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.