Snow could kill. Well, it wasn't the snow itself, but it helped. It was the bullets which really did the killing. Or the missiles. Hell, in this weather they might even get close enough to use blades.
But the snow, that's what would get you killed by the bullets, missiles, and the blades. It covered your view ports. It cut visibility to almost nothing. It made you slow. It made your ride slip. It made your body, already sore from hours in a cramped cockpit, ache like you'd been doing gymnastics all night.
Dimitri pressed his face against the rubber lining the view slit as he peered out into the snow. He could barely make out the shadow of Yanin's ride ahead of him, stomping through the trees. He swore as a gust of wind blew snow in his eyes.
Dimitri grabbed the radio from its holster by his head. "Yanin! Stay within visual range, damn you! We can't get separated out here."
"Sorry." came the familiar drawl. Ahead, the shadow of Yanin's ride halted. As Dimitri approached, the mech loomed out of the snow. Four meters in height, Yanin's ride was vaguely humanoid, but with an oblong, headless body, reverse joint legs, and arms which almost reached the ground. On its back was a delicate array of aerials and antennae, all of which were almost useless in this weather. Like Dimitri's ride, Yanin's carried a repeating 37mm rifle in place of its right hand. The left ended in a close combat weapon. In Yanin's case it was a heavy maul, while Dimitri favored an oversized chainsaw.
Dimitri caught up to Yanin's machine, and they resumed their trek.
"Anything on your scopes?"
"Any contact with command or the other patrols?"
"Any chance of getting more then one word out of you?"
A hoarse chuckle came from the radio. "Nope."
Dimitri sighed and put the radio down. He'd known the patrol would end up like this, alone in no man's land unable to report back even if they found anything. A lovely exercise in futility.
He was about to order them back to base when movement caught his eye in the swirling snow ahead. He leaned forward and peered into through the slit, but couldn't see anything besides trees, rocks and snow. Lots of snow.
Still, Dimitri was sure he'd seen something. He grabbed the transmitter again. "You sure there's nothing on your scopes?"
"Sure I'm sure. We're as alone out here as you are every Saturday night."
"Check again wise ass. I saw something." He paused before popping the hatch to add, "And I'll have you know that my Saturday evenings are extremely eventful."
Yanin's retort about magazines and locked doors was drowned out by the rushing wind as Dimitri popped the hatch above his head and wriggled into the open air. He brought up his binoculars and swept them around, looking for the motion he had seen before.
There! A large shadow moved among the trees. He wiped the snow from his binoculars and tried to focus them on their mystery visitor. The last thing he wanted was a friendly fire incident to add to his singularly illustrious reputation back at base. As the wind calmed for a moment Dimitri could barely make out the Roxolan symbol of a horned helmet on the gray flank of the machine. His blood went cold as he saw a long barreled 57mm cannon, standard armament for most Roxolan mechs, traverse towards him.
Dimitri dropped back into the cockpit, banging his head against the lip of the hatch. He fumbled for the radio and heard Yanin in a perplexed voice say, "I'm getting a weak return at a heading of 26 degrees, it's like-"
Dimitri began to cut Yanin off with a warning when the first shell exploded against a tree next to him. Splinters and shrapnel pinged off his armor as he got his ride moving.
"There's at least one of the bastards behind the trees, 300 yards bearing 29 degrees!" He shouted as his mech leaped into action, its powerful legs sending it bounding through the snow. "Circle to the right and we'll surround him!"
Yaninn's reply was garbled as another round kicked up a spray of snow and dirt at his feet.
Unlike Yanin's ride Dimitri's mounted a rocket launcher on its back capable of launching sixteen rockets in four round salvos. He turned his mech and strafed to the left bringing his rockets and cannon to bear on the enemy. He loosed a series of rockets which shot towards the enemy on twisting tails smoke. The Roxolan saw them coming and darted behind a copse of firs. The rockets detonated amongst them but the enemy was shielded from the blast and surged forward towards Yanin. Dimitri got a good luck at it for the first time as it crossed into the open.
It was a standard Roxolan design, a boxy body mounting the 57mm in a sponson on its left side, while its right had a multi-jointed arm ending in a pneumatic pincer. Although much more heavily armored then Dimitri's or Yanin's own mechs, it possessed astonishing speed and agility. The pilot sat at the top of the box, an armored cupola offering 360 degree visibility. It was a beautiful ride.
And Dimitri would kill it.
The Roxolan charged Yanin, firing its 57mm as it came. It was trying to kill Yanin before they could completely surround it. Yanin spat 37mm rounds from his gun, but they bounced off the thick, slanted armor.
"Yanin, fall back! Don't let it close with you!" Dimitri's mind raced as he tried to think of a way they could lure the beast into a trap where they could pin it between them. Even the Roxolan's armor wouldn't stand up to a sustained rocket barrage at close range. In his mind he visualized the battlefield, the trees, the rise and fall of the ground, searching for something they could make use of. Suddenly an idea formed. Yanin wasn't going to like it. "Move to your left and get behind those rocks, just give me a clear shot and I'll bust him open!"
"Easy for you to say." Yanin replied breathlessly as he backpedaled away from the oncoming Roxolan. Another round whistled past his mech and he returned fire with his arm cannon. Glancing through his port slit he could see the rocks Dimitri had mentioned. He couldn't see Dimitri in the blizzard, but the muzzle flashes from his cannon marked his progress as he bounded through the snow.
Coming around the rocks Yanin ceased his backpedaling and turned around, intending to put some distance between him and his pursuer now that he was hidden from view. He muttered under his breath, cursing Dimitri, the weather, and himself for joining the Army in the first place. Behind him, the rocks exploded as the Roxolan put a shell through them. Bits of stone rang off the rear of his cockpit and Yanin swore under his breath. He couldn't run with his backside completely open like this. He turned to face the enemy just as it barreled through the remains of the rocky outcrop, its pincer extended.
Yanin yelled as he swung his maul horizontally, smashing it into the side of the Roxolan. The enemy mech staggered under the blow but recovered quickly, grabbing his maul arm with its pincer, slicing through the armored covering. Yanin tried to pull away, but the enemy was stronger, holding him fast. The two metal giants struggled, Yanin bringing his cannon up to fire point blank. His foot slid on a patch of ice and his mech fell on its haunches, sending the shot went wide. The Roxolan fired its gun, shearing the cannon arm of Yanin's mech from its body. Completely immobilized and with his weapons disabled, Yanin was going to die.
"Dimitri you sonofabitch! Kill him!"
"It never hurts to say please." Dimitri smiled as he let fly with another barrage of rockets, striking the Roxolan square in the back. The enemy stumbled but refused to release Yanin's arm. It attempted to turn towards Dimitri but didn't get the chance. Dimitri's chainsaw screamed as it bit deep into the weakened rear armor. The blade's motor whined as it struggled to chew through a mixture of armor, mechanics, and pilot. The Roxolan jerked once and then slumped forward onto its face. Dimitri pulled the saw from the hulk and cut the pincer arm from Yanin's mech.
Yanin gasped for breath as his mech got to its feet. Stepping away from the dead mech, he followed Dimitri as they turned for home.
"You know what? This Saturday you should come drinking with me. I know some girls who might be just desperate enough to go out with you."
Dimitri smiled wearily as he picked up the transmitter. "I think I'll take you up on that. Now let's get out of this snow. This stuff'll kill you, you know."