But a shot in the dark
One step away from you
Just a shot in the dark
Nothing that you can do
Just a shot in the dark
Always creeping up on you
A Shot in the Dark by Ozzy Osbourne
“You are not going down alone.”
I tried to dislodge Drake’s hold on my cloak. “Bloody hell Drake! Someone has to stay up here in case a Guardian gets close enough for a signal!”
“We can worry about that later. I am going with you.” Drake’s tone was firm.
“I have seniority. I am going with you.” The Awoken crossed his arms.
“You’ll stick out like a candle in those red and gold robes,” I said, trying for something biting.
He snorted at me, but his helmet blocked his expression.
“Fine,” I said. “Let’s go.”
“It’s so Dark down here,” said Charlemagne softly. The blue Ghost shone a beam of light into the gloom like a knife cutting black cloth.
“Too Dark. Our signal input is practically gone.” Ebony was invisible except for his little diamond eye in the center of his orb.
“Enemies?” asked Drake.
“Lots of movement,” said Ebony. My HUD lit up red on the edges, but nothing was close. Not yet.
“Any sign of Emma?” I asked.
“No.” Charlemagne looked back up to the weak light we had left behind. “Are we sure she’s down here? What if it was a trick?”
“We would have to have come anyway,” I said, recalling Arianna’s words to me almost a year ago: “If you find something like a family, protect them for all you are worth. Because when you die for the last time, they may be the only people who notice.”
We strode through the darkness, looking for signs of the enemy. The clicking and growling of Thrall echoed all around. The ground squished underfoot in some places, and I imagined what we might be walking through.
A Thrall shrieked, and a glowing orb charged out of the black, bobbing from side to side as it ran.
“Cursed!” I shot the incoming orb and it staggered. I shot it again and it exploded, washing pale green light throughout the cell. The flash illuminated dozens of Thrall racing towards us, some caught in the explosion, and my HUD went almost solid red all around.
“Incoming.” Drake’s voice was cool and collected, and he pivoted on his heel to guard our flank, his gun spitting fire as he moved. “More Cursed.” I had no time to respond: I was too busy shooting or otherwise putting down attacking Thrall. Ebony and Charlemagne floated overhead, shining light into the dark to expose as many Thrall as possible.
Cursed Thrall screamed and exploded. Other Thrall raced in, swinging claws and rending the air with teeth as they closed. It went on for several minutes, and we burnt through a considerable amount of ammo to keep the hordes at bay. Eventually the cell grew quiet, but there were still red indicators at the edges of my HUD.
“Think they’ve given up?” I asked.
“Doubtful,” said Drake. “It is more likely they are revising their tactics.”
“We should move while we still have the chance then,” I suggested.
“No,” said Drake. “They left off the assault because we have a strong position. Let us wait until they try again.”
I was about to argue with him. Then a roar filled the cell, and a 3-eyed figure charged out of the gloom, the edge of its weapon cutting a false light through the Dark. I darted aside from its attack and pivoted. Drake jumped straight into the air and hung there, shooting down at the Knight. It thundered its rage and threw up a shield to block his shots.
“Hey!” My shout caught its attention, and the Knight turned its head to look down the bore of my shotgun. I pulled the trigger and shattered the monster.
More shrieks from the Thrall, and they swarmed in again.
“They have to run out sometime,” I insisted. I buried my knife to the hilt in a Thrall’s skull and it dropped like a stone to the ground.
“Clearly this cell is much larger than we anticipated,” said Drake. His rifle barked almost incessantly.
“We’ve been at this for hours,” I said. “They attack, wait, attack, wait.” I shot another Cursed, and its demise extinguished a group of Hive.
“Wearing us down for something,” said Drake. His rifle fell silent, and the red marks on my motion tracker cleared up.
“For what?” I demanded. Drake did not reply. “Any sign of Emma?”
“None,” said Ebony.
“The deeper we go into the cell, the more our Light is cut off. And our chances of escape,” added Charlemagne.
//Anger coursed through my circuits. “Wizard!” I shouted into the dark. “Wizard! I am here! Come face me, or are you too afraid without your spawn?”
Shrieking laughter echoed through the cell and died away into unseen hollows and cracks.
“Blood of the Traveler!” I was //enraged now. “Coward! You can kidnap a girl but won’t face a Guardian? Are you afraid my friends will come for you again? Well, we’re locked in here, Wizard! Do your worst!”
“Umm, maybe we shouldn’t taunt the thing that has us locked in a cage with it?” suggested Ebony.
“What’s that noise?” Charlemagne had begun to swivel side to side, his lance of light cutting the darkness.
A susurrus flowed around us just on the edge of hearing. It crept through the dark to wind its way around our ankles and into the microscopic cracks in our armor. The whispering was undefined – no words I could understand – but it was insistent, demanding, and constant, pausing for neither breath or movement. A cold //dread followed it, freezing the fluid in my joints and filling me with //hesitation.
Drake suddenly knelt to the floor and cupped his hands together as if cradling a child’s ball between his palms. “Cover me,” he said.
“What? What are you doing?” I demanded.
“She’s draining our Light,” he said. “I can hold her back, but they will attack us now. It’s up to you Morc-35. They are coming.” Then he began to murmur a dirge, or perhaps a prayer, and the space between his palms glowed with Void Light. Warmth seeped back into our immediate space, and violet sparks floated and died like miniature storms all around us in a nearly perfect globe.
And then the Thrall screamed again, and the ground shook beneath their rushing claws.