Posts Tagged With: The Iron Banner

Day 1099

“My dear young lady,’ said the professor…’there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying.’
‘What’s that?’ said Susan.
‘We might all try minding our own business…”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


“Victory is a matter of will!”

“You ever get tired of Shaxx saying that?” asked Rill.

“It’s just a prerecorded announcement,” I replied, not taking my eyes from the screen. “Although I’m pretty sure he believes it.”

Henrik, Rill’s boyfriend, grunted and swigged from a brown bottle. “Victory is a matter of weapons and skill.”

I didn’t disagree with him and stood up. “I’m getting another drink before the match gets too far along. Anyone need a refill?”

“I’ll take another,” said Emma. The others shook their heads. I made my way to the bar, hood drawn still drawn up, and slid my glass to the frame behind the bar. “Need another of Cosmodrome IPA, too,” I added. The frame blinked and dutifully began to refill my glass.

“I didn’t know Exos could drink,” said a voice at my elbow. The speaker was Awoken, pale blue skin and jet black hair that had the slightest bluish tinge that contrasted starkly with her pure white robes. Her Ghost’s shell was gold and green, depicting a committed Iron Banner contestant that matched her shining green eyes.

“Thought you Warlocks knew everything,” I quipped.

The Awoken rolled her eyes and threw up her hands in a mock defensive pose. “Oh, you’ve wounded me, oh witty Hunter. Seriously, are you really one of those?”

“One of those what?” I asked //tersely.

“One of those guys who thinks if they’re insulting and standoffish it’s somehow endearing?”

I blinked at her, suddenly //flustered. “You’re defensive.”

“Really? Someone makes a casual observation and your first reaction is to put them down for being different from you. Which of us has their defenses up?”

I opened my mouth to retort…then rethought it. “OK, you got me. My mistake.” I drew my hood back and stuck out a hand. “Morc-35, of the Valherjar and the Erickssons.”

“That’s better.” She shook my hand. “Gwendolen, Vanguard. My friends call me Gwen.” She looked at one of the large screens in the half-empty taproom. “So that’s your unit fighting in the Iron Banner, Shores of Time match?”

“Yeah.” I glanced at the screen. Farstride, Findlay, Heisenberg and Telrik were tearing through the competition as only a team of Titans could. Magnus was holding ground near the B-Zone, and a random sixth Bladedancer, unaffiliated as far as I could see, had rounded out the roster for the match. “They’re moving up the rankings pretty well this tournament.”

“Why aren’t you with them?”

“I’ve been out of the Crucible for about a year now. The Iron Banner would eat me alive.”

“Ah. So it has nothing to do with your fear of not being able to revive?”

A host of different emotions roiled through me before I locked down the answer. “You’re the Warlock that Father Ericksson told me about.”

Gwen nodded. “He’s given up trying to convince you to see me, so he asked me to find you. He says you need help. I would like to try, if you’ll let me.”

I took my refilled glass and the bottle from the bar where the frame had placed them. “I’m not a specimen for you to study. Go ply your magic tricks elsewhere.” I turned to leave.

She placed a hand on my arm. “Morc-35, listen: if your condition is what it sounds like, you may be infected with something. Which means you might be curable. Your family is worried about you.”

I shook off her hand and walked back to the table and placed Emma’s drink in front of her. I sat down and studiously kept my back to the bar and Gwen.

“I’m telling you,” Emma was saying to Rill, “these matches are rigged. Look at that!” She pointed at the screen with the scoreboards, showing the different rankings of each team of contestants. “There is a clear bias of matching teams that are imbalanced with one type of Light against teams that have 2 of each energy type, and the teams with 2 of each almost always win.”

“That’s a load of BS,” Rill shot back. “Look at the bracket for the next match: the Fifth Circle is almost purely Golden Guns and Sunsingers, and they haven’t even lost a match yet!”

“Well sure, when you have 3 Guardians who can self-revive it’s impossible to take territory back from them. If this were a Clash tourney they would be just as badly off. My point still stands.”

“Whatever. You’re still going down. The Northern Paladins are winning.”

“Because the Valherjar are almost all Arc-types and the Paladins came with a rounded team. Rigged.”

I checked the score on the match we were watching: 8325 to 7650 with 2:31 on the clock. Although the Valherjar held only a single zone, they were closing the gap through attrition – an effective strategy for a team comprised mostly of Titans. Another screen in the bar flipped over to the match to provide an additional angle and we got a good look at Telrik rushing an enemy zone: he hit with a Fist of Havoc and scattered half the enemy team. In moments Farstride reinforced his position with a shield. A few seconds later and another rush, and all 3 zones were held by the Valherjar, turning the match into a massacre.

The final score was 10150 to 9950. The bar erupted into cheers and groans, and the Iron Banner brackets shifted with the new standings.

“Woo!” Emma slammed her drink on the heavy wood table and stood up on her chair, dancing. “Valherjar, Valherjar! Woo! Enjoy that extra delivery shift this weekend while I’m sunning myself, sis!”

Rill leaned her head on Henrik’s shoulder and shut her eyes. “Damn it. I’ve haven’t had a weekend off in almost a month.” She looked at Emma. “Double or nothing if they lose their next match.”

“You’re on!” Emma dropped back into her chair, laughing.

I risked a look over at my shoulder. The Warlock was gone, as far as I could see.

Emma noticed the look and followed my gaze. “You lose something?”

“Someone,” I said. I turned in my chair again to watch the next match.

“So did you talk with her?” asked Emma.

I glared at her. “Please say you didn’t tell that Warlock where to find me.”

Emma had the good grace to look embarrassed. “I thought-”

“Blood of the Traveler.” I kicked my chair back and stood up. “I don’t need this, Emma.”

“Morc – ”

I drew my hood back up and left the bar.

Ebony spoke in my ear. “Far be it from me to disagree with you,” he said. “But if the Warlock is right, I am in danger as well. We should talk with her.”

“Shut up,” I snapped.

“Guardian – ”

“Shut. Up.”

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Day 173

‘Arrow!’ said the bowman. ‘Black arrow! I have saved you to the last! You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!’

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


“Crota is dead!” The Tower and the City buzzed with the news. The Dark god of the Hive had fallen in his own realm. Nobody could speak of anything else it seemed. Except for Telrik: the Titan had, strangely enough, disappeared.

“He’ll be back,” said Farstride. We stood at the lip of the Tower hangar, looking down at the City below. “He just has some business to handle.”

“At least it’s not more Crucible training,” I said, unable to keep the //relief from my voice. “He went a little crazy there for moment.”

Farstride laughed. “We are all a little mad, Morc.”

“Perhaps.”

“Have you met Miranda yet?”

I thought for a moment. “The Hunter? The 1 that looks like she sleeps in a swamp?”

“That’s the 1.”

“Yes. She joined the Future War Cult.”

“Now, no infighting in my unit,” said Farstride firmly.

“No infighting,” I promised. “At least, not from my end.”

“Hmm.” He sounded doubtful.

“I have enough feuds to settle without starting 1 in the Valherjar,” I assured him.

“Oh. You mean Fernanda-24 and the King’s Ransom.”

I waited for a landing ship to pass and the noise to die down before I replied. “Yes. It would seem the Warlock and her 2 henchman took a particular interest in us when Telrik was pushing us all in the Crucible. They wiped the floor with me several matches in a row.” I looked aside at Farstride. “I sense some animosity there.”

“You are not wrong,” admitted Farstride. “I blame Telrik for bringing it with him. We all have baggage though.” He shrugged. “Thankfully, Drake does not seemed fazed by it, and he is the only New Monarchy connection we have for now.” He pointed at the faded crescent of the moon on the horizon. “So, Crota, dead. What do you think?”

“Less Hive to deal with,” I said simply.

Farstride laughed again. “That is 1 way to look at it. But you know that there are nests all over the Cosmodrome now. And I’m not sure Hive gods really can die.”

“That is…not comforting,” I said.

“Point being, more training in the Crucible is not a bad idea. I want us all in regular teams for the 3 vs. 3 matches. I think I will assign you and Arianna to Telrik.”

“2 Hunters and a Titan?” I asked.

“We have only 2 Warlocks,” he said. “I want Drake to work with me and Miranda. And I think leaving Magnus free to fill in where needed makes more sense anyway.”

“All due respect,” I countered, “You are putting 2 Arc and 1 Solar together and keeping an entire team of Void wielders together. Is that not a bit unbalanced?”

“Actually, I am giving a talented supporter 2 highly mobile killers and keeping a support, defense, and offense specialist in a team together,” he replied. “There’s a method to the madness here, Morc. Trust me.”

I shrugged and fell quiet. Another ship roared into the landing zone, whipping the air into a gale with its passing.

“New regimen starts with the next Iron Banner,” said Farstride. “Until Telrik gets back, Magnus will fill in.”

“You want us in the Iron Banner?” I asked, //unsettled.

“It’s time to get stronger, Morc. So we’re going to meet the strongest and come out stronger. See you there.”


 

“We need to hold A!” shouted Farstride. A sniper round gouged out a chunk of stone next to his head and he sidestepped. Another round whipped through the Bravo flag we had established just moments before in the “A” zone and he moved again.

I crouched invisible a few meters away, looking for the reflection of the scope from the shooter. “He’s on the water tank,” I reported.

“Got him!” said Miranda. The wiry little Awoken hunter leaped over the lip of the huge metal dome the enemy sniper crouched on. I saw the sniper turn to meet the new threat, but he was too slow: there was a bright flash and he disintegrated into Void dust.

“Guardian down!” reported Ebony.

“We lost Magnus,” said Drake. “And I’m holding B all alone.”

“Morc, head center and reinforce Drake,” said Farstride.

“Don’t die,” quipped Drake. “We’re only down by 3-”

“Guardian down!”

“Oh damn it,” I said, sprinting down the tunnel toward B. I could see the color changing on the Zone as I approached.

“Magnus, head for B,” said Farstride. “Miranda, help me out here.”

“Where’s Arianna?” I demanded as I charged into the B zone. A Warlock in red robes stood there. She raised her weapon at me and I rolled for cover. Just as I put stonework between myself and the Warlock an explosion cratered the zone.

“I was saving that for a special moment,” said Arianna. I looked around the corner to see her plant our flag in the ashes of the Warlock. I took a moment to pull up the roster and saw the enemy team had undergone a slight change: Fernanda-24 was the now exploded Warlock waiting to be revived.

“When did she join the match?” I asked with mild //exasperation.

“We’re up by 100,” said Drake. “Just hold this for 1 minute and it’s our match.”

As if on cue, the world filled with white noise and I stumbled away, blind.

“Rez! We got a rez on B!” shouted Arianna. “We-”

“Guardian down!”

“No!” I turned on my heel and fired wildly in the direction of the Zone. Fire and heat filled my sensors and I jumped away, but it only grew worse. My vision was partly clear in seconds, but I knew it was already too late.

Darkness.

Light. I started to run.

“Weapons down, Guardians,” said Shaxx’s voice. “This fight is over.”

“110 points,” said Drake morosely. “That’s it.”

I didn’t even bother looking at the score. I simply holstered my weapon and looked for the exit. Arianna joined me a moment later. “Somedays,” she said as we walked out, “I really hate this Crucible game.”

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