Hey there, my name’s Snowe. That’s a sissy name? Well... maybe you’re right. I didn’t say my parents had any taste in names for males. But I was the one with the freak genes, and turned out all white. What’s so freakish about that? I’m a fox, and my parents and sister are all that russet red color. I live on a planet that was once called Mars. A race called Humans, stumbling around in everything they did, terraformed this planet, so they could make it inhabitable. Great idea, well then they decided to populate it with animals from Terra. For them it was a big, stupid mistake, but for us it was a stroke of dumb luck. Little did they know that the cause of the mutation that led to their supposed evolution, still lie dormant in this soil. Well I can’t recall the entire history, but we inherited this world, and the humans left. We call this place New Terra now, and the year, according to Terra’s calendar is circa 3500 A.D. I’ve been in the Mech Academy for a year now, and live on a coastal military base, not far from my mother’s house in the suburbs of the neighboring city.

First let’s review some facts; battle-mechs aren’t science fiction anymore, they’re a real part of the battlefield, as are Clanners. Aside from the state of military affairs, my sister, Nibiki, was in High School back in the days of this tale, it was her senior year. She and I had always gotten along throughout our childhood, but we’d grown distant since I decided to join the academy to become a pilot. Regardless of what she might have thought of me in those days, I’d begun to see her for the beautiful mature vixen she was becoming, and no longer just my little sister – I had got a crush on her. Nibiki, or so I’ve overheard when she’s chatting with her friends, was getting hit on in school, most of them a bunch of sports jocks. “Sure they got strength, but they’ve got shit for intelligence,” she would always say.

--The Story--

It was just another ordinary day at the academy, I was just getting strapped in to my mech and getting ready for combat training. All of a sudden I heard a crackle over the comm. as an emergency transmission was being made. A clan attack in broad daylight, they had struck at a mech-works where a new chassis was under development. This new prototype was to be the first of its kind, an amphibious unit equipped with floater tanks like on submarines. It was a call for help, but it was cut short by the sounds of weapons fire, and the person on the other end crying out in pain.

Needless to say there was no more training that day, most of the instructors, veteran and elite pilots, were taken from their training schedules and brought in for a briefing. You see, there’s no negotiating with the clans, you give them an inch and they’ll try to take the whole continent, and Tactical Command’s first imperative was to drive them off. By noon that day three instructors stayed behind with the rest of us rookies and we were all assigned patrol routes to defend the base, the larger, more distant routes were given only to those with the most experience and training. Yep, I got short range patrol, guarding buildings like the communication array, Tac-Com, the hangars, and the barracks. The rest of the instructors left in all of three, heavily outfitted lances, to strike at the mech-works base and recover control of it if possible. A “lance” by the way consists of four battle-mechs. If they couldn’t regain control, they were to recover the design specs and destroy the base. After all, it was the prototype that drew those clan bastards in the first place. They just wanted the upper hand.

All patrols went without incident, and we heard occasional communication chatter of the battle. By about sixteen-hundred in the evening, it became clear it was a losing battle. The clans threw out all their smaller forces first, doing whatever little damages they could with them, and forcing our side to use up ammunition to fend them off. But by the time they reached the base many of their mechs weren’t in the best of shape, and were low on ammo. That’s when the main body of the clan invaders attacked, using all the hardest hitting hardware they had, our three lances dropped like flies. When it was all over, we were contacted by the clan’s leader, and informed that nine of the twelve pilots sent out had been taken prisoner, and that they also held some fifty students and two teachers as hostages.

When I heard this, I couldn’t shake a bad feeling I started getting. I had flashes in my mind of my sister at the mercy of those creeps, some clan creep trying to rape her even. When I was relieved of my patrol to go eat supper, I made a trip to a phone first, and called home. My mother hadn’t heard anything of the attack, and I wasn’t about to tell her just yet. In the calmest manner I could ask, I asked if Nibiki went on any field trips that day. Sure enough, mother made sure to give me one of her “world famous” recipes, and informed me Nibiki had gone to see the mech-works as part of a science class field trip. I thanked her for the recipe and went to supper. All during my meal I felt like I had to do something, but I knew I had orders to guard the base. This inner conflict stayed with me through supper, and on into the evening. Sitting in my mech as I was returned to patrol duty, I started dozing off, and just on the edge of falling asleep, I could see her, staring back at me with a knife to her throat, her eyes begging for someone to save her. I startled back awake, and immediately reported in seeing an incoming blip on my radar, that vanished shortly after the computer identified it as an enemy, and was going to check it out.

There was no radar blip, or enemy, and so no one objected to me checking it out, on the off-chance that I just managed to catch something that was slipping by everyone else. I went to passive radar, as was standard procedure for this sort of sneaking up on an enemy, but also so I could slip out of radar range from the base. That image of my sister was all that mattered to me, and so I made my way under cover of night, and passive radar with my night vision and IFF Jammer switched on. IFF Jammer is a clever device that makes a vehicle appear as a friendly on all radars. One shot though, and it becomes ineffective. I made my way up a river, in a ravine towards the base. It was rough going, and I often had to power down when patrols passed by overhead, so I could pass for another big rock in the river. Some time around midnight, I found a pipe to a sewer system, and powered down for the last time, and went into the sewers.

Lousy clan dogs, I can see why they didn’t secure this point, it reeked of something horrible. I don’t know what it was, but I almost lost my supper in there. I pressed on though, knowing I had to do something, and I followed that dark labyrinth’s twists and turns until I found an access hatch marked as leading to a barracks. I took the chance that this would be a sensible place to keep hostages. I was right too, and found only three guards on duty there. Apparently the attack had left these clanners spread a little thin. All three of these boys were barely staying awake, which made picking them off fairly easy. I kept one alive after claiming him as my bondsman. Clans have this little thing about being defeated in battle of any kind, in which they are honor-bound to serve their opponent if they claim them as their bondsman. He kept up the regular reports that everything was fine, while I snuck the hostages out through the sewers. I was scared to death he might betray me when I left him behind to cover my rear, but sure enough he kept his word.

I was tempted to leave without him, but went back anyway, knowing he’d be killed if they’d found out what he’d done. I came up with a plan along the way, and had manacles put on me, but not securely. I was escorted like a prisoner to the mech-works’ factory, where the new chassis were being developed, under the guise of knowing about a flaw intentionally added to their designs incase someone tried to steal them. I was being brought in to fix this, and I was brought to a computer terminal to reprogram the factory’s machinery to fix the flaw. I faked it as best I could, and meanwhile made a copy of the design specs which I pocketed when no one was looking. At the same time, my new comrade went around the factory roof, setting high-explosive charges. He returned in time to escort me back to the barracks, and then together we went through the sewers. This was a training mech I was in, and he took the instructor’s seat behind mine, everyone else had clambered onto the top, making use of some ropes to make a net to hold onto while riding on the outside of the mech. Before I got the cockpit shut, there was Nibiki, climbing into my lap, unable to see the face inside the pilot’s helmet, and not caring, I was her hero. I kept my radar in passive mode and made my way down that river as fast as I could, without losing anyone.

As morning dawned anew I listened to communication chatter from the mech-works, they went on alert. Meanwhile there was Nibiki, confessing her love to me, like I was some knight in shining armor, the man of her dreams. I can’t tell you what else happened in there, but it happened with a bang. I fired off two salvos of long range missiles at the factory when the base went on alert. This, coupled with the charges, sent the factory up in a huge explosion, also setting off some fuel tanks and munitions depots on the base.  Heh! It was quite a show!

When I got back to the training base, I came out of passive mode, and waltzed in slow and steady. Right off I was assaulted by three instructors, and Tactical Command admonishing my actions and threatening court marshal on me. But when one of the instructors got closer, the visual confirmation of POWs and hostages riding on top was reported in. I got court marshaled alright; I had left my post and acted without orders, risked my life, the lives of the hostages, and endangered an extremely expensive vehicle, which I could never afford to replace from my own earnings. I got a month of scullery duties, and then cited for my bravery and services above and beyond. I got medals pinned on me, and was offered a promotion to a Lieutenant on the condition I finished my training. By this time news of what had happened had reached the media, and I was given my moment in the sun, spun to the media and the masses as a hero. Stepping off the transport I was decked out in dress uniform, with metals shining. My stroll down the red carpet was a barrage of reporters with questions, handshakes from hostages and a few classmates and instructors, compliments, and lastly I saw my sister, and she saw me, and I thought she was going to pass out by the look on her face. In that instant, she just realized the “knight in shining armor” that she had made a common-law marriage with, in a mech cockpit was me. Surprisingly enough she crossed the cordon barrier, and gave me a big hug and kiss. Then whispered to me she’d make me regret it if our mother ever found out.

The next day, she was back to school, and to no surprise the same sports jock morons were hitting on her again. I knew this was going on a long time, and this time I made use of that knowledge. I waltzed in, in dress uniform, with a bouquet in my hand, and asked the receptionist at the office for directions to her locker. Not long after that, and I came upon two bozos hitting on her, one of them a cougar and the other some mixed breed mutt. Me coming from behind them, she noticed me and ran to my arms in a hurry. I became her escape from them, and when they turned to behold a decorated soldier, and her holding onto me like only a loving mate would be, they just looked at each other and made a hasty retreat. Since then, no one has bothered her in school, I’ve been doing well in my career, away from mother’s sight we’ve secretly been a loving couple, and mother is still ragging on me to get a wife so she can have grand-children. Okay, so I can’t win them all, I just hope mother is understanding when she finds out my sister is my wife.