Monthly Archives: June 2016

Day 464 – Part 3

Hello Darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains within the sound of silence

~The Sound of Silence, by Simon and Garfunkel

“There,” said Ebony. “Just East of us.”

“Is there an East in this thing?” I asked, looking down into the darkness of the Dreadnought below my feet.

“Relative to the ship’s bow.”

“Ah.” Below a flash of violet light, flickering off the edge of the…I suppose it was the deck…that bordered the empty space the great stone obelisks swung in.

“Definitely someone down there.”

“Drake,” confirmed my Ghost.

I judged the drop. “If I miss the jump…we will fall a very long way.”

“Pretty sure I can catch you with a transmat if you don’t hit anything on the way down.”

“Pretty sure?” I asked.

“As sure as I can be in this place. And if I don’t have to revive you as well, so don’t collide with anything before we get down.”

I still felt //hesitant. “I don’t like this,” I admitted.

“You’ll need a running start, and your angle of descent needs to begin about 2.5 meters beyond the edge of the obelisk. If you can make that then you will make the jump.”

I backed away from the edge, cradling my shotgun. “On 3,” I said. “1, 2…” Then I sprinted forward.

“That wasn’t 3!” said Ebony.

“Oops. 3!” Then we were soaring through the air, down, down…

Shapes on the deck formed and took on details as we rapidly descended. I saw a cluster of Hive, mostly Acolytes mixed with some hesitant Thrall, shooting at a crouched Guardian. Even from this distance I could feel the gravity of his Light, like a neutron star couched in its very own cradle of darkness and shining with a holy radiance. He came to his feet and snapped off several shots at the Acolytes before ducking for cover again.

The Thrall seemed to take that as a cue and they rushed forward just beneath my feet. I blinked to arrest my fall, then dropped the last couple of meters into the cluster of them. Shotgun shells made short work of the startled Thrall.

“Morc!” The Awoken vaulted over the ridge of chitin he had taken cover behind and sprinted to join me.

“Sir Drake, I-” My quip was interrupted when Drake smashed into me, taking us both to the deck. A line of Solar energy burned a pin-sized hole into the chitin near my head. I tracked the shot and saw the shadowy simulacra of Fallen – no, Taken – snipers perched on the edge of a nearby obelisk that was almost level with the deck.

“Up!” Drake almost bodily hauled me to my feet and charged the Acolytes. I followed.

The Acolytes stood their ground, firing at us as we attacked. Heat singed my armor. Drake leaped upward and called the Void to his hands. The Light folded into itself, over and over over until it dragged in even the Darkness…and then launched from the Warlock’s will. The bomb smashed the Acolytes and disintegrated them, leaving little more than a smoking crater. The residual Light folded around the Warlock in a shield that reflected the renewed attacks from the Taken snipers.

“This way!” Drake pointed at the wall the deck jutted out from on our left, and I saw a wound in its side: a tunnel or passage of some kind. More shots from the snipers. I took some potshots at them with my hand cannon, but opaque bubbles enveloped my targets.

The air howled with fury and something huge stepped out of the wound of blight. A Taken Centurion, lumbering and huge, blocked the passage. Void energy pulsed from his hands.

“Back! Before they put us in a vice!” Drake turned. I was about to argue with him that we should just fight our way through until I saw the shadowy figures of more Taken swarming around the Centurion and rushing us – or in some cases, just blinking forward. I listened to the seasoned Warlock and followed him.

More blight pulsed around us, making the air thick with it. Another howl, and a Taken Knight appeared, fire spitting from his hands. 2 Psions become 4, then 8, then 16…

“The bridge!” Drake pointed at a long bridge that spanned the chasm to an obelisk.

“We don’t know what’s over there!” I shouted at him.

“Better than being surrounded out here!”

“I don’t know if that’s true!” But it seemed we had little choice: the Taken were chasing us that way anyway.

We ran over the bridge, and I turned to fire back at the pursuing Taken every few meters. The only ones too intent on us were the shadowy Thrall, blinking sideways and forward every few moments. I stabbed a couple that got too close and dissipated them.

“There’s a door. There’s always a door!” I saw Charlemagne, Drake’s blue Ghost, hovering over the runes on the huge stone door. “These aren’t very complex,” said the Ghost. “If anything this is absurdly easy…”

“Then maybe let us in?” I demanded. I shot another Taken: the Psions were rushing us now, and I could see the Knight behind them, rapidly closing.

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea, I mean, if I am reading these right it’s supposed to keep something in…”

“Just open it Ghost.” Drake shot a Psion. “We need out of this situation now.”

The Ghost complied and the door creaked open with a scraping of stone and dust. We ducked inside, into a well-lit circular room with 3 exits. We turned to face our pursuers.

The Taken stopped just outside of the door, moving only to avoid our fire. The Knight strode right up to the threshold and waved a hand. The doors creaked and began to close.

“No no no!” Ebony squeaked in terror. I rushed the aperture, seeing the trap too late.

The doors slammed with a cracking boom. Ebony floated up over the symbols. “There’s…there’s a seal on this side! I don’t think I can open it.” He turned to look at us. “This is Hive sorcery like nothing I’ve seen before.”

Charlemagne also scanned the door. “I don’t think the doors are supposed to be able to be opened from this side. I…I think this is a cell.”

“Cell?” asked Drake. “Like a prison cell?”

“Exactly like a prison cell. Guardians, we’ve been locked in.”

“Can we get a message out?” I asked.

“Something about shutting the doors blocked our signal. I have only partial connection. Someone is going to have to get really close to pick us up.”

There was a moment of silence between us as the weight of the situation hit home. Then below us, through an exit – or maybe all of them – we heard a shriek. And a laugh. A familiar laugh that made the fluid in my joints freeze with //horror.

“Blood of the Traveler!” I swore softly.

“Morc? Morc, what’s wrong?” asked Drake.

I pointed my hand cannon at each of the exits in turn, peering into the Darkness. “It’s her!” I whispered.

“Who?” demanded Drake.

“The Wizard from the hunt. The hunt with the Erikssons.” It had been over a year, but I knew that sound. Another shrieking laugh echoed around us.

“Hunter!” The voice was below us. “Hunter! We have unfinished business, you and I!” She laughed again. “I have her, Hunter! I have your precious little human. Come down! Come down, or listen to her die!”

Below us, Emma screamed.

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

Day 464 – Part 2

Well Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And Lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety ’til I sank it
I’m crawling on your shores

– Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine

I had grown so used to transmats I rarely found them disorienting any longer, but this was not an ordinary day. The flash of light that pulled me through space felt as if it took longer than it should have; looking back on it, I wonder if it means a Guardian can experience the passage of time in a transmat or even in the nothing that occurs before a Ghost’s revival. In this case, it felt unusually long. And then suddenly I was falling again, though thankfully the spinning had stopped. “Ebony!” I shouted. My descent was straight down, parallel to what appeared to be a massive chain descending dozens or hundreds of meters.

“Look for somewhere to land!” Ebony squeaked. Below us, the chain had terminated into what appeared to be a platform. I extended my limbs outward to increase drag as the platform rushed up. Then I blinked.

The impact was still hard enough to register some damage – clearly my timing had been off – and I rolled with the inertia. My momentum brought me to the edge, stone scraping against my metal armor. I looked over the lip of the platform, down, down into darkness.

“That was too close,” said Ebony in a quavering voice.

“Agreed,” I said. I stood to my feet and nearly tipped over. I sat hard on my rear and crabbed away from the edge. “What’s wrong with the ground in this place?” I demanded and tried to stand again. My internal stabilizers compensated and I kept my footing this time.

“We’re not on ground,” said Ebony softly. I followed his gaze.

We stood in the longest hall I had ever seen. Above us, a ceiling arched almost out of sight in an A-frame shape. An eerie light shone at the far end of the hall. Hanging from the high vaulted ceiling were dozens Рperhaps hundreds Рof chains, connecting to stone pillars bigger than City towers. And the pillars themselves were not even grounded, but hung in the huge open space like overripe fruit on a dying tree.

Realization dawned. “We’re on one of those things? But…this platform is easily a dozen meters wide.” I turned in a circle to get the full grasp of its size.

“We’re just beneath the spine of the Dreadnought,” said Ebony. He looked upward, then back at me. “We are a long way from the transmat zone.”

“Do we have communications with the others?” I asked.

“We have clear communications – I am actually picking up a wide band. The Guardians have gotten Freki close to the LZ and they’re putting boots on the ground.”

“That’s something at least. Pipe it in.”

M, the tiny brash Vanguard Hunter, was giving orders in a crisp tone.“First wave in. Titans, form a wall.”

“Shields are up. Under fire from supporting Harvesters. Cabal presence is high, some Hive skirmisher units.”

“Move toward the inner wall. We may need to find an exit. Warlocks, make a hole. Hunters, spread out. We have scout reports from the initial landing but I want Ghost scans all over this ship. Move it! Escorts, status?”

Telrik responded. “Tomb ships destroyed or dispersing. The destroyers are taking up a perimeter near the lower hull. I think they’re protecting other possible LZ’s.”

“We’ll let the Red Jacks deal with them on the second wave. Bring your ships in and join the others. Titans, once the Hunters have dispersed, I want everyone to spread out. If we bunch up-“

“Blight! Blight events! Taken are storming our position!”

“My shield is down. Need covering fire.”

“Cutting event! A Tomb ship is cutting in.”

“Rockets! Kill that Taken Captain!”

“Loren-6 is down! Loren-6 is down and his Ghost isn’t responding!”

“Ogre! They brought an Ogre!”

M’s voice cut through the wild chatter, blanketing the comm bands. “Ignore the Ogre, it’s assaulting the Cabal. Form a perimeter around the LZ! Hunters, reel it in! Warlocks, call the Sun in here and uplift our Titans! Use your heavy weapons and push the Taken back!”

“We need to help them,” said Ebony.

I shook my head. “We’re too far from the LZ to be of any use. We need to find Emma.”

“Guardian, it’s likely Emma and Jorge are dead.”

I glared at him. “We need to find her. I won’t leave her here.”

“And how do we find her?” Ebony demanded. “If she were alive she would have likely communicated. If we search for anyone it needs to be survivors from the crash. Drake, Farstride, House, Nigel-12: all of them were alive before we transmatted into the Dreadnought.”

“They’re Guardians. Emma and Jorge are just humans.”

“We can’t help them if we’re dead, Guardian!” Ebony danced in the air like an angry black wasp. “We may have communications, but we are cut off from the Traveler’s Light here: if you fall I will have a lot of trouble reviving you on my own. With another Guardian at least I have a better chance of saving you. At least get help before we go haring off after her!”

I restrained the urge to smack the Ghost out of the air. After a moment I realized he was right. “Fine. Any idea where the nearest Guardian is?”

Ebony sighed with relief and fanned out, scanning. “I have a comm hit on Sir Drake. He’s not actually broadcasting, but he’s receiving. I think he’s close. Perhaps in this part of the super-structure.”

“Shotgun.” I extended my hand and Ebony transmatted the weapon. I chambered a round, and turned toward the nearest of the hanging columns, slightly below us and several meters away. “Let’s get to it.” Then I took a running start and leaped off the edge.

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

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