“In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labor; in this, plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sour look or two at choking. No, a merry life and a short one, shall be my motto.” –Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts (Johnson, 244)
“M was right,” I said, looking down the scope. I had turned in my old shotgun for a sniper rifle in recent days and had it zoomed in on the Ketch tethered to the Dreadnought. “Definitely not an official house I’ve seen, but they’re flying the black flag with 3 orbs. It’s the Corsairs.”
“Fallen presence?” asked Farstride. He stood just to my right.
Telrik stood to my left, looking down his own sniper scope. “None near the gangplank: but there’s lots of Fallen gear and casings on the Dreadnought deck, among other things. They are ready to dig in.”
I followed Telrik’s gaze to confirm his observations. “They must have already sent teams into the ship. I see a few Scorch cannons: looks like they came ready to breach anything they could find.” I lowered the Hakkë rifle and pondered for a moment. “Do you think they can punch through a Rupture?
“Traveler forbid,” said Magnus from behind me. The Stormcaller sounded genuinely bothered by the notion.”Anyway, given the trouble we had to go through to get Guardians through the Ruptures, it’s not likely.”
“These Fallen have both the guts and the resources to launch an attack on a Guardian-occupied super-weapon of Hive origin. We need to assume they came prepared,” said Drake.
“Ever the voice of optimism, Drake,” quipped Farstride.
“Just reason,” said the Warlock.
Telrik spoke up. “We need to get aboard. Their leadership is not likely to leave the Ketch.”
I loped forward into clearing of gathered Fallen supplies and gear and picked up a Scorch cannon. The weapon was heavy, but it had a full magazine. I hefted it to my shoulder and walked up the gangplank out of the Dreadnought’s atmosphere to the Ketch’s lower deck, the other Guardians trailing behind. I took aim at the sealed bulkhead shutting the vacuum of space out of the Ketch.
“Weapons free,” said Farstride. I heard 5 guns cycle rounds into chambers. “On your count, Morc-35.”
“3, 2, 1…” I pulled the trigger and the warhead buried itself in the metal of the ship. The cannon whined as the charge built up. “Stand ready!”
The warhead detonated, and a rush of gas and ether blew out into the open space, whipping my cloak back like a storm.
Out of the billowing flames and smoke a figured loomed, moving with surprising speed in spite of its bulk. I backed up, narrowly missing the head-sized fist aimed at my chest. There was a yelp from someone behind me as the attacker lunged and we scattered in the small space. I rolled for the gangplank, running behind Drake and Telrik to get clear.
“Colossus!” Farstride’s shout could be heard over the sound of a slug-thrower winding up.
“Cabal couldn’t have beat us here, they would have posted a perimeter!” Magnus vaulted over a stack of Fallen crates at the same time I did and we put our backs to the meager cover. The sound of heavy slugs chewing up the chitin deck made me flinch away from the edge of the cover. The Colossus roared out a challenge and the hiss of rockets burning through the thin atmosphere was followed by a series of small explosions.
I popped over the edge of the crates, snapped a sniper round at the Colossus, then ducked again. “No damage,” reported Ebony in my ear. “He has a Void shield.”
“Void weapons!” I shouted into the comms over another roar of rocket fire. I looked around to see who had heard my call-out: Heisenberg-3 pivoted with a raised fusion rifle from behind a deck column and snapped off a series of Void bursts. The Colossus turned his rapid-fire cannon on the gold Titan and the rounds shattered pieces off the column just as Heisenberg got behind it. I stuck my head out again for a look. “Damage?” I asked my Ghost.
“Minimal.” I sighed in //frustration and fired another shot.
“No damage. It’s now an Arc shield…Oh.”
I ducked and rolled as the rockets came in, Magnus following suit. The Fallen crates were reduced to cinders and ash and we ran for more substantial cover, near the hallway that led to the open deck. “It’s a modulator!” said Magnus. We slid into a round depression encircled by Hive markings – probably a ritual site – and took aim over the lip. “Target has a modulating shield.”
“Great,” said Telrik in a heavy voice. “My Ghost is showing me the shield is already recharged. Each time it flips over it comes back up, meaning he’s got three separate charges on there.”
“What’s the plan?” I asked.
Farstride took charge.“We need to focus fire with the specific damage type. Sound off on Heavies and Secondaries.”
We rattled off our arsenals. 3 Arc, 2 Void, 1 Solar heavy weapons and 4 Void, 1 Arc and 1 Solar Secondary weapons.
“We’re a little iffy on Solar…” said Drake.
I peeked at the Colossus: it was huge, even by Cabal standards. Not quite Valus Ta’aurc in size, but still formidable.
“Even if we take down the shielding, how do we crack his armor before he flips over?” Magnus’s question echoed my own.
“I’m open to suggestions.” Farstride snapped a few shots at the Cabal. It was moving slowly but surely onto the Dreadnought deck, exposing our positions. We would have to retreat to the deeper parts of the ship any second now.
“Ebony,” I hissed. My Ghost flickered into existence near my head, his black shell whirling with consternation. “Analyze: is there a pattern to the modulation?”
“Umm…you fired a Solar weapon, it modulated to Void, Heisenberg-3 fired a Void, it modulated to Arc…”
“I have an idea!” I activated my camouflage.
“Glad someone does,” said Farstride.
“Use Arc energy! On my mark!” I abandoned my cover and ran forward into the clearing, snatching up the Scorch cannon where I had dropped it among the shattered crates. Once in hand I ran past the Colossus – thankfully oblivious – then turned around and took aim at his feet. The warhead buried itself in the chitin and the cannon began to whine. “3…2…1…mark!”
A fusillade of bullets and a grenade assaulted the Cabal’s position. I released the trigger and the warhead went off. The Colossus stumbled into the divot left by the explosion.
“Shoot him! Shoot him!” I fired another round, and this one buried itself into the Cabal’s armor. More weapons fire and grenades were lobbed, and Ebony began reporting damage. The Cabal fumbled at something on its wrist and the Void shield returned.
I sprinted for the hallway, this time without the benefit of camouflage, as the Colossus turned to put me down…and ran into a Vandal, swords out. The Fallen buried both of them into my torso, and before the Light went out I saw a swarm of reinforcements pour out of the bowels of the Dreadnought.