Friday, 7 July 2017

Undertaking to Pylos: Part 2

Telemachus sprinted out of the surf and, as the foam of the last wave receded, he enjoyed the illusion that he was moving preternaturally swiftly. Nearby, his Imperial Knight Warden stood idle. He had left it on stand-by protocols, with its fusion reactor cold and back-up generator providing for the bare minimum of functionality. One did not “leave the keys in the ignition” of a war machine. Now, as he powered up the dune of skittering black rock, he wished that he had never left the command module of his Knight. Passing beneath the shadow of its hulking form, Telemachus grasped a line that would hoist him up to the embarkation hatch on the carapace, and fastened it to the reinforced ring on his belt. As he ascended he turned to watch the crashing waves, expecting the enemy to appear at any moment. He scrambled over the lip of the carapace, using the hand holds and rails to position himself over the open hatch and dropped into the cockpit.

Telemachus took his seat on the padded command throne and barked commands at the machine’s voice recognition cogitators. Somewhere in its armoured heart, fuel rods locked into place and control rods were withdrawn, unleashing megajoules of energy into the Knights power-hungry ignition system. Indicators on the command console flickered to life as pre-ionisation and heating processes began. As the spinal jack engaged, his mind was flooded with data and his musculature pulsed with phantom sensations.

He toggled the current initiator switch and was rewarded by the atonal hum of the plasma drive igniting. The digital meters in his heads-up display showed a small influx of absorbed gases, well within the combat tolerances of the reactor. He manually shimmed the field dimensions to compensate, before diverting the accumulating power to the primary weapons and mobility grids.  He reached up with his right hand and re-set the fuses that governed energy distribution to the carapace mounted weapons, whilst his left hand grasped the arm controller and revved the Reaper chainsword mounted there to full power. With a flick of his thumb he reversed the chain rotation, testing the responsiveness of the controls. Fighting with a Titan-killing Reaper chainsword was similar to dueling with its infantry-sized equivalent. Little finesse was required, but chain control and tooth integrity was key.

With the briefest of thought impulses, Telemachus shifted his Knights weight into an en guard stance, hunkering down with its sword positioned to bifurcate any immediate attacker. With his right hand he grasped the other arm control and released the safety on the Avenger gatling cannon. He half-depressed the trigger with his index finger, allowing it to cycle to its maximum rate of revolutions as the autoloaders clattered. His thumb triggered the heavy flamer control, test firing a gout of incandescent promethium into the black gravel at his Knight’s feet. Finally, he emitted an extended burst of sound from the Knight’s war-horn. “Intrepidus walks.”