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Ross Tarran, 29 Jun '12

The pair of sentries in their regulation fatigues acknowledge the solitary young man in a minimal, close-fitting grey jumpsuit as he approaches, giving a simultaneous nod of their heads before stepping aside from the large metallic double doors.
        "Pilot Dax, Sir!" they bark in unison, as the young man stops in front of the doors. He nods back, struggling somewhat to prevent a smile from breaking his otherwise purposeful demeanour; it was only just over a week ago that Adam Dax, twenty-nine years old, achieved Pilot status and he was still getting used to the solemnity and profound respect it seemed to invoke in everyone he now encountered.
        "Hive Access Level D opening" - the sentry on the right tilts his head forwards and announces into a microphone attached to his uniform.
        "Confirmed; Hive Access Level D active" responds a voice from all around as the large double doors slide smoothly open.
        Inside the heavy steel doors is a small and featureless but almost blindingly bright room after the grey corridors of the rest of the complex, as the walls are entirely white and literally sparkle due to an almost crystalline sheen covering every surface. Adam had seen video and holo representations of this entry to the Hive throughout his training, but the dazzling clinical purity of the real thing was still a wondrous sight.
        It is only when one of the sentries speaks that Adam snaps back to reality and realises he must have been distractedly staring into the ice-white room for at least ten seconds. Turning his head to the guard, this time Adam does allow himself a gentle smile of acknowledgement. The guard looks a little uncomfortable and merely turns his gaze to the floor.
        Adam steps forward into the glittering monochrome chamber and, once inside, the heavy steel doors slide shut behind him, sealing with a hissing reminder that the space is now completely airtight. With the steel doors closed, their inner surfaces are revealed to be made up of the same hard, shining white material as every other surface.
        Turning to face the front once more, Adam raises his gaze to the ceiling, inhaling deeply. He then proceeds to effortlessly drop to a cross-legged position on the floor, before closing his eyes.
        Seemingly to himself, Adam calmly declares "Pilot Dax, initiating readiness."


Adam had wanted to pilot an NVC (New Variant Colossus) since the moment he had first caught a glimpse of one in a video news report about the front line struggles.
        Although already a skilled driver and intelligent soldier in his early twenties, even Adam's best friends merely humoured his intentions, most believing he didn't have a chance of completing the long and massively demanding physical and mental preparation required of an NVC Pilot. There were, after all, only eleven such qualified individuals on the planet.
        Yet here he was: 'Pilot Dax' before his thirtieth birthday, with the next youngest NVC Pilot almost ten years his senior.
        Despite his aptitudes and enthusiasm there were times when Adam himself had considered giving up, but at his lowest moments he always found the flickering image of that first NVC drifting back into his mind, galvanising him into greater effort.


For the first time since the early stages of his training nearly five years ago, Adam Dax was having some difficulty emptying his mind of distractions; a myriad of fractured thoughts and undesirable emotions were threatening to overcome the disciplined practice of his meditation.
        Perhaps it was the fact that this would be Adam's first experience of piloting the real, towering, devastating, military marvel that is an NVC. Perhaps he was reminded of all his doubters from the past few years, many of whom continued to maintain their view that Adam was too young to pilot a standard Colossus, let alone a spectacular, priceless NVC. Perhaps he just missed his wife Sara and their baby girl Jessica, born only six months ago. In fact all these thoughts and more were at risk of forcing an aborted first sortie for Adam, but five years of training eventually took over, as it seemed his bright white surroundings penetrated his closed eyes and began to diffuse a pure tranquillity throughout his mind.


When Adam opens his eyes, the room is no longer white, but a deep grey. This is good; his readiness meditation must have been considered successful by the Hive Mind - the system tasked with maintenance and protection of the New Variant Colossi.
        Adam's jumpsuit has also changed - now covered with a glowing blue hexagonal grid pattern which lights up the room in a small radius around him.
        The only other source of light is a tall thin strip in front of Adam. He recognises at once that he has been granted access to the Hive itself, and rises from the floor, stepping forward to touch the vertical line of white light. The inner doors to the Hive immediately retract into the walls, and Adam shields his eyes as his pupils contract in response to another dazzlingly bright environment.


As Adam's eyes adapt to the glare, he is able to take in the spectacle before him.
        He is rooted to the spot, overcome with awe, heart suddenly pounding as if running from a predator. Never before has he seen such an incredible sight - the space is entirely the same hard glittering white as the entrance room, but so vast that no less than eight NVCs can be seen lined up, four down each side, each one the height of the average skyscraper back on Earth.
        The NVCs' incomparable destructive potency is matched only by their beauty, for Adam at least, as his eye follows the lean, curving, seamless outlines of the nearest NVC's vaguely humanoid body, limbs and elongated head. Unlike the older Colossi, there are no visible weapons on an NVC, only a streamlined shape covered with the same hard white crystal-like skin as the Hive itself.
        Adam is standing on a walkway several hundred feet in the air, which runs past all four NVCs on the right of the Hive, and stretches off into the distance. There are no other Pilots or people visible at all, a fact that Adam had overlooked while entranced by the view from his location.
        Suddenly Pilot Dax remembers why he is here, and begins to stride towards the closest NVC - now his very own - to start the fulfilment of a long-held dream.
        The walkway nears the NVC at its chest level, which houses the pilot-space. The walkway automatically extends to bridge the gap as Adam approaches, allowing him within touching distance of the cold surface of this monolithic military creation. A shiver runs down Adam's spine, either from proximity to this chilled walking weapon of mass destruction, or possibly due to the electrical impulses in his jumpsuit becoming stronger in anticipation of interfacing with this dreadful giant.
        The pilot-space automatically opens like an ancient sarcophagus in the chest of the NVC and, hesitating only for a moment, Adam grabs hold and installs himself in place, as he has done countless times in the simulator before.
        As the outer skin of the NVC closes in front of him, sealing him from harm, the feeling is actually quite different to what Adam Dax is used to.
        As the systems engage and connect with his suit, providing awareness through the 'senses' of the Colossus and effortless control of its limbs and weaponry, Adam realises that this is something far beyond simulation.
        This fearsome shell is now his own; 'Adam' has become a potentially unstoppable force; a colossus; some might consider - a god?

Comments · 5

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  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Speechless. This is so good mate, I really hope you continue it.

    • Posted 10 years ago
  • Ross Tarran said...

    Thanks, means a lot. It didn't turn out much like I originally envisioned, but it was written in a single 'burst' and I'm pretty happy with the result. :)

    Part 2 here:

    • Posted 10 years ago
  • Andy Blackshaw said...

    Excellent, really hope you can keep it going, whilst reading it felt like the beginning of a book, but you also found a closing line to make it satisfying as a short read.

    • Posted 10 years ago
  • Ross Tarran said...

    Thanks @Andy Blackshaw, glad you enjoyed it. I did intend to go beyond this point in the story (before reaching the word limit!) so perhaps I'll come back to it in later bursts.

    • Posted 10 years ago
  • Richard Maggs said...

    Wow! Great 'burst' mate, I want to know more...

    • Posted 10 years ago