Hawker had spent the entire morning in the simulation room. Not his favorite, but it was an indispensable training tool for when the crash room and firing range weren’t enough. A thick cable descended from the ceiling in the otherwise unadorned space, plugged into a port on the back of his head with a plug big enough bludgeon somebody with. Sims were far too complex to run on wireless, and required the use of a whole bank of million-dollar computers to generate the physics, sensory input, and AIs.
It was taxing work, and Hawker was looking forward to a rest. After Chris’ lunch, it was back in the crash room for “GTFO training”. They were supposed to have done this exercise that day he had his outburst, but it didn’t exactly work out that way, did it? Hawker would be playing the bad guy to Chris’ unprotected pilot, and it was Chris’ job to just make it out alive.
The whole thing had a decidedly different tone to it than it otherwise would have. The mech was looking forward to playing cat and mouse out in the open like that, and was expecting the both of them to… work up an appetite that they might have the chance to satisfy afterward. Maybe he could get Chris to give him a hose down in the wash. The crash room was a pretty filthy arena, all things considered…
He smiled to himself, and the idea seemed to wake him up again. With something to look forward to, the next hour would pass by in no time. He lifted his dummy rifle and engaged exercise no. 4031. The white room gave way to featureless high-rises, upturned cars, and littered about his field of vision were HUDs provided by the battle mask. Words appeared in his head:
‘The mayor is being held hostage on the top floor of city hall by 8 heavily armed targets. Objective: extract victim, arrest perpetrators, damage less than $2m in property. Activate the HELP menu for more information about this exercise, or to select another. START by downloading this operation’s casefile. Good luck.’
Wen chewed on her breakfast sandwich, her premium coffee quietly steaming the in the waxed paper cup. Celn’s phone number is at the top of her contact list, and she thought about what Becker had told her that night. ‘He’s going to crack.’ They were talking outside the motor pool. Hawker had gotten her T5 in the best condition she’d ever felt. It didn’t even rub on the shin pads anymore. ‘I want to talk to him. He seems pretty nice.’ Becker snorted, cracking open a redbull. His MRAV was going to be keeping him up for another two hours at least. ‘Good luck. Heard they’re working him 8 – 10 a day. Not all of those bruises are from Nine. Scuttlebutt says he inhales the slop from the free chow hall. Three times a day.’
Wen stuck out her tongue. ‘On a pilot’s salary? He could order out every day and stay in the black.’ Becker just shrugged. ‘Rumor says he’s stuck up, talks to no one. Or he’s scared shitless and is just trying to survive long enough to get rejected. Might be why Nine hates him so much. It’s been barely a week of course.’ He patted her on the shoulder and went back in. Hawker’s impressive stereo had some sort of calming classical pulsing. She frowned. Only one way to find out.
Chris wasn’t rude or scared. He had seemed shocked that anyone would want to speak with him. Wen picked up her phone and started typing. ‘Hello Chris. How’d your day go..’
Chris had left the collar off for this one. The mouthguard hugged his upper semicircle of teeth. A smooth helmet covered his head and ears. He wore a thickly padded chest protector and shoulder guards. THey’d hurt like hell going on, but once they’d settled the pain just sort of throbbed.
Lieutenant Sarah Toren wore a sports bra under a spandex top, and padded capri pants. Fingerless gloves and running shoes. The hours one and two she’d covered simple stuff. How to fall down. How to get knocked on your ass and get up smoothly. They’d done some high drops, about 8 feet into a thick cushion of air. He’d enjoyed that, smiles and ‘Yes LTs.’ She’d been working with gentle takedowns and kept finding it surprising how easy it is. The rookie is small, at least he’d said they were making him do PT daily and had stuck a weight goal on him. Kid needed some beef on his frame.
“Right. Your fun time is over. I want you to try and take me down. I’ll block your shots. I’ll dance around what you try, but I will not strike back. Show me what you got.” her hands came up in a classic boxing guard, and for someone as built as she is, hopped easily on her toes.
Chris felt like Hawker could’ve asked for the same result, and they outcome would have been the same. Him struggling uselessly. With a painful roll of the shoulders, he gave it his best anyway.
A bum rush just had her dodge, with a smack on the helmet for being ‘stupid.’
The basic police academy stuff she countered. A roundhouse she blocked. Quick and low, she stepped back and left his fist extended into the air. A good thump to his elbow and he let out an adequate whine. “Tender spot Greenhorn?”
Leg sweeps she say coming, and the last one she’d turned her foot so he’d caught his under her sole and went down. At least he hit like he’d been taught, instead of just collapsing. “Get up rookie! I’m still here.”
Chris felt the anger and frustration building up. She is goading him along. She is in ten times the shape and had reach for days. She wanted an angry Chris? FINE.
Ten minutes later, he lay on the mat with his steam run out. His chest hurt where she’d hit him, dead center over his heart. She’d gotten him in the gut too, which is why he is currently sucking wind. Toren rubbed her chin. “I did not expect you to go all feral on me kid.” Of course, right before she’d laid on the pain he’d gotten handsy. Dirty. The way his fingers had tried to worm into..
..the leer on his face..
..and that is why she’d also kicked him right in the jewels. Good thing he’d been wearing a cup, or he might had been in medical. She’d wanted to stomp his head.
“You need to learn how to work down an opponent. When you are in Big Nine, you will have the luxury of being the biggest thing around.” She checked the time. “You have ten minutes. Then it will be the heavy bag. You are going to learn to kick and punch properly.” She went out of the room, to get some fresh air. What had she expected? A little twerp to turn into a kung fu master?
The familiar taste of a carbonated beverage danced on her gums. So he needed work. She’d pushed him to see what would happen. And she found out. He didn’t give up, he’d tackle a problem ’till it crushed him. After ten she came back in. He stood at the heavy bag, sweat soaking his clothes. He moved his arm slowly, practicing how to move for the blow. And doing it wrong.
“Oh god. How the hell did you pass this part of the exam? You just got out of the academy a few weeks ago, you should know better then to make a fist like that.”
“They’re lenient if you’re going to get some bling.” He rolled his head, indicating the implant.
“Hmmmpf. Get your feet apart like this rook. And move your arm like this.”
Lunch. He had to shower beforehand, the sweat had his shirt going see-though. And the hot water felt so good he had a little cry in relief. He checked his phone. Message from Wen. He’d read it later, he needed to meet the boss.
Chris walked into the familiar space of the crash room. He’d had to give the collar an extra scrub, it’b been soaked with Hawker’s load. Still faintly smelled of that copious output. He keyed on the wireless. “Sir! Celn reporting for training.”
“Hope you’re ready to get stepped on, greenhorn,” Hawker said, dragging his tongue along his teeth so that Chris could see.
This was going to be even more fun than than he thought, wasn’t it?
In the mech’s hand was his rifle – it was unloaded, and served as a purely psychological weapon. But it was an intimidating sight for sure. The room was different than it was before, too. A fake alley had been installed, and a few walls put up to simulate buildings for Chris to corner, to run between, to take cover behind. A few other props completed the scene: utility boxes, broken glass, a dumpster. Hawker had specifically requested a more realistic scene. Chris was no stranger to the street – he might have a harder time taking a mere funhouse version of one seriously.
“I see the LT put you through your paces?” he asked, noticing that the first thing he felt when the kid stepped in was a resounding ow, my achin’…. “I heard she’s good. Do her proud for me.”
“Now.” He hefted the heavy firearm up to his shoulder, and instructed Chris to start at one corner of the room. “Your goal is to make it past me to the exit. Sounds easy, right?” He engaged his battle mask to do away with that familiar face, replaced now with more black, and a thin mirrored visor over his optics. Suddenly inhuman, unemotional, distant. He could be any mech, now. This sent a tingle of excitement through his CPUs. “Of course it does. Any questions before we start?”
Oh that TONGUE! Chris stood up straighter. He’d have to figure out how to flirt back better, because all he is pondering about is Hawker stepping on him. Pushing him down under a boot bigger then the pilot.
“Yes Sir. She knows what she’s about.” Toren did know, unfortunately. SHe also knew that Chris hadn’t been expected to be fantastic at hand to hand. As the examiner for him had put it, ‘Kid, you’re going to be smaller than most anyone trying to take you down. Shoot first or run.’ His arms ached too, as she’d made him punch until they about fell off!
Chris took his time walking to the start point, taking in the layout of the room. Parts of it he couldn’t see all that well, If he had time, he would have examined the situation of figure out just which ways the alleys went, if there were sneaky pockets or tunnels he could use.
“Your goal is to make it past me to the exit. Sounds easy, right?” NOPE! Chris knew how fast the mech could move. He might as well lay down right now! He couldn’t hide from Hawker, even without the collar. That face mask though. And the voice. Event he connection took on a hard edge.
“That exit there?” he could feel the ascent that the clearly labels position across the room is his intended destination.
He looked up. The windows that Hawker had punched still was there, busted and patched with tape. Replacing it likely wasn’t a top priority. There looked to be at least one figure up there as well. “Well, unless I get to walk in there, you could just pick me off with your rifle.” He mused, attempting to stall for time. He bent down, touching his toes. THen he came up, doing a squat before arching his back with hands on his hips. He did the sideways lean too, all with his back to the bot. He had a pleasing backside, and he made sure to show it off enough that the straps of his jock showed through his sweatpants.
“I think I am as ready as I can be.” He stepped behind a building, putting some cover between hismelf and the mech. Looking for a means to keep in cover, he started jogging toward the exit. Until he heard footsteps, he should be fine.
Hawker wanted to give that boy a spanking. But, another game for another time.
Instead, he expanded his presence across their connection like an encroaching wall. Kid needed to know that the mech was was serious. And hungry.
Their ‘argument’ in Hawker’s office opened the proverbial floodgates, and it was anything goes now – for his giant machine dick, that is. He watched Chris stall for time, then head for his starting position with a little too much casualty for his liking. He realized that he wanted to get his hands on that kid every damn day – but it wasn’t exactly feasible. If this was going to be their arrangement, Hawker needed to be patient, otherwise he would seriously injure his precious pilot one of these days.
“I think I am as ready as I can be.”
<I don’t think you are,> he sent, able to leave the thought dripping with erotic potential much more than he would be able to under such routine surveillance if he’d spoken aloud. <But that’s the point.>
He took up his own position, shuttering their shared thoughts and replacing it with sound played directly into Chris’s mind: the sounds of a gunfight. Lead spewing, mech feet hitting broken pavement, distant indiscernible shouts from humans, all designed to induce a real fight or flight mechanism. Already he could feel Chris’s heart pumping in response.
Hawker took up his position catty-corner to the human, nearest the exit, and the exercise began.
It was all too easy to suddenly view Chris as a target. After all, had he not been just the previous day, and to pleasurable results? The mech stepped into the arena, broken glass and broken concrete crunching under his feet as he hunted for the pilot making his escape on foot. Gang mech pilots had a big incentive to gun down police scabs – the good ones, like Chris, like Lee, were difficult to replace and could garage a mech for months.
Hawker didn’t speak, didn’t think across their connection. He moved like a looming shadow, visor catching the light as he looked this way and that.
Chris tried sneaking out from behind one of the fake buildings and Hawker was instantly on him, knocking him to the ground with the barrel of his rifle pressed to his tiny chest for effect. And for fun.
<Where’s your sidearm?> he half-goaded, half-demanded. <They’re still useful in these situations. You could take out my radio, or even potentially blind me with a well-aimed shot.> He gestured with his weapon. <Go grab a paint gun. Let’s test your aim under duress while we’re here.>
Like the waves coming in for high tide, the robot’s deviant desires made themselves known. Chris is treated to a vision himself draped over the massive knee, fellating that mechanised cock as he is spanked. Hawker holding his nude form, Hawker biting him, Hawker kissing him, Hawker grinding him, the two of them repeatedly engaging on a regular basis.
He let his partner know the feeling is mutual, sending a vivid thought back. A naked Chris in the palm of his hand, the boy’s feet together, the machine taking them into it’s mouth as it pushed the pilot into its hungry maw. He wanted to be take what could be dished out. They’d formed a perverse connection and he liked it!
Then the connection went dark. Chris listened, finding it hard to place which noises were Hawker’s footsteps, and which sounds were coming from the mech as it walked. He began to spy possible means to go. Ways to sneak around. None of the cars were operational but he’d be smart to attempt to commandeer one in the field. While he’d be a large target, he wouldn’t be a large target for long. He should be inside the building, hiding?
Not Hawkers voice, but his own thoughts came back to him. <Hide from what? Thermal imaging? X-ray vision? Sensor Arrays? You have to get the hell out!> His expression pulled into a scowl. That is right. He should be sprinting, dodging between cover. If he didn’t, the enemy would ju—–
He knew the Ai was smirking behind the face-shield as it bore down on him.
“Ow OW OW!” he growled. The barrel of the gun is wider then his torso, it’s like getting poked by a cannon. When he is allowed to get up, he does so, brushing off the debris. <Yes Sir. Getting a weapon.>
He stumbled off, leaving the big guy to get to the starting point. From the back, his implant damage seemed to be clearing up. No real bruises or damage from this side. He’d look much better with asymmetric lines, bite marks layered like a henna tattoo. At the weapon rack he examined the choices. Rifles, shotguns. He’d have neither if he had made the emergency exit from the mech. And even if one is installed, he’d be better served by a pistol anyway. Which is why he picked up what looked like a child’s toy.
Load, load CO2 cylinder. He did a test fire, at the little chroney station, splatting the target at 20 yards.
The constant training is catching up with the rookie. He wanted to jog up to position, but he just felt tired. He had to save his energy for the these escape runs. THe worst part is how he’d been stuffed with food, so his aching limbs would respond to the continuous physical effort. He looked over, ready to give this a real try. “I’m going Sir. Give me somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes; so I don’t know what kind of a lead I have.”
Bright green weapon in hand, he made a break for it.
THis time he sprinted off the start, the gunfire and booming thunder of mech combat in his ears.
<Not enough constant buildings to make a rooftop run.>
As if his arms would LET him make that kind of climb.
<Don’t know the sewer layout, it’s a risk.> As he spied the classic on-street drainage. <Except this isn’t a real street.>
Worth a risk, he is too easy on the surface. The gap looked to be about 8 or 10 inches, the slender pilot could just squeeze though the concrete and the asphalt. So he did.
THe interior is decidedly non-sewer like. It is far too clean, no awful smells, no wildlife. Red lights poured down their dull illumination every so often, thanks health and safety! The sharp stabs of white light from above, where manholes and grating opened to the crash room. He moved towards where he thought the exit point is located.
He could feel the ground shake as the 6 ton Mech moved nearby. He held his breath as he walked slow under a steel manhole, noting he’d probably have a hell of a time pushing one of those back up. He’d need to squeeze out another street drain. If there is one.
Chris had responded to the challenge with surprising enthusiasm this time, and Hawker decided he wasn’t going to hold back.
6-ton footsteps traversed the false cityscape with ease. He planted one of his feet on the hood of a car – CRASH! – and violently shoved it aside, up against one of the building facades. Metal shrieked and bolts went dancing across the floor in its wake. Panoptics were fully engaged, and when he rounded the corner, he saw Chris for the briefest second before he went sliding down into a facsimile storm drain and disappeared.
Clever little boy, he thought, grinning behind the mask. He was proud of the move – but he was also greatly enjoying a chase that had just gotten a little more complicated. He also considered the possibility of there being benefits to Chris’ size. None of the other pilots would have been able to pull off a move like that.
The “sewer” had four outlets around the fake city blocks, and though Chris had technically won the game already by simply making himself inaccessible to enemy mechs, the kid still thought that he had to make it to the door to complete the exercise.
He kicked at a lump of concrete for effect as he slowly prowled, turning a deliberately blind eye to sensors that would have otherwise told him exactly where the human was. It crumbled a little and went rolling a short ways, throwing dust into the air. Unless Chris was already turned around under there, then the mech knew that he’d beeline for an outlet nearest the goal point.
Below him was a manhole cover, which he estimated weighed almost as much as the kid himself. Hawker crouched down over it and grabbed a piece of rebar to pry it out – his fingers were too big to grasp it. Sliding it out of the way revealed a small, clean tunnel, into which he stuck his hand in and felt around for the fun of it.
“Come out, come out…”
Chris had just fit through that space too. If he really did ‘get swole’ as the exercise program he’d been enrolled in promised, his ability to squeeze into tight spaces would be reduced.
He didn’t speak aloud, but he’d been running a mental dialogue to himself. The ground shook and dust trickled down from the top of the fake sewer. <Oooooh, he’s close.> Heavy, regular sounds had to be footfalls. He decided to risk the noise and scrambled under the manhole as fast as he dared. He’d make it just a few feet past when it moved aside with a loud scraping sound. Light streamed in, he turned to watch what happened, backing away from the brightness.
The very odd noises of the mech’s had were suddenly audible. THe soft clinking of metal on metal, the hydraulic pistons pressing and moving, the whirrs of electric motors. Normally, those sounds are masked by the greaters noises from the robot’s torso. The hand and forearm moved in a large circle, feeling and reaching out in all directions. Chris frowned. Hawker should be able to sport him with ease! He should have him pinned down already….
<He’s playing with me.>
On the floor of the false sewer sat rocks, trash, dust and bits leftover from past environments that had been swept aside. Nothing useful for trapping that hand down below, sadly. Chris looked at the paint gun he held. Even if it were a real weapon, he’d have to score a precise hit. And that meant hitting Hawker’s wrist, with the fingers at their full extension while the robot is reaching. Well he sure is reaching now!
“Come out, come out…”
Chris crouched down, picking up a plastic bottle and setting it upright. COming to his feet, he got his hands on his paint gun. Then he kicked the bottle right up to the hand! The tiny bottle bounced off the back of the ring finger as the hand swept by. Honestly, the impact would be barely noticeable. That hand noticed though, more of the arm pushing down and REACHING! Chris fired two shots up at that hard to hit spot, taking another step back before he turned and ran! Far up ahead he’d seen another exit, another at-grade street drain. If he could sneak out while Hawker fished for him over here? He might have a shot at escaping.
He wanted to just step into that hand through. To be held tight. Mmmpf. Perhaps once they finished, Hawker could order him to ‘See me in my office.’ Mpppf!
Well, Hawker was not expecting to be hit with… what even was that? A water bottle? The little shit! He jammed his arm in further, though in a real situation he would have immediately withdrawn. Which apparently was its own little mistake here too.
A quick pair of shots landed in a sensitive and well-guarded spot on the inside of his wrist. It was a hydraulic fluid line that served his thumb and forefinger; only an inch of it was exposed from behind the heavy plating, and only when his hand was flexed like this.
Hawker drew his arm out to get a look at the bright orange paint, and sure enough, the little splats neatly highlighted one of the HLX-9 Vanguard’s few true weak points. Chris was good with a marker. No wonder Preston liked him.
He stood up, leaving the cover off. Chris was too smart to try escaping that way until he knew the mech had walked away, but he wasn’t about to camp out like a hunter in a blind and wait for his prey to come to him. No, Chris deserved better! With rebar in hand, Hawker ditched the dummy rifle and headed for the next manhole cover. He’d remove them all for a proper game of cat and mouse and eagerly wait for his prey’s next move.
Chris wasn’t even sure if he’d hit a vital spot to be honest. A moving target that close? Didnt’ matter. The gun is next to useless, and he made his way quickly toward what the thought was the right way to go.
wumph wumph Wumph WHAMP WHAMP Wumph Wumph
The unmistakable sounds of a large mech passing overhead could be heard. He came to a halt, wondering just what is going to happen. It didn’t take long, with a loud clank the manhole he’d been heading to opened.
<Well Shit. There goes that. Line of sight on my exits, it’s pop goes the weasel and I’m the weasel.>
<So be a sneaky weasel then.>
He backtracked, with Hawker at the far end at least he could get a head start. He wondered.. Hawker would probably move between the sewer exits, peering down into them. Technically, the robot could use the cameras built into his hands to see. But.. he’d put money on the AI being overconfident.
Wumph Wumph wumph wumph..
Moving further away? That’d put the bot near the exit? Chris move back toward the first manhole, the one near the drain he’d squeezed into. At this spot there is a junction and he could see down a ways. Looked like the sewer made a square. A square around the city block’s worth streets of the crash room. Made sense.
He climbed up the ladder, the rungs bent from Hawker’s arm. Still, he emerged when the machine was diagonally across from himself, plenty of rubble in the way.
<Well.. why the fuck not?>
Chris sprinted to the very edge of the crash room, as far from the objective as possible. Standing with buildings and jersey barriers between him and the mech, he took quiet and slow steps. With a little luck he could make it to the exit while Hawker busily stared into grates, manholes and drains.
He’d just pried out the last manhole when –
There you are. What are you up to…?
He moved quickly, on an intercept course, squeezing between the fake buildings. “C’mon greenhorn,” he said, catching his fist with his other hand. “Right between the eyes. Take out these optics before I…” All 11,740 pounds of the mech lunged toward Chris, arms open wide. BOOM. The whole place shook when he stomped down. “…getcha!” A laugh as Chris scrambled away.
Hawker let the human put a little distance between them. He wanted to get Chris to land a few more hits so he’d have an excuse to order a scrub down later. An image of his pilot, slick with suds and rubbing a sponge all over his cod like a good boy percolated into his foreprocessors. Then afterward, they could retreat to his office to review his performance during exercise… and a few other things. Mm.
Pfaff plap plap plap!
The rookie pilot had aimed for center of mass. Good on organics, useless on armored mechs. THe bright orange paint splattered on the codpiece, before he raised the gun up.
Pfew Plorp Pfew Plap Splip!
Chin, left eye and.. ugh. Mouth. He’d managed to lob one of the pellets right into the grinning maw of the mech. More for him to clean.
SOmething about that much machinery coming after you really puts the spring in your step; the the pilot hauled ass away from the stop with an unmanly shriek. He had no chance at the exit however. Damn, if he didn’t try though.
Doubling backward, hiding behind buildings, climbing up to rooftops to snipe at antennas. He had a 72% hit ratio, on a moving target with a paintball gun! If nothing else, the kid could shoot well.
Not that it was ever enough. The robot always stood between him and the exit. After forty minutes of furious dodging, near misses and a genuine moment where he’d almost made it; his legs gave out.
That moment had been clever. Incredibly clever, giving the limited time he had to work with. He’d sat a few bricks on the edge of a rooftop, balanced precariously. Him firing his gun uselessly in the air wasn’t going to fool the Deep Field 2; even with most of it’s sensors off. But a sudden CRASH, one that could have been him falling two stories or him now hanging on a ledge? Enough concern to get the mech to investigate…
…and find some broken bricks.
A quick check over at the exit, and he was running hard. He had a hand on his stomach, probably had a stitch in his side.
<Gotta make it gotta make it gotta make..>
wumph wumph Wumph WHAMP WHAMP
Like a fucking fright train. He hurt. He is tired. The rookie slowed to a halt and turned; panting, having stopped. He’d been caught. So much for the bonus of evading AND getting out.
Colburn felt good about what she saw. They were playing! She’d seen Big Nine smile. It’d laughed, playing cat & mouse with it’s pilot. Threatening comically (from way up there it is comical. From the ground it’s fucking terrifying.), prodding gently. Encouraging the greenhorn without giving him a chance to rest.
Hawker paused to let the hits land, biting back a wry smile. They were like little wet taps, creating an uneven cluster of orange around his pelvic block, then up his belly, chest, then a few genuinely irritating hits to the face. He’d taken the mask off a short while earlier – his mistake. One of the paintballs spattered across an optic, exploded against his teeth. He wiped away the stuff with a growl, spat out the paint from his mouth.
Oh, that little shit was gonna get it.
Chris shot off like a bat out of hell when Hawker suddenly showed a renewed interest in actually taking him down, and then it was on.
Colburn had popped in during the last 15 minutes, nursing a hot tea. The first snow was sticking outside, and nobody had bothered to change the thermostat in the offices yet. It was still freezing upstairs.
“They playing nice?” she asked the tech managing the station.
The tech shrugged and gestured out the viewing window. “I mean… yeah, it looks like it.”
She frowned and took a better look at the scene. Hawker looked just about ready for Halloween, all black and orange, as Chris deftly maneuvered about the building facades to outsmart and evade the mech. It was a game of attrition at this point, and both parties were playing their hands well.
“Any rough contact?”
“A little, but nothing that seemed too egregious. Big Nine’s pushing buttons with purpose, not just to terrify the kid.”
Colburn twisted up her face in thought. Maybe Kole was right… maybe everyone had misread the situation. But at the same time, it’s not like those bruises and the yelling were just her imagination, either. The A-word was coming to mind again; the pattern of extreme ups and downs seemed to be playing itself out, at least. Another kind of bet had cropped up recently in the pool: ‘Hawker renders Celn unfit to pilot’. It had 2 bets. Maybe it was too soon to tell, though.
And it would be a long time before it would ever even occur to her that maybe Chris liked being smacked around.
The mech caught him not by his wits or his superior physicality, but because Chris had essentially trained to failure. He stood beside one of the cars, holding onto it for balance as he caught his breath. Sweat dripped down his neck, darkened his shirt. Hawker had come running, but slowed to a stroll when he saw the kid had hit his wall, and stopped so close behind him that he practically stood between those massive tree-trunk legs.
Hands at his hips and he thrust out his codpiece the tiniest bit. The heat was in him again. This had been fun.
“Looks like Chris has the hang of this one, Big Nine,” came Colburn’s voice over the PA.
The mech turned, nodded to her in greeting. “As good as you can get in the crash room, at least.”
“I think you should show him where the car wash is. You could use a bath,” she laughed.
Hawker’s mouth was tugged into a little smirk. Great minds think alike, Chief. He gently nudged Chris with his foot, hips swaying directly over his head. “How about it, kid? Can you walk or do I need to carry your ass?”
Chris really wished he had some paintballs left. He’d have loved to plant an orange blob Hawker’s smug face one more time. He didn’t know how much time had passed but it had felt like hours. His heart refused to stop hammering and he kept panting. If he wasn’t leaning on the car then he’d be on his back in the dirt. He turned, giving his Captain an exhausted salute.
“You beat.. me Sir..” he managed between breaths, swallowing and wiping his brow with the back of his hand. “Thanks for.. giving.. me a.. fair shot..” he tiredly waved to the door. “of gettin’.. out.”
As Colburn and the machine spoke, he wondered how long people had been observing. How long she’d been observing. He thought back to Ferdinand “Everyone watches Big Nine..” that meant everyone would watch him, too. God he is tired!
He was whipped enough to miss the first hip-thrust from his assertive partner. He didn’t miss the second.
Car wash? Oh. Oh no. He instantly envisioned himself in a jockstrap and collar with nothing else. Hawker playing with it’s immense arousal and telling him he’d missed a spot. ‘Wash the underside again rookie, put your back into it.’
He set the paintball gun on the top of the car. Someone else could take care of it. He needed a rest before he had to get out a pressure washer and clean of 15 feet of horny mech.
Chris pushed off the car, putting himself in the open, nice and close to the toes of those boots. He raises up his arms, opening and closing his hands.
“Carry my ass. I see that look on your face.” <And the swagger of your hips, big guy. We got time for ‘talking’?> “If you’re gonna make me soap you up, I want to rest after this.”
“That went better then expected. Celn’s not nearly in the shape a pilot should be in though. His endurance is low, sprint speed is low.” the tech checked over the results.
“Didn’t do terrible. He’s a fine shot with the paint gun. Looks like.. 68% hit rate by the end. And get this, 32% of those were vital! Hawker would be down a hand, some of the right leg, mouth, eye, comms and looking left. Of course, that was after getting captured 8 times. I’m not sure how that all works out. And he knows where to hit Hawker. He might not have that luxury with a real target.”
Colburn felt warm, warmer then the tea she is holding when Hawker offered to pick up the rookie, and did a gentle foot nudge. That nudge would bruise anyone. Then the kid did the classic, pick me up please, gesture. Huh. Would be nice if they started to get along. The higher ups were already riding 42 about the pair’s combat ability.
Chris had been in Hawker for a week and people were talking about patrol duty. A fracking WEEK! You wouldn’t stick a fresh t5 in the field with only a week’s experience. THe fact that Chris had steadily preformed and not dropped dead from what he’d gone through was a miracle. They couldn’t get the greenhorn trained any faster.
“Good work. Celn, no decorating Hawker. Get him washed up.” She smiled, taking her finger off the PA. Let ’em have some non-combat contact. Non-arguing contact. Maybe they’d be gentle with each other.