Mercury; once a place graced by the touch of the Traveler, now gone to ruin by the all-seeing eye of the Vex Minds. Time marches ever forward for them and their lawless machine, and only they will see where it ends. Though, the story advances not forward, but back. Back to the days before the Collapse; before the Vex turned Mercury into another one of their factory planets. Endless jungles roll across the expansive surface of a Mercury not yet touched by the Vex's corrupting hand.
As the final hours dawn in this race against time, the Repetitive Mind grows ever closer to erasing every victory that the Guardians have ever claimed, and rewriting history so the Vex are the only rulers. Though others still yet scramble in the present, Fireteam Argus has arrived in the past. For them, they are out of time.
( I have no problems with it, if that's what makes people happy. )
"Let's get moving! Time's wasting!" Arxus called back to his allies, who had yet to pass down the incline. Arxus overlooked the distant Warmind facility, shrouded by tree cover. Explosions were frequent but spaced far enough to warrant surprise. The Titan clutched his scout rifle close, knowing that there would be Hell between there and here.
Three aircraft flew directly overhead, noticably different from those seen in the 'present'. Avgust glanced up for but a moment, before he lowered his head down once more and pressed on toward the facility. As Argus got closer, the tall tower of the light-harvesting plant became more obvious. There was gunfire, not just the Vex, but of something else. Avgust muttered to his Ghost: "How much further?"
"That your only concern?" Svarog asked, "Minutes. Look at all this. Fighting, looking to save their future. Do they even know?"
In the present, the Xor and Scythe were immediately waved over by the still landed Hawk pilot, as static danced over the radio, as she announced: "Oi! We got a signal!"
On the other end, the familiar voice of Commander Zavala filled the static: "—Fireteam Argus! Respond if you are still active!"
(How far-reaching was the Vex invasion that kicked this whole thing off? Would they have reached the Tower?)
Avori caught glimpses of the city they'd seen earlier. It was no longer an image of serenity, but of panic. Civilian ships frantically tried flee the city, though few made it before they were shot down by Vex on the ground. Military forces seemed to be fighting back, but though to little avail, as the Vex were an entirely new and alien threat. As his view of the city was cut off by the forest again, a large explosion went off at the base of a large building, and it began to topple. All this only served to steel his resolve that something must be done.
(Sorry, I didn't make it clear, but I meant the Vex invasion that kicked the RP's storyline off, not the Collapse. I'm wondering what state Zavala and the other Vanguards would be in - would they have been fighting off the Vex invasion themselves, or just frantically trying to coordinate Guardians against it?)
Hearing the Hawk pilot's shouting made Scythe klunked his head on the edge of the open compartment."Gorramit, we're right here!" he muttered as he got up and checked the comms module. "Commander, this is Scythe 6-2, sometimes of Fireteam Argus. Do you copy?"
"I read you, Guardian. What's your status?"
"That's where things get complicated..." Scythe began. "I was providing air support for the rest of Argus when I was shot down. The others breached the not-Citadel-thingy, then our communications were cut off by some sort of Vex energy field. So that makes Avgust, Sara, Pariah, Avori, Arxus all MIA. "
< You forgot Solis. > Virgil said quietly from transmat.
"Oh, right. Solis too. Also, a Hunter by the name of Xor showed up."
Between them and the Warmind facility, there was a dense jungle; it seemed like there wasn't any immediate threats, so Argus could move at their own leisure. Acting as the trailblazer of their group, Arxus kept ahead; his feet kicked from the ground as he lifted upwards, catching a low-hanging branch that was thick enough to support his weight. He figured that if they did encounter anything, he would have height advantage.
"I'm sorry, the majority of Argus is MIA?" Zavala asked, "How can... until we establish transmission, we will have to wait for them. Guardians, we have nearly broken the Vex's hold over the transmat network on Mercury. We are getting a lot of interference from this, 'not-Citadel-thingy' as you so put it. We have reason to believe these Citadels connect to the Repetitive Mind. Can you assist us?"
(Appologies if I don't get the particulars of the Vex Inverse-Citadel right)
< Most unfortunately, yes. > Virgil chirped from transmat.
"Wasn't planning on leaving without them, boss." Scythe responded. "As for the Reverse-Citadel or whatever it's called, it looks like a regular Vex Citadel, but inverted and underground." He paced back and forth a bit, mentally tallying his ammo reserves. "I can, but there's only two of us out here. We could use the Frames, but that would be a bloodbath. We don't even know how to get in, much less get Argus out!"
"Also, did you say Avori?" Cayde asked, interrupting. "You don't mean the Hunter, Avori-48? Exo, gunslinger, puckish rogue type, takes a lot from yours truly? I thought I sent him to Mars. I thought he'd been... What was he doing on Mercury? Was Jules with him?"
Avori nodded along with Sara's point, before Pariah cut in.
"But we have the chance to change it," Avori pointed out. "If we contact the warminds, tell them all we know of the Vex and everything else that's coming, their strengths, weaknesses, military tactics, favourite damn... restaurants (I don't know; you get the point), then we have a chance to coordinate an effective resistance. We could give humanity some actual hope against them."
He looked at Pariah, who did not seem at all impressed with his suggestion.
"C'mon, Arxus, weigh in on this," he pleaded, hoping that someone with authority would take his side.
"Cayde, this is not the time," Zavala replied. "I sympathise, but our priority is halting this invasion, not one missing Hunter. Guardian, tell me more about this Vex shield. Are you certain there is no way to breach it?"
"In all fairness to my - admittedly, quite rash - Guardian," Avori's Ghost eventually decided to wade in. "We know very little about the fabric of time. If it is truly fixed, then the Vex wouldn't be able to edit it, either."
"Thank you!" Avori exclaimed, glad to have someone supporting him. "Aside from the rash part..."
"But with the information we give them, they could be ready to fight them by the time they arrive. We could be going back to a future where Guardians aren't necessary!" Avori replied, before deciding to change tactics. He adjusted his COMMs to listen into the few frequencies known to be used by civilains and militaries during the Golden Age. The sounds of panic played over his radio, citizens screaming for help, soldiers frantically trying to establish some sort of orderly resistance against the sudden threat.
He relayed what he was hearing to the rest of Argus for a few seconds. "So we're just meant to allow this to happen? When we're the only people who can do anything meaningful to help?"
"If we interfere, it could make things even worse." Arxus commented, weighing in on the situation at hand. It was painful that they couldn't do anything about it, but time was a fickle construct. "If we even tried to change something, we could screw things up royally. The Vex might just decide we're too much of a threat and erase us before the City even becomes a thing." Arxus began to pass through the jungle, as Argus made their way to the Warmind facility.
"Oh hi Cayde. Unfortunately, yes, Avori is MIA. Also, we need to talk after this is over, if I'm still alive." Scythe fidgited with his Shrapnel Launcher some more before continuing. "We don't know much about the Vex barrier at the moment, but I'll send you what data I have. Also, Xor has some interesting theories about it. I'll put him on."
Turning to the Exo, he handed him the headset. "Hey, Xor? Boss wants to talk to ya."
"The Vex were not the only threat we faced when the Darkness arrived at our doorstep.", Fenrir remarked, while stopping to look at the ongoing battle in the distance. "Do you think stopping the Vex here and now will save Earth from the Fallen?"
"The Fallen are scavengers, they came in to pick the bones of our civilization once it had been brought down," Avori replied. "Earth would have little difficulty in fending them off, even if they did still arrive."
However, now that Arxus has come in against him, Avori knew he'd lost. He isolated himself by slowing his pace until he was at the back of the group, where he remained, appalled at what he believed to be a lack of compassion from his fellow Guardians.
(Not particularly. I imagine him as kind of like George from Of Mice and Men in that he's quite a bit smarter than he looks/acts, but rarely shows it or puts that intelligence to use. As for why he doesn't see that wading in would only make things worse, he hasn't put much thought into how his actions would effect everything else, he's just seen people in distress and thinks it's his duty as a Guardian to help - as I said, thinking with his heart. And plus, he's having a really bad day.)
"Just trading one problem for another." Arxus commented, as the Titan moved up towards the Warmind facility. Vex units attacked the front entrance, employing long range tactics with Hobgoblins hiding in the underbrush. It was difficult to tell what exactly was fighting on the facility's behalf, but gunfire was being exchanged. They couldn't afford to get involved.
"Look, Avori..." Avgust paused, as the sound of gunfire intensified, the shouting of soldiers growing closer, "The consequences of our intervention outweigh the benefits. Our priority is to eliminate Tityos, and return to our present. Solis is right, we cannot risk this."
"Our priority is also protecting the Traveller's people!" Sara remarked, Avgust quickly turning his head toward his student, "We are Guardians, are we not? So why then are we refusing our duty? These people have the right to our protection, just as much as the people in our present!"
"Xor," Zavala addressed, "What can you tell about this barrier?"
"These people are already lost, Sara. I suggest you think of this as a memory we're visitors in. Nothing we can do will change the outcome at the end.", Fenrir said as he raised Stillpiercer against the Vex assaulting the entrance. The barrel of the gun was still for a moment, and it seemed as if the Hunter was about to fire. Instead, Fenrir turned his sights towards the other parts of the facility, reconing the area.
"There's a side entrance. Minor concentration of Vex. We can take them.", he announced after a short while.
"We can't, Sara." Arxus said. Their best bet was to move in unseen, like Solis had suggested; Arxus began to circumnavigate around the outer edge of the jungle, moving past the firing line of Vex and off towards the empty side of the facility exterior.
"Guardians..." Sara muttered, as Avgust slowly looked away. It troubled him, sure. But they had other priorities at the time. Pariah approached close to where Fenrir was, before she added: "Not sure how stealthy you intend to be... our Ghosts are a part of their network, meaning we might have another way."
"How?" Avgust inquired.
"Why, we might be able to trick them." Pariah replied, "If they cared about us now, we would have been surrounded already."
(Since HarmonyBass/Xor seems to be afk, I'll continue)
"Hey Xor, you out there?" Scythe shouted. "Xor? Where the hell is he?"
< Xor appears to be out of the office at the moment. I can take a message if you want. > Virgil chimed in from transmat.
"Scythe, this is Commander Zavala." the radio crackled "I don't know what is happening down there that Guardians seem to go missing every time we turn around for five minutes. It is imperative that all operational Guardians be found and brought up to speed as soon as possible. Do you understand?"
"I know what needs to be done," Scythe muttered "I just don't know how the hell I'm going to do it."
(Hey! I'm back! Sorry I've been absent, my tiny cheap laptop did a weird thing and so it's out of commission for now. But I found another equally cheap laptop so... Yeah!)
There was a loud crash and a sharp "shhh" from behind a nearby sun-scorched boulder, Xor seemingly stumbled out of thin air a few feet from the large chunk of rock. The Exo's worn armor covered in drops of the shining liquid found in the cores of Vex units. He jogged over to Scythe, trying to shake the glowing liquid from his gloves and clean his knife at the same time, it was an uphill battle. "Sorry", he said to the Exo, "Saw a thing, only one of them so don't worry. But I had to kill it. Don't think it saw me." He finally resolved to wiping his Vex-stained knife on his pants before sheathing it, the hilt made a soft 'clink' on the metal sheath. He clapped his hands, sending a few glowing drops onto the sand, "So, I feel like I've been gone for ages, did I miss anything?"
"A distraction of some kind. Or at least, a diversion." Arxus commented; the Titan moved up towards the side of the facility, until he hugged the wall of the exterior. Shouting could be heard within, and it was definitely of human origin. As much as he wanted to, they couldn't interfere; they couldn't risk it.
Virgil turned back to the comms. < Hold, please. >
"You... ok there?" Scythe asked, confused. "I've seen some strange things around here, but that takes the cake. And this is coming from a guy who taught Fallen how to line dance." He picked up the comms headset again. "Commander, I've found Xor, I think. Patching him through now."
Turning to the Exo, Scythe said "Zavala's on the phone. Wants a full report on this clusterfuck. Make sure to give him the data from those scans you took about the time-trap thing."
Avori exchanged a troubled glace with Sara. Though he'd decided to obey Arxus for the time being, he found it almost unbearable to stay his blade. He followed close behind Arxus as he navigated around the side of the structure. Upon turning a corner, the structure's entrance came into view, along with several Vex units streaming inside. Avori heard human shouting inside and gunfire, and immediately felt a pang of guilt for having not instantly charged into the fray.
Xor opened his comms and slipped into the channel, "Hey, my name is Xor and I swear I exist. Ask Cayde, he'll know me. But anyways", his voice took on a more serious tone. "I arrived on Mercury a few hours ago. Scythe here led me to this Reverse-Citadel. Turns out, the Vex must've known how Important Argus was to keeping the city safe. They trapped them within a Time Barrier, something I've only known them to use once before. If anyone, or anything tries to pass through the barrier, they are spit out at a random location in both place and time. When I tossed a short range transmitter in I could only detect it's signal for a few seconds, then it disappeared entirely. Unless we can find a way around it, Argus will never be able to return from the Citadel. Or whenever they happen to be... Flippin time-bots..."
Zavala replied, "This is troubling news indeed. If you find a way around that barrier, alert us immediately. Fireteam Argus is made up of our most successful Guardians yet. We cannot afford to lose them."
Xor nodded solemnly, "Yes sir."
He stood still and thought for a moment, one hand on his hip while the other scratched the chin of his helmet in thought. He mumbled to himself, "C'mon Xor. There's gotta be a way..."
Completely sealed... There won't be any gaps anywhere...
We can't blink through, not without a visual...
There's gotta be a way...
He suddenly looked up, a lightbulb going off in his head, "I'm an idiot!"
He quickly turned to Scythe, "Warp Gates! Vex Warp Gates!" He pointed to the Citadel, "There are Warp Gates in All major Vex instellations around the system, and trust me, I've been to all of them." He laughed, "It's so obvious! We don't have to find a way around the barrier! Only the space-time Around the barrier!"
"All we need to do is find a Warp Gate that leads to the interior of this Citadel and Poof! We're in!" He pointed at Scythe's ship without breaking eye contact with it's owner, "Can that thing fly yet?"
(Btw I'm using a school laptop as long as my personal one is out of commission so the earliest I'll be able to reply for now will be 9:15. The latest is 4:10. Sorry if that's inconvienient for anyone.)
(also, about the thread I proposed, just to sort things out. It's all good. However, I do think that finding a way to put some old enemies back into the story might be interesting, especially with Argus in another time period. Hope you guys take that into consideration, but again, it's fine if you don't. You guys did start the Argus RP's so it's your call.)
Moving in towards the flank of the facility seemed like the safest bet; and the quickest, as well. Argus had no trouble with circumnavigating the exterior of the Warmind plant, even as allied humans quickly succumbed to the Vex onslaught. Pained screams could be heard just behind the walls. Arxus swallowed his remorse and carried forward, eventually finding an access point. "Here. We can sneak in through this ventilation tunnel." It was a good plan, if Argus decided to opt for the stealthiest approach, and not risk getting seen by the Vex.
"Wait, you want to go into that thing?" Scythe and Virgil both groaned. "I can do that, but I don't particularly like it..."
Hearing Xor's question, Virgil popped up from transmat. < Theoretically, yes, it is flyable. But we should probably do a test flight first... >
A minute later, Scythe was in the cockpit of Bad Mother, warming up the engines and checking over the instruments. "Engine temps read green. Electrics look good, hydraulic pressure is... green. Sheilds and weapons on standby. Ready when you are, Xor."
Solis was apparently the only one who had no trouble with leaving these people to their fate. He found it rather shortsighted and unprofessional to do otherwise. Instead of feeling guilt or regret of any kind, he silently clambered into the shaft.
Xor leaned over Scythe's shoulder, giving him a thumbs up before taking a seat behind him, "Going into the Citadel seems like the best bet we have to getting Argus back. Unless you have any other ideas?"
"Oh great." Scythe muttered as he entered the coordinates for the Venus Citadel into the navcomputer. "Valhalla, here we come." With that, the Javelin was launched into warp for the short journey between planets.
A few minutes later, Bad Mother exited warp and took up orbit around Venus. "Alright, setting us down at the Ishtar Sink." Scythe muttered to himself as the ship entered the atmosphere. "So... what's the plan? Do we park close to the Citadel and blast our way in, far away and sneak in, or what?"
"Our best bet is to set down a little ways off.", Xor reported, "If they figure out we're after the Gates they'll probably shut them off."
As the ship sunk down lower he leaned over the seat in front of him, peering out at Venus's green and tan landscape, "We go in nice and quiet. Once we find a gate, I'll need a few minutes to find out where it goes. I'll need you to watch my back, If anything get's a little too close just let me know."
"That would mean going through the Fallen, although without their Kell they shouldn't be a problem.", he added sheepishly, "Hey, do you happen to have an extra Sparrow? I kinda... um... Don't... uh... have one..."
"Ok, so the Cliffs are out. Figured as much." Scythe gripped the controls tighter as they encountered turbulence. "Should we land at the Headlands, then?"
< About the Rent-A-Sparrow... > Virgil floated over Scythe's shoulder. < We haven't had one for quite some time. >
Seeing Xor's equally confused expression, Scythe continued. "I got rid of my Sparrow as soon as I found a Pike and got it working." He paused. "But if we landed in Ishtar Cliffs, I could steal one for you."
Xor held up a hand, "Actually, I have a better Idea." As they exited the ship he pointed towards the path to the Headlands, "Before the Taken War, I remember the Wolves being particularly fond of this area. Perhaps they left a few of their heavy pikes behind. Those Fallen left aren't going anywhere so I don't see why they would need them anymore."
"That might work." Scythe said. "But from what I've seen, I'll stick with mine. Let's see if we can find you one somwhere."
< Scanning for old House of Wolves dens now. > Virgil chirped as he processed the request. A few seconds later, he let out an electronic chime and said < I've found 3 Wolf dens near here. Whether or not they're still intact, I don't know. Marking them on your HUD now. >
"Whoa, there's one really close to here. We don't even need to use my Pike." Scythe muttered. "Let's go."
A few minutes later found Xor peering out from around a large boulder at the Ember Caves, he watched as the few remaining Winter Fallen patrolled the catwalks on the cliff above. His gaze fell to a small cave, tucked back at the bottom of the cliff. Only bad news... It was surrounded by Fallen, not too many, just enough to make the Exo uneasy.
He turned to Scythe, "These aren't Vex so we don't nessecarily have to be quiet. However, I prefer not to give anything a reason to shoot at me. So, I'm gonna sneak around, get into that cave over there. You can do whatever pleases you most. Just, don't die please..."
With that he stood up and vanished, his form melting away like it was being burned away by tiny white flames from his feet up. A few seconds and even his bootprints stopped in their tracks, leaving no evidence of the Exo's existence.
"Same here, but if it should come to that, I'm very good at fighting Fallen." Scythe growled as he studied the scene through the scope of his Wire Rifle. Startled by the strange sound behind him, he turned. "Wait, where are you-" The Hunter blinked in astonishment. "Virgil, what the hell was that?"
< I have no idea. Scanning... >
With that, Scythe went back to surveying the caves.
As Argus moved in through the vents, the shouting and screaming suddenly ceased. It was as though the Vex completed their conquest of the human forces, as they were now all dead. However, it wasn't their mission; they had to find Tityos and quickly.
Xor walked calmly forward, past the Fallen that glanced around for intruders almost a meter away. He didn't stop to even glance at the Dregs, they wouldn't stop him. To them, he wasn't there. He smiled under his helmet at the perfection that was his camoflauge. The old Rustburner armor was tattered and worn, but the ancient fabric was perfect for modifications, in his case, cutting edge stealth tech, pieced together by yours truly.
He strolled right past them, the light ant matter bending around him as if he were an anti-black hole. Once past the patrol of Vandals, Xor drew his knife, approaching the lone Dreg that had strayed into the previously empty Wolf den.
Its back was turned.
Surprise, Xor thought as he wrapped one arm around the Dregs head, keeping it from making a sound as he drove his blade quickly into the soft material around the Fallen's neck. He grimaced at the whisper of sound that eminated from the body as the Ether leaked out of the dead Dreg's suit.
He dragged the body to a corner, pulling a few useful bits and bobs off of the alien soldier before turning to his goal, two large objects covered in tarps.
The Dreg patrol glowed green in the scope of Scythe's Wire Rifle. While he had a perfect shot on the one that seemed to be the leader, he didn't fire. Xor had asked him not to, and everything seemed to be under control for the moment. Just then, he saw a lingering Dreg seemingly being dragged into the cave where Xor was headed. "One down." he muttered as he continued scanning the area for targets. "Ghost, any idea what he could be looking for in there?"
< Your guess is as good as mine. But for the record, I would say some sort of supply cache. Whether it's Golden Age, City, or Fallen, I don't know. >
It wasn't long before the entrance to the cave exploded in a flashes of several flashing Arc Mines that almost incinerated the Fallen outside. The remaining Fallen still alive quickly gathered themselves and regained their composure, lifting their weapons and looking down the sights just in time to watch a greyish-blue heavy pike with the House of Wolves emblem on it come roaring out of the cave.
Xor laughed as he slid to the side, bringing the Pike in a 180 and lining his own sights up with the Fallen to mow them down with the heavy cannons mounted on the Pike's front.
He waved to Scythe, "Come on over, there's another one inside if you wanna use it!"
(Btw for awhile there actually was a cave near the ember caves that occationally had a couple heavy pikes in it)
The blinding flash of light filled Scythe's scope, momentarily overloading his helmet's optics. Hearing the all-too-familiar roar of a Heavy Pike, he readied Super Good Advice and rolled into a crevice. But the cries of the Fallen indicated a threat to them, so he peeked over the boulder, not entirely surprised to see Xor astride an old Wolves Heavy. "Nice shooting, for a rohbit." he laughed over the comms. "Thanks, but I'll stick with mine. I fought one of those once, wasn't all that impressed at the time."
In response, Virgil played an audio clip. < The Sand People are easily startled, but they will soon be back, and in greater numbers. >
Arxus headed through the ventilation system, which seemed to wind away into the guts of the Warmind facility. Once it ended, the Titan found himself at a grate that seemed like a good exit point. With his Titan strength, he bent out a corner of the metal and crushed it upwards, before yanking it off of the housing. Slipping out of the exit point, the room they entered seemed to be some sort of server room; likely meant to maintain all the electronics within the facility. Despite the Warminds being mostly self-sufficent, it seemed as though the facility still required a rather sizable staff to keep everything running smoothly.
Xor shrugged, "Suit yourself" He revved the Pike's engines, "I'll meet you at the landing site. As soon as you get there I think the best place to head would be Cabin 9. The Vex have a surplus of Gates... Still don't know why they would build so many in one place..."
"We can always come back for it later." Scythe said as he slid down from the boulder. In a few short steps, he was climbing onto his Pikie. The engine turned over and roared to life.
< Cabin 9? You mean Campus 9, right? > Virgil suggested from transmat.
"Either Cabin 9 is some new site that was just discovered, or you mean Campus 9." Scythe muttered. "In the meantime,I'll get started toward Campus 9." With that, he twisted the throttle, and the Pike shot away.
"Cabin, Campus, Vex-hole. Same difference.", It's where we need to be if we're gonna get to Argus.", He spoke into the comms as he made his way to the landing site. The Pike roared as he quickly neared the ship.
Glancing over his shoulder he saw Scythe quickly gaining on him and turned sharply, continuing to their destination.
"Hey Xor, how're you liking that new Pike?" Scythe shouted over the roar of his own Pike's engine. While Sparrows were faster and more maneuverable, he prefered the Pike's heavier armor and weaponry. Seeing his ship come into view, he began to slow down. "My ship, coming up. Once we get what we need here, then on to Campus 9?"
"Handles a bit like an unbalanced jetski. But it'll do just fine for now. Of course, once we near the more Vex-Busy areas we'll have to ditch them to keep from being noticed. You can cloak a Pike's appearance. But the noise they make would still be pretty loud.", They slowed at the ship to launch themselves down the path towards their destination, the Ishtar Academy.
Scythe laughed at the comparison. "Yeah, they do handle about like one. And would probably fly just as well if it weren't for the massive amount of forward thrust." Hearing Xor's plan, he reluctantly agreed. "As much as I'd love to go charging in on these, you're right, this isn't a raid. We need to fight our way in and stay there."
< Not to mention that these things are about as stealthy as a lawn mower. > Virgil quipped from transmat.
The two pikes sped along the muddy ground of Venus, the ever-present yellow clouds rolled endlessly overhead. Xor kept his gaze fixed in front of him as he pushed his Pike forward, occationally vaporizing any unfortunate Fallen in bursts of explosive arc energy.
As they neared the Istar cliffs he pulled to the side of the path and glanced back at Scythe, "We should continue on foot. I say we cloak here and make our way to Campus. Let's just hope you were right when you said that the Vex haven't been as busy lately."
Thick cables ran through the ceiling and down the walls, connecting various computers with detailed readouts. Such technology seemed to be common in the Golden Age; though, not for long. Arxus paced across the room and waited for the rest of Argus to climb out of the vent. They had to be hasty in locating Tityos, and by extension, the Repetitive Mind.
"Look at all this..." Grim spoke with a sense of awe. "Who knows what secrets we lost when the Collapse happened."
"There's no time to sit and gawk, Grim." Arxus reminded his Ghost of their mission. "As much as I'd like to."
"Y-you're right. Let me see if I can pull up anything from the Warmind's databases. Maybe a Gatelord has been sighted in the area." Grim floated about and began scanning the various computer terminals.
"Something big and scary, then. Got'cha." Grim remarked, sarcastically. The Ghost studied through the various databases until finding something that matched Tityos' description. "Here. The Warmind reported seeing a massive enemy leading the Vex into the facility. It's a safe bet to assume that it wanted to bring its buddies along."
"Just one question:" Avori said. "If the Gatelord interfering with the Collapse is the established set of events in the timeline we came from, then won't killing it have the exact same effect as if we were to interfere elsewhere?"
"You suggested fending off the Vex here on Mercury altogether," Solis corrected the Hunter. "You wanted to try and stop the invasion. Do you not understand that we cannot interfere more than absolutely necessary?"
"Tityos knows we're here, it brought us with it after all. It's likely to already have notified the Vex forces in this present. Maybe it even did it before we left. Try not to worry about it, because either way, we're going to be fighting our way through them sooner or later.", Fenrir said as he walked up to a nearby window, looking at the aftermath of the massacre that had taken place moments ago.
Avori did not reply, still resenting being forced to do nothing while the people of Mercury suffered. Standing beside Sara, he just stared at the rest of Argus as they set about extracting the necessary data from the warmind, glad that his helmet concealed his expression from the other Guardians.
"Good plan." Scythe shouted over the Pike's engine as he pulled up alongside Xor. He coasted to a stop at the edge of a ravine that was filled with small boulders. "Perfect." he muttered as he went about hiding his Pike with some camoflauge netting, dirt, and a few rocks. Xor's Heavy Pike was bigger and bulkier, so it would take a bit more work.
"We take it out and get what we need. Simple." Arxus spoke. Tityos was coming for them anyways, so best they deal with the threat. Tityos knew they were there, but not where; they could use that to their advantage.
"Here!" Sanctus suddenly exclaimed. "Major enemy target, possible enemy leader, possible signs of battle damage. Last sighting, Icarus Power Plant."
"Perfect. We have our prey. Let's hunt this Gatelord.", Fenrir said, strolling up to the nearest set of doors. With what almost seemed like firmly trained habit, the Hunter pressed a few buttons on the keypad nearby, and watched as the doors slid open.
After helping Xor to stash his Heavy Pike in the same gully, Scythe removed some gear from the saddlebags of his Pike. He tinkered with his stealth module a bit, then drew his Shrapnel Launcher and set off. "Crevice to the east. Let's go. I don't want to get in another firefight with the Vex today."
Grim phased back towards Arxus, disappearing in a blue light. The Titan clutched his rifle and stepped towards the door, which slowly pulled open to reveal the outside area. Dozens of bodies were littered about, having been the failed resistance against the Vex; which at this point, weren't even known.
Xor readied his scout rifle as he followed Scythe to their destination. "I can't quite remember, what was this place before the Collapse?", he said, glancing around at the abandoned buildings, "Some kind of research laboratory or something?"
"In case?" Scythe muttered. "This is the Vex we're talking about. Something always goes wrong when we fight them."
< What he means is, unexpected things have happened when we faced Vex in the past. > Virgil chimed in.
Scythe continued "Then again, I was part of the fireteam that wrecked a Fallen House, killed a Hive death god... So we should be fine. -ish." He paused. "Seriously though, I've got your back. Let's do this."
Xor began by tearing off a large part of the metal panneling on the closest Gate, then he reached into the small bag at his hip and retrieved a small box with a few frayed wires sticking out. A side project he had been working on during his time on Venus.
The copper filaments of the device were intertwined with the bronze-colored wires inside the Time-Gate. It was then that Xor really got to work.
Images filled the HUD of his helmet, pictures, coordinates, dates. All were seen, interpreted, and recorded in less than a second. Xor silently thanked his makers for his perfect memory as he retracted his device and stood up.
He pointed to a Gate to the left of the one he was examining, "That one", he said to Scythe, "That one leads to somewhere on Mercury, it's the best chance we've got."
His day was ruined the moment the Gate turned on...
...And a Minotaur stepped out...
Then this process was repeated at every single Vex Gate within sight...
He sighed, "This is what I get for being fast huh?"
Scythe took cover behind a supply crate just as the first Minotaur exited the gate. Then another. And another. "MOTHER FUCKER!" he roared as he put away his Shrapnel Launcher and drew Super Good Advice. "One of these things almost killed me back on Europa. I hate these clankers!" With that, he opened fire on the nearest Minotaur.
Xor drew his dagger, dodging the void projectiles like liquid, "As bad of a situation this is. At least now the Gate's open!" Once close enough he leaped onto the nearest Minotaur, driving his knife into the metal monster's head.
"Yeah, but that means more can come through!" Scythe muttered as he dropped the closest Minotaur. It seemed like for every one that fell, another took it's place. Changing tactics, he took a huge risk and poured rounds from Super Good Advice into the head of a Minotaur near the back of the group. Once it was damaged enough, he shouted "Xor, hit the deck! Incoming!"
With that, the headless Minotaur began to fire wildly through the group, killing some outright and damaging others. It seemed that Scythe's risk was paying off, then the crippled Minotaur charged.
It tripped and stumbled as one of Xor's throwing knives severed the tendon on its leg. It fell to the ground with a crash and Xor bolted for the Gate, waving at Scythe to follow, "C'mon! This is the only chance we've got!"
"Thanks for the assist, Xor!" Scythe shouted as he scrambled out from behind cover. A hail of Void Torch Hammer rounds filled the air around him as he shouldered Super Good Advice and sprinted towards the gate. Under his breath, he muttered "Please work, please work, please work..." as he entered the gate.
The two tumbled through the gate, coming through the portal with the feeling of being streached out and reassembled. Xor groaned as he rose from his hands and knees, "After all these years and I've still never gotten used to that..."
He sheathed his knife and drew his Multi-tool, glancing around he found the usual blocky architecture that the Vex, or whatever controlled them, seemed to favor.
"Worst... acid trip... ever." Scythe groaned as he caught himself after the gate spat him out. "Wait, you've done this before?"
< That was a most... strange experience. > Virgil chirped from transmat. < Now, the big question is, where are we? >
"Well, if Xor's math is right, we're inside the Vex time-distortion sheild-thing." Scythe commented as he took cover behind a Vex block and drew Super Good Advice. "The remaining questions are When are we, and Where the hell is everybody else?"
Xor pulled a beacon out of his pack and stuck it into the ground, "Not math, luck. Didn't want to tell you at the time but because of the Vex's constant movements around the system there was a twenty-five percent chance we could've ended up in the Prison of Elders of something like that."
He turned around and gave Scythe a thumbs up, "But lucky us! We seem to be in the right place."
"As for the others..." His eyes flicked to the time and date on the HUD in his helmet, "We have to make sure that even if we find them, they aren't from yesterday or something. That could potentially screw things up and leave the present day Argus in a state where they are pushed out of any current timeline. Or that if they return, they'll find that the world has a second set of them running around... That would be bad..."
As Arxus stepped out into the exterior Icarus facility, it became more clear just how many souls had been claimed by the Vex; human bodies were strewn about across the floor, wearing black jumpsuits of some kind. With them, they carried weapons that had been long lost to the Collapse, but still was no match for the superior technology of the Vex,
"There was no way they could have known..." Grim lamented. "These poor people didn't even know what the Vex were."
"And now they never will." Arxus commented. "Come on. Tityos is waiting for us." Arxus took the front, clutching his scout rifle tightly as he proceeded towards the main entrance. With how worried the others had been about whether or not to rescue these humans, it no longer mattered. Their main aim was for the Gatelord.
< I don't know what I would do if there were two of you. > Virgil snarked while looking at Scythe. < Or two of me, for that matter. >
"Me either. Although you would have somebody that understood you perfectly." the Bladedancer snarked back. "What do you mean, 'from yesterday'?" He paused, then continued. "Actually, I don't want to know. I still have a headache from that Warp Gate."
"Can't let past us see current us. Got it." Scythe muttered as he checked his remaining Heavy ammo. With that, he activated his Fallen stealth cloak and vanished, leaving only shimmering air in his wake. "Since I can't see you at all, how do you want to handle this?" he asked Xor
Avori stopped to rearrange several bodies so that they lay flat, with their hands crossed in an X shape on their chests. "If we could not have saved them, we must at least show them some respect," he justified himself, his voice somber. "These warriors may not have know it, but thanks to sacrafices such as theirs, the Vex did not - will not - win."
Despite his otherwise respectful attitude, Avori's Hunter instincts did kick in as he followed Arxus towards the main entrance, and he discarded Not Like The Others, instead leaning down to pick up one of their rifles - a jet black weapon with small red accents, that seemed to be a Golden Age scout rifle. As he tested its weight in his hands, he noticed a name scratched into it, below the sights. Avori silently vowed to avenge the previous owner of Lance's Point.
Xor paused, "Hmm... That's a good question... Finding a flaw in something I designed to be flawless is indeed trickey..." He thought for a second, "Oh! Your Ghost! Tell it to do its witchcraft scanny-thingy! That's the one thing I could never figure out, perhaps you can pick something up, an electrical signal perhaps."
< It's not witchcraft, > Virgil butted in. < it's a multi-spectrum analysis. But I'll do it just the same. > After several minutes of scanning Xor while visible and while invisible, he let out an electronic chime. < Compared to your stealth field, > Virgil nodded toward Scythe. < his is way better, almost perfect in fact. How he manages not to leave footprints is still beyond me, but placing a waypoint on Xor might work. The signal might be a little spotty, but you should be able to pick it up. >
"Something tells me the less I know, the better." Scythe muttered as he drew his twin Shock Swords and activated his own stealth field. "Good point. I saw a movie where somebody went and created an army of murderbots because they found an advanced robotic arm somehwere. Lead on."
"Ha! Not that. It's about time. If someone from Argus found it they'd know we were here, interrupting the past in any way creates an alternate timeline. A split in the Time Tree. At least that's how I think about it, helps to keep the insanity of time travel at bay."
He walked down the hall and peered around a corner, "C'mon, the air seems fresher this way."
"Then they won't. If we stop Tityos now, we can still save our future." Arxus spoke as he continued forward towards the main entrance. More bodies were scattered about, clearly killed through energy burns. As Argus stood before the threshold of the Icarus facility, a Vex army remained just outside. Towering above them was Tityos, the Gatelord. Time was confusing; perhaps these events were already pre-determined.
"Past-me was actually in a better situation than I'm in now, but I'd probably warn him/me that something bad was coming soon." Scythe paused. "Or I'd just punch past-me in the face. Kinda hard to choose one."
Virgil popped out and scanned the footprints. < Let's see... These are definitely Guardian bootprints, could easily be Argus. >
"Virgil, were these Vex kiled by City weapons?" Scythe nodded towards the carnage.
His Ghost floated over to the first pile and scanned it. < Huh. You're right. I'm reading signs of kinetic damage, and a bunch of elemental types. Argus? >
"Most likely. But these Vex have been dead a while. Where to now?"
( We'll keep it short and juicy, in the interest of keeping this roleplay moving. )
Before Argus, there laid the Vex army that had assaulted the Icarus facility. Tityos had quickly taken command of this fighting force, and it was clear that it intended to have one final bout against the Guardians. There was scratches and burn marks across the Gatelord's silver hull; it was still damaged from their last encounter. If Argus managed to get in a few decent blows, they could incapacitate it before too much damage was caused.
"Well, Argus is mostly Titans and Hunters now, so there weren't any Warlocks around to obsessively examine shiny things." Scythe grunted as he examined the tracks at the base of the gate. "Although, we kinda just did the same thing a minute ago." Hearing Xor's last comment, he simply smirked and said "That we are. Now what?"
Xor crossed his arms, "No, what we did was an educated guess. I cross refrenced the endpoints of the paths created by the Gates and chose the one closest to where we wanted to go. This is different. There are no Gates to cross-refrence this gate with. It could go ANYWHERE."
He sat down, appearing in a burst of silver flame as his cloaking deactivated, "Now all we can do is wait and hope that wherever they were sent has a return Gate of some kind."
Suddenly, Xor became aware of an unnervingly familiar voice echoing through the Citadel... His...
"What?" Scythe grunted as Xor made like Houdini and vanished. Suddenly, he heard the Exo's voice coming from down the hall. As strange as they were, he remembered Xor's instructions not to let their past selves see them. With that, he scrambled frantically around the room in search of a place to hide. Eventually he found one in an ancient Golden Age storage crate of some kind. Even though he was hidden, he activated his cloaking device, remaning silent and completely still.
"Ha! Not that. It's about time. If someone from Argus found it they'd know we were here, interrupting the past in any way creates an alternate timeline. A split in the Time Tree. At least that's how I think about it, helps to keep the insanity of time travel at bay."
"He walked down the hall and peered around a corner, "C'mon, the air seems fresher this" He stopped, "Something's not right."There were footprints, fresh ones.
Meanwhile, from his place behind a pillar, Xor cursed himself for being so careless. He whispered into the comms, anything louder would give them away, "Congradulations Scythe. Welcome to the life of the timeless..."
"Oh great." Scythe whispered from his crate. His ligaments burned from the cramped conditions, but there wasn't anything he could do. Moving or even breathing loudly could alert the other Xor and Scythe to his presence. "Xor, switch to channel Winter-43. The other us won't be able to hear us then."
Xor changed channels, "It's too late to go back, we're already in our own timeline. We have to kill the gate, and ourselves... Oh, and don't worry about that, 'if you kill yourself in the past you'll disappear', we're not in the same timeline, it won't effect us at all."
He crept around the pillar and peered around at the empty hallway, "You can still pick up my position right? I need a marker on my past self. And before you ask, I designed it to be untraceable, of course I can't find me."
(I would try and explain it but that probably wouldn't help much. But I'll give you the simplest version I can come up with.
So, Say you step through a time-portal-thingy, and it takes you to the time five minutes before you stepped through the portal. So, so far you have now appeared five minutes before you stepped through the portal. Because time as we know it is linear, every five minutes another you would step through the portal. If I explain this any more, I'll break something so I hope that helped and I'm sorry if it didn't.)
Wait you want me to kill past me?! What the hell kind of plan is that?!
He thought to himself, "Really me? Really? Ugh... Guess I've gotta die... Again..."
He deactivated his cloak.
Xor let the bullet fly, it's trajectory taking it on a path directly through the marker. The air flashed and flickered before Scythe's body appeared and fell to the ground.
Xor stepped out into the room, "Ok me, you can come out now."
"I'm right here... This is getting depressing...", He stood still and spread his arms wide.
The shot rang out through the Citadel as Xor killed himself.
Scythe had to admit that it was weird to watch himself die. "Let's never do that again." was all he could mutter over the comms as he attempted to process what had just happened. "So... is it safe to come out now? You're not gonna shoot me, are you Xor?"
When Solis asked if any of them had a sword, Arxus pulled Bolt Caster's handle off from his belt. The sword sprung to life, the blade forming outward with several gaps across the upper side. It crackled with electricity. "Let's do it, then."
Just as Argus had solidified their resolve, Tityos pointed forth, signaling the attack. The Vex forces lacked the silver/orange color of the Lupo Prohibition, so it was safe to say they wouldn't encounter any of those damned Sirens again.
Gunfire erupted through the air as the Vex began their attack; Hobgoblins were stationed in the trees, firing their Line Rifles that were sure to pick off the Guardians if they stayed stationary. Goblins were on the ground, constantly firing off their Slap Rifles with decent accuracy. As Solis attempted to charge Tityos head on, the Gate Lord attempted to swat the Guardian out of the air with a backhand.
Meanwhile, Arxus began laying down some serious beatdowns; the Goblins were slow and were easily cleaved apart by his sword. The blade of his Bolt Caster tore them asunder, leaving a jumbled mess of metal, crackling with electricity.
(That awkward moment when the past selves of Guardians are still Guardians with Ghosts.)
Seeing Tityos' counterattack to Solis' assault coming, Fenrir leapt through the crowd of Vex infront of the Gatelord with a Shadestep. Before the gigantic Minotaur was able to finish his move, Fenrir jammed Void Edge into the already damaged leg of the Gatelord.
The moment Solis broke rank and charged, Avori loosed a hail of bullets on the enemy with Lance's Point. In the hands of someone experienced with fighting the Darkness, the Golden Age rifle was lethal, able to silence Goblins and Hobgoblins alike with only a single well-placed shot. However, despite his efforts to thin the herd, the tide of Vex units soon reached Avori, and he drew his twin combat knives with a flair, and charged into battle behind the trio with swords.
(Bass I really don't think you need to tell us how to RP, we've been in this boat for far longer than you)
As the Gate Lord's arm approached, Solis promptly dropped out of the air when he stopped gliding and turned into a storm of lightning. The Vex below him were quite quickly erased from existence, and Solis continued his charge towards the Gate Lord.
< Shut the gate down? > Virgil exclaimed. < But how will Argus get out? >
"We find a way to turn it back on." Scythe groaned as he stood up from his hiding place. He walked over to Xor, deliberately avoiding the area where past-Scythe fell. Whether or not that was the real him, it was still creepy. "We can turn this thing back on, right?" he grunted as he nodded towards the still-active gate.
In its attempts to cease the Guardian charge, Tityos loosed a volley of blasts from its Arc Hammer; globs of eletrically charged energy fell upon the battlefield, indiscriminately targeting friend and foe alike.
"Watch it!" Arxus shouted, noting how the arc shots rained upon them from above. The Titan swiftly avoided, as he ran his blade through the chest of another Goblin in his path.
Xor shook his head, "No, this gate needs to go. If we turn it on it will still lead to the moment we stepped through. We have to destroy either it, or us over and over again until Argus comes back."
He plucked a grenade from his belt as they rounded the corner, the gate coming into view, "Once we destroy the gate we can find another one that goes out." He pulled the pin and threw the grenade, watching it detonate against the gate, blackening the metal and causing it to spark slightly even though it stayed open.
(That awkward moment when the past selves of Guardians are still Guardians with Ghosts.)
Tityos seemed to pay little attention to Fenrir, despite the latter's attack. The Hunter pulled Void Edge free of the Gatelord's leg, and began to chop at the other leg, in the manner a lumberjack would go at a large tree.
"For the record, I think this is a stupid plan." Scythe grumbled as he readied an Arc grenade. "But at least it's not a stupid plan that I came up with." With that, he hocked the grenade at the gate, which began to emit black smoke from the edges as the portal flickered. "You're assuming that there is more than one exit to wherever Argus is."
(That awkward moment when the past selves of Guardians are still Guardians with Ghosts.)
Tityos seemed to pay little attention to Fenrir, despite the latter's attack. The Hunter pulled Void Edge free of the Gatelord's leg, and began to chop at the other leg, in the manner a lumberjack would go at a large tree.
(And I am not writing for two of the same character... that would be too much...)
The Gate gave out and died in a burst of crackling smoke, Xor let the empty magazine of his scout rifle fall out of the chamber and onto the floor. "Ok, now we keep moving..." Once again he pulled out a beacon and stuck it into the ground. "I'll plant beacons to we don't get lost, our next job is to find another way out."
While Fenrir continued to hack away at Tityos' legs, it noticed finally; it began stomping its oversized feet, attempting to squash the pint-sized vermin that stabbed at it. Meanwhile, Solis soared overhead; the Gate Lord aimed its Arc Hammer straight for the airborne Guardian, intending to fire.
"Oh no you don't." Arxus said, as he finished cleaving a Goblin in twain. Twisting his body in a complete 360 spin, a disc of lightning was tossed from his Bolt Caster. Bolts of lightning crackled and constantly struck the ground as it flew low, right into the Gate Lord's weak leg. This blow seems to knock it off balance, and knock it's aim away from Solis.
Now that the Gate Lord's aim was off, Solis landed on its shoulders with no further obstruction, and quickly clambered onto its head. Once in position, he hefted his blade and sunk it into Tityos' singular eye.
Launching a Shadestep to avoid the Gatelord's stomping, Fenrir suddenly found himself stuck with his back against the floor, unable to get up. Twisting himself around, he saw the Gatelord frozen in motion, and Solis on top of it, his sword hilt-deep into Tityos' eye. Further downwards, the Hunter's cloak had become stuck beneath one of the Gatelord's now immobile feet. With an annoyed grunt, Fenrir cut off the clasp that kept his cloak chained together and jumped to his feet. At the same time, Tityos, seemingly having taken some time to analyse its situation, sprung to life, sending its free arm up to its head, reaching to grab Solis.
Still making up the ground he'd lost to Arxus, Solis and Fenrir when they'd charged, Avori rammed his way through the Vex horde. He'd plunged his two knives into a Goblin's belly and chin, and now used those as handholds while he wielded the lifeless machine as a meat shield. Once he was within range of the Gatelord, he pulled his knives out of the Golbin, releasing it. He then slid to avoid a slew of Arc Hammer shots sent his way by Tityos, and allowed his momentum to carry him all the way behind the machine.
Xor looked up, "you said this was an inverse-citadel or something right?" He pulled out a flashlight attachment and clipped it to his Multitool, shining the beam of light towards the ceiling, "How do you feel about climbing?"
"I hate heights..." Scythe groaned as he looked up at the cavernous cieling. "Virgil, how much rope do we have?"
< We have about... 50 feet of Saphire Rope. Not enough to haul ourselves up there, if that's what you're thinking. >
"That's not exactly what I was thinking, but close..." Scythe muttered as he rummaged through his gear. After a few minutes, he found what he was looking for: a handful of sharp spikes. He then proceeded to mark off sections of the wall with some chalk. "Hey, Xor? Here's my plan. Since I don't see anything sticking out for us to Blink our way up there, we can use this stuff to make climbing harnesses and get to the top that way."
As only Tityos' gun arm was now remaining functional, Fenrir charged in to deal the finishing blow. With his Void Light pouring into his blade, the Hunter struck at the Gatelord's exposed legs. Unable to deal with more damage, the battered Vex metal simply snapped in two, and the mechanical beast collapsed.
Solis, who was in the higher reaches of the Gate Lord's body, jumped off its arm and Glided down, though he let himself drop a distance to keep himself as difficult a target as possible, only gliding again when he closed in on the ground. Once he did, he made his way to the core, and drove his blade right into it.
Avgust lowered his Thunderlord as he watched the massive frame of Tityos struggle to stay standing as it was bear upon by the members of Argus. Reangling his machine gun, the Titan fired more at the Vex Goblins which were quickly advancing on the position of the Guardians. Pariah took an angle on the roof of one of the facilities, picking off as many targets as she could with her sniper rifle. Sara angled her Sleeper Simulant as she fired toward a nearby column of Minotaurs, as a few disintegrated from the impact of her fusion volley.
"Grab what you need, Guardians!" Avgust commanded over the COMM, "The Vex are pressing as hard as they can!"
Arxus stabbed his sword into the nearest Goblin, obliterating the Vex core as the blade tore through its insides. He quickly yanked out again, rinsed and repeated. As Tityos fell, more Vex seemed to emerge from the forest. Toppling the gate lord held all reason for them to get revenge, if the Vex believed in such things.
Fenrir looked at Tityos' metal carcass, then at the incoming Vex combatants, then back at Solis.
"You better be right."
The Hunter rushed over to the Gatelord's body, and removed a small glass vial from his belt. He carelessly poured out the transparent content over the ground beside him, before he dipped it into the shattered remains of the core. Bottling up what remained of the white fluids, Fenrir threw the vial to Solis without so much as a word.
"Right, so how to we get back to the present?" Avori immediately asked, hiding his dissapointment at not playing a role in taking down the Gatelord. "And how do we find and kill this Repetitive Mind?" As he waited for an answer, he reloaded his Scout Rifle and began thinning out the approaching Vex horde.
After what seemed like hours of work, Scythe and Xor had only managed to climb about 20 feet. Clearly the climbing rig idea wasn't working. It took forever to drive pitons into the ridiculously hard Vex metal, and they didn't have time to waste. Just as Scythe was about to give up and lower himself to the ground, however, a shelf slid out of the wall. It was barely wide enough for him to stand on, but it was a ledge just the same.
"Hey, Xor? I think I found our way up." Scythe grunted to the Exo a ways below him. As he put his feet on the ledge, it seemed solid enough. But where had it been a few minutes ago? Just then, the ledge began to retract into the wall. Looking around, Scythe was able to find other ones above and below it. He jumped to the upper one as the whole pattern began to shift again.
Xor narrowed his eyes as the the two began climbing the platforms, "This is both extremely convienient and worrying at the same time..." They stopped when they finally reached a cave that branched off of the vertical column of empyiness they had been climbing, it extended several hundred meters, every few feet marked another pair of glowing Vex Gates, Xor sighed, "This is going to be a long day." He kneeled at the closest one and began checking it's destination.
"Of course it's a trap. We're in a Vex fortress. How could it not be a trap?" Scythe grunted as he jumped to catch the last platform. Just as he caught the edge of the shelf, it dissappeared into nothingness, and he began to fall. "Um, Virgil, a little help here?" the Hunter grunted as he struggled to right himself and Blink into the mouth of the cave.
< Oh great. More gates. > Virgil remarked dryly. < So... now what? >
Xor grumbled as he pulled out his wirey box again, hooking it up to the first Gate, "Well whether it's a trap or not, we still need to find a way out of here and I don't like the idea of climbing again." He rolled his neck, "I am going to Love getting an oil-bath when we get back.
Then he sat up, pausing with his work, "Actually..." He leaned back and rested his arms on his knees, "I may need to grab some things before we head back..." When he saw Scythe narrow his eyes he tacked on in a sing-songy voice, "I can get you a fancy stealth upgrade..."
"And I'm gonna need a whole bottle of asprin." Scythe grunted as he knelt down to examine the gate. "If it helps any, I hate heights, so the sooner we're done with this, the better." Seeing Xor take out what appeared to be another electronic gizmo. "Grab what from where before we go back?" he muttered in a worried tone. "What kind of upgrade? Does it use Vex tech? Didn't you learn anything from what happened to Kabr?!" the Hunter shouted as he stood up and gestured wildly.
Xor chuckled, "Well of course it uses Vex tech, what else would I be using? Also, Kabr was a little too ambitious for my tastes. Just didn't know when to quit. Dragged his poor fireteam in with him. Poor saps." He put his hands on his hips, "However, yours truly sat around for days outside the Vault of Glass watching the Vex.
< We've got nothing against using Fallen tech--we understand it well enough. But Vex tech? Nope nope nope. > Virgil exclaimed from transmat.
"What he said." Scythe grunted as he examined the other gates. "I'd consider it, but I don't know if I'd trust using Vex tech too much. At least we understand the Fallen." As he looked around the room, he muttered "So... any idea which gate gets Argus out?"
After the demise of the Gatelord, the Vex seemed to scatter for the time being; the Icarus Facility was safe, but likely it would not stop the eventual overtaking of Mercury. It was a small victory in the darkest of times. Arxus placed his sword at his hip; the blade vanished and left only a hilt. "If that Gatelord was able to travel back in time, maybe we can use its core to travel forward in time." Arxus theorized. "As for the Repetitive Mind, well... I have a feeling that it'll come to us."
Xor shrugged, "Whatever man. It's all one's and zero's but whatever." He pointed down below, "Oh the Gate they'll most likely come out of is down there, the big one remember? The one we're searching for is for us."
"And Argus, of course.", he added quickly, " We can keep it open..." He knelt down and got back to work tracing the Gates. He thought darkly to himself, "That is, assuming Argus gets here before the Vex realize how many times I've messed with their stuff in the past century..."
< You mean the one you just blew up? > Virgil remarked dryly.
"Wait, we're not gonna have to kill ourselves again, are we?" Scythe groaned. "Knew I shouldn't have gotten out of bed today." With that, the Hunter walked over to the mouth of the tunnel. "This place is a maze, a trap." He paused and turned to Xor. "You've been in here before, haven't you?"
"As the leader of the Lupo Prohibition, the Repetitive Mind is the mastermind behind all of this - it triggered the invasion, it sent Aello against the Lighthouse, and it is currently the one trying to rewrite history," Avori growled. "So yes, I do hold it responsible for Jules' death."
Xor stood up and thought to himself, as if he were pulling some memory from deep in his metal head,
"Nope", he said happily, "Never been here before in my life!"
He went back to thinking, "I did blow it up didn't I? Oops. Well, the Vex is a strategist, there's no way it wouldn't have fallback points." He plucked a grenade from his belt and rolled it through the open Vex Gate. It shut down only a few seconds later.
"However, I really do need some parts from the Vex, preferably something big, they put their best stuff on those things..."
"I am well aware of how they work," Avori snapped, getting more angry with each word. "The Repetitive Mind is an Axis Mind, one which we've deduced is tasked with rewriting history in the Vex's favour. Occam's Razor would suggest that the invasion which killed Jules was just cover orchestrated by the Mind to hide its true intentions - why else would it have happened now? That makes the Repetitive Mind responsible the invasion and all those killed by it. Including Jules."
"Huh." Scythe grunted at Xor's increasingly odd behavior. "So... we need to find another gate to get us and Argus out of here?" He paused as he checked over his Shrapnel Launcher. At the other Hunter's suggestion of getting into a fight, Scythe stood and turned to leave. "Wasn't the point of this mission to avoid being seen?" He paused, as if retracing his steps. "What kind of parts do you need?"
"Do you think I was first raised yesterday? I understand how the Vex work," Avori steamed. "Yes - the whole god-damn programming is responsible for Jules' death. Hell, the Vex as a whole are responsible for it! But there isn't a Guardian alive who could take on their entire network, nor even a single programming. The Repetitive Mind is an axis mind inthe Lupo Prohibition. That means it hosts a large portion of the programming's data and computing power. Hence, the best way to hurt the Lupo Prohibition, is by destroying it."
"Ladies, that's enough." Arxus interjected, noting how Avori and Solis argued, or were on the brink of arguing. "The sooner we figure out how to use this mind fluid, the sooner we can get home." Arxus walked away a short distance, looking off into the jungles that surrounded the Icarus facility. Cetus units hovered in the visible distance, laying siege to some of the other facilities that dotted Mercury's surface. It was already too late for the past, that much was clear. Though, it had been clear from the start.
Xor shook his head, "No no no, we needed to be quiet and avoid being seen by us, and I never said a big fight. Just something like a Hyrdra or a large minotaur/gatelord perhaps, but no Vex Minds, those things confuse me..."
He stood and put a finnger to his chin, "And about what parts I need...", he shrugged, "I don't know yet. Just that the past few times I've killed big Vex things they've had some cool stuff on them. Like the Matter Manipulator that makes me have no footprints, for example. Pulled it off a Hydra after I disabled it's guns, rather than trashing it like you Guardians usually do."
Xor stared for a moment before he burst into laughter, "Pfft! HA! Do I look like someone who'd like to have a small talking rubix cube floating around my head all the time. Uh, no offense.", he added when said rubix cube began glaring at him with it's glowing eye.
"And about the Vex", he continued, "Yes, I do from time to time like to pull parts off of Vex units. Trust me, you would too if you knew how robust and advanced their tech is."
"So you're not one of us..." Scythe growled as his grip tightened on his Shrapnel Launcher. "What the hell are you? I've heard about some other Exo that's been sighted by Guardians in the past, but never actually seen them myself."
< Also, how the hell do you bring down a Hydra or a Gatelord without trashing it? > Virgil muttered from over Scythe's shoulder.
Xor raised and eyebrow at Sythe's rifle, "Watch it buddy... You don't wanna do that..." He sighed, leaning up against the wall, "And no, I'm not the 'Exo Stranger' Or whatever you call her. Even I don't know who she is and I don't want to get involved with someone who is afraid to show their face. As they usually have a good reason."
The Scrapnel Launcher remained in the Guardian's hands.
Xor raised a hand to his helmet in a subtle facepalm, "Look man, don't be one of those people. I came here of my own volition. You have no reason to suspect me of betraying anyone, seriously, I'm stuck in this place too right?"
He looked up and smirked at the Ghost, "You guys use machine guns and rocket launchers. It's kinda hard not to trash things like that. Have you guys ever tried just walking up and pulling stuff off? You have cloaking right?"
"Point taken." Scythe grunted as he lowered his Shrapnel Launcher. "Safety was on, anyway." As Xor continued, Scythe's expression behind his faceplate became more and more perplexed. "You mean... just sneak up to them and ripping parts off of them while they're still alive?"
< As much as I hate the Vex, dismembering them and leaving them alive is just cruel. From one machine to another, anyway. > Virgil muttered in shock.
"And even my cloak isn't that good." Scythe groaned. "It doesn't last that long, and you can see Fallen cloaking signatures if you know what to look for. And the Vex have had plenty of contact with the Winter Fallen."
Xor chuckled, "Geez guys, you make me sound like a serial killer or something."
"Look. The Vex are a hivemind. Anything felt by a single individual is too insignificant to matter to them. They clean up the mess and maybe send out a security patrol or two. But never something major." He heard Scythe groan about his cloaking, "About that, I might be able to extend the duration by giving it a stronger charge or streamlining the technical process, but without anything Vex-wise it'll be difficult to do much else. Nothing can bend and warp matter like the Vex."
A thunderous boom shook the tunnel and a sudden void projectile struck the ground at Xor's feet, sending him flying over the edge of the cliff and into the dark depths of the Reverse- Citadel.
In the cavern above, lights from the various branches that intersected the main chasm lit up as the Gates within them activates. The Vex were coming home. And they were not happy.
"We have been pretty intimate with the Vex, lately. I'd rather we didn't." Arxus spoke, remaining idly by while Solis and his Ghost analyzed the Gate Lord's juices. The Titan hopped up onto a crate, stacked just outside the front entrance to the Icarus facility.
< I'm not sure combining Fallen and Vex tech would be a good idea. > Virgil began. < Skolas already tried that. Didn't work out so well for him. >
Just then, the first Void projectile came screaming towards Xor, knocking him off the ledge and launching him into the chasm below. Toward the back of the cave, Scythe suddenly found at least a half-dozen active gates between him and the opening. Then, the Vex arrived. A couple of Goblins emerged from each, scanning the area with their Slap Rifles at the ready.
The Hunter simply cocked his Shrapnel Launcher and ducked back into the shadows.
Xor huffed as he fired an extension cable from an attatchment on his Multitool, irritated at himself for not avoiding the attack. He landed on the wall and activated his cloaking, the Vex components altering his mass to the point where he was almost weightless. He switched weapons, lining the sights of Patience and Time on harpies drifting down towards him as he slowly walked up the flat surface of the Vex citadel.
He pushed off the wall as one of the Harpies he shot almost hit him in it's smoking descent. He clumbsily made contact with the far wall, losing his grip on the smooth surface before his magnetized boots reconnected. He kept going.
(Bass, we sort of have a one exotic cap thing going on here...)
"We should not linger outside. The Vex will return, likely sooner rather than later, I'd wager. The insides of the facility should be safer." Fenrir casually suggested to the Fireteam as he looked across the horizon, observing the Ceti that were slowly but steadily securing the Vex's hold of the planet.
On a side note, that's why I have Scythe use "off the books" stuff)
The tunnel was now filled with at least a dozen Goblins. A dozen murderbots between Scythe and the exit. If Xor needed help, he was on his own for now. Realizing that now would be a good time for stealth, he drew his Shock Swords and moved into position behind the closest Goblin. As he drove the blade into the machine's back, the first Harpies floated down past the opening. Suddenly, one exploded and fell down the shaft, drawing the attention of a few Goblins. Scythe kicked the Vex chassis at another Goblin, drew his Shrapnel Launcher again, and fired.
(was actually thinking about changing the scout rifle to the legendary version of Chaos Dogma, it's a tech-y weapon that kinda looks modified.)
Xor threw the sling of the rifle over his shoulder and yanked his knife from it's sheathe. He leaped off of the wall and drove the blade into the shell of a Harpy, another one of the dozens that had begun to fill the cavernous Citadel. The Harpy spun around in confusion at the weightless blade that had lodged itself within its triangular shell, meanwhile Xor worked quickly with his free hand, using a smaller knife to pry apart the plating that covered the Harpy's inner-workings.
Xor groaned, "Note to self, do not rewire machines when hanging over a pit.", he deactivated his cloak and drove his free hand into the hole in the Vex plating. He started yanking out wires, reattaching them somewhere else. The Harpy began to spark and spasm as it's innerds were quickly rearranged it benefit the Exo that clung to it. Xor put the last wire in place and pulled back on the outer shell of the sparking Harpy, "Don'texplodedon'texplodedon'texplodedon't explode", he chanted as he steered the Harpy to the cave he had been blasted out of.
Nearing the entrance Xor saw about a dozen Goblins crowding the tunnel, Scythe was busy blasting away at them. "HIT THE DECK!", he yelled as the Harpy he was on chirped and sped up, it sparked and shuddered more and more with every second. Xor leaped off of it as it careened into the crowd of Goblins, knocking them aside. The Exo let out a yelp as he fell, only managing to just catch the ledge of the cave by his fingertips.
Scythe's shot tore apart the nearest Goblin just as a certain gutsy Exo came flying into the tunnel. He dove flat just as several more Goblins went flying in various states of involuntary disassembly, Vex metal clanging through the entire tunnel. "Xor, I take it that was you?" he grunted as he blasted a Goblin that wandered over toward him. "Need a hand?"
"I've had enough Vex for several lifetimes..." Arxus groaned, as he hopped off the crate and remained mostly idly. Fenrir had suggested they move back into the facility, and get themselves fortified. Solis suggested the opposite. Arxus weighed in on the situation. "If we don't get back soon, it won't matter. As long as we're here, it will be inevitable that the Vex find us again. I imagine they won't be too happy that we killed a Gatelord."
"That would be ideal, yes." He glanced around them and noticed that the flood of Vex had been steadily increasing and that the platforms they had used to climb now extended fully, forming spiral pathways that intersected each and every side-tunnel. The path led down below.
"They're gathering for something...", Xor realized as He watched them, "The question is... What?"
"Whatever we're going to do, we ought to do it soon," Avori said, while sitting on the body of a fallen minotaur. He absentmindedly twirled a throwing knife in his hand as he spoke. "It would only take a few well-placed Hobgoblins to mow us down out here."
"You'll need to do better than that, Warlock.", Fenrir replied. "A lot better. The Vex are scouring the entire surface, and none of us, not even me, have any experience in navigating through this jungle. Now, Icarus is another story. We know it still stands in our time as a Crucible site, and largely unchanged at that. Thus, it would be reasonable to say that the Vex never followed through with their assault here. Who knows, maybe we were the ones that stopped it."
The Hunter turned around to face the Fireteam, and walked up infront of Solis, placing his hand on the Warlock's shoulder. "But hey, you go take your chances in the jungle. I can't stop you, can I?"
(Quick lore question: About how long has Cayde been Hunter Vanguard? And when was he first raised?)
"As are Warlocks and Titans," Avori interjected, standing up and sheathing his knife as he did. "But this isn't the time to discuss the merits of each class. We need a course of action, and right now both of the ones on the table sound like suicide. Either we run headfirst into enemy territory or we stay and wait for a Vex armada to meet us. We need a plan C."
(The first mention regarding Cayde in Vanguard databases was 126 years prior to the events of the game. No actual determination of when he became the Hunter Mentor though.)
"Go right ahead, Warlock. Lead us into the jungle aimlessly, in the hope that your Ghost will be able to both finish the analysis and devise a way for us to return to our time before the Vex catch us, which they will." Fenrir continued, maintaining his grip on Solis' shoulder. "Or, we could hole up in the Icarus facility, a structure proven to remain with little battle damage in our time, which also happens to be equipped with Golden Age technology that would almost certainly ease the process of analysing the Gatelord's radiolaria."
(woah, the savagery within Argus... the shade is real...)
Xor opened his mouth to respond but was cut off by a robotic shriek, his head jerked up to see a large Hydra drifting down amoung the Harpies. He stood up and cloaked, disappearing in his usual silver flame, "Ok this is getting out of control. We can't fight this many on our own. I don't know what they're doing but this is a little overboard, even for the Vex." He started down the stairs, not even waiting to see if Scythe would follow him, "Here." He threw a beacon to Scythe, "That's a short-range teleporter. Couldn't use it to get in earlier because we didn't know what was inside the barrier, but it should work well to get you out."
He looked the Hunter dead in the eyes through his helmet, "Don't argue with me on this, Guardian. I know you have no reason to trust me, and you probably don't. But when I say you need to get out... Get. Out."
He turned towards the void and leaped, gliding through the air. He landed weightlessly on the top of the Hydra. Time to get to work...
"What in the spincter of hell?" Scythe muttered as Xor lept onto the Hydra. While the Exo had a point, there were a lot of Vex in the area. Too many for one Guardian, or whatever Xor was, to handle. He caught Xor's teleporter-thing, but then charged at the Goblins that were pouring out of the cave. Clearing a path with his Shrapnel Launcher and Arc Blade, he was soon inside. As he skittered over to the first Vex Gate, he drew an Arc grenade and planted it at the top of the ring. After pulling the pin and releasing the spoon, he ran out of the cave and pressed the button on the device.
(Argus has all the time in the world to argue because they're the protagonists :P )
"The Icarus facility probably has some defenses left," Avori mused. "But then, what's to stop them teleporting straight inside? Whatever we do, we should do it soon, because anything is better than being caught out here, with no cover and no plan."
(Lol true, true...)
Xor watched the Hunter go from his place on the Hydra, he sighed, drawing his dagger. He knelt on to the metal surface careful not to do anything that would give away his position.
You're gonna die y'know. Xor thought to himself as he jabbed his knife in between a gap in the armor of the Hydra, prying apart the plates to gain access to the wires within.
Yeah I know. But I also know that dying at the hands of the Vex is often very painful, he shouldn't have to experience that. Nobody should. He watched his hands work almost subconciously, memory and Exo precision allowing him to dig through the innerds of the Hydra, rewiring it as he had done many times before. He turned it into a bomb.
If you blow everything up, Argus won't be able to return. The Hydra shook in protest, realizing too late that it's programming was being tampered with. Xor worked faster.
They will find a way back, another gate to Venus or Mars. Perhaps even another one here that the blast misses. Harpies in his peripheral vision turned to face his cloaked form, The Vex mind quickly realizing that it had been tricked. The Harpies began to fire blindly in Xor's general area.
You better be right about this...
He leaned sideways and let himself fall off of the Hydra, spreading his limbs to catch the wind resistance. He twisted and leveled the scope of Patience and Time on any Vex he could hit.
Minotaur - dead
Goblin - dead
Goblin - dead
Harpy - dead
Hobgoblin - dead
He didn't even remember hitting the ground. Nor did he remember the blinding light that eminated from the Hyrda above as it's core detonated with the power of a nuclear bomb.
(Saying that I'm not done without any spoilers on my future plans is kinda impossible being that y'all are smart enough to guess the inevitable. But to be completely sure, I'm not done with Xor or this Thread, might return later but for now I'm just gonna watch.)
"Easy cover, too." Arxus commented on Avori's statement. The thick jungle would have been an easy place to ambush Argus, provided that they stood around with their thumbs up their asses like they were now.
"If you gentlemen can't come to an agreement, put it to a vote. If we head out there, there's a chance we'll be spotted and *somehow* manage to fuck up the timeline, because hey, we're Argus and we always get into trouble. I can't even lie at this point. Best case scenario, we die painlessly." Arxus pointed towards the facility behind them. "Or... we huddle up in the defensible Warmind facility and hope the thick walls buy us enough time to analyze the Gatelord's radiolaria, thus buying us a ticket back to our own time. Though, we run the risk of the Vex invading full force and wiping us out like a bunch of cornered rats."
The Titan sighed. "If you guys won't pick, I guess I'll have to pick for you." Arxus shouldered his scout rifle and started moving into the jungle, stepping over a thick tree root which stuck out of the ground. "We'll take our chances out in the wilds," Arxus said, as he disappeared behind a tree.
"We should get a move on, then," Avori said, drawing his Scout Rifle and jogging to catch up with Arxus. "And covering our tracks as we go would be a smart move."
Despite that he didn't regard either option as particularly viable, Avori felt relieved to be on the move again, and as a Hunter, he was glad to be in the wilds again, even if they were walking to their dooms.
While Avori spoke, a purple orb dropped from Fenrir's palm. The smoke seeped through the Guardians' boots, and all of a sudden, each step the Fireteam took was soundless, while no prints on the ground were left in their path.
"Done.", Fenrir replied to Avori, before the latter had even finished talking.
Scythe found himself enveloped in a flash of silvery light. The light got brighter and brighter until it blotted everything out. Before he knew it, the Hunter found himself deposited roughly outside the Inverse-Citadel on Mercury. "Ghost? Are we where I think we are?" he groaned as he stood up.
< If you guessed Mercury, I'd say you're right. > Virgil hovered over him.
"Well, that's good and bad. Argus?"
< No sign of them out here. >
"Xor? Xor?!" the Hunter shouted over the comms.
< Nothing on him, either. > Virgil sighed. < But my readings indicate that he was rigging that Hydra as some sort of bomb. I don't know if he made it. >
"Damn." Scythe muttered as he scanned the horizon. "Now what?"
(Okay. So I'm gonna plothole my way back in because I'm bored. However, I probably won't be posting as much... You'll see why... Also M67, just use the gate on Venus that we found to get a search party into the Citadel or something.)
Xor struggled across the cold stone floor, surrounded by the charred remains of the Vex he had fried in the blast. He wasn't much better off himself. One eye was darkened and cracked, sightless in its socket. His body was split in two, wires and scorched metal dragged on the floor as he used his one remaining arm to claw his way forward. The pain was unbearable, the vision in his one good eye flickered from black and white to static, all audio was gone. After an hour of struggling he finally reached his destination, a large Time Gate, large enough for a Gatelord.
Warnings flashed in his dimming vision, alerting him to his dangerously low energy levels. He shoved them away and continued, pulling himself forward.
If he could, Xor would've sighed in relief, the Gate was burned and battered but not entirely out of commission. He reached into the bag he had tied around his shoulder and retrieved the small box he had used many times before. With a shaking hand he delicately wove the copper filaments around an exposed wire on the Gate's frame. He allowed his last remaining limb to fall heavily to the floor, the light in his eye finally dimming.
The Gate sparked and ignited, casting it's light over his battered and dead corpse.
(Then this would be past Xor)(The first time entering the Citadel)(Srry if I abuse the 'don't control other people's characters' rule again I promise this is the last time)
"After all these years I've still never gotten used to that...", Xor groaned as he rose to his feet, "We're...", he trailed off as he observed his surroundings.
"Worst... acid trip... ever.", The Hunter beside him said in a similar manner, he stood up.
< I thought the Vex would be more... Organized...> The Hunter's Ghost remarked.
The room was covered in scorch marks, Vex bodies of various sizes had been melted to the point where some had fused to the floor, steam leaked out of cracks in the Mind-cores as the Mind-fluid within bagan to boil and evaporate. It was total devestation.
"This isn't right...", Xor said, "Argus is still missing, they couldn't have...", his wandering eyes fell on a shredded body laying flat on the ground near the edge of the Gate, it's hand outstretched in the direction of a very un-Vex box wired to the Gate.
"Xor, what ha-" Bang!
A round from Xor's scout rifle tore a hole in his chest.
<Xor! What do you think you're-> Bang!
The ghost shattered as another bullet flew through its eye.
The two fell down as xor turned and knelt over his own body, observing the damage with a kind of grim sadness, "Just had to play the hero didn't you?", he murmured to the corpse as he reached his hands to pull the body closer, quickly locating a small square panel set into the base of the Exo's skull. "Just be lucky I found you first, imbecile..."
He pressed the panel down and let it extend, exposing a tiny chip the size of a human fingernail. He reached into his bag and pulled out a pair of tiny forceps. His delicate hands were still as they softly grasped and eased the chip out of it's slot in the Exo skull. He examined it carefully in the light of the portal, "Not a scratch. That's good."
"One never wants to scratch one's memory...", he said softly to himself, taking his helmet off and opening up his own panel.
Xor's optical sensors flickered as the memory chip downloaded to his conciousness. Programming he was created with took the old memory and filed it away into his data-banks, while the new memory took it's place.
Xor sighed as he glanced at the body beside him, "I have got to stop dying..."
"Times like this, I wish I was a Bladedancer," Avori muttered, to nobody in particular, while wading his way through a patch of thick foilage. "Blink would be really useful in here. As would Arc Blade..."
Thanks to Fenrir, Argus was able to move silent through the jungles of Mercury, as they cut straight through the thick foliage and roots that jutted from the ground. He headed off their group, taking charge and making sure not to alert any Vex patrols.
< Now? I guess we contact the Tower and update the Vanguard. > Virgil turned away. < For once, I have no idea what to do next. >
"This is Scythe 6-2 calling the Tower Vanguard." the Hunter began.
"Scythe, this is Zavala. What the hell is going on down there?"
"I'm honestly not sure. Xor and I managed to breach the Inverse-Citadel in search of Argus, but then we got detoured by a few Gates and a whole lot of Vex. I got out, thanks to a gizmo that Xor gave me, but he's MIA. Your suggestions?"
Xor looked around at the ruins of the Vex Citadel, watching rocks dislodged by the blast tumble down the hole and onto the floor. "Welp... Let's see if we can find a way out of here..." He planted a beacon, watching it extend and begin to blink with a bright green light. "There, Waypoint set... Let's do this..."
He started off going one direction, then turned the opposite direction and retraced his steps, then he turned again to walk perpendicular to his two previous directions. (He was still in the same room...)
He turned in a full circle, taking in the many cubic Vex tunnels he could venture down, "This... May be harder than I thought..."
Argus stepped careful through the jungles, all while waiting for the analysis to finish. It was hopeful that they might return to their own time with this knowledge, much like how the Vex seemed to weave themselves in and out of time periods. Certainly, crazier things had happened to them before.
Avori groaned, as some kind of bramble caught on his already-damaged cloak. He yanked it free, but in doing he tore a rip down its middle. Avori plucked a few tufts of his cloak which remained on the plant, lest the Vex track them by it, but it was clear that he would need to replace the cloak if he actually managed to get back to the Tower.
"I've had it," he muttered, sheathing a knife he'd been using to help force his way through the undergrowth. He shut his eyes for a moment. "Let's see if I can still remember how to do this..."
(this is the mysterious mystery person who actually just doesn't feel like logging in cause they're lazy)
Zavala began to speak but was interrupted by a loud voice, "Hey Zav, why don't you let me take over with that-"
"Cayde. This is a very important transmission concerning Argus's whereabouts, I don't have the time to-"
"And I'll take that thank you.", Cayde said, completely ignoring Zavala's protests, "Hey! So who's this? You guys find Argus yet? Cause one of them happens to owe me some glimmer... Also, we kinda need them to protect the city."
"Guardians... I may have found something." Grim spoke. The small, black and white Ghost appeared in front of Arxus, giving the Titan pause in his stride. "I've been analyzing the Gatelord's radiolaria with Solis' Ghost... and the analysis is impressive. The Gatelord was able to move through time freely, without the use of a Vex Gate."
"Why did it stay here, then? It could have gone back to the present and left us here." Arxus seemed confused.
"I don't know. Maybe pride. Or orders." Grim continued. "I think we can reverse-engineer the radiolaria to take us forward in time. It should take a few minutes."
"Oh hi Cayde." Scythe grunted in surprise. "This is Scythe 6-2. Right now, I'm the only known Guardian to not be MIA on this planet. Argus is still missing, and Xor disapeared while taking down a Hydra. So I guess you could say that today has been shit."
<I don't think the radiolaria can be reverse-engineered,> Solis' Ghost said, materialising next to Arxus'. <They are biological, after all. But we have found the data. We should be able to harness it... if we have access to Vex technology. The only way I seem to find that would allow us to use this data is if we... well, become Vex. 'We' being the Ghosts.>
<To put it a bit less simply, we need to find the nearest Vex unit, dismantle it, and assimilate some of their parts,> Solis' Ghost said. <We don't have the proper hardware to interface with the data, so we need to do some jury rigging... essentially, you'll end up having Vex cyborg Ghosts.>
Solis sighed. This sounded like a plan that was very likely to backfire.
After several minutes of silence from the Vanguard, Scythe continued on his own. "Look, if nobody has a plan, I'll come up with one after I see how things are out here. Xor and I found a way in the first time at Campus 9, by the way. If you want to land reinforcements, that's the place to do it. But the Vex likely have patrols in that area by now, so watch your six." With that, the Hunter mounted his Pike and roared off in search of another Gate to get into the Inverse-Citadel.
Avori finally managed to blink his way out of the thick underbrush he'd been caught in. He felt somewhat dizzy, having forgotten how uncomfortable blinking was when not used to it - he hadn't praticed his Bladedancer skills in a very long time. After regaining his bearings, Avori joined the conversation. "That sounds very risky..."
<If we are handling as a collective, we should be fine...> Pariah's Ghost asked, <right?>
"Right..." Pariah sighed, as she stepped over the remains of one Vex Unit. Removing her knife, she thrust it into the chest of the Goblin as she pulled some machinery free. Tossing it over to Solis, she sheathed her knife. "The Disciples have long theorised and tested these bits are the ones that help the Vex warp."
Scythe could tell something was wrong even before he reached Campus 9. Fresh Vex footprints littered the muddy ground, indicating larger patrols than usual. < They remembered how we got in. > Virgil remarked from transmat.
"No shit." Scythe muttered as he stashed his Pike in an alley and readied his Wire Rifle. "Vanguard, this is Scythe 6-2. Be adivsed, Campus 9 is currently hot with Vex patrols. Cannot suggest Campus 9 as an LZ at this time. Over." He paused. "Virgil, check the comms for any Winter Fallen chatter. I have an idea."
"Stealth." Fenrir quickly said. The Hunter removed two cylindrical objects from his belt, handing the smaller of the pair over to Avori. "Suppressor. Might not be a perfect fit, but it'll do the job," He explained, screwing his own onto Stillpiercer. "We'll backtrack in our own path, take down the first units we find. Got that?"
"I'll follow your lead," he assured Fenrir. The suppressor didn't fit the Golden Age weapon he'd looted from the Icarus facility, so he instead attached it to his LDR and opted to use that instead. Avori then cloaked and followed Hunter.
Avgust turned his head to watch Fenrir and Avori depart, in search for more of these Vex components that would allow their Fireteam to travel back to the present. The Vanguard looked down to Solis: "How will we be using the Vex radiolaria? Introduce it to the components to allow us to access its potential?"
< Good news, everyone! > Virgil chimed from transmat. < There's a Winter Fallen patrol fairly close by. What's the plan? >
"Simple." Scythe grunted as he ducked behind a wall. "We lure the Winter Fallen here, they wear down the Vex for us. Then we can take whatever Gate we want, and any reinforcements that arrive will be that much safer." Switching channels and languages, the Hunter continued. "This is patrol Eslisk 6-4. We have encountered heavy Vex resistance at the human science complex. We risk being overrun. Requesting reinforcements!"
( We've lingered too long already We should just skip ahead to where Argus has all the parts already. )
"I guess I'll stay here. Watch our backs," Arxus spoke as he clutched tight against his Hung Jury. Distant explosions rocked the entire jungle, as the invasion continued elsewhere. They were safe for now, but how long would that last?
"We might need a few more. Some could be damaged, or not work properly, or unable to be intergrated into our, by which I mean mine and the other Ghosts, shells, or.... well, you get the picture." Sanctus added. Fenrir stayed quiet.
After a few more minutes of walking, Fenrir suddenly crouched down, brushing his hand through the dirt. Then, he dragged Avori down alongside him.
"Goblin tracks. Recent. A patrol must've just passed by. Prep that rifle of yours."
Just a few seconds after Scythe's "emergency call", the comms crackled to life, and the harsh voice belonging to a Fallen Captain spoke through them.
"Who dares speak on this channel?! House Winter has no patrols, fool! Who is it, that is crafty enough to access our communications, yet foolish enough to speak on them?"
As Scythe watched from his camoflauged perch, a Vex patrol wandered into the area. A Minotaur, a few Hobgoblins, and about a dozen Goblins, all warily searching the area. Just then, a Winter Skiff rumbled into the area and dropped off a Fallen crew. Dregs, Vandals, and Shanks, backed up by a Captain and a Servitor. They were pretty much evenly matched, at least for the moment. A few well-placed shots from Scythe's Wire Rifle would see to that.
Sara sighed as she loaded in another cell to her Sleeper Simulant. The Titan glanced over her mentor, the Huntress, the Warlock and her Fireteam leader. From behind her helmet, one could sense her disappointment.
The Vex and Fallen patrols saw each other almost immediately, and the Fallen were wiped out in short order. While the Vex held their ground, their numbers were reduced. The remaining Minotaur had taken a particularly rough beating, with smoke issuing from its chassis. Just as Scythe was lining up a shot on the monster's head with his Wire Rifle, another Skiff came roaring into the area. This one dropped off another Fallen crew, backed up by a Walker.
"Great. Just great." Scythe muttered from his rooftop perch.
Arxus remained idly by, having seated himself on a stump nearby. He seemed exhausted, if Guardians could feel such things. It had been a long road since they started, and it was a long road yet to go. It wasn't long until the other Guardians returned, with enough Vex materials to make use of the radiolaria, if everything functioned like Solis' Ghost said it would.
The Winter Walker dropped down from the Skiff and assumed an aggressive stance while the Fallen crew provided cover fire until the vehicle's weapons were charged. Suddenly, the Walker loosed a barrage of Arc bolts from it's chin turret, tearing through the rest of the Vex. The survivors took cover in some nearby buildings and returned fire, but the smoke and dust of the battlefield made it difficult for Scythe to see who was winning.
"I'd rather fight Fallen if I can, but at least there'll be less for me to shoot either way."
"Not sure I like Vexing-up my Ghost more than I have to," Pariah muttered as Vex teleportation arrays were lain before her. The Huntress took hold of one of the parts, looking at it before continuing: "It is an infectious material, I hope you are aware. Not safe in the slightest."
As the smoke cleared, the Walker opened fire with its main gun, tearing through the remaining Vex that had taken cover in a building. The last to die was the Minotaur, which attempted to charge a Captain despite missing a leg. It was reduced to scrap in a matter of seconds by the Captain's Shrapnel Launcher. Oddly, no more Vex warped in.
"Great." Scythe muttered. "I can handle Fallen easily enough, but a Walker? That's how I died the first time!"
"Let's do this. We've spent enough time waiting around here." Taking up one of the parts, the Titan melded it with his Ghost; in the least, it would allow them to operate how the Vex did, even if it would only give them a one-way trip. That was all that they needed.
The Walker must've taken some fire during the fight, as the coaxial plasma cannon was smoking, then fell off the side of the turret with a loud clang. Since it was impossible to miss, Scythe peeked over the edge of the roof, and saw that the Walker had indeed taken some damage during the firefight. While it wasn't much, it did make his job that much easier. "Ghost, get ready. I'm about to do something very, very stupid."
< Why am I not surprised? > Virgil snarked from transmat.
With that, Scythe climbed down the far side of the building and readied Super Good Advice. While he waited for just the right moment to open fire, he lined up the nearest Captain in his sights.
But before Scythe could take more than a few steps, the tank exploded, the resulting shrapnel took out many of the remaining Fallen. The captain in the Hunter's sights let out a startled roar as the barrel from the Walkers heavy cannon slammed into it, it crashed against a rock and started to leak Ether through the new cracks in its armor.
In his cloak, Xor quickly ran up and ripped a sparking component out of the Walker's exposed interior workings.
Hearing the kerfuffle on the other side of the building, Scythe sprinted around the corner just in time to see the Walker collapse into a smoking wreck. "What in the sphincter of hell?" Scythe muttered as he surveyed the carnage. "Well, there goes that plan."
Just then, he saw a hatch on the Walker seemingly open by itself, followed by several innards being tossed aside. "Xor, is that you?" The Hunter paused as he rifled through a Vandal's pockets, then stared at the remains of the Walker. "YOU STUPID CLANKER! I WAS GONNA USE THAT!"
"Was it something I said?" Scythe muttered sarcastically.
< To be specific, we were planning on hijacking the Walker. > Virgil explained from transmat.
With Plan A literally in ruins, Scythe went about creating a backup plan. He jogged over to the Walker and began to poke through the wreckage. While the drone's armor and engine were toast, the weapons still yeilded valuable spinmetal and Arc energy, among other things. The comms systems were mostly intact as well, allowing him to tap into the House of Winter's communications hub. While a repeat performance of Scythe's fake distress call was unlikely to work, he could at least tell where their patrols were for the time being. "Virgil, see if there's anything in here we can salvage for the ship. I'm calling Zavala and letting him know we have an LZ."
"Okay, here goes... something," Grim spoke nervously. The small appendages flexed, and pulled back together. In that instant, both Grim and Arxus were pulled away.
Ages rushed past in an instant. Hundreds of years passed in a second. It was all a blur to Arxus, as he braced himself for the worst that could happen. Before he realized it, he was standing again. A brilliant sun glared over the horizon of Mercury's surface; the once vibrant jungles were now endless dunes, covered in Vex architecture. He was back in the present again. It had worked. Arxus stood just outside the Reverse Citadel, at the top of the chasm that led down into the planet.
"What now?" He looked around. None of Argus had returned yet. There was no way to say if they would show up in the same time, or the same place.
Avori stumbled onto the ground, as he arrived in the present. He landed on his knees moments before Solis began speaking, with a face of extreme discomfort. "I suppose it is," he replied. "But the journey certainly wasn't."
Scythe heard voices over the comms and froze in his tracks. "Arxus, Avori--is that you?" Summoning his Ghost, he continued. "Virgil, alert the Vanguard. We have two Guardians outside of the Inverse-Citadel." Turning back to the un-lost Guardians, he continued. "Guys, are you ok? What happened? Any sign of the others?"
< While you were preparing to fast-forward, > Virgil began "we met a Hunter named Xor and found a way into the Inverse-Citadel with the intention of rescuing you."
"Long story short, he's an odd Exo." Scythe chimed in. "We did some time travel of our own, we both killed our past selves, found a huge room full of Vex Gates, and somehow escaped. I've established an LZ in Campus 9. What do we do now"
Arxus waited around idly, hoping that the others would arrive. As nothing happened, he sighed in defeat. "Hopefully, that's the first and last time I have to do something like that." Arxus looked back over the Inverse Citadel. It was eeriely empty now, with Vex corpses littering the multi-level catwalks that comprised the structure.
"Send the Vanguard our report. We chased a Gatelord through time and now we're back. And we have an Axis Mind to hunt down." There was no time to rest, not yet. There was still work to be done.
Xor peered down the scope of Patience and Time at the two Guardians in the desert, opening his comms channels, "You two! Just a tip. Head to Venus, there is a Guardian by the name of Scythe 6-2 waiting for you. He knows a way back into the Citadel. Uhhh... Yup! That's about it! Goodbye."
With that he stood up, stretched, and walked away along the desert. He hummed a happy tune as his cloaked form marched along the sand.
"Opening a channel with the Vanguard." Scythe grunted. "It's open now."
Hearing said odd Exo over the comms, the Hunter growled "Wait wait wait, you want us to go back into that place? With only some of Argus out here?! Scythe was hysterical. "I mean, I understand that we need to kill an Axis Mind and all, but... Shit. This day has really, really sucked."