With a small jolt of electricity, Tai found himself being suddenly woken up. With a groggy sigh, Tai blamed the only person he could. “Damn it, Elpis couldn’t you have done that a different way?” There was a moment of silence, in which Tai could swear he could hear the smirk on his companion's face.
“I did, you just were not responding. You know I prefer not to use your nervous system unless needed. If anything, I choose to interpret this that you should not have been drinking last night.”
With a thought Tai, brought up his display overlay. Just one of the perks of the Direct Control Chip, or DCC implanted in his brain. His to-do list that popped up reminded him that today was when he had scheduled maintenance on his gear. That would explain why Elpis had ensured he got up at such a relatively early time. Seeing that there was nothing else planned he dismissed the display. “I get it, but you know there isn't much I can do. The scrap pile will either work or it won’t. Either way, do you mind entering stand-by mode so I can get ready in peace?”
Having faith that she would follow his request Tai started to move through his morning routine. He owed it to Elpis to at least try to keep her running. The main issue was that there wasn’t a workshop on this God forsaken agricultural world. All repairs would have to be made using whatever he could scrounge up from the local junk yard. The tools at his disposal were not any better. If the Union wanted better from him, they probably should've sent that support he had requested.
Alas a request from a glorified town guard on a far-flung world did not rank very high in importance. Setting aside those thoughts, Tai rushed through the remainder of getting ready for the day. If he hurried and with a touch of luck, he might just run into Annie at the bakery. The morning hadn't started off great, but it could still be saved.
“This is bullshit, I can't believe I didn’t even see Annie today,” Between that and being shocked awake, today definitely was not going the way Tai wanted. Currently Tai was heading out towards a field on the outskirts of the town. He chose to spend the commute time following a time-honored military tradition, complaining simply for the sake of complaining. What else was he supposed to do, pay attention to his surroundings?
“Just because you are young, does not mean that you need to whine like a child. It is not that important,” The soft voice of Elpis filtered through his brain. Tai paused in his honorable pursuit for a moment to respond. “Your point is invalid. I’m only sixteen. Not seeing a pretty girl is a tragedy.” As soon as he had said it Tai had a creeping suspicion that he had fallen into a trap he had been unaware of.
“Exactly you are sixteen, Alcohol should not be consumed by one so young such as yourself. It also impacts your brain, which if you have forgotten I am a part of,” Elpis sprung her trap with a clear hint of smugness in her tone. Tai let out a small chuckle before taking a moment to respond further
“It’s fine. I got up, didn’t I? Other than story time with you there really isn’t much else to do,” the old argument died down as the pair approached the large hanger containing the battle suit. With a practiced hand, Tai opened a small side door and walked in. The lights flicked on revealing the mech kneeling like a proud knight aspirant waiting for the fateful moment. When standing the suit measured a towering twenty-five meters tall. It was painted a deep royal purple, partially to hide the slight squareness the humanoid frame had that showed its age.
The suit had been a century out of date a century ago. Now-a-days, it was seen only as fitting as a guard for some rural dump no one cared about. Tai, however, loved it. The real bonding moment had been when he chose to customize it a bit. This may be a relic, but damn it, it was his relic now. Walking up to the suit, Tai took a moment to admire what he had accomplished with the help of Elpis. The right arm was obviously newer, and while not the only change it was the only outwardly visually seen change.
As Tai clambered into the cockpit, he continued his musings. He had been inspired by some old tales and stories he had heard from Elpis and had built quite an interesting surprise into the arm itself. Of course, he hoped he never had to use it. Tai would be lying though if he said it didn’t bring him some comfort though.
Any further musings were cut short as Elpis spoke once again. “Are you ready? I know that you hate this part,” This part was referring to connecting to the suit itself. The main reason younger people were used as pilots was due to their brains still growing. This made it easier to connect the nervous system with the giant war machines. Apparently once the pathways were formed in the still developing brains they never disappeared. Taking a deep breath, Tai connected the cable in the cockpit to the port on his neck.
Immediately Tai felt like his nervous system was forcibly unraveled and stretched apart. He felt everything as his nervous system seemed to crawl dozens of meters over sharp, uncaring metal. Once he had felt himself travel through the suit, Tai felt like his nervous system was then shoved back into his body, uncaring of the rough handling. Connecting to suit was a painful and terrible experience. It also left him with a strange feeling of being a tumor in his own chest. It may have felt like it lasted an eternity, but in a moment, it was also over.
Through the haze caused by the agony, Tai barely heard Elpis as she spoke up. “There seems to be a dozen unknown contacts on radar. They are incoming rather low and slow. This counts as suspicious behavior. Permission to run more in-depth scans?” Tai could only give a weak nod as he took this time to try to regain his breath. This was cut short as again Elpis spoke, this time however in a much sharper tone.
“Upon further scans I can confirm we have eleven short-wave drones and one ‘Unicorn’ style suit inbound. The estimated time to arrival is just under seven minutes. It is advised that combat preparations should immediately commence.”
Shaking off the last lingering feeling of pain, Tai forced the suit to move. With a loud creak of protest, the suit complied with the mental order. As quick as the suit would allow, Tai rushed to the part of the hanger that stored the weapons his mech came with. He took the M36A5 rifle and slung it over his back. Worried about time, the only other gear he grabbed was his portable multi lock missile launcher. Tai would have to make do with no mele weapon or longer-range options. The suit needed to move very soon to reach the intercept point Elpis had marked on his display.
Geared up, Tai began the journey to where he would wait in ambush. The journey was made in silence. That was until as they neared the point, Tai spoke in a voice that betrayed the fact that he was a scared child about to go into combat against a foe superior in both numbers and gear. “So, Elpis, I have one more request,” Tai waited for the affirmative hum from Elpis that ever so slightly reverberated through the mech.
“Please if this the end, don’t let me die alone. I need to know that you will stay by my side talking until the end. I’m really scared. I don’t want to die.” There was a moment of silence, before the voice of Elpis gently floated through the cockpit.
“It seems like even after all this time you still don’t truly get it. I am your companion. I was put here to help you. Not only to operate the suit but for moments like this. Even if you hadn't asked, I would gladly stay with you until the end.”
Any further conversation died as an alarm went off notifying Tai that his launcher not only had connected to his suits radar, but it had a full lock of six targets. Waiting for just a moment to let the enemy get ever so closer, Tai pulled the trigger launching a volley of missiles. Not wasting time, he switched to his rifle and let loose a barrage of rounds aiming at the lead drones he hadn't targeted. With quick, practiced motions Tai let one burst after another loose. At the end of his sudden attack only two drones and the hostile suit remained.
As laid back as he could be Tai was a warrior deep down. He had spent hours upon hours preparing for this moment. If he was to engage in battle, he might as well even the odds as much as possible. Ignoring the two humanoid drones Tai rushed towards the sleeker and more modern enemy mech.
The foe tried to meet the charge with a long plasma coated spear. Tai knew that if his suit didn’t have the agility to dodge like newer suits, he would need to do something else. Tai used his palm to smack the spear on the haft deflecting the blade. The point dragged harmlessly across his forearm causing a feeling of a razor dragging across flesh. It felt odd but was easily ignored.
Tai knew that if his suit wasn’t quick enough to effectively strike, he would merely have to anticipate his foe’s moves. Noticing the enemy's left arm pulling back for a strike, Tai launched a powerful blow with his right arm. The strike landed mere moments before Tai was struck in return. The enemy blow had most of its power removed since it had been hit first.
The two drones thus far uninvolved rushed Tai, both holding their own large spears. If he was outnumbered, Tai knew he had to fight with the ferocity of many. Refusing to run, Tai threw his forgotten rifle at the enemy suit causing them to fall backwards with the loud sound of metal scrapping against metal.
Moments later Tai felt agonizing pain as the two drones struck with their spears. The blows sent lanes of pain through him and forced his mech to one knee. Not too different to the pose where it was stored.
Tai knew Elpis was talking but the words were washed away by pain and adrenaline. He still greatly appreciated it though. Tai wasn’t done however he knew that if his foes were arrogant, he needed to be cunning. The enemy mech had stood back up and was now standing above Tai, ready to strike the final blow
Tai slowly raised his right arm, gently setting his palm on his foe’s chest. The suit looked down and cocked its head in a universal sign of ‘What’s the point of this?’
At least that’s what Tai thought, though that might have been the blood loss. Elpis was still talking, though now it was just background noise. One of the things Tai loved was hearing stories and history from Elpis. It had been one of those story times about a ship built for the wrong war that had inspired the secret weapon that was now done warming up. Over eighteen inches or forty six centimeters of gun was now pointing blank at his foe.
With his last breath Tai managed to mutter “Thank you.”
There was a roar as the large gun fired, then nothing but silence as his foe fell.