Monthly Archives: March 2016

Day 408 – Part 2

And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.

Judaeo-Christian Bible, the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 5: verse 9

Up to this point I have abstained from technical jargon: the possibility that this record will survive must also take into account difficulties in understanding or translating it. Yet the events that occurred upon my exiting the cave were so swift and confused I must fall back on a precise layout to communicate them clearly:

Time Elapsed: 00.00 seconds since arrival on battlefield. Description follows assessment from the immediate 9 o’clock/270 degrees/personal West/immediate left of unit “Morc-35” and follows a graduating field until reaching the 3 o’clock/90 degrees/personal East/immediate right of same unit. Enemies 0, Guardians 8/8 active.

01.18: The first Legionnaire shook the ground as its boots touched down. Bullets sparked off its armor. It seized Telrik in both fists – it dwarfed the big Titan as if he were no more than a child’s toy – and slammed him into the cliff side. There was an audible crunch and Brutus the Ghost was suddenly winging away, trying to get clear of the Cabal’s reach. (Enemies: 1, Guardians: 7/8 )

03.77: “Incoming tanks!” Miranda was at least 20 meters away from the rest of us, doubtless part of the outer perimeter, but now she was running back to the cliffs. She leaped into the air to avoid fire – (Enemies: 13, Guardians: 7/8)

05.54:- and was snatched out of the sky by a lunging Legionnaire. It grabbed the Hunter’s foot and cut its own jet-pack, dragging her down by weight alone. She was thrown to the red sand and crushed by the boots of a charging wall of Phalanxes. Her little red Ghost shot away, but was herded back towards us by weapon’s fire. “Help!” it cried. (Enemies: 37, Guardians: 6/8)

06.39: I was hit by stray fire from advancing Legionnaires. Camouflage activated. Damage minimal. I reached out and grabbed the visibly confused Brutus from the air. (Enemies  approx. 45, Guardians: 6/8)

07.99: An infusion of Light, generated by Solar feed, burning hot. 3 Solar Light rounds, fired from weapon designated “Golden Gun”, wielded by Awoken Hunter Arianna. Discharged rounds all find targets. Targets exploded on contact with discharge. Enemies suffer 7 visible casualties. (Enemies approx. 38, Guardians 6/8)

09.01: Audible input, dBA 147 and rising to 165: 3 Cabal Harvesters. dBA continues to rise. Enemy reinforcements. “Firing line! Firing line!” shouted Farstride. His weapon roared with almost continuous thunder. Magnus stood to his right, hand cannon blazing with constant fire. Then the ground shook and the Warlock vanished under a boulder that fell from the cliff behind us. (Enemies approx. 55, Guardians 5/8)

13.56: I held Brutus out in front of me. “Revive Telrik and then help revive Miranda! Almost half the fire-team is down!”

“I can’t!” said the Ghost. It sounded confused. “It’s very Dark! I can’t draw enough Light!”

I considered: had the Cabal found a way to harness the Dark? Did they know this and ambush us? (Enemies approx. 60, Guardians 5/8)

17.72: Human Hunter House disengaged camouflage next to Farstride. “We need to transmat out!”

“If we bring in our ships the Harvesters will shoot them down, along with our Ghosts!” Farstride shouted over the weapon’s fire.

“And if we don’t they’ll bury all of us and our Ghosts under artillery fire and rock!”

“Guardian down!” reported Ebony. I saw Drake’s Ghost flitting our way. (Enemies approx. 70, Guardians 4/8)

23.50: I assessed the tactical situation. Our backs were to a literal wall, a cliff-side we could not scale without being entirely exposed. We were surrounded by a massive cohort of Cabal troops. Flight out was impossible, as the hovering Harvesters prevented ships from flying in low enough to transmat us out. And both the Harvesters and the tanks beyond the foot soldiers had begun a barrage into the side of the cliff, saturating the zone with fire and rubble. If they killed our Ghosts, they killed us.

It was a clever trap. What were a few Legionnaires for the chance to bring down 1 Guardian? Some Guardians had slain hundreds, maybe thousands of Cabal soldiers. But 8 Guardians? In a single attack? Whatever Centurion commanded this cohort stood to win the greatest tactical skirmish in years, all for the cost of a few troops buried beneath the rubble.

27.99: I knew we were going to die. I was //afraid. And a little…//sad.

28.23: The air tore with a sound I can only describe as a “howl”. Light and color warped. Darkness like nothing I had ever seen congealed into physical shape. A charging Cabal fell to the ground. It clawed desperately at the red sand as it was dragged back by a tendril of oily…substance…and vanished into a wound in the air. (Enemies approx. 69, Guardians 4/8)

33.10: Multiple instances of Cabal soldiers vanishing into Dark anomalies. The enemy lines fractured, scattered, and vanished. (Enemies: 12, Guardians 4/8)

45.61: We all stood still, weapons up and pointing at the now empty red field, splotched with black and filled with the detritus of fallen Cabal and their gear. “What was that?” demanded Arianna softly.

Farstride shook his head. “No idea.”

“Whatever it was,” said House, “I do not think we should be here when it decides to come after us.”

“Agreed,” I said.

“Grab a partner Ghost and mount up,” said Farstride. “I’ll call this into the Vanguard.” (Enemies: 0, Guardians 4/8)

59.09: The air howled again, and we were attacked by an army born of the Darkness. (Enemies: Legion)

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , , ,

Day 408 – Part 1

“The saying runs thus: from this race shall come one that shall be mightiest of all; he that is named Moon-Hound; he shall be filled with the flesh of all those men that die, and he shall swallow the moon, and sprinkle with blood the heavens and all the air; thereof shall the sun lose her shining, and the winds in that day shall be unquiet and roar on every side.”
Snorri Sturluson

“Again,” said House. He motioned me to rise with the tip of his saber.

I stood up and picked up my Fallen sword from the Martian sand. “What did I do wrong?” I asked.

“You do not mind your footing,” he replied. He took out a folded square of cloth from beneath his breastplate and dabbed at the sweat on his brow. “Sword-fighting is not unlike knife-work or even gun play: balance is key in all of them. You may be strong as an Exo, but balance overcomes strength in this.” He meticulously tucked the handkerchief away. “It is not a club you wield, but a blade.”

“About as useful though,” commented Magnus from his seat atop a weathered sign a couple meters away. “There’s a reason you had to have someone teach you to use a sword instead of just uploading the information. Swords have no place in modern warfare.”

“Tell that to the Hive. Or the Fallen,” I said, holding up the Captain’s saber.

The Storm Caller shrugged. “Both use blades ritualistically, or at least ceremonially. For the Hive especially it’s a focus for their power: the Sword Logic, they call it.”

“Actually, the principle behind Hive swords might be useful,” said Drake. He sat in the lotus position, his eyes shut, yet he gave off an air of awareness in spite of that, the quintessential Awoken Warlock himself.

“How so?” asked Arianna. The Gunslinger leaned against the half-buried pillar that Drake had made his perch and looked up at him. Farstride also leaned against the pillar, but he appeared to be asleep.

“Blade Dancers like House and Morc channel Light through their knives for great effect. A similar application could be used on a Sword, although the mass and volume would pose unique challenges. But if the Hive found a way to channel their magic through their swords, it stands to reason we could develop a countermeasure. Word is that the Iron Lords have experimented with it.”

“All well and good,” said House. “Morc-35, again.” He motioned me to attack. “And mind your feet this time.”

I took the Fallen blade in both hands and advanced. I feinted at House’s head, and he ducked back. I pressed my attack and lunged, shoving the tip of the blade at his chest. He redirected my attack with a flick of his wrist and my sword slid along the length of his with a shriek of metal. Then he dropped his center mass by bending his knees, seized my gun belt in his free hand and used my momentum to throw me to the ground in an explosion of sand.

“Better, but you overreached.” He wiped dust from his face once more.

I stood up again – not tiring was an advantage I had. “Once more?” House nodded, but we were interrupted.

“This is Miranda.” The voice was transmitted through our Ghosts. “I have them.”

“Finally!” said Farstride, springing to life. “Someone round up Telrik. Grab your Sparrows. It’s time to put this hunt to rest.”

“You said that on Venus, what, 3 weeks ago?” said Magnus as he jumped down.

“This time I’m right. Now come on.”

We all suited up and linked our Sparrows in. “Miranda, sitrep.”

“The Fallen are holed up in a cave. Only a few, but the baroness is definitely with them. They seem to have cobbled some Shanks back together. And I think they have a Servitor.”

“A cornered Wolf is dangerous,” I said. “We might want to leave them an escape path.”

“No,” said Farstride. “We’ve been hunting these Fallen almost 2 months. It’s time to put this to rest.”

We guided our Sparrows along the dunes, kicking up red dust in our wake, 6 Guardians in a line. We were arguably overkill, but the Wolves had proven difficult to corral. As we raced along, Telrik’s Phaeton buzzed over our heads at low altitude with a thunderous roar.

“Any word on that signal from Phobos?” Farstride asked over the comm.

“The Vanguard waved me off,” replied Telrik. “Said they have it handled. I’ll meet you at the rendezvous.” He flew on ahead.

We found Miranda standing on an outcropping of dark stone at the crest of a cliff, looking down at a windswept plain. Even here, against the dry red backdrop of the Martian surface, she looked as if she had just stepped out of a swamp. “The cave is directly below us. Their damaged Pikes are outside the entrance. No sign of the skiff.”

“You’re confident of the count?” asked Farstride. “There were more than that a few days ago.”

“Judging by the damage to the Pikes, they had a run-in with Cabal,” said Miranda. “Tracks are consistent with approximately 12 Fallen, and detritus near the cave-mouth is consistent with shank repairs.” Her tone sounded a bit miffed.

“Ghost scans?” asked Drake.

“Low-intensity interference, probably the Servitor. But motion tracker confirms movement inside.”

Farstride nodded. “All right. Morc: you’re the Fallen scholar. Plan of attack?”

I cannot deny a little //pride filled me at being acknowledged. “Send in 1 or 2 to lure them out into the open. Have the rest on standby to cut them down. The Baronness needs to be killed swiftly or she’ll escape again.”

“Variks doubled Petra’s bounty to bring in the Baroness alive,” Drake pointed out.

“She’s escaped us too often. I recommend against capture at this point.”

“Very good,” said Farstride. “You’re the lure.”

Or maybe that’s why he singled me out. I could never be sure with Farstride.

I crept through the entrance, my camouflage active. The tunnel leading into the side of the cliff was not long or even wide, and I had to step over a piece of humming Vex machinery.

“The Fallen have truly descended into a rat’s nest,” said Ebony into my earpiece. I only nodded in silent reply.

The cave widened out into a single, rough chamber. In the middle floated 3 repeater Shanks. Other than that, the space was empty. I hesitated, waiting for the inevitable trap. Then a Shank wobbled in midair, sputtered, and fell to the ground in a shower of sparks. The others turned to look at it, but otherwise nothing acknowledged the oddity.

My camouflage disengaged. A Shank lazily turned my way and its weapon wound up. I shot it and it exploded, its surviving partner falling to the ground to shatter.

“Something’s wrong,” I said. “Farstride, the area is empty. No Fallen.”

“OK, come back up. We have some movement up here.” Farstride’s tone sounded odd.

“There is low-intensity interference.” Ebony’s shell spun out in different directions. “But I am not sure-”

I turned and raced up the tunnel to the surface. “It’s a trap! What’s the interference?”

“There’s comm interference, but more. It’s Dark, Guardian…I don’t understand, I don’t even know where it’s coming from…”

I heard Telrik’s shout even without a comm set as I rushed out of the cave:



Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Day 358 – Part 2 (Finale)

“Fight on, brave knights! Man dies, but glory lives! Fight on; death is better than defeat! Fight on brave knights! for bright eyes behold your deeds!”
Walter Scott

I sat down next to the silent Telrik, my hood drawn up. We watched the crowds shuffle by in the City from our vantage point, a small walkway bridge that gave us a good view of the Tower and the Traveler. “I’m sorry,” I said finally. “That last 1 was my fault.”

I heard the Titan’s armor creak in a motion I took to be a shrug. “It’s the Crucible. It happens.”

“It’s not everyday we lose to your rivals,” I said.

“They’re not…” He paused. “Well, I suppose they are.”

“You’ve never said why.” I turned my head to look at him. “Why do the King’s Ransom hate you so much?”

“Short answer is, I embarrassed them in front of the New Monarchy. Fernanda-24 and Syphis specifically.”

I waited a moment, but nothing else was forthcoming. “And the long answer?”

“They murdered an old man.” He sighed heavily. “The New Monarchy had a rare turn of luck: they had a small surplus of ships. I was still pretty new as Guardians go at the time. Even back then, extra ships were unheard of.”

The words made me realize I had no clear idea of how old the Titan really was, but I didn’t dare interrupt to ask.

“I pledged allegiance to the Monarchy to acquire 1, and I was tasked to work with Fernanda-24 and Syphis to deliver a Phaeton from a merchant. The King’s Ransom was still fairly new at the time as well. Fernanda-24 is 1 of the 3 founding members, did you know that?” I shook my head.

“As it turns out, they had a contract to get this ship from a weapon’s designer in the City. I walked in as he shot Syphis. Fernanda-24 shot him.”

“So it was self-defense,” I said.

“That was their story,” said Telrik. “But the old man claimed the contract was a forgery and they tried to extort him. He died on the operating table, but he transferred ownership to me.”

“I don’t understand,” I admitted. “If they tried to extort him, why not get their Ghosts to show the real story?”

Telrik huffed. “Investigations into Guardian crimes don’t happen often,” he said. “They’re not common, and they’re usually considered justified. In the rare case it does happen, forcing a Ghost to give up recorded information like that is considered the same thing as forcing the Guardian to be a witness against themselves: it’s illegal. So they hid behind that technicality and were acquitted on lack of evidence. No 1 challenged my claim to the ship, probably to avoid further embarrassment and political backlash. The King’s Ransom never forgave me.” He fell silent again.

I looked back out at the moving crowds below us again, reflecting once more on how separate we were from the people. Father Eriksson’s words echoed in my head again: “I think sometimes you Guardians forget what you fight for, regardless of why you fight.”

Brutus, the verdant green Ghost, interrupted the silence. “We have word from Farstride: we are being deployed to Venus to hunt a Wolf cell. Word is a high-level bounty was seen a few clicks away from the Academy and they’re dug-in. We are to bring heavy weapons and surplus ammo, since they say it will be a long op.”

Telrik grunted. “OK. Let’s go.” He stood up and grinned at me. “C’mon, Hunter. We’ll get them someday. Right now, the City needs us.”

I nodded my agreement and followed his example, and we went to fight the Darkness once more. If I had known how long it would be before I saw the City again, I may not have been so //eager.

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , ,

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