- Jun 14, 2018
On this day, in this place...the two were wholly interchangeable. So often did they seem to swap places that the opposing terms faded into a single, indistinguishable entity.
It was the rain. This damnable rain. A torrential downpour that churned the ground, already rutted deep and distended by the rigors of war, into nothing more than a soupy muck. A singular mobile suit slogged through the tempest, deep mud sucking at its armored feet as it trudged along. The depth of the mire varied wildly. Sometimes it rose near to ankle-deep even on the massive construct, while at other moments solidity was found to be hiding just beneath the opaque surface. The machine's pilot knew well what made the difference; those areas of stability, they were what remained of the pavemented thoroughfares that had one criss-crossed the area, gridlike. And the deep spots, drastically greater in number? The craters left by falling munitions. This had been a city once, a thriving metropolis. Now it was little more than a blasted hulk, a memory of civilization, what remained of its structures crumbling to dust and its roadways shattered by the bombardment. The ruins of lives long-ago fled from rose around him on every side, their devastation absolute.
It was here that he hunted - and was hunted. Predator and prey alike.
"Federation bastard." The intonation made both words out to be a curse. Narrowed eyes scanned what remained of the cityscape through the heavy haze of driving rain, rebounding water casting an obscuring aura around everything in sight as it fell from the heavens. A layer of dirt and grime and the scars of battle obscured many details of the stalking machine, but beneath the filth of combat and pockmarked armor it was unmistakable as an ace-model Gouf Custom, dressed all in mottled grays to hide it among the teetering remains of the city. A heavy six-barreled gatling hung from its shield, multibarreled 35mm vulcan and heated blade lurking beneath the armored slab. A Zaku-type machinegun was clutched in the right hand, scavenged from a long-ago-fallen ally, though he expected it to be quite useless. To make matters worse, while it had contained at least one round, what actually remained in the magazine was unknown.
And he knew - knew with absolute, total certainty - that he was not alone in this shellshocked hellscape. For far too long they had been playing cat-and-mouse, shifting seamlessly between hunter and hunted. A glimpse here, a movement there - were they real, or just paranoid imagination? Had he caught sight of his foe just now, or was his mind playing tricks on him? A customized Federation machine, no doubt tuned for an expert pilot in similar fashion to his Gouf, also stalked the field. He knew not its specifications, nor its armament, nor who rode within it.
He knew only that it was the enemy, and in war that was all that mattered.