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The Skill of One

Stricken Desert
Yama Continent, Miranda
Labrea System, Irece Prefecture
Draconis Combine
Third Quarter, 3065

Devon Carns opened his line of communication once again, hoping to receive some signal that his enemy, the pilot of a Shootist Mech, had accepted his challenge. Looking across his scanners, Devon guessed he would soon be the victim of a united attack. He was first and foremost amongst his own Clansmen, leading the Clan half of the fight against the Word of Blake forces that had threatened the Strider’s Strikers base for several months now. Given his current location and knowing full well that his Direwolf assault Mech was the primary threat to the enemy unit, Devon braced himself for the attack he sensed would come at any moment. His Direwolf, also known by the name Daishi, was infamous in its role as one of the deadliest Clan assault Mechs.

Suddenly warning lights flashed in the small confines of the 100-ton BattleMech. Multiple weapons locks by seven of the Inner Sphere machines flashed to life along his viewscreen panel. Freebirth scum. Those who fought without honor deserved nothing more than the death Devon’s Mech would soon shell out. New warning alarms blared to life, reporting that somewhere an Arrow IV artillery system had released its missiles at Devon. A sudden pang against his Mech’s hip indicated he was being attacked by several different autocannons. Without a weapons lock from his targeting computer, Devon took aim on his strongest attacker, a 70-ton Shootist, and fired his set of primary weapons. As the inside of the cockpit jumped several degrees, the Direwolf released a blistering arrangement of Gauss rifle and ER PPC fire at his enemy. In a lucky hit, three of the weapons converged on the enemy machine’s left arm, ripping a hole in its elbow and splintering off a portion of its endoskeleton. The fourth, one of his Gauss rifles’ metal slugs, ricocheted off of the machine’s chest. The slug cracked the ferro armor, knocking pieces to the ground in a shower of blue and gray.

Glancing at his damage report, Devon waited for his weapons to cycle. It was obvious that he would be plagued once again with his neverending handicap. The majority of his enemies’ weapons seemed to score hits on his legs, already battering the strong armor down to sixty-four percent of its original integrity. Stravag! It was time to get a move on. Another hit like that and his Mech would be in seriously bad shape.

Devon began to take the huge machine into a relaxed run. He concentrated primarily on aligning a new target rather than watching where he was going. Blessed with a special finesse for piloting the machines, Devon had always felt his shortcomings were in his aim. Though he ranked better than average in his scores, he despised his current skill level and was always hoping to improve his abilities. Thanks to his Clan targeting computer system, he was usually able to hit enemies with most of his weapons.