The line of Odin’s Offspring
Lay not slack on the gunwale,
When the huge ocean-serpent
Uncoiled on the sea’s bottom.
The encírcler of all regions
And Jörd’s Son sought each other.
–Prose Edda, Snorri Sturlson
“Wasn’t this part of the plan?” asked Arianna.
“Sure, but I don’t have a heavy weapon!” Telrik replied.
“What do you mean?!”
“My Ghost can’t transmat while it’s tied up over there!”
“Seems like a pretty big flaw in the plan!”
The ground shuddered beneath the Gate Lord’s feet when it materialized and the air charged with Void energy when its shield came online. We all 3 split for cover behind columns. I had only just taken up a position when Harpies began flitting in our direction, trying to herd us back into the open. I picked a couple off, then hefted my machine gun from my shoulder.
“How come you have yours?” Arianna asked me over the comms from the other side of the cavern.
“My shotgun is down there with my Ghost.”
“Why can’t they transmat?”
“That would require them to come off the conflux,” Telrik answered for me.
“Oh. Yeah, I can see why having another Guardian along was a good idea. But why can’t they transmat while on that conflux? And why do we need all 4 down there?”
“You’re asking questions now?” I snapped //irritably as I loaded my first drum onto my heavy weapon.
“Just saying, a little forethought might not have hurt.”
“Ask the Warlocks, it’s their brilliant plan,” Telrik snarled as he put down a couple of Goblins.
“I heard that,” said Drake.
I rounded the column and opened fire: the heavy rounds chewed through Goblins and Harpies with equal ferocity, until the tree-trunk leg of the Gate Lord interposed itself between me and the advancing army. I ducked for cover just before the next Void blast shredded the ground I had been standing on.
“Arianna, we’ve got to get that shield down!” Telrik was putting steady fire on the huge Minotaur, which seemed entirely unfazed by the bullets. It turned its huge eye on the Titan and took aim.
A blast enveloped the Minotaur, followed by a cloud of smaller explosions, rocking the Vex back on its heels. It turned toward Arianna in time to take another rocket to the face, and again it was pushed back. Its shield visibly pulsed and winked out, and a half-second later a shot echoed over the noise of the Goblin weapons: a bullet slammed into the bronze chassis and tore a fist-sized chunk out of it. Telrik now stood on a column and he put a total of 3 rounds into the Gate Lord before its shield returned, all in the space of a few seconds.
For my part, I was too busy shredding the smaller Vex with my machine gun to aid in the attack on the big unit. I braced my feet and emptied the weapon into the advancing army, herding them away from my allies.
“That wasn’t worth the ammo,” said Telrik, dropping down next to me and providing me cover while I reloaded. “We need some Void Light up here, Farstride.”
“Drake and I are just down here knitting, watching your show,” said Farstride, his voice dripping with sarcasm.
“I’m serious, Farstride. That or you need to let my Ghost go.”
The comm was silent for a moment. “Fine, I can hold them, I think. Drake’s on his way to you. Make it count.”
I rattled off a few rounds at a Hobgoblin that had materialized out of a black cloud. It hunkered down into stasis and I let it go, trusting Telrik to shoot it down when it stuck its head up again.
Drake ran up the stairs, his robes snapping in the breeze of his passing. “Let me get set up,” said Telrik. “It’ll be you, Arianna, then me, check?”
“Understood.” Drake casually shot an incoming Harpy. “Move left,” he said to me. I looked up in time to see the Gate Lord firing at us and darted away, energy ripping at my armor, but I cleared the worst of it.
Telrik scaled the tallest column. “Arianna, how many rounds can you put down?”
“2, maybe 3,” she replied, shooting down a flock of 4 Harpies in short order.
“Alright Drake, on my mark. You ready?”
I put down my machine gun, already empty again, and began blasting at approaching Goblins with my hand cannon. “Please hurry, I’m almost out down here!”
“3,” counted Telrik. “2…” He fired a series of rapid shots at the Gate Lord, his sniper rifle booming. “Mark!”
Drake sprinted forward, brought his hands together, and jumped: his palms filled with Void energy, Light pulsing into a silent vacuum. When he reached the apex of his jump he thrust both hands out and a ball of Light flared into existence, growing into a globe of deadly energy that struck the Gate Lord like a bomb, snapping its shield and leaving a damaging field of Void Light in its wake. Before the explosion had even faded away 2 rounds of Solar Light followed in rapid succession and bathed the Gate Lord in fire. The fire was still burning when Telrik threw himself from the top of the pillar at the Vex: the air crackled and lit with white Arc Light, and then he shot forward with blinding speed into the Gate Lord.
The Vex’s chest cavity imploded with the force of the strike, its body caving in on itself for a brief instant: then its back armor exploded into a shower of bronze and boiling fluids, its limbs crashing to the earth like felled trees. Telrik struck the ground with a thunderclap that rocked the cavern and wiped out the 6 Vex units that had the bad luck to be standing there when he arrived. The Titan stood up from the wreckage and pumped his fist into the air. “WHO’S NEXT?!” he thundered in challenge.
“Show-off,” I heard Arianna quip.
I stood //stunned at the display of Light from the 3 other Guardians and almost missed the Vex reaction: dark clouds appeared in the air, and the Vex vanished into twinkling energy. The Ghosts began chattering excitedly.
“We have it! Well, we have something…”
“We had something…” corrected Freyja.
“…data processed faster than…”
The Ghosts fell to bickering before Farstride interrupted. “I am calling this brilliantly crafted plan a success!” he said, walking up the stairs to us. The Ghosts flocked behind him, each going to their respective Guardian, still arguing about something over my head.
“Drinks on me!” he continued. “And bragging rights, promotions and swag for everyone!” He led the others down the stairs toward the exit, but I looked over my shoulder at the huge gate, which winked out and went silent.
“What is it?” Drake asked me.
I looked at him, //pensive. “Do you really think an intelligence beyond the bounds of Time even really cares what we do? That we’re even a threat at all?”
The Awoken did not answer immediately. “I think…I think there are a lot of unanswered questions,” he said finally.
“You can say that again,” I replied, and followed him out. I am not paranoid: I did not look over my shoulder at the gate again.
I did not.