Day 796 – Part 2

I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory
When’s it gonna get me?
In my sleep, seven feet ahead of me?
If I see it comin’, do I run or do I let it be?
Is it like a beat without a melody?
See, I never thought I’d live past twenty
Where I come from some get half as many
Ask anybody why we livin’ fast and we laugh, reach for a flask
We have to make this moment last, that’s plenty

~Lin Manuel-Miranda, My Shot (Hamilton: An American Musical)


Snap. Flick. Click. Snap. I emptied my hand cannon and reloaded without even a thought and cut down another dozen shadowy Thrall.

The Wizard retreated into the recesses of the gutted building. I followed her, the muzzle flash from my gun lighting the way.

“Come on Wizard!” I shouted at her. “You ran on Earth! You ran on the Dreadnought! Stop running!”

She laughed again, and more Thrall shadows rushed me from the Darkness. I shot them as well. Snap. Flick. Click. Snap. “Coward!” I screamed into the shadows.

This time I was met with silence. I waited, but neither Thrall or Wizard emerged. I cast a grenade into the Dark and the Arc Light revealed nothing. Nothing.

“NO!” I screamed. “Come out! Come out, you demon!” No one answered.

“Guardian.” Ebony’s voice was soft. “The Cabal are gathering outside.”

I swore and turned on my heel. The air still seethed with Blight, making everything murky. The scuff of sand on my boots was hushed. I walked to the exit and stopped just short of stepping into the light.

4 Harvesters hovered outside, dropping troops into the thoroughfare. The Cabal had formed a shield wall behind which the Legionaries and Psions had gathered. Most wore Siege Dancer colors and the ranks were quiet. I counted the shields: the wall was 16 Phalanxes wide and the unit was at least 4 deep, not to mention Psions in reserve. More Harvesters dropped off troops.

I glanced side to side, looking for an exit. The Interceptors had taken up positions at the nearest intersections. I considered retreating into the building and escaping through the other side…and then the Harvesters opened fire on the lower stories. Building material began to crash down in the dark behind me and dust billowed out into the street.

“I think you pissed them off by harassing them for the last few months,” said Ebony.

I laughed: //anger was still coursing through me at having lost the Wizard. I checked the rounds in my hand cannon and stepped into the light.

The Centurion, in the rank behind the Phalanxes, bellowed out an order. The shield wall advanced and slugs began to smack into the sand and the building supports behind me as they opened fire.

I blinked forward and over the shields, pushed off the air molecules with Light to turn myself around, and threw an Arc grenade into their midst. Cracks of thunder and lightning split the armor on 2 Legionaries and opened the ranks, and I dropped into the middle of the Cabal horde, my hand cannon already roaring with fury.

The Cabal unit split down the middle where I had made the hole and reformed around me: the maneuver was smoother than Reef silk and I was suddenly surrounded by a living vice of metal and Cabal flesh. Rather than fire and risk hurting each other they rushed to crush me with their weight, the Centurion leading the charge.

I shot at him first, firing for the joint on his knee. Even as I raised my gun he turned his bulk so that the round struck the armor on his thigh, slowing but not felling him. He rushed in and aimed a fist at my head.

I blinked past him, knife in hand, and turned to bury it in the space between his helmet and shoulder armor. The knife glanced off his shoulder instead: again he had turned, and though I scored his armor I didn’t hurt him. He pushed off the ground, using his bulk to upset my balance.

I juked aside as the first of the Phalanxes closed in, swinging his shield. I blew off his helmet with a couple of shots, then ducked as another soldier rushed in, and then another. I felt my own armor crunch as I was struck. I blinked away again, only to find myself in another group of Cabal. I blinked again, this time clearing the attackers, but now with no risk of hitting their own comrades I was being shot at.

“Blood of the Traveler!” I yelled and drew my sword. I blinked back at the unit and began cutting through them: Arc Light poured through the blade like a wave, melting their armor like sand fortifications on a beach. And still they formed up, and still they rushed in.

Stoppage fluid began leaking through my armor as I began taking hits. I was vaguely aware that Ebony was trying to warn me that there was too much Blight and reviving me was impossible. A shield smacked into me and I went sailing to collide with another Legionary. I rolled away and called the Light through my body, pulled out my knife and danced through the Cabal, disintegrating them with snaps of Arc energy.

But then the Light was gone: there was nothing left, and the Blight continued to cloud everything. I knelt in the sand with my gun in hand and kept shooting as the Cabal closed around me.

The Centurion rushed me again: he was wounded but not more than I was. He had scooped up the shield of a fallen Phalanx to block my shots long enough to get close. He batted my gun out of my hand with it. I drew my sword and buried the blade in his forearm. He roared, seized me by the cloak with his other hand and threw me to the sand, then planted a boot in my chest. Circuits and plating cracked. He pointed his gun at my head.

Just before the muzzle flash, I saw a bright shooting star descending from the sky behind him, rushing down and growing larger by the millisecond. Then he fired and my world was Dark again.

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