiplashed against the headrest hard enough to black me out for a few seconds. Tears ran down my face, then ran back up as my mech augured over and over. But, the damage to me was nothing compared to the building’s occupants. There were people living inside that building. Even in a combat zone. When they fall within a building, even light mechs gather enough speed combined with their mass to fall through a couple floors. The people inside I like to think were killed instantly. But, those people probably did not die instantly. Some did maybe, but not all. They probably bled to death with massive internal bleeding and destroyed limbs. Maybe they lingered under some notion that someone would save them. Lucas only had a rescue unit for the wealthy, the head honchos. Not the great masses. And on top of that realization was the fact that one of these great warmachines sent to defend them was still on top of them, crushing their last breath out. Thankfully, I could not hear outside. When my mech fell I must have ripped a few lines, gas, electrical, I don’t know. All I knew was that one minute I was hanging by the straps of my seat and the next my viewscreen was filled with gouts of flame. Whatever power lines I tore, they must have hit a catalyst, maybe my mech’s movement made a spark, and turned the whole building into a bonfire. I panicked and began thrashing my way out, trying to roll my Urbanmech to its feet and out of the odd angle it was in. I managed to brace my mech against a steel girder and it tipped me out. Maybe the people in the building were dead already. I tell myself that now. Otherwise, I just get nightmares.

Out I rolled, like some busted up, bruised, and battered whipping post, ready to receive his daily flail and too stupid to remember the previous beatings. I had rolled out onto Twelfth. My mech lay on its side looking straight down the street at the remains of the action had there. I looked from the bonfire the building had become to destroyed region in which I now found myself. Every gout of flame from that building seemed to bring a new tear. Every look to the battle’s leftovers, brought more frustration and shame. I should not have tried to make that shot. Those people might still be alive if I hadn’t.

Loop’s mech was trashed. He didn’t manage to get up and judging by the lack of shell casings, he didn’t get off more than one or two bursts. I saw that the minute I got the Urby back onto its feet. Sure, my shots had slowed the Quickdraw, but not enough that it couldn’t still get at Loop after the roof caved. The bastards probably thought I was dead and rushed Loop. His Urbanmech had been holed repeatedly; it looked like some burnt piece of cheese with chewed metal legs. I felt sick.

At least my communications still worked.

“Fellen? Rip? Report in. Report! This is Rochambeau. It’s me, dammit!”

“L-T? Damnation! You’re alive! What happened? Where di..”

“Stow it, Rip! L-T, we’ve got problems. Loop’s gone. He tried to right his machine just after you disappeared.

“I know, Fellen. I’m at Loop now. I need a sitrep.” I brought up my diagnostic while Fellen reported. No more time for feelings now. By some miracle, the Urby had only taken moderate damage. I had lost two of my heat sinks to the fall and a few breaches to the internal systems, but that was what redundancy was for.

“Rip’s down on McLean Street, one over from you. The Scorpion took off his leg after circling around us. He is sitting next to a building, but he has a good view of the street. The Ostscout is down. Rip nailed the sucker good and our sensors immediately cleared. I’m still up on Varson, covering Rip. Tracking the Quick and the Scorp two streets west from Rip. Not moving. No shot. The Quick is chewed, and I got the Scorp a few times before he could shoot Rip again. The Valkyrie is still down, L-T. I think you got him.”

“Roger, Fellen. Hmm. Okay, Rip, stay put. Opfire on anything you can see. I’m not sure we’re going to be able to bring anything near you for a shot, but stay alert. This could change.”


“Fellen, move along Varson and get to, what, they must be on Armstrong. I’ll join you there. Pop-up, let’m have it. They think they’ve hurt us and are thinking about a rest. Open the can of Whoopass, I’ve had enough of this. These turkeys are going down for good.”

Both Fellen and Rip determined their own oaths. The Bug Patrol rallied. Either we were going down or the bandits were. No one came into our town, adopted via C-bill though it might be, and shoved us around.

I sidestepped my mech around Loop’s wrecked machine and ran my Urby down Twelfth. Fellen was doing the same on Varson Way. If the baddies were using the Ostscout’s superior sensors as fire controller, then we may have deprived them of more serious an asset than we thought. The fact they were not moving meant something had to be up. That or perhaps we took out their leader in one of the other machines. That could have been it.

Fellen whispered his readiness over the comnet. It was simple. He would wait until I popped into the open and fired a few rounds and then pop back. Then he would pop out and fire and fade. Then I would, then he, then he again, then I and so forth. Alternate sequence until we ran out of ammo or until they died or came after us.

“Fellen, you ready?” I whispered.

“Roger, L-T. I’m there. Your go.”

I got my mech ready near what used to be a reddish adobe building. Nice archways, perhaps it was a café at one point. No one had had coffee in this place for a long time.
I gripped my controls and flexed my fingers. I took a few deep breaths, selected “AC” on my toggle, and counted to three.

As I stepped out into the open on Armstrong, I walked right into the Scorpion’s line of sight. The Scorp and the Quick were back to back; their sensors must have picked up on our approach. The Scorp fired its particle beam and short range missile rack at my Urbanmech. The particle beam blew through my torso armor, wiping out my sensor systems, another heat sink, and sending sheets of armor into the next region. The cockpit walls momentarily seemed to glow and the feedback of the particle discharge washed over the mech and into me. I screamed, fear and pain combined in my brain into a single searing moment. Before I could recover, short range missiles blasted into my mech’s legs, blowing apart armor and severely damaging myomer assemblies within. Gravity seemed another weapon against me as no matter what I did, the Urbanmech was on its way down. I rode out the shock and hoped I could get the mech into a sitting position before the Scorpion got off another shot or the Quickdraw decided to finish me. Righting the mech, I saw Fellen step out and start blasting away at the Quickdraw. The Quick had indeed turned towards me only to expose his back to Fellen. The Imperator-B might buck a bit, but when you saw a rear shot, that autocannon would dive toward it like a hawk on a mouse. Cannon rounds sighed and spanged off the rear of the Quickdraw, tipping it forward, off-balance. Fellen continued to fire, adding his light laser and his own curses, using everything he had to throw at the foe. For one of the rare times, Fellen just lost it.

“Your ass is mine! You’re gonna fry! I am gonna toast, roast, boast, shatter, tatter, shove, screw, dead, kill, burn your heavy crap down and shove it right back up and then….”

The cannon shells just kept pumping out, the Quickdraw’s rear armor was not strong enough to put up much defense. Internal systems were torn to pieces and Fellen’s normally useless light laser followed the cannon debris into the furthest reaches of the heavy mech. The Quickdraw stood with its arms akimbo while debris and shrapnel punched through the forward armor pauldrons. The heavy machine began to shake and gouting fire came from every rent, every crack, every piece that could melt. Finally, an explosion in its torso sent its right arm one way and the blew the rest of it sideways into a building. The storefront collapsed and the building ate most of the power output from the rest of the Quickdraw’s death throes. Fellen’s Urbanmech was blown over by the shockwave.

I used the distraction as time to line a shot at the Scorpion. I clamped down on the trigger, but got nothing. Just a warning beep going off. The computer had recently retagged my main gun as nonfunctional. The sensor was saying the barrel was fouled, possibly as a result of cascading damage from the Scorpion’s previous fire or perhaps some debris got in there. Not wanting a gangfire inside the gun, I resigned myself to death and stood the Urby up. If I was going down, then I was at least going to meet it head on; I might even take the Scorpion with me. I charged, intent on ramming the medium mech.

The run ate up the distance fast, I was too close for particle cannon fire. Just then, the short range missile canister on the Scorpion’s back sent a cloud behind it. Short range missiles drew a straight line from the launcher straight into my Urbanmech. Explosions wreathed and snaked all over my mech. The missiles detonated around and inside the torso itself. The Imperator autocannon assembly just blew off, sending my mech into a lazy tilt at a full run. My main viewscreen blanked, came back on, and blanked again. The secondary data display unit came on with a back-up view, but my helmet targeting display died right after. I was still running towards the Scorpion, but I was totally out of control. Warning blarings were deafening, actuators were breaking down as some came apart under the multiple secondary charges of the missiles, heat sinks failed, jump jets were busted, computer sirens warning of power system failure, and the Harmon laser expired as its circuitry links to the power system were severed entirely. My light Battlemech was dying. Caustic smoke trailed off it from multiple breaches, but somehow it still kept moving. I didn’t want to eject – simple fear of being Dispossessed was enough to weld me to that seat tighter than a Jumpship’s helium seals. I was riding this sucker down.

The Urby crashing into the Scorpion came as something of a surprise as the smoke and fumes had blinded me. I wasn’t even sure I was stumbling in the right direction. The Urby collapsed on top of the low-slung Scorpion, driving it down to the street. The Scorpion’s four legs splayed out in nearly random directions. The sound of all the metal crashing was worse than all the pots and pans I used to smash as a kid and the smell of burnt metal and plastics hung wide in the air. The Urby's systems died completely. The last warning I got mentioned total myomer malfunction and complete SLP failure in both legs. My mech died. I was of the Dispossessed. The realization was a sort of lump in your throat combined with bile that burned all the way along your esophagus.

Fellen managed to weather the blast of the Quickdraw rather well. He mech was in remarkably good condition while it stood over the pileup. My mech made a useful pinning device in its final act and after a few moments of my gesturing at the cockpit and occasional motions of Fellen’s autocannon, the bandit pilot popped his hatch and climbed out, surrender written into his face, yet death in his eyes. A Zeep squadron buzzed around our heads as I stood there looking at him and he at me.

I shot him of course. Right on the spot. To be frank, I was shocked at how fluid the motion was. One moment the bandit was standing in front of me, the next I was holding a smoking Sternsnacht pistol. I think maybe he thought we were going to accept his surrender. No, it wasn’t honorable. But it was quick. Better than most got, probably better than this guy deserved.

I just sort of stood there drinking in the wasteland that city of Lucas was. I stood on the busted carcass of what was once a UM-R60. It had its problems, it was slow, underarmored, and probably outclassed. But it was my machine.

Not that it matters much anymore. We fulfilled our contract, collected our fee, and blew off that accursed place bound for Galatea, the Mercenary’s Star. We managed to salvage the Scorpion and the Ostscout and packed them aboard the Leper. The planetary council tried to get us to stay, but we had had enough.

That planet was hell.

But the UM-R60 Urbanmech carried us through.