Inside the pipe filled storage building of the city guards barracks, Captain Stavros LeBrouche, the famous war veteran removed his sword belt before climbing into a massive weapon, a large iron construct that scarcely resembled a walking full plate armor with a cabin. “Today we will learn how to operate your basic Iron Walker”, said LeBrouche with a coarse commanding tone. The pilot with thick gray mustache and thin-muscled frame, rested inside a compact cabin supported by hydraulic legs with several tubes to protect the wires that move them. The Iron Walker, as most soldiers in Granss called the fighting machinery, was composed of metal plates that protected the pilot in the compartment, it looked like a metallic cocoon due to the interlocating plaques. It had two powerful arms, the right one ended with a massive dented long blade. The other was set upon a left shoulder with a steel framework, the extremity had a worked greywood bear faced battering ram that also carried a large arbalest. In the cabin, the veteran pilot’s long face twisted after he inhaled the reeking fumes that emanated from the grease and oil coated gears, bolts and screws of the machine. Soon he started to put what looked like a leather armor with several cables.
The contraption Stavros was strapping on himself resembled a leather jerking, except that it had numerous brown cables attached to it. Extending in various directions, the cables ran through fastened iron brooches on his arms into a complicated system of pulleys fixed to the machine frame. The hedge pilot took his time. Rushing this job might mean a snapped cable and resultant of a useless arm, which in the battlefield meant a certain death. Shortly after completing the standard inspection and the harness was firmly secured, the captain settled in the small padded chair and immediately pulled down a redwood lever with a small crank. A hissing sound erupted from the back of the Iron Walker as the energy from the red stone, safely stored behind the cabin, began to flow through the cables and wires that gave life to the metal machine.
Stavros felt the rush of energy shake the massive weapon, soon he could smell the dark murky smoke that escaped from the back of the Iron Walker. “This sulfurous smell will wanna make you puke your guts out. You’ll get used to it…, you all will.” The hedge pilot’s smile was hidden under his thick gray mustache. To test the legs, the Captain pressed the pedals under his leather boots and the legs of the Iron Walker reacted accordingly. Stavros turned the Iron Walker to face the young pilots before him.
Metallic steps echoed in the dark wooden roof of the storage as the of the machine moved and its engine began to roar. The veteran pilot felt his muscles flex, recalling the time when the pull of the wires and that sinister energy did not bruise him. That was a couple of decades ago, he thought with a quiet smile as the walking armor began to trot. He could see the recruits watching his wired leather vest. “I wear this control vest because it keeps the cables in easy reach, prevents them from getting tangled,” he raised his cable covered arms. “This is how you stay alive in one these,” Stavros made a quick-side-pull of the cables in his right arm and raised the sword-like arm, the blade as thick as a battle axe cut the air with a loud swooosh as it went down. The soldiers backed a step in awe.
“What about that huge arbalest, is it automatic Captain?” said a young small framed soldier with long light brown hair.
“Cadet Dalton right?” replied Stavros, and the young man nodded.
“This piece,” he pulled the wires of his left arm to his chest and the auto-crossbow on top of the ram moved closer to the cabin. “This piece would had been very useful in the war,” said the pilot with a chuckle. Dalton half opened his mouth to ask another question when a loud racketing noise was heard in the distance. Stavros keen hearing told him precisely where the explosion happened, and that place meant bad news.