Posts Tagged With: Day 796

Day 797 – Part 1

“What am I to do now? I hate you for leaving me. I ache from your loss. There is nothing that can console me now. I am changed, so are you.”

~Ragnar Lothbrok


“So if the Wall has been breached, why are you here? Aren’t you a Titan? Defender of the Wall and all that?” I demanded.

Findlay looked down and scuffed his boot against the flight deck. We were standing beneath Emma’s jump ship, The Hand of Tyr, a model of the support craft that had carried us to the Dreadnought a year before. “I don’t have a ship. Or a Sparrow.”

I stared at him. “How long have you been a Guardian?”

“Umm…” He looked over at his Ghost floating at eye-level. “A week.”

A week?!” I shouted. I noticed a frame behind Findlay turn around to look at us. “How by Odin’s left eye did you manage to join the Valherjar inside of a week?”

“Well, actually, I’m only a provisional member right now,” Findlay admitted, not meeting my gaze. “Arianna vouched for me. I still have to go through some tests and get full approval.”

“A week,” I growled.

“Calm down, Morc.” Emma climbed out of the ship the old-fashioned way. “If you’d been here you’d know that attrition has been catching up with everyone.” She pushed the ladder away and a frame waddled over to remove it. “Word in Dead Orbit is that we lost a record-number of Guardians to the Taken, even after the King died. New blood is a welcome sight.”

“Anyway,” said Findlay, “I, uh…need a ride to the Iron Temple.”

“A ride to the what Temple?”

“We need to get you up to speed,” said Emma drily.

“Yeah! We can do that on the way!”

“I need a few hours first,” I said tiredly.

“You need a few weeks,” Emma countered.

“But we don’t have a few weeks!” gasped Findlay.

“Oh for the love of…just, be back here in 6 hours, OK?” I began to leave the hangar.

“Umm, what do I do in the meantime?”

I stared at him. “What?”

“Well, you’re kinda of the senior Valherjar, so…what am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

I bit back my first response and reached into my satchel. “Look, take this,” I handed him a leather-bound book, “to Morgan, the Cryptarch.”

“Morgan, right…what’s a Cryptarch?”

“Oh, you have got to be shi-!”

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding!” Findlay took the book and bolted for the exit. I watched him go.

“Bitter at the exuberance of youth, old-timer?” asked Emma.

I grunted and she laughed at me.


“It’s not dusty.” I looked around at my living space: the single chair and the workbench were clean. The swords crossed on the wall were polished, even the Hive cleaver. The entirety of my small book collection – 8 volumes in all – rested on their tiny bookcase, even if they weren’t all in the same order as when I had left them.

“Well, if you don’t use an apartment in the Tower and they don’t hear from you after 6 months they take it back. So I’d come by and make sure it was cared for, and logging in the swipe pad meant that you’d have a place to come back to.” Emma sat in the chair and flicked on the light.

“Leave it off.”

She frowned at me but complied, and the only light to the room streamed through the tiny window that faced the City. I placed my beaten satchel on the workbench, scattering red sand everywhere. By the Traveler, where did it all come from? I began emptying the bag, a piece at a time.

Emma crept up to look over my shoulder. “You found some interesting stuff.”

“Yep.”

“Is that a Vex’s eye?”

“Hobgoblin.” I picked up the scope with the red eye in the front lens and handed it to her. “The sight resolution is unmatched. Unfortunately it still has Vex intelligence stored in it at some level. It’s more or less worthless as a scope, but it’s worth studying for R&D.”

“Why does that make it worthless?”

“The scope will intentionally feed false telemetry to make you miss; in some cases it just stops working. I disassembled the eye 6 times before I finally figured out that some vestige of the Vex mind was still in there. I don’t dare hook it up to anything in case it creates some kind of infection.”

I sorted the contents of my satchel: relics, experiments, tech, into their proper places on the workbench. Then I cleaned the surface, sweeping away the sand.

“Talk to me.” Emma was staring at me as I went through my tasks.

“About?”

“You were gone for almost a year!” Her words were almost a shout. “You haven’t spoken to the family, you haven’t asked me how they are, you haven’t asked what has happened since you left! You haven’t said why you left!”

I turned to look at her: she was trembling. The scar on her face from our hunt on the Hive…gods, was it nearly 2 years ago?…was livid and bright even against her dark skin.

“I went to find Skadi. To kill her.” I lowered myself to the floor and leaned against the workbench. She sat next to me. I could see the light of my mechanical eye-shine reflected in her human eyes. “She got in my head.”

“The Wizard?”

I nodded. “Each time I die…she gets closer. It gets Darker. I don’t know how many deaths I have left.”

She took my hand in her own. “Have you seen the Speaker? The Vanguard? The Warlocks might help.”

“And become ostracized like Toland or Osiris? Or Dredgen Yor?” I shook my head. “No. I will find her and kill her. It’s the only choice I have.” I turned to look at her. “When they had me in the nest…it was always your face she took. To hurt me.”

Emma stared back at me. “I had no idea. Why…why didn’t you say something?”

“What was there to say? My first family member, the one who was adopted like me was what she tried to corrupt. I didn’t want you to know. They hurt you too.”

We sat in the dark for a few minutes more, hand in hand. Then she squeezed mine. “We should go. There’s a lot of work to do at the Wall.”

I nodded. “Ain’t no rest for the wicked, am I right?”

Emma chuckled. “None at all.”

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

Day 796 – Finale

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied
And illuminate the “NO’s” on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the Dark

Death Cab for Cutie, I’ll Follow You into the Dark


I was up to to my knees and sinking in oily muck the consistency of mud. The wind was black and thick with Blight, whipping through the joints and plates of my frame. I had lost my armor some time ago, and my cloak long before that. I clutched the broken hatchet I had found weeks before as I slogged forward. I couldn’t see the Tower anymore…in truth I didn’t even know if it was still there because the wind obscured everything beyond a few meters. There were still bodies, their fingers and the tops of their heads poking through the sludge. I couldn’t remember which had been there and which I had killed. Maybe I had killed them all.

I could hear her laughing. It was louder now, a cacophony.

“Hunter! We have unfinished business!” Each word was a thunderstorm, every syllable a rumble of thunder that buried whole litanies and sermons inside it, a never-ending echo-chamber of spells and power that descended into some unseen depth.

I had to get to the Tower. I had to cross the field. I was so close. So close.

Claws, shining with Darkness, pierced the Blighted mist and wrapped around my skull. I was hauled free of the muck to stare her in the eyes. Blight dripped from her fangs.

“WE HAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS!” Her scream warped sound and color and heat and cold and death and time…

I struck at her, burying the broken hatchet in her crest. She screamed, but it was a scream of laughter, and I felt her claws dig deeper the more I fought, plucking at my memory and my inner self. Something buried deep in that inner self knew to fight was to worship, to worship was to surrender to the Deep, the Law of these Spaces that had invaded my space, my mind-

Light, wholesome and clean and bright charged my circuits. It wasn’t much Light, but when a person has spent a long time in a dark room even a little illumination can be blinding.

“Up!” a familiar voice said. I tried to place it. Hands spun me around, pointing me down the thoroughfare. “Run! We’ll catch up. RUN!”

I tried to run and felt something clutch at my ankle: the Centurion’s big fist was wrapped around my leg. He was shattered, his armor and body broken as if he been caught beneath a falling cruiser. Even as pressure gel pumped mercilessly into the red sand he clutched at me. I pulled my sword free from his mangled forearm and gave him a swift soldier’s death. Then I disentangled myself and ran.

The Cabal were in disarray. The Interceptors were smoking ruins, the Harvesters  were raining fire from the sky. Troops hunkered in the nearby buildings and behind shields, firing into the battle zone. I ran. I didn’t even have enough Light to channel into my sword for protection, but my armor did the trick. Once clear of the slugs I summoned my Sparrow and gunned it.

“Ebony?” I asked, //fearful of the answer.

“Here.” My Ghost sounded exhausted.

“Blood of the Traveler, I thought you might be dead.”

“Nearly.” He fell silent again.

The moment I was clear of the Blight it felt like the sun had risen. Light coursed through me again, charging everything. I slowed the Sparrow and turned.

My rescuer pulled up on her Sparrow, and I recognized the orange cloak and leather armor. “Arianna, it’s nice to see you.”

“Morc; you’re welcome for saving your life,” said the other Hunter. “If you had a death wish you could have least let us all know first.”

“I trusted the Traveler would help me out, though I admit you cut it close.”

Arianna took off her helmet and smoothed her red mohawk. “Sure you did.” The Awoken Hunter dismounted and took my hand cannon out of her belt. “You’ll want this where we’re going.”

I took the gun. “Where’s that?”

“I’ll explain when my backup gets here.”

I holstered my weapon. “How did you find me?”

“I had help.” As if on cue a winged ship in Dead Orbit colors cut through the sky overhead. It banked sharply and came around, then settled next to us, kicking up sand and dust.

A Titan transmatted out to the surface. He was dressed in black and green, his armor resembling a shirt of chain mail more than the common cuirass of plate. His helmet was off, revealing a human with a shaggy mane of blonde hair, but he seemed unaffected by the thin air.

“Hello! You must be Morc-35!” he said to me. “I’m Findlay! Pleasure to meetcha!”

I stared at the cheery Titan as he approached and stuck out his hand. He looked no more than 20 years old. I looked at Arianna, ignoring the proffered handshake. “This doesn’t answer my question.”

“The help I meant wasn’t him.”

“She meant me.” Emma Ericksson had come up behind Findlay. He stood aside, looking a little flustered as Emma approached. “You told me I could tell them where you were in an emergency. Well, they said it’s an emergency.”

I dismounted my Sparrow and walked over to Emma to give her a hug. She buried her face in the edge of my cloak. “It’s been 8 months. You haven’t even called. I’ve…Father Ericksson has been worried.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling a twinge of //guilt.

Emma pushed me away. “Save it. At least you’re OK.” She crossed her arms and glared.

I looked at Arianna. “So, this emergency?”

“It’s a big one!” Findlay interrupted before she could speak. Arianna closed her mouth and rolled her eyes so hard I thought her skull might crack. “The Fallen have breached the Wall!”

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

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.

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

Day 796 – Part 1

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the Dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s done in the Dark will be brought to the Light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

~Johnny Cash, God’s Gonna Cut You Down


The ceaseless wind pushed up a tiny dune of red sand in front of my vision. In the faint glow of dawn I could see the tiny grains tumbling over one another, pushed and pulled incessantly by air and gravity, helpless against the shaping forces of the planet. Eventually the wind picked up again and blew the little dune away, returning my line of sight to the campsite in front of me.

In the center there was a fire pit, its charred remains already coated in a fine red dust and leaving only a faint wisp of smoke. Camp fires were anachronistic when heat and light could be produced with modern technology, but Humans and Fallen seemed to find them comforting – even Hive used fire in rituals. A thin metal beam had been laid next to the fire pit to serve as a seat. The sand had been beaten and stirred with traffic, giving the impression of 3 to 4 campers who had stayed the night and already packed up and left before the rising sun. Any real tracks would have been already obscured by the blowing winds.

Without moving my head I looked up at the buildings: the hollowed skeletons of skyscrapers and ancient research facilities stretched their emaciated digits to the starry sky, clothed only in the tatters of rusted sidings and corroded pipes. The campsite itself sat in the hollow of a crater in what had once been a wide thoroughfare several lanes across, now abandoned by all but the occasional decrepit vehicle long since gone to decay. The only sound was the whistling and sighs of the wind that blasted and wore away at the remains, a susurrus that would never end until the cadaverous remains of the invaders were wiped away and buried beneath the ocean of dust that covered the red planet Mars.

It was perfect.

“Do you think they’ll come?” asked Ebony in my ear.

I didn’t respond. I was //amazed my Ghost thought I would even answer. Or maybe he didn’t expect an answer, and was merely passing the time. I trained my eyes up again, and saw a beam of light from Sol graze the top of the hollowed structures. Morning was here.

“I hear something,” said Ebony.

The ceaseless whispering of the wind was interrupted by the thrums of Interceptors; the sound bounced and careened off the buildings.

I waited.

The first of the Interceptors entered the thoroughfare nearly a kilometer away, the acoustics of the buildings making the sound seem much closer. It was joined by 3 more. They did not charge up the street at the campsite, but took their time without using their thrusters. The Cabal had learned.

The leader dismounted on arrival, his huge boots crunching the sand underfoot. He sank a little as the ground settled under him. The other Interceptors floated forward a few meters, but no one dismounted. I studied the leader as he approached the fire pit: a Centurion, wearing the blue and gold of a Siege Dancer. His armor was pocked, his insignia faded almost to nothing from regular exposure to sand and wind. He drew out his weapon, and I could even seen the smoothed areas of the grip from countless uses of the gun.

I felt the tiniest bit of //elation course through my circuits as the Centurion kicked his way through the remains of the campsite. My eyes flicked to his escorts: they had established a rough perimeter, floating their Interceptors in a lazy circle around their commander, but their gaze often strayed to the buildings above their heads.

“They think you’re up there in a sniper nest.” Ebony whispered even though no one else could hear him.

I waited.

The Centurion grunted to his troops, and 1 flicked something on his Interceptor and barked a series of commands. Moments later a pair of Harvesters swooped through the sky, low and slow, taking their time as they passed between the skyscrapers. The Centurion grunted again, and his escorts dismounted. They began talking, gesturing at the fire pit and the buildings all around.

“Something’s wrong,” said Ebony. “The Centurion is saying he doesn’t want to deploy his troops.”

I squeezed the grip of my rifle and mentally backtracked through my preparations. Had I missed something? Did they know?

“Wait…a lieutenant is insisting it’s protocol.” Ebony “hmmed,” to himself as he parsed the speech. “She’s very adamant. The others are telling her that protocol out here is different. Maybe she’s a transfer from the Sky Burners.”

More talks and grunts. The Harvesters had arrived now, and the sound of their engines overwhelmed almost everything as they floated above. The wind was stirred by their presence and kicked sand every which way.

“The Centurion sounds like he’s making a compromise…they’re deploying a Harvester here and sending the others on.”

A Harvester activated its thrusters and flew down the thoroughfare while the other opened its belly and disgorged Legionaries and Psion troops to the ground. The Psions chattered and spread out, and 1 came straight at my position and stopped with its boot less than half a meter from my face, looking up and all around.

I waited.

Then the air tore open with a scream and I felt a wash of //relief as the first of the Taken launched their attack. Vex simulacrum, looking like living, oily smoke charged the Cabal. The massive soldiers formed up with intense discipline to repel the Taken. A Taken Minotaur appeared in their midst, blasting several Legionaries aside.

I waited.

Shadowy Thrall suddenly charged in, whipping their claws through the air at the Cabal, only to be easily knocked aside to disappear. Several Thrall managed to latch onto the Centurion, who calmly pointed his gun at the clinging shadows and vaporized them.

I followed the trail of shadowy Thrall back to their source, looking and //hoping

A Taken Wizard floated in the mouth of a doorway to one of the buildings: she was all but invisible, a deeper shadow in the darkness of the crumbled structure, sending forth her spawn to crush the Cabal interlopers.

In a single motion I stood and raised my sniper rifle, the sand cascading and streaming off my invisible form in a shower of dust, sighted on the Taken Wizard and fired. I heard a Cabal yell out the word I knew to mean “Guardian”, but I ignored them: the bait had served their purpose.

“Skadi!” I screamed at the Wizard. “I’m here to finish our business!”

I could hear her shrieking laughter on the wind.

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , ,

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