Posts Tagged With: Finale

Epilogue – Vol. 1

“And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the Light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?’
‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo. ‘But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later – or sooner.”

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers


I fled through the woods, and the Cabal followed. The war-beasts’ snarls echoed strangely off the trees, making them sound closer than they really were. I placed my back against the bole of a tree and reloaded my pulse rifle. My hands were covered in scratches and dirt, and I suppressed a laugh at the idea of going into one of the Tower’s libraries in my current condition.

The thrum of a Thresher overhead proceeded the wind of its passing, stirring the trees as if they were in a storm. I was on their sensors – I had to be – but the foliage was thick enough to prevent a direct line of sight. Still, the hovering Thresher was a beacon to the enemy: “it’s here, the Guardian is here!” I pushed off the tree and kept running. Thank the stars for all that time in the Iron Banner, it had built my endurance up. Even so, I couldn’t outrun the Cabal forever.

I heard the first of the war-beasts crashing through the brush behind me. I spun, dropped to one knee and raised the sight to my eye. The pulse rifle bucked in my hands and the charging monster dropped. I pivoted to the left, squeezed off a few more rounds, and the next went down. The rest of the pack, seven or more, barreled forward in spite of the shots. I started running again, trying to gain more distance.

One of the beasts snapped at my robes and I hammered its skull with the stock of my rifle. I jumped over it as it fell, twisted as I went down and fired at the next war-beast. I landed hard and rolled up against a tree trunk.  I raised my rifle and fired one-handed while I tried to get my feet under me. The muzzle-flash lit up their teeth and carapaces as they attacked, snarling. The smell of blood and burnt flesh was overwhelming. Three of them were on me in moments.

Well, I guess this is it.

One of the war-beast’s head exploded. The second stumbled as its rib-cage collapsed. I shot the third in its gaping maw and kicked away the corpse, aware of the sound of more gunshots filling the woods. Muzzle-flashes lit the spaces between the trees. Overhead the sky lit up like dawn, and the Thresher fell from the air trailing smoke and fire to crash half a kilometer away.

“You OK?”

I blinked my eyes, clearing the afterglow from the explosion. A Hunter, hood drawn up and a rifle in hand, offered me a hand up. I took it: he was human, pale, long haired and was dressed in steel-colored armor with a saber on his hip.

“Thanks,” I said.

“You’re welcome. I’m House, of the Valherjar.”

“You are Valherjar?” I reached into my satchel and pulled out the leather-bound book I had found a few days before on the corpse of a dead Exo. “I think this belongs to you.”

He took the journal and frowned at it. “Hey, boss!” he called over his shoulder. “I’ve got an Awoken over here!”

Figures melted into sight out of the Darkness: Titans and Warlocks and Hunters, all bunched together. House handed the journal to one of the Titans. “She says this is for us.”

The Titan flipped through the journal. “This belongs to Morc-35. Where did you get it?”

“I found it on his body.”

The Titan shook his head. “Well, I guess we all knew. Did you see any other Guardians with his body? Any Ghosts?”

I shook my head. “No. His body was alone.”

The Titan was silent a long moment. “We’ve established a base camp nearby. You’re welcome to join us, if you like.”

“Thank you.” I bowed. “I am Gwendolyn, Warlock of the Vanguard.”

“If there still is a Vanguard, sure,” said the Titan. “But for now, welcome to The Chosen Dead.”

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Categories: Volume 1: Finale | Tags: , , , , , ,

Finale – Finale

Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Where the way is Dark and the night is cold
One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know
And I’ll meet you further on up the road.

~Johnny Cash, Further On Up The Road


Morc-35 stared up at the Tower overhead, glowing with flames and crowned in smoke. A hand slapped his shoulder, shaking the Exo from his stupor. “C’mon, we’re out of time!” Findlay was running ahead through the City streets as only a Titan could. Morc followed, his cloak snapping in the breeze of his passing as they abandoned the battered Tower.

“Those ships are here, just like Morc promised,” Miranda reported. “We’re loading up civilians now.”

“They take off as soon as they’re full,”  ordered Farstride. “Make sure the pilots have House’s comm frequency.”

“I can’t believe we’re running,” said Telrik.

Morc and Findlay barreled into the loading area where two large ships in Dead Orbit colors sat and carried their crates to the nearest waiting ship. Emma Eriksson was directing traffic to her longboat and pointed them at the cargo flaps, spaces too small to hold people but big enough for ammo crates.

“Enough ammo to last an army,” said Findlay proudly.

“Get airborne, Fin,” said Farstride.

The younger Titan spluttered. “But -”

“No ‘buts’,” ordered Farstride. “You’re going with Arianna and Miranda to keep the civilians safe. We’ll regroup once we know what the Vanguard plan to do. Then-”

Morc-35 lost track of what Farstride was saying: the world filled with a sharp ringing tone and he stumbled as something…ripped out of him. A figure of Light stood at his side, wrapped with tendrils of what looked like dark goo and starlight. Then it evaporated, and Ebony fell to the earth.

“Ebony?” the Exo sank his to his knees and scooped up his Ghost. “Ebony?!”

The little Ghost didn’t respond as he turned it over in his hands: its eye was faded and dark. The ringing noise subsided, and Morc stood to his feet. He felt…light: as if some strange burden he had not been aware of had lifted, or a broken part had finally been fixed. It was equal parts strange and exhilarating, tainted only by the horror of his Ghost’s sudden silence. He looked at the others as his senses came back to life.

Every other Guardian was on their knees as if something had suddenly struck them. Only Heisenberg-3 was standing. The loading of the ships had ground to a halt, and the civilians were either staring in terror at the fallen Guardians or running for their lives.

“What the hell’s going on with you?” shouted Emma. She was kneeling next to Drake and shaking him: the Awoken had taken off his helmet, revealing eyes that were wide and hollow. Emma turned to the Exos. “What is this?”

Heisenberg-3 pointed at the Traveler. “I’d say that has something to do with it.”

The Traveler’s form was covered in a golden glow, the great Cabal machine clinging to it like an enormous tick.

“We have to go, now! Before they occlude the airspace!” Emma waved at the remaining civilians. “Help me get these Guardians aboard! Do it!”

Humans, frames and even an Awoken jumped out of the longboats and began running to the fallen Guardians, lifting them up in pairs and scooping up their dropped Ghosts and weapons. Magnus, Telrik, and the Awoken Hunters were all but dragged to the ships.

Farstride shook off his helpers. “No, I’ve got it.” He picked up his pistol and took off his helmet as well. “Someone get me a rocket launcher.”

Morc-35 reached into one of the cargo flaps and tugged two launchers out, along with some ammo. He handed one to the human. “Can you fight?” he asked.

“Long enough,” replied Farstride as he loaded his weapon. “New plan. Everyone get on board. I’ll provide air cover.”

“One won’t do it,” said Morc-35, loading his own rocket launcher. “We should get on top of one of these buildings, shoot down any Threshers that get too close.”

Gunfire erupted at the edge of the platform: Drake was on his feet again, his pulse rifle barking at charging Cabal scouts with Findlay at his side.

“Take off!” shouted Farstride. He waved at Emma. “Take off, take off now!”

Emma clambered into the cockpit and the doors to the longboats closed, the civilians and remainder of the Valherjar inside.

Findlay rushed a Legionary and smashed the monster’s face with a fist, sending it to the ground. He shot another with his rifle, then drove the butt of his weapon into another. A war beast tackled him to the ground, and Findlay caved its skull in with a hammer-blow from both fists. Another war beast gripped his leg with its jaws and began dragging him away before Morc-35 lost sight of him in the pack of animals.

Drake was steadily backing up into the loading zone, his rifle chattering as he delayed the Cabal.

“Threshers!” said Farstride, raising the rocket launcher to his shoulder. Morc-35 followed his motion and locked the weapon onto a low-flying ship. The rocket flew free and struck the engine of an attacking Thresher, sending it careening away. For a few, harrowed seconds, the human and Exo fired and reloaded as fast as they could while the longboats behind them fired up their engines and began to lift off the platform. Then there was a blast of heat and the ships were away, skimming the rooftops of the Last City, racing for the Wall as fast as they could.

Morc-35 pointed his heavy weapon at the attacking Cabal foot soldiers and fired, scattering them with the explosion. “Out,” he reported and tossed it aside. He drew his sword: the blade wasn’t entirely devoid of stored Light, and the heavy edge could still cut.

Drake had retreated and the three now stood back to back on the platform: once Titan, Warlock, and Hunter, now just Human, Awoken and Exo. More Cabal were rushing in. Farstride fired another rocket before tossing it aside. “Also out.” He pulled out his pistol and checked the cylinder. “I have enough to make them pay for it.”

“We can make for that high-rise,” said Drake. He pointed with his rifle down the street. “It’s a library, plastisteel and stone. We could regroup there and make a run for the Wall.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Morc-35.

“Go, go!” They broke formation and ran. Morc-35 suddenly discovered he was the fastest, easily outpacing his organic companions. A Phalanx stepped out from between buildings in an attempt to block their retreat. The Exo leaped over his shield, pivoted, and opened his armor with the blade, leaving the Cabal in the dirt. Then he ran on.

Rounds skipped off the ground around them as Psion snipers tried to take them out. Farstride fired back at them over his shoulder without looking as he ran. Morc-35 turned around to check on his companions.

Drake stumbled and fell, a burnt hole in his chest from a sniper. His rifle clattered on the paved street.

Morc swore and ran back. He picked up the Phalanx’s shield and braced it to cover the fallen Awoken. Farstride grabbed Drake’s shoulders and hauled him behind cover of a building and Morc followed.

“Drake? Drake, buddy, talk to me.” Farstride patted the Awoken’s cheek. “Drake?”

The Awoken’s head lolled to one side and hung, his eyes wide and sightless. His Ghost rolled from his open hand and stared overhead at the silent Traveler.

Farstride grabbed the Ghost and pocketed it. “We’ll come back. Maybe if we can restore its Light…”

The thought was cut off as more rounds smacked into the wall over their heads. They ran, leaving Drake’s body behind.

More Cabal blocked their way at an intersection. Farstride fired, his hand cannon thundering. Several of the Phalanxes collapsed with pristine shots to the head, opening a gap. “Go, go!” he shouted.

Morc-35 ran through the opening, slicing at exposed Cabal armor. A war beast attacked and he split its head open with a blow. Farstride pressed in behind him.

A soldier landed in front of them, blades swinging wildly. Morc parried, ducked, and buried his blade in the gap beneath its arm. Farstride blew its head off with a well-placed shot. He jumped over the body, and another Cabal landed. It skewered the human on its blade and lifted him high overhead, then threw him down to the ground and smashed him underfoot.

Morc cut the head from the soldier and stood over Farstride’s corpse. More Phalanxes rushed in, shooting over their shields. The Exo bent to look for the Ghosts, but saw nothing but blood and smashed circuitry. Then a shot took him in the chest and he fell, his sword spinning away.

“Damn it!” The Exo pulled his knife free and tried to stand, but his legs didn’t respond to the command. A war beast charged in, snarling. Morc-35 buried the knife in its face and it was wrenched away by the creature’s convulsions. Then something heavy stepped on his back and pressed down, and there was only Darkness.

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

Finale – Part 1

If we do not live another day,
Say this over our pyre:
“They died like High Guard Lancers,
With their faces to the fire.”

~Regimental Hymn of the 13th Imperial Lancers, CY 4233 (The Widening Gyre, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda)


The last pages are water-stained and washed out. A folded map is tucked into the back, along with a small data drive containing records and communications logs. With these clues and some careful study, you piece together Day 1,131…

The Twilight Gap rang with the sound of gunfire and the occasional explosion from a thrown grenade. Morc-35 perched on a stone and watched the four-versus-four match unfold. The late day was overcast and it was beginning to rain. The approaching storm made a beautiful backdrop for the Crucible match unfolding.

Farstride, Arianna, Telrik and Drake, as Alpha team, had taken the outside area of the map and peppered anyone who stepped out with sniper fire. Bravo, consisting of Magnus, Miranda, Findlay and Heisenberg-3 were biding their time, hurling explosives and cornering anyone brave enough to enter their zone.

“They’re massing for an attack,” Morc-35 muttered to his Ghost, Ebony, as he looked through a hand-held scope. “Magnus has them bunched up in the back corner. Any second now he’s going to-”

As if on cue, the sound of a great metal anvil being struck announced the charge of a Sunbreaker: Heisenberg came barreling out of the building swinging his hammer, racing for the outside, followed by Miranda and Findlay.

Farstride fell back from the charge, pulling Telrik and Arianna into his shield, and Heisenberg’s hammer glanced off the bulwark. They began to dance inside the bubble, daring them to charge.

Findlay took them up on it, running straight at the bubble of Void Light.

There was a brief, mad scramble to get out of the eager Titan’s way before he smashed the fortification. Arianna went down, but not before she had stuck a flaming knife in Findlay’s helmet: he walked a single step before face-planting into the dirt and his Ghost appeared next to Arianna’s.

Farstride and Telrik had split up, covering the others in a wide field of fire. Heisenberg was still holding his hammer and he hurled it at Farstride: the defender disappeared in a wash of fire and smoke. Heisenberg turned to attack Telrik and had his head blown off for his trouble.

Miranda skipped off the side of the building with the all the grace of a dancer and launched an arrow of Void Light at the Titan. The shot went wide but tethered him. Telrik stood his ground and sniped again, sending her spinning away. She ducked behind some boxes and ran back inside. Telrik focused on the tether, trying to cut himself free.

“Where are the Warlocks?” asked Morc.

“Coming,” reported Ebony.

Telrik had just nullified the tether when Magnus appeared above his head, spitting fire from a hand cannon. The exchange of gunfire was brief and Telrik went down. Magnus floated down to reload, and then disappeared into an explosion that rattled the whole arena as Drake abandoned his hiding place to launch a Nova bomb.

“Score?” asked Morc.

“4,325 to 4,100 for Alpha. 00:42 on the clock.”

“Gonna be close, as always,” said Morc.

The Ghosts had switched sides, leaving Bravo team on the outside. There were some cheers from Bravo: this was the favored side of the arena, giving the contestants ample room to funnel an attack. But Alpha had the lead, and didn’t need to expose themselves to win; and they had the better snipers, meaning Bravo would likely have to rush the fortified position to even the score.

There was another boom, this one louder than the Nova bomb and it made everything tremble. Morc lowered his scope and looked South into rain that was beginning to fall in sheets. Black shapes marred the skyline, coming in low and fast under the cloud cover, missiles zooming in ahead of them. “Holy crap!” shouted Morc. He leaped down from his position and ran for cover at the tram building as another explosion went off, showering him with dirt and debris. The gun emplacements began to fire, answering the attacking ships with thunder of their own.

“Match is over! Alpha team wins!” Farstride called as he ducked into the tram building with Morc.

“No fair!” Magnus yelled back.

More of the Valherjar poured into building 3 as small ships swept overhead. “We have to call this into the Tower!” said Arianna.

“Can’t, those comm issues we’ve been having all day haven’t been patched yet,” Drake said as he loaded his weapon.

“I don’t think it matters!” shouted Telrik. “I’m sure they know or will soon. We have to get off this hill!” Then a gun emplacement exploded, and the Twilight Gap crumbled.

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

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