A horrific, thunderous explosion of sound split the air as Aren's world came to an end.
Meters away, he heard the last of the city's skyscrapers groaning like a dying soldier. The towering building gave a slow, agonized shudder; the sound of snapping brick and support beams reverberating with a deep, almost subsonic series of cracks that was more felt than heard. The stricken titan, last remnant of a once proud skyline, slowly buckled. With an almost stately grace, the tower slowly leaned forward, casting its shadow over the ruins of the devastated city.
As the shadow of the slowly falling giant swept over Aren, the temperature seemed to instantly drop 5 degrees. He glanced frantically about, desperately seeking cover from the crushing death promised by the slowly collapsing structure. There didn't seem to be many options: dozens of black, smoking craters marred the cityscape, making the streets and sidewalks look like a nightmarish echo of the moon's surface. The few areas of concrete that remained intact were covered by the ruined, smoking remains of downed mecha.
Aren's pulse quickened with anxiety, and time seemed to stand still.
An errant breeze whistled through the gigantic, fire-blackened titanium and ceramic skeletons, carrying with it the sulfur and cordite smell of spent ammunition.
Aren knew that staying put, cowering behind the foot of a shattered Alliance mech, would offer no protection from the falling building. Succumbing to blind, primal panic, he darted from behind the makeshift shelter and bolted across the cracked and pitted concrete. Behind him, the first pieces of the falling building crashed into the ruined street, causing the ground to shake underfoot. On he ran, struggling to keep his balance as the wreckage exploded into car-sized pieces of shrapnel. Aren ducked his head as bits of brick and steel shrieked through the air like incoming mortar rounds.
As the building's collapse accelerated, the shaking of the ground grew exponentially, finally knocking Aren off of his feet and sending him sprawling to the scorched ground. Lying on his back, his face and clothing caked with the dust, smoke and grime of the urban battlefield, he stared numbly into the smoke filled sky. As if on cue, a new sound joined the din-- the unmistakable metallic scream of fusion thruster engines.
Aren looked up, and the sun was briefly eclipsed by a trio of airborne battle mecha. As the steel and ceramic predators soared through the distant sky, Aren stained his eyes to read their markings.
The machines were identical, each vaguely resembling a giant knight in medieval armor. Each of the gunship-grey mechs held it's arms out to the side, as though that might somehow improve their aerodynamic profile. Protruding from the oversized shoulders of each machine were the true sources of their flying ability: a pair of Yamato-Focht type XII vernier packs burned brightly on each mech, the titanic thrust of the engines straining against gravity to keep the multi-ton death machines hurtling through the air. Extending from the sides of each of the engines were truncated wings, designed more for providing directional control than for lift. Emblazoned on each of the wings was an image that caused Aren's blood to run cold-- the grinning death's head logo of the Headhunters, the infamous ace squadron of the hated Lunar Coalition.
The model of the flying mechs was easy to discern, as was their function. The Mk. II Reapers were designed for advanced scout and recon duty. The Coalition employed them for only two missions- sizing up a target area before invasion, and cleaning up the loose ends after the fact. The trio of Reapers quickly made apparent which of the two profiles they were now following. As though of one mind, the flying, man-shaped mechs each lowered their right arms, aiming them at the ruins below. Simultaneously, the massive particle projection cannons mounted on each arm let loose a stream of coherent energy, raining down destruction like ancient avatars of death.
The flashes of man-made lightening tore through the air, the heat of their passage leaving peals of artificial thunder echoing in their wake. As the explosions of the weapon strikes crept steadily closer, Aren felt himself giving up all hope. His body went limp, and an incongruent sense of calm settled over him like a cold blanket.
He felt an odd, fleeting sense of relief as he finally gave up his struggle to stay alive.