Author's Note: What you are about to read is from a Work In Progress. The final version may be different, significantly different, from this draft excerpt. This is taken from a chapter tentatively titled "Tonight Comes a Hurricane", near the climax of Part One of the book. If you want to see this finished, and get more like it, back the Indiegogo campaign here
Zuzu the Painbringer strode across the hangar bay of Great Gomorrah with the menace of a lioness on the hunt. She checked the seals of her battle armor: a matte black carapace, with a while skull outline on the chestplate, and red eyes in the sockets. It hugged her muscled curves as well as it covered her bold blue skin. She looked down at the wing of men she was about to lead into battle, standing a full head taller than the tallest of them, and gave them wicked lewd grins that bared her fangs. They cheered her as she passed.
In the center of the bay knelt a new manlike model, in colors and insignia mirroring her armor, and with a cockpit large enough for her inhuman frame. The cockpit, mounted in the torso, lay open but Zuzu did not immediately mount it. Instead she turned about to face her fellow reavers.
"Red Eyes's Reavers, hear your mistress!" she bellowed, "In a few moments we launch from this ship and sortie in the greatest raid this galaxy has seen in over a century. We do what none dared think possible- a direct assault upon the heart of our enemy's territory, House Ireton's homeworld of New Edinburgh!"
The gathered men roared, their eyes showed rapt attention and their mouths watered as if anticipating a kill.
"They are soft and weak, believing that we cannot reach them where they live, where they keep their treasures, where they plot to seize and conquer more of our land, our worlds, our lives from us in the name of their Duke and their God. They are wrong, and today we show them with blood and fire that they are wrong! We shall crush them, drive them before us, and reap from them all of their treasure- and their God shall avail them not against us!"
The men exploded in roars, cheering Zuzu on. She basked in the adulation as if showered by waterfalls.
"We bring the pain to them! The men that bring me the most heads shall be rewarded with my love!"
The men now chanted Zuzu's name, brought to ecstatic frenzy.
"Mount up! We shall wade knee-deep in their blood and seize the greatest treasures in all the galaxy this day- to war!"
"To war!" they answered, crying out in ecstasy, and they mounted their cockpits. As Zuzu did the same, all of the mechs in the bay began powering up. One by one the red eyes in the heads lit up as each one ran through pre-flight checks. Zuzu's unit closed the door to the cockpit and rose to stand. She watched as all systems came back green.
"Bridge, this is the Painbringer. Ready check."
"All clear, Vice Admiral. We're ready."
"Signal the first wave." Zuzu said, "We're launching."
"Aye, ma'am." Bridge said, and the warning klaxons sounded.
"Reavers, prepare to launch." Zuzu said, and her men released from their niches on the bay's walls. Still in GERWALK mode, the first flight on either side of the bay stood ready to go. The klaxons ceased, the bay depressurized, and the doors opened to space. Four per side hit their engines and flew out in formation into space. Within a minute, all 60 mecha departed the bay leaving only Zuzu to go."
"Vice Admiral Zuzu," she said, "Anakim, launching!"
Zuzu spun up the engines and took off out of the hangar bay on the port side, swiftly turning towards the bow of Great Gomorrah and accelerating to catch up to her men. On either side she saw that the mecha of the rest of the fleet's carriers had also launched their wings. Soon a great mass of 6000 mecha melded together into a massive formation, one with Zuzu's Anakim in the lead- and as the only one that was not a GERWALK design among them.
The Ireton heavy cruiser MacCullough followed the routine patrol route, passing well outside the planetary sphere for orbital traffic and towards Dara's Folly. A flight of Gallowglass-class mecha flew alongside the cruiser as a Combat Space Patrol, connecting as required to refuel and swap pilots. On the bridge, an alert sounded.
"Sir, we have- oh God." the crewman's eyes went wide.
The viewscreen switched to show a massive shower of asteroids, each the size of the MacCullough, closing on their position at high speed.
"Lieutenant?" the helmsman said, "Orders?"
"Evasive action! Wake up the captain!" the young officer said, "And contact Headquarters."
The cruiser turned on its axis to speed away on the vertical from the wave closing on them, going--in effect--over the storm. On the screen a second window with one of the mecha pilots appeared.
"MacCullough! Those aren't errant asteroids. They've got rockets installed. Those are miss-"
Another pilot came in. "They're armed! Those are ships!" Then he too winked out. The other two soon followed. The Officer of the Watch, that young lieutenant, soon realized what he faced. Then the captain called to the bridge.
"What's going on, Lieutenant?"
"Unknown hostiles using weaponized asteroids on attack vector, captain. They've destroyed our mecha escort, and we're in the line of fire.'
"We're in weapons range!"
"You're cleared to fire. I'm on my way." the captain said and his window closed.
"You heard the captain! Fire at will! We've got to get clear."
The MacCullough's guns fired at each target in range, destroying each in turn, keeping them away long enough to rise above the storm and get clear of a direct collision. The guns kept firing as the cruiser rose above the plane, while attempting to get through back to New Edinburgh, when the captain arrived on the bridge.
"We can't get through to Headquarters." the lieutenant said as he surrendered the chair to the captain.
"Captain, they're jamming us." the Comms Officer said.
"New contacts to port!" the Sensors Officer said, "Missiles! We're being targeted directly!"
"Counter-battery fire!" the captain said, "Helm, get us out of here!
The MacCullough's point-defense guns shot down the missiles as they approached, buying time for the cruiser to turn about, but Redalen's Revenge emerged from hyperspace directly above them at optimal range for its guns. A volley of fire from its bow-facing turrets pierced the ship's shields and lanced its hull. One shot pierced its missile battery, exploding all of the ordinance at once, annihilating the Ireton heavy cruiser in a massive fireball that consumed all hands.
"Revenge to Great Gomorrah." Gori said, his blue-skinned face smugly grinning from ear to ear as he stood next to the captain's chair, "Obstacle cleared. Losses minimal. Surprise maintained."