Affleck … well, who knows where Affleck went.  I’ve played back the battle-cam footage, and I’ll be damned if I can see him doing anything except slowly creeping up the street, obsessively avoiding mud, dirt, and anything resembling a strategic advance.

Without warning, a police chopper crested the roof-peak of the warehouse we had just advanced from, and let fly with a missile.  Keep in mind, Pickles is supposedly back there for a reason, and that reason was supposedly to protect us from attacks on our asses.  Pickles, you’re fired.  I’m drawing a bead on the tank, when all of a sudden my suit was rocked by a warhead exploding on my chest.  Even through the 4 inches of composite armor and impact dampening systems, I can feel a pressure wave hit my chest like a cement truck dropped from 20 feet.  I briefly have a fatalistic vision of my own death, and I have the briefest moment to smile and imagine how Brenda will regret never having let me tap that.  But, my nostalgic sexual fantasy fades almost immediately as I realized that the JuggerGnat easily absorbed the explosion.  A quick systems rundown verifies that only some peripheral damage had occurred, and that my suit was still battle worthy.

In the meantime, the comm unit is squawking like Affleck when he exfoliates. Everybody’s talking at once, trying to figure out what the hell to do with the Police ‘copter.  Myself, I’m all for swinging a rail gun around and instructing the pilot on the finer points of good manners and instantaneous immolation, but Pickles is gabbling out something about prime directives, and how we’re pledged to protect civilians and the police.  So basically what I’m hearing is a whole truckload of cornhusk about how the cops can try to kill us, but we shouldn’t kill the cops.  If my teammates had their way, it’d be like a cockfight, but one of the roosters has had his beak filed off and he’s tied up and somebody slipped him some Special K in his morning grits.  Rolling my eyes, I tried to put some enthusiastic conviction in my voice as I suggested that Brenda shoot just the rotor of the ‘copter, leaving the fuselage intact, so that Pickles could catch the plummeting cockpit and safely ground the pilot.  Caught up in the moment they bought into this asinine suggestion, and proceeded to try it.  I had the good grace to turn off my comm unit, so they couldn’t hear me guffaw as a laser blast flares across the road.  With robotic precision, Brenda’s hoverbot struck a rotor exactly as intended, instantly sending the flyer into a death spiral.  I smiled as I turned back forward, aiming the railgun again, and setting up the shot.  Behind me I heard a massive explosion as the helicopter struck the ground, well out of Pickle’s reach.  So gullible, so innocent … well, they’ll sleep better at night thinking they tried, and I’ll sleep fine since I just don’t care.

Did I mention that the civilians were crapping themselves?  Yeah, that just kept on keeping on.  There was some car crash or something in the road in front of me, but I didn’t really see what happened.  I’d like to say I was deeply distressed, and I can assure you that if some victim had been thrown within my reach in terrible pain and agony I would have mercifully stomped on his neck, but no victim flew my way and I just continued sighting down my barrel.

Well, Bozo the tank driver kept heading straight ahead, and he finally crosses my crosshairs.  I pulled the trigger, and electromagnetically-accelerated flachette-filled depleted uranium shells soared across the street at the rate of 20 rounds per second.  The resulting show could be called a fireworks display – the tank immolated immediately, which was pleasantly fulfilling.  As an added bonus, its onboard reactor ruptured, and explosive gas was spewed backwards towards the napalm factory immediately behind.  It, mysteriously, exploded and within an instant an entire block was reduced to burning rubble and raining white-hot masonry.  I considered muttering some appropriate warrior’s eulogy, but I couldn’t get the words out through the tears of laughter.  A minitank versus a battle suit – it was just too rich!

While all of this was going on I saw that Octovader had a serious woody for one of the big townhouses in the center of town.  In an attempt to slip past the explosions and car crashes and hysterically funny burning tank heap, I ran around the backside of the building and headed towards the action via an alleyway.  The rest of my team … well, they were proudly going where at least one man had gone before.  Brenda continued to follow in my footsteps … she was just about to arrive where I had been about 5 minutes before.  Affleck was off shaving his body hair, apparently.  Pickles was justifiably busy, though not necessarily productively.  Presumably distraught over the fiery demise of their scout ‘copter, the Police had begun dropping hardsuited officers in my wake, and Pickles was ferociously trying to incapacitate them without harming a hair on their chinny-chin-chins.  Insert rolled eyes here.

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